Are God’s Priorities Your Priorities?

Suggestions for making what is important in life, priorities

Photo: ‘Day of Interment‘ – Copyright 2019 Frank J Casella on Fine Art America
No Second Chances

Over the recent months there has been much in the news about the meaning of life. The COVID-19 virus is the one important thing that happened and caused us all to put things into perspective. We are all faced with death like overnight.

I couldn’t help but think of the number of car accidents that I have lived through, and the thoughts on how close those came to put me a similar state of death. We only live one life here on earth, and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. There are no second chances!

Sometimes we get so busy with our priorities, obligations, and agendas that it is easy to forget what is most important: Relationships.

This is why it is so important to always take care of unfinished business, and to prioritize our relationships? Spending meaningful time with the persons who are important to us and our life, and let them know this. Do the things that show them this.

In the business world we are taught that you don’t get a second chance at a first impression. There is much in life today that recycles but, with the years we have left, God willing, what is the lasting impression that YOUR life makes on this world? If you are a husband or father, your wife or children need your influence more than they may tell you … or even know!

In other words, after you and I die is there evidence that we have lived?

…. or are we just passing through???

God’s Presence In – and Through – Your Life

There was a time in my life when I was allowing myself to be used by technology, especially email. I had several email addresses (at least way more than I have now), and it bothered me when I couldn’t respond to an email within ten minutes. Short of the long, I was having an “affair” with technology and my computer.

Today, I track my computer time, designate “offline times” and make a WBO list (when back online), and shut down my computer at night so that I don’t go back to it. I don’t use a Smartphone, rather a flip phone when out and tablet with WIFI when inside, and I contact my friends the old-fashioned way = I call or visit them to make our relationship benefit from personal touch.

“A Catholic man practices presence with his wife and children”.

Bishop Joseph Perry

This is one of Bishop Perry’s “Virtues of a Catholic Man”. Presence is what technology in our present age cannot replace. With Smartphones the average person today consumes 350 percent more information than someone living just 25 years ago.

This information overload leads to shortened attention spans, memory loss, mental fatigue, and – in some users- a form of addiction. It is said that the average person’s attention span is that of a gold fish: nine seconds. Remember when Facebook was known as the “third largest country”? And Twitter was known as the “water cooler”.

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications addresses the fragile relationship between nature and modernity by reminding us: “Depending on how they use media, people can grow in sympathy and compassion or become isolated in a narcissistic, self-referential world of stimuli with near-narcotic effects”. In a recent poll, one in seven people said they see less of their spouses because of time spent online.

What about you?

One way to determine if technology is in control of your life is to include technology use in your examination of conscience. At the end of each day, and before you (go to) receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation; take a moment to ask yourself:

Have I been using technology to deepen my relationships with God and others, or to avoid them?
Has my time online caused me to neglect anything or anyone that I should be paying attention to?

Remember that God is not flashy, and doesn’t have to “Like” you when you post a prayer request, he is always there. God desires to be present in your life, and to communicate with you, and with others through you. Connection to Him is the one constant that will never depend on a signal, service provider, or even a monthly payment.

Another form of technology that can keep you from balancing your life is the television (or Netflix), and that infamous clicker. Sports engagement, or even that gamming, can become a huge distraction when not kept in check. If your wife or family talks to you while you’re engaged with this stuff and you become hostel or angry for being disturbed, consider that you have an addiction.

Anything that is not in moderation is not of God: food, shopping, children, sports, hobbies, etc.

Here are some suggestions for making what is important in life, priorities. I suspect you might have some more to add to this list:

  • If your wife is disciplining the kids and you don’t stop what you’re doing to back her up, then consider your priorities are off the track.
  • When family is gathered around the dinner table, texting goes into the drawer. Literally! Talking with each other is the game plan.
  • Family prayer….especially nightly with small children…. also spirituality conversations with the older children.
  • Mealtime prayers with children of all ages from small to older …. children learn more from our actions than from our words … even when out to eat.
  • Making prayer and especially conversation about our Lord and Catholic Tradition part of Family ritual.
  • Telling family stories with a “message” of hope especially where God’s hand can be emphasized…
  • Daily praying A Man’s Prayer, and living The Virtues of a Catholic Man.
  • As always: If you’re not filling and penetrating your wife’s heart with your love and affection, someone or something else will.

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.

Manhood Monday: How to Know the Truth

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

From Today’s Readings:

Alleluia JN 8:31B-32

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Sin is doing what we want without God. 

Freedom is not about doing what we want, rather to have the ability to do the right thing.

But how do we know how to keep from sin, and to do the right thing? 

God’s Word.

The only way to ‘Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man’ is to know the truth with discipleship in Christ

The CMCS-Team contributed to this message


Frank’s Photo of the Week

Photo: ‘Backyard Morning in the Fall‘ by Frank J Casella All Rights Reserved

Each of the seasons bring with it elements and details of art created by God.

Life is too short, and the scenes of Fall colors from this year will be different next year, as they are different from last year.

Often times I feel that God is just waiting for us to show up to take part in the moment with Him.

Thanks for Reading.

Make it a great week. See 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.

Trust In God

The thing we have as Catholic men is to live out our salvation in Christ through the Sacraments.

20 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid, for God has come only to test you and put the fear of him upon you so you do not sin.”
21 So the people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.

Exodus 20:20-21

How is the battle going?

I met with Deacon Coleman one day, from Zacchaeus House ministry, he is a member of the CMCS-Team. We got to talking about ministry to men, how guys worry about work and family, about providing and how to live their faith.

Like how many guys need jobs, and how some union guys go into poverty because they can’t do side-work while waiting their turn on the list for a job. There are marriages and relationships with strife because of worry and (living up to) expectations, feelings that we are all falling short of our goal.

The answer to all of this is to slow down and trust in God. Simply said but not simple to do.

Why?

Because do you find most of us guys are spending too much time not trusting in God, though we say that we do, but trusting in ourselves? Or listening to others on social media instead of listening to God?

Once we realize our way isn’t working is when we seek God and pray for answers. And anger happens usually when things are not going our way.

Many of us too fear silence … quiet time with the Lord.

This is where CMCS comes in. Here is a movement of men who, whether online or one-on-one, or through our annual events, is a place where we learn about the common challenges we face as men in the workplace and at home, on our spiritual journey.

I, as Director, struggle with trusting in God too…. For one, how to be the voice of reason here after meeting with several of you one-on-one about developing your holiness. Sometimes I try too hard to get it right, instead of trusting the Holy Spirit to speak to you through me.

You see,  God designed us men as problem solvers, and the best way to solve a problem is to spend time in prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit so we can meet God where He is at work .

… that is our goal as Catholic men. Yes, easier said than done.

Embrace the darkness. If we have developed trust in God in the light, we’ll embrace Him in the darkness, and in fact, we’ll even embrace the darkness as His path for us.

In other words, when we experience darkness, we’ll back away if our faith is weak, but we’ll move into it if our faith has been strengthened by years of experience in seeing God’s faithfulness, grace, and power.

The thing we have as Catholic men is to live out our salvation in Christ through the Sacraments.

Here is one tip:

“It is a defined dogma of the Catholic Church, revealed by the Holy Spirit and preserved from any possibility of error, that the Body and Blood,Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ are truly and substantially present in the Most Holy Eucharist.”  CCC 1373-1375. Eucharist is not a symbol. The Mass is not a pageant or play acting or a skit anymore than the Lord’s horrendous death on the cross was a skit.

Now what are you waiting for? Go into battle!

Frank J Casella

15 Ways to Be the Man God Calls You to Be

  1. Admit your weaknesses and limitations, while finding strength in faith and genuine love to overcome your sins and faults.
  2. Men need confession regularly. Also, ask your wife and children for forgiveness when you fail them.
  3. Learn what being a real man is all about, study and live-out the Virtues of a Catholic Man.
  4. Be leery of the demonic influences which destroys men and their homes.
  5. Be strong, without putting on a mask of false strength. Persevere and don’t quit.
  6. Focus on the right goal, live as a beloved son of God, and be a man that can become a saint.
  7. Acknowledge one’s faults and live according to the Holy Spirit. Trust in and live God’s agenda, and not in your own human understanding.
  8. Appreciate properly the differences between men and women, and how God made you to be a gift to each other.
  9. Be a man of true love and of wisdom, pursue holiness, and make a difference in the world.
  10. Be a roll model to your children, so they don’t have to look elsewhere for a mentor. Bring them to the pew on Sunday, and encourage this when they are out on their own.
  11. True manliness is not opposed to love but thrives on it, and knows the place of sexuality for the unmarried man as well as for the married man.
  12. Maintain your children’s trust by how you love their mother.  Date your daughters, example to them what to expect from a man.
  13. Catch your kids doing something right.
  14. Develop a relationship with Christ that reveals your meaning and identity as a man.
  15. Enthrone your home to the Lordship of Christ! Has your Priest or Deacon blessed your house?

Receive these blessings and pass it on. You only fail when you give up.

What are some other ways God calls you to be a Catholic Men? Comment below.

If you want to hear God, you have to listen.

By Frank J Casella

If you have never experienced the presence of God, you may wonder how He reveals Himself. The Lord has many different ways of reaching out to His children, so the following is certainly not a complete list. But when you desire and know that Jesus is always near, He will choose the best way to connect with you.

God speaks. I don’t recall ever having heard the Lord’s audible voice, but I have experienced Him speaking clearly and forcefully to my heart. His communication is so unmistakable that those who hear Him remember the message and the reverent experience long after.

God sends a message. Sometimes the Lord lays on a person’s heart the need to get alone with Him. When this happens to me, God is usually saying He’s ready to give me this blog post, for example. It is unwise to ignore such urgings or even to delay until a more “convenient” time. Always do this as soon as possible — I have made the mistake of putting off listening only to discover that when I finally did slow down, the message was harder to receive outside of His perfect timing.

God makes His presence known through His Word. I recently meditated for several days on a scripture passage. I felt the prompting from God, as Fr. Larry Richards says to do, to open my bible and see what that page reads. You then write the verse down that speaks to you, and put it in your pocket to meditate on for as long as the Holy Spirit prompts you to do so. When I do this I knew that I’m in His presence because His Word was speaking specifically to my heart.

Believe the Lord is real and present in this world. He wants to share Himself with us so we can draw contentment, courage, and joy from His presence. To know what He’s saying, we must be willing to slow down and listen.

What do you listen to the most? Radio. Friends. The news media. People who you work with. Who has priority in who or what you listen to, God or someone else?

God’s plan is not the easiest, but it is the best. Have you asked God to show you His plan, will, and purpose for your life? How much time do you listen, or do you do all the talking, then get up? Often, when I feel it’s time to stand up that I’m done listening, it really means it’s time to listen deeper.

The concept called ‘Two Chairs’. This is where you sit across from an empty chair and see Christ as sitting there … and you listen. Give God time to speak. Other times I visit Holy Adoration at my parish and do the same, with the living Eucharist in front of me.

Some closing thoughts.  Sometimes it can take several days before we get His message. Sometimes I feel this restlessness, and this is how God gets my attention. I’ve now been conditioned to know the prompting .. don’t rush it, but in time you will learn it. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it.

For example, recently with a project I was working on with some other people, whom I didn’t know their spiritual walk or ‘temperature’, I felt that restlessness. Like something wasn’t right. There was this lack of structure from the leader for the group. I din’t know whether to pull out before the downward spiral happened, as God provided me the wisdom to see this, or to stay the course and provide them the (spiritual) voice of reason.

A Catholic friend who I trust, and who had knowledge of this group, said to me in passing what an issue that group has and how there are too many bosses. I believe God used that to speak to me. I spent much time mindful and prayerful on my purpose with this project, and what to do. The Lord at the next meeting prompted my heart (some of you may call this your gut) how toxic and a distraction this group was to my life and His will for me. It was really my ego that wanted me to stay.

I was able to see this because I am always making progress to live my life as a prayer, to see people and circumstances through God’s eyes, if you will. This takes practice and testing all the time to be sure you hear his ‘voice’, and make regular and prayerful conversation with Him. Also confirm it with the words from the Bible and the Catholic Catechism, the more time we spend in those words helps us to learn through our Faith what the Bible is saying to us.

So, the ‘flag’ was raised during this meeting and I challenged this group on their character and integrity. With that, God spoke clearly through them how I should make my exit and not stay in it. We have to be careful, because, what He says to us may clash with how other people think. Other times he puts it on our heart to just remove ourselves quietly from the matter. This is why we need to make time to listen to ourselves think. What’s more important, ease and pleasure, or hearing from God? Even if it’s ten minutes a day .. think in pure silence.

Sometimes He will stop us when we try our own way, other times not. It all depends what He wants us to know, or the lesson to be learned. To do this, I have found, we need to make time to drain our brain of our own thoughts and what’s going on in our life at the time. My brain can be so busy at times I have a hard time ‘coming in for a landing’. But as the Bible says, more of Him and less of us. The world around us can be so distracting … if we let it.

Yes, faith without action is not faith. Yet, action without listening is blind faith. Jesus provides clarity and direction when we are on His agenda and not ours, being in tune in listening to the Holy Spirit is the key.

When we repent, or visit our priest for confession, then turn to Christ with our head, gut, and heart, He knows then we are truly listening and this often times is when He can speak to us. His time, not ours. Focus on the Crucifix.

How much time in 24 hours do you listen to Jesus?


Frank J Casella is a photographer, and Executive Director of Catholic Men Chicago Southland. An Catholic Apostolate of Reverend Bishop Joseph N. Perry of Chicago.

The Importance of Your Own Thoughts

We all have busy lives these days. In fact, it’s the same amount of time we’ve always had, but there are more things to keep us busy … or rather distracted.

For example the constant temptation to separate the sacred and secular parts of our life: Seeing the importance of action, or doing, before thinking and praying. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase or know people who ‘do and then think’.

Many of us in the world are aware of God on Sunday’s at Mass, and each day in reflecting on the readings for the day, but do we think of God and prayer the rest of the time. Do you?

Because of the internet and technology our culture is filled with information not even imagined say twenty-five years ago. And the news media has change, mostly, to share opinions how we should be thinking, instead of true journalism to present the facts knowing we are smart enough to make our own conclusions.

Question: if someone were to ask you about why you are a Catholic man, or what you thought about an important news story at the moment, would you have your thoughts together with immediate and compelling answer? Or would you in that moment think about what your opinion is? Or would you repeat what you heard a news reporter, or your priest, say about (how to live) your faith or the news item?

God is with you all day, every day. All you and I need to do is to stop and turn to Him with our thoughts and prayers. To listen more than talk. It could be a few minutes in the morning before going out the door, it could be in the quiet of driving the car, it could be in writing your thoughts in a journal or blog post. The important action in the thinking before the doing. To concentrate and not be distracted.

I have been surprised, and you will be too, how much context your life seems to have once you know your thoughts and what you stand for. Anything that keeps you in any given moment from thinking on God and His direction is a distraction. Especially during our suffering He provides strength when we seek Him to speak to our hearts.

Your decisions will become more clear, and Kingdom inspired, I promise you.

“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Col. 3:17

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