Masquerade (The Masks We Wear)- Reflections from Candletime and Phantom of the Opera

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As most of my friends know, my favorite musical is Phantom of the Opera. In it, we find a masquerade ball that is held in the Opera Populaire to celebrate the first year of success by its’ new owners, Monsieurs Firmin and Andr√©. All of the cast, workers and patrons come and perform a dance on the steps leading into the theatre. During it they sing the following song, of which I have provided the text from. You can watch/listen to it here:

Last night we talked in candletime about masks. We had learned throughout the day about the masks that we wear, and encouraged to come up with ways to take them off. More after, the following:

Masquerade!
Paper faces on parade . . .
Masquerade!
Hide your face,
so the world will
never find you!

Masquerade!
Every face a different shade . . .
Masquerade!
Look around –
there’s another
mask behind you!

Flash of mauve . . .
Splash of puce . . .
Fool and king . . .
Ghoul and goose . . .
Green and black . . .
Queen and priest . . .
Trace of rouge . . .
Face of beast . . .

Faces . . .
Take your turn, take a ride
on the merry-go-round . . .
in an inhuman race . . .

Eye of gold . . .
Thigh of blue . . .
True is false . . .
Who is who . . .?
Curl of lip . . .
Swirl of gown . . .
Ace of hearts . . .
Face of clown . . .

Faces . . .
Drink it in, drink it up,
till you’ve drowned
in the light . . .
in the sound . . .

RAOUL/CHRISTINE
But who can name the face . . .?

ALL
Masquerade!
Grinning yellows,
spinning reds . . .
Masquerade!
Take your fill –
let the spectacle
astound you!

Masquerade!
Burning glances,
turning heads . . .
Masquerade!
Stop and stare
at the sea of smiles
around you!

Masquerade!
Seething shadows
breathing lies . . .
Masquerade!
You can fool
any friend who
ever knew you!

Masquerade!
Leering satyrs,
peering eyes . . .
Masquerade!
Run and hide –
but a face will
still pursue you!

Read more: Phantom Of The Opera – Masquerade Lyrics | MetroLyrics

It was a beautiful moment watching these young men share their struggles, share their emotions and a little bit more about themselves. Some talked of how they are not very outgoing and ways that they could try to make new friends, others about how they can be less annoying, others talked of hiding behind masks of distrust or failure and how they were planning to build up their self-esteem. It was a beautiful moment of growth for all of us to share a little of our burdens and work toward becoming those better Men, which god is calling us to be.

The group presenting to the campers talked of how we can better realize the simple fact that we are all beloved Sons and daughters of God. Our Program Director, Jessy Bennett, her husband Ethan, and baby daughter, Lillian Rose talked about the love that a parent has for their child. They asked the campers to consider that if their parents love them so much, how much more does their heavenly Father care deeply and love them? If you check out our Gasper River FB page here, you can see the photos of these kiddoes that we are blessed with this week. Look at the close-ups of them. (We take a lot!) They are most definitely beautiful Sons and Daughters of God. The joy in their faces, the smiles upon their faces, the laughter in their eyes, the moments of surprise. God had and did a beautiful job in creating each one of them. He made them in his beautiful image and likeness. Will you join me in praying for these young men and women, as they walk their Way of Beauty? Join me in praying for them as they continue this week and the rest of their life? Pray that they may know of their beauty. Know of the love God and their families have for them, the love that the camp staff have for them. May they come to know that the masks we wear aren’t important, but the beauty that lies underneath (Love Never Dies, reference) is what is important. Let us pray for them that they may come to stop the dance and the masquerade and be true, virtuous, and holy for the sake of the kingdom of God. Amen.

This is from last year, but aren't they just beautiful?

This is from last year, but aren’t they just beautiful?

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! ūüôā )

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!

Consecrated and Set Apart – Recognizing our own Consecrated lives through the Consecration of the new Altar at Gasper River

The St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, prior to the Altar dedication.

The St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, prior to the Altar dedication.

This past week we had the dedication of the new Altar at Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp & Retreat Center in Bowling Green, KY. Gasper has been my “home” and summer job for the past two years. (This final round is #3) It was a great joy and blessing to be able to emcee the dedication and serve alongside my friend Sam Rasp, Deacon Matthew Keyser, and my Bishop.

The Liturgy for the dedication of the Altar during Mass is in my opinion one of the most beautiful liturgies. It is one that is steeped in tradition, full of beauty, prayer, and symbolic actions. During the Liturgy there are several main actions that are performed. This movement of different actions in the Mass and ritual for the dedication of an Altar is a wonderful way to look at walking the way of beauty. It is a way in which we can encounter God and his Son Jesus, in unique, beautiful, and meaningful ways. LEt’s look at this Ritual a little further and see how Consecrating an Altar works and how it relates to us as a consecrated and chosen people.

First at the beginning of the Mass, the Altar is sprinkled and blessed with Holy Water, a

The Bishop sprinkles the Altar with Holy Water

The Bishop sprinkles the Altar with Holy Water

sign of the intended use for a holy purpose of the object. (The same reason why we bless medals and ourselves with holy water.) Then after the homily the Litany of the Saints is sung, invoking the intercession of all of the holy men and women of God as well as the angels. The Litany reminds us that we do not act alone in this world or in our faith. The Bishop then prays an extremely long prayer of dedication for the Altar, calling to mind the many different altars that have been erected and established throughout Salvation History. The text for this prayer can be found at the bottom of this post. After the Litany and prayer of dedication the Bishop removes his chasuble and puts on a gremial

Deacon Matthew and I assist the Bishop in binding his sleeves and placing a gremial on him.

Deacon Matthew and I assist the Bishop in binding his sleeves and placing a gremial on him.

otherwise known as a linen apron, to protect his vestments from being ruined by the Chrism Oil. (Hey, Liturgies and rituals are supposed to be somewhat messy!)

The Bishop then anoints the Altar with the Oil of Sacred Chrism, the oil which leaves an indelible mark on a person’s soul and sets them apart for a sacred person. At Baptism, we see that a person is set apart for a life in the family of Christ, at Confirmation, those graces received at Baptism are strengthened and affirmed. At ordination a Man becomes a priest through

The Bishop anointing the Altar with Sacred Chrism

The Bishop anointing the Altar with Sacred Chrism

the imposition of hands and calling down of the Holy Spirit. His hands are anointed to bring Christ to the world in the Eucharist as he acts in persona Christi through his ministry.

It is recommended that the Bishop not just pour Sacred Chrism on to anoint the Altar mensa, but that he anoint the entire surface with Chrism, you can see that Bishop Medley uses both hands and reverently

Bishop Medley spreads the Sacred Chrism Oil across the mensa of the Altar.

Bishop Medley spreads the Sacred Chrism Oil across the mensa of the Altar.

smears the Chrism over the entire surface. His hands are so full of Chrism after the anointing that he normally has to wash his hands several times. You can just smell the Chrism in the air, the silence of all those gathered directing their attention to the ritual at hand.

After the Bishop has cleansed his hands of the Chrism and changed back into his chasuble, a brazier or bowl is placed on the Altar, inside of which are several lighted charcoals. He places incense on the charcoals and inside the Thurible, with which he

The brazier (bowl) of Incense symbolizes our prayers rising to the Father.

The brazier (bowl) of Incense symbolizes our prayers rising to the Father.

will incense the Altar. Incense has long been a staple in Catholic Worship as a symbol of the prayers of those gathered ascending to the Father. I couldn’t¬†help as I watched the incense drift upwards, but ¬†to call to mind the Psalmist’s words: “Let my prayer rise like incense before you.” Catholics use incense like our Jewish forefathers did. Thus, like our jewish forefathers who offered sacrifices on altars, so too Catholics offer the one true sacrifice (the death of Christ on the Cross) on our Altars to the Father, through and with Jesus. The Bishop walks all around the Altar, censing it and and showing through the smoke that the Altar is the way in which we lift our prayers and praise to God. He prays:

Lord, may our prayers ascend as incense in your sight. As this building is filled with fragrance so may your Church fill the world with the fragrance of Christ.

After the Incensation of the Altar, the brazier is removed and the Altar top is wiped. This is probably one of the most beautiful and poignant parts of the Mass. As Bishop stated,

Olivia (left) and Emily (right) bow before the freshly consecrated Altar while Deacon Matthew and I look on.

Olivia (left) and Emily (right) bow before the freshly consecrated Altar while Deacon Matthew and I look on.

while sitting down, this part symbolizes the women who came to the tomb to anoint the Body of Our Lord and wrap him in white linen. There was no music for his part of the Mass, the silence, and reverence with which the two girls wiped the altar spoke for itself. My sister, Emily and fellow staff member Olivia Conder volunteered to wipe the Altar off. They came forward and reverently bowed to the Altar, showing that it was consecrated. They were the first really to bow to it, as during the other parts of the Liturgy such as the procession, we did not bow, rather just go to our places in the sanctuary. This made me recall that Mary Magdalene was the first to recognize our Lord after his resurrection from the tomb.

Olivia and Emily wiping the Altar under Deacon Matthew and my instruction. (we had to point out any missed spots)

Olivia and Emily wiping the Altar under Deacon Matthew and my instruction. (we had to point out any missed spots)

She went to the Tomb and saw that it was empty, and after mistaking Jesus for the gardner, recognized him as the Lord. For the two girls to have the opportunity and joy of being able to recognize our Lord’s presence in the Altar had to have been a blessing. Emily and Olivia wiped the mensa (top) and sides of the Altar with such care and reverence. I actually teared up after the Bishop reminded us of what it symbolized and as I watched with what care and devotion the two ladies took as they attended to their task.

I thought back to that early morning Mass in the Tomb of Christ that we were blessed to celebrate on our pilgrimage to the Holy Land and with the silence and reverence that accompanied our Mass then and the Altar dedication now. After the Altar had been

Sam and I vesting the Altar

Sam and I vesting the Altar

thoroughly wiped off, Sam and I placed the White Linen Altar Cloth on it, vesting it for the Eucharistic Prayer to come. I’m excited for when we will get our new Altar Cloth at camp this summer, so that we do not have to use the simple white tablecloths anymore.

After vesting the Altar, or I should rather say: “While,” Mason and Ian came and carried the candlesticks over to the sides of the Altar. They forgot that we would be vesting it,

Ian (left) and Mason (right) place the Candlesticks by the Altar

Ian (left) and Mason (right) place the Candlesticks by the Altar

so they came a little early and were stuck holding them for a time. The candlesticks probably weigh a good 40 pounds  each. I felt sorry for them! Haha!

After the Candlesticks have been placed there comes the ceremonial lighting. The Deacon recieves a lighted candle from the Bishop who instructs him to light the candles that as the light shines from them, so too shall those gathered shine with the light of

Deacon Matthew lights one of the Altar candles.

Deacon Matthew lights one of the Altar candles.

Christ. This part of the ritual reminds us of the Easter Vigil, with Christ the light of the world coming and setting us free from the darkness of sin, releasing us into the marvelous light of his Father’s kingdom.

After the candles are lit, the Mass continues as normal with the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Communion, and the final collect and blessing. The final collect (prayer after communion), which collects all of our prayers together and helps draw the Liturgy to a close says:

Keep us, O Lord, ever close to your altar where the Sacrament of sacrifice is celebrated, so that, united in faith and charity, we, who by Christ are nourished, into Christ may be transformed. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen

Bishop Medley reminded all of us present that although this Altar is now consecrated, we must never forget that we too are a consecrated people. We are consecrated by and anointed with the same Oil of Sacred Chrism used to consecrate the Altar at our Baptism into the family of God, commissioned as we are anointed at our confirmation to go and preach the good news, the priest’s hands are anointed at ordination to make present the Living mysteries of Christ, and the Bishop’s head is anointed at his ordination to receive the fullness of Holy Orders and be able to consecrate others (including Altars) to a sacred purpose.

One of the things which I am really excited for about the summer is that we got to keep the towels with which we wiped the Sacred Chrism off of the Altar. I plan on cutting them into a few pieces, so that we have one for each week of camp, and then sharing with the campers that week not only about how we dispose of blessed items (Something I think I’ve done for the past 2 summers), but also about the Altar and how we too are a consecrated people. Our universal vocation is to that of holiness. We are called to offer ourselves on the Altars of our lives to God. Sanctifying our work, asking for our Lord to help us, giving ourselves over to the movement of his Holy Spirit. We must never forget that we are consecrated for a purpose, one which might have a rough road, but in the end will be very rewarding. We are a consecrated people. May we always be ready and willing to answer and act for the task for which we have been consecrated. . . Heaven. Amen.

After the Consecration of the Altar

After the Consecration of the Altar

Bishop Medley, preaching during the Mass.

Bishop Medley, preaching during the Mass.

Like the Consecrated Altar, so too are we consecrated for a Sacred Purpose

Like the Consecrated Altar, so too are we consecrated for a Sacred Purpose

The following is the text for the Consecration of an Altar, calling to mind the many Altars throughout human history. How does it help us to see the need to recognize our own consecrated lives?

Father, we praise you and give you thanks, for you have established the sacrament of true worship by bringing to perfection in Christ the mystery of the one true altar prefigured in those many altars of old.

Noah, the second father of the human race, once the waters fell and the mountains peaked again, built an altar in your name. You, Lord, were appeased by his fragrant offering and your rainbow bore witness to a covenant refounded in love.

Abraham, our father in faith, wholeheartedly accepted your word and constructed an altar on which to slay Isaac, his only son. But you, Lord, stayed his hand and provided a ram for his offering.

Moses, mediator of the old law, built an altar on which was cast the blood of the lamb: so prefiguring the altar of the cross. All this Christ has fulfilled in the paschal mystery: as priest and victim he freely mounted the tree of the cross and gave himself to you, Father, as the one perfect oblation. In his sacrifice the new covenant is sealed, in his blood sin is engulfed.

Lord, we therefore stand before you in prayer. Bless this altar built in the house of the Church, that it may ever be reserved for the sacrifice of Christ, and stand for ever as the Lord’s table, where your people will find nourishment and strength. Make this altar a sign of Christ from whose pierced side flowed blood and water, which ushered in the sacraments of the Church. Make it a table of joy, where the friends of Christ may hasten to cast upon you their burdens and cares and take up their journey restored. Make it a place of communion and peace, so that those who share the body and blood of your Son may be filled with his Spirit and grow in your life of love. Make it a source of unity and friendship, where your people may gather as one to share your spirit of mutual love. Make it the center of our praise and thanksgiving until we arrive at the eternal tabernacle, where, together with Christ, high priest and living altar, we will offer you an everlasting sacrifice of praise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. R. Amen.

Pictures courtesy of Elizabeth Barnstead via the Diocesan FB page:

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 ūüė¶
  • Junior year of college seminary began!10414434_10201857998651758_4180219194056489891_n 10704126_10203964369903045_2397698355877978784_n

September 2014:

  • Bishop Simon Brut√© 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 Brut√©. 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!!

 

Link to my Interview on VocationBoom! Radio

Link to my Interview on VocationBoom! Radio

coreyradio

On Saturday, I was interviewed by VocationBoom! Radio, a national radio show on over 230 radio affiliates. It is an hour long program and consists of my “shortened” vocation story (covering my life in Quincy, Beatrice, and Kentucky), answering questions from call-ins as well as talking about life as a seminarian from the Diocese of Owensboro attending Bishop Simon Brut√© College Seminary. Click on the link above, scroll to the bottom and click on the show for March 29, 2014. If you haven’t invited a young man to consider a vocation to the priesthood, please suggest it to him, pray for more vocations, and visit VocationBoom.com¬†for more info, such as joining their prayer network.

 

+AMDG+

 

O Mary queen of priests – pray for us!

Now is the time of Courageous Priesthood!

There is a large argument that has been going on for years as to whether or not a priest should wear his collar when out in public, that is a topic that can be discussed at another time, but I want to take that topic and change it to fit another group of men. As seminarians there are times that we don’t want people to know that we are seminarians, just as priests sometimes don’t want people to know that they are priests sometimes. Why? It usually goes back to the clergy abuse scandal from years past. As a seminarian I cannot tell you the number of times, where even before I was a seminarian and was just thinking of joining that I would have people make snide, often downright rude comments asking why I would want to be a future “child-fill in the blank here“.

Comments such as the above really can cause hurt and can wear away at a man’s vocation. Why would anyone want to be someone who is going to get put down and criticized for who they are? Because of ¬†this “attitude” that some people have towards the priesthood, when someone asks who you are, or what you do and they are a total stranger it can be a challenge to tell them.

Before I left for my first year of seminary, Fr. Andy our Vocation Director at the time, ¬†told Sam and I that each time we introduce ourselves to someone we should say: “I’m Corey Bruns, a seminarian for the Diocese of Owensboro.” This form of an introduction was a little uncomfortable at ¬†first, but after using it for a year I have come to really appreciate his wisdom and knowledge in it. Not only does it re-iterate the fact that we represent the Diocese of Owensboro, but that we represent the Bishop, the priests of the Diocese, and in-turn the people of the Diocese. Thus, it helps us to remember to always be the gentleman that we are. The “a seminarian” part raises interests with others, especially those not of the Catholic faith. Many have some type of idea of what a seminarian is, but through introducing yourself as one you open up the door to evangelizing with someone, to sharing Christ’s message of mercy and love, but also of judgement and Eternal Life with them. At Camp this summer, the staff would tease me in a joking manner on how I always introduced myself, though by the end of the summer, some would introduce me as a seminarian for the Diocese, whenever I was meeting someone they knew.

There have been countless times where I have had to introduce myself as a seminarian, some in times that were a little challenging. In each occasion though, I can honestly say that it has helped me to feel more confident in the fact that I am a seminarian, that I am proud to represent something larger than myself, and that Christ will always be there to give me his help. The following is three occurrences of when I or multiple seminarians  have had to introduce ourselves as seminarians in ways that really stand out to me.

Last year I was out shopping for our senior dinner at the seminary with a fellow seminarian. We had 2 Walmart carts full of 40 something pork chops, 20lbs of potatoes, lettuce for a salad, and a bunch of other things we needed for the meal. ¬†We were proceeded in line by 2 African American women. One of them kept looking back at us and our carts and finally asked what we were doing with all of that food. We explained that we were having a party for 40 something men at school. ¬†Dominic then explained that we were in seminary and were ¬†having a dinner to honor our seniors. (He explained what a seminarian was and that we were Catholic, answering her other questions) At this comment, the woman seemed to change totally. She pulled her ballcap off of her head, grabbed Dominic’s hand and pressed it to her forehead, asking him to pray over her. (She was saying things like, “send the Holy Spirit into me brother, give me some of the good lord.” Dominic, not sure what to do looked at me with a look of panic, and wonderment. I nodded indicating that he should say a prayer for her. So he closed his eyes and said a prayer for her. It was a beautiful witness of pastoral charity and love, as well as evangelizing the faith to her.

This summer, 3 other seminarians from our Diocese and I took a trip to Holiday World as an end to our Summer assignments and have some fraternal bonding. While standing in line for the Wildebeest, Alex and I started to chant the Salve Regina with Sam and Nick, as well as some other hymns. A couple in front of us as well as everyone else around looked at us with a quizzical look of semi-fascination on their faces. After we had finished, the couple asked us if we were a musical group, to which I replied, “Well sort of. We like to sing, but we are actually seminarians for the Diocese of Owensboro.” This started a 45 minute conversation with them about the faith, seminary, and other things. It was during this time, that I realized even more of the vulnerability that people have in regards to the priesthood. Even though we were just seminarians studying for the priesthood, these people opened their hearts and lives to us, all after we showed them some of Christ’s love and introduced ourselves as seminarians.

When I was in High School and partially in Middle School, I portrayed Santa for the Elementary School. What a joy it was for me to get to witness to Christ in this way! Children are so vulnerable and open with Santa and some of the stories that they would tell me would break your heart. One of my favorite ones is when a girl asked me to bring her uncle back from Iraq for Christmas. While I told her that I couldn’t make that promise, I could pray with her and would pray for her and her uncle. ¬†So together we offered a heart prayer and the Lord’s prayer for her uncle. (Experiences like these helped give aid to my vocation.)

My last story happened last Friday. It is a tradition here at Brut√© that on the first Friday of the year most of the men go out to eat. This year we decided to go to Union Jack’s Pizzeria & pub. We were seated in a room with a birthday party group. While we were all waiting for our meals, a woman at the group got up, rang her fork on her glass and started to announce to her party that it was another woman’s 62nd birthday. She began to sing Happy Birthday to her, on the second “Happy Birthday…” all 28 seminarians joined in. What a terrific sound that was, to hear reverberate off of the wooden walls and ceiling of the room. The woman stood up and and thanked all of us, saying that it was so nice of us to join in and that it was always one of her dreams to be in a room with so many of what appeared to be single men. Needless to say, we all had a hearty laugh after one of the guys explained that our current state in life was celibate and that we were seminarians. The rest of the evening, we had conversations with people at their table about seminary and Catholicism and ended up singing Happy Birthday again so that they could video us singing. Even by just singing Happy Birthday, we were able to evangelize and share some of Christ’s love with others.

My point to this now ridiculously long post is on the importance of standing up for our faith and the Gospel of God. Christ asks that we be active Christians, that we live our lives for him. Much of today’s problems could be solved if people just stood up for the faith. We as seminarians, future priests, and even those that are priests, cannot expect the laity to if we are afraid or do not do so ourselves. We must be strong, courageous, and relentless in working for the Kingdom of God. “We are all baptized, thus it is our mission to go out and make more” as Ben would say at camp this summer.

It is time for courageous Catholicism. It is time for Orthodox Catholicism. It is time for us to stand up for our faith and be actual men and women of God. Now is the time of courageous vocations! Now is the time of courageous priesthood, and of courageous seminarians. Now is the time of our salvation!

May God grant us the grace to accept his call and fulfill our mission. And may our Blessed Mother help us to always point to her son, Jesus Christ. So that one day Christ who has begun this great work in us, may bring it to fulfillment.

Pope Francis kissing a statue of Our Lady. - May our Blessed Mother help us to always be courageous!

Pope Francis kissing a statue of Our Lady. Р                                                                                      May our Blessed Mother help us to always be courageous!

Gasper River Update

Well, here we are with 3 more weeks of camp left for the summer. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent here at Gasper and have grown so much. Tomorrow after Mass I will head back out for Camp Life III. This coming weekend a group of men from Bruté will be joining me for a night and day at Gasper, so that they too can see what a wonderful place it is for our Diocese and to have a little retreat/fun time together before school starts again.

The video posted with this update is of my favorite hymn. I loved it when the organist was playing it today before Mass. May all of us at Gasper keep worshiping the God beyond all praise, as we finish strong. God bless you and say a prayer for me a sinner please!

Gasper River Update – Adoration and Procession

God is SOO good!

Growing up and moving is never fun and it was never fun for my family and I when we moved the summer before my 2nd grade year to Beatrice, Nebraska. Being so far away from family and friends is never fun and it was hard on us. One thing that we found that aided us though was Eucharistic Adoration. Through adoration we grew to develop a love for the Blessed Sacrament which we would later receive for the first time that year. My siblings and I grew to love the Eucharist and I can safely say that without it in my life I would not be the man I am today. Without adoration I would probably not be in Seminary, or at least it would have taken more time rather than just out of High School.

The Eucharist transforms our lives, it makes us who we are as Catholics and reiterates the words of Christ that he would be with us until the end of the age. When Christ at the Last Supper said “This is My Body” he wasn’t joking. It truly is his body, blood, soul, and divinity.

Tonight at Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp & Retreat Center we closed out the day with a Eucharistic Procession and Adoration starting at 10pm.
Earlier this evening we separated the boys and girls and had an excellent talk/discussion about our roles in life and about being good, respectful, and moral men and women of God.
Ben Warrell, Fr. Mike Williams, the other male staffers and friends from WKU know how to drive home points about authentic masculinity and I could tell that it was going to be a powerful night for all of our campers.

During adoration we would sing a few songs and then pause for Lectio Divina. My Faith EX group had practiced Lectio with everyone yesterday so it was really powerful to put it into practice before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

The room was pitch black, only lit by candle light as we read the story from John’s Gospel of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. When Katy read it the first time I knew we would touch people as I could hear the sobs breaking through. With my reading of it, I had jotted down a reflection that I added to it at different points. I will try to publish it on here when I have time. With that the tears started to come even more and after Kaylee read it the third time, we all needed a lot of kleenex.

Seeing the campers so humble, so pious, and so open with what they were feeling and experiencing with Christ was amazing and it filled me with such great joy. As I knelt and looked out and saw 12-14 year olds sobbing, laying prostrate, making themselves as small as possible, kneeling and just so full of love not only warmed my heart but brought tears to my eyes as well. I grew up with the Eucharist, so many don’t. I am forever thankful to my family for instilling in me the love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Seeing all of our campers in adoration made me reminisce back to the days when I first started going to adoration.

This is what our goal is with the New Evangelization; to bring souls to Christ, present in the Eucharist and let him work on their hearts. God is so great and so beautiful, and he is doing marvelous things in our Diocese here at Gasper River. Please pray for all of us, we are counting on your prayers and praying for you!

+In His Mercy,
Corey

(BTW, sorry for any typos, it is 12:30 am and I need to head to bed.)

Gasper River Update

Gasper River Update

Today is a hot day here at Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp & Retreat Center! We have been making sure that everyone is drinking lots and lots of water and staying really hydrated. The Holy Spirit has been moving through all of our campers and great things are happening.

We have 7th and 8th graders this week and since most of them wear their emotions on their sleeves it is really easy to make an impact and help them get excited about their Faith. Please continue to pray for them!

Two other staffers and I are about to present on how to use the bible. I never would have thought that I would use things from my Theology Class this year so soon, but it is amazing how I have been able to connect the history and covenants that we learned about into teaching the youth here at camp.

Please continue to pray for all of us, I am praying for you!