Going into the Deep – trusting God, when life keeps giving me lemons.

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I experimented for the first time the other evening at Made for More Camp on taking photos with long exposures during our candlelit Adoration in the Pavillion. I have never really taken many photos at night before, so I was a little leery about “stepping out” into the unknown to see what I could do. I was having to think back to Professor Foley’s class and remember some of the techniques he taught us. Aren’t these shots fantastic?!? I was very pleased with how they all turned out.

“Duc in Altum.”  “Go into the deep!” we hear Christ Jesus say in Luke 5:4 as he instructs the fishermen to cast their nets deep into the other side so that they might haul in a catch. St. Peter, dumbfounded (as I would be too.) at the amount of fish they were hauling in exclaims: “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” But Christ, lovingly responded to him: “Do not be afraid. From now on, you will be Fishers of Men.” (Luke5:10)

How often am I like Simon Barjonah? How often do I doubt that the Lord can work wonderful, and miraculous things through my life? Often, too caught up inside myself to continue on, I exclaim like Peter: “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Yet, Christ always extends his hand and says softly: “Rise up, my beloved son! For I have called you by name and you are mine!”

At our Made for More Camp this past week, I always am and was again greatly inspired by the young men who were present. They, like Peter followed the invitation of our Lord to cast their nets into the deep. During the camp they were challenged and had the opportunity to grow in prayer, brotherhood, laughter, and receive practical information on how to better discern where the Lord was calling them.

On Wednesday, my car broke down when I was coming back into Bowling Green from a trip to Nashville with some other seminarians. Something to do with the passenger rear brake… I think. It’s just what I needed. Something to go wrong with my car. GREAT. I was not happy. I was not humble. I was afraid, mad, and said quite a few words I shouldn’t. Then I prayed. I said a Hail Mary, I asked our Lord to let me make it back to St. Joseph, where I knew I could at least figure things out.

Lo and behold, I became more calm. And I was able to make it back to the parish safely. Brother Victor helped me look at my car the next morning and drove behind me as I went excruciatingly slow, hearing the grinding and banging and bumping of my tire. I prayed the whole way. I had to stop focusing on myself and my strengths and what I can do and trust in the unknown. I like Peter and the young campers had to trust in the Lord that he would get me to where I needed to be, and do so safely.

I’m a perfectionist. I’m OCD. I like to be in control of things in my life. As I have sat here at St. Joseph, with time for prayer, reading, working on projects I needed to finish for the Cathedral, and responding to emails from the week, I have had to let go of what I want and rely completely on what the Lord wants, and what he wills. IT DRIVES ME UP THE WALL. Yet, it’s good practice for me. It’s time spent well, listening, praying, trusting, and relying on Him who is always there for me; whenever my car breaks down, whenever I have a rough day, whenever I’m joyful and singing with happiness. He is always there, asking me to trust, to rely, to have faith.

The Psalm at Mass today comes from Psalm 128: “See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.” Fear him, honor him, and trust in him I have indeed done and have to continue to do, as my car is still in the shop and I have absolutely no idea what is exactly wrong with it, nor whether I will have both arms and legs after I pay for it.

But bless me he has. I have had a roof over my head, food in my stomach, friends to laugh with, and a wonderful God to praise. I have and continue to put out into the deep. I continue to grow and go into the great unknown and trust that all will happen as He will it, because He wills it, when He wills it.

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The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away: Finding beauty through change

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!” Job 1:21

The above quote from Job is probably one of my favorites! The full quote includes the first part of verse 21: “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb and naked I shall go back” These words have seemed to resound with me as of late. I have been having a little problem with my ignition switch in my car (Hildegard) off and on for a while. Usually it’s just that the anti-theft steering wheel immobilizer can be a little bit of a hassle and I have to wiggle the steering wheel in order to turn the key. I blame it on my big legs in a small car, I usually have to place my hand on the steering wheel to get out since my car is a little low to the ground and thus by slightly turning the wheel each time I engage the anti-theft device. Volvo just fine tunes it a little too much! (Or maybe not, what do I know?)

Finally yesterday as I went outside to start my car before class I was shocked to find that I could not turn my key in the ignition. Instantly I feared that it was repeat of my Jeep adventures last Spring with having to have my lock cylinder rebuilt. After a phone call with my Dad to troubleshoot (hey, I’m still learning about cars and Dad has worked with them for some time.) We decided that it might just be frozen with moisture. So after working with some WD-40 for a while and with no luck I headed off to class. In the afternoon 5 hours later after my car had sat in the sun I tried to turn the key again. No luck. So I was faced with my fear that indeed the ignition cylinder was broken. After calling 5 locksmiths who were scared to touch a Volvo, Dad and I decided to have it towed to the dealer to have them fix it.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord! I have strove to share freely over the past three years of the blessing the Lord has given to me. One of the major ways in which I have been blessed by the Lord through my parents is having a car to drive. I am incredibly thankful and always say a prayer for them when I get behind the wheel. Last Fall I was blessed again with being able to get a new car as my 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee was encountering several problems as it aged. Without my parents none of that would be possible. So, because I see my car as not mine (To begin with, my name’s not on the title) I try to share it. Now that doesn’t mean that I let others drive it. I reserve that right. 😉 But I do see my car as an invitation to minister to those around me and because I have been given much I try to bless other’s because I know that the Lord will bless me in return.

Hildegard being towed

Hildegard being towed

Long story short my dear Hildegard, my beloved Volvo was towed this morning to have her ignition cylinder replaced. Another instance where I am so incredibly thankful for my parents and their assistance in my life. This morning as I wishfully tried to fiddle with my key and ignition again I put my head on the steering wheel frustrated and just cried. With all of the things that have come up while in seminary that I have needed assistance with I am blessed beyond measure. The help my parents give me is incredible. Do I like that I have to rely on another and not always be able to provide for myself? No. But the Lord is always teaching this stubborn young german blooded guy humility. I constantly must decrease so that Christ may increase in my life. Others must see Christ when they see me.

Dale Bruns

Dale Bruns

Today marks the second anniversary of my grandfather’s death. Dale Bruns is my namesake as my Dad and I both share his name for our middle name. I had asked Fr. Joe to celebrate Mass for the repose of his soul this morning. Special thanks to him for a beautiful Mass as always. In his homily, Father Joe talked of how the Program for Priestly Formation says that the priest must be a bridge of the people to God, so that through our ministry and lives others are drawn to Christ.

Change happens. Grandpa Bruns died. The Lord has taken away. My car was towed and I will be without it for 5 days. The Lord has taken away. But the Lord also gives. He has given me parents who provided me with a car and help care for it. He blessed me with 18 years of my life with my grandfather to learn from him and his example of humility and gentle love. When I think of humility Grandpa is one of the men I think of. Never showy, but always classy and gentleman-like, the love which Grandpa had for my grandmother and for all of us flowed out in his words and actions. The same could be said of my grandmother. In a way they were that bridge to God that Father Joe discussed this morning.

Change happens. I don’t get to talk with all of my friends from high school very much anymore. I don’t get to see all of my family as often as I would like. I don’t get to make it home for every holiday. But the Lord continues to bless me and those around me in abundance. As I look at the events which unfolded before my volvo problems I am amazed in how God had his hand in every aspect. A month ago I went to the Volvo dealer to pick up some touch up paint for a rather nasty spot on the back bumper. (from the previous owner) I wasn’t planning on getting any until this summer but for some reason I went then. Since I ordered it I had to put my name and car info into their system. I was amazed with their kindness and willingness to help me a poor college kid out in answering some of the questions I had about my car and the service it required. When I got a call from Mary today about scheduling an appointment for my car I hung up and realized that I never gave her my information. 3 minutes later as I was getting ready to call her back I had an email with my appointment information. The Lord gave.

Beauty is all around us. I find God’s handiwork in my life to be a wonderful example of the beauty around us and to be an art in itself. The Lord continues to bless me and give me joys in my life. He also continues to take things away. Through it all though, I bless his name because I know that with every thing “taken” there is something good waiting.

Naked I came forth from my Mother’s womb and naked I shall go back! In the end we will all be judged by charity. How did we love others? How did we lead a virtuous and charitable life? How did we share? How were we Christ to others?

The Lord gives us much, and when we lose much, we have all the more to gain… Heaven!