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

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)

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

Responding to Change

Seeking solutions to changes and conflict in your life.

Photo: ‘Blue Chicago Blizzard‘ – Copyright 2012 Frank J Casella

All human relationships include change and conflict. The key is to learn constructive methods for reaching a resolution when change happens.

Whether it’s work or family, marriage or friendships, health matters, our culture, or the many conflicts in our war-torn world, it is more productive to tap into identifying our emotions in times of change, and then accept them – to seek God’s direction in what we are feeling – rather than bottle it up.

I share this from experience. And most of this article is what I have personally learned about, and from, change in my life. You may want to share your own experiences in the comments section below.

Dr. Gary Chapman asks “Is your personality an asset or liability to your relationships and the world around you? The Psalms show us how to express our feelings and emotions, and the Holy Spirit plays an important roll in this. While our personalities are developed in childhood, they are not set in stone. We can change.”

“The message of the Bible is that God loves us as we are”, says Chapman, “but he loves us too much to leave us as we are.” We all need to grow and growth requires change. We can be influenced by our personality, but we need not be controlled by it.

Instead, we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 4, St. Paul tells us, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds.” When we yield to the power of the Holy Spirit significant changes in our approach to life and relationships will become evident. But the key as men is to leave it with the Holy Spirit and not take it back as soon as we feel it out of control, or the situation not going as we think it should. But most of all, don’t lose hope.

As Catholic men who are task minded, our deeper question might be where is change? Where do I want to end up? It’s not only the change but considering the thought of change. In seeking a deeper understanding, I may have to drop what I believe to accept something new.

Responding to change means to spend time in the quiet presence of the Holy Spirit, to consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible, and learn from the magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church – which is the church’s authority or office to give authentic interpretation of the Word of God.

Responding to change does not mean to listen to what others or our culture say what’s important, without mentioning the (sources from the) Holy Spirit. The thing about (men’s) spirituality is that it cannot be measured. Thus some forms of spirituality can deceive us if we’re not tapped into the Holy Spirit seeking wisdom and direction for the truth.

In other words, I’m sure you are aware how there are people in circles of the church who share their own theology so to speak, who don’t provide the sources of church teaching from what they are saying about the Holy Spirit, meditation or contemplation, etc.. (do an internet search on them and see if there is much controversy and what is said about them). This can be compared to how a news reporter may say ‘sources tell us’ without sharing who those sources are (this no longer means what it used to) – don’t listen to them!

For example, some people I follow on Catholic Manhood are (not in any order): Matt Fradd, Bishop Thomas Olmstead, Fr. Larry Richards, Randy Hain, Sam Guzman, Brian Caulfield, Bill Dodds, Hector Molina, Patrick McCaskey, Fr. Burke Masters, Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, and of course our own Bishop Joseph Perry. Many Catholic men also follow: Dr. Gary Chapman, Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. Tony Evans, and Dr. Meg Meeker, to name a few. You can also consult our growing Catholic Books post.

Change Begins With Me

Begin by changing your own attitude. Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle in your own heart. Say to God “If you give me a vision of what a spiritual change in my life will look like, then I’m willing to make the changes.” Then read the Bible and other Catholic resources and look for passages that tell you what this change should be.

Think. Prepare. Action. – It happens with focus. It doesn’t happen with information, from head to heart.

Every day do something that will make you better, and ask God to help you live up to this model. The fastest way to success, is to replace bad habits with good habits. If we hear but don’t change our behavior, we’re then essentially fooling ourselves. It’s when we put God’s guidance into action that transforming change can take place.

Say to yourself: “To see changes happening in my life, it begins with me.”

There is always something left to love. And the worse things are, the more there is to love. In Christ, God has assured us of his love, his acceptance, his understanding, his peace at all times – especially when times are the dreariest and the most hopeless God asks us who would be his holy people to be as ready as God is to lift up, to forgive, to support, to love every man.

Bishop Joseph Perry

The hope is in that of having a positive attitude. Not to focus on the problem but the solution. This focus of seeking the solutions, and reaching out to others, will lead to the answers in responding to change and conflict in your life.

God give you peace.

Frank J Casella

The Differences Between Men and Women are God’s Plan

PhotoArt: Summer Lovin’ – Copyright 2008 Frank J Casella

Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God.

1 Corinthians 11:11-12

[11:11–12] These parenthetical remarks relativize the argument from Gn 2–3. In the Lord: in the Christian economy the relation between the sexes is characterized by a mutual dependence, which is not further specified. And even in the natural order conditions have changed: the mode of origin described in Gn 2 has been reversed (1 Cor 11:12a). But the ultimately significant fact is the origin that all things have in common (1 Cor 11:12b).

This blog, if it is your first visit here, is sponsored by Catholic Men Chicago Southland apostolate (CMCS). Some people have the idea that CMCS is all about men. In reality CMCS is about relationships, and placing women in their rightful place of honor, because without women none of us men would even be born into this world. Just like how we wouldn’t have Jesus without Mary.

As our mission reads: “CMCS has a practical way of evangelizing Catholic men young and old, and their families, of helping them to understand what the culture often rejects – how men and women should relate to one another in complementary ways and how important husbands and fathers are to children.”

This element of personal relationships and communications between men and woman can easily get lost today and with the online world, especially social media which has become flawed from its original purpose. And this is why CMCS hosts an annual Men’s Forum, so that us guys can share our thoughts with each other on important topics. The results most often being that we come to realize how hard we are on ourselves, and how our own concerns and struggles are very similar to other Catholic men, more than we ever thought. You would most likely never learn this with an online discussion forum.

And we see from 1 Corinthians how men and women have more things in common than we may think or realize, or our culture would want us to believe, and all of this is God’s plan. This relation between the sexes is made to compliment each other, if we’d just allow ourselves to see it this way and through God’s eyes. Sometimes we need a mentor, counselor, priest, or a book to help us better relate to each other, but it is possible with effort and intention.

Once we discover that differences between the sexes, or husband and wife, are meant to be a blessing, we try to learn from each other and thank God for them and each other.

“There are no irreconcilable differences, only people who refuse to reconcile. It all begins by accepting our differences as an asset rather than a liability.”

Dr Gary Chapman

Frank J Casella, CMCS-Director

True Friendship

If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce…. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.

Zig Ziglar

I love this quote, because I find it to be so true.  What do you think?

So the story goes, there were two teen-age friends who passed each other on a Sunday morning. One friend said to the other, “I’m going fishing, would you like to go with me?” The other friend replied, “No, I’m on my way to Sunday Mass.” This same thing happened for a month of Sunday’s until the one friend said to the other, “You know, I’ve invited you for several Sunday’s to go fishing with me, but never once have you invited me to go to Mass with you.”

The Catholic word for invitation can be evangelization.

So the question here is, what is a true friend?  The Lord Jesus Christ gave us the definition of a true friend: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15). Jesus is the pure example of a true friend, for He laid down His life for His “friends.” What is more, anyone may become His friend by trusting in Him as their personal savior, being born (again) into new life in Him.

Proverbs is another good source of wisdom regarding friends. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). The issue here is that in order have a friend, one must be a friend. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6). “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

So to have a true friend means that you have to be one. I first learned how to be a true friend by the example of my father with his friendships. I consider myself fortunate.  I learned too that sometimes to have true friendship is easier said than done.  I stopped counting the number of times that I’ve been honest with a friend – someone I cared much about – who gave me the (trust or) permission to speak to them about their life …. as others have done with me … only to find the person doesn’t want to hear it or talk about it, or becomes hurt or offended by what I said – but this also taught me how to say things better. 

I’ve learned the hard way that either few people today know what a true friend is, or we are fortunate to have one person in our lives that we consider a true friend  – someone that we trust to be matter of fact with us, loyal, and to share our deepest secrets with.  And often (sadly) this is someone other than a sibling or our wife, rather than in addition to.

As I’ve said before in other blog posts, Jesus confronted people because he loved them. However, you don’t have to look real hard to see in our self-gratification culture today that many friendships are on the basis of “if you don’t tell me what I want to hear, then you’re not my friend”.  It’s common today to work at giving others their own space and not offending them. Even spouses are to be the best of friends – a gift to each other – yet many marriages I find have too many stressors and distractions to even think about working at friendship, much less marriage.  This can be one reason many couples today live together without marriage vows.

With marriage especially, the important thing about friendships, and relationships, is to be embracing differences. In marriage there really is not irreconcilable differences, only people who refuse to reconcile. It all begins by accepting our differences as an asset to each other in the marriage, rather than a liability.

Said another way, reconciliation and forgiveness is the most important action in maintaining a true friendship …. and marriage.  It happens when we care about others and their feelings before our own, when we have to put our pride and our personal agenda on the back burner, so to speak.  I have discovered that unless it hurts it’s not true friendship, for God gives us true friends not only to inspire each other, but to help us to grow and to strengthen our trust and faith in Him and the power of prayer. 

Sometimes this process of God “pruning” our lives can take years.  It means going through – as many times as it takes – the process of working through misconceptions, barriers, etc. when society says walk away and move on to another relationship.

In the Gospels (Mark 12:41), the poor widow gave two small coins worth a few cents, and Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.  For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

True friendship gives from it’s poverty, from what we don’t have.  Not financially, but from our ‘unfamiliar territory’ – when our conscience and our will tell us to do what the Lord commands us, despite our own human understanding. 

The way to know you have a true friendship is that, a true friend keeps coming back. It’s usually a person whom you’ve never known anyone like them …  And you know that you never will again. That you are both better persons for knowing each other.  Someone you can thank God for bringing into each others lives. And this can also be several people, each, throughout the seasons of life.

All of this reminds me of the old James Taylor song, “You’ve Got A Friend”.  The lyrics go something like:

” You just call out my name

And you know wherever I am

I’ll come running, to see you again

…. You’ve Got A Friend”.

How many of us have a friend like that?  Or even, how many of us ARE a friend like this?

Today, ask your wife, your kids, and your friends, “How can I be a better friend to you?”

I know that I’ve only scratched the surface here about true friendship.  So, I would like to learn what true friendship means to you? Make a comment below, or send a private email on the Contact Us page. I will share (anonymous if you say so) response to this question in an future blog post.

Frank J Casella

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