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

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.

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On Giving Advice

Several years ago my family welcomed our Golden Retriever into our home. He is a rescue dog that came to us with severe aggression towards women. We didn’t know this until a few days after being with us and taking him for walks. Short of the long, we chose to consult the advice of a dog behaviorist who helped us as a family to be on the same page with each other for the dog, and it took nine months go get him to be like a dog again.

And with this new knowledge I was eager to give advice to other dog owners who I also met on walks. Many of them didn’t care most of the time saying it was too much work. But there were a few people who had some issues with their dog, and came to ask for advice and it rectified the situation.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t change people unless they want to change themselves. This is why, as blogger Seth Godin says, best not to give advice unless someone asks you for it.

Not a month goes by without people contacting us here at Catholic Men Chicago Southland (CMCS) for advice on Catholic manhood and spirituality. Likewise, we regularly meet with men over coffee to provide advice on growing in holiness as a Catholic man. And we never charge them to give this advice, and don’t think we ever will.

Sometimes people see advice as criticism. I find this in my own household that when people see how we live simply and our income is below average, they somehow think we are unhappy and make it their business to share advice on what we need to do, how we need to live, and how to get more work or more money. Often times we never ask for it.  I always appreciate their caring, and if I didn’t know the difference I would take it as criticism.

I was talking about this with two people I met last week while in line at the Catholic Charities food pantry. They both have their own stories to tell about this very topic, how everyone is always ready with free advice on what worked for them – to the point of criticism. The woman is an intelligent retired doctor, and the other was one of the most respectable young men I have met in a while, who walked away from gang involvement after watching his younger brother be killed by the effects of gangs. Both of them offered how much of being a good Catholic they try to live out, without them first knowing my background with CMCS.

So, the key take away here, is the true secret of giving advice is after you have honestly given it to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right.

On a side note, the good doctor asked in our conversation if we wanted to know why she was in the pantry line. Turns out, when she retired she was compelled about letting go – the ability to release from our grasp those things that inhibit us from developing an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus.  Specifically, she gave away all the money she had and no longer has savings or stocks.

She only keeps her social security income in a checking account, and lives simply and debt free. This ensures that she is free from things and no longer distracted in her relationship with the Lord. I recall that when I worked for the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago that he did a similar thing, and he mentions it in his book The Gift of Peace.

Since we’re talking about giving advice, one thing about receiving advice then, whether asked for or not, is to receive it through forgiveness: What works for someone else often times will not work for us in the same way.  So, I find, you have to be creative to apply the advice to your life, and have forgiveness if the person who gave it to you gets frustrated with you or doesn’t understand. This can be family or others who are most close to us.

This is what I love most about rescue dogs, is that when you love them with leadership they give it back so much more – unconditionally. Because they know the difference.

We have much to learn from dogs about love. But don’t take this as advice from me.

Comment Questions:

  1. When you see someone who can use your advice, do you make it your business to tell them, or do you say a prayer for them and stay out of the way or wait for them to ask you?
  2. What are some ways you have learned about giving advice?
  3. What are some ways you have learned about letting go?


Frank J Casella is executive director of Catholic Men Chicago Southland, and co-founder of the Catholic Chicago Men’s Conference.

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