Friday, July 21, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 38

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 38th step:



(38) Not to be slothful (cf Rom 12:11).



The scripture passage that St. Benedict quotes from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans. I expected it to be the passage "if a man doesn't work, he shouldn't eat," but its not that. The passage he quotes is "Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord."



Again, like in all previous counsels the motivation to not be slothful is to be animated by God's Holy Spirit. How do we receive this Spirit, by serving the Lord (I like to think of this as "working for the Lord").



Just as one might take a job with a certain company and enjoy certain benefits that the company offers, so too for the person who "works" for the Lord. The chief benefit that God provides to those who serve Him is that He gives them the power to fulfill the job. He also fills His workers with the desire and zeal to do the work.



Being lazy, or slothful is a sign that we have turned in on ourselves again; that we are "serving" ourselves and our own desires. So it is easy to see how this would stop us from being in communion with God.



What then of all the lazy Christians? Remember Benedict wrote these counsels for monks, men who had left everything to follow Christ in the life of the Monastery. But as Jesus prophesied the the "love of many will grow cold," so too in religious life, people can lose sight of the great need that they have for God and start slacking off in prayer.





Which brings us to the greatest danger of being slothful--neglecting prayer. Communicating with God is essential if we are to live--we must never give up prayer.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 37

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 37th step:



(37) Not to be drowsy.



Several years ago, Amy and I attended the Easter Vigil Mass at a monastery. We arrived at the Abbey Church on Holy Saturday night at 9 when it began. The Blessing of the Fire was done, the Easter candle carried in procession, the Exsultet sang, and the readings began. Then they stopped after the fourth one.



There was an announcement. The readings would resume at 4 A.M. We both looked at each other. We were staying at a hotel about a half hour away. It was already 10:30. We rushed out the door and headed back to the hotel and after leaving a wake up call for 3 A.M. at the desk went to sleep.



Like zombies we took are place in the Church again at 3:45 A.M. The monks were all there, psalms were being read. They looked well rested, alert-awake. I was not, I was drowsy.



Monks get up at 4 A.M. every morning. Most of us do not but sleep is essential for all of us. St. Benedict's counsel reflects the rigors of monastic life but applies to us as well. We need sleep in order to give our full attention to life's demands.



There also is the memory of the Apostles and their failure to stay awake at the crucial moments of Our Lord's agony, "And he came and found them sleeping," (Mark 14:37). And of course the warning that he is coming again and how will Our Lord find us, "Watch therefore-for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning-lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch," (Mark 13:35).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 36

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 36th step:



(36) Not to be a great eater.



Food exists to nourish the body, but I think that no one would be surprised to find that St. Benedict includes this in his counsels. Too often food can become an obsession for those who want to "bury" something that makes life unbearable for them.



Saying a blessing over the food that we are about to eat. Eating slowly and allowing our bodies to be nourished is good. Eating as though nothing can satiate our hunger points to a deeper problem.



I remember that once a friend of mine who is a counselor told me that he had noticed that the most difficult people to counsel that he encountered were those who were overweight. He drew no conclusion as to why this was the case but thought it might have something to do with a displaced focus on food as a remedy to all their ills.



Putting aside genetic dispositions for a second, we should ask ourselves how we approach meals. Are we like an animal who will continue to eat anything put before us with no regard to what we really need?





We should examine the true source of our hungers in life and turn to God. We should be great pray-ers, not great eaters.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 35

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 35th step:



(35) Not to be given to wine (cf Ti 1:7; 1 Tm 3:3).



Have you ever said and meant, "boy I need a drink"? This is exactly what St. Benedict is counseling us not to be given to…needing a drink. Benedict and of course Jesus both drank wine. It was a part of the daily meals of both. But what Benedict is counseling us against is feeling that we "need" an alcoholic drink to get by. Of course if we follow this counsel than what do we do, when we are having one of "those days"?



Turn to God. The very elements of a day that leaves us stressed out, are the items that we need to let go of in our prayer. Of course we need to turn to God before our day ever gets to the point of "needing a drink" to anesthetize ourselves.



Everything is given for our use in life and has a purpose. Wine has been shown to be a very healthy part of the diet of people who drink in moderation on a regular basis. But like every good, too much is not good.



If God is the Supreme Being, then we will approach the goods of this life with the right attitude. This would apply to all beverages from coffee, colas, and beer.





In regard to wine, which in the Eucharist becomes the Blood of Christ--we should ever desire to quench our thirst from the True Vine.

Monday, July 17, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 34

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 34th step:



(34) Not to be proud...




I do not think that it is a mistake that pride is mentioned right after persecution. There are tales that at the times in the early Church, when persecution was waged against the church, that some Christians actively sought to be persecuted and martyred. This was against Our Lord's command: "When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next," (Matthew 10:23), and here St. Benedict cautions us not to be proud.



This is a fundamental principle to the Spiritual Life. You can not be proud. Once you start to gloat over the spiritual gifts that you are blessed with, or how well you are doing in prayer, or how much better you are, or how high you are up on the spiritual ladder---you are right back at the bottom of the pit. Your ego has won again and God is very distant from you.



There is a prayer to pray when you feel "proud " of your spiritual accomplishments. Not surprisingly it comes from God Himself in the person of Jesus. Jesus tells his disciples, "when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty,'" (Matthew 17:10).





We must avoid pride, because it is a great obstacle to be open to our great and unrelenting need for God. Pride at its root seeks to cut God out of the picture. It goes without saying then that pride is the greatest enemy to our communion with God, but it also needs to be said that it is a great temptation when we find our lives becoming so much better because of our communion with Him.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 33 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 33th step:



(33) To bear persecution for justice sake (cf Mt 5:10).



St. Benedict references one of the Beatitudes for this counsel, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," (Matthew 5:10). If we are just and right in what people choose to persecute us for, then we should bear it patiently.



Many people suffer persecution for doing what is right and unfortunately often at the hands of religious people. Our Lord told his disciples that, "indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God," (John 16:2). One have only to open the papers and to read of crimes against human beings committed by people of every religious belief out of conviction that they are doing the will of God.



Jesus promised his followers, " Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you," (John 15:20). Therefore, again in imitation of Our Lord we should bear persecution when we are not at fault with patience.



One of the greatest examples of this patient endurance of persecution in our own day is the nonviolent civil rights movement of the late 1950's and 1960's. There are memorials and historical markers where horrible persecutions took place in various cities through the south. The test of time has proved the righteousness of the cause, but those who stood up suffered horribly at the time. They took their example from the Scriptures.



In more recent times those who have bravely protested nonviolently in front of abortion clinics, silently praying the rosary, are great examples of the just who are persecuted for righteousness sake!





We should do the same. When we stand up for what is right and just we should not expect accolades; in fact we should be weary of the applause. What is right is seldom popular; people seem to slip into a collective hypnosis from time to time that blinds them from recognizing the truth. But God is the truth and living a lie can only distance us from Him.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 15 - St. Bonaventure

From TheUniversalis: Office of Readings:



"Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert.



There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.



For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.



If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God?s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervour and glowing love. The fir is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ"


Books by Michael Dubruiel