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!

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday

From Vocation Boom: “Maybe not the holiest or most important day we commemorate during the liturgical year. But for priests and seminarians – really, for all of us – today is a day of unspeakable joy and glory. For the countless times your life has been touched by a priest, or for the innumerable times you’ve received the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, this is our day to celebrate and rejoice. May you be given new eyes to see, and a new heart to appreciate, what our humble servant Lord has done for us. Where would you be without these incredible gifts?”

As a Seminarian, I agree wholeheartedly and am very excited this Holy Thursday. May I offer my thanks as well to those priests in my life who have made such an impact. Here is a link to my post last year on the Feast of St. John Vianney which lists them.

 

In His Mercy,

Corey

An Inspiring and Beautiful Video for Altar Servers

This video is an excellent video on what it means to serve at the Altar, and the importance of doing it reverent and well. It made me reminisce back on the “older” days of when I was a little server and first learning how to serve. Luckily I had several great young men and one much older in age “emcee”; to help me and show me the beauty behind it. And I have been graced to be able to serve under the direction of several fantastic priests who are very skilled when it came to matters of the Liturgy. Now after serving at the Altar for 10 years, my eleventh year serving is as a seminarian. Serving has played a major role in my discernment to begin seminary studies. Now after being a Seminarian for about 8 months I have had the privilege to serve in even more a variety of Masses than I did as a server. I have been able to serve for the Latin Rite Patriarch of Jerusalem, a number of Bishops/ArchBishops, and serve in my Diocese’s Cathedral during Diocesan Events. And I owe it all to three priests, 4 seminarians (2 of who are now priests, 1 who is married, and one who will be ordained a deacon this Spring), 3 priests, and one kind man. So kudos and thanks to them for getting me started with serving. I am forever grateful for the skills they have taught me and the memories I have shared.

I have included the following description from Monsignor Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington, as I think that he does an excellent job in describing the video and offering some reflection points. The original article may be found here.

What makes the video so good is that it inspires a spirituality for the server that includes some of the following encouragement and advisement:

  1. That the Mass is mystical, beyond mere human sight, and that the server must learn to be sensitive to what lives beyond ordinary perception and become more spiritually aware.
  2. In so doing he should lead others to greater reverence by the example of supreme awareness of the presence of God.
  3. He should also, by his reverence  lead others to understand that what takes place on the altar is the making present of the most important moment in all of human history.
  4. The Altar server also provides practical leadership for the congregation as to when to sit, stand and kneel.
  5. Even the folded hands, pointed upward are meant to direct attention upward to God.
  6. The manner of his clothing (e.g. dress shoes, pressed trousers etc) are meant to and ought to show that what he is doing is a matter of utmost seriousness and importance.
  7. Our body, (posture etc) and our clothing impact our disposition, so all we do should be to help our hearts worship, and lead others to the same.
  8. Prayer, especially the rosary, is a good way to prepare one’s heart to be a better server.
  9. The goal is to have your heart in the right place.

A couple of other things I like about the video, that the man interviewed models well a piety that is serious but not somber looking. Not everyone gets this balance right, and some who are trying to look prayerful merely look sad, angry, or bored. But the man in this video shows an appropriate balance, a kind of natural and serene sobriety well suited to the Mass.

The images throughout the video are also beautiful and the photography is wonderful.

I suspect (sadly) that not all will be happy with some of the more traditional elements in the video: the ad orientem celebration of mass and the expressed preference for the cassock and surplice, rather than the alb. There is also no reference to girls serving. However, none of these aspects is forbidden. Perhaps a word about each.

  1. The ad orientem celebration of Mass (I speak here of the Ordinary Form), while less common, is not forbidden. I use it occasionally, after proper catechesis, in smaller settings in my parish. We have several side altars in the Church that I use on occasion, and I have also used the high altar for that purpose from time to time.  The catechesis I use includes the fact that the priest does not have his back to us. Rather we are all facing God, looking to the liturgical east for Christ to come again. I will say I would not adopt this position in my main Sunday liturgies at this time without consulting with the Bishop, simply out of respect for the fact that he is the chief liturgist of the diocese. But for smaller liturgies of a more private or intimate character, I do use the eastward orientation occasionally.
  2. The cassock and surplice – the preference here for this vesture is traditional. And while the current norms speak of the alb as being the common vesture for ministers of every rank in the Mass, (GIRM # 336). However the cassock and surplice are not forbidden and tend to be worn today especially by clerics who assist at mass but are not celebrating or concelebrating. As such, the cassock and surplice have a more priestly look. For this reason I think it unadvised that a girl or woman should wear the cassock and surplice. In my own parish the seminarians that assist us, as well as some of the older men wear the cassock and surplice. The younger boys and all the girls and women wear the alb.
  3. That only males are envisioned as servers – Here again, while it is common in most parishes today that box sexes serve, it is not required that the pastor observed this permission. For pastoral reasons, such as encouraging priestly vocations, the pastor may employ only men and boys as servers if he sees fit. In my last parish that is what we did. In my current parish, I inherited a server program that uses both sexes, and younger as well as older people. The mix is good and I see no reason to change it. But it is neither wrong for a pastor to make use of only males in this role. Neither is it wrong for the lay faithful to seek to encourage this sort of approach, as the video makers do.

I hope you will find this video as inspiring and beautiful as I do. And, just as the video we looked at last week did not please all, I do pray and ask for charity toward, and the presumption of good will by those who have made and produced this video. It is a good effort and has an important message in regard to reverence and spiritual preparation for altar servers.

Prayer for National Vocations Awareness Week

Heavenly Father, Your divine Son taught us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His vineyard. We earnestly beg You to bless our Diocese with many holy priests, seminarians, religious, consecrated, deacons, marriages, men and women serving in ministry and all vocations, that they will love You fervently, gladly and courageously spend their lives in service to Your Son’s Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

We pray that their lives may be always centered on our Eucharistic Lord; that they be always faithful to the Holy Father; and that they may be devoted sons and daughters of Mary, our Mother, in making You known and loved; and that all may attain Heaven. Bless our families and our children and choose from our homes those whom You desire for this holy work. We ask this in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

 

Pray for Vocations!! nuff said!

A Week without priests? Perfect!

NationalVocationAwarenessWeek

It always seems interesting to me, how in our Diocese of Owensboro, the Priests convocation always ends up falling during National Vocations Awareness week. During that time, almost all of our churches in the Diocese go without Mass for 4 days. They have no priests to celebrate Mass, as they are always on their annual Convocation with the Bishop. I don’t know if it was an accident for the Diocese to always coincide the Convocation with National Vocation Awareness Week, but I think that it works out perfectly!

Here the parishes are, left without Masses, left without priests for almost a week. And it is during National Vocation “AWARENESS” week. Are you getting what I’m hinting at? The people of God in Western Kentucky are getting a first-hand look at what our world will be like without priests. I love it! Not the fact that the people are left without priests, nor the fact that we don’t have enough nearby priests to provide subs for the pastors during the Convocation. But I love how National Vocations Week coincides with it. Because it really does send a wake-up-call! It really does raise awareness in my eyes as to why we need vocations, why we need vocations to the Priesthood. Why vocations matter. Just another reason why during National Vocations Week, we should be doing things to raise vocation awareness and encouraging men in thinking about the priesthood. When was the last time that you encouraged that young man serving Mass to think of the Priesthood? When was the last time that you told that young man that was interested in his Faith in CCD, that you think he’d make a great priest? When was the last time that you helped build Vocation Awareness?  I’ll close with a quote from St. John Vianney:

“Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption here on earth…What use would be a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of His goods…Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest and they will end by worshiping the beasts there..The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you.”

Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary Visit!

Visit:

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On February 8, 9, 10, 2013, Fr. Andrew Garner will be taking young men over the age of 18 to Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis for a visit. If you would like to go on a visit, you must register with the Vocations Office before January 31, 2013. 

Please contact Dr. Fred Litke, Associate Vocation Director at fred.litke@pastoral.org, or call him at 270-683-1545. There is no charge to go on the trip, but you must pre-register since there will be a limited number of spots available. 

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What is Seminary Like?

There are two major misconceptions about Seminary. First, people tend to think seminaries are like strict and austere monasteries, when in fact they are like modern universities filled with joyful men studying, and praying together. 
Secondly, Men often think that going to Seminary is a commitment to becoming a priest. Nothing could be further from the truth! Seminary is just another stage of discernment, albeit an important stage.
If you feel God could be calling you to be a priest, don’t be afraid to give Seminary a try. Not only will you receive an excellent education, you’ll be formed by a faculty concerned with helping you to become the most well-rounded man you can be!