You mean you’ll never get married?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 Bruté 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. –                                                                                       May our Blessed Mother help us to always be courageous!

Veni Creator Spiritus!

Tomorrow the Catholic Church will celebrate her birthday, the Feast of Pentecost! Christ told us that he had to leave, but after he left he would send us the comforter, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. Let us pray for those who guide and lead our church. Especially for his holiness Pope Francis, The Most Reverend William F. Medley, Bishop of the Diocese of Owensboro, and for our pastors who guide our parishes. 2000 years ago the church first started to win souls to Christ, let us pray that she may continue to be a light to our age in this culture of death!

Veni Creator Spiritus! Come Holy Ghost!

How about some beautiful Dominican Sisters, hearing the news of Pope Francis’ Election to brighten your day?

Check out the video. It is fantastic. Dominicans always make me smile. It seems that they are always so jubilant, happy, and full of life.

Girls, if you have ever considered joining a religious order, I highly recommend these! Nuns aren’t unhappy women, they are usually a beautiful, sweet, vibrant, and lively bunch of women.

Take some time today, to pray for our religious who are the prayerful backbone of the church! Especially for these nuns and others like the Passionists of Whitesville or Carmelites of Owensboro, from my Diocese.

Hail Mary full of grace…

Pope Francis: “Be generous with confession!”

Pope Francis: “Be generous with confession!”

When I saw that Pope Francis told priests to be generous with confession, it was like a bunch of memories came flooding back.

Confession is part of the reason why I decided to go to seminary in the first place. The graces that flow from the confessional and a priest that is truly generous at being a confessor has always been an inspiration to me.

One of my “priest-heros” told me when I was applying for seminary, that if it was God’s will in the future I become a priest, that I make a promise to be very generous with making time for people and confession. He was always very generous with hearing my and countless others confessions and really inspired me with the way in which he regarded the Sacrament. 

I have experienced much mercy and joy from going to confession and I encourage each of you to go, if you haven’t yet during Lent, then do it during this Easter Season. Confession is God’s way of reconciling his people to himself and showing them his ever abundant mercy. As we near Divine Mercy Sunday, open yourselves to his mercy! Go to confession, even if its been years, God is calling you to himself and wants you to be fully his! So don’t wait! Go to Confession! And if you are a priest or future one, please, please, please be generous! Our world is in need of so much mercy!

 

Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis

Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis

?????????

I have long hesitated to post anything on what everyone seems to be saying about the differences in the way that Pope Francis has been ruling so far as I think that the arguments people have been having are rude toward both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict. I think that over at the blog “Roma Locuta Est” he puts it best when talking of his defense of Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis. And now, I offer a few of my thoughts on the subject.

I think that as this is something new with us having Benedict still alive during the reign of Francis it is causing some strange thoughts amongst people. So let’s look at the facts:

1. Pope Benedict XVI is now Pope Emeritus he is no longer the reigning Roman Pontiff.

2. Pope Francis is the current reigning pope.

3. Benedict no longer has the graces and abilities of the office because he is no longer the reigning Roman Pontiff.

4. Pope Francis after having been elected by the College of Cardinals has all of the graces and abilities of the Office of Peter.

5. Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict have different liturgical styles.

6. Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict have different personalities

I could go on and on with the different facts that seperate the two of them, but I think that you are catching on. Pope Benedict is no longer pope. He has done great things for the church, and because he is still human some things might not have gone as they should. Pope Francis is now the pope, he will do great things for the church, and because he is human as well he will probably have some moments that the outcome is iffy on.

What matters is that WE HAVE A POPE! We have a pope who will continue to speak up for those teachings of the Faith. We have a pope who will continue to lead Christ’s church and be a shepherd to all people of good will in the world. We have a pope who is Christ’s Vicar on Earth. So let’s all give in to watching the movement of the Spirit in the church. Let us continue to pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict as he is in Retirement, but let us also join him in praying for the Papal ministry of Pope Francis. Let us pray for our church that Pope Francis now guides and let us ask Holy Mother Mary to continue to wrap her protective mantel around all of us. In the words of Fr. Baker: “The only important thing in life is going to Heaven, in the end nothing else matters.” LIfe is but a passing moment, lets all stop and take some time and learn about Pope Francis and enjoy it! Let’s pray for the church still going strong for 2000 years.

Even though, I was only alive during the end of his papacy I will always consider myself a part of the JPII generation of Youth and the great message of the Theology of the Body and the Sanctity of Life which we are charge with bringing to the world. I will consider myself a seminarian of Pope Emeritus Benedict, because of his example and his works that inspired me to consider the seminary. And now I will consider myself with a special bond with Pope Francis, as he now shares my patron saint for a name. Popes come and go, the church goes on. I have lived through the reign of 3 popes, and I hope that I will live through many more.

In the words of Darwin Catholic:

“[O]ne thing that has struck me as I examine my own excitement about every story that comes out about Pope Francis … is that there is something deeply appealing to the human person about monarchy. As a Catholic, I find myself joyful at the new pope simply because he is the new pope. Not because I think there was something lacking in prior popes. I felt the same deep attachment to John Paul II and to Benedict XVI. I was excited that John Paul II hiked and skied. I was excited that Benedict XVI kept cats and played Mozart. I am excited that Francis rode in the bus with the rest of the cardinals and dropped by his old hotel in person to pay his bill. It’s not that I prefer one pontiff’s personality to another, I simply enjoy ‘getting to know’ these deeply holy men who lead our Church on earth.”

And let’s join in praying an AVE right now for these holy men and thank-God for the gift of them in our life.

The Election of Pope Francis

Well, CatholicVote has done it again. This is a fantastic one minute and 49 second video which showcases all of the 2013 Conclave through the election of Pope Francis. I highly encourage you to take time out of your day and watch it! Share it! Enjoy it! And say a prayer for our new Holy Father, that the Holy Spirit will shower him with graces as our blessed mother wraps her mantle around him. Viva Il Papa Francesco!