Beauty Will Save The World

Pope Francis incenses the Altar and gifts during the Mass for the Canonization of St. Junipero Serra in DC, which I attended in September.

Pope Francis incenses the Altar and gifts during the Mass for the Canonization of St. Junipero Serra in DC, which I attended in September.

“The Christian religion is all about a beauty that ‘saves’ us. For beauty is that quality in a thing which attracts us towards itself, that calls to us. It calls us out of ourselves, towards something other. The aesthetic experience is thus one of self-transcendence. If ugliness is imprisonment, beauty is a kind of liberation.” – Stratford Caldecott, Beauty will Save The World 

Beauty is everywhere. Beauty is especially to be found in the Church. In Freedom and the Spirit, Nicholas Berdyaev wrote, concerning the church:

“She is the heart of creation remade, rewoven, rebuilt as a Temple and a Palace, as the shining and unbreakable core and foundation of a Church that is destined to become the home for all that is true, good and beautiful in the world. It is in this Church that ‘the grass grows and the flowers blossom, for the Church is nothing less than the cosmos Christianized’  p. 331).

If the Church then is the Cosmos (Everything to do with God, the supernatural, etc. made present in Christianity through the person of Jesus):

“Beauty [Berdyaev also wrote] is the Christianized cosmos in which chaos is overcome; that is why the Church may be defined as the true beauty of existence. Every achievement of beauty in the world is in the deepest sense a process of Christianization. Beauty is the goal of all life; it is the deification of the world. Beauty, as Dostoievsky has said, will save the world. An integral conception of the Church is one in which it is envisaged as the Christianized cosmos, as beauty’ (ibid., p. 332).

“Beauty, will save the world.” The Church is the “holder” if you will, of beauty. She holds it in her heart, because beauty is not just a visual or auditory sense, but it is a he it is a person. The very person of Jesus Christ. The Church holds Christ in her heart. She holds his message of the Gospel and proclaims it to all corners of the earth.

We then, must be bearers of that beauty, to all whom we encounter. We must let that beauty shine forth in our lives through our worship, our actions, our attitudes and our speech. Beauty can and will save the world, if we just let it. If we open ourselves to God, the author of beauty, allow his Son to enter our lives, and follow the Spirit’s will we can have an amazing impact on our world.

Lucien Deiss in his book that we have been reading in my Music in Catholic Worship class says: “Beauty will also save the liturgy with its music and song. In the future, there will be no place for ugliness and vulgarity.” The Second Vatican Council wrote in its message on December 8, 1965:

“The world in which we live has need of beauty if it is not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, is what puts joy into human hearts. It is a precious fruit which resists the wear of time, and which unites generations in a common admiration.”

Let us be bearers of that beauty to those who we meet. Let us save the world, by bringing it the beauty which it is so desperatley in need of. Let us continue to walk, this Way of Beauty together.

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“That All Might Sing” – My Paper on Pope St. Pius X’ paper on Church Music and the Chant Method of Justine Ward

For the Feast of Pope St. Pius X:

Originally written for Dr. Katharine Harmon’s History of the Catholic Church in America Class on 11-21-14.

690_Justine_Ward_Gajard_1949I enjoyed writing this piece on how Pope St. Pius X’ document Tra Le Sollecitudini was interpreted and engaged here in America, specifically by Justine Ward, who founded an amazing way of teaching Gregorian Chant to children. Justine started and held the first Congress for Chant in America. “What she wants above all,” wrote Dom Augustine Gatard, O.S.B., Prior of Farnborough Abbey, England, who was at the Congress, “is to put the faithful, all the faithful, in the position to participate actively, as much as possible … in the liturgy and in the chant of the Catholic Church.” (2) She especially encouraged girls’ choirs. (3) In a private audience in 1924, Pope Pius XI gave his Apostolic blessing to her work. (4) Thanks be to God for Justine Ward and the many others who assisted in the beautiful Liturgical Renewal we have had in the Church. May it continue to be renewed and may Justine Ward and St. Pius X, help teach us a little bit about walking the Way of Beauty to Heaven, more specifically through the Heavenly Liturgy.

That All Might Sing: American Catholic Responses to Pope St. Pius X’ Tra le Sollecitudini

John Adams once wrote: “Went in the afternoon, to the Romish Chapel [in Philadelphia]. The scenery and the music are so calculated to take in mankind that I wonder the Reformation ever succeeded … the chanting is exquisitely soft and sweet.” (Chase, 61) While Adams witnessed the beauty of the proper execution of “Romish” chant in October 9, 1774 he never could have envisioned what would one day take place in the country soon to be founded in regards to the proper execution, teaching, and use of Gregorian chant. Throughout the early part of the 20th century a response to Pope St. Pius X’s 1903 Tra le Sollecitudini (Instruction on Sacred Music) was carried out across the globe by Catholic musicians in different ways. Some, embraced the changes wholeheartedly, others chose to implement parts of them with and without proper catechesis. In the United States of America Pius X’s Motu Proprio was embraced particularly by Justine Ward a woman with little musical instruction, but with a passion for music and her new faith. Across the board, the training of the young in the church’s tradition of music was seen as one of the most important responses to Pius X’s instruction on Sacred Music. Ward and others took this to heart in developing programs, which educated the young in methods of chanting and ensured that all might sing.

From 1903 on into the 1920’s and finishing up around the 1950’s what could be called as the last “traditional” Catholic music movement occurred in response to Pius X’s Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini (hereafter referred to as “TLS”). TLS was written and promulgated by Pius X after a series of abuses in regards to music in the liturgy kept happening. Pius ordered that there be two particular types of music to be used in the Roman Liturgy. That is, Gregorian chant, which has been “inherited from the ancient fathers” (Pius X, II 3) and Classic Polyphony. The main reason for these abuses was that the music was becoming quite operatic and theatrical. Instead of being music, which by nature of its’ composition and execution lifted the congregation to God and was a prayer in itself; music in the Sacred Liturgy had become a show, detracting from the sacred action occurring.

As previously stated, throughout the early twentieth century there was a varied array of

Pope St. Pius X

Pope St. Pius X

responses to Pius X’s TLS, one of which was the action of Justine Ward. Ward, thought to have had no formal training in “vocal music, choral music, or pedagogy” (Brancaleone, 7) became known as one of the leading advocates of and promulgators of Gregorian chant in America. Due to her parent’s wishes for her to not pursue a musical degree in Europe, she was left with receiving private musical instruction. (Zuberbueler, 14) Ward, a Catholic convert started to fall in love with Gregorian chant due to her friendship with Fr. Thomas E. Shields and Fr. John B. Young SJ (Brancaleone, 8) and having attended a retreat given “at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattanville in Harlem” (Brancaleone, 8) by another Jesuit she began to learn the basics of pedagogy (the methods and concepts of teaching) and formulate ideas on how to teach Gregorian Chant to children.

America in the 20th century was still largely protestant, no doubt due to the large number of protestant immigrants who settled the country early on. One has to wonder as to why in 1903 a church, struggling to become better recognized and understood in the mainstream (and mostly protestant) culture would continue to push the use of a language (latin) which was no longer spoken conversationally, in not only their worship but especially in their music. Robert Holzmer S.M. wrote an article about the people not “liking” Gregorian chant in the then-popular Catholic Music journal: The Caecilia. In his article he discusses a few reasons of why Gregorian chant is not liked by the majority of Catholic congregations. Pius X and his Motu Proprio is one of the first “authorities” on the subject that he quotes. Holzmer argues partially that because the pope said it, it must be true, but also from an informed knowledge and understanding of Gregorian chant. “Gregorian Chant is Church music while the other forms are also church music” (241) Holzmer reconnects his future points back to Pius X, reaffirming what he stated of Gregorian chant as having pride of place in the Roman Liturgy, but also acknowledging that other types of music (classical polyphony) can be used as well. Holzmer goes on to state that there are several factors at play with why people don’t like Gregorian chant. Factors such as an ill-trained choir, poor musicianship on behalf of the choir, conductor, and organist, and the basic element of people not understanding the reasons for the use of Gregorian chant or the language it is in. Holzmer closes his article by stating: The most important of all, and, unfortunately, the most neglected. It is the training of the young in music…” (241) Like Ward, Holzmer recognized that without the training of the young in the music of the church, there would never be a hope for “this venerable music…to come back to its rightful domain, when it will be supreme again in fact as it has always been by right?”

Dom G Mercure, a Benedictine Monk of the Monastery of St. Benoit-du-Lac, Quebec wrote in a 1935 issue of The Caecilia: “one of the reasons why Gregorian Chant is not more widespread in ecclesiastical music circles is because the public expect to find in Gregorian chant, or plain chant, the same element of sensible pleasure that is found in profane music or even in religious music other than plain chant.” (213) Pius X in his Motu Proprio TLS knew well the state of music in the church and world. For instance throughout the War Between the States (1861) Union and Confederate Soldiers used hymns as a way of rallying the troops and bringing them comfort from home. Hymns such as the Battle Hymn of the Republic, or Dixie would be heard across the battlefields as soldiers marched. Still others such as Amazing Grace, or It Came Upon the Midnight Clear were sung in many protestant churches at their services. Hymns in the spoken language of the people gathered, tended to have more emotional and pleasurable connotations associated with them. As people heard these hymns full of poetic and beautiful language they were attracted to them more and more. The chants of the church in a language unknown seemed distant and did not stir the emotions of the musically untrained ear. How were the Catholic musicians in America supposed to combat these feelings, which could not be ignored?

Justine Ward in her article for the Atlantic Monthly published in 1906 The Reform in Church Music puts it well: “church music is made up of two elements, music and prayer, and it cannot be judged by the value of one of its elements tested as a separate entity . . . “Lex orandi lex cantandi”… Prayer and music must so combine as to make one art; the music must pray, the prayer-must sing…This, then, is the true test of a musical composition for the church: Does it conform to the law of prayer?” (455) According to Justine music should not be judged as solely inspiring emotion or being judged on the music alone, rather music for use in the Liturgy is interwoven with prayer in such a manner that the two cannot be separated. For to separate these two things, which in a way are one, is to tear that work of art apart. To Pius X, Gregorian Chant is the primary music of the church. Holzmer, Ward, and Mercure all agree that there are certain aspects of Gregorian Chant which must be met in order to ensure that it is sung properly and can truly be that unification of “music and prayer” (Ward 455) The promulgation of Gregorian chant in the church as well as to provide the means necessary for its’ survival relied upon the teaching and training of the young in chanting and the proper execution of this tradition. Ward, working with Fr. Shields, Fr. Young, and eventually Dom André Mocquereau (founder of the Solesmes method of Gregorian chant) created a program that would do just that.

Early in her career, after her conversion to the Catholic Church and divorce of her husband (which left her considerably wealthy) Ward started working with Fr. Shields and Young while assisting at the Catholic University of America. After a short period there “in the summer of 1916, Mother Georgia Stevens asked Ward to come to Manhattanville” (Brancaleone 10) In 1917, she with the help of Mother Stevens created the Pius X Institute of Liturgical Music, a school devoted to training teachers and students in not only what was becoming known as the “Ward Method,” but also in other forms of Liturgical Music in the Church. Ward’s method of teaching chant to the young was unique in that it used body movements as a way of understanding rhythm. Through the Pius X Institute and her newfound friendships with Dom Mocquereau, and others Ward began to share her method of teaching Gregorian chant with others in other countries. “In 1925, Ward brought her method to Holland…Belgium, France, England, Ireland, New Zealand, China, and Italy.” (Zuberbueler, 16) For Ward teaching and singing Gregorian chant was a chance at learning, singing, and praying. It was a way of living the liturgical life of the church in a new way.

While Ward worked on the teaching of Gregorian Chant others in America took a different approach to the Pius X’s TLS. According to Paul Hume’s Catholic Church Music, one of the ways in which the objectives of the Motu Proprio were enforced was through the creation of a “White List.” “The “White List” is a list of music approved for use in church by the St. Gregory Society of America. The idea of having a “white list” comes from Pius X: “Still, since modern music has risen mainly to serve profane uses, greater care must be taken with regard to it, in order that the musical compositions of modern style which are admitted in the Church may contain nothing profane, be free from reminiscences of motifs adopted in the theaters, and be not fashioned even in their external forms after the manner of profane pieces.” (Pius X, II 5) This movement in the church away from music of a secular nature was led by Pius X and joined by Ward, the St. Gregory Society of America and others. Ward and the St. Gregory Society of America published hymnals containing chants and hymns, which followed the “Classic Polyphony” called for by Pius X. Pope Pius XII later in 1955, published Musicae Sacrae Disciplina an instruction on the usage of hymns for the liturgy.

In Musicae Sacrae Disciplina, Pius XII says: “We must also hold in honor that music which is not primarily a part of the sacred liturgy, but which by its power and purpose greatly aids religion. This music is therefore rightly called religious music. The Church has possessed such music from the beginning and it has developed happily under the Church’s auspices. As experience shows, it can exercise great and salutary force and power on the souls of the faithful, both when it is used in churches during non-liturgical services and ceremonies, or when it is used outside churches at various solemnities and celebrations.” (Pius XII 36) Granted the usage of hymns was already something that was customary in the church at the time. With the stipulations imposed on music by Pius X, hymns (note: vernacular hymns) were not to be used in the Liturgy, but instead could be used for prayers, gatherings, processions, novenas, etc. In short, they could only be used for celebrations outside of the Liturgy. Gregorian Chant was still the official music of the church and remains so to this day.

For some 60ish years the stipulations imposed by TLS stood and the Ward Method helped ensure its’ future survival. Though as the Church drew closer and closer to the middle of the 20th century the advent of the Second Vatican Council appeared on the horizon. Up until this point Gregorian Chant and Classical Polyphony were the only types of music to be used in the Liturgy. Ward’s method seemed to prosper, for decades, being spread throughout the world. With the end of the 1950’s and the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in sight, church music in America was once again something talked about. Gregorian Chant was the norm for music in parishes; even the smallest tried to create a choir, which would be able to chant the Propers of the Mass. Hymns were sung by Catholics in the 20th century (including some protestant ones) as long as it was for worship outside of Solemn Liturgical Functions.  The renewal of Gregorian Chant in the church was almost complete and there were many to thank for it. The movement of 20th century Catholic Church Music in America was one that will forever define the history of the church here and around the world. The impact of one woman who embraced the call of the Holy Father to return to the sacred traditions of music in the church through the construction of her teaching methods ensured that all, whether young or old could chant with a little effort. For Justine Ward chant could not be “listened to as music” rather through the “ears of faith”(Ward, 460) To her “the music must pray and the prayer must sing” (455) “For the carrying-out of the full ideal demands the co-operation of the entire people, who will no longer assist at, but take part in, the liturgy. This may not be accomplished in a day, but the Church works for the future, and already she is sowing the seeds. The little Catholic school child is learning to pray, not only in words, but also in song; not only in the Church’s language, Latin, but in her musical language,

Chant; and when these children grow up, our choirs will be the whole Catholic world. While the variable and the more elaborate parts of the liturgy will demand the great genius, the great artist, the simpler parts will be taken up spontaneously by the entire congregation; producing the superb contrast of, on the one hand, the perfection of art, and on the other, the majesty of numbers. This is, indeed, nothing new: it is thus that the liturgy is intended to be rendered; it is thus that it has been rendered in the past, and is still rendered in a few centres of Catholic life. It is simply a return to the true ideal, a “renewing of all things in Christ,” a revitalizing, through art, of the spirit of Catholic democracy and universality.” (Ward 462-463)

Justine Ward and others worked tirelessly, embracing the call of the reforms instituted by Pius X and catered them specifically to children. They worked for an idea that would be largely envisioned in coming years by the Second Vatican Council. They worked to ensure that all might sing.

Work Cited

Brancaleone, Francis. “Justine Ward and the Fostering of an American Solesmes Chant Tradition” Sacred Music Fall 2009: 6-26. Print.

Chase, Gilbert. America’s Music New York: McGraw- Hill Book Company, Inc. 1995. Print

Holzmer, Robert. “People don’t Like Gregorian Chant” The Caecilia May 1935: 239-232. Print.

Hume, Paul. Catholic Church Music Binghamton: Vail-Ballou Pres, Inc. 1956. Print.

Mercure, Dom G. “True Church Music Should Calm the Mind Not Minister to the Senses” The Caecilia May 1936: 213-214. Print.

Pius X, Pope. Tra Le Sollecitudini, Vatican City: Vatican State, 1903. Vatican.va

Pius XII, Pope. Musicae Sacrae, Vatican City: Vatican State, 1955. Vatican.va

Ward, Justine B. “The Reform In Church Music” The Atlantic Monthly January 1907:455-463. Print.

Zuberbueler, Amy. “The Ward Method: Chant from the Ground Up” Sacred Music Spring 2006: 14-17. Print.

The flower of Jesse will blossom! :: Reflections on praying about my vocation at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth

“A shoot will spring forth from the stock of Jesse, and a flower will blossom from his root. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him!

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord. This feast is one of my favorites especially since my pilgrimage to the Holy Land last December. One of my 3 favorite locations that we got to visit was the Basilica of the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The church even though it is quite modern is very traditional through the way in which it teaches the faith and teaches about the Annunciation.

I think that the first place to start is to go from the top down of the Basilica. The dome is made to look like a giant Lilly bud which is turned upside down, showing that it is coming down from Heaven. The Lilly is an ancient symbol for our Blessed Mother. One of my favorite Springtime flowers is the Lilly of the Valley which grows outside our house. I have many memories of bringing back tubs to my Grandmother’s house and taking sections of her Lilly of the Valley back to Kentucky with us each year. My dog Maggie, much to my mother and I’s dismay LOVED to dig the root-bulb systems up. It is such a sweet and pungent scent and we use them to decorate our May altar each year. Here at Bishop Bruté, the sisters planted them everywhere. So I am VERY happy!10858516_10205530775565656_285478047220799284_nThe story of the Annunciation is from Luke 1:26-38:

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
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The Cave where Mary gave her Fiat

Being in the place where Mary gave her “fiat,” her “yes” to God gave me such immense joy. I remember walking into the lower church where the Cave of the Annunciation is and just kneeling there crying. It was so immensely beautiful and peaceful. Being in seminary I spend a lot of time in prayer asking the Lord where he wants me to go. What he wants me to do with my life. Specifically if he is calling me to become a priest and bring his mysteries to Earth through the Sacraments. Kneeling there, praying the rosary I renewed my consecration to Mary through her Immaculate Heart. I asked her to draw me closer into her heart so that I could be closer to her son.
Inside of the dome of the Basilica. (Lilly)

Inside of the dome of the Basilica. (Lilly)

At the moment of the Annunciation, Mary gave her “yes” and the Holy Spirit came upon her, thus Christ was conceived in her womb. I asked Mary, who was the first tabernacle to draw me into her womb as Christ was there, that I could be closer to him and be able to let him work through me in my life.
The upper church at the Basilica of the Annunciation

The upper church at the Basilica of the Annunciation

When we arrived at the Basilica after celebrating Sunday Mass at the Church of St. Joseph next door (Another amazing church) we came to the Basilica to pray the Noon Angelus. You can find the video below. I was quite sad that I wasn’t able to capture the organ beforehand. It was BEAUTIFUL!

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The front of the Basilica of the Annunciation Front entrance. (Lower church)

On the front of the Basilica it reads: “Verbum Caro Factum Est Et Habitavit In Nobis” (The Word of God was made flesh and made his dwelling upon us) The Altar in the lower church reads: “Verbo Caro Hic Factum Est” (Here, the Word was made flesh)

This is one of my favorite feasts because it is the Feast of the Annunciation, the celebration of the Incarnation, a mystery and beautiful gift. For God so loved the world that he sent his only son to dwell among us, to sacrifice and die a horrible and excruciating painful death on the cross. What an amazing God we have! He loves us so much that even though we sin and turn away from him he always calls us back.

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On this great solemnity of the Annunciation I humbly ask that you pray for me, as I continue to discern the Lord’s will in my life. May the Holy Spirit guide me and may the Blessed Mother continue to draw me closer to her Son, so that when the moment is right, when he asks me to do what he desires of me, that I may give him my “yes” unreservedly and with full trust in his infinite mercy. Pray Lord, may it be so!

The Owensboro contingent in front of the Church of the Annunciation

The Owensboro contingent in front of the Church of the Annunciation

See my blogpost on our adventures in Nazareth at our blog from the trip: “We give our yes with Mary!” https://holylandtrip2014.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/we-give-our-yes-with-mary/ 

May God bring this good Seed he has planted to fruit and fulfillment!

O Mary, who gave your Fiat, help us to give our Yes to Christ when he asks it of us. Amen.

Walking along the Sea of Galilee – The first seminary for the Fishers of Men

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The Sea of Galilee

Todays introit give us a foreshadowing of the Gospel for this Third Sunday in Ordinary Time B: “The Lord walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, and he called out to them: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

And since I can’t help myself, here’s the original latin text with my meager translations: “Dominus  secus (walking by or along) mare Galilaeae (the sea of Galilee) vidit duos fratres,(He saw two brothers) Petrum et Andream,(Peter and Andrew) et vocavit eos:(And “He” called them) Venite post me: (Come follow after me) faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum.”(I will make you become”fieri” fishers of men)

This Sunday’s Gospel comes from the first chapter of Mark and recounts what happened after John had been arrested. Christ came and called Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, and John. He told them, come. Follow me. I will make you fishers of men. There was something special about what Christ told these four men. Something that they knew instantly upon hearing his words that made them follow him.

If you ever have read or listened to anything about vocations the phrase: “Fishers of Men” is very very common. It has become something synonymous with the priesthood. The idea of a man going out and fishing, not for fish, but rather for men seems similar to the idea of a man going out and seeking souls, winning souls for Christ and his kingdom of Heaven.

In the time of Christ the Rabbi was a reverenced and very well-respected member of the community. The smartest Jewish boys were chosen as apprentices of sorts who would follow the rabbi and learn from him. Most likely this was the same case with Christ. He was the rabbi and the four he called had heard of him and his preaching. These simple somewhat common or to some “stupid” uneducated men were chosen by Christ to learn from him and pass on his teaching, eventually pastoring and establishing the church. These men literally “JUMPED” at the invitation of Christ, this rabbi, and the chance to study under him. “They left their nets and followed him.”

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The Sea of Galilee

As I continue throughout seminary I think back to when I first heard Christ’s call in my own life to discern the priesthood. I pray every day that I might come to know what the meaning of that call was, what the outcome will be. This time in Seminary is somewhat like when those four were chosen by Christ as he walked along the Sea of Galilee. That was their time in seminary.

Seminary comes from the latin root semen or seed. Literally seminary means seedbed. So the primary seedbed of vocations which is started by a family and the upbringing of a young man eventually leads to his formation in the church’s seedbed, the physical seminary, a time in which Christ converts our hearts and draws them closer to himself. In seminary a man grows into who God created him to be with the help of his formators and spiritual directors. He spends time praying in the garden with Christ, weeping over the sadness he experiences and the struggles along the way. He spends time walking along the Sea of Galilee immersing himself in the scriptures and beginning a life of ministry to those around him. He goes and witnesses his own “first miracles” as he experiences the opportunities for Christ and the way in which Christ works through our lives.

The four men called on the Sea of Galilee heard their call and started seminary. They began the path to become Fishers of Men, priests, bishops, men thirsting after the heart of Christ and wanting to share him with everyone they meet. As a seminarian in this now 2000 year old church I experience my own call from Christ. I experience my own time praying with him in the garden, my own experiences of his mercy and love working through those around me. In fact through the seminary I too was able to follow Christ’s footsteps and walk by the Sea of Galilee in my Pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year.

Following Christ and being in seminary has proven to be hard at many different points thus far. I have had to surrender my will, and strive to follow Christ and his church more closely. But with every turn of trial or surrendering of my will comes great peace. There is a great joy in being able to surrender yourself to another and practice humility. It can be very freeing. Seminary has been so many joys and gifts as well. I have grown so much and continue to do so. Through seminary I am able to walk beside Christ and give myself to him more completely so that one day I can stand in his place during the Mass and consecrate bread and wine through him into his very flesh and blood.

Let us each regardless of being in seminary or not strive to walk beside Christ and learn from him along the way. Let us lean on him in our struggles and walk along the Sea as we become fishers of men!

Me, on the Sea of Galilee

Me, on the Sea of Galilee

2014: Gossip, Anger, Forgiveness, Joy, and Blessings

2014. What a year it has been! I am amazed at how quickly the years keep going by. As we keep moving forward in time, we each keep gaining more things to do and fill our time with. This year has been full of blessings without measure. I’m sure that each one of us could name our blessings in this year, but can we name the wrongs we have committed against others and whether or not we have been forgiven them? I’ll reflect on that in a moment, but first here are some of my “top” moments of 2014:

Directing the Brass Quartet

Directing the Brass Quartet

January 2014:

  • March for Life in DC!

March 2014:

  • Attended the 17th annual Youth 2000, my 6th or 7th one!

May 2014:

  • Started working AGAIN at Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp & Retreat Center. What a blessing to call this place my second home in Kentucky! I love my Gasper family!

    Working at camp - Selfie!

    Working at camp – Selfie!

June 2014:

  • My dear friend and brother  Will Thompson was ordained a priest! Father Will had a beautiful Ordination and Mass, which I was blessed to take part in.wpid-img_20140601_164852174_hdr.jpg wpid-img_20140614_194054167_hdr.jpg
  • I turned 20! Two decades old, nothing too special about this birthday though!
  • Sponsored my cousin Raymond Musholt, as he was confirmed under the patronage of St Eligius! What a joyous day!

    With Ray (Eligius) at his Confirmation

    With Ray (Eligius) at his Confirmation

  • Participated in St. Joseph, BG’s Corpus Christi Procession. What a wonderful procession with our Lord!wpid-img_20140727_082503102.jpg

July 2014:

  • Celebrated my dear friend Kaffryn’s birthday with a bunch of friends and fun!10492184_10203329489111987_8759803617691381455_n

August 2014:

  • Camp ended 😦
  • Junior year of college seminary began!10414434_10201857998651758_4180219194056489891_n 10704126_10203964369903045_2397698355877978784_n

September 2014:

  • Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary turned 10 years old!
  • Started my ministry assignment at St. Joan of Arc in Indy! I love every minute of it!

October 2014:

  • Parents and Pastors Day with the Brass Quartet and Organ!

November 2014:

  • Attended my second ODYC! Saw lots of amazing campers and friends from across the Diocese!10806489_730417970359575_5743648509804853820_n
  • My third niece, Nora Lynn was born!

December 2014:

  • Went on a 9 day pilgrimage to the Holy Land with my brothers from Bruté. What an amazing experience of which I will always remember!10689572_10205559876693166_1067577437774352330_n 10845911_10205544349064985_4690569302940670562_n
    The pilgrim group from the Seminary

    The pilgrim group from the Seminary

    Me, on the Sea of Galilee

    Me, on the Sea of Galilee

    Me, on Mt. Tabor

    Me, on Mt. Tabor

    The Owensboro pilgrims!  (CJ Glaser, Jacob Fischer, me)

    The Owensboro pilgrims!
    (CJ Glaser, Jacob Fischer, me)

    Me in front of the Church of St. Ann

    Me in front of the Church of St. Ann

    Featured Image -- 3197 Featured Image -- 3195

    Church of the Pater Noster

    Church of the Pater Noster

    Basilica of St. Stephen

    Basilica of St. Stephen

  • Saw my new niece for the first time!
  • Saw my Quincy relatives for the first time in over a year!

As I think of the joys of 2014, I am also reminded of the wrongs I have done and what I must continue to do. I call to mind St. Paul’s First letter to the Thessalonians:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

It amazes me how much energy we as humans give to being angry and upset toward others. We talk about each other and gossip about who’s with who, what that person did that we didn’t like, how we are going to let that person have it because of this one time… The list goes on and on and on! We waste so much precious time being angry and upset at each other instead of giving our brothers and sisters what the Lord offers each of us at every moment: forgiveness.

Personally I struggle at times with forgiving others for their transgressions against me. Call it my german-blood, stubbornness, or just pride, it is something that I and most humans struggle with. The ability to forgive others is a virtue that we can all do with more of. So how do we get it? Well, one of the things I have done since middle school is each night, placing the names of those who irritated me, wronged me, or who are angry at me and place them at the foot of the Cross, giving them from myself to our Lord, the Just judge and letting him deal with it. Through letting Christ work on the Hearts of those who are angry at me and through forgiving those who have wronged me I tend to be a much happier person.

Now, I’m not perfect and sometimes I do tend to be angry at others, but each night I am faithful to asking our Lord to give me the grace to forgive and moving on. Each new day is a new start to be Christ to others and receive him from others into my own life. During our pilgrimage to the Holy Land a few weeks ago, Tony, our tour guide told us of the significance of “turning the other cheek.” To smack a man with the back of your hand was to take away his dignity and treat him as not human. When the man would then turn his cheek the other way, you had to smack him again with your palm, acknowledging that he was a man and deserved respect. In a way you forgave him of his wrong. As we progress to this new year, let us turn the other cheek. Let us forgive and forget. And let us devote all of our new energy to praying without ceasing for others, for building up God’s kingdom and for spreading his Gospel of love throughout the world!

2014 is a year in the books! Let’s pray for the blessings of 2015 and for the good work we will be able to accomplish together for Christ’s glory in these next 365 days! Thank-you all for your support, love, and prayers over this past year. Without them, I couldn’t be where I am today. May God reward you in this New Year

To God be the glory! To the heights!

O Mary my Mother, I consecrate to Jesus your Son, through your Immaculate Heart all of the actions, experiences, and undertakings of 2015. I ask that you watch over me in this new year as you always do, and that our Lord will bless each person that I come in contact with. Make me an humble instrument of the Lord, as you were. Help me to accept his will in my life and to surrender myself more completely to his plan. O Mary, Mother of God lead me to your Son, the source of my happiness and joy, the giver of my Salvation. AmenCapture2

End of the Year… And where, I will be this summer…

Well, here it is the end of my sophomore year in College seminary! It has been a year full of many blessings, great joys, saddnesses, and growth. I am currently in the middle of taking a break from finals studying, so I will make this short and sweet.

Congratulations to one of my Bruté, brother seminarians, Dominic Rankin (who is also from Quincy, IL. and the Diocese of Springfield)Dominic was recently accepted to study at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, for Major Seminary! Congrats Dominic! Here is a link to his blog post about it, as well as his other fantastic blog posts: http://openwidethedoorsforchrist.blogspot.com/2014/04/an-important-announcement-ii.html

I will be leaving Saturday for home, I will get home later that afternoon, and then take Emily to Murray to leave for her Mission Trip at 2am. (Eek!) actually, I rather enjoy late night trips like that, because of the prayer time they give me. There is something so beautiful and natural of being the only one on a dark road with stars out and praying to Christ.

Wednesday I will leave for staff training at camp. Yes, that’s right! I will be back at camp this summer. I’m looking forward to it!

100_0363 gasper_river

Well, back to studying and Mass I go. Have a blessed week! St. Joseph of Cupertino – Pray for me!!

 

You mean you’ll never get married?

the-cardinal-from-warner-brosNote: This post was originally written on Feb. 14th.)

I’m sitting here in a comfy armchair, watching a movie on tv, drinking a delicious cup of Earl Grey tea and relaxing with friends. Anything wrong or strange with that? No, it sounds normal. Now here’s some more information. I am sitting a room, surrounded by 30 something pictures/statues of different popes, watching The Cardinal, surrounded by 5 other men, all my age. Sound a little strange yet? Yeah, maybe a little. Today is also Valentine’s day, it’s a Friday night and oh I almost forgot, I’m a seminarian at seminary.

Most everyone else my age are out on date’s, including married couples and they say that “love is in the air.” I’m writing this post, not wishing that I was on a date, nor upset that others are, but because of a line from The Cardinal, that struct me. In the movie a man asks the cardinal: “Can you imagine a life without making love?” I’m going to take that another way and say: “Can you imagine a life without getting married?”  (Remember, sex is reserved for marriage, not beforehand.)

That question, is something that I have heard quite frequently, growing up, though in different ways. People would say things like: “You want, to be a priest? Doesn’t that mean that you’ll never get married?” “You mean, you can’t even have a girlfriend?” “You can’t have sex?” “You’ll never have a family?” “You don’t want to have children?”

“What’s wrong with you?” My answer: “Quite a bit actually, I’m a sinner.” (feel free to laugh)

What is it that would make me, or any other man my age (even women in religious communities) want to forego marriage, not have physical intimacy with another, not have biological children, and go against everything that is seen as “normal” in today’s world?

Others.

Marriage is a sacred covenant a Sacrament between God, a man, and a woman. The two give themselves to one another in one of the highest levels of self-gift, literally becoming one flesh. The fruit of their love is children, a continuation of themselves. Marriage is good. Sex is good. Children are good. Married couples give themselves to one another, they cease to live just for themselves and the live for the other, live for protecting, caring, and providing for themselves and their children, etc. Marriage leads you to love another, but it keeps it in a select few. (family members, friends, etc.)

Back to the main question though, why would I or anyone give-up all of that? I answered that it is for others. I also stated above, that marriage leads you to love another. But what about celibacy?

Dictionary.com refers to Celibacy as: “a person who abstains from sexual relations, and a person who remains unmarried, particularly for religious reasons.”

Recently at Bishop Bruté, we were graced to have Brother John Mark Falkenhain, a Benedictine Monk from St. Meinrad come and give us a Day of Recollection on Celibacy. He started out by asking two questions to begin with:

  1. Why did you decide to become a priest? (yes, we are still discerning)
  2. What made you choose celibacy?

I have blogged before on why I want to become a priest, (actually no I haven’t, I realized that it is still a draft. I shall publish that sometime soon.) But why did I choose celibacy? That was an important question that I have been asking myself since joining seminary, and will continue asking until I make my Deacon Promises and am ordained, God willing.

What should the answer look like? I’ll get there. But first, let’s go back to my original question, of why on earth would anyone want to become a celibate? Others.

Being a single celibate, can have good financial and theological reasonings in the church. For instance: If a priest had a family with a wife and kids the financial stress that would put on the parish, people, and the priest would be immense. (Yes, it can be done, and it is with priests that are ordained from other faiths who converted. Even they speak though of the need for celibacy.) A priest would not be able to give his family the amount of time and attention that they require, as well as his parishioners. There is also the theological reasonings: namely, Christ was a single male, priests stand in persona Christi capitis (In the person of Christ, the head), thus being married, would not enable them to be an alter christus (another Christ). They could not represent him in the same way, which they do.

There has to be more though, no? It isn’t just theological or financial reasoning, as to why I would want to choose celibacy, there is something else that exists. Others.

Celibacy as Bro. John Mark pointed out, has to result in an increased capacity for love. How does it lead to love? A celibate is able to give completely of himself to others. (Hey, I keep saying that!) Being free from family, a celibate is able to give himself completely to the people of God. Okay, so that does sound a little cliché, let’s see if we can expound upon it a little.

Celibacy frees a man to give himself, body, and soul to the work of the salvation of souls. Brother John Mark started off his presentation by telling us that: “celibacy is like a box, yes it is confining, but that’s part of it.” When we gain self-knowledge, on who we are, how we define ourselves, we are then able to accept ourselves, for who we are and be comfortable with it. Only when we have a healthy balance of self-knowledge and self-acception can we hope to be able to give of ourselves in a meaningful way to others.

Celibacy calls us to love others and God more! We are called to give our desires and feelings to God and in service to others, thus taking the energy, time, etc. that we would give a spouse and turning it around, offering it to God and using it to minister to his people.

That’s not to say that celibacy is not difficult. Yes, there will be times when I feel alone. There will be times when I ask myself why I did all of this, but the end is worth it. We move through it. We focus on God and the outcome, have time for spiritual reflection, learn more about ourselves and recommit ourselves to the task of salvation.

As men of ministry we are called to give ourselves away to others, regardless of whether we like them or not. In a sense, we are called to show them hospitality and be Christ to them.

Being a celibate has its fun moments. See my blogpost here about 27 celibates singing happy birthday to a woman at a restaurant. Celibacy is not a price to pay for something else, it is a gift from God. And we recognize that that gift is something special. When I take a vow of celibacy I will not have everything that I need to live the life of a celibate. I won’t know absolutely positively for sure if it’s for me. But I will be very, very, close to being sure. As long as I am living a spiritual holy life, doing everything that I can to follow God’s will and rule in my life, I ask God to supply the rest.

And supply it he does! As a celibate, I am called to turn my loneliness into solitude. To reap the spiritual benefits, and give of myself completely without reserve to the people of God. I am called to a life of love. Not a life of spousal, intimate love; rather a life of self-knowledge, acceptance, and gift.

Sitting here in my comfy arm chair, watching a movie with my brothers is not lonely, it is not saddening, it does not cause me any turmoil. The only thing that brings me pain, is that myUnilever-on-tea-Available-evidence-supports-tea-and-tea-ingredients-for-mood-and-performance-benefits_strict_xxl tea cup is almost empty! Instead, it does the opposite, it leaves me at peace, happy, and full of life, love, and joy.

Part of the Rite of Ordination calls for the Bishop to state to the man: “May God who has begun this good work in you, bring it to fulfillment.” I pray that God will continue to draw me closer to his bosom. That he will nourish me with his body and blood, keep me close to the sacrament of confession, and send me his saving love and help. I know that by coming to seminary I am taking a risk. I am surrendering everything to the will of God, asking only that he help me become the man he is calling me to be. Right now, that is as a single, celibate seminarian, discerning a vocation to the priesthood. I pray that one day, God may draw this work to fulfillment, that I may be filled with grace, peace, and love, as I say yes to him and vow my life to a life of a celibate; loving, giving, service to his church and the people of God. May God who has begun this good work in myself and my brothers, bring it to fulfillment.

“The harvest is abundant, but the labors are few…”

Deacon Immanuel, Bishop Medley, and Deacon Will, after the diaconate ordinations, last may.

Deacon Immanuel, Bishop Medley, and Deacon Will, after the diaconate ordinations, last may.

O Rex Gentium!

O-King-300x248

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart;
O Keystone of the mighty arch of man:
Come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.

From the Lectionary Cycle:

Rex gentium et lapis angularis Ecclesiae:
veni et salva hominem quem de limo formasti.

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

From the Hymn:

Veni, Veni, Rex Gentium, Veni, Redemptor omnium,
ut salvas tuos famulos peccati sibi conscios.

O Come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven’s peace.

Today the Church calls to mind O Rex Gentium, that is O King of the Gentiles. If you look at the other meanings for the word Gens, or gentis which is where Gentium comes from, it can also mean people, nation, or a tribe. When we call to mind Christ as King today, we can remember that upon his birth the wise men from the East, were questioned by Herod as to where this “King’ would be born, because he was scared of him. So Herod went out and had all of the newborn male children killed. Joseph having a dream of an angel, took Mary and Jesus and fled with them to Egypt, so that Jesus would be safe. This is called the Feast of the Holy Innocents and was an example of why we call Joseph, “The Family Protector”.

We call Christ, King, because he is not only our ruler, but also our creator. We ask him to come and re-make us. To cast away our sin and put us back on the wheel to make us into what he desires. We ask Christ to make us like him. As Augustine once said: “Our Hearts were made for thee Oh Lord, and they are restless until they rest in thee. This evening we call upon our King to refashion our hearts like unto his. We call upon our maker to make us his, to set us free from our slavery to sin, we ask him to come, O Great King of the Gentiles, Great King of the Nations, Great King of Israel, O Rex Gentium, come quickly and do not tarry!!

Scriptural References for O Rex Gentium:

Isaiah 2:411:10

Psalm 47:8; Jeremiah 10:7

Daniel 7:14;

Haggai 2:8

Romans 15:12

Ephesians 2:1420

 

O Oriens!

O-Dawn-300x241

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae,
et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.

From the Lectionary Cycle:

Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae et sol iustitiae:
veni et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis.

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness
and in the shadow of death!

From the Hymn:

Veni, Veni O Oriens, solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas, dirasque mortis tenebras.

(6) O Come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.

This Evening the Church in her wisdom calls us to look to the Orient, the East, to look forward to the second coming of Christ. (Kind of fits with the whole Mayan World-ending thing don’t you think?) We gather together as a people who long to see Christ, we long for him to come, we long to see him, our Savior. We look to the East, because that is where the Dawn comes from, where the first rays of the sunlight of a new day come forth from. That is why for the longest amount of the Church’s history Mass was celebrated Ad Orientem, that is (to the East, though it became the Liturgical East in some places, because churches couldn’t always be built with the High Altar on the East side of the Church) Mass can still be celebrated this way, though many choose not to as the custom with the Novus Ordo is to celebrate Ad populum, (To the people). We await the coming of Christ from the East, we await him the dawn of a new day, he is the dawn who makes all things new. He comes to set us free of our sin and start us on the path to our redemption. He comes to restore the human race with God and open up the gates of Heaven for us through his death on the cross.

We seek the Son of Justice, who when he comes on that new dawn, that new day, he will give to each what they deserve. This is why Christ gives us the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If you haven’t made your Christmas confession yet, please GO! Now! Jesus is waiting for us to ask him for his help, to be the new day in our life, to be the new dawn of justice, the new dawn of love, the new dawn of whatever we are needing refreshed, open up your souls to him! Open up your hearts and sweep the staleness of not praying and sin out, ask for him to come and be your new day. Join with the church in welcoming him O Oriens, O Dawn, O Christ born for our salvation in a stable in Bethlehem. Come o Oriens, dawn of the new day. Come and refresh us, and make us yours, even so Lord Jesus, come and do not tarry!

Scriptural References for O Oriens:

Isaiah 9:158:860:18-20

Malachi 4:2

Luke 1:78-79

John 8:12

Revelation 22:16

Marriage isn’t for you, it’s for God!

roman-catholic-wedding-in-Bali

Everyone seems to have been posting the article on how “Marriage isn’t for you.” This is a response, that brings up an important part that the article missed. It may take two to tango, but it takes three to get married. We as Catholics, believe that marriage is a sacramental covenant between man and woman. It is a sacramental sign of the union to come later when God-willing we reach Heaven. Marriage isn’t for you, true. It’s not self-centered, but it is supposed to be God-centered. We miss that a lot in our culture. With the whole homo-sexual marriage debate, people try to say that they can get married to whoever they want, because they want to live for them, love them, be sacrificial for them, but they are missing the most important part.

We as humans were made for God. St. Augustine’s famous quote about how we were are restless until we rest in Him, speaks volumes. From the moment of our birth we are dying, we are plummeting in an unstoppable path toward death. God created us for himself. We sinned, thus our punishment is death. When we die, we go to either Heaven or Hell, no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. We are headed toward death, and hopefully to eternal union with God in Heaven.

Marriage is a sign of the union we have with God in Heaven. It is designed for spouses to help each other to get to Heaven. That is the first question that should ever be asked, when considering marrying a person. “Are they, going to help me get to Heaven?” If not, then you probably shouldn’t marry them. Marriage isn’t for you, it’s for Eternity. Marriage is for God. Marriage requires God, and without him in the mix, it surely will have a hard time standing.

Pray for all those couples that you know who are approaching marriage. Pray for them to be holy, and include God in their marriage. Pray that the fruit of their marriage, will be for the glory of God. Pray for them. Pray for each other. If you’re not married, pray for your future spouse. Marriage isn’t for you. It’s for God.

 

Below are the original post, and the post which inspired my post.

Original post:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seth-adam-smith/marriage-isnt-for-you_b_4209837.html

Response: http://triathletewithacollar.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/a-response-to-marriage-isnt-for-you/