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.

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?

“Behold Your Mother” – A Lenten Reflection

Below is the video of the Lenten Reflection, which I gave to my brother seminarians at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis this evening. This is the third in a series of Lenten Reflections, which our senior class gives each year on the 7 Last Words of Christ. May our Blessed Mother intercede for us as we walk the Way of Beauty, and may we accept her into our lives, that she may cooperate with us in our vocations now, and in the future as priests.

 

The full text of my reflection follows, it draws on the book: “Mary and the Priestly Ministry” by Father Emile Neubert, SM:

7 Last Words Reflection                                                                                        2-23-16

   “Behold your Mother”

 

+In the name of the Father, and of the Son…

 

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “behold your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-27).

 

As his final gift, right before he died, Christ gave His mother to His whole family on Earth. Christ says: “Woman behold your Son. He gives us to his Mother, to be placed under her care. For us who feel called to give our lives to the service of God as a priest, Christ in a very special way through these words, commits us to the School of Mary. He says: “Look, this is your Mother. Go to her! Son, behold your mother!

 

The Son of God, became flesh in the womb of a little Jewish girl from Nazareth. While we call this the Incarnation, the Council of Ephesus taught that Mary is also “Theo-Tokos, Greek for Mother of God, or God bearer. This is profoundly at its heart a Christological declaration. It depends on Christ in order to be real.

 

The one whom Mary bore is truly God and truly man. Christ, the high priest received his human nature from Mary. Thus the Blessed Virgin, is involved in making the Son of God our priest. He received his priestly vocation from the Father, who sent him into the World. His priestly anointing is the grace of the hypostatic union, a gift of the Holy Trinity. But it is his human nature, which enables the Son of God to be Priest, to offer sacrifice on our behalf and it was Mary who gave it to him.

 

The words of Christ from the Cross, “Behold your Mother!” confirm then the spiritual maternity of Mary and they proclaim the culmination of it, at the very moment the mystery of the Redemption itself is achieved. If we notice at the foot of the Cross there are others who would have seemed more likely to be chosen by Christ to care for his mother. Mary the wife of Clopas, the brother of St. Joseph who is the mother of St. James, Mary Magdalen, whom Christ had a special affinity for and John whose mother, Salome was still alive. Nonetheless, it was to John that Christ confided Mary. Precisely because John was a priest and it is to priests, above all, that Christ gives His Mother because He has a great love of them and they have a greater need of her.

 

Mary, too though needs priests. It is especially through them that she is able to continue to carry out her mission of giving Jesus to the world, of sanctifying souls and transforming them into other Christ’s. Thus, as men in formation for the priesthood Mary has a special love for each one of us. She desires to help us in our Vocation and in the future as priests of the Church.

 

In his very nature a son carries something of his mother. He receives his body and his very life from her. The nurturing she gives him reflects all that is the best, the noblest, and the most generous in her. All of these make him an extension and a part of her with the consequence that whatever pleases him, pleases her, whatever he suffers, she suffers; and when he dies, something more precious than her own life dies within her.

 

In Mary’s case, these maternal rights were more intense than any other mother. Mary’s motherhood was uniquely for her only Son. She existed only for him and she alone through the Holy Spirit formed him within her womb. Mary, shares in the redemptive and sacrificial nature of Christ’s death on the Cross. She cooperates with his priestly service. From the moment she presented him in the temple, and heard the words of Simeon she knew of the sorrowful role she would eventually play in his Sacrifice.

 

She nurtured the Victim in view of the Cross. As Jesus grew in age, the closer the fatal hour came. Yet, still she loved him. Her fiat becoming ever more sorrowful and yet, more determined, became more loving. With every step of Christ in his passion, she renewed her fiat. She gave her yes to God, again and again and again. This time, instead of giving Christ to her, her yes gave him away to the world. It was then at his crucifixion, that Mary, united herself to the will of the Father regarding her Son, and to the intentions of her Son regarding the Father and the redemption of mankind. Her will, her love, and her sufferings were entirely one with those of her Son. She offered him, and offered herself with him.

 

Mary played a real part in the Sacrifice of the Cross – a part of unlimited suffering and love that lasted thirty-three years. If Christ then was willing to make Mary an associate of his priesthood as Pius X states, then any man who desires to be effective in his future priestly ministry, must allow the Blessed Virgin to be an associate and cooperate in their vocation and their priesthood as well.

 

The last gift, Jesus gave us before giving every drop of his Sacred Blood on the cross, was His mother.

 

Most of you know that on the first day of class this semester I was in Chicago for my Great Aunt’s Visitation. I was blessed to get to go and take my Mom and Grandmother to go and spend some time with her a few days before our retreat. While we were there, my grandmother pulled out one of our Schola CD’s and gave it to her. Aunt Carol looked down at the CD and the image of our Lady on the cover and began to cry. She had battled cancer, mourned the death of her husband, and had lost most of her desire to eat. With an infection on her lungs she struggled to breath. Aunt Carol was dying. As she started to cry, Aunt Carol made a statement, which I believe sums up the role that Mary must play in our discernment of the priesthood: “Without her, I don’t know what I would do. Without Mary helping me and giving me strength, I don’t know how I could do this and be able to embrace it….”

 

Mary, comforted Christ through his passion. She bore his sufferings within her heart, and still she gave her yes, totally, freely, and thus fruitfully back to the Father. I think it is safe to say that Mary helped Christ to embrace his death. She loved him and formed him for 33 years in preparation for it.

 

If you want to know your vocation, go to Mary. If you want to know Christ, go to Mary. If you want to have strength to say yes to a major decision in your life, whether it is to become a Rector of a seminary or to embrace your death, go to Mary. If you want to be a priest, you cannot do it without her help. We must go to Mary. Mary, our mother always leads us to Christ, she always points us to her Son, and she always helps us in whatever we need. We like John must be willing to take her into our home, we must take her into our hearts. If we want to be like Christ; if we want to be a priest, there is no other way. And so we too must act when we hear Christ say: Woman, behold your son. For brothers, we must behold our mother. Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…

How Make a Wish and a Bishop helped an 11 year old boy be a “priest for a day.”

Brett Haubrich and Archbishop Carlson

Brett Haubrich and Archbishop Carlson

Reposted from: http://stlouisreview.com/article/2015-04-02/priest-day-wish-came

Make-A-Wish requests often involve meeting athletes, attending sporting events or traveling to amusement parks or beaches.

When it came time for 11-year-old Brett Haubrich of south St. Louis County to make his wish, he not only listed none of those things but had no request at all.

“He didn’t want anything,” explained his mother, Eileen. “They had to keep asking him, ‘What would you like to do? Do you want to meet anybody? What do you want to be when you grow up?'”

The answer to the last question became part of his wish — what Make-A-Wish calls “wish enhancement” to complement the main wish. The sixth-grader at St. Mark School wants to be a priest, a doctor or an engineer, in that order.

Priest was No. 1

“I said, ‘I really want to be a priest,'” he said.

So, on Holy Thursday, at the invitation of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Brett took his place beside the altar at Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis as “Priest For a Day.”

Brett served not one but two Masses — the Chrism Mass and the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper — and held the book for Archbishop Carlson for prayers after the homilies. At the evening Mass, he was with 11 seminarians having their feet washed by Archbishop Carlson, and his parents brought up the gifts of bread and wine.

He also joined Archbishop Carlson for two meals; a luncheon with archdiocesan priests and deacons after the Chrism Mass and a dinner with seminarians at the archbishop’s residence before the evening Mass.

Best of all, he wore a collar provided by a seminarian from Kenrick-Glennon.

As for his favorite part of the entire day, Brett was unequivocal in his answer.

“The whole thing,” he said as he waited for his dad, Conrad, near the Cathedral Basilica sanctuary with his mom and older sister Olivia after the Chrism Mass. “It was really neat for them to let me do this stuff.”

And cool, too — a term he used often in describing the day.

“Just a really cool experience,” he said.

His actual wish is cool, too.

“Eating mangoes on a beach,” his mother said.

That trip will come later. His interim “priest-for-a-day” request didn’t surprise his family.

“For years, he has loved the Mass and been religious,” said Eileen Haubrich, a graduate of Notre Dame High School. “He has such a good heart. He’s a very caring boy.”

The second of Eileen and Conrad’s four children and oldest of two sons, Brett has served at his school church and at his parish, St. Martin of Tours, which is visible from the back door of his house only a short walk away.

He digs the smell of incense burning in the thurible, enjoys confession and likes “communion, and the songs, too.”

Communion — the Eucharist, the living presence of Jesus Christ — stands out.

“I like receiving the Body and the Blood,” he said, simply

Brett and his family told several priests about his request, and they offered several options – like shadowing one, spending the night at a rectory with his dad or serving a Saturday morning Mass at the New Cathedral.

The latter request was made of Father Nick Smith, the Master of Ceremonies at the Cathedral Basilica. His initial response was “no way,” followed quickly by “we can do way better than that.”

Sure enough, they did.

“I said, ‘Why don’t we have him come down for Holy Thursday? He can serve the Chrism Mass — it’s a Mass for priests — and that night mass is always about the Eucharist,'” Father Smith said, repeating the two main aspects of the Masses that fit Brett. “Priests and Eucharist.”

Archbishop Carlson also played a big role. During the initial phone call about Brett’s request, he actually was with Father Smith in the Cathedral sacristy getting ready for his Lenten reflection

“It just so happened he was standing right next to me,” said Father Smith, who described Archbishop Carlson as “very excited. He was throwing out ideas right and left, ‘Let’s do this, let’s do that.'”

Archbishop Carlson came up with ideas of the seminarians dinner and of the foot washing.

“He said, ‘Put him in there; we’ll wash his foot,'” Father Smith said, with a laugh. “Before you knew it, it turned into a whole day.”

Father Smith prepared an itinerary and delivered it in person along with a letter signed by Archbishop Carlson asking for Brett’s help at the Masses.

“I handed it to him, and when he got to the first line, ‘I’m making you a priest for a day,’ his eyes got as big as half-dollars,” Father Smith said.

Brett admitted to being a little nervous heading into Holy Thursday, but the events went off like clockwork. Wearing the collar, Brett processed down the center aisle at the New Cathedral with priests, deacons and seminarians at the Chrism Mass — at which Archbishop Carlson blessed the oils to be used throughout the archdiocese for sacraments for the next year — and took his spot near the altar.

He performed flawlessly.

“He did pretty well,” Archbishop Carlson said.

See more photos from his adventure here: http://stlouisreview.photoshelter.com/embed?type=slideshow&G_ID=G0000NHpmvWiCF1w#!/slideshow/I0000LbhITXvu2SI/null 

Pretty cool eh?!? What can you do to inspire vocations and help instill a love of the Mass, Liturgy, Christ, and his church in our youth? How can we help others to join us in walking this Way of Beauty even closer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside of the dome of the Basilica. (Lilly)

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

The upper church at the Basilica of the Annunciation

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

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

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

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

angel-storiesa2

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

The Owensboro contingent in front of the Church of the Annunciation

The Owensboro contingent in front of the Church of the Annunciation

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

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

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

Whips & Chains Excite Me :: A Reflection on 50 Shades of Grey from a Catholic Seminarian

fifty-shades-fan-made-movie-poster

“Before I know it, he’s got both of my hands in his viselike grip above my head, and he’s pinning me to the wall using his lips … His other hand grabs my hair and yanks down… ”

What did the above quote make you think of? How about this next quote? What does it make you think of? What is the first thought that pops in your head?

“Suddenly he grabs me, tipping me across his lap… He throws his right leg over both mine and plants his left forearm on the small of my back, holding me down so I cannot move… and he hits me – hard.”

The above quote is from the now “best-seller” Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2011 Erotic novel by British novelist E.L. James. The book now lies on the best seller list with classics such as the Lord of the Rings series, a Tale of Two Cities, and The Bible. I want to return now to my former question: What did you think of when you read the two above quotes? How about these quotes? What do you think of when you read them?(Warning: The following 2 quotes can be seen as vulgar and obscene. I have **** out most of the offensive material. Feel free to scroll past and continue reading this post.)

“You are not just a pretty face. You’ve had six o****** so far and all of them belong to me.”

“It’s taking all my self-control not to **** you on the hood of this car, just to show you that you’re mine”

So what did you think when you read the previous four quotes? Let me suggest some words that popped into my own head: abuse, rape, harassment, forced sex, non-consensual, woman about to be kidnapped and/or raped  in the elevator, fear, woman-beater, controlling… I could go on and on. What did you think of when you read them? Seriously, if you had no idea that they were from 50 Shades of Grey, what did or what would you think?

According to the Hollywood Reporter, “The coming attraction for the erotic drama based on the hit E.L. James novel notched more than 36 million YouTube views in its first week.” This comes as no surprise to scholars of pop culture. The movie trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey, along with the trilogy of books it’s based on, is nothing short of a media phenomenon. The trilogy, which is among the fastest-selling books of all time, has been celebrated by the media as “porn for women” and a playful fantasy that encourages women to become more daring in their sexuality.

DomesticViolenceMissing from this hype, of course, is a detailed discussion of how the books eroticize violence against women and render invisible the predatory tactics the “hero” uses to groom, seduce, and abuse a much younger woman. (Yes, Christian Grey grooms Anastasia like a pedophile or sexual abuser grooms their victims.)

If a man were to do the things that Christian Grey does in the book today, he would most likely would end up in jail and Anastasia would end up in a battered woman shelter, or even a morgue. Why is it that this book which objectifies women, makes them something a man can use for his sexual pleasure and treat as property making the best seller list?

We live in a broken world.

We read in the book of Genesis on how Man was created in the Imago Dei, the image

Carpioni - Creation of Eve from Adam

Carpioni – Creation of Eve from Adam

of God. To be created in our very maker’s image means that we have something very special about us. We are different than a dog or a cow or a tree. The problem with the quotes I shared from 50 Shades and the book as a whole is how it forgets whose image we are created in. As the Catechism of the Catholic  Church puts it:

The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude. It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment

Christian Grey in 50 Shades forgets that Anastasia is created in the image of God. He forgets her dignity and treats her as his sexual toy, able to be used as he please for his own personal gratification. He does this so much that he convinces her to sign a contract saying she will do what he wants her to sexually. WOAH?!? Wait, WHAT? When was the last time that you ever met someone who signed a contract to allow another to do anything they want sexually to you? Even in marriage, when a man and woman become one, they do so of free will  and through free gift of self.

FaithStreet.com puts it well in their article when they state:

We live in a society in which there seems to be no limits regarding what you can experience sexually. We erase the shame of hooking up, joke openly about porn, and celebrate sexual experimentation like BDSM. Yet, at the same time, more than a quarter of the American population fits the diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder like clinical depression, bipolar disorder, or substance addiction. Is there a correlation here?

In case you’re wondering what BDSM stands for: (I had no idea, now I wish I didn’t know)(Definitely something Satan thought up)

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Why would it be that in our culture we would celebrate something like BDSM or that we would ever joke about the sexual exploitation of women through porn, sex trafficking and the like? As much as we might want to experience a “sexual high” sexuality is WAY more than just having sex. (Let alone saving it for marriage) It’s quite clear that the “sexual freedom and expression” we “think” we have hasn’t solved our relational problems and has, perhaps, even intensified them. Underneath all of the sex, we are lonely.

Lonely but made for SO much more!

God did not create us to be lonely. Again we read in Genesis (Gospel from this Thursday) that God created all these different animals and brought them before the first man to see if they could be his companion. Dr. Sherman, my moral theology professor likes to say that he imagines God saying something like: “Hey, Adam buddy here’s a dog, how about her? No? Okay. Aw man! I found you the perfect one, it’s a Liger! Too ferocious? Okay. And then we read of how God made woman, fashioning her from the side of man thus she was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. God put her by Man’s side, not apart, but by his side and told them to exercise dominion over all of creation; to be fertile and multiply! God does not ask us to do something we cannot do. He made us to be sociable. We were made for so much more!

When we read of the first sin in the Garden we see how Adam and Eve were selfish. Instead of relying on God to take care of them as he always had and walking with him forever in the garden we see a world where sin enters and with it, the punishment of death. To have sex is not a bad thing. What is bad is when we do it contrary to how God intended it and when we use it as in 50 Shades, solely for pleasure, and not procreation. To have sex just for pleasure is selfish. We were made for so much more.

FaithStreet.com also said that:

Material like Fifty Shades of Grey fuels the allusion that fantasy and a sexual release will bring satisfaction. It leads to an insatiable desire for more. Men and women who engage in pornography and erotica will ultimately be less satisfied in their intimate relationships.

This is statistics, folks. If you look at porn there is a higher probability that you will try to imitate things you have seen with a partner later in life, which can lead to you not being satisfied, because no one can do it like the person you saw can. Again, selfish. Relying on ourselves for sexual gratification and watching a screen has been scientifically proven to change the chemical make-ups of our brains and change what we are attracted to.

Pope Benedict addressed the issue of pornography and erotic literature saying, “A relationship that does not take into account the fact that a man and a woman have the same dignity represents a serious lack of humanity . . . The moment has come to energetically halt the widespread distribution of material with an erotic and pornographic content, including through the internet in particular.”

Couples (married) who really “get it” know how to fully share their sexuality — how to communicate the most intimate of experiences with and without words. Being emotionally naked makes you extremely vulnerable. Both you and your spouse have to feel completely safe to let go, to share thoughts, desires, and physical sensations. The journey toward authentic intimacy is one of creating the safest environment possible so that you can bear all with each other and become as Genesis puts so well: “one.” To be “one” with your spouse is to be vulnerable, to share everything and in doing so to help each other strive for holiness and for Heaven.

Fifty-Shades-of-GreySo to wrap up here are some points that 50 Shades of Grey tries to instill in it’s readers/watchers (If you disagree trust me. As a philosophy major you can get pretty good with reading subliminal messages):

1. Girls want guys like Christian who order them around and get rough.

No! A psychologically healthy woman avoids pain.  She wants to feel safe, respected and cared for by a man she can trust.  She dreams about wedding gowns, not handcuffs.

2.  Guys want a girl like Anastasia who is meek and insecure.

Wrong.  A psychologically healthy man wants a woman who can stand up for herself.   If he is out of line, he wants her to set him straight.

3.  Anastasia exercises free choice when she consents to being hurt, so no one can judge her decision.

Flawed logic.  Sure, Anastasia had free choice — and she chose poorly.  A self-destructive decision is a bad decision. (think about the holocaust)

4.  Anastasia makes choices about Christian in a thoughtful and detached manner.

Doubtful.  Christian constantly supplies Anastasia with alcohol, impairing her judgment.   Also, Anastasia becomes sexually active with Christian — her first experience ever — soon after meeting him.  Neuroscience suggests their intimacy could jump start her feelings of attachment and trust, before she’s certain he deserved them.   Sex is a powerful experience — particularly the first time.  Finally, Christian manipulates Anastasia into signing an agreement prohibiting her from telling anyone that he is a long time abuser.

Alcohol, sex, manipulation — hardly the ingredients of a thoughtful, detached decision.



5.    Christian’s emotional problems are cured by Anastasia’s love.

Only in a movie.  In the real world, Christian wouldn’t change to any significant degree.  If Anastasia was fulfilled by helping emotionally disturbed people, she should have become a psychiatrist or social worker.



6.  It’s good to experiment with sexuality.

Maybe for adults in a healthy, long term, committed, monogamous relationship, AKA “marriage”.  Otherwise, you’re at high risk for STDs, pregnancy, and sexual assault.  It’s wise to be very careful who you allow to get close to you, physically and emotionally, because just one encounter can throw you off track and change your life forever.

The bottom line: the ideas of Fifty Shades of Grey are dangerous, and can lead to confusion and poor decisions about love. There are vast differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships, but the movie blurs those differences, so you begin to wonder: “What’s healthy in a relationship?  What’s sick?  There are so many shades of grey — I’m not sure.”

– From Catholiceducation.org

All in all. PLEASE don’t go watch or read 50 Shades of Grey. If you have, go to confession! Burn the book! Throw it out with the trash! As a Mother (The group of buyers the book tries to suck in) would you let your son keep a Playboy in his room? Would you let your daughter allow a man to hit her… let alone, HARD? Why is it okay then if we as adults read it? What makes it not affect us like it would affect our children? The answer is nothing. We are what we put in. So don’t put bad things in! 50 Shades of Grey is not full of blurred or grey lines. It is in fact very, very defined and not full of any shades of grey at all. Resist the temptation!

St. Augustine said: ‘Lust indulged became habit, and habit unresisted became necessity.’

Now the main reason why I chose to call this blogpost “Whips and Chains Excite Me, probably has to do with I wanted something catchy. And whips, chains and seminarians is definitely “eye-grabbing.” But seriously, this book has been a long time coming. With our culture, theater, and music spreading horrendous things like Rhianna’s S&M (where I got the whips and chains line). A book that softens the look on abuse, porn, and violence, goes right in line with the degrading of the value of the human person and the dignity which each is endowed with.

Let us ask our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, the perfect example of a chaste, caring, and loving family, to pray for us and for our world as we renew our attention to defending human dignity and praying for it’s greater respect from conception to natural death. As we continue to walk this way of beauty toward Heaven, let us pray for a greater respect of real beauty, which has been placed by God in the human person. Feel free to comment your thoughts and share this post!

Jesus, Mary, Joseph - Pray for us!

Jesus, Mary, Joseph – Pray for us!

Notate Bene – Researching some of the things about this book worried me. I tried to stay as clear away from images/and excerpts from the book because I don’t want to invite that type of evil into my life. If reading any of the excerpts or seeing the covers of the book led you to be scandalized I apologize, it was not my intent. As of late we have been discussing this book with some interest at school and at the seminary. All of us pray that we can reverse the damage already done by the movie and book and that souls will be saved. I offered my rosary tonight in reparation for the sins against the human person committed by this movie. I encourage you to do the same.

Holy Land Pilgrimage – Final Thoughts

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

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

Words cannot express how blessed I have been over the past week. Getting to walk in the Footsteps of Christ, from his humble birth in the cave stable in Bethlehem to his ministry along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, to his entry into Jerusalem, and his cruel death upon the Cross. Finally experiencing the joys of His Resurrection from the tomb. I have made the pilgrimage of a lifetime.

My faith has been strengthened and my relationship with Christ deepened. I can’t name just one place or one experience that was my favorite. If I had to, I could probably name three sites, but that’s not really important. What is important is taking what I have learned and experienced and sharing it with others. I have come to know Jesus Christ in such an amazing way and will marvel and relish as the Scriptures continue to come alive for me in different ways for years to come.

Thinking back to the passage from John 6, 68-9 where Christ has just given the Bread of Life Discourse, explaining the Eucharist, some of those following could not understand the meaning behind eating the body and blood of Christ and they left him. Turning to the remaining ones, Jesus asked: “And do you also wish to leave? Peter turning to him said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. You are the Christ, the Son of God.”

I am so thankful for my Catholic faith that I have received from my family and those who have built it up and encouraged me along the way thus far. After this trip I am extremely indebted and thankful to those who made it possible. Without your generosity I would not have been able to go. Thank-you so much!

Here I am pictured outside the Church of St. Ann, where I prayed for all of you from my parish and anyone else who helped make this trip possible. May God reward you as abundantly as he has blessed me this past week!

“Domine, ad quem ibimus? Verba vitae aeternae habes. Tu es Christus Filius Dei.” (“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. You are the Christ, the Son of God.)

This was reblogged from my Facebook page on Tekton Ministries blog here.

Another post by Tekton in which I am tagged is available here.

Me in front of the Church of St. Ann

Me in front of the Church of St. Ann

Basilica of St. Stephen

Basilica of St. Stephen

Me, on Mt. Tabor

Me, on Mt. Tabor

Me, on the Sea of Galilee

Me, on the Sea of Galilee

The pilgrim group from the Seminary

The pilgrim group from the Seminary

John Paul II and his encouragement of Altar Servers

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As we near the canonization of John Paul II on Sunday, I recollect on how he influenced my life. When I first started serving was under his pontificate, and I remember always being amazed at the ways in which he celebrated the Mass and the seminarians, servers, and priests who served his Masses. It was very inspirational to me and by his witness I kept serving and growing closer to Christ. He speaks of the Altar Server as being not a “helper of the parish priest” but as a “server of Jesus Christ…the eternal High Priest.” He goes on to explain that servers are to be young friends of Jesus. I thank God for Fr. Bruce Fogle, first inviting my brother and I to start serving, for Fr. Cash, Jimbo, Mitch, and the now Deacon Will and Fr. Josh for teaching me how to serve and nurturing my love of the Liturgy. And for Fr. Baker for always letting my brother and I serve at St. Ann. Being an Altar Boy inspired my vocation. Growing up as a young boy with Pope John Paul II as pope, inspired my vocation. What inspires yours? How can you inspire more? Invite a young man to consider serving, invite him to draw near to our Sacred Lord, who will let him soak up his love and become a true friend of Jesus.

 

“The altar server occupies a privileged place in the liturgical celebration. He who serves at Mass, presents himself to a community. He experiences firsthand that Jesus Christ is present and active in every liturgical act. Jesus is present when the community comes together to pray and render praise to God. Jesus is present in the Word of sacred Scripture. Jesus is present above all in the Eucharist under the signs of bread and wine. He acts through the priest who, in the person of Christ, celebrates the holy Mass and administers the sacraments.

Therefore, in the liturgy, you are much more than simple “helpers of the parish priest.” Above all, you are servers of Jesus Christ, of the eternal High Priest. Thus, you, altar servers, are called in particular to be young friends of Jesus. Be determined to go deeper and to cultivate this friendship with him. You will discover that in Jesus you have found a true friend for life.” – JPII

Servers and those welcomed into the church at the Easter Vigil, many moons ago!

Servers and those welcomed into the church at the Easter Vigil, many moons ago!

“We can have the most beautiful Liturgy in the World, but without love it is for nothing.”

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The video below is of Archbishop Alexander Sample’s homily on the Liturgy, which he offered on Quinquegesima Sunday at the Brigittine Monastery of Our Lady of Consolation. Wow! Wonderful homily. One of my favorite quotes from it is: “We can have the most beautiful Liturgy in the World, but without love it is for nothing.” The Mass is not about us, but about Christ. Everything we do is a call to give the glory to God that is due him. The Liturgy is a wonderful opportunity to grow in our love of Christ and deepen our faith. Beautiful liturgies have played a great part in my life, especially in inspiring my vocation. I give thanks for being able to be a part of many beautiful liturgies over the year. We are blessed to celebrate beautiful liturgies at the seminary and it really adds to the spiritual growth that our men experience at Bishop Bruté. The love of the priests in my life for God has shown by how they celebrate the Mass and it trull has deepened my faith.

No matter whether the Mass is celebrated in the Novus Ordo, Byzantine, Dominican, Carmelite, Extraordinary, or another Rite/Form the Liturgy is a way to bring Heaven to Earth, to interact with the people in a very real way and draw them closer to God. Our love of God should echo in the ways in which we attend and celebrate Mass. Our movements, gaze, voice, everything we do leads us to God in extremely intimate ways.

May Our Lady queen of priests, always help priests and those who assist them to celebrate beautiful liturgies, truly worthy of the sacrifice being offered. As we near Holy Week and the Triduum, may our hearts and minds be on Christ, the mysteries we celebrate, and may we be granted the graces to serve at his Altar’s worthily, and with much love. Amen.