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

Forgiveness is Key to a Happy Life

“Forgive me for the times I have not been a dutiful son, obeying the commandments, and making my life a sacrifice in tribute to your sacrifice on Calvary to forgive my sins.”

These are the words from A Man’s Prayer (PDF).  God loves us that He sent His only Son into the world to save us from ourselves. As Jesus was on the Cross, as an expression of His love, He looked up to God and said “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

How much more should we forgive others?

We not only live in a war-torn world but, more so today, in a country that seems torn apart. With all the shootings, protests, and how people think nothing to crucify each other, especially on social media, not to mention the tone of Politian’s today. Yes, we need a large dose of forgiveness in our society.

So, I have a plan for you ….

I don’t know if you would call it a resolution, because I think resolutions are like going to the dentist twice a year. Unless you brush your teeth every day, it doesn’t make a difference.

So here is the plan ..

About a year ago I decided to practice forgiveness. The result came to be that I started to experience a more happy life. I didn’t let things bother me as much. I didn’t let people know my mind unless they asked my opinion (that took some time!). When my wife or kids did those things that drove me nust (c’mon guy’s, you know what I mean) I just said a little prayer “Lord forgive them and me” and handed it to Him.

If you think about it, anger, and lack of forgiveness, happens mostly when things are not going our way. When we reach out to others in forgiveness we become a better person, instead of letting things eat us up inside. People also respond in a more positive way.

So, as a picture action and reminder, when something called for my attention to forgive, I picture in my mind to ‘open my fore arm and give’ = for give.

So I challenge you to make this a plan, and in a few weeks I’ll do a follow up post and then let me know in the comments how things are going, or contact me directly if you prefer.

Also, some other ways to practice forgiveness is with confession, or maybe with, or for, your spouse and the prayer for a broken marriage and other resources on the CMCS website.

The list to forgive is endless as I’m sure you can imagine.  Forgiveness is key to a happy life … think about it.

Frank J Casella is a photographer, and co-founder of the Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum.

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On Living Our Lives To Bring Goodness Into The World

Branch Out
Photo © Frank J Casella All Rights Reserved here

 

Branch Out

By Frank J Casella

When I saw this moment of the golden hour morning sunlight illuminate the twisting branches of a tree, it made me think about family, friends, and the (end of year) holidays.

Our lives are a work in progress, they take many twists and turns, and each of us takes a different direction in life.

As we gather for the holidays, sometimes it can be very trying. Said another way, sometimes our friends can be more like family than our own family.

My take on it — branch out.

My late brother used to pick on me often at family gatherings, almost to the point that I didn’t show up at times. After he passed away it hit me in a big way what he was doing. That he was trying to express how much he believed in me but didn’t know how say it or show it. He really loved me as a brother.

Two days before he passed, it was he who called me to tell me how much he loved me.

If we allow the actions of others to build resentment towards them, we face the danger of spending the rest of our lives judging them instead of loving them for the person they are.

It is said that ‘hate corrupts the container it is in.’

All this to say, we branch out when our actions are what bring Family together or not. Be patient and try to see what others are saying or where they are coming from.

I learned from a very important friend the hard way, that every person has a right to their opinion. We also have a right to accept it or progress on without it.

For those of us who live our Faith, to branch out means that He is the vine and we are the branches. See everyone through the eyes of Christ. Love them, don’t judge them …

Yes, easier said than done. But unless we are on the edge of our chair, then we are not depending on God’s will and living our faith.

 

Frank J Casella is a professional photographer and co-founder of Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum.

 

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Every Catholic Man Wants to Learn how to Pray to Prepare for Advent Better

Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

How do you wait in a culture that is instant information? Every Man I talk with it seems tells me they don’t pray as often as they aught to.  If you are married, when it comes to our Faith we usually depend on our wives to set the tone.

Amidst the holiday noise and chaos from the commercial industries, the Advent season is a time to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Christ.  If you are a husband and father, your family looks toward you especially at times like this for spiritual leadership and direction.

We hear about providing for our families financially and in other ways but, rarely do we hear about, or focus, provision and protection as prayer.

“Silence is so lacking in this world which is often too noisy, which is not favorable to recollection and listening to the voice of God,” Pope Benedict XVI said. “In this time of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior recollection so as to receive and keep Jesus in our lives.”

It’s not so much then about learning to pray to prepare for advent, but leading an example of silence that makes a positive and lasting impression on you and your family. Like the Nun’s used to tell me in 1st Grade ”God gave you two ears and one mouth, so that you listen more than talk”

Prepare your heart and minds for Christmas with daily resources, prayer and activities at usccb.org/advent.

What would it take for you to have the best Christmas of your life?

Learn about BEST ADVENT EVER from Dynamic Catholic.

Spend your time with Advent Gospel Reflections from Bishop Barron.

Advent provides a reason to try new habits. One we strongly suggest is the “Family Prayer Before Meals” by Bishop Joseph Perry.  Statistics tells us that when a family breaks bread and prays together at least 3 times per week, it makes a noticeable difference in your children’s stability and security as a family unit.

This Advent, GIVE yourself deliberate time of silence and resolute to bring yourself  – and your family – closer to Christ!

Frank J Casella, Catholic Men Chicago Southland

 

PS. Now it is your turn. What are some ways that you practice Advent in your home?  Please write a comment below.

 

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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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Life Mission. Don’t Leave Earth Without It!

By Frank J Casella

I’m sure that you’ve heard of a Lenten Mission and a Mission Statement, but have you heard of a Life Mission?  Do you have a Life Mission and, if so, what is it?

The purpose of a Mission is defined as a vocation or calling of an (religious) organization. As Catholics we are called as a Church to go out into the world and spread the Gospel.

Through a Lenten Mission we are renewed to be an living example of this Mission.

The Mission Statement of Catholic Men Chicago Southland works towards “Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man” …..  to nurture a Man’s character through his spiritual journey.

A Life Mission, however, is the Gospel Mission made personal by transformation from good intentions into right-action.

For example, my life mission is “To be the Man that God has called me to be, being the best husband and father for my family, to be a ‘real’ person to those around me, and to equip others to live a compelling life so they help to equip others.”  A Life Mission is making the Mission Statement personal to the point of living it, eating it, breathing it, sleeping it, etc. (you get the point). It’s transforming Holy Church into Holy Life(style).

I live out my Life Mission by:  1) Daily prayer to see where God is at work in my life, and to meet Him in that work. 2) Spending meaningful time with my wife and kids, and to encourage and lead them prayerfully in their life’s purpose. 3) Allowing my lifestyle and relationship with others to be a living example of my relationship with Jesus Christ – Some people call this servant leadership.

My late Father used to say the famous quote, that if you don’t stand for something then you’ll fall for anything.

Hence, your Life Mission should be your identity in how you serve Jesus Christ, and not by what you do for a living or by what you wear, etc. It’s who you are as a person, and not what you do.

 

“If we build into ourselves a deep understanding and conviction that serving the needs of other human beings is the reason we profit, that the reason we earn money is because we are focused on serving the needs of other people, other people will see this. We must commit ourselves to these convictions. Then and only then will the money follow. The money comes automatically.”
― Daniel Lapin, Business Secrets from the Bible: Spiritual Success Strategies for Financial Abundance

 

When you work for a company, then you are given the company manual. When you become a Catholic you follow the Catechism which leads you to the Bible … God’s Word.  Have you a manual for your life?  In other words, what you do, how you live, and the people whom you hold relationships with will be affected or changed by who you are as a person and your Life Mission.

When I created my Life Mission I then went deeper with my Faith, and something happened …. my friends changed.  Because having one true friend became more meaningful (to me) than to have several ‘friends’.

So, I ask you this question, Man to Man.  What is your Life Mission, and how are you doing it or living it out?  Then too, what is your legacy … how are leaving this life with your wife or kids or those important to you?

The adjustments you make in living your life holy can be felt for three generations.

Do the person’s important to you say ”if Jesus is anything like you, I want to know Him?“  If not, what is stopping this from happening?  Pray and ask God daily how to put your mission into action ..  then watch Him show you .. God’s will is that we depend on Him.

 

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The Father Absence Crisis in America [Infographic]

There is a crisis in America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America—one out of three—live without their biological dad in the home.Consequently, there is a “father factor” in nearly all of the societal issues facing America today. We must realize there is a father absence crisis in america and begin to raise more involved, responsible, and committed fathers.

Click the link below … Research shows when a child is raised in a father-absent home, he or she is…

via The Father Absence Crisis in America [Infographic].

via The Father Absence Crisis in America [Infographic].