Thursday, January 23, 2020

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist - part 11

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





From chapter 2 - Serve. Part 7


“ I H AV E I V E N O U     A N X A M P L E 
Jesus told his disciples that he had given them a model to follow. He said,“If you know these things,blessed are you if you do them” (John 13: 17).
The traditional tale of the fall of Satan is that it was due to his refusal to serve: non serviam, “I will not serve,” was the devil’s reply to God.Inflated by pride,he would not obey.Fallen human-
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ity shares this trait, as Jeremiah the prophet says: “For long ago you broke your yoke and burst your bonds; and you said, ‘I will not serve’ ” (Jeremiah 2:20).
In opposition to Satan and fallen humanity is Jesus Christ. Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. We who follow him are “in Christ”and we are to imitate him at the liturgy.If we want to get the most out of the Eucharist we need to start by fostering the attitude of Christ the Servant.
O U C H O TAT O AT H O L I C S ?
It strikes me that at the heart of every problem we experience in the Eucharist today is a fundamental stance of someone who will not serve but wants to be the one served — sort of a couch potato Catholic.
St. Benedict, in his Rule, explains the proper attitude the follower of Christ is to have at prayer: “If we do not venture to approach men who are in power, except with humility and reverence, when we wish to ask a favor, how much must we beseech the Lord God of all things with all humility and purity of devotion? And let us be assured that it is not in many words, but in the purity of heart and tears of compunction that we are heard.7
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he have mercy upon us.
— P SALM 1 2 3 : 2

If someone very important were coming to your house, you would want to make sure that the person was at ease, you would look after his or her comfort, and that person would be the center of your attention until his or her departure. Likewise, if we truly serve God at our celebration of the Eucharist, God will be our focus. Our hearts and minds will be raised to him.
If your role is to preside at the liturgy, you must serve the liturgy faithfully
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as the Church has handed it down to you. If you are a musician, the music must serve the liturgy, helping all to raise their voices as one to God. If you function as a lector you must proclaim the readings with great care so that all may hear the Word clearly. Every person in the congregation has a role to serve in the Eucharist.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist - part 10

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







From chapter 2 - Serve. Part 6

The Sacrificial Meal That Jesus Has Given Us

A second possible meaning to the question Jesus asked relates to the Lord’s Supper that He had just given to his disciples. Jesus
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had taken bread that he said was his body and wine that he said was his blood and given it to his disciples. Then he got up from the meal and washed his disciples’feet — lowering himself,doing the task of a servant, then returning to his place. Some Scripture commentators point out that symbolically this action of Jesus mirrors his incarnation, God lowering himself to become one of us, and then after his death and resurrection, ascending back to the heavens. Yet Jesus did not abandon his apostles. He promised to send his Spirit and commanded them to celebrate the memorial of his Passion, death, and resurrection — the Eucharist.
Do we know what Jesus has done for us in giving of himself to us when we celebrate the Eucharist?
If you have ever attended the ordination of a priest, it is likely that you have been struck by various parts of the ritual.The prostration and the laying on of hands are both deeply moving, but the one part of the ordination rite that has struck me every time I have witnessed it is the moment when the newly ordained priest kneels before the ordaining bishop,who hands a chalice and paten to the priest as he says to the newly ordained: “Accept from the holy people of God the gifts to be offered to him. Know what you are doing, imitate the mystery that you celebrate: model your life on the mystery of the cross.”5
In that brief exhortation there is an excellent message for every one of us:“know what you are doing,imitate the mystery that you celebrate: model your life on the mystery of the cross.” It echoes Jesus’s question to his disciples, “Do you know what I have done for you?”
St. Paul spells out what Jesus has done for us in his Letter to the Philippians 2:5–7:“though he was in the form of God,[Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Jesus is the Son of God who lowered himself and became one of us.
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The God who is above everything we can think of, who is the very reason that we live and the reason that the universe exists, humbled himself to become a part of creation. This is in direct opposition to fallen humanity that sought “to become like God” when it disobeyed God’s command in the Garden of Eden.
Our desire to be in control is part of our fallen nature. Many of us live with an illusion that we are in control. We are taught to plan for every eventuality,to insure ourselves for every possible disaster, but if we do not realize that only God is in control, we are living in a fantasy world. Think of the parable that Jesus told of the rich man (see Luke 12:16–21) who built bigger barns to store his large harvest; he was foolish, Jesus said, because he was to die that night. His material wealth could not save or help him once he was in the grave. The rich man thought he was in control of his destiny but, like every one of us, found out that he was not — God was and is.
Jesus rescues us from the chaos that life is without him. Pope John Paul II has said, “In the Eucharist our God has shown love in the extreme, overturning all those criteria of power which too often govern human relations and radically affirming the criterion of service:‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all’ (Mk 9:35). It is not by chance that the Gospel of John contains no account of the institution of the Eucharist,but instead relates the ‘washing of the feet’ (cf. Jn 13:1–20): by bending down to wash the feet of his disciples, Jesus explains the meaning of the Eucharist unequivocally.6

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist - part 9

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





From chapter 2 - Serve. Part 5

“DYOU KNOW WHAT I HAVE DONE FOR YOU?”

When Jesus had finished washing the feet of his disciples, he rose and resumed his place at the table and asked them a simple question: “Do you know what I have done for you?”
There are several ways to take this question which Jesus posed to us, his followers; let me suggest two.

What Jesus Has Saved Us From

The first possible meaning relates to what Jesus has done for us by his sacrificial act on the cross:Do we know what Jesus has saved us from?
You may know enough to say,“Jesus has redeemed us from the bondage of original sin,” but unless you know what the lived consequences of this sin are, you cannot fully appreciate what Jesus has saved you from.The Catechism of the Catholic Church spells out the nature and effects of original sin in paragraphs 397–412. Here I briefly summarize this teaching and contrast it with how Jesus has reversed the “curse” of original sin. First, in the sin:
    Man “let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and,abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command” (CCC 397).
— Jesus trusted in God completely, even to death on the Cross, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
    Man “preferred himself to God,” thereby turning his back on the Creator (CCC 398).
— Jesus, though he was the form of God, did not deem equality with God; rather, Jesus lowered himself, taking the role of a servant (see Philippians 2:6–7).
As a result of original sin:
    People are “afraid of the God of whom they have con-ceived a distorted image” (CCC 399).
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— At the Conception of Jesus, his Mother was told: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). — Jesus told his followers, “I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten by God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:5–7).
    The original “harmony in which they [Adam and Eve] found themselves … is now destroyed” (CCC 400). — Jesus set the example of reversing this disharmony, so that St. Paul would pray, “May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:5).
    “The control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered” (CCC 400).
— Jesus’s death and our incorporation into it at baptism restore the right order, as St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace” (Romans 6:12–14).
    “The union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination” (CCC 400).
— Jesus  said, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4–6).
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— St. Paul instructed the followers of Christ that “the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:4) and in an often misquoted passage he told the Christian husband to love his wife “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
    “Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man” (CCC 400).
— Jesus commanded nature and nature obeyed, both in healing the sick and calming the storm. He told his disciples, “In my name … they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17–18).
    “Death makes its entrance into human history” (CCC 400). — Jesus raised the dead and was raised from the dead, and promised eternal life to anyone who believed in him, proclaiming himself to be “the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:58).
Knowing what Jesus has done for us will give us a greater appreciation of the Bread of Life that we receive when we approach his altar at every Eucharistic celebration. It is literally a matter of our life or our death!
LIVING THE UCHARIST
Is your Christian life dominated by the fallen worldview?  Do you strive with the help of the Holy Spirit and the nourishment of the Eucharist to live the new life of the kingdom that Jesus offers?

Monday, January 20, 2020

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday

From 2004 by Michael Dubruiel

This past summer on our way to Florida, Amy and I stopped at the gravesite of Martin Luther King Jr. I had been there before, a number of times. Though it is close to downtown, there is a quiet that persist--obviously this was not the case the other day when President Bush was there--but the times I've been there, although a crowd is present, most are quiet, reflecting.



What are they reflecting on?



Non-violence, peaceful protest, offer no resistence--the teachings of Christ! For what made Dr. King's message different and in the end successful was the apparent failure of it. Like the master he preached--his tomb stands like a cross planted squarely in the middle of the south. The relecting pool surrounding it reflects the faces of humanity who walk around it.



It was Christian faith, radical belief in the message of Jesus that led the civil rights movement of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and sadly that very faith has been forgotten by many who wish to follow in his footprints. But who can blame them when they see the tomb of Dr. King, they see the price of the taking up one's cross and following the master.



We also visited the Ebenezer Baptist Church nearby. I had never been inside the church before--since it was undergoing renovations. Amy and I were both shocked at how small it was--having seen in on television countless times, it seemed large. But alas it wasn't..."if you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to that mountain."



There will be many talks given today, that will laud Dr. King and his contribution to our society. There will be many proclamations about the progress we have made and some lamentation about how much further we have to go. But the saddest indictment will not be that we have not moved far enough in recognizing all people as our brothers and sisters--but rather that most of us have forgotten the one Father that we share that makes us all brothers and sisters!



At the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN where Dr. King was shot there is a historical marker with a quote from Genesis..."here comes that dreamer, let us put an end to him and then see what becomes of his dream." Of course the dreamer spoken of in Genesis is Joseph and his dream was given to him by God and nothing men could do could destroy or keep that dream from coming to fruition. Ultimately God always wins...

Sunday, January 19, 2020

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist - part 8

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





From chapter 2 - Serve.  Part 4

E T T I N G T H E O S T U T       O F T H E U C H A R I S T

If you want to get the most out of the Eucharist you have to check your “I” at the door.The “I” that wants things, that endlessly critiques the way things are done, and  that demands things be done in exactly a certain way (meaning “my way,” not God’s way). I think it was Peter Kreeft who once said that the famous song, “I Did It My Way,” sung by such great artists as Frank Sinatra and Elvis, is the national anthem of hell. The way of the world may be to do things “our way” but the way of Christ is to do things his Way.We therefore consciously have to leave “my way” at the door and in exchange take up an attitude that asks “how may we be of service to you, Lord, in this celebration of the Eucharist?”
THE INSTITU TION OF THE EUCHARIST BY JESUS On Holy Thursday, the day on which the Church celebrates the institution of the Holy Eucharist,the gospel reading for the Mass does not mention Jesus taking bread and wine but rather an act of service that Jesus performed at the Last Supper.The Lord taking bread and wine and declaring it his body and blood is mentioned in the Second Reading for that Mass,but not in the gospel.
The gospel for Holy Thursday is from John’s gospel. It is the story of Jesus rising from the table and shocking his disciples by doing something totally unexpected, washing their feet.
Peter refuses to have his feet washed at first but acquiesces when Jesus tells him that it is necessary if Peter is to have any inheritance in him.
If you are like me, you can relate to Peter.There is something in Peter’s character that perfectly illustrates what we all are like in our fallen nature.We are proud.We want to be in control.We like Jesus, and we want to be part of his crowd, but we also want to tell him what to do.
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Saturday, January 18, 2020

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist - part 7

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





From chapter 2 - Serve. Part 3


H O S E WAY R E R E PA R I N G ?
Every Sunday when I come to the Eucharist and am confronted by the words inscribed in stone over the entrance of my parish church, “Prepare the way of the Lord,” I am reminded that the first sacrifice I must make at this Mass is my own ego, and as I strive to relinquish the need to be in control of what will happen at this Eucharist I ask, “What does my lord bid his servant?” (Joshua 5:14).
We all face the same struggle. Some of you may protest:
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    “The ushers don’t make me feel welcome in my church.”
    “My parish priest preaches too long.”
    “The musicians in our church are out of control.”
    “People are too loud and talk too much before theEucharist.”
    “The people dress too well or too poorly.”
Each of us, if given the opportunity to share what we think is keeping us from getting the most out of the Eucharist, is apt to come up with our own list. Recently I asked this question online and received a deluge of responses. Many were true abuses of the liturgy,and were worthy of being reported to the diocesan bishop, but just as many were not.
When I shared my amazement at the number of responses with my wife,she very keenly mused,“They all feel helpless,like they have no control.” As soon as she said this I realized that this was exactly the same thing I had heard from priests and musicians, the two groups who are most often the target of the congregation’s ire.Priests who come into a new parish and encounter established ways of doing things with which they do not agree and yet are powerless (at least at first) to change and musicians who are hired to provide a parish with beautiful music yet find themselves restrained by parish staff or established practice to playing pieces they feel are less than worthy of the liturgy often express frustration at their lack of control.
This brings home a point that we do not like to admit: None of us is in control, no matter what our function is in the liturgy. Yet we are all tempted to think that if we were in charge we could make it all perfect.
The greatest suffering that I’ve endured at any celebration of the Eucharist has been the few cases where someone, whether it was the presider, a musician, or, as in several cases, a member of the congregation, thought he or she could  make the liturgy more perfect by his or her own inventions. Here are some examples of this type of behavior, all of which actually happened:
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    An Easter Sunday where a visiting priest tried to woo thecongregation by creating a “Mass” of his own making, never once using the words prescribed by the Church from beginning to end.
    A musician who saw himself as in a battle with the cele-brant and who continually and loudly played music over the presider’s attempts to pray the prescribed prayers of the Church.
    A congregant who screamed out for the priest to stopbecause “no one” —meaning herself — “knew where he was” in the liturgy.
    A congregant who held up a crucifix as he processedtoward the altar to receive the Eucharist and then, after receiving the Eucharist, turned and exorcised the congregation with loud prayers and wild gesticulations of the cross.
Now, you may think of some of these people as being mentally ill, and perhaps some of them were, yet a case could be made that when any of us “lords” it over another we are a little off in the head, especially if we are doing so and claiming to be a follower of Jesus. None of this is new, of course; even in Jesus’s time there were those who sought to take control and lord it over others.Yet Jesus addressed this issue directly,and clearly specified the subservient attitude that would be required of his followers:
Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not be served but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many.”
— M ATTHEW 2 0 : 2 5 – 2 8

Friday, January 17, 2020

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist - part 6

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







From chapter 1 - Serve. Part 2

H E O R D
Jesus told his followers that when they had done all that had been commanded of them they should say:“We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Luke 17:10).
Our lives often are like a field of weeds with pressing concerns that can seem to take priority, but indeed the weeds are not as powerful as they might seem, and remembering who is Lord, Master, and God can help us put everything into perspective.
LE S S O N S LE A R N ED F RO M A H REE -Y E A R -O L D
Anyone who has a young child has a built-in reminder that coming to the Eucharist requires servitude. Preparations have to be made so that the child will be taken care of during the celebration. Sometimes this means making sure that a child’s prayer or Mass book is in his or her possession. At other times it simply

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means having tissue for a runny nose or having an extra dose of patience to deal with any outburst that might occur. One thing is certain: any parent who has a young child is already bringing the attitude of a servant to the Eucharist. If I get a little too comfortable in the pew and lean back in the posture of a spectator, my three-year-old will pretty quickly remind me that I’m not there to relax but to serve.
“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
— LUKE 9 : 4 8

Having a young child in our midst, whether it is our own or someone else’s in the next pew, is a great reminder to us to humble ourselves, that in serving the child we may serve the Lord himself.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist - part 5

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








Chapter 1 - Serve, Part 1

“You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”
ATTHEW 4 : 1 0

In my home parish, St. John the Baptist in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the words Parate Viam Domini are inscribed over the front doors. The two years of Latin that I had in college and my knowledge of Scripture are enough for me to figure out that the message greeting me each Sunday are the words of St. John the Baptist in the desert, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” It is an excellent message to set the tone for the mystery that is about to be celebrated.
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R E PA R AT I O N

I remember how differently I approached the Mass when as a young man I began to serve at the Eucharist as an altar boy.Before I could serve for the first time, I had to attend training sessions so that I knew what gestures and movements I was to make, and had to study the Latin responses so that I could answer the prayers of the priest at the appropriate time.Sometimes school was sacrificed so that I could serve a funeral mass,or a Saturday afternoon so that the priest could be attended to as he witnessed the marriage vows of a couple celebrating the Sacrament of Matrimony.
The thought and preparation that went into serving at the Eucharist required a sacrifice on my part but kept me focused on why I was there. Adults who serve as lectors, ushers, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist,and choir members often mention feeling similar sentiments when they first take on these acts of service. Yet with time we are all apt to find ourselves going through the motions without much preparation and indeed without much thought about the fact that we are serving God in our respective roles at the Eucharist, and this inattentiveness is to our detriment. Making preparations is the work of a servant, and in the celebration of the Eucharist it is the work of every disciple of Christ.

H E WAY

“The Way” is one of the oldest names for the first followers of Christ. Jesus often told his disciples that he came to show them “the Way” to the Father, that God’s ways were not our ways, and that He was the Way. The routine that we can fall into at the Eucharist happens precisely when we stop seeing what is taking place as “different”from everything else that we experience in life. Not only is it different, but if we truly enter into the Eucharist with a spirit of sacrifice,it will change the way that we view everything in our lives. The tension between Christian beliefs and the beliefs of “the world” is understood only when we come to embrace “the way” of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
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Most converts to Christianity have a clear sense of the saving power of Jesus as “the Way.” Faithful, lifelong Catholics may not have as keen an understanding until they experience the difference their faith has made to them in contrast to the rejection of that faith in one of their children.Yet understanding that “the way” of Christ is not business as usual can keep us from thinking that we have nothing to prepare for when we celebrate the Eucharist. Once we realize that God’s ways are not our ways, we will always see the need to “prepare ourselves for these Sacred Mysteries” we are about to celebrate.
LIVING THE UCHARIST
Throughout the day,when the events of the day do not go your “way,” before frustration has a chance to set in, stop and ask yourself what God’s way might be for what the day has given you. Try to think of a similar incident in the life of Christ to the one in which you find yourself — how did Our Lord handle the situation?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist - part 4

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, January 14, 2020

How to Get the Most out of the Eucharist, part 3

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






A  N O T E      O F A U T I O N

N ow, I want to be clear that what I am proposing in this book is not the “victim-ism” that was sometimes prevalent in the older spirituality of “offering it up.” In every situation we are free to choose how we will respond to an event: we can blame someone else for what is happening, or we can feel powerless and do 
nothing. It is my contention that neither of these responses is Christlike.The experience of “offering up” our lives to God needs to be a positive and co-redemptive act.Thankfully, with God’s help we are all capable of freely choosing to respond in this fashion.

Those who promoted the spirituality of “offering it up” in a previous age often quoted St.Paul’s words to the Colossians:“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Colossians 1:24). In offering our sacrifice at the Eucharist, in the same way that we offer up any suffering we endure in life, we take whatever is negative and turn it into a positive, life-giving force both in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. We make up for what is “lacking” for the sake of  “his body,”the Church — that is,ourselves in communion with all Christians with all of our imperfections and all of our failings. “The miracle of the church assembly lies in that it is not the ‘sum’ of the sinful and unworthy people who comprise it, but the body of Christ,” Father Alexander Schmemann remarked.This is the power of the cross of Jesus Christ,taking what appears to be weakness and allowing God to transform it into strength!

Monday, January 13, 2020

How to Get the Most out of the Eucharist, part 2

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



H E  U C H A R I S T     A S   A  A C R I F I C E

The solution to this modern dilemma is simple — put Jesus back at the center of the Eucharist and you immediately change all of this. In his encyclical Pope John Paul II says, “In giving his sacrifice to the Church, Christ has also made his own the spiritual sacrifice of the Church, which is called to offer herself in union with the sacrifice of Christ.This is the teaching of the Second Vatican Council concerning all the faithful: ‘Taking part in the Eucharistic Sacrifice,which is the source and summit of the whole Christian life,they offer the divine victim to God,and offer themselves along with it.’ ”2
As we participate in the Eucharist, not only do we participate in Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary but we are called to share in that sacrifice.Just knowing this should change how we view everything that irks us at Mass. Are you:
    Suffering mental anguish — like a crown of thorns isupon your head?
    Weighed down by worldly concerns — like the weight ofthe cross is on you?
    Feeling powerless — like you are nailed to a cross?
If we take away a sacrificial attitude toward the Eucharist, we are likely to fail to see the connection between our lives and what we do at Mass.We are apt to sit in judgment, waiting to be entertained (whether we are conservative or liberal, what we want to see differs but the attitude is the same). When we fail to bring a sacrificial attitude to the Eucharist, our participation seems at times to be modeled more after Herod’s banquet, where Simone’s dance cost the Baptist his head, than after the Last Supper of Our Lord, where there was every indication that partaking in this banquet was likely to cost the disciples their own lives. (Indeed, ten of the twelve were martyred,Judas took his own life,and John survived being boiled alive in a cauldron of oil.)
When was the last time that you celebrated the Eucharist with the thought that you were being asked to “offer yourself” — to give your very life? Chances are,you haven’t thought of it,but you may have experienced it …
    By thinking “I could be doing something else.”
    By asking “Why am I here?”
Yet you weren’t doing anything else and you were there — what was missing was the free offering of “your sacrifice,” the choice to offer your suffering along with that of the Passion of Our Lord.
Participation in the Eucharist requires that we die to ourselves and live in Christ. If we want to get the most out of the Eucharist, then sacrifice is the key.This is what has been lost on many of us, and if we want to reclaim all the spiritual riches that are available to us we must relearn what it means not only to “offer it up” but indeed to offer ourselves up.

Friday, January 10, 2020

How to Get More Out of a Catholic Mass - Part 1

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. 

The following is an excerpt from the introduction:

Problems…            I had the opportunity to speak about the Eucharist to various groups of people in almost every part of the United States since the release of The How To Book of the Mass, a book I wrote several years ago. No matter where I happened to be, I received the same response. A dissatisfaction of sorts often rooted in how things were being done at their home parish.
            Some of these same people longed for the “old” days of the Tridentine liturgy (and an alarming number of young Catholics). Yet I know from conversations that I've had with older priests that the old liturgy was subject to many of the same problems as today's Mass.
What was different forty years ago is the attitude that Catholics brought to the Eucharist back then was more sacrificial. A term that one often heard older Catholics use was "to offer it up" when things didn't go the way you expected or wished. This sacrificial attitude made a previous generation of Catholics focus not on themselves but on what God wanted of them.
By the time I attended a Catholic College in the early 1980’s people were being made fun of if they still had this attitude. I remember a very pious student one day suggesting to another student who was complaining about the difficulty of an upcoming test that he “offer-up” the suffering he was undergoing for the poor souls in Purgatory. His fellow student replied, “Are you nuts?” Everyone at the table laughed. It was symbolic of a change in the Catholic psyche.
The Eucharist was viewed almost entirely as a banquet; a picnic table replaced the stone altar in the chapel, it was moved from the front of the chapel to the center.  The emphasis was more horizontal. The pendulum was swinging in the other direction, after many years where it would have been difficult to think of the Mass as a meal, now it was nearly impossible to encounter the Eucharist as a sacrifice.
Some twenty years later the pendulum is returning to the middle. My college chapel has been renovated yet again. The table is gone replaced by a very ornate altar that is located in the middle of the congregation. Images once removed have returned and there is more of a flow of the feeling that both God and humans occupy this worship space.
Pope John Paul in his Encyclical on the Eucharist Ecclesia de Eucharistia has mentioned as one of the modern “shadows” or problems with the way Catholics understand the Eucharist is that "Stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet[i]."
            It is my belief that this downplaying the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist is the main reason that many of us are not getting the most out of the Eucharist. Over time we lose sight of why we even go or worst the Eucharist gets relegated to one more social obligation that one can easily decide not to attend.


[i] Ecclesia De Eucharistia (10)





How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist gives you nine concrete steps to help you join your own sacrifice to the sacrifice of Christ as you:
  • Serve: Obey the command that Jesus gave to his disciples at the first Eucharist.
  • Adore: Put aside anything that seems to rival God in importance.
  • Confess: Believe in God’s power to make up for your weaknesses.
  • Respond" Answer in gesture, word, and song in unity with the Body of Christ.
  • Incline: Listen with your whole being to the Word of God.
  • Fast: Bring your appetites and desires to the Eucharist.
  • Invite: Open yourself to an encounter with Jesus.
  • Commune: Accept the gift of Christ in the Eucharist.
  • Evangelize :Take him and share the Lord with others.