Learning to Love

Do you feel loved by anybody?

Do you believe God loves you?

St. John wrote about love 72 times, and Love is mentioned in the Bible over 400 times.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

John 3:16

If love is missing in your life, a vital part of your life is missing, because Love is a vital part of life.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.

1 John 4:7-11

Love is more than an emotion. It is a commitment to another person.

Love can also discern true love in others.

Love is not free. God’s love for us is free from Him, otherwise it demands something from us.

God’s creation was an act of Love. Genesis 1:1

God didn’t create us to live without Love.

If you feel loved by someone you feel complete, competent, and feel worthy.

Love is generous, unselfish. It doesn’t say ‘I’, it is always thinking about the other person.

Love is more fulfilled because it is giving. Love does not give in order to receive.

Love is forgiving. The crucifix, what did He do for you?

Love desires to express itself. It is like an emotional spring, it keeps on flowing.

Our needs are not material, physical, or financial, but a need to love and be loved.

If you see someone hurting and don’t have love you walk away.

Love does not keep count. Love is in the business of giving.

Sometimes love is very painful. You can love someone who doesn’t love you, and you have to keep loving and forgiving. Because it hurts people want to give up and quit. But love always wins when you keep giving.

Love another because who they are as a person. Jesus loves you because you are you.

Love is patient. Love knows how to wait.

Love does not hold grudges, it is willing to keep forgiving.

Jesus is a perfect example of love, He loves the world. Just keep on loving and you are the most like Jesus.

Love is not all about ‘me’. When you read the Bible you will find how Jesus has the most ultimate way to love.

When we go to confession, all that we have done in life that falls short of God’s Love for us is washed away.

Look at the crucifix, and put on Love.

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Love and Marriage Support

This collection of Catholic marriage quotes and resources from a variety of Church documents and Saints, and authors of marriage books, can be read, shared, and reflected upon by married couples and couples preparing for marriage, as well as the parishioners who support them on their journey.

First a scripture on marriage and divorce that you often hear at weddings:

When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.

Great crowds followed him, and he cured them there.

Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”

He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’

and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.

They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss [her]?”

He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.”

[His] disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.

He answered, “Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted.

Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” — Matthew 19:1

Marriage is not only a sacrament, but a very serious commitment as well. We only should enter into this relationship when we can accept all that it brings. In our present day more people seem to divorce, for example, but in the ‘old days’ people stuck with their marriage no matter what. For this reason it is important for us men to consistently be a Man of God, and to surround ourselves with people who are solid pro-marriage. Below are some scriptures and quotes to support love and the marriage covenant:

Love that leads to marriage is a gift from God and a great act of faith toward other human beings.

St. Pope John Paul II

Just as God’s love is stable and lasts forever, we want the love on which a family is based to be stable and to last forever. We must not allow ourselves to be conquered by a ‘throwaway culture.’

Pope Francis Meeting with Engaged Couples at the Vatican, St. Valentine’s Day 2014.

Website – Marriage: Unique for a Reason is an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. The gift of grace increases as the struggle increases.

St. Rose of Lima

A woman’s most security need is often for her assistance that her husband is committed to her.

Dr. Gary Chapman

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love

Saint Mother Teresa

The saints did not all begin well, but they ended well.

St. John Vianney

Often a matter of focus: Why is it when we are dating, we focus time and attention on each other. But after a few years of marriage we focus on everything else. Fact is, we desperately need each other.

Dr. Gary Chapman

Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Any rejection of bodiliness will immediately target two beautiful but demanding and sometimes inconvenient realities: marriage and the child.

Bishop Olmstead at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast 2019

Archdiocese of Chicago Marriage and Family Ministry Team.

Finally, enter the word marriage, love, or divorce into the search box on this blog for the latest articles and resources.

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

Following is the homily from the closing Mass of the Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum on April 27, 2019, by Bishop Joseph N. Perry.

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.

Concentration is hard work

By Frank J Casella

Finding it hard to spend time with God, and to listen, is one of the responses that came from the recent Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum, about The Restless Journey of Life. That Eucharistic Adoration is one of the methods suggested for calming us down.

It turns our that Monks shared the same experience years ago, says Cal Newport in his recent blog article:

The monks were on to something. Concentration is hard work. It requires, for lack of a better word, more serious attention.

I too have found a calming during Adoration time, though I had to figure out that spending quiet time every day to ‘drain my brain’ helped to focus my concentration once I got to the Adoration Chapel. Otherwise all these thoughts and concerns would occupy my thinking and I had a hard time tuning in and listening to God speak. Many men at the Forum it seems resonate with this, as we were able to connect the dots to confirm we are not alone.

When you give God the space to speak, He has a lot to say.

I also find with men, that when we do sit down guy’s say they don’t hear God. The answer I found to this is when you think it is time to get up from prayer, that is actually the time that God is ready to speak, so stay put. Usually what happens then is all these phrases enter your brain that you better have pen and paper ready or you won’t remember it all.

You don’t rush this. Don’t treat God like a drive-up. He wants to know your intentional, and not distracted, because what He has to say is always something constructive. Many blog posts here, for example, have come from my Adoration time. Usually as a side thought, while themes and words from God fill my head on what I need to think about, instead of what I am thinking about.

Distractions today are, or at least they seem, at an all time high today considering technology. But, again, the Monks shared the same concerns, so I think it is a matter of being intentional about our concentration so that we can be the Catholic Man that God calls us to be. For example, I shared at the Forum how I use a flip-phone, because I said smartphones can steal our attention.

I didn’t mention that a main reason for my opinion on this is because I have lived through several car accidents where the other drivers where distracted by the smartphone. But I have also found that having a flip phone keeps me focused on my own thoughts, instead of spending time like on social media channels to see what others think instead.

I find that I am writing better because of more concentration or, rather, I feel better about my writing (whether or not it’s better is not for me to decide). I am writing on the thoughts God is placing in my heart, and not so much what others are saying. I’m always impressed with Bishop Perry, for example, because he does not own any social media account yet the thoughts and direction he provides for this apostolate are profound and you’d think he was (part of the conversation on Twitter or Facebook and) in the know.

Rather, he is out in the ministry field and has his finger on the pulse of his Vicariate. I also have several pictures of him alone in prayer at our events with the Rosary and with God. Doing the work of a bishop leading his flock and being with the people when he needs to be, otherwise he is in prayer. He works at it, and so can we. What more example do we need men because of the responsibility we have in the work place, at home with our family, and if we are married.

It is easier to be distracted, and that is what makes (the hard work of) concentration to cause more serious attention.

Thanks for reading. Find me on LinkedIn linkedin.frankjcasella.com

Holy Mass. Holy Eucharist.

Are you leading your family to Mass at least every Sunday?  It’s not what you get from the Mass but what you bring to it …. How you bring yourself to the Altar as a Living Sacrifice to Jesus.

10 Quotes That Will Change the Way You Attend Holy Mass

1. When the Eucharist is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim immolated on the altar. ~ St. John Chrysostom

2. The angels surround and help the priest when he is celebrating Mass. ~ St. Augustine

3. The celebration of Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the cross. ~ Saint Thomas Aquinas

4. Once, St. Teresa was overwhelmed with God’s Goodness and asked Our Lord “How can I thank you?” Our Lord replied, “ATTEND ONE MASS.”

5. “My Son so loves those who assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that, if it were necessary He would die for them as many times as they’ve heard Masses.” ~ Our Lady to Blessed Alan

6. When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary – a joy, a fragrance, a well-being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt. ~ Saint Jean Vianney

7. There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us. ~ Saint Jean Vianney

8. When we have been to Holy Communion, the balm of love envelops the soul as the flower envelops the bee. ~ Saint Jean Vianney

9. It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass. ~ St. Pio of Pietrelcina

10. If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy. ~ Saint Jean Vianney

Bonus. If only we knew how God regards this Sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass. ~ St. Padre Pio 1887-1968