How will you remain faithful to daily prayer this Advent season?

Welcoming Jesus to reconcile the world.

How many times each day do you and I make decisions based on how God sees it compared to what “wins” for me?  I’m reminded how in Matthew Kelly’s book Rediscovering Catholicism he shares a story something like how a family was relocated due to a temporary job transfer, so they decided to rent out their house while they were out of town. 

When it came time for them to return they knew that the renters were in financial hardship due to employment changes.  To avoid causing more hardship on the renters, this family paid to rent another house a block away from their own which cost them to do this, in addition to the renters not being able to pay their rent. Once the renters regained their employment several months later, this family moved back into their own house.  Kelly calls this “the Catholic way”.

People in our culture don’t want to hear that you are a Catholic.  They want to experience what an authentic Catholic is.  Every decision that you make, and action that you example, affects another person’s life one way or another.  The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas.

It is a time to “stay awake” and seek how God wants you to be an example of your relationship with Him and His Word while we await His return. It is a time to consider how you (and I) will demonstrate until then unconditional love to help each other make it through life … even if it costs you.

Are you in God’s will or in God’s way?

In the midst of the increasingly hurried, materialistic and stressful pace of the season, Advent is a graced time to slow down and pause in awareness of our more deeper longings. To find more deeply who we are as a person, and the man that God calls us to be.

The readings and prayers of Advent attune and orient our hearts and minds to welcome Jesus, the one sent by God to reconcile the world to friendship with God. The Holy Spirit’s gentle voice rouses us from the distractions and indifference of the world to spiritual alertness so we can respond to Jesus’ call to meet Him in His work.

Frank J Casella

Manhood Monday: Living a Blessed Life

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

From Today’s Readings:

Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Alleluia MT 24:42A, 44

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

The widow is another example of the poor ones in the Gospel today whose detachment from material possessions and dependence on God leads to their blessedness (Lk 6:20). Her simple offering provides a striking contrast to the pride and pretentiousness of the scribes denounced in the preceding section (Lk 20:45–47). 

Likewise, in the scripture verse above, the theme of vigilance and readiness is continued with the bold comparison of the Son of Man to a thief who comes to break into a house.

Do you remember not too long ago when the average person would work for the same company for two or more decades?  It still happens, but not that often. More like eighteen months to three years.

Our paycheck, and identity, and thus possessions, can be taken from us like a thief unless we stay awake with readiness. It is best to be detached from these, and work to truly make Jesus the center of our lives.  And this is the meaning behind the CMCS logo, with the four letters surrounding the crucifix – Christ as Center.

Dependence on God leads to blessedness. It’s not about our good intentions to love God, but how much we offer to Christ to fill our hearts, and He possesses our thoughts and actions, every minute of the day and night.

The CMCS-Team

PS. Thanksgiving Day Prayer click here.

Frank’s Photo of the Week

Click to view larger or to purchase
Photo: ‘In All Circumstances Give Thanks‘ Copyright Frank J Casella Prints | Cards

A Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue in a church hallway, silhouetted by window light.

“Failure is an event, not a person”. – Zig Ziglar

We either succeed or we learn.

When I sit in the presence of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and give thanks for life and every breath I take, I realize how much it’s more about the big picture of things and less about me.

“In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thes. 5:18

Thanks for Reading.

Make it a great week. See you in your inbox again next Monday.

Frank J Casella,
CMCS Executive Director

A larger collection of photographs can be viewed on my portfolio.

Not signed up yet? Click here.

How are you giving to others?

Giving Thanks, Living In Peace

Photo: Copyright Frank J Casella All Rights Reserved

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it represents everything that is important to me: My entire family, my wife, my kids, my friends, my open table (especially my Italian side, always have room for one more), food, and my faith in God and in this country.

There is no busyness, like with Christmas to follow, and there are no concerns about the meaning of the holiday across religious or political lines, its just simply being thankful …. and grateful.

There are a couple things I’m grateful for: Firstly, the almost 20 years that Catholic Men Chicago Southand (CMCS) has been in existence. That many of you reading this have either volunteered behind the scenes, been to our events or donated with your dollars, and you continue to believe in the vision (trust me, I pray and question all the time to be sure that if its no longer a fit then its time to quit, and you just keep on giving).

The other thing I am grateful for is my gift of photography, for all the people who have mentored me over the years, and namelss others who make it possible for me to provide and share hope and God’s love to people through these pictures.

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I’d love to hear from you: what are you are grateful for? Mention it in the comments.

In the past, when asked, we’ve read things like this:

“I am grateful for my family and for good health. Those are big-ticket items on my grateful list. I am also grateful for a warm home and food on the table and wonderful friends and neighbors.”

“I’m grateful for the gift of life and the love that has been poured over me. I’m grateful for family and friends who accompany me on this journey life, Love, and faith.”

“When you have been fighting cancer, every day is a gift.”

How are you giving to others?

GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world on December 3, 2019 and every day.

Please consider a gift to CMCS to support Bishop Perry’s apostolate of nurturing Catholic men’s spirituality in the Chicago Southland.

Also, now is the pre-sale for the Bishop Perry’s Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum on April 18, 2020. This will be a special way for you to invite and give other men for the Christmas Season, the gift to participate in the Forum .

If you will not be able to attend this event, donations are accepted to offset the expense of offering complimentary tickets to priest’s and seminarians, and others who can not afford to attend.

For example, we always ‘scholarship’ a table to the men of Zacchaeus House, please give to them as well this season of giving. Click here to read a recent article about this other apostolate of Bishop Perry.

And lest we forget …

Bishop Perry’s classic and timless article on Thanksgiving; Deacon Rangel’s article on ‘The Works of Mercy. What are we doing about it?’: and from two years ago, reflecting on my article on things I have reflected on, in talking with other men. These are somewhat long reads, so make a pot of coffee or enjoy during your holiday travels.

On behalf of Bishop Perry and the CMCS-Team, Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers and, of course, the CMCS-Men!

Frank J Casella

Manhood Monday: How to be Light to the World

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

From Today’s Readings:

Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time.

Alleluia JN 8:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked the blind man in today’s Gospel reading.

Has anyone ever said this to you?  If so, how did that make you feel?

Have you ever said this to another person?  If so, how did that make them feel?

When we reach out to others, as a Catholic man, we do and become the man God calls us to be, and a light to the world through Our Lord.

“I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I’m praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.”

Saint (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

The CMCS-Team

Frank’s Photo of the Week

Photo: ‘I Am The Light of the World‘ by Frank J Casella Print | Card

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
JN 8:12

Thanks for Reading.

Make it a great week. See you in your inbox again next Monday.

Frank J Casella,
CMCS Executive Director

A larger collection of photographs can be viewed on my portfolio.

Not signed up yet? Click here.

The Culture of Waste and Faith Formation

How to apply tithing to spiritual poverty

Pope Francis is known as “The Quotable Pope”.  An example of this is from each day on Twitter like this one:

” Consumerism has accustomed us to waste. But throwing food away is like stealing it from the poor and hungry. “

,,,, I can relate to this because my family has been in that position of having to turn to our parish and St. Vincent DePaul Ministry or Catholic Charities food pantry to put food on our table.  There is a present statistic out that says the average American family dumps in the trash 140 LBS. of food each year. 

This is food that is paid for from our working incomes. I’m sure we all tithe our cash to give to the church or to further God’s work. Why not make less trash with our food and do the same??

Likewise, when Francis Cardinal George came to be our Ordinary here in Chicago, it wasn’t too long before he said …“The greatest poverty is not to know Jesus Christ” … So, spinning the Popes quote from above, if you will …

” Always be a consistent living example of the Gospel. Because failing to do so is like stealing from the spiritually poor the opportunity to know Jesus’ love”. 

Finally, not too long ago when my son’s were teenagers (they are now in their 20’s) while taking my son to his sports practice, the thought occurred to me how many households in my neighborhood have two parents that work out of the home.  How they put their children into multiple sports programs with the intention of while they are working to “provide” someone else will take their child to the events.

I constantly would get phone calls, emails, etc., (from parents) assuming that since I’m taking my child anyways to take theirs too … and they will lie and rationalize to get it done, without any thought of the liability they put on me in the event something happens to their child.

Personally, my wife and I are that kind of parent who alwyas sat on the sideline even during practices to send the message to our boys they are important to us. Sure we have “better” things to do, but It personally gave me windshield time in the car to talk with them about what they saw happen in practices or in the games, or let them lead the conversation to become more a part of their lives.

We don’t get a second chance at this while they grow up. Sometimes us dad’s, as the priest of our house, have to lead the conversation with our wives about which parent is going to cut back – or cut out – the work load to live on less (maybe less sports programs) to invest more into our children and instilling their faith formation.

“With the “culture of waste”, human life is no longer considered the primary value to be respected and protected.” ~ Pope Francis

By the way, that picture at the top of this article, from the Bishop Perry Men’s Forum, all the left over food goes to the poor.

Frank J Casella

Haven’t been to confession in a while? Click Here

Manhood Monday: Striving Towards Virtue

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

From Today’s Readings:

Alleluia PHIL 2:15D, 16A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

The Gospel for today shares how we are not to cause anyone to sin. And when others do sin, and repent, to forgive them.

This is a way to strive towards virtue.

The word saint literally means “holy,” and, broadly speaking, are all of us who follow Jesus Christ and live our lives according to His teaching.

Catholics, however, also use the term narrowly to refer to especially holy men and women who, through extraordinary lives of virtue, have already entered Heaven.

One of the best ways to pursue holiness is to follow the saints of the Church, who many were born with shortcomings and transformed them into virtues or goodness.

In other words, some have said that saints are sinners who did not give up trying, which, for us, might make them easier to relate to. This relates to the instructions of forgiveness in the Gospel and that their “shortcomings” were not transformed through their efforts alone.

This is where CMCSVirtues comes from, to hold onto the saints as we strive to live a life of virtue.

The CMCS-Team

Frank’s Photo of the Week

Photo: ‘God in the World‘ Copyright Frank J Casella

Having faith sometimes is like looking into the clouds and seeing nothing, and yet other times like seeing colors in the sky.

There are circumstances where we have lack of faith, and other times where our faith has saved us.

The important thing, I think, is to learn from each what either didn’t work or what did. So that we can do better tomorrow.

Our purpose on earth, to those of us who believe, is to bring hope to the poor in spirit, and thus foster our own poverty through living out our faith …. and get each other to Heaven.

Thanks for Reading.

Make it a great week. See you in you here again next Monday.

Frank J Casella,
CMCS Executive Director

A larger collection of photographs can be viewed on my portfolio.

Not signed up yet? Click here.

The Domestic Church: How to ‘Walk the Talk’

The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called “the domestic church,” a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity.  — CCC 1666

There are thousands of men in our Chicagoland parishes needing help in how to “walk the talk.”  Catholic Men Chicago Southland helps us in our walk as Catholic men, fathers, husbands, and grandparents. Being a resource to educate, support, and strengthen households is the mission of CMCS.

Here are some more examples about ‘the domestic church’ from the Catholic Catechism:

1655    Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than “the family of God.” From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers “together with all [their] household.”166 When they were converted, they desired that “their whole household” should also be saved.167 These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world. (759)

1656    In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica.168 It is in the bosom of the family that parents are “by word and example… the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.”169 (2204)

1657    It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.”170 Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a school for human enrichment.”171 Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous—even repeated—forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life. (1268, 2214-2231, 2685)

1658    We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live—often not of their choosing—are especially close to Jesus’ heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family, often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the “domestic churches,” and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden.’”172 (2231, 2233)

Please keep room in your prayers for struggling men, believing families, and for all Catholic men (in Chicagoland) to live out the CMCS motto: “Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man”.