Living Year of Eucharist An Author Interview with Michael Dubruiel, How to Get Most Out of Eucharist by Lisa M. Hendey
I believe that our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II left us a precious gift prior to his death when he declared this to be “Year of Eucharist”. In weeks since his passing, I have felt myself drawn compellingly to Eucharist and to quiet time spent in Eucharistic adoration. Attending memorial masses, and now masses of Thanksgiving at election of our new Pope Benedict XVI, I have seen beauty of “Body of Christ” in faces of my fellow parishioners and those around world witnessing unfolding of these historic events. I am trying, in my own very little way, to live out and to fully embrace Year of Eucharist.
A guide and enlightenment to me in past few weeks has been a new book written by noted author Michael Dubruiel. How to Get Most Out of Eucharist (Our Sunday Visitor, March 2005, paperback, 144 pages) offers Dubruiel’s “SACRIFICE” model, nine concrete steps to take to maximize one’s experience of Eucharist. In practical yet inspiring terms, Dubruiel writes for people like me who are striving in their own simple ways to embrace true communion with Jesus Christ. One of many highlights of book is recurring segment “Lessons Learned from a Three Year Old”, inspired by wise-beyond-his-years philosophy of Joseph, son of Dubruiel and his wife and fellow author Amy Welborn.
I took time recently to speak with Dubruiel about his new book and this Year of Eucharist.
Q: With passing of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, please say a few words about our former Pope and his impact upon Eucharist in today's Church.
A: St. John Bosco once had a vision where he saw a boat, symbolic of church being tossed about in rough seas He then saw a pope take helm of ship and navigate between two pillars, one on which was Blessed Virgin Mary other a monstrance containing Blessed Sacrament—that was in 1862. There is no doubt that Pope John Paul II was that pope and what we have witnessed during last twenty-six years of his papacy is a righting of ship that is they church by restoring devotion to Blessed Mother who helps us to focus on Jesus and by recalling both adoration due to Eucharistic Lord but also sacrifice required of each of us who participate in Eucharistic banquet that Lord has prepared for us by His Sacrifice. In declaring a Year of Rosary and current Year of Eucharist, Pope John Paul II has set course for a new evangelization that God willing we will all witness in coming years.
Q: Given this “Year of Eucharist”, your book is very timely. What prompted you to take on this topic? What is your goal for book?
A: I had been giving a talk to various groups around country with title "Setting Your Heart on Fire at Every Eucharist" after The How-To Book of Mass was published by Our Sunday Visitor in 2002. At end of most of those talks during question and answer period people would share their dissatisfaction with way Eucharist was being celebrated in their parishes. Now this "dissatisfaction" was all over place and usually reflected ideology of group that I was speaking to—my original intention when I began book was to address this "dissatisfaction" that I encountered but in meantime Pope John Paul II released an Encyclical on Eucharist and a year later an Apostolic Letter. After much reflection on both, what I ended up doing does address dissatisfaction--but in a way that even people who aren't dissatisfied will find a way of being at Mass that will benefit them even more. The goal of book is to restore a sense of our personal responsibility at Eucharist: to both encounter Jesus there but also be united with Jesus there by giving ourselves fully to Him. Many of reasons Holy Father had given for declaring this Year of Eucharist are very fabric of what I deal with in book.
Q: I was moved by your comments emphasizing importance that we approach Eucharist from a sacrificial perspective. Why is this so important, and yet so difficult?
A: In preparation for writing How to Get Most Out of Eucharist I asked for feedback on internet at my Annunciations blog, http://michaeldubruiel.blogspot.com), from other Catholics on what were principle obstacles that kept them from getting most out of Eucharist. Their responses came in quickly and in large numbers and they were passionate. They varied from dissatisfaction with music used in their parish to poor quality of homilies preached, interestingly no one commented that they themselves might be biggest obstacle to what they were experiencing. I was commenting on this one night to my wife Amy and she thought about it for a second and said "they are frustrated because they have no control."
I knew from conversations I had with priests and liturgists that this was exactly what they felt too!
Pope John Paul’s Encyclical on Eucharist came to my mind when I was trying to respond to this very real angst. I thought about what Holy Father had said about "sacrificial" aspects of Eucharist not being stressed or understood by many modern Catholics. It also called to mind that many of older people that I knew had a different attitude that they brought with them to Mass—an attitude that is reflected in old adage to “offer it up”—that those things that trouble us can be beneficial not only to us but to others if we see them as our sacrifice to offer. Now, I think sacrifice is always difficult if we forget reason for doing it—and that reason is usually related to love. When we love, sacrifice makes sense but when we no longer love, sacrifice can become almost unbearable. The love aspect is dealt with in this How to Get Most Out of Eucharist when I talk about need to "adore" Christ—to rekindle devotion to Him, to be reminded that He is reason that we come to Mass, that He has first loved us and is worthy of all our love and sacrifice.
This is a topic that I'd like to deal with further in two future books written along same lines as this one. I envision a "How to Get Most Out of Rosary"—by contemplating on face of Christ with Mary (again inspired by Holy Father) and "How to Get Most Out of Bible"—by reading it to fall in love with Jesus all over again.
Q: Your concrete “SACRIFICE” model offers readers nine concrete steps to take to maximize their experience of Eucharist. Could you please say a few words about these steps and how you developed this model?
A: I've mentioned above how idea of using "sacrifice" as guiding attitude necessary for getting more out of Eucharist, as it is also for living Christian life. The idea of building book on word came to me when I was running one day and it seemed to fit perfectly with what I wanted to cover in book. The first three letters are a play on traditional Catholic understanding of purpose of life –to know, love and serve God.