A light in the Dark – Reflections on Candle Time at camp & the Paschal Candle

Well, tonight we started our first ever duo-camp! We are running two camps at once this week. Expedition (7th-8th grade), and Quest (5th-6th). I’m working the Expedition camp and also being a staff counselor (living in the cabins with the campers) this week.

It’s a camp tradition that every night after campfire we close with candle time, a time to be candle-in-the-dark-reporter_087897with each other as brothers, share a little about the day and encourage each other to grow. In the past we have actually used candles during candle time, normally though due to a problem a few years back we don’t though some staff like myself, do like to pull out a candle every once in a while if a group is doing well.

The boys (still not men or young men, but getting there) did excellent tonight. They shared their Holy Spirit moments from the day, talking of how it was so good to be accepted by other boys their age, when they are not always accepted at school. We talked of how the smiles on everyones face made them want to be here at camp and how they were so happy to see glimpses of the fun we would have together this week. Many of them shared how this was some of the happiest few hours of their lives thus far and how they couldn’t wait to see what would come tomorrow. Others saw the Holy Spirit in the storm which seemed to pass by over us without much thunder and no rain. One said: “a real sign of how God’s hand is protecting us and guiding us here at camp this week.”

Our second question we prompted them with was if there was anything they were nervous or worried about for camp this week. One boy shared of how he worried for his grandmother, recently diagnosed with cancer. Still, another worried about his parents celebrating their 20th anniversary and hoping that they had as much fun as was going to this week. Some worried about what their mom’s would do without them this week. Others were scared for the weather and what we would be able to do if it rained all week.

We closed candle time like we opened it with one of the boys leading us in prayer. The camper who did the honor said a beautiful spontaneous prayer he prayed from the heart. (It’s his first time as a camper too! 🙂 )

As we began candle time I invited the boys to come sit around me on the floor so that they could be close to the candle. It was one of those simple inserts that we use for the Sanctuary lamp, that I had placed in a cut crystal bowl with a clear cylindrical globe. Easter-Vigil-CandleThe light danced across the room and across their faces, which you could tell were filled with wonder, nervousness, and awe. I was brought back to the glorious Vigil of Vigils; that is, the Easter Vigil, where we bring the single lighted paschal candle (a symbol of Christ, the light of the world) into the church for the first time. There in the closed space, the light dances off of the walls and stained glass, as well as the priest, congregation, and other ministers faces. It too is a moment of rejoicing for the church, as we welcome Christ, the risen savior back!

So too, like the Paschal candle being carried into the Church, we, the staff are called to bear Christ into the world, especially to these campers and everyone we encounter this summer. We are to pour ourselves out Eucharistically, give of ourselves in charity, love one another and help each other get to Heaven. I pray that we may continue to be that beacon of light in the dark for the campers, here this week and the rest of the summer. Will you join me in praying that that may be so? May we take the beauty we experience on this journey; this walk, and share it with those who so desperately need it.

Here’s a short poem on the Paschal Candle, I found and thought I would share:

The Paschal Candle
Burns brightly in the darkness
Light conquers darkness.
Death is banished forever.

The Christ Candle
A symbol of the Risen Lord
The victory of life over death
Heaven over the grave.

The Easter Candle
The Alpha and the Omega
The beginning and the end
The omnipotence of God.

The White Candle
Christ, yesterday and today
The Light of the world
Forever present amidst His own.

The Tall Candle
A pillar of strength day and night
All time belongs to Him
All ages under His power and rule.

The Cross bearing Candle
Five grains of incense ingrained on it
The five wounds of our Lord
The sacrifice once and for all.

The Vigil Candle
A celebration of the first Easter
To the one who merits
All praise and glory in every age to come.

Maria Franco

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Gasper Summer Staff 2015

Now, if you will please excuse me, I have to go wrangle some of the boys who can’t sleep and keep going to the bathroom. Oh my, I’m so thankful for my parents, (especially my Dad and the priest-fathers in my life on this Father’s Day.)

Let us continue to walk this way of beauty to God together. Oremus pro invicem!

Avoiding Hypocrisy of Prayer in Seminary :: Reflections from praying Compline on Campus

Adoration & Compline on Campus

Adoration & Compline on Campus

Being in Seminary I tend to take things for granted. The beautiful liturgies, structured prayer time, community of men who all thirst for holiness, etc. Over time I think that it can become a sort of routine and we lose sight of what is really important and the focus of our prayer. This sense of “hypocrisy in prayer” can be looked at as being false piety, laziness in prayer, or just having no motivation to do anything spiritual or deepen our prayer life.

This evening I was invited to come to Night Prayer on campus and help teach everyone how to chant the Ave Regina Caelorum, which is the Marian Antiphon we sing from February 2 until Easter after Night Prayer. Now let me be frank with you all. Prayer opportunities on campus can sometimes challenge me. They can sometimes be deeply soaked in too much social justice and strange theological errors, or just be stuck a few decades behind. This causes problems because those present can lose sight of the need to focus on our own spiritual growth. Social Justice and music from the 70’s can be good, but as Aquinas said: “Moderation.” Not to mention that sometimes the community on campus can be seen as doing things in ways contrary to how we are being trained to do them at the seminary. This can cause pastoral situations which put men in formation in a bind as to what they should do. (Which, is actually good for Ministry, but enough of that.)

So basically, I was a little worried about this experience, but I should have remembered not to judge a book by its’ cover. Lesson learned. (Hey, I’m human and I make mistakes) When I got over to campus we all had to wait outside the door, since the electronic pass for our ID’s wouldn’t let us enter the building. A quick call to Daniel and we were let in. We headed to the chapel and after about 10 minutes of quiet prayer before the exposed Blessed Sacrament we began to pray Night Prayer.

Let me first speak of the quietness and reverence which existed in that small chapel. I was talking with a priest friend the other day who remarked that it was odd that on the weekends we had to stay at the seminary for Mass. In his mind, we should be out at the parishes, giving witness to vocations and gaining valuable experience. There is something to be said of this. Being stuck in the seminary we can get caught in the wake and lose sight of that vocation to service, which is the priesthood. Countless priests have remarked to me that: “You do not have a vocation to seminary, but priesthood.” When we have moments of service to others and experiences of encountering others in intimate ways it helps to refocus on what we are in seminary for.

The priest is first ordained a deacon, the ministry of service. As Christ served others, so we are called to serve. Kneeling and sitting in the chapel I was surrounded by quietness, and a wide range of postures. People kneeling without kneelers, making themselves as small as they could by lying prostrate, sitting in the pews, and a multitude of other movements. During adoration at the seminary we all kneel together, or sit. The routine-ness of our posture at times can make us forget what we are doing I think. Before we began to pray I sang the Ave Regina Caelorum one time through so that everyone sort of knew how it went, before we began to pray. Night Prayer at the seminary and really any prayer can seem rushed. Guys are so used to doing it and let’s face it it IS mandatory that we be there and do it, so it can be seen as something to just be gotten done with and over with. Fr. Joe commented the other day on how praying the Liturgy of the Hours is called the Work of the Church. We are called to make sacrifices when we pray it and to really work at it for the salvation of all of the people of God.

Sitting in the chapel as we began to pray there was a slow, even pace, with ample times of pause and silence between stanzas and parts for reflection and meditation. There was time to sit in the presence of Christ and just be. I was asked to read the reading, which surprised me but I appreciated the offer and the sense of want to include me as I technically was/am a bit of an outsider to the community gathered. We then chanted the Ave Regina Caelorum and sang Tantum Ergo before one of the students reposed the Blessed Sacrament. Even singing the Tantum Ergo was slow and thoughtful. Then we shared a Sign of Peace with each other and went our separate ways.

So in short, what am I thinking of?

Prayer is a labor of love. As Men in formation we are called to fall in love with Christ and develop a deep and intimate relationship with him. Overtime, the way we pray in the seminary can seem routine, and we can get stuck in the rut of praying, but really not being all there. I am calling this: The hypocrisy of prayer. How do we remedy it?

  • Get out of the seminary! Spend some time on a Saturday evening at a parish Mass in town. Meet some friends for prayer on campus throughout the day or go to Stations of the Cross at a parish nearby.
  • BE Active. Don’t wait for your prayer life to improve. MAKE it improve. Offer 110% to God and he will repay you tenfold. Make your prayer your work. Make it a labor of love.
  • Fall madly in love with Christ. Spend time with him. Change up your prayer habits. Whether it means kneeling or walking when praying the rosary or singing your office instead of reading it silently. Change it up every now and then to keep it fresh and new.
  • Pray INTENTLY and WITH MEANING. One of the things I love about praying with some of my priest friends back home is that we pray the LOTH as if it were a conversation. (And it is. We join Christ in offering it up to the Father.) Put emotion and emphasis behind it. Don’t just be monotone. Focus on what you say and pray.
  • Slow it down. Breath, relax, think about what you pray and take some time. Give to God your time and you will still get everything else in life done, usually easier than if you did it yourself.

I am going to try to avoid falling into the hypocrisy of prayer while I continue throughout Seminary. I encourage you to encourage/challenge me, and to strive to grow as well. Prayer is a beautiful thing. Let’s make it matter more to us. Don’t fall into the rut, but if you do, climb out and try again. Our Lord doesn’t demand our love. He invites us to give it to him. Fall in love. Pray like you mean it. Strive for holiness as we continue to walk this Way of Beauty together.

Notate Bene: Thanks so much to Fletcher, Connor, Billy, and everyone on campus who made tonight so special for me. Your sense of love and devotion to our Lord is so refreshing and has truly helped me to grow. Thank-you!

Complete Faith in God and the Deprecatory Blessing Against Pests

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I was roaming through the Roman Ritual (The official book of blessings for the church) with a few friends in the Library at Marian and came across the: “Deprecatory Blessing Against Pests.” Below is the full text, read it and laugh, enjoy, and marvel at the beautiful simplicity and faith in God.

Something that seems to have been lost in the church in recent times is the relying on God for help. In the Old Testament we read how God instructed the leaders of the people to take their sick and ill to the priest to be blessed, prayed over, and healed. Christians seem to have lost our reliance and utter faith in God for help in our time of need. The church has a host of blessings and prayers that open our lives to receive God’s grace. So many traditions, etc. are beginning to be reclaimed and devotions are being recaptured in the church. Consider the many different ways in which you can receive God’s grace in your life. Seek him out! Find him! Deepen your prayer life! Receive his grace and love!

Here’s the delightful blessing I referenced earlier, enjoy it. Think of the reliance that the people must have had on God!

DEPRECATORY BLESSING AGAINST PESTS

(mice and rats, locusts, worms, etc.)

The priest vests in surplice and purple stole, and coming to the field or place infested with these creatures, says:

Antiphon: Arise, Lord, help us; and deliver us for your kindness’ sake.

Ps 43.1: O God, our ears have heard, our fathers have declared to us.

All: Glory be to the Father.

P: As it was in the beginning.

All Ant.: Arise, Lord, help us; and deliver us for your kindness’ sake.

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

P: Lord, heed my prayer.

All: And let my cry be heard by you.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

We entreat you, Lord, be pleased to hear our prayers; and even though we rightly deserve, on account of our sins, this plague of mice (or locusts, worms, etc.), yet mercifully deliver us for your kindness’ sake. Let this plague be expelled by your power, and our land and fields be left fertile, so that all it produces redound to your glory and serve our necessities; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.
Let us pray.

Almighty everlasting God, the donor of all good things, and the most merciful pardoner of our sins; before whom all creatures bow down in adoration, those in heaven, on earth, and below the earth; preserve us sinners by your might, that whatever we undertake with trust in your protection may meet with success by your grace. And now as we utter a curse on these noxious pests, may they be cursed by you; as we seek to destroy them, may they be destroyed by you; as we seek to exterminate them, may they be exterminated by you; so that delivered from this plague by your goodness, we may freely offer thanks to your majesty; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.
Exorcism

I cast out you noxious vermin, by God + the Father almighty, by Jesus + Christ, His only-begotten Son, and by the Holy + Spirit. May you speedily be banished from our land and fields, lingering here no longer, but passing on to places where you can do no harm. In the name of the almighty God and the entire heavenly court, as well as in the name of the holy Church of God, we pronounce a curse on you, that wherever you go you may be cursed, decreasing from day to day until you are obliterated. Let no remnant of you remain anywhere, except what might be necessary for the welfare and use of mankind. Be pleased to grant our request, you who are coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.

All: Amen.

The places infested are sprinkled with holy water.

Welcome to the world of Catholic Blogging C.J. Glaser!

C.J. Glaser

C.J. Glaser

As is my custom, I want to wish a warm welcome to the world of Catholic blogging to my Diocesan brother C.J. Glaser! Although he is not new to the world of Catholic blogging as he has had another blog before, he has started a new one to keep up with his seminary journey. A link to his site has been added to the blogroll on the left of this page and in this post.

C.J., one of our new freshman for the Diocese, just recently graduated from Owensboro Catholic High School in Owensboro, KY. He sings with myself and the other guys in our Schola Cantorum, attends Blessed Mother Parish in Owensboro, and is an avid photographer, Tennis player, and all around just a great guy. He blogs at Ad Infinitum (To Infinity).

Welcome again C.J. and happy blogging!

The Ascension and Moving out

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Today is the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven. In most of the US diocese’s the feast is transferred to the following Sunday. Our Lord ascended into Heaven 40 days after he arose from the dead, that fact cannot be altered, even if  we don’t celebrate it at Mass today here in most of America. Why “most” of America? There are only 6 Provinces in the US that have retained the feast of the Ascension as a Holy Day of Obligation: Boton, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia. The USCCB petitioned Rome years ago for the indult to transfer the feasts to the next Sunday and make today no longer a Holy Day of Obligation. So each individual bishop can choose if his Diocese will follow it or not. Other feasts that this has happened to, include the feast of the Epiphany,  Corpus Christi, St. Joseph and of Sts. Peter and Paul. It is a wonderful idea and practice to continue to go to Mass on these days even though they are no longer “required.” The Deposit of Faith in the Catholic Church has three pillars; Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium. Tradition plays a very important role in the life of the church and we are deeply connected to our history. Part of our history is the fact that we went to Mass to celebrate certain important moments in the lives of the great saints and Christ. It is a great tradition to continue to observe even if not required.

Today was also my packing day. I finished mostly everything, have my car packed and will be heading back towards Kentucky in the morning. When I moved into Bishop Bruté last Fall it was a rainy downcast day, today as I packed the Jeep and “moved out” it was also a rainy downcast day. I do hope that next year will be a brighter and a sunny day when I move in. I have always loved great literature and have had a love for the Great Gatsby ever since reading it my Junior year. We will be going to watch the premiere tonight and yes, we are going to “dress” up in suits like Gatsby.
I have been blessed in abundance, more than I deserve this year. It has had its downfalls, it sadness, but also its joy, happiness and love. I have grown not only as a man but more importantly in my faith and in discovering who I am and the life I am called to. I ask for your continued prayers and support as I start my summer assignment with training on Monday. Have a blessed evening and may God reward you!

A Year in Review

Here is a quick video I put together of our year in review here at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary. I wasn’t planning on sharing it with the public, but since other guys have done so I changed the viewing rights and decided to share. Hopefully it captures some of the joys of our year! (And what a large number there were!)

Hobby Lobby and the HHS Mandate

Hobby Lobby and the HHS Mandate

This article is quite saddening. How we have managed to go from a nation founded under God, to a nation where he is thrown out is unbelievable. We must pray hard for America, and pray that our religious freedom will not continue to be taken away. This Saturday there is being organized a “Standing with Hobby Lobby” Event”. It will be much like the Chick-Fil-A event last year. I encourage each of you to participate. They are now facing fines of over 1 million dollars per day, since the Mandate went into effect this year. Visit www.standwithhobbylobby.com to find out more about this cause. And don’t forget to go out and shop at Hobby Lobby tomorrow and let them know why you are. That you stand with the Green Family in their fight for religious liberty in America.