Bishop Joseph Perry: Pentecost

Photo: ‘A Picture of Faith’ – Copyright 2014 Frank J Casella

Our faith is a gift.  We often speak of a good relationship in terms of one whom we love or a friend being a gift to us.  We speak of our children as individual gifts. We consider a good job, having good health, all being singular affirmative donations to the experience of life.  The religious among us might even consider these gifts coming from above and not of our own initiative.

But, our faith is a gift and a task – an unspeakable gift from God to us, a holy task we are called to do, meaning, we are called to live the life of faith and to invite others to share in the life of faith.  Our faith touches the core of who we are and our faith fulfills us deeply.

We trust that along the path of life we have come to understand this entire religious experience as an affirming, positive gift, namely to know God and to live in His embrace and under his direction is a singular gift bar none  – such a relationship with God is called “grace.”

It is often said that in our modern day living the life of faith is more of a challenge than in the past.  Perhaps, we suffer under more distractions, preoccupations and self-determinations in our time.  Nonetheless, I want to encourage our readers to stay the course.

The Christian feast of Pentecost is a wonderful reason why we should stay the course. At the end of his life of faith and service the Lord Jesus was taken up into glory.   That, dear friends, is our future too.  It is our horizon of hope at this time.  Jesus assured his disciples that he would send the Paraclete – the Holy Spirit, to equip us with the strength and courage needed for the ordeal to come and then he would come back for us to take us with him.

II

Being a baby-boomer myself, born not long after the end of World War II, perhaps, like some of you I have read my share of war narratives, listened to my own father’s experience being in the US Army during that war in the European theatre and watched many a documentary about that war.  Those accounts are usually gripping but they are never without aspects of the good and even of the heroic.  If war brings out the worst in some people, it brings out the best in others, like all tragedies of one sort or another.

The late Pope John Paul II brought to our attention the horror of World War II when we read of him having experienced that war himself in his own displacement and the persecution and extermination of his own friends and acquaintances, Jews and fellow Catholic Poles and fellow priests.  Pope John Paul II raised up to the honors of the altar many saints and martyrs of that terrible period 1939-1945, some whose names now mark our church calendars, such as Carmelite Sister Edith Stein, Franciscan Father Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Sisters of the Holy Family and others.  Even now retired Pope Benedict XVI as a lad was forced to join the Hitler Youth and later escaped only to be taken prisoner by American troops till Germany finally surrendered.

III

I think it is the combination of the good and the heroic set against the background of the graphic and disturbing that has helped me to keep my balance in life and to taste its deeper meaning.  The abject misery of people victims of war and conflict in the Middle East and in Africa today only forces me to count my blessings and give thanks to God for all I have.

Among my greatest blessings I count to be my Catholic faith.  Since my faith and my life are inextricably tied up with the Church I must name the Church among my greatest blessings. The two of them – my faith and my Church – give me my energy, my identity, my horizon of hope at this time and at all times.  These two gifts will carry me under God’s grace to heaven.  They will do the same for you too.

I find myself then, not lacking the horizon of hope at all as I look at our Church in these challenging times. Besides, I realize that the Church is in good hands because it is in Christ’s hands.  But, the Church is not only a gift that the Lord has given you and me it is also a care upon our hearts and a responsibility on our shoulders.

Every Sunday is a graced opportunity to give witness before God and the Church each our own enthusiasm and love for our Catholic traditions as we recite the Creed together, as this faith marks our lives indelibly shaping every thought and action of ours. This faith is the lens through which we view the entire world.  In this sense, our religion is not a hobby that we have time for today but perhaps not next week or next month depending upon our mood.  Our religion is a preoccupation of ours because we love and admire Jesus Christ.

One of the Second World War’s heroes of Christian resistance to the Nazis was the young Lutheran theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  He was arrested by the Nazis in 1943, imprisoned in Buchenwald Concentration Camp and hanged at Flossenburg Concentration Camp just a few weeks before the war ended.  The Nazis would not let him go even when they knew that Hitler’s regime was finished. They had an old score to settle with Bonhoeffer.  He had been one of the Nazi regime’s harshest critics.

I am always impressed by what a Christian of heroic stature has to say about the Church because I know it doesn’t come out of a book when he or she is condemned to die for the faith, nor do their words come from blind loyalty but from the depths of that person’s soul.

Of the Church, Bonhoeffer had this to say:  “The Church is not very influential, not a very imposing institution and always in dire need of improvement.”  Nevertheless, he added, “The Church is an office from God.” [“What is the Church”, found in No Rusty Swords, Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press, 1977].

What Bonhoeffer says is true because the Church is easily dismissed by the popular culture that finds the Church an annoyance and the message we peddle an invasion of  privacy.

The Church, of course, is essentially made up of flawed human beings, baptized, anointed, awaiting redemption in Christ. But these flawed human beings carry a message that’s not of their invention.

The Church is not a very imposing or influential institution and it is in dire need of improvement.  But, we must not stop there forgetting the most important thing that Bonheoffer said about the Church:  “The Church is an office from God.”  By “office” he meant that the church is a care we have from God and a work to be done for the Lord and for the salvation of others.
While the Church is not of our making it is of our implementation for which we need the mercy of God in carrying for its mission.

“The Lord worked with the apostles and confirmed the word through them,” says John’s gospel.  Similarly, the Lord works with his Church in our time and in its difficulties and its accomplishments.  And He confirms his message through the Church’s worship and sacraments, through its teachers and preachers, its prophets and saints, and even, praise God, through you and me.

IV

Remember the beginnings of our religion were with a group of impoverished and hesitant individuals who probably would not make it in a typical contemporary job interview. They were largely from the poor and working classes. They felt keenly their oppressed, second-class status under subjugation by a foreign power, a hostile empire that would soon as nail them to a cross than ask questions or say ‘hello.’  They were people without defense, without influence.  They searched for their dignity in their religion as descendants of Abraham, Jacob and Moses and their association with Jesus of Nazareth.

One of them was not sure about Jesus and for reasons of his own internal conflicts decided to betray Jesus to his enemies in exchange for some money.  Another disciple denied that he ever met Jesus at a moment the Lord needed him most.  This one went so far as to curse and swear up and down that he was never in Jesus’ company.  Mysteriously, Jesus chose this one to head up his Church after his own departure.

The rest of the band ran in fear of the authorities and locked themselves in a hidden away upper level room in the city wondering what to do next.  A few women stood by Jesus till the end even watching closely his grave.  So much in pain were they over his brutal execution.

Another disciple could not quite believe the report that Jesus was seen alive again several days later, unable to grasp the pieces of Jesus’ teaching and message and the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy in his behalf.

Amazingly, this band of reticent followers was sent out into the world to win the world for God, in many instances, at the cost of their own lives.

Those first Christians may not have been sure of a lot of things and may have been guilty of their own missteps in life.  You may say they were timid and afraid amidst their own disenfranchisement in a violent world.  But one thing for sure those first Christians soon discovered they were sure about and that was what they were willing to die for. The test of our faith, friends, hinges upon what we are willing to stake our lives upon.  Hopefully our faith is one of those things.

Should we be surprised then at weak Christians, hesitant, reticent Christians, flawed and sinful Christians who worship with us, some who even lead and teach the faith today?  Let us never lose the horizon of hope.  If Jesus worked with that first and original, fledgling group, a collection of timid and flawed human beings.  If he works with us, should we not work with each other to improve this Church for the kingdom Jesus is establishing?

V

Pentecost is a feast of hope for the Church.  Jesus had spent his life showing us how to find meaning and purpose and joy through a life of faith in him and a life of service to others.  He has shown us how to live with the horizon of hope ever before our eyes.  He has told us that glory is the reward of such a faith-filled servant life.

Then, as Jesus lived, so may we live.  And as all ended in glory for him so may all end in glory for us.  This is not a vain hope for a vague future.  It is the actual future of which this feast of the birth day of the Church at Pentecost is a pledge.

God’s gift of the Holy Spirit animates us both as individuals and as Church to do the work God does, to be the people of God, to live the life of the Gospel.  Pentecost celebrates the unseen, immeasurable presence of God in our lives and in our Church.

The Holy Spirit is God’s breath that animates us to do the work of the gospel of the Risen One, the strength to make God’s will our will, the power of God transforming us so that we might infuse his life and love into our broken world.

God breathes his Spirit into our souls so that we may live his life in the here and now; God ignites the fire of his Spirit within our hearts and minds that we may realize the coming of God’s reign in our own time and place.

Manhood Monday: Why It’s Important to Know What You Believe

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

From Today’s Readings:

Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Alleluia   Jn 15:26b, 27a

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord,
and you also will testify.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

If you know what you believe and if you believe what you believe, it follows that you must share what you believe with others. The prophet Jeremiah “could not hold it in” (Jer 20:9)

“If we want others to do more than just know about Jesus we need to do more than just tell the story, we need to LIVE the glory!  Unknown author

God bless your day.

The CMCS-Team


Frank’s Photo of the Week

Photo: ‘At the Heart of Everything‘ – Copyright 2015 Frank J Casella

My late father often said the words, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”. This is why it’s important to know what we believe.  In fact, even an atheist knows what he believes.. That he doesn’t believe in God or Jesus … or the Eucharist.

Thanks for Reading.

Make it a great week. See you back 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.

Click here to learn about the annual Bishop Perry’s Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum held on the Saturday after Easter. All men from around the Archdiocese of Chicago and surrounding Chicagoland are invited to attend.

Manhood Monday: The Impact of Jesus on Us

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

From Today’s Readings:

Monday of the Third Week of Easter

Alleluia Mt 4:4b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

[4:4] Cf. Dt 8:3. Jesus refuses to use his power for his own benefit and accepts whatever God wills.

“Our love and admiration for our Savior leads us to rehearse the significant steps of his passion and the loss of his life for we could not be there yet we know what happened has impact on us.”

Bishop Joseph Perry

God bless your day.

The CMCS-Team


Frank’s Photo of the Week

Photo ‘Fly Like A Bird to the Lord’ Copyright 2017 Frank J Casella

As Catholic men, we know that whatever we feed our brains is what forms our habits. Our Faith promotes through the Sacraments a method to develop the good habit of study and living the scriptures everyday.

The daily readings feed us like a dinner plate of different foods: Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, and prayers for adoration and supplication. But we have to develop the habits and spend time with it each day, and then practice it in our lives. Baby steps lead to walking our spiritual journey with the Lord.

Thanks for Reading.

Make it a great week. See you back 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.

Click here to learn about the annual Bishop Perry’s Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum held on the Saturday after Easter. All men from around the Archdiocese of Chicago and surrounding Chicagoland are invited to attend.

Feeding Our Habits

Eggs with Steam – Copyright 2019 Frank J Casella

Habits are an important part of our lives, when put in right perspective. Just like in the business world, systems are another word for business habits. It is said the fastest way to success in life, is to replace bad habits with good habits.

As Catholic men, we know that whatever we feed our brains is what forms our habits. Our Faith promotes through the sacraments a method to develop the good habit of study and living the scriptures everyday.

The daily readings feed us like a dinner plate of different foods: Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, and prayers for adoration and supplication. But we have to develop the habits and spend time with it each day, and then practice it in our lives. Baby steps lead to walking our spiritual journey with the Lord.

When we make the decision to go off this path, and do things in our own thinking, it is known as sin. Feeding our habits with things like pornography, too much booze, abuse of others verbally or physically, or getting sucked into the drama of things shared on social media, can take us to a visit with our priest for confession. The good thing is that God is a God of second chances.

But the thing about second chances is we have to make the corrections so that we don’t keep going back. As Henry Ford once said, “Failure is an opportunity to begin again, only more intelligently”. Our shortcomings serve the purpose to embrace God and depend on His will for our lives.

Feeding our good habits, with Christ as the center of our lives, is what helps to transform our bad habits into virtues, and is what makes working towards being a saint is all about.

“Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us;
make our hearts burn while you speak to us.”

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

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

Bishop Joseph Perry: The Relevance of Church

Is it too late to save our families and ourselves for God?

It is not easy proclaiming the Gospel in a secularized world – a world that is of diminished religious tone.

In a recent address, December 21, to the Cardinals and staffs of the Roman Curia at the Vatican, Pope Francis recalled that we are no longer living in a Christian world. 

“Christendom no longer exists. Today, we are no longer the only ones who create culture, nor are we in the forefront or those most listened to … we are no longer living in a Christian world, because faith… is no longer an evident presupposition of social life; indeed, faith is often rejected, derided, marginalized and ridiculed… the faith used to be passed on within families and the example of parents; society too was inspired by Christian principles. Today, this transmission has been interrupted and our social context, if not anti-Christian, appears to be at least impermeable to the Christian faith.  Hence the question … how to proclaim the Gospel where it is no longer known or recognized?  It is pointless getting agitated. There is no need to get organized, or to make a noise. There’s no need for gimmicks or stratagems. In the mission of proclaiming the Gospel, you move because the Holy Spirit pushes you, and carries you.  And when you arrive you realize that He has come before you and is waiting for you.”

“Proclaiming the Gospel,” adds the Pope, “does not consist in besieging others with apologetic speeches … in shouting in peoples’ faces.  Even less is it necessary to fling the truths and doctrinal formulas on others as if they were stones … if people to whom it is addressed have no opportunity to meet and taste in some way God’s tenderness and His healing mercy… to facilitate, that is, make it easy not to put us in the way of Jesus’ desire to embrace everyone, to heal everyone, to save everyone.”  Always aware that without Him we can do nothing.

With these thoughts of the Holy Father in mind, is it too late to save our families and ourselves for God?  How about the evangelization of our households, our friendships.  How about fervent practice of our faith for these times and every time.  How about we men being intentional pastors of our households leading the way?

Bishop Joseph Perry