Bishop Joseph Perry: Homily from Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum

This Featured Post is the homily from the closing Mass of the Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum on April 27, 2019, by Bishop Joseph N. Perry. We could not host a Bishop Perry Men’s Forum for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but hope to see you here on April 10, 2021.

Mk 16, 9-15

In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, notice, Jesus’ disciples were forbidden by the authorities to teach about Jesus to anyone.  The townsfolk had witnessed Peter’s miraculous healing of a crippled man.  Because the rulers and temple elders were in no position to accept as good news the miraculous healing of the man, at the same time, they knew they could neither deny nor hide the reality of this phenomenon, so they instead tried to silence the disciples.  The name of Jesus was not to be mentioned by them or anyone.

Sometimes, we act as if that prohibition has been passed down to us.  We are uncomfortable referencing our faith before others. We might feel uncomfortable making the sign of the cross and saying grace before we eat out at a restaurant. If someone use the name of God in vain we remain stone silent. If we don’t try deliberately to hide our faith we at least do not often express it in public places.  Actually what has been handed down to us is not a prohibition but the calling to be loyal to Jesus, to “teach all nations”.  Jesus gave us this instruction in today’s passage from the gospel.

The gospel is often called the Good News. But many of us receive it as though it were bad news.  We act as if being Christian prevents us from having friends. But the joy of the gospel, the good news of Jesus’ resurrection is our birthright as Christians.  We own the patent to the story!

If we are naturally somewhat shy we may not want to impose on others’ lives.  Or we don’t want to risk alienating them.  After all, many of our friends and in-laws and outlaws are not so religious.  And we want to stay in their company.  And among buddies and in the public arena it’s not cool to seem pious or religious, we often think.

The true story is told in one of the parishes that: One Sunday afternoon a baby girl was being baptized.  She had a brother a few years older than herself. And on the way home, the boy was found crying crocodile tears in the back seat of the car.  Dad was driving but his mother leaned back and asked him what was the matter.  And the boy said:  “Father said that he wants all boys and girls to grow up in a good Christian home.  But I want to stay with you guys!” 

Out of the mouths of babes!

When Mary Magdalene saw the risen Jesus she could hardly wait to tell his other friends.  She ran through the streets of Jerusalem and pounded on the door to get their attention. They didn’t believe her.  As we share our faith experiences with others we also can expect skepticism, hesitancy, disbelief and yes, sometimes, even ridicule.  We lose friends while we’re active Christians, no doubt.  But then, there are those friends who re also mealy-mouthed in their loyalty to us and admit for sure their admiration of you for your sound faith in Christ.

But, there are other, sometimes more effective ways to share our faith with others.  Also in today’s gospel is mention of Jesus joining two disciples on a country road. We can powerfully influence others’ lives by walking with them, listening and not being afraid to mention the word “God” in our conversations with others.  By affirming and validating feelings that others express we can help them open themselves to God’s grace.

This reminds me – during one of the last major offenses of World War II, Dwight Eisenhower, the great general, was walking and gathering his thoughts one day when he came upon a young soldier who seemed depressed.  “How are you feeling, son?”  the general asked.  The soldier answered, “General, sir, I’m awful nervous.”  “Well,” said Eisenhower, “you and I are a good pair then because I’m nervous too. Maybe if we just walk along together, we’ll be good for each other.”  What a powerful support that was for that young soldier.

Sometimes we are tempted to compromise God’s Christian Call of us with what seems expedient or practical, whether among friends, in the office, engaging with coworkers in racist chatter; or in the voter’s booth, deciding an issue on the basis of selfish interest rather than the common good; or in the quiet of our heart giving in to confusion and disbelief.  The first Christians and certainly Christians through the centuries knew how challenging it was to live the faith.  For that reason they are sympathetic to us when we fail to act on our convictions or when our faith seems to not mean much to us.

We live in a society that claims to get along quite well without religious faith and practice; other things are important and command our energy and thoughts. There are people out there, even baptized people we know and befriend, even love, who admire Jesus Christ as a good man who lived back then and somehow ran afoul of the authorities and was given a death sentence.  Somehow his wisdom has endured through the ages.  But, these same people whom we know and love will not hand their lives over to Him. 

People tend to think of Jesus as a figure from the past instead of as a power in the present.  For some people Jesus is just a vague figure mentioned in religion classes of our childhood.  Truth be told, Jesus doesn’t want our acknowledgment of Him.  He wants our discipleship.  There’s a difference. Acknowledging Jesus Christ as a figure from history will not get you saved.  Being a disciple of Jesus, however, demands a conscientious, calculated, and determined commitment made to Him and his message.

The Easter gospels we hear through the season remind us how slowly even those who had been with Jesus during his ministry came to believe in and act by the power of the risen Christ. 

Looking back we can often see God’s hand in the events of our lives and slowly but surely as the months and years pass by these events begin to make sense.  For the followers of Jesus his death made no sense.  It was only in hindsight after the resurrection that they could see the fulfillment of God’s plan.  Because of the outpouring of the Spirit at that first Pentecost they were able to preach the message of Christ to folks gathered in Jerusalem – that He was not dead but alive and that He was the promised Messiah and therefore the fulfillment of all their hopes.

Peter was able to trust in Christ’s healing power working through him and the others.  Peter finally was able to speak courageously before the very group that turned Jesus over to Pilate and demanded his death.  When told by the authorities not to speak of Jesus again, Peter says in the reading today from the Acts, “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”  May Peter’s resolve also be ours’!

Peter follows the instruction of Jesus given in today’s gospel, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”  The change in Peter after Pentecost was a miracle, I suppose, as the healing of the crippled man.  Peter was still Peter – ordinary, and profane in respects. However, empowered by the Holy Spirit, there was no stopping him.

We are talking about the faith of confirmed Christians here.  God uses us as we are, where we are. He uses us with the gifts we have at this moment. The important thing is that we use them.  How bold are we with our proclamation of our faith?  Some say, “My faith is private.”  Certainly, Jesus said it was just the opposite:  “Proclaim, preach heal.”  There is nothing private about that.

Each one of us might ask, “Is there any aspect of my religion which, although I certainly don’t deny it, I don’t fully live it either … because doing so would require more change, more effort than I’ve been willing to give?”

I was visiting one of our parishes for the sacrament of Confirmation recently and the pastor happened to mention to me that his brother paid him a visit not long ago and the two of them sat down for a meal together; that his brother looked around the room they were in and remarked in reference to the pictures on the wall and the statues: “You sure have a lot of religious crap around here!”

What do you expect, it’s a church rectory where priests live!  When I visit homes I always look around for signs that tell what is important to the persons living there. Are there religious art and symbols of our Catholic faith or are there just material possessions, nice things?

If we are compelled by the Spirit, we will have the wisdom to speak and act in effective ways as a Christian. The same Holy Spirit that empowered Peter to charge the people who condemned Jesus is available to us.  If we truly believe, is it possible that we can keep silent about what we have seen and heard?

May we today pray for the boldness to preach by our words and actions the signs of God’s reign among us.  We can strive in our dealings to be nonviolent in word and deed. We can extend compassion to the poor.  We can practice neighborly regard in Christian ways to people because all are redeemed by the blood of the Jesus we love and admire.

Some years back, I remember a saying printed on cards that could fit in your wallet or purse.  And the saying went like this:  “Should it ever happen that you are arrested for being a Christian and hauled into court, would there be enough evidence to convict you!”   This was the mantra of many a saint and Christian martyr before us.

Put another way, the first letter of Peter in the New Testament says it this way:  “Have reverence for Christ in your hearts and honor him as Lord.  Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect.  Keep your conscience clear so that when you are insulted those who speak evil of your good conduct as followers of Christ will become ashamed of what they say.”  (3, 15-16)

Most certainly, there will never be another act of love so pure. There will never be a triumph so celebrated as the humility of the Cross and the miracle of the empty tomb.  Life is so vibrant in everything around us at springtime and because of Jesus all that is within us rejoices as well.  The Lord has given us peace through hope, forgiveness through love.  And He has given us eternity through his act of his sacrifice. 

Those of you about to be confirmed – in your pronunciation of the baptismal vows of our faith today you state your willingness to enter upon and live these mysteries of our faith.  Glory awaits each of you with the Lord if you can remain faithful.

“We’re moving!” To a new website and blog …

Please remember that CMCS is now at CMCSMen.net and we are blogging there, and that you will be getting emails as usual if you’re subscribed to the list.

The dust is almost settled from the construction, and we think you will like our new home. Really, though, think of it as more of a portal – to help you get to where you are going on your spiritual journey – for the annual Bishop Perry Men’s Forum, and a point of entry for a new comer to Catholic Men Chicago Southalnd. Because most everything there will be shared with you through the mailing list.

That’s the way things are today in this digital information age, we like our interests fed to us in our busy lives. So, other than a welcome message from Bishop Perry, we’ll get starting with blogging next week over there.

This Catholic Chicago Men Blog will stay public for the foreseeable future to serve as an archive of sorts, and the event and apostolate pages will be moved to the new home.

Come and take a peek and tell us what you think!

Frank J Casella, CMCS-Director

Manhood Monday: The Maximum Happiness Out of Life

Your weekly dose of “Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man”.

From Today’s Readings:

Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time.

Alleluia  MT 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

When you buy an automobile, the manufacturer gives you a set of instructions. He tells you the pressure to which you ought to inflate your tires, the kind of oil you ought to use in the crankcase, and the proper fuel to put in the gas tank. He has nothing against you by giving you these instructions as God had nothing against you in giving you commandments. The manufacturer wants to be helpful; he is anxious that you get the maximum utility out of the car. And God is anxious that we get the maximum happiness out of life. Such is the purpose of His commandments.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

God bless your day.

Catholic Men Chicago Southland Apostolate (CMCS)

Frank’s Photo of the Week

In America, we live in a culture that says more is better, but is this a lie?

We all have our stuff packed away in the basements of our homes, sometimes extending to storage sheds that we pay to put our stuff. And, no matter our social rank, the more stuff we have, whether possessions or in our head, the more we get distracted from the true meaning of life.

Recently I went through my stuff, with the mindset that if I die tomorrow what of it will end in the trash. It turned out most of it.

I haven’t touched this stuff in years  …

The poor in spirit: in the Old Testament, the poor are those who are without material possessions and whose confidence is in God, who recognized their complete dependence on God.

Do you allow yourselves to become attached to your possessions? What came with this for me was a form of spiritual poverty, as small as it was  …

When we are free from stuff, we free ourselves from distraction. God’s will is that we depend on Him, what more could you want?

Thanks for Reading.

Make it a great week. See you back here again next Monday.

Frank J Casella,
CMCS Executive Director

A larger collection of photographs can be viewed on my portfolio.

Not signed up yet? Click here.

Please Donate What You Can

We rely on contributions from readers and members of our community to keep Catholic Chicago Men Blog free. If you’d like to pay what you can for the service, we’d greatly appreciate it. These contributions touch the lives of many and help us keep investing in new technologies and better content.

Thank you for being the best part of Catholic Chicago Men Blog! Your contributions make a difference. On behalf of Bishop Joseph Perry, and all of us at Catholic Men Chicago Southland, and all of those that will be helped, thank you.

As Catholic Men, This Is Our Salvation In Jesus ….

The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said,
“I am the bread that came down from heaven, ”
and they said,
“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?
Do we not know his father and mother?
Then how can he say,
‘I have come down from heaven’?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Stop murmuring among yourselves.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They shall all be taught by God.
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
Not that anyone has seen the Father
except the one who is from God;
he has seen the Father.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Jn 6:41-51

One day, at my parish men’s group discussion based on the Gospel reading above, one man spoke about how he is a convert to the Faith, and how this scripture came to life convincing him to change his life verse to John 6:54‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.’. You see, he says that when he was a Protestant this was never talked about, however, as Catholic’s this is our salvation in Jesus.

As a Catholic man you may not have heard of a life verse, but in Protestant circles a life verse is known for a Christian to attach oneself to a scripture verse that speaks to them or illustrates their life mission in Jesus. But you don’t have to be a Protestant to have a live verse, for example, mine is Luke 9:62Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Do you have a life verse? If not, what do you think it might be?

Also, I’m sure you’ve heard of being Born Again, this is when a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, prays the sinners prayer, and works then to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. They can then call themselves a Born-Again Christian.

As a Catholic, when we eat the bread (Host) and drink from the cup at Mass, we have Christ in us. Jesus at the Last Supper gave the Disciples the power to consecrate bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. A Catholic Priest is a decedent of the Disciples. This is why when you come to an CMCS Bishop Perry’s Men’s Forum we not only have Mass, but we challenge you to grow in holiness. That you develop your salvation with Christ, through the Catholic sacraments, to be the center of your life.

Back when I was in college, I was a ‘steeple chaser’ in that I traveled from one denomination to another seeking what I believe and why. Often at these church services the pastor would do what is known as an Altar Call. This is when members of the congregation were invited up to the church platform so the pastor or a minister could pray over us as we accepted Jesus as our Savior and we made a commitment to developing this relationship. This brought me to the realization that every Sunday at Mass, us Catholic’s go forth to the Altar to receive the living Eucharist and to present ourselves before the Lord as a living sacrifice.

So, I ask this question, do you believe that the Eucharist is the living Body and Blood of Jesus Christ?
Do you believe that when you receive this living Eucharist, this is your salvation in Jesus?
Two simple questions, yet with a positive, powerful, lasting impact.

‘whoever eats this bread will live forever’.

At CMCS you will find along with our mission statement that we believe “It is a defined dogma of the Catholic Church, revealed by the Holy Spirit and preserved from any possibility of error, that the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ are truly and substantially present in the Most Holy Eucharist.” CCC 1373-1375. Eucharist is not a symbol. The Mass is not a pageant or play acting or a skit anymore than the Lord’s horrendous death on the cross was a skit.

If only we knew how God regards this Sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass.

Saint Padre Pio 1887-1968

Thank you for reading. Enjoy your day!

Frank J Casella, CMCS-Director

Manhood Monday: How to Be the Light of Life

Your weekly dose of “Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man”.

From Today’s Readings:

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr.

Alleluia  JN 8:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness
but will have the light of life, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

* [8:1220] Jesus the light of the world. Jesus replaces the four torches of the illumination of the temple as the light of joy.

When Jesus tells his disciples to be persistent in prayer He cannot mean be persistent in self-serving or dishonest or arrogant prayer.  Who are we to tell God what He should be.  We can only rely on the mercy of God.  Honest prayer comes from a stance of humility. We are children of God, not God’s equal.  Honest prayer opens us up to God, searches for God’s Will, not our own, prepares us to remove any off-limits signs in our lives that we know it all, thereby allowing God’s grace to touch our entire lives – our words, our thoughts our life’s pattern.  God’s Word is always trying to influence our lives completely.

Bishop Joseph N Perry

God bless your day.

Catholic Men Chicago Southland Apostolate (CMCS)

Frank’s Photo of the Week

We all go through the dark moments in life. If you’re like me, you try to take the easy way out in moving towards the light. The thing is, often times until we go through the struggles we really don’t learn the full story.

Thanks for Reading.

Make it a great week. See you back here again next Monday.

Frank J Casella,
CMCS Executive Director

A larger collection of photographs can be viewed on my portfolio.

Not signed up yet? Click here.

Please Donate What You Can

We rely on contributions from readers and members of our community to keep Catholic Chicago Men Blog free. If you’d like to pay what you can for the service, we’d greatly appreciate it. These contributions touch the lives of many and help us keep investing in new technologies and better content.

Thank you for being the best part of Catholic Chicago Men Blog! Your contributions make a difference. On behalf of Bishop Joseph Perry, and all of us at Catholic Men Chicago Southland, and all of those that will be helped, thank you.

Finding a Remedy For Your Problems and Needs.

Everyone Has Problems and Needs.  What Are Yours?

As a Man, you are a natural problem solver.

So, where do you go to find answers?

Do you study the real problem, or only blame the symptoms?

Symptoms like: Can’t find a woman to marry, wife won’t agree, kids don’t want to listen, inadequacy or depression, too many bad habits, and the worst symptom of all, don’t know what God wants of me.  

Usually Men blame the situation rather than take ownership when the matter falls short.

I have RARELY heard a Man say to me, “Frank, it didn’t work out, and it was all my fault”.

Many times all it takes to solve a problem or work through an issue is to share it with like-minded Men who you can trust to have your best interest at heart. The bad decisions you make sometimes are because of the (Men) outside influences you keep.  Life is like a trash can. The trash you put inside of you comes out of you in the form of your words and actions.

Encouragement from a parish small men’s group, or just a devout Catholic Man, can make the difference with the challenges you face in the workplace and at home everyday. My rule is if my circle of friends is not leading me to Jesus and to Heaven, then they’re pulling me apart.

When problems seem to be out of control, usually Men will indicate going to a shrink, before they go to confession.  There is a place for counsel, whether it be a psychologist, a spiritual director, or a workshop. However, confession, and making yourself right with God, many times can be the baby-steps that sets you in the direction of real positive change.

Your relationship with God is the ‘pebble in the pond’ that has a ripple effect on your positive connections with others and the world around you.

One small step that many Men who are friends of CMCS practice is “A Man’s Prayer”.  They pray this everyday, and it has over time set the tone for their outlook on life as a Man and as a Catholic.  If you don’t have this prayer card contact us.  We can also send you a stack for you to hand-out to other men in your neighborhood or parish, or give to your pastor to place them in back of church.

Daily prayer changes things, from your heart, to your family, and into your community.  You will also see God better use you to answer your prayers, and the prayers of others too.

Do you need a money miracle?  How do you react to pornography?  Is your wife your ‘enemy’, or the other way around?  Do you have trouble getting to Sunday Mass, or getting your wife or family to go with you?  Are you having an affair – with a person who is not your wife, your computer, sports, booze, or some other vice – that keeps you from your relationship with God and / or your wife?  Do your kids spend too much time texting their friends … at the dinner table?   Know that you can turn to CMCS!

Talk with us when you are looking for a remedy and have nowhere else to turn.  Prayer in numbers is a powerful thing for change ….. to first change us ….. and then our circumstances.

It’s all about helping each other make it through life.

Speak your mind below or share this blog post with a friend.

Frank J Casella, CMCS-Director

(CMCS Archives 2012)

Manhood Monday: God’s Plan for Our Success

Your weekly dose of “Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man”.

From Today’s Readings:

Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time.

Alleluia  JN 1:49B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rabbi, you are the Son of God;
you are the King of Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

* [1:49] Son of God: this title is used in the Old Testament, among other ways, as a title of adoption for the Davidic king (2 Sm 7:14Ps 2:789:27), and thus here, with King of Israel, in a messianic sense. For the evangelist, Son of God also points to Jesus’ divinity (cf. Jn 20:28).

“There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them as we will,” Shakespeare tells us. God has a master plan for the human race and to each one of us he has given a little niche in that plan. If we play the part he has given us, though it be noble or humble in the eyes of this world, we will make a success of God’s master-plan, of this great human drama. Our own eternal success will be assured.

Deacon John Rangel, CMCS Director of Mission

God bless your day.

Catholic Men Chicago Southland Apostolate (CMCS)

Frank’s Photo of the Week

You see, God designed us men as problem solvers, and the best way to solve a problem is to spend time in prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit so we can meet God where He is at work .

… that is our goal as Catholic men. Yes, easier said than done.

Embrace the darkness. If we have developed trust in God in the light, we’ll embrace Him in the darkness, and in fact, we’ll even embrace the darkness as His path for us.

In other words, when we experience darkness, we’ll back away if our faith is weak, but we’ll move into it if our faith has been strengthened by years of experience in seeing God’s faithfulness, grace, and power.

The thing we have to do as Catholic men is to live out our salvation in Christ through the Sacraments.

Thanks for Reading.

Make it a great week. See you back here again next Monday.

Frank J Casella,
CMCS Executive Director

A larger collection of photographs can be viewed on my portfolio.

Not signed up yet? Click here.

Please Donate What You Can

We rely on contributions from readers and members of our community to keep Catholic Chicago Men Blog free. If you’d like to pay what you can for the service, we’d greatly appreciate it. These contributions touch the lives of many and help us keep investing in new technologies and better content.

Thank you for being the best part of Catholic Chicago Men Blog! Your contributions make a difference. On behalf of Bishop Joseph Perry, and all of us at Catholic Men Chicago Southland, and all of those that will be helped, thank you.

React or Respond

I was drawn to this moment of an American Flag mounted on a tree with blooming flowers below it, in the country morning sunlight, because it reminds me of how the Flag is a symbol of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. The phrase gives three examples of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration says have been given to all human beings by their Creator, and which governments are created to protect. Without it we have chaos.

How do you react when you see people being hostile toward Christian beliefs? Do you let your anger simmer, get into an debate on social media, or just keep quiet? It’s difficult to know how to respond to those who show antagonism to our faith, but Saint Peter gives us good advice ….

… but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.

1 Peter 3:13-18

Are you willing to suffer or be misunderstood? Since the world finds holiness, obedience, and reverence for God confusing or even offensive, taking a stand for righteousness may bring you criticism instead of praise.

Then online, Facebook, Twitter and Google were seen as white knights of progress, but now there is a lot more skepticism about their effects and their intentions. Or you might be thinking that maybe you should quit social media because it can hurt your career.

The late Zig Ziglar says “It’s not the situation, but whether we react negative or respond positive to the situation that is important.”

Responding to Our Culture

When we react to a situation it is often a fight or flight action, more often than not it is a defensive mechanism. It is reflexive with little thought of the action or outcome. Reaction is usually a response to an emergency or a crisis, and respond is like a thought-out, deliberate decision.

We also see the aspect of react such as regarding men, their reaction to religious sharing groups, and what discourages them from attending.

Remember these points:

  • Don’t fear the intimidation, but remember that when you are persecuted, you are blessed (Matt. 5:10).
  • Sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart. A follower of Jesus is no longer enslaved to the world but is now a slave of Christ and His righteousness (Rom. 6:18; 1 Corinthians 7:22).
  • Always be ready to give a defense for your hope. This is to be done gently and respectfully—never with anger or condemnation.
  • Keep a good conscience. You can’t foresee how God may use your example. Perhaps your righteous behavior and words will influence others to see their own sin and turn to Christ.

Even though our culture looks very dark, Christ can use your light to show someone the way to Jesus.

As a parent Joseph may have had many more surprises not recounted in scripture. What we do know of him is that he always responded, made the necessary adjustments and took action all the while with an appropriate degree of faith and surrender to God.

Bishop Joseph Perry

Frank J Casella, CMCS-Director