Bishop Joseph Perry: Pentecost

Photo: ‘A Picture of Faith’ – Copyright 2014 Frank J Casella

Our faith is a gift.  We often speak of a good relationship in terms of one whom we love or a friend being a gift to us.  We speak of our children as individual gifts. We consider a good job, having good health, all being singular affirmative donations to the experience of life.  The religious among us might even consider these gifts coming from above and not of our own initiative.

But, our faith is a gift and a task – an unspeakable gift from God to us, a holy task we are called to do, meaning, we are called to live the life of faith and to invite others to share in the life of faith.  Our faith touches the core of who we are and our faith fulfills us deeply.

We trust that along the path of life we have come to understand this entire religious experience as an affirming, positive gift, namely to know God and to live in His embrace and under his direction is a singular gift bar none  – such a relationship with God is called “grace.”

It is often said that in our modern day living the life of faith is more of a challenge than in the past.  Perhaps, we suffer under more distractions, preoccupations and self-determinations in our time.  Nonetheless, I want to encourage our readers to stay the course.

The Christian feast of Pentecost is a wonderful reason why we should stay the course. At the end of his life of faith and service the Lord Jesus was taken up into glory.   That, dear friends, is our future too.  It is our horizon of hope at this time.  Jesus assured his disciples that he would send the Paraclete – the Holy Spirit, to equip us with the strength and courage needed for the ordeal to come and then he would come back for us to take us with him.

II

Being a baby-boomer myself, born not long after the end of World War II, perhaps, like some of you I have read my share of war narratives, listened to my own father’s experience being in the US Army during that war in the European theatre and watched many a documentary about that war.  Those accounts are usually gripping but they are never without aspects of the good and even of the heroic.  If war brings out the worst in some people, it brings out the best in others, like all tragedies of one sort or another.

The late Pope John Paul II brought to our attention the horror of World War II when we read of him having experienced that war himself in his own displacement and the persecution and extermination of his own friends and acquaintances, Jews and fellow Catholic Poles and fellow priests.  Pope John Paul II raised up to the honors of the altar many saints and martyrs of that terrible period 1939-1945, some whose names now mark our church calendars, such as Carmelite Sister Edith Stein, Franciscan Father Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Sisters of the Holy Family and others.  Even now retired Pope Benedict XVI as a lad was forced to join the Hitler Youth and later escaped only to be taken prisoner by American troops till Germany finally surrendered.

III

I think it is the combination of the good and the heroic set against the background of the graphic and disturbing that has helped me to keep my balance in life and to taste its deeper meaning.  The abject misery of people victims of war and conflict in the Middle East and in Africa today only forces me to count my blessings and give thanks to God for all I have.

Among my greatest blessings I count to be my Catholic faith.  Since my faith and my life are inextricably tied up with the Church I must name the Church among my greatest blessings. The two of them – my faith and my Church – give me my energy, my identity, my horizon of hope at this time and at all times.  These two gifts will carry me under God’s grace to heaven.  They will do the same for you too.

I find myself then, not lacking the horizon of hope at all as I look at our Church in these challenging times. Besides, I realize that the Church is in good hands because it is in Christ’s hands.  But, the Church is not only a gift that the Lord has given you and me it is also a care upon our hearts and a responsibility on our shoulders.

Every Sunday is a graced opportunity to give witness before God and the Church each our own enthusiasm and love for our Catholic traditions as we recite the Creed together, as this faith marks our lives indelibly shaping every thought and action of ours. This faith is the lens through which we view the entire world.  In this sense, our religion is not a hobby that we have time for today but perhaps not next week or next month depending upon our mood.  Our religion is a preoccupation of ours because we love and admire Jesus Christ.

One of the Second World War’s heroes of Christian resistance to the Nazis was the young Lutheran theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  He was arrested by the Nazis in 1943, imprisoned in Buchenwald Concentration Camp and hanged at Flossenburg Concentration Camp just a few weeks before the war ended.  The Nazis would not let him go even when they knew that Hitler’s regime was finished. They had an old score to settle with Bonhoeffer.  He had been one of the Nazi regime’s harshest critics.

I am always impressed by what a Christian of heroic stature has to say about the Church because I know it doesn’t come out of a book when he or she is condemned to die for the faith, nor do their words come from blind loyalty but from the depths of that person’s soul.

Of the Church, Bonhoeffer had this to say:  “The Church is not very influential, not a very imposing institution and always in dire need of improvement.”  Nevertheless, he added, “The Church is an office from God.” [“What is the Church”, found in No Rusty Swords, Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press, 1977].

What Bonhoeffer says is true because the Church is easily dismissed by the popular culture that finds the Church an annoyance and the message we peddle an invasion of  privacy.

The Church, of course, is essentially made up of flawed human beings, baptized, anointed, awaiting redemption in Christ. But these flawed human beings carry a message that’s not of their invention.

The Church is not a very imposing or influential institution and it is in dire need of improvement.  But, we must not stop there forgetting the most important thing that Bonheoffer said about the Church:  “The Church is an office from God.”  By “office” he meant that the church is a care we have from God and a work to be done for the Lord and for the salvation of others.
While the Church is not of our making it is of our implementation for which we need the mercy of God in carrying for its mission.

“The Lord worked with the apostles and confirmed the word through them,” says John’s gospel.  Similarly, the Lord works with his Church in our time and in its difficulties and its accomplishments.  And He confirms his message through the Church’s worship and sacraments, through its teachers and preachers, its prophets and saints, and even, praise God, through you and me.

IV

Remember the beginnings of our religion were with a group of impoverished and hesitant individuals who probably would not make it in a typical contemporary job interview. They were largely from the poor and working classes. They felt keenly their oppressed, second-class status under subjugation by a foreign power, a hostile empire that would soon as nail them to a cross than ask questions or say ‘hello.’  They were people without defense, without influence.  They searched for their dignity in their religion as descendants of Abraham, Jacob and Moses and their association with Jesus of Nazareth.

One of them was not sure about Jesus and for reasons of his own internal conflicts decided to betray Jesus to his enemies in exchange for some money.  Another disciple denied that he ever met Jesus at a moment the Lord needed him most.  This one went so far as to curse and swear up and down that he was never in Jesus’ company.  Mysteriously, Jesus chose this one to head up his Church after his own departure.

The rest of the band ran in fear of the authorities and locked themselves in a hidden away upper level room in the city wondering what to do next.  A few women stood by Jesus till the end even watching closely his grave.  So much in pain were they over his brutal execution.

Another disciple could not quite believe the report that Jesus was seen alive again several days later, unable to grasp the pieces of Jesus’ teaching and message and the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy in his behalf.

Amazingly, this band of reticent followers was sent out into the world to win the world for God, in many instances, at the cost of their own lives.

Those first Christians may not have been sure of a lot of things and may have been guilty of their own missteps in life.  You may say they were timid and afraid amidst their own disenfranchisement in a violent world.  But one thing for sure those first Christians soon discovered they were sure about and that was what they were willing to die for. The test of our faith, friends, hinges upon what we are willing to stake our lives upon.  Hopefully our faith is one of those things.

Should we be surprised then at weak Christians, hesitant, reticent Christians, flawed and sinful Christians who worship with us, some who even lead and teach the faith today?  Let us never lose the horizon of hope.  If Jesus worked with that first and original, fledgling group, a collection of timid and flawed human beings.  If he works with us, should we not work with each other to improve this Church for the kingdom Jesus is establishing?

V

Pentecost is a feast of hope for the Church.  Jesus had spent his life showing us how to find meaning and purpose and joy through a life of faith in him and a life of service to others.  He has shown us how to live with the horizon of hope ever before our eyes.  He has told us that glory is the reward of such a faith-filled servant life.

Then, as Jesus lived, so may we live.  And as all ended in glory for him so may all end in glory for us.  This is not a vain hope for a vague future.  It is the actual future of which this feast of the birth day of the Church at Pentecost is a pledge.

God’s gift of the Holy Spirit animates us both as individuals and as Church to do the work God does, to be the people of God, to live the life of the Gospel.  Pentecost celebrates the unseen, immeasurable presence of God in our lives and in our Church.

The Holy Spirit is God’s breath that animates us to do the work of the gospel of the Risen One, the strength to make God’s will our will, the power of God transforming us so that we might infuse his life and love into our broken world.

God breathes his Spirit into our souls so that we may live his life in the here and now; God ignites the fire of his Spirit within our hearts and minds that we may realize the coming of God’s reign in our own time and place.

Manhood Monday: Our Birthright As Christians

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

From Today’s Readings:

Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Alleluia   COL 3:1

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If then you were raised with Christ,
seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

 [3:14] By retaining the message of the gospel that the risen, living Christ is the source of their salvation, the Colossians will be free from false religious evaluations of the things of the world (Col 3:12). They have died to these; but one day when Christ…appears, they will live with Christ in the presence of God (Col 3:34).

“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!”

Bishop Joseph Perry

God bless your day.

The CMCS-Team

PS. Catholic Cemeteries will broadcast Memorial Day Masses online this Monday at 8:30 a.m. Information here, and will be available for viewing at https://www.catholiccemeterieschicago.org


Frank’s Photo of the Week

Photo: ‘Liberty for All’ – Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella
Prayer for Memorial Day

God of power and mercy,
you destroy war and put down earthly pride.
Banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears,
that we may all deserve to be called your sons
      and daughters.
Keep in your mercy those men and women
who have died in the cause of freedom
and bring them safely
into your kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this though Jesus Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen

—from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers

More Prayers for Those in Military Service

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.

Click here to learn about the annual Bishop Perry’s Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum held on the Saturday after Easter. All men from around the Archdiocese of Chicago and surrounding Chicagoland are invited to attend.

Bishop Joseph Perry: Family Prayer for Vocations

Parent(s):

Good Lord, we beg your blessing upon our family.  We thank you for the children with which you have blessed us.  Bless us as we use this day to give you praise.  Help our children grow towards you through the various things they learn about the mysteries of life and creation sewn by your hand. Grant wisdom to me/us their parent(s), their teachers and others you have given to guide them.  Preserve our efforts to give our children all that they deserve.

We pray you grace our children with faith, openness of heart, a willingness to learn, a desire to do good to others as you have taught.  Keep them ever strong and ready for any test of character.  As they grow in knowledge and experience inspire in our children a desire to serve you in holiness of life.  In whatever walk of life they choose be for them a true path to your kingdom. May you find among our children generous hearts to serve you and the Church perhaps as a priest, or religious brother or sister.  Should their Calling be to extend this family of ours, may theirs be a holy matrimony and family life after the example of your life with Mary and Joseph. 

Child/Children:

O Jesus, whisper in my heart how I might best serve you.  Make me strong in faith, always attentive to people’s needs, ever spiritual, understanding and charitable.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much.  Bless our priest(s) and religious who serve(s) us.  Bless my parents, our bishop and pastors and all who help the Church’s work.

Family:

Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, increase the number of our priests and religious men and women.  Preserve them for your Church.  Keep them zealous in their vocation and successful in their labors.  May they do all things for love of you and the Church.  We pray through our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever.  AMEN

Bishop Joseph N Perry

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Sub-Committee on African American Affairs

2020

Click here for more prayers by Bishop Perry

Manhood Monday: Why It’s Important to Know What You Believe

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

From Today’s Readings:

Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Alleluia   Jn 15:26b, 27a

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord,
and you also will testify.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

If you know what you believe and if you believe what you believe, it follows that you must share what you believe with others. The prophet Jeremiah “could not hold it in” (Jer 20:9)

“If we want others to do more than just know about Jesus we need to do more than just tell the story, we need to LIVE the glory!  Unknown author

God bless your day.

The CMCS-Team


Frank’s Photo of the Week

Photo: ‘At the Heart of Everything‘ – Copyright 2015 Frank J Casella

My late father often said the words, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”. This is why it’s important to know what we believe.  In fact, even an atheist knows what he believes.. That he doesn’t believe in God or Jesus … or the Eucharist.

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.

Click here to learn about the annual Bishop Perry’s Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum held on the Saturday after Easter. All men from around the Archdiocese of Chicago and surrounding Chicagoland are invited to attend.

Bishop Joseph Perry: Good reading is food for the soul.

Books help us “Listen to the Lord” for ways that we can continue our Mission in manhood

“I have read three books thus far during this COVID-19 lockdown and am starting a fourth. Good reading is food for the soul. The Daughters of St. Paul offer a healthy menu of reading material for any Catholic wishing to fill in the time that’s on our hands, find tips from the lives of the saints, feed meditation and keep us abreast soberly with issues affecting the Church and the Christian lifestyle today.”

Bishop Joseph Perry


Photo: ‘Reading in the Park – City of Chicago’ Copyright 2016 Frank J Casella

+JMJ+
Easter Greetings,
We hope that you are doing well, and getting some extra time to pray and do some things that you wouldn’t get a chance to if things were all “normal” in the world…

Here at Pauline Books & Media, we are praying more and trying to “listen to the Lord” for ways that we can continue our Mission in spite of limited travel, the new sanctions of “social-distancing” and closing the door to our downtown bookstore. We are so sorry that the major impact of the “stay-at-home” regulations happened right before your scheduled Men’s Conference on April 18.

Hopefully, the group has been able to stay in contact through email, and social media and support one another with messages and prayers. We Sisters have added an extra Hour of Adoration each day to pray for everyone; including all those whom we would have met through our outreach evangelization events. So, please be assured that you and the Men of the Southland Forum have not been forgotten; and share daily in our prayers.

In case anyone in the group is interested in getting resources for themselves or inspirational gifts we are “open” for call-in orders during our normal hours of operation (M-Sat, 10 am to 6 pm — we now pray from 5-5:30 pm).

Attached is a list of some of the items available; and I or other Sisters can be called at 312-346-4228; or email us chicago @ paulinemedia.com
God bless you and all the good that you do.
In St. Paul, the Apostle,
Sr. Helen Rita Lane, fsp
Daughters of St. Paul / Pauline Books & Media
172 North Michigan Ave Chicago IL 60601

Manhood Monday: The Holy Spirit Speaking to Us

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

From Today’s Readings:

Alleluia JN 14:26

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Holy Spirit will teach you everything
and remind you of all I told you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Lord,

What will be the right thing for me to persue right now so that I might be and do what you desire for me to be and do?    – Amen.

Pray the above prayer and let God speak to your heart. Close your drapes and make it time with only you and the Lord. When you think you are done and it’s time to leave, that is the point when you are to stay put.  For that is the time when you have ‘drained your brain’ of worldly concerns – talking to God from your human understanding – and are ready to open your ears to listen for the prompting of the Holy Spirit speaking to us.  Give it time, and don’t rush it.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not;  In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths. 

Proverbs 3: 5 – 6

God bless your day.

The CMCS-Team


Frank’s Photo of the Week

Dog Eyes – Copyright 2008 Frank J Casella

When you train your dog with leadership and love, he looks at you with dog eyes of trust and love back.

When you trust in the Lord, that is when God speaks to you through the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

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.

Click here to learn about the annual Bishop Perry’s Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum held on the Saturday after Easter. All men from around the Archdiocese of Chicago and surrounding Chicagoland are invited to attend.

The Impression Our Lives Make

Reflection – Copyright 2009 Frank J Casella – A man sits by a reflection fountain in Chicago Illinios.

Every time that I go to a funeral and reflect on the persons life, I think about the impression they have made in the world. Is there any evidence how their life made a difference.

Because God created you, he has given you a unique ability to communicate to the rest of the world his love, mercy, compassion, and goodness in your own way.

Mainly all of us have been given unique gifts and talents for now, 2020, than anyone else in the world. There’s a reason why we are living now and not a hundred years ago, or even a thousand years ago, or century from now.

You were created for now so your very life can reveal a different facet of God to the world that is needed.

I think about the pandemic that we are all experiencing now, how it is said each of us will at least know someone infected with the virus, if not have it ourselves. It makes me think how much this is like the same as cancer.

The difference today makes compared to past decades is how digital technology plays in leaving our impression on the world. For example, on the website where I share my artistic photography there are several artists who have passed away, but their profile and art remains as they left it only to be administrated by people from their estate.

The same goes for what each of us do online with social media, and the emails we send to people that they keep in their inbox, etc.

This makes me very mindful of every decision that I make, and to be sure I leave everything as if I don’t know what tomorrow will bring … because I don’t. Only God knows our future and what it brings to such a time as this.

So, I ask you as a Catholic man to see how God calls you to leave an impression on this world, and to always take care of unfinished business. Because you never know what the next day, or even the next hour, will bring.

Frank J Casella, CMCS-Director