These are the wounds I wish for Lord…

“These are the wounds I wish for Lord…”

The statues of Mary and the Crucified Christ in the Church Escuela de Cristo in Antigua, Guatemala

Wounds. We all have them. Some we don’t want. Others we try to hide and still others we can’t help but recall from time to time, if not every day.

Wounds make us who we are. Wounds cut. They hurt. They go shallow and they go deep. Yet, they also can transform.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Pope Benedict XVI, in an idea that he takes from some of the Fathers. The idea that we must allow ourselves to be wounded by beauty. We must allow the beauty of God, the love of God to pierce our heart and to make it beat and bleed for love of God.

What wounds do you not want?

Fear?

Hatred?

Not being loved?

Told that you’re worthless?

Told that you’re not beautiful?

Abuse?

Physical?

Mental?

Emotional?

Vocal?

Passion?

Friendship?

Family?

The list could go on and on. But what happens if we allow the Lord to have that wound? What happens if we allow he Lord to take that wound and join it to his 5 most glorious and precious wounds? What if we allow the Lord to crucify that wound in our life to the cross with himself? What then?

How might our lives be changed? How might they grow? How might we be transformed by our wounds?

“Inspire our hearts, I ask you, Jesus, with that breath of your Spirit; wound our souls with your love, so that the soul of each and every one of us may say in truth: Show me my soul’s desire, for I am wounded by your love.

These are the wounds I wish for, Lord.

What if we allow our wounds to be replaced with new wounds? What if we allow Christ to wound us with his love?

The Abbot St. Columban put it beautifully in the Office of Readings this morning. Read his words below and imagine what would happen if you and I allow our wounds to be transformed by love? What would happen if we allow ourselves to be transformed by Him who loves us more than anything else he has created? What if?

From an instruction by Saint Columban, abbot

(Instr.13, De Christo fonte vitae, 2-3: Opera, Dublin 1957,118-120)

You, O God, are everything to us

Brethren, let us follow that vocation by which we are called from life to the fountain of life. He is the fountain, not only of living water, but of eternal life. He is the fountain of light and spiritual illumination; for from him come all these things: wisdom, life and eternal light. The author of life is the fountain of life; the creator of light is the fountain of spiritual illumination. Therefore, let us seek the fountain of light and life and the living water by despising what we see, by leaving the world and dwelling in the highest heavens. Let us seek these things, and like rational and shrewd fish may we drink the living water which wells up to eternal life.

Merciful God, good Lord, I wish that you would unite me to that fountain, that there I may drink of the living spring of the water of life with those others who thirst after you. There in that heavenly region may I ever dwell, delighted with abundant sweetness, and say: “How sweet is the fountain of living water which never fails, the water welling up to eternal life.”

O God, you are yourself that fountain ever and again to be desired, ever and again to be consumed. Lord Christ, always give us this water to be for us the source of the living water which wells up to eternal life. I ask you for your great benefits. Who does not know it? You, King of glory, know how to give great gifts, and you have promised them; there is nothing greater than you, and you bestowed yourself upon us; you gave yourself for us.

Therefore, we ask that we may know what we love, since we ask nothing other than that you give us yourself. For you are our all: our life, our light, our salvation, our food and our drink, our God. Inspire our hearts, I ask you, Jesus, with that breath of your Spirit; wound our souls with your love, so that the soul of each and every one of us may say in truth: Show me my soul’s desire, for I am wounded by your love.

These are the wounds I wish for, Lord. Blessed is the soul so wounded by love. Such a soul seeks the fountain of eternal life and drinks from it, although it continues to thirst and its thirst grows ever greater even as it drinks. Therefore, the more the soul loves, the more it desires to love, and the greater its suffering, the greater its healing. In this same way may our God and Lord Jesus Christ, the good and saving physician, wound the depths of our souls with a healing wound—the same Jesus Christ who reigns in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

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If I don’t preach the Gospel, what can I ever hope to do?

We are bound by love, by the commission of our Baptism to proclaim Christ, crucified, resurrected, and alive to each we encounter! Here’s a great reflection on our duty as Christians from Blessed Paul VI, Pope.

How have you proclaimed Christ today? Have you? What’s holding you back? Don’t wait!

From a homily by Blessed Paul VI, pope

(Hom. Maniliae habita die 29 novembris 1970)

We proclaim Christ to the whole world

Not to preach the Gospel would be my undoing, for Christ himself sent me as his apostle and witness. The more remote, the more difficult the assignment, the more my love of God spurs me on. I am bound to proclaim that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of him we come to know the God we cannot see. He is the firstborn of all creation; in him all things find their being. Man’s teacher and redeemer, he was born for us, died for us, and for us he rose from the dead.

All things, all history converges in Christ. A man of sorrow and hope, he knows us and loves us. As our friend he stays by us throughout our lives; at the end of time he will come to be our judge; but we also know that he will be the complete fulfillment of our lives and our great happiness for all eternity.

I can never cease to speak of Christ for he is our truth and our light; he is the way, the truth and the life. He is our bread, our source of living water who allays our hunger and satisfies our thirst. He is our shepherd, our leader, our ideal, our comforter and our brother.

He is like us but more perfectly human, simple, poor, humble, and yet, while burdened with work, he is more patient. He spoke on our behalf; he worked miracles; and he founded a new kingdom: in it the poor are happy; peace is the foundation of a life in common; where the pure of heart and those who mourn are uplifted and comforted; the hungry find justice; sinners are forgiven; and all discover that they are brothers.

The image I present to you is the image of Jesus Christ. As Christians you share his name; he has already made most of you his own. So once again I repeat his name to you Christians and I proclaim to all men: Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, Lord of the new universe, the great hidden key to human history and the part we play in it. He is the mediator—the bridge, if you will—between heaven and earth. Above all he is the Son of man, more perfect than any man, being also the Son of God, eternal and infinite. He is the son of Mary his mother on earth, more blessed than any woman. She is also our mother in the spiritual communion of the mystical body.

Remember: [it] is Jesus Christ I preach day in and day out. His name I would see echo and re-echo for all time even to the ends of the earth.

Pray God that we might preach our Lord even with our final breath!

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

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

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

(PG 46, 283-286)

Christ should be manifest in our whole life

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

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

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

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

Some questions for reflection:

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

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

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

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

24 Hours in Antigua – A time to encounter

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“We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” – Paulo Coelho The Alchemist

Coelho’s The Alchemist  has long been a favorite book of mine, ever since my Highschool sophomore English teacher, Mrs. Rachel Gavin recommended it to me. The story covers a young man, (interestingly a former seminarian) on his discernment journey as he seeks to discover to where he is being called in the world. He has many adventures and the book recounts those travels he makes, those little “Parenthesis (  ) in eternity.”

I’ve been absent from my blog for a while now, as I was busy with school things again. Now that it is the summer I thought I’d use the time to post more, especially about my experiences here in La Antigua, Guatemala. Yes, dear Toto that’s right. I’m no longer in Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, or Kentucky anymore. In fact I’m quite a bit south in Central America spending my summer doing  a Spanish immersion course at the “Probigua” school here in Antigua. I’ll give more details about the school as time goes on. For now, I’d like to focus on what my first 24 hours has been like, share some photos with you all and then go to bed, because my first day of class starts in the morning.

I arrived at the airport in Guatemala City at 12:08 pm. Somehow (and I don’t remember doing this) I must have turned my watch an hour back at some point. Who knows? I was on the wrong time until 2:13 pm until I asked my House Mom what the time was. LOL

Anywho, it took me almost 13 hours to go from Bowling Green, KY to Antigua. After arriving at the airport, I was met by Reginaldo, my driver sent from the school who took me on a little over an hour drive to Antigua. Curvy roads, crazy traffic, and no uses of turn signals, just honks of the horn led us out of town into the beautiful, and I mean BEAUTIFUL mountains. Then we went down down down, left paved roads and for a brief moment it seemed, civilization behind as the van began to bump, jerk, and pitch on the cobblestone streets of beautiful La Antigua.

As we drove along, I thought to myself: “gee, this place is bigger than I thought.” Bright colors, clay tile roofs, crumbling plaster, statues of saints, churches, ruins of churches, people, smiling people, laughing people, kissing people (apparently the park near my house is where the young teenagers go scuba diving or something. It’s a wonder after the length of their kisses that they don’t need to come up for air sooner. HAHA just kidding.) working people, poor people, people driving Jeeps, people driving Audis, Volvo’s, Volkswagens, Toyotas… the list goes on and on and on.

Once we arrived at my house, we stood out side the gate, me looking up at it, waving hello to the two women making tortillas in the store across the road, and my driver climbing in the van and beginning to pull away. “Wait!,” I exclaimed as he stopped inching forward. “Is someone coming to the gate?” I asked. “Sí, he’s coming.” “Reginaldo replied and sure enough the gate began to open. But it wasn’t a man. It was my Madre de la casa, my House Mom, Sñra. Flores! “Corey, Bienvenido a Antigua y mi casa!” she said.

And then it got real.

Really real.

Reginaldo spoke english and didn’t practice spanish with me on the way down. Sñra. Flores only spoke to me in spanish. I only spoke to her in spanish. Did I just communicate for 15 minutes in spanish? I thought to myself as I sat my backpack down on my bed inside my room she had shown me to? Yes. Yes I had. Wow. Never in my life have I done that before.

Sñra. Flores made me a delicious lunch of rice, and chile de renos and pickled cucumbers. After getting a key from her, as well as the Wifi password, I texted my Mom, Vocation directors, priest friends, and others who were wondering about my safe travels to let them know that all was well and I was happy.

But was I really happy? The truth is, when Father Andy and Father Josh gave me a blessing before I got in the car with Preston to drive down to Nashville at 2 in the morning, my stomach was doing flips. Infact, until lunch, my stomach was doing flips. After lunch, they stopped but then they started again. Oh no. Not indigestion, not the cucumbers, what did I eat? Maybe she didn’t actually have purified water for me to drink? What if I get mugged? What if I die here?

Oh shut up Corey. You need Jesus.

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You haven’t gone to Mass yet today and you need to pray. So I asked Sñra for directions (in Spanish) and I headed out to find my parish for the summer: La Merced.

La Merced is an absolutely beautiful parish, built in a spanish baroque style. I walked around the church, found the Beautiful Blessed Sacrament Chapel, plopped down and prayed. I asked Our Lady and our Lord to really help me this summer. I asked them to help me be at home. To quench my home-sickness, to help me to grow in faith and love. And to fill that parenthesis, that Paulo Coelho talked of with a summer of abundant blessings. And after praying my rosary, I kept falling asleep so I headed back to my casa for a little siesta.

I was awakened to the sound of Sñra. Flores calling from downstairs: “Corey…. Corey….Corey….Corey….” And I in a half asleep state after recognizing that it wasn’t a dream answered: “I’m coming! Un momentito por favor!” There went my first english words. LOL. I had a lovely dinner (which I had forgotten about in my tired state) with Sñra Flores and her daughter Daniella. We had Guatemalan Tamales, different but just as tasty as the mexican tamales I have grown up with. I had a lovely time speaking in spanish to them, they spoke slowly so I could understand them and we found out more about one another. We canonized my Mom, for having trisos or triplets and I shared photos, laughed, had questions answered: “Que hora es la Misa a La Merced En la Mañana?” What time is the Mass at La Merced in the morning.

I then retired for the evening and fell quickly back asleep. Waking up around 4am to the sound of the local dogs barking, I went back to sleep for a couple hours and then got up and started my day. It was a beautiful morning. 70ish degrees, sun out, etc. I said good morning to the tortilla lady across the street, walked through the park (figured out part of it is where the dogs leave their business so I needed to cross the road) and went to La Merced for my first Mass in Antigua. It was the Feast of Pentecost! I prayed my office prior to Mass, was joined by a couple of kind couples in the pew and understood most of Fathers homily. He’s a very engaging preacher. And after 34 minutes, I’m glad he was so engaging. lol

After Mass, they had Presentations of around 12 babies. Father would pray, throw a bunch of holy water on them, they would cry, he would lift them up above the people (to my eye level lol) and then we would applaud. It was a bit different than in America, but this was the quick version from what I gathered. I prayed mid-morning prayer as it was now 10:24 or so and headed down the street in search of brunch. Father Gary had recommended me to try Luna de Miel. I am so glad I did. They make sweet and savory crepes as well as smoothies. A delicious, cheese, bean, and ham crepe with a watermelon/mint/OJ smoothie and aqua pura a bottle of water while sitting on a balcony overlooking part of the city was perfect. At 11am the bells of the church started to ring and the next Mass began. I loved listening to the bells all day long.

33159079_10216511719042380_8287542141010313216_n.jpgAfter Brunch, I went walking, exploring, getting my bearings on things. I had already found the school last night, so I wanted to venture out even more. I ended up first finding and taking the necessary picture in front of the Arch of Saint Catherine. Arco de Santa Catalina. Walked into some beautiful shops with kind shopkeepers who visited with me, inquired where I was from, where I went to school in town, how long I was visiting for, where I had been, and offered assistance in directing me to places I wanted to visit. They even promised prayers for me when they found out I was a seminarista. Like Paulo said: In each moment ” we have stopped to encounter each other, to love, and to share.” Part of the Spanish immersion involves sharing. And strangely my extroverted side was working overtime and I was making friends, meeting people, and speaking to them in spanish all within my first 24 hours. Wow!

I visited downtown in the Parque Central, found where I could go to the bank in the 32951021_10216511697881851_8684240189645651968_n.jpgmorning to obtain some more Guatemalan currency. (Thankfully both places I ate at accepted USD, but thanks to Robin Murphy, now an alumnus of Saint Meinrad, she had sent me with about $20 worth of Quetzales, so I used that for my meals today.

I visited a few more places, then headed back to the casa as it was starting to get rather warm. I purchased some bottled water for brushing my teeth on my way back, got back to my room and took a nice siesta. did some reading. Afterwards, it was time for dinner so I went in search of a new place. I had passed a few cool restaurants on my way earlier in the day, so I headed back to the parquet central to see what I could find. I ended up in a beautiful little Café Condessa or the Café Contessa, named after the beautiful old home 33139970_10216511715402289_1018768080857202688_n.jpgbelonging to a line of Counts and Countesses it was located in. I kept thinking back to one of my favorite films: “The Count of Monte Cristo” even though they speak french and I was speaking spanish. I was able to FaceTime my Mom there for a bit before the Wifi started to cut out more and then I switched to texting.

After a delicious meal, I headed to see the old Cathedral, pray EP, and work my way up some new streets back toward La Merced, so that I could pray my rosary and make a Holy Half Hour. I wanted to beat the rain. Luckily I did, made it home, and was able to type up this little blogpost about my time thus far.

Hopefully, as the summer goes on, I’ll be able to incorporate

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The Old Cathedral

more spanish into my posts (and translations) as well as photos and stories of my time here, the people I encounter, and the place which already I am coming to love very very much. This is truly a precious moment in my formation, in my life, and in my journey to become the man God has created me to be. Pray for me that my time might be fruitful, that I might be generous, and that I might be able to as I prayed this morning on the Feast of Pentecost, to speak in Spanish. The Apostles could be heard in many different languages, I for now, only ask to be heard and be able to use one.

Good night, Buen Noche desde Antigua! I’m praying for you. I hope you’ll say a prayer for me!

 

Top left: Shrine to Christ in the Sepulcher in the old Cathedral

Top Right: Mass times in the old cathedral: Quote: “There exists no sin, that God cannot forgive! None!” – Pope Francis

Lower left: Church ruins near my house

Lower right: the little inner courtyard going to my house and others.

 

“Thank you for bringing me Jesus, I love you.” – Reflection on the death of my 93 year old friend, Ed Pickett

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The Raising of Lazarus – Jean Baptiste Jouvenet

Please join me in praying for the repose of the soul of dear 93 year old Ed Pickett of Owensboro. Certain people tend to truly touch our lives and I’d like to share the story of a couple of my encounters with Ed, a man of much faith with you…
 
I met Ed on a communion call last year while at St. Stephen Cathedral on Pastoral Year. Ed lived in a beautiful brick home and had a large American Flag flying outside of is front door.
 
During my first visit with Ed, I learned about the love of his life, Grace, his wife who had died around 5 years prior. Every visit there after, Ed would always mention Grace as we prayed and chatted. He was a man who was smitten with a love that lasted even past death. Since Ed was in the Military, Grace had raised their large family largely while he was serving. Ed, would speak to me with tears in his eyes of how beautiful she was and how grateful he was for her doing so well with their children.
 
Ed was a man also of faith. Often, when I would visit with him on one of his many trips to the hospital he would have the Hail Mary or Our Father on his lips, praying for a variety of things. He was a kind, old, grandfather figure who was incredibly sweet. From laughing with him as he shared stories of the nun who made him wear a dress because he had ripped his pants when he attended an all-girls Catholic school in New York (yes, you read that right) to tearing up as I watched this man of faith, this kind gentle man struggle with the pains of growing old, I treasure those visits I had with Ed.
 
Even when he was in braces with broken bones, dealing with sickness, etc. whenever I would ask Ed how he was, he would say something along the lines of: “Well, I have a lot of pain in my back and I really can’t walk around too well, but other than that, I’M DOING GREAT! How are you young man?”
 
As we would pray, Ed would usually hold my hand as I sat next to him and squeeze it whenever we would pray for Grace. Then, after receiving communion, making an act of thanksgiving, Ed would smile, grab my hand and kiss it and say: “Thank you for coming to see me and bringing me Jesus. I love you.”
 
I can truly say that even though I only knew Ed through my short visits with him, I loved him back. I was and am thankful for the small times I got to spend with and be inspired with this man of faith, this man of his country, this man of his family, this man of love. And while he was thankful for me bringing Jesus to me, I am thankful for him showing and being Jesus to me.
 
May choirs of angels come to greet you Ed as they lead you into paradise. May the martyrs receive you at your arrival and lead you to the holy city Jerusalem. May choirs of angels receive you and with Lazarus, once a poor man, may you truly have eternal rest.
Farewell my friend! Pray for me!

A Life Well Lived: The Radical Hospitality St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi has been my patron saint for as long as I can remember. I have always had a devotion to him, the simple, humble aristocrat-turned beggar of Assisi. His radical ways of living have always touched deeply at my heart, as they have at so many others across the ages. Francis, was ordained as a Deacon. Never a priest. And he LIVED his Diaconate in every sense of the work Diakonosservice. Francis lived a life of radical hospitality. He welcomed all, stranger, muslim, Christian, woman, child, etc as Christ. Ever since his encounter with the poor beggar man, wherein Francis gave him his cloak, Francis lived a life for others. He lived his life as an alter Christus (another Christ).

Francis had a great love for the Church, he had a great love for the people of God, a great love for the Liturgy in all its splendor, and he had a great love for beauty. Francis lived the radical hospitality, which the Gospel demands with such fervor that he saw God’s presence in the beauty of each part of Creation. Whether it be Sister Moon, Brother Wolf, Sister Breeze, Brother Leo, Sister Clare, or even Sister Death…from whom no mortal can escape. Francis saw the presence of God, the incarnation of Christ in every living being. He lived the mystery of the Incarnation, because he honored Christ’s presence, wherever and whenever he found it.

Francis was joyful. There’s no doubting that. Read any commentary you ever could on him, watch Bishop Robert Barron’s The Pivotal Players episode on him (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND DOING SO) and you will see a man, faced with trials, with sin, with struggles, yet as he walked he sang. As he received he gave. As he lived, so he loved.

Francis abandoned the pleasures of the flesh, the pleasures of the world, because he had seen that only Christ, could provide what he needed. He had fallen deeply and madly in love with the Bridegroom of the Church, and sought to offer his own life with Christ to the glory of God the Father. Francis embraced his trials. He received the Stigmata. He founded religious communities. He created the first “living” Nativity Scene. He rebuilt physical church buildings. He prayed often. He went away to quiet places for retreats. He stirred up the ardor of faith in men of no faith. He loved without being loved in return. Why? Because he embraced the Radical Hospitality of the Gospel. He embraced a life of joy. He embraced Christ, present in all of humanity and creation, with all of its boils, warts, pimples, scars, etc. because he saw the beauty of the Creator within.

St. Francis of Assisi, lived a life of radical surrender to the workings of the Spirit. He lived a life of radical hospitality and love. He lived a life of joy as he embraced the cross.

May we have the strength and courage to do the same.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for me and for us, that we might be made worthy to share the light of Christ in Heaven with you. Amen.

 

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On Thursday, I met Jesus…and his dog.

Last Thursday started off for me as a pretty normal day. I got up at 5:30 like normal. I watched the news, checked Instagram, then checked Facebook, prayed the Office of Readings, got showered, shaved, put my clothes on, tied my shoes, packed my backpack and was headed down the stairs, iPad in hand as I loaded the iBreviary app in preparation for Morning Prayer with the Fathers in the kitchen.

I ate some little chocolate piece I shouldn’t have, followed by some deliciously sweet cantaloupe, prayed Morning Prayer with the priests and was walking over to the Office to meet with Donna, my Pastoral Year Supervisor by 9.

It was still a normal day.

Donna and I chatted for a bit about ministry that week, what I was getting into after returning from a week on the Hill, what I needed to do with the First Communion and Confirmation retreat days coming up, etc. And before I knew it, my phone buzzed telling me that my 10am appointment had arrived and was waiting for me in the front office. As I walked to the front I looked down at my grey/orange sneakers I was wearing with my khakis, (Yes. I know, sneakers AND Khaki’s?? REALLY? Corey?!?) and thought to myself about how comfortable they were. (I knew I was going to be walking a lot that day, so I wanted comfort over style.) (ooh, Tyler Grant snapchatted me…)

It was still a normal day, and a pretty normal conversation to have with myself in my head.

I was happy to meet with a friend from my home parish of St. Ann in Morganfield and discuss some different things with her about starting a blog and catch up from when we had last met. It was a joyful visit and one that brought a big smile to my face. As I walked her to the door, I thought of what a nice surprise her visit had been and tried to remember what the readings were for Mass, which I needed to go and select music for.

I ran over and selected music relating to Psalm 32: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor,” an Easter hymn practiced and was good to go.

Still, it was a normal day. Still, I was doing what I normally did. Still, it was a normal Thursday.

After Mass, I played organ for a few moments, ran over to the house to eat some taco salad and return just in time for my 2pm meeting with a few of the staff about reaching out to parishioners who we hadn’t heard from in a while.

2 hours after that, I realized that I needed to figure out what I was going to be discussing with the Welcome-back Catholic group that evening, but as I could barely keep my eyes open, I decided instead to hand that off to the Holy Spirit temporarily, and go lay down for a quick 20 minute siesta. (And I had to check Snapchat…)

Still, a normal day.

After my siesta, I arose, read a little bit from a commentary on Holy Week and headed over to church to grab my binder and head to the Loft to accompany Vespers on the Wicks. I knew what direction I wanted to take the welcome back group in that evening. I finished the psalms, finished the recessional, changed my shoes and headed down to run over to the house for a book I left before going over for the Welcome Back group.

And then my day went from normal, to weird.

One of the parishioners came walking down the sidewalk when she saw me and I could tell that there was something she wanted to chat about. Oh no, I thought. She probably wants to say something about not knowing which Meinrad Psalm tone I was using for each psalm…again. I know I gave her a handout with them on it…

“Corey, there’s a man back there with his dog, he asking for a place to stay.” “I don’t know of anywhere in town that he can stay with a dog…hmmmm. If you tell him I have to grab something, I’ll be right out and speak with him, though I’m not sure there is anything I can do.”

Weird. I needed to move. I was now 6 minutes late to my meeting, and I don’t EVER like to be late. So, as I entered the house I ran into Fr. Jerry. “Oh, Hello!” he exclaimed. “Hello, I responded.” “What’s going on?” “Not too much, just have to run over for the Welcome back group. Hey, there’s a guy outside who asked _____ if we could put him up for the night. He has a dog. I don’t know anything about him, and I don’t think there are any places here that allow dogs in the motel. Anyway, I told her that I would go talk to him on my way over to the office.” “Well, I don’t know of a place either, but if you think he’s honest and really needs a place, let me know and I’ll cover the cost for the night for him.”

I ran upstairs, grabbed my book, ran back down, and thought, well this will be easy. I’ll tell the guy “there’s no place in town that allows dogs, sorry, I can’t help you, I’ll pray for you though. Bye.” Then as I rounded the corner of the Cathedral and was greeted by this large dog barking and sticking its’ tongue out toward me, a gentleman with a large unkempt beard, two huge canvas back packs and an interesting accent because he as missing some teeth it hit me.

“The Lord hears the cry of the poor.”

Gosh. What a ____ I was being. Here I was, running about doing the “Lord’s Work.” And I had no time to talk to and encounter this gentleman who was obviously uncomfortable and worn out. So, I said “Hi, I’m Corey, welcome to St. Stephen’s. How can I help you?”

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Pic from: http://www.peteearley.com/2012/11/19/what-i-learned-about-homelessness-walking-the-streets-of-georgetown/

Long story short, (because I’m already 1010 words in on this post) the gentleman was traveling from California to New York. (Yeah, big-red flags in my head.) And he needed a place to spend the night, with his big, lovable, terribly smelly but cute dog; Bear. I couldn’t help myself, this was not the normal me. I pulled out my phone, called a couple cheap motels we normally use and realized that I was right and that they did not permit dogs.

Crud. Here is this guy, who had come from Henderson that morning, took the whole day to walk over and I couldn’t do anything to help him. Then, I pulled out my phone, asked Google and sure enough there was a motel 3 miles down the road who’s manager told me they did accept dogs. The look on the man’s face as he scratched his dog’s head in the fading evening sunlight and said: “God’s blessed us again Bear, it’ll be okay” brought tears to my eyes. I told him that I had a two hour meeting, but that I would call down and reserve him a room, or I would meet him there when my meeting was done. I gave him directions like 4 times, because he was confused, said good bye, shook his hand, pat Bear on the head, and went to my meeting.

After a phone call to the motel and great welcome back group, breaking my normal routine I realized that I needed to go down to the motel and pay for this man’s room in person. So I turned up the radio, rolled the windows down and headed down Frederica. As I was nearing the motel, I saw this man with his dog walking on the opposite side of the 4-lane road. It had been an hour and fifty minutes and they still were not there. I figured at the rate they were going with the weight of his bags it’d be another 30 minutes before they got to the motel, so what did I do?

I, Corey Bruns, neat-freak, OCD, can’t handle nasty smells turned my car around and pulled over right beside them, got out said hello again, opened my trunk and said come on in, you can ride with me. WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING?!?!?! I don’t even let my Mom’s dog Rebel who goes to the “Spa” once a month in my car. Yet, here I was with a strange man on the side of the road, putting his bags in the trunk and letting him climb in my front seat with his smelly dog sitting on the floor-boards. This was definitely not a normal day.

So we went to the motel, the kind manager gave me a discount since the price had gone up since we talked on the phone, I signed forms, and of course the gentleman didn’t have any ID on him besides a rather wrinkled and torn piece of paper from a DMV in … California. “Dear God, I prayed. Don’t let him break things in the room, or steal things from them, and don’t let him be an escaped inmate that now knows where I live and what I drive.”

And then it came back to me:

“The Lord hears the cry of the poor.”

There I went, spouting off to God my prejudices and judgements, so instead of pulling out my company credit card so that Father could cover the cost, I pulled out some cash I received from a generous friend that day and paid for the room. As we walked out of the office, Bear, who had been barking up a storm wagged his tail and jumped up and licked the gentleman on the face, happy to see his friend again.

Then, breaking my normal-ness again, I asked: “Have you eaten? Let’s go put you and Bear in your room and then we can go get the two of you something to eat.

So, we went to Wendy’s. To a God-awful long line, where I had to step outside of myself, turn on my “normally” extra-extroverted side and make small talk for 17 minutes. (I have OCD, remember I count things.) After ordering food in the drive-up for my new friend and his dog (and discussing why bear couldn’t have the chocolate frosty) I thought, hmmm. Maybe he’ll kill me and steal my car when I drop him off. So for that, I upgraded his order to a large, to which he responded: “Lord, you always take care of us, thank-you for Corey.”

I could have smacked myself I was so angry that I had judged him…again. I slipped him my business card, and left my number on it, asking him to call me if he still has the card when he gets to New York, as I’d like to know that he made it safely. I told him that I would pray for him every day and I asked him if he would do the same for me. So I shook his hand, waved good-bye to him and Bear and drove off from the motel, wondering what the heck just happened.

It’s taken me about a week to process “what the heck happened.” I had no idea that this gentleman would come into my life on Thursday. I had no idea that my “normal-day” would be turned upside down from a large smelly hunk of fur who tried to climb up and sit in my trunk of my clean, pristine Volvo.

I had no idea that I would be so prejudiced and judgemental to a man who simply needed a helping hand on his journey to get a job that would provide for himself and his dog he had rescued along the way.

Just a few weeks ago we celebrated the Triduum. We celebrated the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, his walk on the long road to Calvary (New York), blistered feet, cuts, and scrapes, carrying his cross (2 huge canvas backpacks), and being assisted by Simon of Cyrene, who was pressed into service because others told him he was needed.

Thursday, of the Second Week of Easter was in no way a normal day for me. On Thursday, of the Second Week of Easter, I woke up and went through my day not connecting the Scriptures I had read and heard later at Mass with my life until this man entered it.

On Thursday I met a man created in the image of Jesus Christ, and his dog Bear. On Thursday, not just the Lord, but I was able to hear the cry of the poor. My Thursday was anything but normal. My Thursday caused me to grow and stretch myself beyond what I had ever done before. Why?

Because on Thursday, I met Jesus Christ and his dog.

 

O Rex Gentium!

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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

 

Day at the farm- Truly blest

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My date for the day! 🙂

It’s on days like today that I feel extremely blessed! This morning, my Dad, Grandpa, Brody & I headed up to our family farm for a day of completing some work, prior to the full onslaught of the winter season. Brody was going to use the pole chainsaw and regular chainsaw and trim some of the trees that were covering the sides of the main trail going back to the campsite, so that it was easier for me to mow along them. (I was on the tractor all day.) (shown above^) My Grandpa, drove around supervising us and telling us where to go next, Dad drove the Honda (four-wheeler) around helping Brody with things and helping move limbs out of the way so that I could mow.

After about 2 hours, one of my older brothers, Nathan, came up with his son Oliver to roast hotdogs and play around a little. Oliver was sweet as he always is, helping me throw old buns into the woods for the turkeys and waving at me as I mowed. Back in October, over fall break I came up with my Grandpa to work on clearing some smaller shrubs and trees that Adam (my eldest brother) had dug out with an excavator. It was my first time driving a tractor in almost two years, and took me a little bit of time to get back in the swing of how all the levers and such work. Haha! Needless to say, this trip I knew what I was doing and thoroughly enjoyed the mowing and other work I did with the tractor.

In highschool I and a friend worked during the summer mowing for a farm, my Ag advisor looked after. I also was sort of in-charge of doing ours at home. Mowing is one of the things, which I take great pride in. I remember that I used to get quite upset if my brother mowed the lawn or weed-eated, because he didn’t do stripes, or fit my pretty high standards. Haha! Okay, I’ll admit it I had problems. Maybe I still do, but I’m working on them. OCD, does come in handy sometimes! I like ORDER! 😀

One of the many reasons who I love to mow, is the time that it gives me and the place that it puts me in. Sitting on a tractor for sometimes hours, have given me a lot of time to “think” about stuff. I remember mowing the yard at home, (I could get the whole yard done in an hour and a half. (2 1/2 acres) It was sitting on the tractor that I experienced a lot of love from God, as well as his mercy and peace. I would usually start out by praying a rosary and then just talk with God about my day, school, friends, anything and everything. Usually I would talk out loud. (hey, it wasn’t to myself!) When my dog Maggie (Bubba, as I called her.) (Yes, I already told you I was weird.) was alive she was my constant companion. She would trot down the line I was mowing on the left front side of the mower, sometimes I would have to stop if she smelled a mole and had to dig in front of the tractor. It also gave me a way to expel my feelings if I was upset or angry about something, (manual labor seems to be a remedy to about everything with me.) Talking with God while I was mowing, helped my vocation journey as well. One-on-one time with God to pray and ask about what he was calling me to, helped so much! It was times like these, that I remember with great love and joy.

Like, when I would mow at home, today on the tractor left me a lot of time to think. Especially of many the memories that I had experienced over the years at the farm. I was recollecting on the many adventures I have had with my family at the farm over the years. The farm is somewhere around 330 acres, and has been in my family since like the 1970’s or something. The farm is actually two separate plots, that make up one large whole. Consisting mostly of woods, there are also a few fields that we crop out, and the lower parts of the woods classify as wetlands. Located in the heart of Hamilton County, in Illinois, our farm has some of the best whitetail deer population in the state.

My Grandpa, is a very intelligent man. He is one of my role-models and someone who I look to for wisdom. I remembered waking up early to go with Brody and him to the farm to work, stopping to eat breakfast at the now closed Hoop-N-Wink in Ursa, on the way. I remember asking to learn how to drive the bulldozer, he being the jovial man that he is said sure! “Just clean the windshield for me first.” Imagine a little me, climbing up onto the bulldozer, only to find that there was no windshield! I remember the fall weiner roasts, bringing Maggie up and getting worried that she would run away. Sitting next to Grandma Carrie, who came up for a picnic and watching Nathan almost tip one of the 8N Ford’s over, trying to pull a stump out of the creek bed. (Grandma thought he was on a horse! Oh, how I miss that sweet lady!)  I remember, having a hail storm during a bonfire, everyone leaving, then realizing that we forgot the cabbage on the fire, so we drove back to get it in my Grandpa’s old Jeep, which slid around in a 360′ because of the mud!

I remember, Adam, my older brother taking Brody and I  bow hunting with him. I remember, riding four wheelers with Adam, along the property line, and removing deer stands, from trespassers. I remember collecting buckeyes in the creek bed  with my mom as a little kid, and when Uncle Tim took Brody and I frog gigging for the first time. (We marinated the frog legs in kook-aid) (I told you I was weird!) I remember catching 20 something catfish in the pond, with crystal light bottles, and then staying up late that night back at home, to help my grandfather fillet them.

I remembered, all of the good times that we have had at the farm as a family. It is on days like today, sitting on a tractor and mowing, praying, thinking about life, and recollecting on times spent at the farm, that I realize I am truly blessed. Not only with a great family, but one that is blessed with beautiful places like the farm, to make memories, learn, make mistakes, pray, and be silent. I am extremely thankful for my time spent in the FFA, and the AG program at school, for the continued love of the land that it instilled in me, but also for the skills that I gained from it like: tractor driving. As I come to the close of this day, I give thanks for these memories, for my family, for our blessings, and for almighty god, with whom I would have nothing. I thank God for this day at the farm and for being truly blest.

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Sunset, over the farm today.

 

Marriage isn’t for you, it’s for God!

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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/