Bishop Joseph Perry: Family Prayer for Vocations

Parent(s):

Good Lord, we beg your blessing upon our family.  We thank you for the children with which you have blessed us.  Bless us as we use this day to give you praise.  Help our children grow towards you through the various things they learn about the mysteries of life and creation sewn by your hand. Grant wisdom to me/us their parent(s), their teachers and others you have given to guide them.  Preserve our efforts to give our children all that they deserve.

We pray you grace our children with faith, openness of heart, a willingness to learn, a desire to do good to others as you have taught.  Keep them ever strong and ready for any test of character.  As they grow in knowledge and experience inspire in our children a desire to serve you in holiness of life.  In whatever walk of life they choose be for them a true path to your kingdom. May you find among our children generous hearts to serve you and the Church perhaps as a priest, or religious brother or sister.  Should their Calling be to extend this family of ours, may theirs be a holy matrimony and family life after the example of your life with Mary and Joseph. 

Child/Children:

O Jesus, whisper in my heart how I might best serve you.  Make me strong in faith, always attentive to people’s needs, ever spiritual, understanding and charitable.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much.  Bless our priest(s) and religious who serve(s) us.  Bless my parents, our bishop and pastors and all who help the Church’s work.

Family:

Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, increase the number of our priests and religious men and women.  Preserve them for your Church.  Keep them zealous in their vocation and successful in their labors.  May they do all things for love of you and the Church.  We pray through our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever.  AMEN

Bishop Joseph N Perry

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Sub-Committee on African American Affairs

2020

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We Yearn For Peace!

By Bishop Josph N Perry

My late father was a World War II veteran who was assigned 1942-1945 to the European Theatre. That generation of men has been dubbed the greatest generation for reasons of their patriotism, their family values, and work ethic. It has also been suggested that many of the WWII veterans that returned home had been made pacifists by the ravages of experience connected with that war. The sons they spawned turned out the Vietnam War generation – my generation – who fought that war, others of whom became draft dodgers and pacifists, protesters through the streets for an end of a longer than long and lengthy conflict in Asia.

My father would not allow me as a child to have guns and holsters and toys that dealt with war. I was ill-equipped to play with the neighbor kids when they played war or Cow-boys and Indians or pretended to shoot each other. I did no quite understand it back then, only later in my adulthood did I begin to understand what my Father was doing with me that he could not quite articulate.

Ours is a different generation. We have gathered to pray, once again, for a new year safer for our children to travel the streets and sidewalks to school and church and parks and other places. We cannot confine our children to inside the home. It is natural for children to want to be outdoors. Continue to encourage them as you have always done to be aware of what’s in front of them, in back of them, on the side of them. More and more kids travel to school on busses or in cars these days. Yet even then, encourage your children and grandchildren to be vigilant, to speak up to parents and teachers when they see something wrong and where to take refuge if danger closes in on them.

When we were growing up my mother did not allow us to watch certain TV shows that were considered “adult entertainment”. In the 1950s, adult entertainment was Payton Place and The Untouchables. We had to go upstairs while mom watched her favorite TV adult shows. I wasn’t able to watch The Untouchables until I became an adult and then got a kick out of some floozy sitting atop a desk filing her nails while her gang lord crook wearing a gun and holster next to his rib was on the phone bringing booze into the city. Those images were off-limits for children of my time. How things have changed with the tenor of morals displayed on the viewing screen and the troublesome Internet!

Today is different. Notice, the popular video games with which children and teens are engaged. Most of them have to do with rabid violence, high powered weapons cutting down opponents and blood spurting every which way. Kids have these at home and work them with their coins in video arcades and at shopping malls. This is considered innocent youth entertainment. And we purchase these games for our youth. I suggest we should fast from these images and other movies where people like actors Stephen Seagal and Vin Diesel and others act out glorified violence. Unbeknownst to us these images work themselves in the consciousness of our youth getting across the idea that violence and killing are the only ways to be somebody. A gun in the hand always renders one a false sense of power.

Now, I am not saying my parent’s methods of raising us were the best. All I know is that I did not turn out the worse for it. I believe there is something to be said for steering clear of giving birthday gifts and Christmas gifts and gifts in between that symbolize violence and killing so prevalent in our city and other cities across the country. Follow through with the rearing of your kids and grandkids on this. Support your prayers and messaging by fasting from the images and instruments associated with violence. Then, sooner or later, the kids will understand.

Bishop Joseph Perry

JNP2017

Bishop Joseph Perry: Our Families

Each day gives us a moment to contemplate our families and what we really want them to be… to ask the blessing of God who has brought us together and appointed each one of us to be in this family.

Referencing  our religious roots … in Jesus’ day… each member of the family did something to produce food, practically the only industry.  Carpenters like Joseph would have spent as much, if not more, time building or repairing farming implements.  Jesus would have learned his father’s trade.  Jewish society was a lot simpler than anything we know.  From the moment they were physically able, children worked.  The men ploughed and planted, made repairs, shepherded the flocks and whatever else was needed.  Boys stayed with the men learning the crafts and trades of their fathers and other men in the family.  Girls stayed with the women learning how to turn wool into cloth and grain into flour.

In Jesus day, people lived in very small dwellings in extended family groups. They survived only by recognizing that their survival depended upon each other.  They lived in the same rooms, ate and worked together, prayed together.  It was the values of their religion that created their strongest bonds. Except for daughters who married, few left the home.

Our scriptures and church teaching emphasize the need for exemplary behavior on each our part in order to survive.  This call to proper daily behavior is a Call rooted in faith.  A strong family relies on its faith to guide and direct it.

A family is a living, breathing organism.  Members of the family live off each other; they cope, assist each other and aggravate each other.  They make the best of a situation; they invest in it, get to like it, maybe even need it.  Sometimes families live with situations they shouldn’t; and make bad human investments; and learn to tolerate unlikable things.

Families must be flexible, but within limits. Nothing is ever what it used to be, nor is it entirely different.  Each member needs room to grow.  Families need to expect change and crises as a way of life.  Our Church teaches that the purposes of marriage are mutual love and raising children.  Love is always stretched.  We have to discover new ways to express old love or loved ones begin to feel taken for granted. And children are naturally bundles of constant change. This makes the family a change agent, a growth industry!

Sometimes, families need to face the truth, to avoid a future catastrophe by bearing a present pain or embarrassment.  We need to allow ourselves to be in trouble.  If Mary was found a pregnant teen and Jesus was a runaway teen then we are allowed a scandal or two in the family.  A good rule in family life – all life – is to play the problem where it lies.  We almost always make it worse by trying to improve on our lie.

And, of course, families, like individuals, live on appreciation, without which even the best arrangements fall apart.  Because the family is not an institution; it is an occasion if not an unfolding drama of love.

We worry about our families.  We desire our children to have the best influences, the best education and a reasonable walk through adult life free of trauma and pain if at all possible. We want our families to be wrapped in the blessings of God.  These are good things to ask for.  For these reasons we fall to our knees asking God to keep us in His care.•

Bishop Joseph N. Perry

JNP 2009

Children and Church

The impact Dad’s have in children going to church.

When I was a kid we always went to Mass each Sunday, though it was hard to keep my siblings together because our ages spanned over fifteen years. My oldest sibling is ten years older than me.

I also remember at church how Dad would step out of the pew to serve as an usher. And, as things changed with the worship, both my parent’s served as Ministers of the Eucharist. It was also important to be silent in church, or you’d hear about it when you got home.

My wife and I continued this with our children, though our practice in the pew was a bit different. Today our children are old enough to worship at their own parish, and God is very important in their lives.

Guys, it is really important that you lead your family to Mass. If you are leaving this for your wife to do, step up!

This all came to mind because now I spend a few times a year in the “cry room” when going to Mass. Because after I visit my spine doctor it takes a few days for my bones to settle, and it’s easier to sit in the chairs in the cry room than pull myself out of the style of pews we have in church. So I’ve noticed some things and suspect it might be this way in the cry rooms across the country.

Guys, it is really important that you lead your family to Mass. If you are leaving this for your wife to do, step up! A lot of times I hear, and see, that parents find it too much of a chore to bring our children to church and, when they get old enough, to just drop them off at religious education without going to Mass.

Research has proven that, although a Mother (a woman) nurtures her children, the decisions that a child makes throughout their lives is based on the positive example and leadership from their Father (a Man).

It’s simple really. The things that matter the most to our children are the giving of self, they need a role model, they need supportive behavior, expressions of love, and they need physical contact.

A Swiss study found that the one overwhelming pivotal factor is the religious practice of the father. Dads determine the church habits of their children, and thus, to a significant degree, their eternal destiny.

I remember when my children were young, there was another family at Mass who had at least seven children. The dad led them into the pew, and if one of the kids acted up they found his hand pull them over to sit next to him. If there was an outburst from the toddlers, they would be taken by mom out of the worship area, and dad always kept the kids (who were) in the pew to focus on the altar.

My wife and I were not this “strict”, but I have to admit this other family was impressive to watch.

My children were raised in the front pew (or at least one of the first three). The rule was that if they acted up we move to the back of the church. Of course this was after the toddler years, once we brought them out from the cry room. And so they didn’t act up that often.

Because the first times they did, I would bring them outside the doors, stand them against the wall, and remind them of the rules of being in the church asking if they want to move to the back. The other factor was they liked to watch all that was going on at the altar, which is the reason for being in the front pews.

When you sit more than half-way back in the pews with your children, they can’t always see what is going on, and this is cause of them to distract us during Mass. Our job as parents, I think, is make our children’s worship experience more important than our own, because it’s a few short years before they get older and out on their own.

We need to separate the cry room from the day care room.

This also applies to the cry room. Many times I find parents using the cry room today as a holding room for their own worship experience. They give their kids something to occupy them, usually a smartphone, that has nothing related to Jesus. Fortunately, my parish provides print-outs for coloring with illustrations of the days Gospel.

Once the child grows out of the baby carrier, this can be a time to teach them how to behave in church so that we can move the family from the cry room and into the pew. To do this, we need to separate the cry room from the day care room. And much of this can be established at home, before getting to church.

This is done by giving our time and nurturing in the cry room, instead of worrying about our own worship experience. Dad’s, if you page through a ‘Jesus book’ in church, this needs to be practiced each day at home so they know how to behave in church.

I’m sharing these nuggets of thought both from how I was raised, and the experiences from my wife and I both raising our own children.

As parent’s if we don’t have influence on our children that God has given to us, someone or something else else will. It’s also our gift back to God.

We are responsible for the Souls of this generation.

Frank J Casella

What We Learn From Our Children As Catholic Dad’s

By Frank J Casella

You might think that, in talking about what we as Catholic Dads learn from our children, I would share with you the lessons of patience, imagination, humor, creativity, persistence, taking risks, enthusiasm, unconditional love, blind faith, and positive attitude.

Yes, these are important, but there is more to it.

You might think that what we learn from children is a reflection of, or has to do with, the 15 Ways To Be The Man God Calls You To Be.

Yes, but there is still more to it.

Doing an online search, here are what I found as the top 12 lessons we learn from our children:

1. Be yourself 2. Just be happy 3. Skip 4. Make friends 5. Say what you mean, mean what you say 6. Smile 7. Relax… take a nap 8. Sing 9. Be fearless 10. Wonder about everything 11. Explore 12. Play.

I don’t know about you but, I am still working on some of these and, wonder if doing all of them eventually can be reality.

Read on ….

Here is some hope.  If you look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it reads at 2228: “Parents’ respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs. As the children grow up, the same respect and devotion lead parents to educate them in the right use of their reason and freedom.”

…. 2227: “Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents. Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it.”

Does this sound familiar? I think it humanizes all that I said above.

In other words, when you look at Bishop Perry’s Virtues of a Catholic Man, the first item is that “A Catholic man has some sense of what or whom he would die for if necessary” …  and the sixth item is “A Catholic man practices presence with his wife and children”.   

So, what we learn from our children I think is the great responsibility, and gift, God gives us as a Father to make a direct impact on our present generation and the generations to come. As I often say, when you foster a Man in holiness, the positive adjustments he makes creates a upstanding man, husband, or father, and this impact can be felt for three generations.

The time we spend with our family should never be a second thought. It should always be our first thought. Yes we fall short at times but, we only fail when we give up.

This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of Souls on the earth. If you are not there as Dad to teach them, they learn from the world.

Fathers are, and should be, an positive example to our children and our culture of who Jesus is. So, it should not be a burden to be a Father but, rather, a privilege to carry the torch for what Christ’ example did for us all.

As many good teachers will tell you, the positive lessons shared with our children, what they give back is way more than what we could ever give.


Frank J Casella

LinkedIn.com/in/frankjcasella

Silence is (still) golden

How often do you spend time in silence, talking to yourself, or just thinking?

Once a day?

A few times a week?

A few times a day?

A proverbial saying ‘Silence is golden’ is often used in circumstances where it is thought that saying nothing is preferable to speaking, the origin of this phrase is obscured by the mists of time. The first example of it in English is from the poet Thomas Carlyle.

There is also the golden value of spending time in silence.

With all of the information we have available to us now, through technology, we can easily be engaged, or distracted, every hour of the day and night. This is why it is even more important today to practice solitude, even if just for 10 minutes.

Solitude is the time in which you have no other input. Not even reading a book, or listening to music, when you truly experience the value of silence (which is golden).

There is a report that says the average teen in the US spends nine hours on media per day, and another that says mental health disorders are on the rise among children. Both state how our brains are not set up for this much activity. Adults are not far behind, even though not exposed to it through our childhood

Silence can be scary, I know. Especially when you haven’t done it in a while, or you may have thoughts of it causing your skeletons in the closet to come to the surface of things. This is where prayer comes in.

You don’t have to cut the noise cold turkey. Detox is different than declutter. There is a practice coming to be known as Digital Minimalism, where you end up choosing to have a focused life in a noisy world.

You might want to pray about how to approach this, and ask God to give you wisdom and strength, or ask others to pray for you. We all need each other to make it through this world, and we’re not meant to go it alone.

I’ve been noticing around the internet this theme recently of the cutting back on technology and replacing it with more human interaction; finding a new hobby or cause to be engaged with …. offline. For us adults, who have kids with screens, the benefits could be more time with family, or that our family might resist tech addiction.

A couple things I am working on, for example, are spending reduced times online by making notes throughout the day for when next online, and, as a photographer I’ve started a new photo series called Sunday Silence: Views From My Backyard. Because I, for one, need to go back to looking at the things we see everyday but fail to notice, and no better place to do this than your own backyard.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reads that we are to practice all things in moderation, and that, I think, should include making time for prayer and a good dose of silence.

–Frank J Casella

The way we came to know love was that He laid down His life for us

For Christians, proof of deliverance is love toward others, after the example of Christ. This includes concrete acts of charity, out of our material abundance.

Living a life of faith in Jesus and of Christian love assures us of abiding in God no matter what our feelings may at times tell us. Our obedience gives us confidence in prayer and trust in God’s judgment. This obedience includes our belief in Christ and love for one another.

Read each sentence in the scripture below as a separate thought … absorb it. Invite the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.

 

Beloved:
This is the message you have heard from the beginning:
we should love one another,
unlike Cain who belonged to the Evil One
and slaughtered his brother.
Why did he slaughter him?
Because his own works were evil,
and those of his brother righteous.
Do not be amazed, then, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
We know that we have passed from death to life
because we love our brothers.
Whoever does not love remains in death.
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,
and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.
The way we came to know love
was that he laid down his life for us;
so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
If someone who has worldly means
sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion,
how can the love of God remain in him?
Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth. Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth
and reassure our hearts before him
in whatever our hearts condemn,
for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God.

1 Jn 3:11-21

 

How do you lay down your life for others as Jesus examples to us? One way is to practice the Virtues of a Catholic Man. Another way is to be a living sacrifice for your wife and those in your household. It is not easy, yet Christ led by example and so should we as Catholic Men. Go to Mass every Sunday and bring your family with you, and when you receive the Holy Eucharist bring yourself to the Alter as a living sacrifice. The Mass is not so much what we get out of it, but that we bring ourselves into Communion with the Lord Jesus.

My wife and I have in raising our children always sat in the front pew. From the moment we had our first child we have always sat in the front pew (interesting how no matter when you show up for Mass there is always room in the front pew). When our kids first acted up in church we moved to the very back pew, and they didn’t like it. We told them that when they do behave we sit in the front pew where they can see everything. Now they are young adults, their Faith is important to them as they have their own ministries in everyday life. We always went to Mass as a family, sports and other events took second place.

“Do not be amazed, then, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” Was it St. Paul who asked at every moment ” do I go Left or do I go Right”?

What direction do you take in the path of life or have you gone? Are you consistent, or do you act like a Chameleon changing your ‘color’ with your environment?
– Frank J. Casella is an artistic photographer and co-founder of Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum.