Christ should be manifest in our whole life: how to achieve Christian perfection

As I sit here on the shores of Lake Atitlan this morning, the Office of Readings this morning had provided another gem to chew on and mull over.

From a treatise on Christian Perfection by Saint Gregory of Nyssa, bishop

(PG 46, 283-286)

Christ should be manifest in our whole life

“The life of the Christian has three distinguishing aspects: deeds, words and thought. Thought comes first, then words, since our words express openly the interior conclusions of the mind. Finally, after thoughts and words, comes action, for our deeds carry out what the mind has conceived. So when one of these results in our acting or speaking or thinking, we must make sure that all our thoughts, words and deeds are controlled by the divine ideal, the revelation of Christ. For then our thoughts, words and deeds will not fall short of the nobility of their implications.

What then must we do, we who have been found worthy of the name of Christ? Each of us must examine his thoughts, words and deeds, to see whether they are directed toward Christ or are turned away from him. This examination is carried out in various ways. Our deeds or our thoughts or our words are not in harmony with Christ if they issue from passion. They then bear the mark of the enemy who smears the pearl of the heart with the slime of passion, dimming and even destroying the luster of the precious stone.

On the other hand, if they are free from and untainted by every passionate inclination, they are directed toward Christ, the author and source of peace. He is like a pure, untainted stream. If you draw from him the thoughts in your mind and the inclinations of your heart, you will show a likeness to Christ, your source and origin, as the gleaming water in a jar resembles the flowing water from which it was obtained.

For the purity of Christ and the purity that is manifest in our hearts are identical. Christ’s purity, however, is the fountainhead; ours has its source in him and flows out of him. Our life is stamped with the beauty of his thought. The inner and the outer man are harmonized in a kind of music. The mind of Christ is the controlling influence that inspires us to moderation and goodness in our behavior. As I see it, Christian perfection consists in this: sharing the titles which express the meaning of Christ’s name, we bring out this meaning in our minds, our prayers and our way of life.”

Some questions for reflection:

Does my life bear witness to the marks of our Savior, crucified?

Does my life lead others to Christ through my thought, word, deed, and action?

“Our lives are stamped with his thought” we’re created in the very image of the living God. Do our lives reflect the beauty and love of our creator?

“The inner and outer man are harmonized in a kind of music.” Are we healthy? Do we know ourselves? Who we are before God? Who we are before our brothers and sisters? Does our inner life and outer life live in harmony, reflecting the beautiful work of His hands that we are?

Let Us Together, Attempt To Transcend the Ordinary in Our Liturgies, So That The Poem May Come Alive!

The Wedding Party and Ministers

The Wedding Party and Ministers

“In courtship rituals, a gentleman might give flowers to his beloved as a token of his love; in church, Catholics genuflect or bow before the tabernacle as a sign of their faith. These gestures are completely unnecesary (some would call them artificial) but, like poetry, they are attempts to transcend the ordinary. The male suitor could have sent his beloved a note to the effect that certain biological and socially conditioned response had produced in him a feeling that is generally classified as affection; the Catholic could have quite simply stated that he believed in a divine presence then walked past the tabernacle. But in both cases the emotions spill over; ordinary language and actions cannot contatin the feelings; there is a need to break the restraints out of the practical, to “lose control,” and the result is an irrational, out of the ordinary, poetic gesture.” – Why Catholics Can’t Sing by: Thomas Day

“The Latin Church, has always kept clearly before it the fact that religion is not a syllogism but a poem.” – H. L. Mencken

Brass Quartet

Brass Quartet

This past weekend (Now two weekends ago) I was blessed to be able to attend the Nuptial Mass of two of my friends from school: Michael and Emily (Bockweg) Haley. The weekend was full of adventure, from staying at our former classmate Ben’s funeral home. But, I digress…

Procession of priests and Bishop

Procession of priests and Bishop

The first quote, listed above comes from a book that I am reading for my Senior “Thesis” paper. I am trying to discuss how we discern whether a song (or hymn) is aesthetically pleasing and appropriate for usage at Mass. Before I entered seminary I had a huge love of Liturgy. I still have a huge love of it. But, since being in seminary and joining the Schola and finally having a chance to take organ lessons I have fallen deeply in love with the life of music in the church. There is such an amazing wealth in our historic tradition of music as Catholics, things I never knew existed until coming to seminary and taking some of the classes I have on music in worship.

The Schola Cantorum

The Schola Cantorum

At the wedding this past weekend, (now two weekends ago) I was blest to be part of a 8-person Schola Cantorum, accompanied by a Brass Quartet and Organist. My classmate and dear friend Aaron Hess, conducted the group. The music was absolutley glorious. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, IL and concelebrated by 6 priests, including our seminary rector and a priest MC. There was incense, torches, seminarians, a deacon. If it could be done, it was almost probably done. Everyone after the Mass commented on how absolutley beautiful it was. In fact, as we were singing the Recessional: O God Beyond All Praising, several of those around me in the choir loft (including myself) just started having tears come to our eyes. You see, we had worked on the music for this Mass for almost a year. We had poured sweat, tears, laughs, and time…lots of time into these pieces. Our hearts came out when we sung the texts or played the instruments.

We had invested not only time, but most importantly ourselves into the music, into the prayers of the Mass.

Charity & Rose singing the Ave Maria

Charity & Rose singing the Ave Maria

From the reading I have done on the Liturgical Renewal in America for some of my classes I believe that many of those calling for and starting the renewal invested themselves into it. Justine Ward, one of my personal favorites, developed a methodology of teaching chant to children so that they would be able to sing the prayers of the Mass. Ward, invested herself in these children because of her love of the texts, because of her love of the Mass. Thanks to her and others we now have what is commonly called: The Dialogue Mass. A Mass in which the people and the priest share in singing, in praying the Mass.

The Schola Cantorum for the Haley Nuptials, the brass quartet and organist, all of us loved the Mass. We loved  the prayers. We loved what we were singing/playing. There’s an importance to that. When we invest ourselves in something, we find that we end up leaving a little bit of us there in it. As Mencken stated: “religion is … a poem.” The ways in which we encoutner the divine, can be simple, as Day states, they can be someone acknolwedging God’s existence in the Divine substance of the Eucharist with their voice, but as humans there is an importance to our rituals. When we genuflect we enter into that poem, we enter into the love relationship of God and Man. The Constant wooing, if you will of God and Humanity.

The Bishop sealing their love with his stole, the sign of his office.

The Bishop sealing their love with his stole, the sign of his office.

These ritualistic gestures, like when Michael prayed Evening Prayer with Emily on the side of her family’s lake and popped the question of “Will you marry me?”  or when the congregation at the Nuptial Mass knelt for the Eucharistic Prayer helps us to enter into  and invest in what we are doing. As Day states: “They are attempts to transcend the ordinary.”

The music which we sang for the Haley Wedding included beautiful pieces from our heritage as Catholics. There was the words of Thomas Aquinas for the Thanksgiving piece after Communion: Adoro Te Devote,  Devoutly, we adore you… As the bride, Emily walked down the aisle there was Brewer’s Magnificat in D, speaking of Mary saying yes to the Lord’s will and now Emily giving herself to her new vocation of marriage. After communion, during the devotion times, we sang Schubert’s Ave Maria  and a Litany to St. Joseph, as Emily and Michael placed flowers on Mary and Joseph’s altars asking them to intercede for them in their new life together. Finally the recessional was O God Beyond All Praising, singing worship and praise to God as we joined the happy couple in thanksgiving for their marriage.

The entire wedding was absolutley beautiful. Watching Bishop Paprocki, place his stole on their hands and say: “What God has joined, let no man seperate” left chills with all of us. As we sang the final verses of O God Beyond All Praising, I couldn’t help but to glance and smile at the other members of the choir. The hard work we has placed into the music for this beautiful ocasion had blossomed and come finally to completion. I glanced at Rose, one of my former classmates before she transfered and we both had tears coming down our faces. Our prayer was our singing. Our prayer for Michael and Emily was the gift of our voice. Our words helped to write the poem of this Liturgy and to assist each of those gathered and participating to transcend the ordinary, to lose control and to worship the God we all love in the best and most perfect way, we imperfect

Our organist, Mrs. Jamison

Our organist, Mrs. Jamison

people know how.

Let us together seek to, transcend the ordinary in the way we celebrate the beautiful Liturgies of our Roman Rite, so that this poem of the Paschal Mystery may come alive! Let us Walk this Way of Beauty together!




Wedding Party

Wedding Party

Oh Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for Michael and Emily Haley and help their family to be like thine!

Here’s the Video link to listen to the music from the Nuptial Mass:

“Random Organ piece??” 0:00
“Trumpet Voluntary” 2:38
“Let All Mortal Flesh” 4:06
“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” 7:38

“Introit chant (Latin)” 13:36 (Ministers, Groomsmen, and Groom)
“Canon in D” 19:37 (Bridesmaids)
“Magnificat in D Brewer” 27:14 (Bride)

“Gloria from the Mass of Wisdom” 31:05
“Responsorial Psalm” 33:17
“Festival Alleluia” 36:07

“The Servant Song” 40:16

Mass Parts were chanted simple in Latin

“”Where Charity & Love Prevail 46:17
“Adoro Te Devote” 55″05

“Ave Maria” (Schubert) 56:56
“Hymn to St. Joseph” 59:16

“O God Beyond All Praising ” 1:01:54

Musings from the Castle on the Hill


So, when I first created this site, it was firstly to advertise for some of the services that I offered on the side of working at Dairy Queen, hence the Bruns Design Studios page, but after joining Seminary, I wanted a place where I could blog about things that interested me, and about life as a college Seminarian. The first thing I knew I needed was a name for my blog, well here I am 7 months after starting my blog portion of this site and I finally chose a name. I had started with a temporary name of “Non Ministrari, sed ministrare”, now after thinking about it long enough, I decided on a more permanent name: “Musings from the Castle on the Hill”.

Why did I choose this name? Well, firstly my Seminary is literally a Castle, secondly the term: “Castle on the Hill” comes from a name that the Carmelite Monastery that is now our seminary was called. I am fascinated with history, especially Catholic building history. So it is no surprise that one of the things I looked for first at Marian University’s Mother Theresa Hackelmeir(sp) Library was books on the history of our Carmel. Well I did find some very neat books, and one of my goals next semester is to post some of the things from in them here.

Part of the original plan for the Carmelite Monastery of the Resurrection was to have it built up on a hill, overlooking the road. Well in present-day Indianapolis, that dream was short-lived, as the Castle is not the far above the ground level, because of the level they made the roads, but I like the name and it still stuck for many years of the Monastery. My hope is that through this blog, I will be able to make posts that capture a little bit of what Mother Theresa Seelbach, the founding carmelite nun, dreamt of for her monastery. Until then, have a blessed Christmas Eve! Come, O Come Emmanuel!

ArchBishop Tobin Installation

We are ready for the Installation of ArchBishop Tobin. I am assisting the priest commentator, so I get to see the behind the scenes work that is being broadcast. Tune into,, or to watch us live for the Installation Mass of ArchBishop Tobin as the 6th ArchBishop of Indianapolis. Live in 50 minutes!

Pray that everything goes smooth please!


Away for Day of Reccollection

Tomorrow evening at the Seminary we will have our Second Day of Recollection. Please pray for us that we may be open to the spirit and what Christ desires of us. Because of this day we will all shut off all technology so as to not provide a distraction. Technology fasts are wonderful! If you need to reach me I will return any calls/texts/etc. after 10:30 am ET on Saturday. Again please pray for us and the Arch-Diocese of Indianapolis as we will be having Installation Activities for Archbishop Tobin this weekend also. Pray for me, I pray for you!


Pray that our Lady or Carmel will watch over us!