Manhood Monday: We Are Called to be Evangelizers!

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

From Today’s Readings:

Alleluia  Lk 7:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

How few of us have seen or heard a call from God, a divine vocation, in the humdrum activities of our daily lives, and yet these ordinary daily tasks are the road to heaven that God has mapped out for us. These are the “vocations” he has given us.

We may say that we ourselves chose our careers in life, we decided what occupation we should follow, but behind our free decisions the wise providence of God, working through parents, neighbors, circumstances of time and place, has so arranged our earthly journey that it would end for us in heaven.

Many of us grumble at our role in life. We think our lot is so inferior and demanding when compared with the life others lead, and even go so far as to say that God could have no part in such a bad arrangement.

Yet, God is in charge of his world. He chooses each individual for the role he is to carry to its successful conclusion. And let’s not forget that although we may have responded to God’s call to our specific “vocation” in life, above all we are called to be Holy. We are called to be Evangelizers! 

~ Deacon John Rangel

God bless your day.

The CMCS-Team


Frank’s Photo of the Week

The late Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago from 1997 to 2014, talks with a child while visiting a Chicago parish for Mass, circa. 2008.

“The only thing we take with us when we die, is what we have given away”

Francis Cardinal George

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.


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

Listen to God's Call

By Deacon John Rangel

1Samuel 3:3b-10,19
1Corinthians 6:13c-15a,17-20
John 1:35-42

“God is good! … All the time! All the time! …God is good!”

Let us examine these selected scripture verses for our instruction and inspiration that focus on God’s call – and our proper response.

From the time of Adam and Eve, down through the ages the Scriptures are filled with radical calls: the Samaritan woman, Moses, Jonah, Martha and Mary, Zacchaeus, Samuel, to name just a few.  Today in this New Year God is calling you. Are you listening?

God’s ways are surely wonderful! He could govern and regulate this world and all its inhabitants most correctly and successfully all by himself. However, he has decided to give man a chance of co-operating with him in the running of the material and spiritual affairs of his world. Perhaps they are more often a hindrance rather than a help to the Lord. Yet, he not only allows them but he calls them, selects them for various roles in the government of his world.

This is true in the running of the temporal affairs as well as the government of the spiritual life of men on earth. The exercise of power over a nation or community of people is not from man but from God, thus the obligation on subjects to obey the just laws of their rulers. God it is who delegates his authority to earthly rulers.

During the first eight hundred years of God’s dealings with his Chosen People, both the temporal and spiritual leadership of the people always resided in one and the same individual. The Patriarchs, Moses, Joshua, the Judges down to the appointment of kings (1030 B.C.), were individually called by God to administer both the temporal and spiritual affairs of the community. Today’s lesson tells us how Samuel the prophet got his call to fulfill this double task of temporal and spiritual leadership of God’s people. Because God was with him in all his doings he carried it out very successfully for about twenty years.

All men and women have a vocation – a call – from God in this life. Each individual has duties to perform which, if faithfully carried out, will earn for them the place God has planned for them in the eternal kingdom. A few are called to be the leaders of their fellowman. The vast majority of us are called to follow our leaders by loyally obeying the laws enacted for their just government. Each one of us has a call from God, a part to play in the temporal and spiritual affairs of this life. The future status of each one of us will be determined by the manner in which we carried out our role – responded to the call on earth.

Samuel didn’t have the faintest idea that it was God who was speaking to him when he first got his call, his vocation, in the shrine at Shiloh. But when he eventually realized the truth (thanks to Eli’s wise counsel) he immediately offered his humble service to the Lord, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

How few of us have seen or heard a call from God, a divine vocation, in the humdrum activities of our daily lives, and yet these ordinary daily tasks are the road to heaven that God has mapped out for us. These are the “vocations” he has given us. We may say that we ourselves chose our careers in life, we decided what occupation we should follow, but behind our free decisions the wise providence of God, working through parents, neighbors, circumstances of time and place, has so arranged our earthly journey that it would end for us in heaven. Many of us grumble at our role in life. We think our lot is so inferior and demanding when compared with the life others lead, and even go so far as to say that God could have no part in such a bad arrangement. Yet, God is in charge of his world. He chooses each individual for the role he is to carry to its successful conclusion. And let’s not forget that although we may have responded to God’s call to our specific “vocation” in life, above all we are called to be Holy. We are called to be Evangelizers!

“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. With Samuel today, let us accept our vocation and humbly submit ourselves to his divine will: “Speak Lord for thy servant is listening”.

Deacon John Rangel
CMCS Archives January 15, 2012

Photo: Copyright Frank J Casella All Rights Reserved.

Strength in Unity

Small groups for men.

In the second Story of Creation (Gn 2:18) The Lord God said: “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him”. From the beginning God created man with an inherent desire for human contact, a need for human interaction and relationships.

Scripture contains many passages that cite man’s need for relationships and the positive benefits that accrue therefrom.

“As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man.” (Proverbs 27:17)

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Man is a relational creature. It has been empirically demonstrated through study after study that when man is deprived of human contact he suffers emotional, physical and spiritual harm to his well-being. We know also that men fulfill their human relational needs in different ways than women.

We men tend to be less willing to share emotions and feelings in personal relationships, jealously guarding our vulnerability or perhaps not wishing to signal a position of “weakness”. Not withstanding our guarded actions, we men need to participant in meaningful personal relationships in order to grow and be fully human.

A cornerstone of CMCS’ ministry is to encourage men to develop men’s small groups within their local parishes. Why small groups? Well for one, Jesus himself provided the model when he called a small band of twelve men to be his disciples. Was this a randomly selected number? I don’t think so.

I believe Jesus knew that the unity, strength and discipline required of his initial followers would best be accomplished if they had an intimate personal relationship with him and each other. The rest is history!

Why are small Catholic men’s groups so valuable to the men participating, as well as to the local parish? Here’s what some men have to say (Book Source: Small Christian Communities: A Vision of Hope.)…

“Jesus showed us that a radically new relationship is possible between God and humans and among human beings. It is a relationship of integrity, wholeness, and freedom from fear and anxiety. It is a relationship of justice and peace. It is the coming of the reign of God.”

St. Pope John Paul II said …”small faith communities are a sign of vitality within the church, an instrument of formation and evangelization, and a solid starting point for a new society based on a civilization of love.”

Lastly, Small Men’s Groups are a readily available and easy to implement tool to help us live out the eight virtues of a Catholic man offered to us by our Vicar Bishop Joseph Perry.

Deacon John Rangel, CMCS Co-Founder and Director of Mission

Kingdom of Heaven is Like…

by Deacon John Rangel, CMCS Director of Mission

The Gospel readings from Matthew Chapter 13. During this time we hear three parables to describe the Kingdom of Heaven, the Man Sowing Good Seed, the Mustard Seed and the Yeast. I love Jesus’ parables. I hope you appreciate them as well.

If we take time to reflect on these stories, they’re sure to challenge our thinking about certain moral or religious points. Dr. Megan McKenna, author, popular speaker and storyteller wrote a book she titled “Parables The Arrows of God”. She notes that like arrows parables pierce straight to the truth, and straight to the heart of the listener, opening up new understanding of our lives as Christians. Parables intrigue and inspire, sometimes puzzle, but always, always point us directly toward the Kingdom.

Jesus’ agricultural images are obviously very appropriate to his listeners who were much closer to the land than most of us are. He uses many other easily understandable images in his parables; for example, today we have the mustard seed and the yeast in the flour. And there are many, many more images recorded in the Gospels. Perhaps in our day and age, we might more easily understand the wheat and weeds story if the opening line was something like this, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a 401K portfolio that has some good stocks (wheat) and bad stocks (weeds). When do we pull up the losers and get rid of them?”

In his teaching ministry, Jesus’ used a completely different approach from the scribes and the Pharisees of his day who tended to work from the Law. I believe Jesus takes the figurative approach because all his listeners, from the most sophisticated to the simplest, can understand them. But that does not mean that Jesus is making things easier for the people of his time or for us. By making things understandable for them, and us, the moral choices we have to make in life become much clearer, much starker.

So let’s consider how two of these parables might be working in our lives.

Our learning all began in a small way. The Kingdom of God is like a child learning his or her letters.  Time goes on and Mom and Dad and teachers work with the child, and the child’s ability to read grows so great that the child becomes a professor of English Literature. And so it is with the Kingdom of God.  Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa taught their children their prayers. They brought their children to Church and taught them with their lives to value their relationship with the Lord. And their children became parents and did the same. And their children are now the moms and dads of our parish. The Church is full of good Christian men and woman, people of all walks of life, all living the values of the Kingdom of God, the spiritual realities of life.

And now you are doing the same. You are teaching the ABC’s of religion to your children. You have faith that the Kingdom of God will spread through them. So, don’t wonder if anything is getting through to the children. Don’t allow yourself to think that maybe nothing is happening for your children.  Trust in God.  If a child who learns his letters can become a professor of English Literature, a child who learns the simplest lessons of faith can become a great force of love for the Kingdom of God.  Say prayers with your children. Allow God to turn the tiny mustard seed into a great plant.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like the life of every man and every woman. There is that in each of us, which is wheat. There is that which is weed. Should God destroy us because of the weed in us? Or should he give us time? Perhaps that which is weed in us can be overtaken by that which is wheat. A strong prayer life goes a long way in preventing serious sin. The Divine Farmer isn’t ready to give up on the crop. We shouldn’t give up on ourselves. God knows that what may appear to be weed is in reality wheat.

For example, a man has a drinking problem. His drinking is destroying himself and his family.  Through prayer and the determination to change his life and through his own openness to the grace of God, he goes for help.  He first becomes a member of AA. Then he is active in helping others. Now for the last fifteen years he is dry. He is still an alcoholic, but his condition has resulted in virtue overcoming vice. Now he helps others. God didn’t give up on him. The man didn’t give up on himself. What looked like weed, the disease of alcoholism, turned out to be wheat as he brings God’s healing to other alcoholics.

Or the Kingdom of Heaven is like the school where we send our treasures, our children. They are not finished products when they get there. They have to do a lot of growing. They are still our treasures, and we love them.  Perhaps in the school there are other children who may not have experienced basic human values. Perhaps, they have been raised in violent households, or households torn apart by some form of chemical dependency. Perhaps, they have witnessed people hurting others, taking what is not theirs, using bad language, and doing terrible things. As a result, these children may have some pretty rough edges. Should the principal of the school throw the children from dysfunctional homes out before they cause serious problems, or should he give them the opportunity to learn basic values from the school and even from their classmates?  Yes, children need to be removed from the mainstream if they do something that threatens the welfare of the other children, but they should not be removed if they have not offended gravely, because the plants are still young and there may be wheat where we think there is weed.

The parable of the mustard seed: the little efforts we make for the Kingdom of God have a tremendous impact upon the world.  The parable of the weeds and wheat:  God has infinite patience. He is not about to give up on his people. We should not give up on others. And we should not give up on ourselves.

The parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the weeds and the wheat. Two simple parables. Two simple stories. Two tremendous sources of encouragement for us. We truly have a just and kind God.


This is something VERY special

A special message on Giving Tuesday. Sent to me by a friend. It will make you happy and might even bring tears to your eyes.

Deacon John Rangel, CMCS Director of Mission

 

 

 

 

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Jesus’ Love has No Boundaries

Note: This blog entry is from the authors homily archives.

By Deacon John Rangel

The Scripture selections for the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Times contain several themes and images for our consideration. As I reflected on and prayed over the readings during the past two weeks, images of certain people lodged in my mind …foreigners, immigrants, Gentiles, the Canaanite woman and other outsiders. Classes of people that Scripture tells us were excluded from temple worship, social and cultural participation and discriminated against in many other ways. They were not invited in but rather held in distain, contempt and hatred. Today, as we survey the current social, civic, moral, religious and political conditions in our country and abroad not much has changed over 4,000 years.

I have to be honest and say that the horrific and tragic events of the past ten days
have been very unsettling for me, and I suspect for all people of good will, and
people who know, love and serve God. My initial homily focus was on themes
drawn from today’s readings like: “All are Welcome”, “Jesus’ love has no
Boundaries”, “Persistence in Prayer”, “Make room for Others”, and Insiders and
Outsiders”. I thought… surely I can craft a homily around one of these themes that
speaks to the heart of people through the word of God in this time and place.

Then Charlottesville happened – August 12, three dead many injured. August 17
Barcelona, Spain, 17 dead, hundreds injured. Both deadly events triggered by
hatred, anger, bigotry, racism and religious fanatics. Then on August 16 mudslides
in Sierra Leon killed hundreds and hundreds more are missing. And yes the sun
will disappear in our area Monday, August 21 beginning at 11:54AM. Tranquility
and peacefulness are missing in so much of our world. But the evil one is gleeful!

Not surprising, my mind became clouded, my heart heavy because of these events
so I turned to God and prayed .” God what can I say? Holy Spirit what should I
say? The answer came in a Sunday reflection I happened to read this week on a
Catholic web site (LPI) by Fr. Mark Suslenko. His thoughts and words about Life
with Conflicting Opposites spoke directly to my heart.

I will share Fr. Mark’s reflection now for your prayerful consideration.

Life with Conflicting Opposites
One of the graced blessings of Christianity is learning how to develop and sharpen the gift of discernment in the face of opposites. As believers we are asked to internalize the Gospel message, allowing it to enlighten our minds and inform our actions.

A simple authentic and honest encounter with another human being can reveal hidden truths, allow enemies to embrace, and mutual respect to flourish. It is necessary to journey into the heart of a person in order for walls, prejudices, and antiquated barriers to be removed. Inclusivity has been one of the hallmarks of God’s agenda from the beginning of time. His house is intended to be “a house of prayer for all peoples” where human dignity is safeguarded regardless of who we are, where we come from, and what we believe.

It sometimes requires that we take a radical stance in order to catch people’s attention and reveal the smallness and ego-centeredness of their thinking—whether this be a religious community of nuns deciding to construct a new outdoor chapel in order to protect the sacredness of their ground from the path of an intended pipeline; a bride-to-be who calls off her wedding and invites the homeless to her reception; two known enemies sitting down and finding resolution to a common issue; restructuring our priorities to give more service to the poor and vulnerable; learning how to offer the hand of forgiveness and mercy rather than anger, resentment, hatred and bitterness; or embracing the agony and suffering of crucifixion on the cross.

We live with seemingly conflicting opposites all of the time. Jesus’ message offers us a way to bring two distinct realities together and discover a central, healing, and harmonious meeting place. We are people of the “already and the not yet” who are called to live in this tension regardless of the cost. We are asked to love as God loves as we live in the broken, the contradictory, the mundane, the silly, and even evil.

It is not our task to get everyone on the same page, to create some uniform and consistent way of thinking, or become robotic in our approach to life. It is, however, our call to be open to God’s surprises, to be vehicles of healing, to discern what God has in mind for our world and for us, to challenge conventional and outdated ways of thinking and being, and becoming risk-takers whose thoughts and actions catch people’s attention and cause them to think.

It requires that we drop the exaggerated concern we have with ourselves and the impressions people may have of us and risk looking silly as we find our way through this often silly but graced world.

As our relationship with God unfolds and we begin to celebrate the love relationship we have with our Creator, we will lose our preoccupation with trying to score points for heaven or achieving some personal satisfaction and learn how to love and embrace all things and people as God does. We will understand that the primary task of discipleship is learning how to discern and cooperate with God’s life-giving, loving, and all unifying plan of salvation. Only a contemplative heart can love those most difficult to love and do what is most challenging and risky to do. O God, let all the nations praise you!
Rev. Mark Suslenko

 

Brothers and sisters the events of the past ten days should be troubling and disturbing to all God’s people. As disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to be witnesses of love and forgiveness, to oppose hatred and bigotry and other evils against humanity whenever and wherever it occurs, to stand with all our marginalized brothers and sisters.

We need the persistence of the Canaanite woman. We should talk to people about the sinful nature of hatred, bigotry, and anger and its destructive power and explain to them how we can overcome it.

Let that Canaanite woman be our example and let us be quick with our arguments and have answers ready for those who dismiss our faith and belittle our beliefs.

Christ was a bit off-hand with that woman as a way of getting her to express her faith. Let us be like her and be fearless in explaining to others those things that bring true meaning and purpose to our lives.

 

Deacon John Rangel is Director of Mission for Catholic Men Chicago Southland Apostolate

 

PRAYER
What we would like to do is change the world—
Make it a little simpler for people
To feed, clothe and shelter themselves
As God intended them to do…
We can to a certain extent change the world;
We can work for the oasis,
The little cell of joy and peace in a harried world.
We can throw our pebble in the pond
And be confident that its ever widening circle
Will reach around the world…
There is nothing that we can do but love,
And dear God—please enlarge our hearts
To love each other, to love our neighbor,
To love our enemy as well as our friend.

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The Works of Mercy. What are we doing about it?

By Deacon John Rangel

“Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply,  Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:37-40)

 

One day I offered a homily at our parish’s weekly school children’s morning mass. The gospel reading for the day happened to be from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25. To emphasize the first of Jesus’ precepts, to feed the hungry, I mentioned that every minute of the day seventeen people in the world die from hunger. Of those seventeen people, thirteen of them were children! Death by starvation is still a very real and deplorable occurrence in the world especially in those countries without the wealth and abundance that we enjoy here in the USA. This begs the question “What are we doing about it?”

Jesus instructs us in his final discourse not only to feed the hungry but to be sensitive to and address other needs of our less fortunate brothers and sisters. These are called the Corporal Works of Mercy. Men, I pray that each and every one of us not only have these embedded in our hearts but practice them in our daily lives. Our school children were very good about knowing the corporal works of mercy… do you?

All too often our knowledge of the works of mercy starts and stops with the corporal works. This is understandable because these address temporal needs, needs that we can see, feel, or touch. Now here’s the challenge! How many of us know and practice the Spiritual Works of Mercy. I drew complete silence from our school children with this question. And yet, are not these works more important because they address the eternal life of our brothers and sisters?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states “Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving, and bearing wrongs patiently. (CCC 2447)* The first four require that we interact with others on matters of faith, morals and church teaching. The last three are personal, individual actions that we undertake with God’s grace.

The works of mercy, God’s precepts, challenge us to move outside of our comfort zone, to be sensitive to the temporal and spiritual needs of our neighbors. For when we do it for the least of these we do it for Jesus.

… as we continue our journey to the Crucifixion and Resurrection, let’s ask ourselves these questions:

•    Does Christ’s judgment talk make me uneasy?  Should it?
•    How often am I aware of Christ’s presence in others?
•    What should I do when Christ comes to me through difficult people?

May you be blessed with the peace of Christ.

 

Deacon John Rangel is Director of Mission for Catholic Men Chicago Southland

 

Note* Mt 18:15; Mt 6:14; Isa 58:6-7; Heb 13:3

*2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.242 Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.243 Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God: 244 (1460, 1038, 1969, 1004)

 

 

 

 

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