Saturday, November 17, 2018

Bible Reflection

When St. Peter heard that Jesus was going somewhere, he wanted
to follow the Lord. Jesus refused, and told the apostle that he
would follow later. Peter protested: He was willing to lay down
his life for Jesus (again something that he ultimately would do
later). Then Jesus dropped a bombshell: That very night, Peter
would deny him three times.

The final battle to following Jesus is the battle of self. No matter
how pure our motives may seem, until we trust in God more
than we trust in ourselves, we are doomed to fail. To truly follow
Jesus, we must unite ourselves with him and trust him totally.
"michael dubruiel"

By Michael Dubruiel

Friday, November 16, 2018

Free Catholic Book by Michael Dubruiel

The Cross of Christ Transforms. . . How We See Jesus 


Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 PETER 2:4–5 

They rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But passing through the midst of them he went away. LUKE 4:29–30 

A Benedictine monk of St. Meinrad Archabbey, Father Cyril Vrablic, always began his homilies with the following quip, “Someday, I’m going to write a book. I haven’t written any of the pages yet, but I do have a title and some of the chapters.” He would then list off the title and chapters of his mythical book. One title I can still remember some twenty years after first hearing it: “Saints in heaven have all the glory; saints on earth, that’s a different story.” This title got a lot of laughs because of its simple truth: While we admire people of great sanctity once they are no longer around, they can get on our nerves while they still live among us.

Jesus, Scriptures tell us, could work no miracles in his hometown because of the lack of faith he encountered among them. When he arose to preach in his local synagogue, the local folks saw only the carpenter’s son. They were impressed by his eloquence, but his other claims enraged them to the point that they wanted to kill him. Only then did he work a miracle of sorts, passing through their midst and leaving town.

I Call You Friends 

Where Father Cyril preached, there was a large image of Christ the Teacher. This image of Jesus appears lofty, severe, and royal. It is hardly the image of Jesus that most of us would have living in the twenty-first century. Since Vatican II, Jesus is most often presented—to both children and adults—as our friend. Jesus called his disciples friends (see John 15:13–15); they called him “Lord” and “Master.” I wonder if this isn’t what we ought to be doing. There is something about making Jesus our “friend” that seems to rob him of his divinity and robs us of the power of his presence.

We tend to compartmentalize our friends. When we need something, we tend to go to the friend that is most likely to be able to help us. By making Jesus our “friend,” the tendency would be for us to approach him in the same way, to invite him only into areas of our lives that we deem “spiritual.” The trouble is, most of us equate “spirituality” with angels and church, not with everyday life. So it is no wonder that, as with the people of Nazareth, the Lord doesn’t work any miracles in our midst; we have no trust in him. Jesus taught his disciples that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed (check your spice rack to see how small a mustard seed is) they could do great things. But it is very likely that our faith, our trust in Christ isn’t even that big. We think we know Jesus, when in reality we know only our own image of him.

 It saddens me when someone who has been raised a Christian without actually embracing the faith experiences the power of God as an adult through some other means, often through a different faith community that is not united with the Church that Christ established while he was here on earth. The first apostles turned the world upside down, healing and preaching and raising the dead in the name of Jesus Christ. How is it that the power of Christ is not so easily recognized in our churches today?

Power Transformed 

The Jesus that we encounter in the Gospels is amazing. Confronted with sickness, he heals the sick. Confronted with death, he raises the dead. Confronted with opposition, he silences his opponents. Then comes his Passion. Suddenly, with the exception of curing the ear of the high priest’s servant, Jesus reveals a different way of exercising his almighty power—through weakness! He accepts the cross, along with all the punishment and abuse thrown at him, until all is finished and he commends himself to the Father. After he rises from the dead, the only miracles recorded in the Scriptures are his ability to materialize and disappear from the midst of his disciples. What happened to the power Jesus exhibited during his ministry? He gave those powers to his disciples. Reading the Acts of the Apostles, you find the disciples of Jesus doing the very same things Jesus did in the Gospels, to the point of powerfully accepting death, exhibited in the stoning of Stephen. The history of the church is filled with examples of the power of Christ working through those who placed their belief in him. The stories that surround the saints tell of people being healed and of martyrs bravely facing death. Even in our own times, in the United States, there are shrines that exhibit crutches left behind after people were healed by the power of Christ.

Time of Unbelief

 Our present time is one of unbelief. The modern church has become like the town of Nazareth. We think we know Christ, and as a result he can work no miracles in our midst. It is time to admit our ignorance of Christ. We should ponder the words, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (John 6:42). Is the Jesus we believe in the same Divine Person revealed to us in Scripture, or have we created a “kinder, gentler” version? Jesus says to us, “You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me” (John 7:28–29). Do we worship the Son of God of Scripture, or a false imposter, a pseudo-Christ? The Jesus rejected by men is the cornerstone of our faith. Without the real Jesus our faith is weak and powerless; with Jesus the Christ, we are powerful in our weakness. We become living stones—animated by the power of Christ, the Son of the all-powerful God.


The Power of the Cross 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"

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Jesus Prayer - by Michael Dubruiel

Since the time of early Christianity, there have been forms
of prayer that use breathing as a cadence for prayer. The Jesus
Prayer and the Rosary, along with various forms of contemplative
prayer, are all variations of this type of prayer. The real prayer
behind all of these methods is the prayer of surrender: “Into
your hands I commend my spirit.” This was the prayer that Jesus
prayed to the Father from the cross.

Though confession alone does not remove the temporal penalty
of sin, healing still is possible by God’s grace. Prayer, reading the
Scripture, giving alms, doing good works all are acts that have
had indulgences attached to them by the Church. By obtaining
an indulgence, the Christian receives healing from the temporal
penalty of even the gravest sins, reducing or eliminating altogether
the time of purification needed in purgatory (CCC 1471).

Ideally, the Christian is motivated to perform these spiritual
exercises not from fear of punishment but out of love for God.
As we read in the preceding passage, St. Paul tells the Ephesians
to offer themselves as a spiritual sacrifice with Christ, who has
paid the debt of our sins. Seeing Christ on the cross and meditating
on his love for us should help us to understand how much
God loves


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

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ

From 2008, on Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ Michael Dubruiel



I thought it did a great job in portraying the cultic action of the Jewish priesthood offering the "lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world". God is the supreme actor in the Passion as Jesus reminds Pilate, and I did hear what Jesus says to Pilate (that is from the Scripture) in a way that I never heard before..."what do we do with the power that God has given us?"



I've heard a ton of talk about the movie since I've seen it. Rabbi Marc Gelman liked it and thought it resurrected a "real" portrayal of the roots of Christianity in a day when religion is often portrayed in a cartoonish way.



Other rabbi's have condemned it, one saying that all the Jews had "bad teeth." Since everyone in the movie was either a Jew or Roman and Jesus had great teeth, I'm not sure what movie he saw.



But perhaps that is the point about a movie like this, we see what we want to...we go to it looking for confirmation of our preheld views.



Some things that I liked in particular were:



Seeing the Passion from the view of the Blessed Virgin Mary...

Seeing the Eucharist from the view of John...

The interspersing of scenes that in someway made the gave additional interpretation to the events that were taking place.

Overall the movie serves as an excellent meditation on Christ's passion and it's lack of focus on the resurection (only hinted at) gives the viewer a way to apply the passion of Christ to their daily life.



Things that I think were weak:

The opening Garden scene I thought was poorly done. The focus was on the devil (another weakness...), the apostles after being told to stay awake--literally wake up and do watch Jesus (they don't in Scripture--rather they go back to sleep), and Jesus is never sent an angel to strengthen him. I know that some aspects of Anne Catherine Emmerich's vision has supplied this scene, but even her vision is more intersting as the devil displays before Christ all the misinterpretations of his message and the futility of his suffering on the mass of the future humanity--this could have placed the whole passion in context).

I thought there could have been more focus on the cultic action of the Temple and tied that in with Jesus' passion and the hostility of the Jewish priests.

I would have like to have seen the "darkness" that overtakes the whole land to be more eerie than just an impending thunderstorm.



But overall, here is a Passion of Christ that portrays Christ as a man not a wimp, as someone entering a battle and fighting it courageously until it is finished.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

November 13- St. Francis Cabrini by Michael Dubruiel


A novena to Mother Cabrini is included in The Church's Most Powerful Novenas by Michael Dubruiel

The Church's Most Powerful Novenas is a book of novenas connected with particular shrines.  Michael Dubruiel wrote in the introduction to this book he compiled:


A novena to Mother Cabrini is included in

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his Apostles to stay where they were and to "wait for the gift" that the Father had promised: the Holy Spirit.  The Apostles did as the Lord commanded them. "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers" (Acts 1:14). Nine days passed; then, they received the gift of the Holy spirit, as had been promised. May we stay together with the church, awaiting in faith with Our Blessed Mother, as we trust entirely in God, who loves us more than we can ever know. 

"michael Dubruiel"










Monday, November 12, 2018

Blessed Solanus Casey

From 2004, by Michael Dubruiel
 
Taming the Wild
 
 
 
Solanus had also been cultivating a patch of wild strawberries which he told the friars he was "taming."
 
Father Solanus: The Story of Solnus Casey O.F.M. Cap. p.174




I had been making my lunch time pilgrimage for several months when I read a chapter from Cathy Odell's book on Solanus' time in Huntington. I had literally walked the fields and woods throughout but had never come across any wild strawberries. They must have perished when some of the land was plowed, I figured.


It was a beautiful sunlit day, not a cloud in the sky and very low humidity. I started out walking the perimeter of the property, as was my usual route, and began to pray the rosary. Normally this meant finishing the joyful mysteries by the time I reached the far forest where an Eagle Scout had cleared a trail through the woods. There I would begin the sorrowful mysteries reaching the Capuchin graveyard about the time I reached the third sorrowful mystery (the Crowing with Thorns) where I would prostrate in the direction of the simple wooden cross at the head of the graveyard and pray the prayer of St. Francis, "We adore thee O Christ and we praise Thee because by thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world." Then I would pray the third sorrowful mystery on my knees for the Friars and others buried there, at the same time asking for their intercession for my many needs.


Then I would retrace my steps backward in a slightly different path along the woods rather than through them. At about the same spot where I had discovered an apple tree left over from the orchard that Solanus had blessed, I looked down and spotted something red blooming. At first I thought they were small red flowers that had some how resisted the mowing the lawn had received recently. But on closer inspection I found wild strawberries almost ready to be harvested.


I thought of the irony of my discovery on the very day that I had first read about Solanus' "taming" of wild strawberries, then I thought of the whole aspect of "taming" the wild.


Looking over the property of what had once been a flourishing center of Catholic spirituality, I could not help but be struck by the apparent failure. What had been tamed here and once again become wild.


It struck me as an apt symbol for the state of Catholicism in the United States at the beginning of the Twenty-first century. The in-roads that the Church had made in converting and bringing Catholic Christianity to this country seemed to have reverted back to its wild state. Those who call themselves Catholic pick and choose what they believe and how they practice their faith. In many ways they mirror the environment they live in with very little to distinguish them from their non-Catholic neighbors.


Of course it also struck me that I suffered from this as much as anyone.


Picking up the wild strawberry, I saw how immature it was. No doubt Solanus' taming of the "wild" strawberries had resulted in them growing into substantial fruit that was enjoyed by the Huntington Capuchins. Now without that taming, the wild strawberry had once again returned to a small pitiful caricature of what it might have been.


Sadly this is what we also have become. Our influence in our culture is weak and we risk giving scandal to those who look to us as representatives of all that is Catholic. We are "wild" Cathlolics, in great need of being tamed by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Free Catholic Book

If we want to learn anything about the Paschal mystery of Jesus’
Passion, death, and resurrection here on the mountain of the
Transfiguration, we must approach these mysteries on our knees.
It all begins with prayer.

Jesus climbed the mountain to be alone with the three disciples,
to pray with them. Every effort of prayer begins with an
invitation to “come aside.” Just as Our Lord called Peter, James,
and John to come with him up the mountain, he beckons to us
today. When we feel that inner nudge, that desire to pray, we
must pay attention to God’s call.

It may be difficult to respond to the invitation at times. We
need not climb a mountain, at least not literally. However, we do
need a place to “come aside.” It may be a special corner of our
room, or a nearby chapel; no matter where it is, the trip to put
oneself into God’s presence may seem like scaling the side of a
precipice at times. This is to be expected: We are entering a different
realm. As Peter, James, and John discovered, in leading
them up the mountain Jesus had taken them higher than the geological
summit; he had transported them to heaven itself. They
were able to witness Moses and Elijah, conversing with Jesus in
prayer and blinding light!

-The Power of the Cross  by Michael Dubruiel


"michael dubruiel"









dg

Saturday, November 10, 2018

St. Leo the Great - November 10

I attended an early mass at St. Leo the Great's tomb one morning while in Rome and as I read the office of readings for today by him, I thought how death makes this even more apparent.

St. Leo, pray for us!

From the Office of Readings:

Although the universal Church of God is constituted of distinct orders of
members, still, in spite of the many parts of its holy body, the Church subsists
as an integral whole, just as the Apostle says: We are all one in Christ. No
difference in office is so great that anyone can be separated, through
lowliness, from the head. In the unity of faith and baptism, therefore, our
community is undivided. There is a common dignity, as the apostle Peter says in
these words: And you are built up as living stones into spiritual houses, a holy
priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through
Jesus Christ. And again: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, a people set apart. For all, regenerated in Christ, are made kings by
the sign of the cross; they are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy
Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all
spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers
in the office of the priesthood. For what is more king-like than to find
yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God? And
what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer
him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart? Because, through
the grace of God, it is a deed accomplished universally on behalf of all, it is
altogether praiseworthy and in keeping with a religious attitude for you to
rejoice in this our day of consecration, to consider it a day when we are
especially honoured. For indeed one sacramental priesthood is celebrated
throughout the entire body of the Church. The oil which consecrates us has
richer effects in the higher grades, yet it is not sparingly given in the lower.
Sharing in this office, my dear brethren, we have solid ground for a common
rejoicing; yet there will be more genuine and excellent reason for joy if you do
not dwell on the thought of our unworthiness. It is more helpful and more
suitable to turn your thoughts to study the glory of the blessed apostle Peter.
We should celebrate this day above all in honour of him. He overflowed with
abundant riches from the very source of all graces, yet though he alone received
much, nothing was given over to him without his sharing it. The Word made flesh
lived among us, and in redeeming the whole human race, Christ gave himself
entirely
.-Michael Dubruiel

Friday, November 9, 2018

St. John Lateran - November 9


A visit to St. John Lateran, from 2006, by Michael Dubruiel:


After a quick lunch (pizza, what else?)we headed toward the Metro station to catch the A Train to St. John Lateran's to meet up with Zadok who had so generously agreed to give us a tour of two of Rome's greatest Churches. We were still pretty green when it comes to the whole Metro system and walked (rather than took a bus) to the station, so by the time we finally arrived we were late and Zadok was nowhere to be seen (at least not at the Metro station where Amy had thought he had said he was going to meet us). So Amy went out the other possible exits and Katie, Joseph, the baby (on my back) and I went a bit further and bought a bottle of water. When Amy came to say that he could not be found, we decided to go on further to the Church and see if he might have gone on there when we had not arrived on time. Sure enought there he was...
I should mention that at this point we had already walked quite a bit (given two treks through St. Peter's, a good half mile to the Metro and another two or three blocks from the Metro to St. John's) while we stood and listened to Zadok's interesting history of the surrounding landmarks, Joseph sat. And even looking at the front of the Church's pavement now, makes me tired to think about even walking that distance. Most people think that St. Peter's is the Cathedral Church of Rome, but it isn't--St. John Lateran's is. While the chair of Peter is in St. Peter's, the Bishop of Rome's chair is at St. John Lateran's and this is the central feature of the apse of the Church, now that I think of it in a similar way to the way that the Chair of Peter is in the apse of St. Peter's. When St. Francis of Assisi came to Rome to see the Pope, he came here to the Lateran and their are large statues of Francis and his crew directly across from St. John's that seem to be in communication with the large statues that are on the facade of St. John's. After his election as pope last April, Pope Benedict XVI came here to the Lateran to be formally installed as the Bishop of Rome (ever wonder why the Bishop of Rome isn't an "archbishop"?).
St John's has it's own Egyptian obelisk (just like St. Peter's) and a very impressive Baptistry which next to the Pope's chair is what I remember most about this part of our tour. The Baptistry was huge (I had seen one at the ruins of St. John's in Ephesus twenty-seven years earlier that was quite small in comparison). There was some type of festival going on outside of the Church that seemed to be a "Mardis Gras" or "Carnivale" type of celebration, remember this was just before the beginning of Lent. So next to the obelisk were booths, screaming kids and some people dressed in costumes giving the "pope's church" the feel of a regular parish back home.
Across the street we visited the Scala Santa--the holy stairs, said to have been brought to Rome by St. Helena the mother of Constantine and to have been the stairs that Jesus would have walked on during his Passion when he came before Pontius Pilate. The faithful climb up them on their knees and as this picture will attest--there were no shortage of takes on the day we were there, in fact there were so many that it was really impossible to get near the steps to see them.
We walked up the side steps to another chapel called the Holy of Holies because it contained many holy relics and an image of Christ reported to have been painted by St. Luke entitled "picture painted without hands"....any student of Catholic piety knows there are many images reported to have been painted by St. Luke (Our Lady of Czestochova being one example). I had never thought about it much before, but I wonder if another meaning might be that Luke's Gospel inspired the works? I doubt the people working their way up on their knees think so..
Around the other side of the Holy Stairs was the remains of the Papal dining hall and an impressive mosaic, as we were viewing this site a woman begging rather aggressively started coming at us, and we moved on toward the Church in the distance...St. Mary Major.
Walking along Zadok shared his knowledge of another area of his expertise the Irish Catholic Church begining with the Irish College, its history and various locations. We talked about the contributions the Irish priests had made to the world at large, Africa in particular and the United States (anyone who lives in the South knows the debt the Catholic Church owes to the Irish priests). What a marvel that where the Church is most vibrant right now is where the Irish planted the Faith. Pray for the Catholics in Ireland.
At this point I became very tired, I think the baby might have fallen asleep on my back and as we learned this made him very heavy. So we stopped and Zadok, Amy, Katie and Joseph had gelato. I sat.
Then up and at it again. A short visit into the Redemptorist Church where the original Our Lady of Perpetual Help is enshrined--a modern enshrinement, simple and I must say not much to my liking. Mass was being said so we weren't able to really get close.
Next to Saint Prassede, a very interesting Church decorated in a more Byzantine style with beautiful mosaics. This church contained the column that Christ was bound to when he was scourged.
Evening was falling as we arrived at Saint Mary Majors, built on the spot where snow fell one August after Pope Liberius had dreamed that this would be a sign for him to build a church dedicated to Our Lady. As we entered the Church, the chanting of Vespers could be heard. My back was aching from the baby on it and I stole away from our tour to go into the side chapel and join in the praying of Evening Prayer. I grabbed a book and went to the first empty seat I could find which was in the front where I sat next to Cardinal Bernard Law. In spite of the comotion that I created, he did not even seem to notice. I fumbled around in the book trying to locate the point the prayer was at, but to little avail and after about five minutes Michael the baby decided to join in speaking loudly his own version of chant--at which point I made my exit. We toured the church and then started making our way back to the Metro station, thanking Zadok for his time and well presented tour.
When we arrived back on Borgo Vitorio we stopped at a restaurant that Amy had spied the evening before. It was in the cellar and proved to be an excellent choice. We had a meal where everyone had what they wanted, for me it was a pasta with cheese and pepper and it was great,Joseph had a cheese pizzza, Katie a giant calzone, Amy another pasta dish, the baby had some of it all.
Evening came, the second day.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Fulton Sheen

From Praying in the Presence of the Lord with Fulton Sheen

Bishop Sheen’s “Now-moment” corresponds to the thinking of the great spiritual writer Jean Pierre de Caussade. In Abandonment to Divine Providence, Fr. Caussade gives the reader a sure way of knowing the will of God at any moment—by simply confronting the present moment with all its reality. It seems simple, but if we reflect for a second most of us will find that we spend most of our lives avoiding the present moment.
A few years ago an English translation of the Father Caussade’s work appeared in the United States changing the original title to read “The Sacrament of the Present Moment.” This captures the essence of Father Caussade’s work and Bishop Sheen’s meditation that in the present time we are presented with an opportunity that is truly unique. Each moment is sacramental.
Most of us are capable of presenting ourselves with some amount of reflection as we celebrate the sacraments. If we celebrated the sacrament of Baptism as an adult certainly we came expecting to be changed by God. Each time we enter a confessional surely we have examined our conscience beforehand and are penitent expecting to be forgiven by God. Undoubtedly every time we approach the altar to receive the Eucharist we expect to encounter God. But what about the other moments of our lives?
As we awake in the morning, is our first thought of God? As we greet our brothers and sisters throughout the day do we expect that God might be present? Every moment of our lives is an opportunity to encounter God who is always present.
Spend some time reflecting on the following:
1. Go over the events of the present day and ask yourself where God might have been in each of them. Is there a consistent pattern to your day?
2. Reflect on the life of your favorite saint, and meditate on how he or she dealt with the people they met in their daily journeys. How could you imitate this saint? What enabled the saint to act in the way he or she did toward others?
3. Imagine as you leave from this time of prayer that God wishes to continue to be present to you as you go forth. How will you react to his presence in others?
-Michael Dubruiel
PrayerLord, help me to search for you in the garden of life in the same way that St. Mary Magdalene did when she found your tomb empty. May my search be rewarded as hers was by knowledge of your abiding presence. Amen.
"michael dubruiel" "fulton sheen"

Monday, November 5, 2018

Catholic Meditation by Michael Dubruiel


One time in the late 80's I was traveling with another friend of mine, Brian, on our way to Chicago. The first night we stopped at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA about twenty miles east of Atlanta.

Fr. Francis (originally a monk at Gethsemani and one of the founding monks of Holy Spirit, then in his 80's) met us at the Guest House door, "Will you stay?"

Anyone who has read Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain knows this is what you expect to hear when you arrive at a Trappist monastery. There is a double meaning to the question..."Will you stay?" and join our community, "Will you stay?" in the guest house and finally since in the Rule of St. Benedict the stranger is to be welcomed as Christ...Will you stay? Lord as in "Stay with us Lord for the day is far spent."

We answered "yes" as in yes we'll stay in the guest house tonight, which we did and attended prayers and Mass--then left the next morning on our way to Gethsemani. We arrived in Gethsemani that afternoon (about seven hours later). No one greeted us or asked us if we would stay. There were a few other pilgrims wandering around but no monks visible. We were settled in the chapel for Vespers when the first monks began to emerge from the cloister and enter into the chapel. Brian leaned over to me and whispered, "Its the same guys."

Well not exactly. Driving toward Birmingham and away from Gethsemani I thought of my friend Peter who has been a big fan of the Trappists from way back. I knew that he had thought about entering the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit at one timea and still made visits there frequently--I also knew that he had visited Gethsemani several times. His experience and mine of both monasteries knew that one welcomed strangers and the other saw them as an intrusion and to be fair because of Thomas Merton Gethsemani got a glut of strangers.

When I first stayed at Gethsemani the beds were very Trappist--really nothing more than a pallet with a two inch mattress on it. Years laters a beautiful, state of the art guest house was built that was more along the lines of mid range hotel. Now the Welcome Center--the times they are a changing.

I called Pete to share my views about the Welcome Center and I share them here because for the most part they were inaccurate as my return trip proved but they say a lot about how our minds process religious experiences. I told Pete:

"The first thing you notice when you walk in through the cloister wall and into the building is a coffin...it is open but empty. In some ways it is symbolic of immediately reminding you of your final end and asking you the question what am I here for? Several monks were available to answer the question."

"Over the PA system there was an incessant crackling of flames--they made me think of the flames of Hell (another of the Last Things), when in fact a peak into the room to the left of the entrance showed that it was the Easter Fire being prepared and the flames providing the fire to illuminate the Easter Candle--symbolic of the light of Christ illuminating the darkness. The video featured the changing seasons...the crackling flames were replaced with crackling dead leaves falling from the trees surrounding the monastery, the barren trees introduced the funeral of a monk with living monks keeping vigil reading the psalms all night before the burial of their brother."

I told Pete that all of this left me with the impression that the Welcome Center was designed as a sort of funeral parlor and that unconsciously the monks were providing the guest with a modern morality play that the visitor was the staring player. Walking out of the Welcome Center I made my way toward the Chapel for Vespers--passing by another gate where the words "God Alone" were engraved. Long time readers of this blog will remember that this gate once graced the right hand column of this blog...the Gospel in two words, a reminder that after death all that matters will be God Alone...a reminder that in this life ultimately what matters is God Alone.

Then the Chapel and monks bending in unison at the waist singing "Praise to the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit both now and forever, until the end of the ages." punctuating the Psalms of praise and thanksgiving.

Death, Hell, Purgatory and Heaven all in a few minutes of each other. "Will you stay?"

No, not here anyway.

(Later my return to Getsemani later in the week and a more accurate description of the Welcome Center).

-Michael Dubruiel

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Book on the Catholic Mass

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. 

"michael Dubruiel"



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.


Filled with true examples, solid prayer-helps, and sound advice, How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist shows you how to properly balance the Mass as a holy banquet with the Mass as a holy sacrifice. With its references to Scripture, quotations from the writings and prayers of the saints, and practical aids for overcoming distractions one can encounter at Mass, this book guides readers to embrace the Mass as if they were attending the Last Supper itself.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

How to Pray by Michael Dubruiel

The letter to the Hebrews draws a strong connection
between the cross and prayer. Because every moment of our
earthly existence is threatened by death, and we know neither the
day nor the hour when that existence will come to an end, we,
too, need to cry out to the God who can save us. Like Moses, we
need the help of our fellow Christians to hold up our arms when
they grow tired. We, too, need the help of the Holy Spirit to
make up for what is lacking in our prayer. 


-The Power of the Cross by Michael Dubruiel 



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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

All Saints Day - November 1


Tuesday, November 1, 2005


A Moment Frozen in Time - Michael Dubruiel

We spent part of last week attending the National Catholic Youth Conference in Atlanta. One moment from all that I experienced continues to stay with me, perhaps I might say even to haunt me. While Joseph, Katie and I were walking back toward the exhibit area where Amy and Michael were, we suddenly notice a quiet and people stopping (in an environment that was much like walking through midtown Manhattan on a weekday). Then enmasse young and old dropped to their knees.

Advancing were youth holding signs "Silence and Kneel"…everyone obediently did so as cassocked men holding candles, one swinging incense advanced in front of a coped priest with humeral veil wrapped around the base of a monstrance held the Eucharistic Body of Our Lord aloft.

Those who have seen the movie "The Mission" with one of the best scenes ever filmed about the spiritual life will remember Jeremy Irons playing a priest holding the monstrance in the midst of battle all around him, himself falling and an indigenous man picking up the monstrance and continuing the procession. That is what popped into my mind as I instructed young Joseph to make the sign of the cross as Jesus passed in our midst.

I'll bet that when all is said and done, I'm not alone in this being a moment that will be remembered by all. What is more I have realized that these Catholic prayer moments are the solid foundation that most Catholics never forget--long after they have forgotten most of what they were taught.

There is a lesson here for those of us who try to pass on the faith to our children--introduce them to Christ, like disciples on the road to Emmaus let Christ the stranger teach them, open the Scriptures to them so that they might recognize him in the breaking of the Bread--that they may pick up his Presence and carry it through the streets of life where a battle wages.

Such catechesis is the lesson plan of saints--may all the saints pray that we might take up that charge!

Should Catholics Celebrate Halloween? by Michael Dubruiel

The Great Christian Feast-Halloween - by Michael Dubruiel



This is one of those thoughts that comes to you in a moment of clarity with such force that you wonder how it could be that everyone just doesn't see the truth of it.

Last night when I made one of my few trips to the door to hand out candy, it just hit me. There I was confronted with a skull painted white on the face of an African American, who was standing there holding open a bag, expecting something from me.

A home invasion? No.

Trick or Treat!

I gladly obliged his request with a handful of candy and he turned and went on his merry way to join the other hordes of beggars that flooded our streets.

I had just fulfilled the mandate of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I had just welcomed Him in the guise of the hungry, "When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat." Matthew 25!

"When did we see you Lord?"

"Whenever you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it to me."

Is there anytime left in our year when Americans are so blatantly Christian, welcoming the strangers that come to their door? Is there anytime that we reward those who on purpose try to repulse us by their costumes?

Yet the thought that it is better to give than receive dominates this day and truly the day fulfills its purpose of being the eve of All Saints Day! For if we are ever to join the saints we must learn to make everyday Halloween!

So that today when we meet those we might otherwise demonize, we give what we have freely as though we were meeting Christ Himself in the streets (and if we believe the Gospel message we are in fact meeting him)!

I used to joke that strangers could in fact be demons, (this was when the angel rage was in full swing and I use to make the point that yes a stranger might be an angel but who is to say if it is a good one or a bad one--sort of a twist of the Glenda the Good Witch's question to Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?"), but I would ask you to reflect on Halloween a bit more with me.

If we give to the stranger, indeed we welcome them as Christ. But if we look at the stranger only as someone who has something to give and we judge them based on that we are apt to conclude that all strangers are demons!

For example if we start viewing every middle eastern looking Arab that we do not know personally as a terrorist we are forgoing an opportunity to see them as Christ (who happened to be of middle eastern descent). Abraham was visited by three strangers (one would presume of middle eastern descent) and he fed them--they turned out to be angels and they gave him a blessing! But let's suppose that we in fact do come across some terrorists in our daily activities. What if our interaction with them, seeing them as Christ and giving them whatever we have to give at that moment (even if it is only a smile of acceptance) led them to change their whole way of viewing Americans?

It is sad to think that a day that is the perfect example of what it means to be a Christian has been protested by so many Christians in this country. Do they read the Gospels?

No one is celebrating or worshipping demons on Halloween. The children who dress up in their costumes are playacting and giving the individual behind every door an opportunity to imitate Christ.

It is also sad that many miss the point in the other direction. They overdo it in the name of "everyone else is doing it" and light their houses up as though it is Christmas, rather than encountering the little masked Christs in the darkness the way it is intended to happen and does happen in daily lives. The vacuous nature of their souls demands making a show of their giving. Sadly they have already received their reward--the empty praise of their neighbors and friends.

There have been moves lately among some Catholics to have children dress up as saints-- this may be a fine thing to do on All Saints day but it totally misses the point of Halloween. We will never be saints, nor will we imitate them, until we open the door everyday and welcome the ghouls we encounter as though they are Christ.



Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Fr. Solanus Casey Beatification November 18, 2017

From 2004

Taming the Wild



Solanus had also been cultivating a patch of wild strawberries which he told the friars he was "taming."

Father Solanus: The Story of Solnus Casey O.F.M. Cap. p.174


by Michael Dubruiel


I had been making my lunch time pilgrimage for several months when I read a chapter from Cathy Odell's book on Solanus' time in Huntington. I had literally walked the fields and woods throughout but had never come across any wild strawberries. They must have perished when some of the land was plowed, I figured.


It was a beautiful sunlit day, not a cloud in the sky and very low humidity. I started out walking the perimeter of the property, as was my usual route, and began to pray the rosary. Normally this meant finishing the joyful mysteries by the time I reached the far forest where an Eagle Scout had cleared a trail through the woods. There I would begin the sorrowful mysteries reaching the Capuchin graveyard about the time I reached the third sorrowful mystery (the Crowing with Thorns) where I would prostrate in the direction of the simple wooden cross at the head of the graveyard and pray the prayer of St. Francis, "We adore thee O Christ and we praise Thee because by thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world." Then I would pray the third sorrowful mystery on my knees for the Friars and others buried there, at the same time asking for their intercession for my many needs.


Then I would retrace my steps backward in a slightly different path along the woods rather than through them. At about the same spot where I had discovered an apple tree left over from the orchard that Solanus had blessed, I looked down and spotted something red blooming. At first I thought they were small red flowers that had some how resisted the mowing the lawn had received recently. But on closer inspection I found wild strawberries almost ready to be harvested.


I thought of the irony of my discovery on the very day that I had first read about Solanus' "taming" of wild strawberries, then I thought of the whole aspect of "taming" the wild.


Looking over the property of what had once been a flourishing center of Catholic spirituality, I could not help but be struck by the apparent failure. What had been tamed here and once again become wild.


It struck me as an apt symbol for the state of Catholicism in the United States at the beginning of the Twenty-first century. The in-roads that the Church had made in converting and bringing Catholic Christianity to this country seemed to have reverted back to its wild state. Those who call themselves Catholic pick and choose what they believe and how they practice their faith. In many ways they mirror the environment they live in with very little to distinguish them from their non-Catholic neighbors.


Of course it also struck me that I suffered from this as much as anyone.


Picking up the wild strawberry, I saw how immature it was. No doubt Solanus' taming of the "wild" strawberries had resulted in them growing into substantial fruit that was enjoyed by the Huntington Capuchins. Now without that taming, the wild strawberry had once again returned to a small pitiful caricature of what it might have been.


Sadly this is what we also have become. Our influence in our culture is weak and we risk giving scandal to those who look to us as representatives of all that is Catholic. We are "wild" Cathlolics, in great need of being tamed by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 29, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God - 72 - by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous postings are found in the archives to the right. This is the 72nd Step:



(72) To make peace with an adversary before the setting of the sun.



We should always strive to remain at peace with everyone. One wonders how different life would be if everyone were to embrace this counsel and practice it in their daily life. Would there ever be another war? Would anyone have reason to live in fear anymore?



But such is not the case and I cannot live with my focus on what others are or are not doing. I can only put this counsel into practice myself. Do I allow the sun to set without making peace with those who I'm either angry with or those who are angry with me.



I have worked with people who practice this counsel and it can be rather tiresome when they come up to you to make peace and you weren't even aware that you were at "war" with them. But in the long run it is much better to have these summits of peace than to have people around you stewing about some slight that you have committed against them.



And what of us?



Are we aware of the control that others have over us by their actions and words?





Really this is a counsel to make sure that any time God is Lord over you. When we make someone an enemy we are in danger of making them an idol that we worship and serve. They and the actions that they commit against us are not all-powerful and do not deserve the time and emotion that we often waste on them. Making peace with our adversaries means making peace with God first, asking God to empower us to forgive and acknowledging that God is the judge over all. We let go and let God be God in our lives.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel - 71

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous steps are found in the archives. This is step 71:



71) To pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ.



"Father, forgive for they know not what they do," are the words that come to mind when we reflect on this counsel to "pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ." Jesus not only preached this counsel of Benedict's but He also left us an example of how to do it. Yet it is pretty tough to do when we start putting faces to the word enemy.



We could start by those who personally affront us and pray for them. Do we believe that they really didn't know what they were doing when they hurt us? I'll be that if you share the incident with an objective person they would offer you some insight into the ignorance that probably was at work on the other end. Perhaps our enemies are insane, misled or plain stupid and this is the evil that we live with in the world that things are not quite what they could be or should be at any given time.



Even those who are moved by greed and dispense with poisons that injure and kill thousands daily (many of whom are quite respected in our communities) should be prayed for because could anyone really know what they are doing--and still do it if it had such horrible results. One can easily look at the insanity of a Hitler or Stalin but what of those who market items that kill (feel free to fill in the blanks with all known cancer and disease causing products that one can still buy at the local convenience store).



We are to pray for these people--those who hurt us and threaten us personally and the same for those who we fear in a more global way. In doing so we also are made aware of our own ignorance and how we too are responsible for the pain and hurt we cause others.





In praying for our enemies we change them into our brothers and sisters. We recognize their frailty. We bring them back down to earth where we are. We destroy our idols (albeit idols that we fear). In the process God almighty is restored to His rightful place in our lives as the Supreme Being who should be our one concern.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion - 70 - by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are found in the archives. This is step #70:



(70) To love the younger.



Benedict's advice to love the junior monk is a counsel that may not mean as much to us in a culture that prizes youth. There was a real danger in a culture where wisdom and age are seen as equal to see youth as foolish and of little significance.



Of course in the Gospel Jesus had told his disciples that "out of the mouths of babes" comes wisdom. The Christian realizes that there is a wisdom that comes not from years and reflection but directly from God.



The idealism of youth often carries with it a wisdom that can be lost with age. The high ideals that we both strive for and expect from others when we are young can grow into disillusion and cynicism with age. Having youth around whether at home, in the work place or in the church can greatly enhance our lives.



What is lost on modern man is this exclusion of youth from its midst. Modern people do not love "youth" meaning "others" as much as they love the idea of '"youth" for themselves.



There are many applications to this counsel for non monks. We should welcome children into our lives. We should see them as having much to offer in helping us to understand the ways of God in this life.





It should also be added that the abuse of children shows why this counsel is so important. If we see children as precious beings who must be protected and cared for, i.e. truly loved, then we will stand up and defend them whenever they come under attack from those who would use their innocence to use them sexually or damage their young souls in any way.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Free Catholic Books

I once read a personal essay written about attending Mass
where the writer advised the reader to get to church early to find
a pew where you will likely have no one sitting anywhere near
you to distract you. I confess there have been times that I have
felt this way too, but I can see how sinful such a view is—how
“separation” even in the name of God is not of God.

Jesus came to reunify all those separations brought about by
original sin—whether they be nationality, gender, or language. “For
by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks,
slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1
Corinthians 12:13). Our sinful self rebels against this notion; we
want to judge others rather than forgive in Christ. This is our cross!
If we hold it in front of us, we will have a constant reminder of the
One who died for the sins of the world—to save “them” and “us.”

From The Power of the Cross by Michael Dubruiel , available as a free download by clicking the cover below:



"michael dubruiel"

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 69

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous posts are found in the archives. This is step # 69:



(69) To honor the aged.




Life that has been lived long has acquired wisdom that can not be learned in books. The idealism of youth often finds quick solutions to problems that the person with wisdom will merely smile at. They have seen it all and have grown to appreciate what is of the utmost importance and what is trivial in a way that those of us who are still learning have not.



There is nothing more valuable in a culture than those who have been around for a long time and can provide this perspective to life. I was blessed to live near my grandparents and to enjoy their wisdom as I was growing up. There is a perspective to life that they can give that younger parents can not.



Benedict's counsel encourages us to honor the gift of life that has been bestowed upon our elders; to hold them in high esteem, to seek their counsel. To learn from them when we disagree with them.



Our culture unfortunately has not followed this counsel of late. We present youth as the ideal. Older people are made to feel that their time is past. This is a tragedy and the lasting effects are yet to manifest themselves in our culture.





Honoring anyone is a sign that we recognize the value that they possess not only to us but also to all. Honor the older people you encounter today. Take time to say hello, take time to learn from them. Allow yourself to receive their blessing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel - 68

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps are in the archives to the right. This is the 68th step:



(68) Not to love pride.



A direct translation of the Latin for this counsel would be to "flee" pride. Yet it would be fair to say that I think few people actually flee pride these days. There is a reason it is a vice and sadly there is nothing worst than a vice that is presented as a virtue.



"Looking out for #1" became something of a slogan starting in the 1970's and with it an explosion of the love of pride. Pride for many is no longer a sin but a sign of psychological maturity. This is sad because pride always mask a secret belief that deep down I really know that I'm not all that good and that is a tragedy!



We all can relate to a person who constantly is blowing their own horn and how tiresome this can be. But imagine for a moment that the person who is doing this is your child. I think if you asked yourself why they were doing it and tried to enter their skin you would see that sadly they really don't believe it and they are proclaiming it hoping that someone will affirm it.



Unfortunately such pride merely leads to people heaping scorn upon the individual in unsuccessful attempts to bring them back down to earth. And the sad individual becomes mired in an ever deepening pool of self-pity.



Contrast this individual with the saints. Although esteemed by others they hold themselves in low esteem. They realized their faults and they realize their gifts. Their gifts they realize are just that, presents from a God and they thank God continuously for them.





The saints are truly those who look out for #1, and they manifest this in their lives. They live in reality and know that God is number one and seek Him in the poor, in others and most of all constantly in prayer.

Monday, October 22, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel - 67

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous steps are found in the archives to the right. This is step 67:



(67) Not to love strife.



Another way of translating this counsel of St. Benedict's is "not to love confrontation." There is not a counsel here to avoid it, but simply not to "love" it. There are some who literally love to pick a fight; who are entertained by creating an environment of unease.



The model must be Christ who was no stranger to confrontation or as our Lord say, "bringing the sword." His attitude is one of repairing the damage that has been inflicted or is in the process of being created by others. We should love the imitation of Christ at all times and seeking to do what Christ would do in any situation, mindful that we are in Christ.



This necessarily means confronting evil wherever we encounter it. But it does not mean loving that confrontation. There comes a point and it is a fine point where good people can become evil. Critics of Christianity often point out the damage done by "good" Christians. What they are highlighting is not the work of good Christians but rather the work of evil people who have allowed their love of strife to overtake their love of Christ.



The goal is never to destroy a person but rather to seek their salvation. Christ alone can save the person, not us. We can merely point out the way, most of the time painfully risking the loss of friendship from those who prefer darkness to light. This should grieve us too and move us to prayer.





Whether we live this counsel or not can be judged by our reaction to the way we deal with confrontation in our lives. Does it give us a feeling of satisfaction or sorrow? Our Lord was moved to tears when He approached Jerusalem because they did not know the time of their visitation. Is our response the same?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 66 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous postings are available in the archives to the right. This the 66th step:



(66) Not to be jealous; not to entertain envy.



Perhaps the saddest of sins both of these arise from a failure to acknowledge and give thanks for tall the ways in which God has blessed us. Our focus is not on our own giftedness but rather on someone else. God has blessed us, and we are blessed right now. Looking at someone else as more blessed or focusing on their gifts as something that we want for ourselves is a waste of time.



This is especially true in the quest for sanctity. We do not become holy by becoming someone else. We become holy by being fully who God created us to be. Saints are as varied in their gifts as are people.



Knowing ourselves is not always self-evident. Many times everyone around us seems to know who we are better than we know ourselves. And often we know others better too and are able to admire the gifts that others possess more than the ones that we do ourselves. This is the crux of the problem.



Jealousy and envy should be treated in the same way we would treat a rash on our body--as an indication of a problem. The answer to jealousy and envy is to thank God also for the gifts that He has given to others. We need to look upon others not as a threat but as a blessing.





We need to thank God for the gifts that he has given us. Like the steward who took the gifts left with him by the master and multiplied them a hundredfold we need to focus on what God has given us and how it might benefit others. Our one goal should be that we use our gifts in accordance with His will.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God 65 by Michael Dubruiel

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael Dubruiel. The previous entries are found in the archive to the right.



(65) To hate no one.



Christianity introduced a radical concept into the world that has seldom been lived out--to love everyone as God loves him or her. Our Lord counseled his disciples to "love their enemies" and to "love one's neighbor." When asked by one of His hearers who their neighbor was, Jesus used the example of what undoubtedly would have been the questioners idea of an enemy--a Samaritan as the good who was "neighbor" to the unfortunate fallen soul along the roadside.



Benedict's maxim almost takes this a step further in counseling us in the first place to "hate no one." This may seem impossible to do but only if we are convinced that we ourselves have been set up as the supreme judge over all people. Every person that we might "hate" is an invitation for us to turn to God again and to acknowledge that God alone knows what His designs have for both the person and us in question.



We should pray for those who abuse and mistreat us. We are to try to understand those who "hate" us. Hatred by its very nature is evil.



The example that usually drives the point home is to imagine that the person in question is your child. Could you hate your own flesh? Would you not wish for their salvation? If they are doing wrong would you not do everything in your power to help them to do right so that they might be saved?



In the Kingdom of God we are all brothers and sisters, God's children.





The genius of St. Benedict's counsel is that it does not play the game of saying that you can love someone but not like them--which I have always found rather ridiculous. We are to hate no one and to see "hate" as an obstacle to love.

Friday, October 19, 2018

73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God - 64

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God by Michael DubruielThe previous entries are found in the archive to the right.



(64) To love chastity.



St. Benedict's counsel to "love" chastity applies to every Christian regardless of their state of life. The monk will be chaste in a way that is different than a married person but both are required to be chaste in their dealings with all people. Chastity is an attitude toward the other that sees the beauty of the person but does not wish to take or consume the other.



Being chaste means never making an object of anyone. While we think of this in sexual terms, sex is really just the tip of the iceberg. Seeing a person as a person and not making an object of them helps us to truly be reverent toward the person. Being chaste means being open to seeing others as God sees them. We desire to be in a good relationship with all people but we do not seek to enslave the other.



Some were shocked some years ago when Pope John Paul II stated that even a married man could commit a sin of lust with his own wife. What the Pope was pointing out was that even marriage does not give a man or woman the license to treat the their spouse like their property. In the same way we are called to treat all with respect.



In Latin this counsel is made up of two words, "love" and "chastity." In reality the two are equal. We are called to love all people chastely, in imitation of God who loves all of His creation.