Friday, September 20, 2019

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 51

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are in the archives to the right. This is step 51:



(51) And to disclose them to our spiritual father.



Having a trusted person to share our spiritual journey with is a fundamental aspect of the spiritual life. Catholics do this when they celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance to a degree, but it is done more completely when one chooses a spiritual director to guide them along their path to Christ.



This is no easy task for either the one giving direction or the one receiving it. It requires trust and openness. Above all it requires being open to the action of the Holy Spirit. There is always the danger in this process for abuse and one should never allow their "director" to lead them away from Christ.



But what if we are scrupulous and not trusting in the mercy of Christ? Then we should allow our spiritual mentor to direct us to the Gospels to encounter the Christ who forgives seventy times seven.



But what if our problem is a sin that we commit over and over again?



Then we should allow our spiritual father to point out to us that our trust is to be placed in God's power and not in our own ability to reform.



A trusting relationship with a spiritual father can greatly aid our spiritual growth, but we should never allow this "advice" to become anything more than that. Too often people have fallen greatly because they made their spiritual father into their "god" rather than as a means to grow closer to God.



Sinful thoughts can grow in the dark. By bringing them to the light to someone who is wise in the spiritual life we shed light on our darkness. This has the effect of causing the cockroaches to scurry back into their hiding places. Naming our demons makes exorcising them a possibility.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

St. Januarius - September 19

Feast of St. Januarius



A sealed glass vial containing a dark unknown substance, allegedly the clotted blood of San Gennaro (St Januarius), is shown several times a year to a packed crowd in the Cathedral of Napoli (Naples). Whilst the container is being handled during a solemn ceremony, the solid mass suddenly liquefies before everybody's eyes. [1, 2]



This well-documented phenomenon is still regarded as unexplained [3] by believers and sceptics alike. Noted parapsychologist Hans Bender defined it the paranormal phenomenon with the best and historical documentation; [4] physicist Enrico Fermi seems to have expressed interest as well.



It is also one of the few recurrent non-medical, physical "miracles" that might be studied scientifically.




Above from CICAP, the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims on the Paranormal

-Michael Dubruiel

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are in the archives to the right. This is step 50:



(50) To dash at once against Christ the evil thoughts which rise in one's heart.



St. Benedict's counsel is wise. Our Lord gave his disciples "power" and that same "power" is available to us, we should avail ourselves tof this powert when we most need it. We need it most when evil thoughts are at their very infancy within our emotions, when they "rise in one's heart." At that moment we should run like a little toddler to Our Lord.



Being a disciple of Our Lord requires this child like faith. In fact the greatest evil thought that can arise in our hearts is to start thinking that we are finally "mature" enough in the spiritual life and don't need to do this. As Our Lord said when his disciples returned from a very successful missionary journey, "I saw Satan fall like lightning!" Pride over the gifts that we have been given can quickly cut us off from the source of our salvation.



So with child like faith we move through life ever vigilant over our thoughts, scrupulously turning to Our Lord at every moment where evil seems to lurk.



Benedict's image of 'dashing against" calls to mind a clutching disciple, grabbing hold of Our Lord's garment lest we fall. It is a good image because the desparation that it suggests is what we are faced with in our daily lives. As St. Paul said, "Examine yourselves, lest you fall."

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God 49 Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel The previous posts are in the archives to the right. This is step 49:



(49) To hold as certain that God sees us everywhere.



Almost all of us were raised with this notion, which was a useful tool that parents could use to insure that when they weren't around there was another, bigger and far meaner parent in the sky. The last part is the most unfortunate part of this. God is not meaner but far more loving than any human could ever be toward us.



Again because most of us were taught this as children it tends to immediately make us think of whether we are good or bad. But really another way to think of it is God is always there looking out for us. Always ready for us to call upon His name. That he watches over us and protects us.



Reflecting on this counsel, I think you can see is colored by your image of God. Does that image reflect what Jesus Christ showed God to be like or does it reflect what your parents, or some other religious figure revealed to you that God was like. More importantly, does whatever I was taught match to what the Gospels reveal about Jesus?



This is the "type" of God who sees us no matter where we are, a loving God. One who is not up there waiting to strike us dead and send us to Hell, but one who is willing to come down and become a man and walk in our midst and to suffer and die when we reject Him--and then to come back again to offer us forgiveness. "His mercy endures forever."





Today, and everyday be mindful of the presence of God, always with you no matter if you believe or not. In the words of an old Latin saying, Vocatus atque non vocatus Deus aderit, "Bidden or not bidden God is present."

Monday, September 16, 2019

73 Steps to Deeper Spirituality by Michael Dubruiel - 48

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are in the archives to the right. This is step 48:



(48) To keep a constant watch over the actions of our life.



We read in the Book of Wisdom "To fix one's thought on her is perfect understanding, and he who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care", (Wisdom 6:15). Vigilance is a hallmark of monastic life, it is why silence has always been valued in that setting.



Vigilance requires attentiveness. Everyone has had the experience where they arrive home after driving the daily route only to discover that they remember nothing about the trip they have just made presumably awake. Much of life can become so routine that we are oblivious to those around us.



Monks have a practice of keeping "vigil." I once tried something similar when I attended school at a monastery. I decided that I would simply spend the night with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I took along a Bible, a rosary and sat in a small oratory. Just the Lord and me. The time passed rather quickly. There were no great revelations during that period of prayer, but what I did notice was that during the next few days everything seemed more intense. It was almost as though the world was suddenly in "high definition" vs. the black and white that it usually seems to be.





Unfortunately, for me it was a one time event. But I have noticed that the more I pray, the more vigilant I become. The more I notice others that cross my path. The less I travel through my day on automatic pilot.



Most of us might raise the excuse of there being too many distractions in life for us to be truly vigilant. But therein lies the distinction--distractions demand our attention. What we call distractions are things that we are ignoring that are clamoring for our attention. The vigilant persons pays attention to everything they are doing and thinking.



The image of a psychic who seems to see and hear voices that no one else hears seems an apt representation of the vigilant person. All of us carry with us intense memories of past experiences, these play a heavy role in the way we act toward others. The vigilant person will discern the "other" people in the room so to speak when they encounter their daily contacts.





Prayer and discernment are both necessary to be truly vigilant in our actions. We need to truly see what creates our reactions to people and events and bring them to God. To free ourselves from inordinate attachments. As the Book of Wisdom says to be vigilant will "free us from all care." No regrets, only gratitude.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Our Lady of Sorrows - September 15

In northern Ohio there is a church dedicated to Our Lady
of Sorrows; in the basement is a room containing signs of
weakness that have been left behind by those who have experienced
the power of God at that shrine. Among whiskey bottles,
cigarettes, crutches, and leg braces is a mat that once
carried a paralyzed man there—who left empowered by God
to walk again.

I suspect that the most powerful stories of healing, however,
come from those who were unable to leave anything behind.
Their weakness, whatever it was, remained with them; however,
they had been empowered to carry their weakness in the power
of God. This type of healing often goes unnoticed. Even so, it is
the greater healing, because it enables us to share in the cross of
Christ, to embrace our weakness in the power of God. For the
follower of Christ, weakness need not mean defeat!




-The Power of the Cross by Michael Dubruiel
"michael dubruiel"

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Exaltation of the Holy Cross - September 14

Michael Dubruiel

Here's a link to a page with a free download of Michael Dubruiel's book The Power of the Cross.

It's in .pdf format.

Also on the page is a link to a series of interviews Michael did with Catholic radio station KVSS on the book.

St. Francis of Assisi taught his followers to reverence Christ and
his cross wherever they might find themselves. The prayer attributed
to St. Francis that begins, “Lord, make me a channel of your
peace,” was in fact not composed by St. Francis; it was misapplied
to him in a prayer book. The true prayer of St. Francis was one
he taught his friars to pray whenever they would pass a Church
or the sign of the cross made by two branches in a tree. They were
to prostrate themselves toward the church or the cross and pray,
“We adore you Christ and we praise you present here and in all
the Churches throughout the world, because by your holy cross
you have redeemed the world.”

The cross reminds us of the true Christ, the one in the
Gospels who was constantly misjudged by the religious figures
of his day. If we are not careful, he will be misjudged by us as well.
We need to worship him alone.

Friday, September 13, 2019

73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God - 47

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are in the archives to the right. This is step 47:



(47) To keep death before one's eyes daily.



Momento Mori, "remember death" is an ancient spiritual maxim presented to us here by St. Benedict. Keeping one's end in mind helps us to focus on what really matters. Many self-motivators have picked up on this and while avoiding "death" have sought to get people to meditate on what is really important in life.



Of course what happens after death matters a great deal if we are to focus on death. If one believes that nothing happens after death that focusing on it could be a morose practice that would only depress the person. If on the other hand one believes in the after life and a judgment then every decision I make in the present is moving me along a road in one of two directions--either toward heaven or hell.



Many people believe in a after life for absolutely no good reason. Many of them do not believe in God, but reaping the harvest of Christendom continue to carry around with them a vague sense that death is not the end. But this belief does not come from science.

Others, nihilists, belief in nothing but the present but in a rather dark manner, since death is the end that the whole of life is rather meaningless and existence is a bore.



Then there are the Epicureans who "eat, drink and are merry" for tomorrow we die. Their focus is on death, but it is one where death is looked at as the great enemy that must be avoided at all costs by throwing as much pleasure as possible at the body while it is still alive. These are the saddest of people. Often their bodies are racked with pain from the abuse that they have subjected it to in pursuit of pleasure.



The final group is made up of believers. Our focus on death is to be hopeful. It is to help us to get through the present moment when it is difficult. It is to inspire us in the present moment when it seems meaningless. It is to keep our eyes on the gift that sin promises-death and the redemption that God through Jesus promises-life.



This focus is one of reality. We are all going to die. By facing it daily it will not catch us unprepared nor unready for God's judgment.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God - 46

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel The previous posts are in the archives to the right. This is step 46:



(46) To desire eternal life with all spiritual longing.



I think that this is one of those maxims that would have been a given in previous ages. But now it seems that no one is brought up with a great "desire" for eternal life with all spiritual longing.



I remember as a child listening to a visiting priest preach about the importance of eternity in light of the present moment. It left a deep impression on my young mind and from that day forward every action that I undertook was charged with "eternal" implications.



The type of "longing" that St. Benedict counsels us to have is "spiritual" longing. This is a little more complicated that the normal type of longing but it is an important distinction. Too often people in the past approached their desire for eternal life with an earthly register--keeping track of their good acts, performing prayers with certain types of indulgences--all with a keen eye on where they were on the spiritual maturity meter. This is all the stuff of this life and a pretty sad indication that one really doesn't trust in God at all.



A spiritual longing is much more focused on God and less on self. St. Paul desired eternal life with this type of longing when he wished if for his fellow men to the point that he himself would forgo it, if it would save them. Spiritual longing is always sacrificial and somewhat paradoxical.



Our Lord said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Apart from me you can do nothing." There is great wisdom in meditating on these words in light of St. Benedict's maxim to "desire eternity with a spiritual longing." We long to cleave to Christ, to imitate Him and to be united with Him, so to live with Him for all eternity.


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Remembering 9/11

From How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist by Michael Dubruiel






I was giving a talk at a Catholic parish in rural Ohio a few years ago about the topic of this book.When I had concluded my presentation someone asked,“Why do people care so little about their faith today?”
I told them of a man, a non-Catholic, I had known who cared little about his faith but attended Mass every week with his Catholic wife because he wanted to make her happy. He did this for years, to the point that several priests tried to convince him that he should convert to the Catholic faith since he had been attending the Eucharist for so many years. He refused.
Then he was diagnosed with bone cancer. His condition deteriorated rapidly. In a few months he went from being robust and strong to bedridden and totally dependent upon others.He called for a priest, who heard his first confession and then offered the Eucharist at his bedside, where he received his First Holy Communion. In the last months of his life, his Catholic faith was all that mattered to him.
This led a woman in the group to recall an incident when a tornado had wiped out her family’s farm and the family had sat huddled together in the storm cellar, praying the Rosary. At that moment their faith had mattered more than anything else in the world to them.
Someone else mentioned that in the weeks following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on this country he had noticed more people in the Church and more fervency in the way people seemed to pray.
Our faith is a matter of life and death and our faith is totally centered on Jesus Christ.The Scriptures reveal that Jesus did not leave us as orphans but founded a Church. He made the very human apostle Peter the first leader of this Church. He left a memorial of his saving death in the Eucharist and commanded his disciples to perform it.
Getting the most out of the Eucharist is an urgent task, then, because our very life depends upon Christ, and Jesus comes to us in the celebration of his passion, death, and resurrection at every Eucharist. Jesus said that he is the vine and that we are the

branches. In the Eucharist we receive the very life that connects us to Christ the Vine.
Jesus told a parable about what happens when a storm comes that lashes out against our very lives (see Matthew 7:24–27). He said that the wise person builds his house (his life) on solid ground,on rock (the image that he used to speak about his church and Peter). The foolish person builds on sand and is destroyed by the storms of life.

The work of building the foundation on which our lives depend takes place every time we participate in the Eucharist. While I was putting the finishing touches on this book I traveled to Florida, right after Hurricane Frances had made a direct hit near Stuart, Florida. I had been scheduled to give a talk in nearby Palm Beach Gardens two days after the storm had hit.The talk was canceled because the church, St. Patrick’s, was without power, but I had the opportunity to meet with the pastor of the parish, Father Brian Flanagan, and some of the parish staff. In the midst of much devastation what remains vivid in my mind is how peaceful everyone there was. I know Father Brian to be a man whose deep faith is rooted in the Eucharist, and what I experienced in those days immediately following Hurricane Frances was a literal exposition of Jesus’s parable — the storm had come,but because the lives of the people I met were built on solid rock, they were not destroyed.
Isn’t this what we all want, a joy that the world cannot take away, no matter what might happen? Our Lord offers it to us at every Eucharist. It is my hope that this small book will help you to better experience this joy, and to discover the richness the Lord’s Eucharistic presence can add to your life.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

73 Steps to Closer Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel - 45

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous posts are in the archives to the right. This is step 45:



(45) To be in dread of hell.



I think it is helpful to personally design our own notion of Hell. Jesus used Gehenna to describe it to the people of His day. "Gehenna" was the local dump (landfills were a long way into the future) for the city of Jerusalem. So when Jesus described Hell to the people they would have thought of Gehenna where a smoldering fire burned incessantly consuming the refuse of the people of Jerusalem.



Designing your own notion of Hell merely insists of imagining what the would be the worst possible experience that could happen to you and magnifying that by eternity. For most of this would involve pain and suffering that would never cease, but for some it might be an embarrassing situation. Sadly for many it might be an actual moment in their life that they play over and over again in their minds.



The point is that once you have some understanding of how horrible Hell would be for you that you should foster a "dread" of it. The only way we can end up in this eternal place of damnation is by rejecting the gift of salvation that comes to us from Jesus Christ. Accepting or rejecting that gift is a moment by moment yes or no, manifest by our actions.



Dread is a fairly good motivator. Most of us seldom do anything we dread. We keep putting it off. That is why so many people still mail in their tax statements on April 15th close to the stroke of midnight. To dread what is "really" evil is healthy. And what is really evil is "separation from God" which is the best definition of what Hell is.



It is true that if you take your own notion of what Hell is like and then place God in the picture that it become Heaven. I can imagine being quite happy in Gehenna if I was there with Jesus watching people dump their garbage. In fact I can imagine enduring the worst that life can give and being okay with it if I had a strong sense that God wanted me there.





We should dread anything that will separate us from God's love and Hell is the final separation. Fostering this dread will increase our appreciation for the availability of God's love in the present moment. The final judgment has not happened for us yet, there is still time. Time to confess and let go of past sins. Time to reform our lives and live in the grace of God in the future. Time to dread the fires of Hell and to live for the glories of Heaven.

Monday, September 9, 2019

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 44

This is a continuation of the the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel, the previous posts are available in the archives to the right. This is step 44.



(44) To fear the day of judgment.



A recent visit to a large Midwestern city was filled with moments where I paused to think about the tragedies of September 11, 2001 and what could happen again or as the United States government often relates-something worst. One of the buildings in this city, that towers over all the rest is especially impressive and the thought of it tumbling like the World Trade Centers was almost incomprehensible. Milling around the streets with thousands of others it was hard to envision some nuclear attack suddenly wiping out a million people in an instance.



Although the sun shone and it was a beautiful day there was a hint of an impending storm that post-9/11 seemed to hang heavy in the air. It made me think of the words of Our Lord when his disciples marveled at the size of the Temple in Jerusalem and its beauty (it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), "As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down," (Luke 21:7).



Driving home past abandoned motels and gas stations, I thought of the transitory nature of life. People that I once admired now lie cold in tombs, amusement parks that delighted me as a child now lie dormant, everything has a judgment day, everything!



St. Benedict says we should "fear" the day of judgment. It should be something ever on our minds. To keep "our" final end in sight has always been an important practice because it helps us to "order" our lives to that end. Most of us can point to our greatest lapses or sins as times when we had lost sight of our purpose in life.



Fear can be a horrible motivator or it can be a great one. When I was in basic training in the Army some years ago, I remember an incident where one of my fellow trainees was having difficulty producing urine for some medical procedure. He came out to the drill sergeant holding the empty container. The drill sergeant in response yelled in his face, "Go!" And he did, as the front of his fatigues darkened. I saw him a few minutes later squeezing what he could out of his pants into the container.



But Jesus also said, "Fear is useless, what is need is trust," and while fearing judgment day can help us to refocus on what truly matters and what the right thing to do is in any situation, ultimately it should always lead us back to placing our trust in God. Fearing judgment should always drop us to our knees and reconnect with God. Every moment is an invitation to prayer and every second has its own needs that require that special help from God.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Nativity of Mary - Pray the Rosary

Michael Dubruiel conceived and put together the small hardbound book, Praying the Rosary.  Click on the cover for more information.

"Michael Dubruiel"


The Gospels show that the gaze of Mary varied depending upon the circumstances of life. So it will be with us. Each time we pick up the holy beads to recite the Rosary, our gaze at the mystery of Christ will differ depending on where we find ourselves at that moment.

Thereafter Mary’s gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave him. At times it would be a questioning look, as in the episode of the finding in the Temple: “Son, why have you treated us so?” (Lk 2:48); it would always be a penetrating gaze, one capable of deeply understanding Jesus, even to the point of perceiving his hidden feelings and anticipating his decisions, as at Cana (cf. Jn 2:5). At other times it would be a look of sorrow, especially beneath the Cross, where her vision would still be that of mother giving birth, for Mary not only shared the passion and death of her Son, she also received the new son given to her in the beloved disciple (cf. Jn 19:26-27). On the morning of Easter hers would be a gaze radiant with the joy of the Resurrection, and finally, on the day of Pentecost, a gaze afire with the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14) [Rosarium Virginis Mariae, no. 10].


As we pray the Rosary, then, we join with Mary in contemplating Christ. With her, we remember Christ, we proclaim Him, we learn from Him, and, most importantly, as we raise our voices in prayer and our hearts in contemplation of the holy mysteries, this “compendium of the Gospel” itself, we are conformed to Him.


Saturday, September 7, 2019

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 43

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 43rd step:



(43) But as to any evil in himself, let him be convinced that it is his own and charge it to himself.



This counsel follows from the previous one. If God has created us as "good" then any evil is from our free choice to do other than what God wills for us. We should understand that what is "evil" is bad for us, to the point that if we persist in evil it leads to our self-destruction.



If God has created us as good, then anything that is not good can not be from God, it must have another source, St. Benedict concludes rightly that it must come from ourselves.



There are many maladies in life that may seem evil but really are not. Someones genetic makeup may make the prone to an early death and on the surface that may seem like an "evil" but in fact it is only our perception again of what our idea of "good" is. A person whose life is limited by their genetic or physical condition still has been put on this earth by God and still has a mission. They can do much good with the talents that God has given them. To bury the talents because of their perceived bad condition is to squander the good.



A woman born in a physical condition that gave her little chance to live beyond her twenties, described an incident that she says happened to her on the day of her birth. "God," she says, "asked me if I wanted to do something special for Him." She says that she responded, "Yes."



Virginia Cyr spent her short twenty-something years praising God in a body racked with pain, in and out of orphanages after her mother abandoned her, sexually abused by a drunken priest who took advantage of her physical condition which prevented her from running away--through it all she thanked God for the mission, He had blessed her with on her day of her birth.



Now this Indiana woman lies waiting the resurrection in a grave in Lafayette. The orphanage where she lived in Fort Wayne, no longer is there. Perhaps an answer to some prayer that God answered because she had so faithfully carried out His mission.



No matter what, evil is our choice and the good is God's blessing.

Friday, September 6, 2019

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 42 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 42nd step:



(42) To refer what good one sees in himself, not to self, but to God.



If we have lived long enough, and are in touch with what motivates us, I think we will come to see the truth that there is a great good that is essential to who we are at our deepest core. God created us and as God says in the Book of Genesis when he looked upon his creation-He saw that it was "good."



God is responsible for the goodness that is at the core of every human being. It is there and we can both see it in others and in ourselves.



When God became Man, He had no problem recognizing the "good" that was in all of creation. Where some saw prostitutes or tax collectors, the Son of God saw precious creatures that had the same basic goodness as all who have been created by God.



When the rich young man called Jesus, "Good teacher," Jesus corrected him, "Why call me good? Only God is good." Here we have an application of this counsel by Jesus Himself.



Yes, only God is good, but He has shared that goodness in His creation. We are part of God's creation. Therefore when we worship Him, we come to know ourselves as we truly are and we come to see the goodness that is at the heart of who He has created us to be.



This original goodness has been marred by Original Sin, sadly people do not realize the great value that they possess. Often they are confused about their purpose in life and unfortunately many waste the talents that they have been blessed with because they take the definition of who they are from other people or from some other ideal of who they should be.



Jesus' death and resurrection make it possible for us to understand that God loves us. By being baptized the original goodness that is in us can come to the fore.



We are "good" because God created us. Our actions are good as much as we act out of the self that God created us to be. All is from God and God deserves all the praise both for who we are and the good that we do.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Mother Teresa - September 5

The Cross of Christ Restores. . . The Image of God 


And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. NUMBERS 21:8–9

“When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” JOHN 8:28–29

 Once when my wife and child were touring a large cathedral in the United States, a famous archbishop passed us by; a high-ranking cardinal, visiting the United States from the Vatican, followed him. The archbishop completely ignored us, but the cardinal stopped and took our baby in his arms, talking gibberish to him. We were moved by the actions of the cardinal, who had taken the gospel to heart. It is amazing how often Jesus took time to notice someone his disciples had passed by or ignored. In the kingdom of God, the first are last and the last are first. No one exemplified this principle better than Christ himself: the Prince of Heaven  became a helpless infant, was raised in obscurity, and died like a criminal.

People who have seen Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ are shocked by the violence. What should shock us more is the idea that the all-powerful God would subject himself to being treated in such a fashion by mere mortals. Yet Jesus said in the Scripture that people would realize that he was from God when men “lifted him up” on the cross. The way of the cross is the path of humility. So often we seek perfection in how we look, the way we dress, the way we speak, or in what we possess. Jesus told his disciples not to worry about any of these things but to seek God’s kingship over them first. Jesus then showed them how to do this. Then he took up his cross and invited them to follow. It is in those who accept that invitation that the divine image is most perfectly restored.

 When Blessed Mother Teresa would visit one of her communities, the first thing she did was to pick up a broom and begin to sweep. Revered during her life as a saint, she sought no special treatment within her community; no task was beneath her. People who met Mother Teresa often remarked at the beauty of her deeply lined face. In her presence, they felt like they were in the presence of God. In the Image of the Father Jesus perfectly reveals to us what God is like. By following the way of the cross, we receive a divine “extreme makeover.” The path is not an easy one; our ego constantly tries to exert itself over us. Serpents in forbidden trees will whisper of easier paths. However, there is only one way to fulfill what God has planted in our hearts. “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus warned his disciples (Matthew 18:3). Some people will go amazing lengths to retain their youth. Sadly, these same people will assiduously avoid the spiritual childhood that the gospel demands, the only sure path of eternal life.

Wandering in the desert, the Israelites complained about their lot, and God sent poisonous snakes. As people died around him, Moses prayed to God for mercy. God told Moses to make a fiery bronze serpent and to put it on a pole; all who looked upon this bronze serpent were healed of snakebite. This bronze image foreshadowed the healing tree of Christ; just as Moses had lifted up the serpent in the desert, Jesus told Nicodemus, so would he be lifted up on the cross, and all who would look upon him would be saved. We need to look at the cross of Christ to rediscover our soul’s inner beauty. God loves us so much that he died for us on that cross. As we gaze upon the cross of Christ, what really matters comes to the forefront in our lives, and we find we can let go of all the trivial pursuits that seem to dominate our time and thoughts. As the psalmist reminds us time and again, what matters is not to seek and be driven by the desire to please other people but to seek what pleases God. We will discover that not by hiding behind fig leaves, as our first parents did, but by coming to him whenever and wherever he calls us.


The Power of the Cross  by Michael Dubruiel is a book well-suited to daily reading during Lent. The book is available here in pdf version. Daily excerpts will be reprinted in this space during Lent.


"michael Dubruiel"

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 41

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 41th step:



(41) To put one's trust in God.



As if to remind us what all this is about, in the middle of these counsels, Saint Benedict gives this counsel that refocuses on the real issue here. Going through the counsels we can lose sight again that almost everything that is negative, not to do this or not to be this is all about a positive to "do this," to put our trust in God.



Most of us probably would say that we put our trust in God. But our reaction to all of these counsels of Saint Benedict is like a giant mirror that reveals whether we really do or not.



There is a story that I have heard so many times that it has lost it's punch for me, but perhaps not for you-so here it is. A man is walking along a mountainside when suddenly he hits some lose soil and goes tumbling over a steep precipice. Luckily he grabs on to a tree branch as he falls down.



Looking down, he sees that if he hadn't grabbed the branch he would have fallen to a certain death. But looking up he can see no way to reach the safety of the path again, and he realizes that he can't hold on forever. He yells for help, "Is anyone up there?"



A voice booms, "I'm here, it's God."



The man says, "Thank God! Can you save me?"



"Of course," God says, "but you have to do exactly what I tell you."



"Okay," the man says, "what do I need to do?"



"Let go," says God.



"Is anyone else up there?" The man screams.





Putting our trust in God means more than just giving lip service to Him. It means, "letting go," and whether we do or not ultimately decides whether we live or die-forever.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 40

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 40th step:



(40) Not to be a detractor.



The Christian is to be someone who builds people up, not someone who tears others down. Often detraction is a sign of our own insecurity or feelings of inadequacy.



Someone who puts God first in their lives will recognize their own self in an entirely new light as well as all others.

If we see someone who seems less in our eyes, it is we who have the problem not them.



This of course does not mean that we turn our eyes from those who commit grievous sins against others. They should be confronted, and if personal confrontation does not work as Jesus said, the matter should be brought before the whole Church, and if that doesn't work they should be treated like a tax collector. Of course Jesus--welcomed tax collectors, so there is irony in the last part of his counsel.





Christianity is not a religion of castes. In Christ there is neither Greek or Jew, male or female--all are one. In order for that to be a lived reality we must see the importance of each individual and seek to build them up. In doing so we are aiding the Holy Spirit's work of building the Kingdom of God.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Catholic Mass Prayers

Eucharist means..."thanksgiving"

Michael Dubruiel wrote a book to help people deepen their experience of the Mass.  He titled it, How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist.  You can read about it here. 


Excerpt



H A N K O D H E A D        O F I M E
There is an American friar whose cause for sainthood is currently before Rome. His name is Father Solanus Casey; he was a Capuchin Friar who ministered in Detroit, New York, and Huntington, Indiana. He died over forty years ago. I often walk the grounds of the former friary where he served in Huntington and think about his ministry. Born of Irish immigrants, he was sent to German seminaries where the priests taught him in German how to speak Latin. He didn’t fare too well — who would?
Eventually he was ordained but not allowed to preach doctrinal sermons or hear confessions. In a time when there was more of a caste system in religious life he was given a “brothers’ job” as porter. People sought him out near and far.They found great wisdom in his words, and great miracles of healing were recorded after his prayer and touch. Many were converted.
In many ways, it would seem that he would have had much to be bitter about. He was obviously one of the most gifted friars in the community, but he was treated as one who had little to offer.

Yet he was not bitter, and his advice to people who requested prayer and healing is interesting. He told them to “thank God ahead of time”— as an act of faith.He often also had them enroll in a Mass association as a way of giving thanks to God.
This is a beautiful message for us: to thank God in all things, to be thankful for everything that life brings to us even if to all appearances it doesn’t seem there is anything to be thankful for, and to thank God ahead of time,trusting that in God’s time good will come from it all.
The Eucharist is all about “giving thanks,” and how much you and I can do so at any given moment is dependent upon how deeply we are adoring and worshiping God.Offering God our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving will help us to get the most from the Eucharist.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 39

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel.  The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 39th step:



(39) Not to be a murmurer.



I like how the dictionary defines a murmur, "a confidential complaint." Of course the complaint being offered confidentially is never directed at the person who is responsible for the complaint.



There are murmurers in the Gospel. When Jesus says to the paralytic "your sins are forgiven" the people present begin to murmur amongst themselves about what they perceive to be the presumption of Jesus to do something that is reserved to God alone, (this brings to mind the modern tendency for everyone to forgive sins or at least dismiss them as not really all that serious). Jesus hears the murmurs and addresses them directly.



If you have ever been caught murmuring by the person you are murmuring about--you probably know how they felt.



We should not murmur because we are not addressing the people that should be addressed. We should however speak out "unconfidentially" against injustices, against wrongdoing that harms others. But sometimes the things we complain about in whispered tones hardly rise to that level.



If God is God for us, there is less to murmur about. Many of the events of life that we might normally complain about will be seen to be part of a plan that is much larger than us. What we might perceive as the "wrong way of doing things" might actually lead to "God's way of doing things" being done in the long run.



Again the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis provides an excellent meditation for us on this issue.



Feel like complaining, go to the chapel instead and complain to the boss. He can do something to remedy the situation while your co-worker will only add to your misery.