This post is mostly for me, our family and Michael’s friends. If anyone who knew Michael has anything to add, please do so.
Several people at the visiting hours quite accurately observed that Michael would abhor any sense of being canonized, either in terms of his earthly life or his eternal life. He was keenly aware of his faults and in fact one of the elements of the Eastern liturgies he valued the most was the constant repetition of Lord Have Mercy, Lord Have Mercy….Lord Have Mercy…again and again. That resonated with him for he lived in awareness of his need for God’s mercy.
I could add my own here, but then I can’t. It hurts too much, still. I am so glad to be able to share what friends say about Michael but I still find it hard not to hate that we are doing it. Impossible, today at least.
First, before the tributes (which are after the jump)…a sense of where Masses have been said and are being said. I have discovered how powerful prayer is. Masses have been offered, and countless friends have written to tell me they have offered their Communion, their own sacrifices for Michael and for us. I have discovered how binding such a simple thing is, and it reminds me to never be stingy or ungenerous in that regard myself. There is always enough time.
Many enrollments in prayer societies and Mass offerings – St. Paul, Priests for Life, Trinity Missions, Servants of the Most blessed Trinity, Association of Marian Helpers, Society of the Little flower, Passionists, Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Congregation of the Holy Cross, the Shrine Prayer Guild of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.
Masses requested by school principals, Cursillo groups, the KOC, coworkers and friends. Florida, Alabama, Washington, Chicago, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois. Our Lady of the Snows. At Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. The sisters at Our Lady of the Angels in Hanceville are praying for Michael from February 12-20 in a special way. The In the Arms of Mary Foundation. Resurrection Parish back in Lakeland. The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
The 6 o’clock daily Mass at Santa Susanna in Rome next Thursday the 19th, requested by my son David.
This next Tuesday at 12:10 at St. Paul’s Cathedral here in Birmingham.
Communion of Saints. Heavenly Banquet. Joined at the Cross, united as Mercy pours out on us all, living and asleep. Thank you for all of this, for all of your prayers. It is a way of remembering – of remembering exactly who we are, and living in that reality, caught up in it, together, broken hearts, in trusting hope of being made whole.
The photo is..different, and Michael is unduly serious, but I am fairly sure it was from a photo shoot we did in Chicago during RBTW one year. I think we had just come from Milwaukee, where I had done the DVC shtick and we had lunch with Archbishop Dolan, whose house our little children did not tear up.
The titles reveal his deep concern for the fundamental practices of the faith by Catholics. He sensed a great pastoral need in this area, and he had a gift for deepening the appreciation of ordinary Catholics for the encounters with Christ that occurred in Mass, during the Eucharist, in Confession.Mike was also a gifted acquisition editor who oversaw the development of a host of successful books for us. He also took the lead in the editorial management of our pamphlet line.Mike was a man of strong opinions, a keen intellect and a passion for his faith. He loved his wife, Amy, his children, Pope Benedict, and the Florida Gators.
The conversation might even veer into work territory, and you might dissect a meeting that didn’t go quite right, or a project with a recalcitrant author, or why in the world can’t we wear jeans every Friday?Or, you might find yourself rejoicing over a Florida Gators win … or commiserating over a loss. Or talking about where in the world that dead, dry, taxidermied gator on his desk came from. Or asking, just how may Florida Gators shirts can one have?
I got to know Mike when he was commissioning editor at Our Sunday Visitor. He gave two of my books the green light and welcomed me when I visited OSV in Indiana. I later learned that he was an old friend of Bishop Robert Baker–the Bishop of Charleston who would later ordain me. He then moved to Alabama to work for Bishop Baker after the Bishop moved from Charleston.
When I was at EWTN in the fall I had lunch with Mike and Bishop Baker. He drove me back to EWTN where this photo was taken. I planned to lunch with him in a couple of weeks when I next visit Alabama to lead a retreat at the monastery there.
Mike was level headed, shrewd and full of faith and good humor. He was a fine editor, a smart and practical author and a good friend.
Please pray for the repose of the soul of Michael Dubruiel, who was an editor of mine and always a great encouragement. It was he who thought up the idea for Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians, a patristic collection I edited with Scott Hahn, and The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You, which I wrote with Regis Flaherty.
Mike was author of (inter alia) The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You, the book I most often hand out to non-Catholics who want to understand Catholic worship.
And then from an email:
I was never able to consider Michael a blogger.
My dealings with him predated the blogosphere, for one thing. He wrote outstanding short articles for me in the mid-nineties when I was editing New Covenant magazine.
Soon, though, our roles reversed. Michael took a job at Our Sunday Visitor and became editor of my books. The best part about working with Michael was his treasury of anecdotes. He drew from his years traveling the world in the military. He drew from family life. He drew, most often and most hilariously, from his years in the seminary. And he occasionally drew, as only an editor can, from the painful recency of yesterday’s manuscripts.
Whether he was writing poignant pieces for New Covenant or calling up funny memories, Michael’s trademark was brevity. There’s a sense in which he was born to blog. All of his articles, like all of his later blog posts, were very well done. But his friends knew they lacked what made a story golden in his telling: his deadpan delivery, in a voice as deep as Stephen Wright’s, the hint of a smirk, and the play in his eyes.
Michael could make me laugh, even when we were discussing the most trying circumstances of contemporary Catholic life. In this last decade, when I read his blog, I could conjure my memory of the voice, the eyes, the smirk, and the few short steps to the punch line, just as I’m doing now.
I could say so much more — about his love for sacred tradition, and his deep desire to find ways to mediate the Gospel to our neighbors up and down the block. But anyone who’s reading this already knows all that. And we can read and reread it by sorting through our clippings and following the links. We can zip over to Amazon and buy The How-To Book of the Mass, or The Pocket Guide to the Mass, or any of his other titles.
What we miss is the smirk, which faith tells us has been changed not ended.
Michael was my acquisitions editor at Our Sunday Visitor for the book The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide, a book he really helped bring to birth because he believed in the idea, and in this wife and mom who wrote it.
I am not sad for Michael: he is basking in God’s glory and in the wondrous presence of Him Whom he loved.
I am sad for Amy and the very young boys he left behind, boys who will only know vicariously what a wonderful guy their daddy really was.
Michael had left Our Sunday Visitor last year to take a job with the Diocese of Birmingham, since he was well aquainted with Bishop Baker. It also gave Michael a chance to be closer to EWTN. Alabama is SEC (Southeast Conference) country which helped get Michael closer to his beloved Florida Gators. Being a Buckeye fan and knowing someone who is a Gator fan can be difficult. However, Michael was most generous in not rubbing in the drubbing the Buckeyes took at the hands of SEC teams as of late.
I had last spoken with Michael a couple of weeks ago. We were catching up on our latest projects, but no conversation for us would be complete without dissecting the college football season, and that we did. Honestly, if it weren’t for Michael & Amy, anything I have done in the last three years would not have been possible. Michael opened many doors for me and seemed to be happy to do so. He always joked that he loved having a fellow Catholic author and blogger he could talk with about sports. In our last few conversations, Michael seemed interested in the contemplative side of faith. He really emphasized prayer and praying for specific things like the success and health of the Holy Father. He feared the Holy Father’s enemies were always ready to pounce on the German pontiff, if they ever got the chance. Boy are those words prophetic. I could go on and on about the good works of Michael but I am sure it could he better said by those closer to him. One thing we can all do is pray for him, Amy and the whole family. We can never do enough of that.
From our pastor in the parish bulletin:
My Dear People:
Michael Dubruiel gave a number of adult education talks. So did his wife, Amy Welborn. I remember listening to him on one occasion and, warmed up, he spoke like he was preaching a great sermon to those listening. His last and greatest sermon was when he left this earth, with the Lord calling him unexpectantly at the age of 50 with a massive heart attack while exercising in the gym. The message was loud and clear: Listen to the words of Jesus. “Be prepared for the Lord comes when we least expect it. You do not know the day nor the hour.”
We are all called by God to do a certain job on this earth and Mr. Dubruiel was called to write spiritual books. Remember the book, Getting the Most from the Eucharist? I thought it was great. Two days after his death, I stumbled across another of his books, The Power of the Cross. Again, it reads like a novel because it is full of life experiences with the thrust of applying the passion of Christ to our daily lives. Again, it is most highly recommended. I’ll have copies in the office for anyone who wants one.
And from the email:
From a very kind reader:
Although a cradle Catholic, I drifted away from the faith after Confirmation. Over the years I wanted to be more faithful, but I couldn’t “get” anything out of Mass.
Long story short, when I was pregnant with my first child, the Blessed Mother brought me back into the faith and really ignited my passion for the faith. Since then, I have set about reading as much as I can about the faith I didn’t know well at all. I was a Catholic kid in the ’70s and ’80s, so you can guess my level of catechesis, sadly.
I regularly read Catholic blogs (including yours and Michael’s) and forums, which led me to many faithful Catholics and great resources. One of the first books I bought was How To Get The Most Out of the Eucharist. It has forever changed my life, and I don’t state that lightly. I’ve read it and re-read it, and recommended it to others. Hooked by Michael’s way of gently and non-patronizingly way of explaining the faith in a language I could understand, one-by-one I bought more of his books.
I was browsing on Amazon for The Power of the Cross and checked under the Used copies. One of the sellers was Michael. I emailed him, thanked him for his book on the Eucharist, and arranged to buy The Power of the Cross. When it arrived he had also enclosed, free, a copy of your joint book, Praying the Rosary.
I was so moved by his lovely gesture, I sent him an all-twine knotted Rosary I made (it became a hobby after my return to the faith). A few weeks later Michael emailed me thanking me for the Rosary. He had taken it to Rome when you went on your trip. He told me he touched it to the tomb of Pope John Paul II, “making a third-class relic!” wrote. He also said he held it up to have it blessed by Pope Benedict in one of his addresses. It really moved me that Michael would take the time to thank me and share what what he did with the Rosary.
A year or so later, I emailed Michael again after reading a biography of Archbishop Sheen. I had a question, and I remembered Michael was a big fan. It was so kind of him to help me track down an answer I was looking for.
After learning of his death, I pulled out my copy of Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with Fulton J. Sheen. I reread the introduction, including the part in which Michael noted he returned to the U.S. only to learn Sheen had just died and that he would not be able to meet Sheen, “at least on this earth.”
I’m sure Michael has met him now and they’re having some great conversations.
From Mickey Zielinski of the diocese:
As you know, Michael did the DRE retreat for us this year. The theme was based on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19. ”Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks” He used this theme to encourage us to live simply in the spirit of St. Paul. I think all of us came away from those days with a profound appreciation for Michael’s gift of communicating the sacred.
From Gerald Korson, former editor of the OSV newspaper:
During my years as editor of Our Sunday Visitor, Michael was my frequent lunch companion. Almost weekly we would head out to a small local diner named Nick’s, usually at the invitation of Msgr. Owen Campion, and the three of us together we would solve all the issues facing the Church and the world today. Those were good times.
Michael was well-connected in Church circles and had a deep appreciation for theology. He often would stop by my office to offer excellent story ideas and editorial topics. He had a way of challenging me while always remaining supportive and affirming. Although we had little contact after his move to Birmingham, he was a good friend, and I will miss him.
From Jim Manney, now of Loyola Press:
I remember Mike Dubruiel in several of his roles-a devoted husband and father, a creative editor in Catholic publishing, genial wit and good friend, a lover of the Church, a keen baseball fan. (He was a rare bird in the Midwest: a passionate follower of the Florida Marlins.) I admired him. I thought I’d be doing pretty well in life if I could be like him. Mike probably would have been embarrassed if I had ever told him that. Praise made him uncomfortable. He was an editor-someone dedicated to making others look good.
Mike and I both worked at Our Sunday Visitor (though not at the same time). I saw him often after I joined Loyola Press, where I worked closely with his wife, Amy, on many successful book projects. Last year Mike and I had a long conversation about prayer, spiritual growth, and Ignatius Loyola. Mike was deeply influenced by Ignatian spirituality and I learned much from him. Now that he’s gone a couple of “Ignatian” terms come to mind as I remember him. He was a contemplative in action-a prayerful man very busy with God’s work in the world. Above all, he was a man for others. He gave of himself generously. At heart Mike was a pastor.
Working in Catholic publishing brings many joys. One of the greatest for me is the opportunity to know and work with people like Mike Dubruiel.