Are God’s Priorities Your Priorities?

Suggestions for making what is important in life, priorities

Photo: ‘Day of Interment‘ – Copyright 2019 Frank J Casella on Fine Art America
No Second Chances

Over the recent months there has been much in the news about the meaning of life. The COVID-19 virus is the one important thing that happened and caused us all to put things into perspective. We are all faced with death like overnight.

I couldn’t help but think of the number of car accidents that I have lived through, and the thoughts on how close those came to put me a similar state of death. We only live one life here on earth, and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. There are no second chances!

Sometimes we get so busy with our priorities, obligations, and agendas that it is easy to forget what is most important: Relationships.

This is why it is so important to always take care of unfinished business, and to prioritize our relationships? Spending meaningful time with the persons who are important to us and our life, and let them know this. Do the things that show them this.

In the business world we are taught that you don’t get a second chance at a first impression. There is much in life today that recycles but, with the years we have left, God willing, what is the lasting impression that YOUR life makes on this world? If you are a husband or father, your wife or children need your influence more than they may tell you … or even know!

In other words, after you and I die is there evidence that we have lived?

…. or are we just passing through???

God’s Presence In – and Through – Your Life

There was a time in my life when I was allowing myself to be used by technology, especially email. I had several email addresses (at least way more than I have now), and it bothered me when I couldn’t respond to an email within ten minutes. Short of the long, I was having an “affair” with technology and my computer.

Today, I track my computer time, designate “offline times” and make a WBO list (when back online), and shut down my computer at night so that I don’t go back to it. I don’t use a Smartphone, rather a flip phone when out and tablet with WIFI when inside, and I contact my friends the old-fashioned way = I call or visit them to make our relationship benefit from personal touch.

“A Catholic man practices presence with his wife and children”.

Bishop Joseph Perry

This is one of Bishop Perry’s “Virtues of a Catholic Man”. Presence is what technology in our present age cannot replace. With Smartphones the average person today consumes 350 percent more information than someone living just 25 years ago.

This information overload leads to shortened attention spans, memory loss, mental fatigue, and – in some users- a form of addiction. It is said that the average person’s attention span is that of a gold fish: nine seconds. Remember when Facebook was known as the “third largest country”? And Twitter was known as the “water cooler”.

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications addresses the fragile relationship between nature and modernity by reminding us: “Depending on how they use media, people can grow in sympathy and compassion or become isolated in a narcissistic, self-referential world of stimuli with near-narcotic effects”. In a recent poll, one in seven people said they see less of their spouses because of time spent online.

What about you?

One way to determine if technology is in control of your life is to include technology use in your examination of conscience. At the end of each day, and before you (go to) receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation; take a moment to ask yourself:

Have I been using technology to deepen my relationships with God and others, or to avoid them?
Has my time online caused me to neglect anything or anyone that I should be paying attention to?

Remember that God is not flashy, and doesn’t have to “Like” you when you post a prayer request, he is always there. God desires to be present in your life, and to communicate with you, and with others through you. Connection to Him is the one constant that will never depend on a signal, service provider, or even a monthly payment.

Another form of technology that can keep you from balancing your life is the television (or Netflix), and that infamous clicker. Sports engagement, or even that gamming, can become a huge distraction when not kept in check. If your wife or family talks to you while you’re engaged with this stuff and you become hostel or angry for being disturbed, consider that you have an addiction.

Anything that is not in moderation is not of God: food, shopping, children, sports, hobbies, etc.

Here are some suggestions for making what is important in life, priorities. I suspect you might have some more to add to this list:

  • If your wife is disciplining the kids and you don’t stop what you’re doing to back her up, then consider your priorities are off the track.
  • When family is gathered around the dinner table, texting goes into the drawer. Literally! Talking with each other is the game plan.
  • Family prayer….especially nightly with small children…. also spirituality conversations with the older children.
  • Mealtime prayers with children of all ages from small to older …. children learn more from our actions than from our words … even when out to eat.
  • Making prayer and especially conversation about our Lord and Catholic Tradition part of Family ritual.
  • Telling family stories with a “message” of hope especially where God’s hand can be emphasized…
  • Daily praying A Man’s Prayer, and living The Virtues of a Catholic Man.
  • As always: If you’re not filling and penetrating your wife’s heart with your love and affection, someone or something else will.

Frank J Casella

7 Catholic Manhood Quotes

How living our faith and doing God’s will helps us through difficult times

Photo: ‘When Men Put God First’ Copyright 2014 Frank J Casella on Fine Art America

The theme of the entire New Testament is that the infinite God has shown Himself to us in Christ. Faith thus starts with God who through Jesus opens his heart to us and invites us to share in his own divine life. Faith does not simply provide information about who Jesus is. Rather, our faith involves a personal relationship with Christ, a surrender of our whole person with all our understanding, our will and feelings, to God’s self-revelation of Himself to us.

Bishop Joseph Perry

“Faith is not a contract. Faith is surrender. If no other relationship in our experience is one of self-surrender, if it’s all contractual, people won’t know how to believe.”

Francis Cardinal George

“The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it…. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

C. S. Lewis

It’s really very simple. Am I building up the kingdom of heaven or am I building up my own kingdom? Am I putting God’s name first and proclaiming His name, or am I proclaiming my name? Am I doing everything for God’s glory, or for my glory? We have to focus on this every day. If I am going to live God’s will, it has to be because I first seek the kingdom. Then He promises everything else will fall into place.

Fr. Larry Richards, Surrender! The Life-Changing Power of Doing God’s Will

God’s will is almost always much tougher to do than our will. It requires more effort, more discipline, and it yields much less instant gratification. Most unpleasant of all, doing God’s will requires us to surrender our position as the center of the universe (at least in our own minds). We have to put God at the center of the universe and direct our attention toward Him, rather than sit on our little imaginary thrones and expect others to direct their attention toward us.

Deacon John Rangel

”What this means is if we are going to do the will of God, every day is going to be a day of self-sacrifice. Again, to make this real and practical I tell people that they should examine their consciences every night before they go to bed and ask, “Did I do at least one act of unselfishness today? Did I give my life away at least once today?” If the answer is no, then they squandered the whole day on themselves, only did what they wanted, only took care of themselves. What a waste of a day!

Fr. Larry Richards, Surrender! The Life-Changing Power of Doing God’s Will

Be Pure. Hate evil. Embrace Christ with all your heart! Too many of us men need to surrender our personal agenda to God. We must strive to be transparent with God and with others, and to be more like Christ and less like our old selves.

Frank J Casella

Jesus and Coffee

The impact of Dad’s, the Mass, and the Eucharist.

Glorious Morning – A breakfast sandwich with coffee and the morning sunlight.
Copyright 2015 Frank J Casella on Fine Art America

It is the job of the husband and father, as the priest of his family, to make sure his family goes to church, goes to religious ed, follows the sacraments, and prays together.

I often say, that when a Man leads his family to the pew and lives The Virtues of a Catholic Man it will transform the Church and the Community like no other movement.  Studies tell us that Dad’s determine the church habits of their children and thus to a significant degree their eternal destiny.  According to one study, if a father doesnʼt go to church no matter how faithful the mother is, only one child in fifty will become regular church goers.

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

A few short years ago had to give up coffee as a sacrifice to provide more important needs for my family.  I know coffee seems to be simply an everyday commodity but, when you separate your needs from wants, and when you need to put gas in your car (among other things), you look at what is really important. 

This sacrifice has helped me to realize one thing I put before my relationship with Jesus Christ – we all have a hole in our hearts, and we choose to either fill that hole with Jesus and the Eucharist, or something else – coffee is a want that provides me a temporary fix, and the Eucharist is a need that provides me lasting benefits out of this world!

The gift of the Eucharist clearly gives evidence that Jesus incorporated such ritual into his interaction with his disciples. Jesus made powerful use of parables, metaphors and similes to communicate his message and he obviously used words with untold skill and charisma to comfort, to chastise, to challenge and to command, to teach and to guide his own. It is clear, though, that the gift of his body and blood is a ritual, a physical embrace, a kiss that holds us to his heart.

Bishop Joseph Perry

We are blessed so far to live in a country that we’re not forced to give up the Eucharist for some government regulation or more transient pleasure of this world! If you’re not going to Mass on Sunday or bringing your family with you – your legacy – what has stopped that from happening?

As a husband and Father we’re to get our family to Heaven.

The striking thing about the Holy Eucharist is the bond it establishes between love and suffering in the Lord’s own life and in our experience.

Bishop Joseph Perry

Share your thoughts on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or Contact us.

Frank J Casella

Stability of a Father

How a Father is like a Godly figure to his children.

father daughter child carry shoulders stability photo people
Stability – A Father is like a tower to a child’s life, a Godly figure of carrying us and being our hero. (Copyright 2013 Frank J Casella on Fine Art America)

I yanked this picture out of my archives, because I think it sends an important message. We need to have pictures like this as examples to carry through the generations. Because the importance of this is taken for granted.

I recently went to a parade with my family. Next to us was a little girl who wanted her dad to lift her up onto his shoulders. But dad refused, several times. The girl looked crushed, as did her mom. You might think because she didn’t get what she waned, but what I saw in her eyes was she wanted her Dad, and she wanted him to save the day and not only let her look down the road at the parade coming, but to carry her and be her source of stability.

Instead, Dad would rather stare at his phone, or put his hands on his wife’s butt. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for these, and a parade with family is not it. The roll of the Father is to set the tone for the household and to get his family to Heaven.

Likewise, my family has a rather old Golden Retriever Dog. He has been though so much we call him The Wonder Dog, and his name is Buddy. When Buddy comes into the house now he has trouble going up the three stairs, we have to lift up his butt to provide support because he can’t do it alone.

This got me to thinking how much God is always there to lift us up with a similar kind of support. How, like Buddy, when we are afraid or can’t do it alone, God is there to lift us up and to trust Him. And the same goes for what we do as dad’s, to lift up our family to provide support and stability … and trust.

This doesn’t matter how much money you make, or what your identity in the world is, when you are a dad you will always be a dad, and your children look up to you as a Godly figure no matter if they tell you this or not.

Frank J Casella

You Know What It Is That Has A Grip On You

By Frank J Casella

In Mark 9: 14-29 the disciples were unable to drive out the demons.  Jesus said “This kind can only come out through prayer” … a variant reading adds “and through fasting.”   

What are your demons? 

What has a grip on you? 

Photo ‘Morning Buzz’ by Frank J Casella on Fine Art America

If you look at what you worry or think about all of the time, or what uses up most of your time, this is what might have a grip on you. This is your demon.  

Said another way, anything that distracts you from growth in holiness with Jesus is your demon.  You know what it is, and you have not been able to get rid of it.  Look what Jesus says: “This kind can only come out through prayer and fasting”.

You don’t have to look very far around you to see that our culture is distracted by consumerism.  Anyone who has a storage shed, or a garage and/or basement packed with stuff is distracted by consumerism. 

Life is not about what clothes you where, or what your body looks like. It’s not about where you work, or what position you hold. Life is not about what college you went to, or what college your kids are going to. Nor what car you drive, or the house you live in. Your identity is not in what sports team you root for, or what jersey you wear. And it’s not about how much money you have, or don’t have.  Life is about the discipline of your identity in Jesus Christ.  Does consumerism have a grip on you, or are you in His grip?

Our culture tells us that we can have what we want, when we want, whenever we want it.  They call it freedom.  Our Church tells us that true freedom comes from our identity in Jesus and discipline … the freedom to have the ability to do what we ought to.

It takes hard work to live the Catholic lifestyle. And the benefits are out of this world!  Our own society tells us to listen to our bodies about what we want in life, and not allow our bodies to be controlled by our soul.  Do you give your body what it wants, or does your soul tell your body “NO”.   One more Coke. One more slice of pizza. Ten more bucks on lotto. Pornography. Gossip. That second helping at dinner. On the couch in front of the TV instead of in a chair reading a spiritual or uplifting book … like the Bible.  Buying that fancy BMW instead of buying a Ford Taurus SHO …. and donating the difference to the poor. 

Having things is not bad, only when we fail to keep them in right perspective.

Our culture tells us that happiness comes from consumerism, and thus our lives are never fulfilled or complete, we always want more.  What we long for is Jesus, but are we afraid?  We as Catholic men are called to change our bad habits into good habits to live a fruitful life.  A happy life.

Look at the sports Champions.  Most of them excel at doing one thing very well, with discipline derived from good habits.  As soon as they lose their focus they suffer.  Whether its your sports or your diet or whatever else, our Church teaches everything in moderation.  Look at the Catholic Saints, the Champions of our Church, they are all known for doing one thing well – transforming their shortcomings into virtues.

What example do we leave our kids when we put them into multiple sporting teams at the same time?  Confusion!  There is a discipline in doing one sport at a time and doing it well.  Sure, they can do them all … just one at a time in different seasons…It’s okay. Each sport activity has its own discipline, and coach, yet we tell our kids they can have what they want, when they want it, instead of inspiring them to make a decision to learn the discipline for one sport / game, and thus for life. 

I saw too many kids a few years back with my son’s basketball team who can’t focus on the basketball game with the rules from one coach because they just came from soccer with rules of a different coach. They don’t make or have time to practice at home, to be prepared, conditioned, and disciplined.  What about you, where or what is the confusion in your life? Are you able to work for two different bosses on the same day? Do you feel that your life is complete and happy?

Faith: Are you going to Mass on Sunday? 

Do you bring your family with you? 

Consumerism wants you to believe that Mass is boring: the Catholic faith is religion and rules. 

Do you go to Mass with an open mind prepared for God to speak to you, or do you just show up? 

Do you remember to take your experience from Mass and share it in everyday life through your thoughts and actions? 

What you think you become. Do you have good intentions … or right-action?

It all starts with prayer and fasting, as Jesus says, then He will come into your life and give you more satisfaction and peace in life than you can imagine.  An hour a week in Holy Adoration.  A day without coffee to sacrifice for someone you know who has a health set back. A day without texting or iPhone … start with two hours … and communicate with Jesus instead.

The Catholic Church says take your eyes off self and put them on serving others. God speaks more through your loving and serving others instead of serving yourself.  Are you listening to your body … or are you listening to your soul? 

Is Love only a feeling to you? Turn Love into an action!  Ask Jesus to reveal to you what your demons are … and what is distracting you fully from passion and purpose in life.  No, don’t tell God what you think it is, but ask Christ to show you your life through His eyes.  Sit in his presence until He speaks to your soul. He has your best interest in His Sacred Heart.  He holds YOU in the palm of His hand.

Do you know what it is that has a grip on you?  Some of you already know, when you begin to live in His grip you will develop growth in Holiness, and become the best man and person that He has called you to be.

Need help getting started?  Do you follow this blog if not alaready? Next study the toolbox for the Catholic man. Questions? Contact us.

Frank J Casella, CMCS Executive Director

Giving Thanks. Living In Peace.

Life, and the persons we share it with, is too short.

12We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you, 13and to show esteem for them with special love on account of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. 15See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all. 16Rejoice always. 17Pray without ceasing. 18In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

1 THES Chapter 5:12-18

I have a confession to make. I have lived through at least seven car accidents while I was the driver. None of them have I caused, just my being in the wrong place at the ‘right’ time. However, all of them caused me to reflect on me asking “why did that happen”?!!

But that’s not the real confession ….

The confession is that all of those accidents revealed my unfinished business in that moment had I died, and how I needed to work on each day to correct things that went wrong ‘yesterday’ … and (do that) for the rest of my life. As a Catholic man, it is my responsibility, as it is yours, to be a spiritual leader for our family and an example of our relationship with Christ!

Our first ministry is to get our faimily to Heaven.

I’m sure if you ask your priest or deacon they will tell you the number of people they see at funerals who’ve gone up to bodies and weeping over unsettled issues. The closer you get to people, the more you have disagreements.

It seems that everywhere you look people want to fight you. And today both online and offline. Conflict resolution involves making right towards others to be at peace with all people – and we can’t change others until we can change ourself first.

Bishop Perry’s Men’s Forum 2018

Every day you and I need to work toward living and being “The Goodness of a Catholic Man”, and a servant leader after God’s own heart. Many times we have good intentions but hide behind, or allow, things that distract us to never take action on our responsibilities: prayers or the Cross, the TV clicker, your fears, gossip, sports, money, pornography, work …. the list goes on.

What do you hide behind ?

If you are married, are you and your wife a “gift” to each other, or do you repay evil for evil? Do either or both of you withdraw from the other to make them “pay the price”? Do you threaten divorce instead of work on better communication, no matter what it takes? If so, what is it going to take for you to look at each other in the eyes and say ” YOU ARE NOT MY ENEMY!!! “

Men – how do you talk to your wife? You may have issues, but she is the ONE (that you married and thus God gave to you), and so treat her like the queen of your household. Because she is!! I have learned, when our wives are unhappy, more often than not it’s because of our selfishness (just saying), by not filling her with our love and affection in the way God that made her.

What about your family members: children, siblings, parents, cousins, uncles and aunts … and even close friends … to name a few? As Father Larry Richards says, “the best way to set people free is with your love, not your judgement”. Yes, sometimes we need to tolerate family or friends, and other times we need to remove persons from our lives because they cause a threat to our health or to our life. But, otherwise, Christ calls us in all things to respect each other as a person, as a man or as a woman, no matter how we feel about them.

The reality is that God doesn’t need you or me to do His work! He needs us to love people and let them experience an example of what it is to be Catholic! To be contagious with our Faith!! Spiritual poverty is very common because of our hard hearts. To become the body of Christ we all need to be renewed in prayer.

Let us bring our questions to Jesus. Let Him show us through this renewal how to witness the way in His love.

…. So, going forward, I challenge you to take the steps needed to take care of unfinished business! You know what it is.

Instead of tolerating those persons or issues, this time tackle them like a football superstar … even if it means to make a stop at confession as a first step. Reconciliation and Forgiveness is not a bad thing. Pride and dictating is. In your position of spiritual leadership in the home, responsibility and integrity matters!

Pray is the best way. God, through our action, will then show us how to do the rest.

Life, and the persons we share it with, is too short. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

Frank J Casella

The Theology of Manhood

Why support ‘Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man”

The Theology of Manhood

If you’ve been reading news headlines recently, you’ll find more and more articles and opinions about what a Man is, or what it means to be a Man. Manhood simply is the qualities traditionally associated with men. How you’ve been raised, and your personal experiences, determine greatly your world view.

The mission of Catholic Men Chicago Southand Apostolate (CMCS), who sponsors this blog, is to nurture Catholic men’s spirituality – the theology of manhood. If you would like to donate to CMCS, please visit our landing page for more information.

Through this blog Bishop Perry and I contribute our own writing to the articles out there, however, from those we share with you on Twitter and the CMCS LinkedIn Page on what is being said through the lens of the many Catholic publications and blogs about the theology of manhood.

We are so grateful for your support of CMCS since 2004 to lead the way in “Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man”. CMCS is an Illinois State recognized nonprofit, and is not an IRS-certified charity. No revenue is generated by advertising, and funded only by individual support. Without you, there would be no CMCS. And, without Bishop Perry and the CMCS-Team, there would be no one to be Chicago’s resource for Catholic men.

Many topics are under strong attack, such as marriage and parenting, abortion, fatherhood, women finding their voice, and even what male lifestyle behaviors the Church should accept, or not. If you are unable to give a donation, please consider donating your time. Sign up for our Catholic Chicago Men Blog and receive articles direct to your inbox where you can play an active role in praying for, and sharing with, others the CMCS mission.

Thank YOU!

Chipping in $5, $10, or $25 helps a lot!

In His Grip,

Frank J Casella
CMCS Exeutive Director