Bishop Joseph Perry: Holy Week Message

A Blessed Holy Week and Easter to all our readers and CMCS-Men

We walk with the Lord this week in his suffering and keep vigil with him for his resurrection. The grace and merit given the death and resurrection of Jesus is communicated to us in our Baptism. We consciously absorb these mysteries and their graces by our participation in the Church’s liturgies this Holy Week:

Palm Sunday the Lord’s entrance into the city of Jerusalem; the commemoration of his Last Supper and arrest on Holy Thursday; his death and burial on Good Friday; the Holy Saturday Vigil where we move with some powerful scripture passages from darkness to light, receive new converts to Catholic faith and fellowship, renew our baptismal vows and celebrate the resurrection. Come the feast of the Resurrection next Sunday, Christians climb to the rooftops to shout out to the world, again, the greatest piece of news ever, namely, that our God in Jesus in alive, when evil men meant him dead and the life he now has is promised all of us who believe in him while we await His return to take us with him.

It helps not to skip to Easter Sunday unless we have walked with the Lord through his passion. We can’t experience Easter appropriate without having gone through Good Friday. This remains a metaphor for all our experiences of life. I think of it this way:

  • If someone we loved died tragically and we were not there with them, our affection for that person would drive us to want to know every detail every minute, every second of their passion and death. We would want to walk their path, rehearse each step, each place that led up to that loved one’s death, as if to be with that person vicariously when we could not be there with him or her when it happened.
  • We have heard of people traveling to Normandy, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, even the rough streets of the city for just this purpose. “I want to know!” “I need to know how it happened and why…” we say. It is the same with Jesus. 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.

Holy Week contains special days for our walk with the Lord. Due to the suspension of all public Masses in the Archdiocese of Chicago because of COVID-19, consult your parish website for Holy Week schedule for the times of services online. Involve your spouse and children with you so that the graces of this holy season can embrace you and your loved ones.

~ Bishop Joseph N. Perry

A Letter from Bishop Joseph Perry on COVID-19

Dear Friends in Christ,

As we approach the feast of the Resurrection on Sunday, April 12, we may well feel like we are entombed by precautionary measures that have altered the rhythm of life these days given the threat associated with coronavirus.  All this is certainly without precedent in our lifetimes.  We struggle daily enough with the cold and flu and other physical discomforts and can find relief in most instances with over-the-counter meds.  And, let’s admit it, we Americans are not used to plagues of this nature and scope that hit other areas around the world.

The austerity of Lent and what the season can mean faces us dramatically.  What is God saying to us in this time of anxiety and misfortune?  It is a time for prayer and sober reflection on our dependence upon the mercy of God.  What prayer can we recite together as a household while we are waiting on the Lord?  For we cannot heal ourselves.  While churches are closed these days for sake of the fright connected with contagion, once they are reopened we hope many more unused to the regimen of weekly ritual focus upon God might be inclined to reorder their lives and join us.

I’ve been busy telephoning the priests of the vicariate, family and relatives and friends to make sure everyone is alright.  With the exception of one of our priests who is hospitalized with the virus, everyone else appears to be alright.  Thank God!

While we already have made necessary changes to our lifestyle and readjusted certain habits, we might measure which of these we might carryover once this is all over, what needs particular attention on our parts for a better quality of life and spiritual tone to our busy lives.  

Certainly, a healing in response to a bad turn with health is one of the gifts of God. 

But first, seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all things will be added unto you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” 

Matthew 6, 33-34

Blessings and good health I wish for you and all who are important to you.

Biship Joseph Perry
Archdiocese of Chicago
CMCS Episcopal Liasion

Holy Week Message from Bishop Joseph Perry

A Blessed Holy Week and Easter to all our readers and participants with our Men’s Prayer Groups and Conferences, from Catholic Men Chicago Southland.

Bishop Joseph Perry

We walk with the Lord this week in his suffering and keep vigil with him for his resurrection. The grace and merit given the death and resurrection of Jesus is communicated to us in our Baptism. We consciously absorb these mysteries and their graces by our participation in the Church’s liturgies this Holy Week: Palm Sunday the Lord’s entrance into the city of Jerusalem; the commemoration of his Last Supper and arrest on Holy Thursday; his death and burial on Good Friday; the Holy Saturday Vigil where we move with some powerful scripture passages from darkness to light, receive new converts to Catholic faith and fellowship, renew our baptismal vows and celebrate the resurrection. Come the feast of the Resurrection next Sunday, Christians climb to the rooftops to shout out to the world, again, the greatest piece of news ever, namely, that our God in Jesus in alive, when evil men meant him dead and the life he now has is promised all of us who believe in him while we await His return to take us with him.

It helps not to skip to Easter Sunday unless we have walked with the Lord through his passion. We can’t experience Easter appropriate without having gone through Good Friday. This remains a metaphor for all our experiences of life. I think of it this way:

  • If someone we loved died tragically and we were not there with them, our affection for that person would drive us to want to know every detail every minute, every second of their passion and death. We would want to walk their path, rehearse each step, each place that led up to that loved one’s death, as if to be with that person vicariously when we could not be there with him or her when it happened.
  • We have heard of people traveling to Normandy, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, even the rough streets of the city for just this purpose. “I want to know!” “I need to know how it happened and why…” we say. It is the same with Jesus. 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.

Holy Week contains special days for our walk with the Lord. Consult your parish Holy Week schedule for the times of services. Take your spouse and children with you so that the graces of this holy season can embrace you and your loved ones.

~ Bishop Joseph N. Perry

PS. All men from the Archdiocese and Chicagoland are invited to join us on the Saturday after Easter for Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum.

Being Renewed and Mastered by the Faith

By Frank J Casella

Whenever there are people working on my house, from the plumber to the A/C tech, and most recently the roofer and siding company, I try to spend some time talking with them and to check their ‘spiritual temperature’ to see where God is at work.

My wife and I try to hire a Catholic / Christian to service our home, when possible … keep it in the family.

So, one man was telling me how his son is in jail, and how he bought his son a TV so that he can watch the Cubs games. He also told me that his son started reading the Bible again, and the others in the jail call him the Bible guy.

I asked the man how this came to be, that his son went back to the Bible? He said that now that his son has time on his hands that he can concentrate on it more. Where before he had a lot on his mind and trying to fight his battles in life. I shared with this man what I’m about to share with you below.

After this discussion I said a prayer and thanked God for touching hearts in this way, and prayed the Holy Spirit continue to develop this relationship between the father and the son, and the spiritual growth of the Son while in jail.

Many times, even in my life, it is through our struggles that we mostly come close to God. For God’s will is that we depend on Him. Sometimes He needs to do things that get our attention! … and our response.

There are some important words recently shared by Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, through his reflection The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse. As I was reading the pages of this document, I couldn’t help but see how these words not only speak to this matter in the church, which is deeply important, but also when you take them out of this context how they speak to us in general about living the Faith.

These words in particular jumped off the page at me:

“God became man for us. Man as His creature is so close to His heart that He has united himself with him and has thus entered human history in a very practical way. He speaks with us, He lives with us, He suffers with us and He took death upon Himself for us. We talk about this in detail in theology, with learned words and thoughts. But it is precisely in this way that we run the risk of becoming masters of faith instead of being renewed and mastered by the Faith.”

I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of becoming too busy for God, and to pass on advice to others about living the Faith even when I was failing at being renewed and mastered by the Faith myself. We are raised with knowing the Catechism and the ways of the Faith. But practicing it, living it, and putting it into action is something else.

Life is a work in progress, and it’s understandable how many men I talk with find it a struggle to develop the discipline to grow in the Faith, even though the benefits outweigh the work.

Have you ever noticed that when Jesus had struggles, and ultimately faced His Crucifixion and death, He went to the quiet place to pray? He fought His battles on his knees. He brought himself into one-ness with God, because He could not do it alone in His own flesh, but that of the Father. Just like the man in jail I told you about, I believe he is turning to God because of the place he is at right now – he can not go through it in his own strength.

I am really impressed how this Dad forgave his son while in jail, and supported him by buying him a TV. I’m sure the son feels this encouragement like no other. It’s like during the Passion of Jesus Christ, how Saint Peter denies Jesus three times and runs away. Yet in the end Jesus handed Peter the keys to the Church with true forgiveness.

Likewise, as Benedict XVI says: “A society without God — a society that does not know Him and treats Him as non-existent — is a society that loses its measure.” How many times have we, as men, because we are wired to fix things, taken matters into our own hands confident with how God wants it done, or never considered God’s plan in the first place? This to me is treating God as non-existent.

“The reason is the absence of God”, as Benedict XVI says, “The power of evil arises from our refusal to love God. He who entrusts himself to the love of God is redeemed. Our being not redeemed is a consequence of our inability to love God. Learning to love God is therefore the path of human redemption.”

If you don’t know were to begin to love God, or make renewal, I’m reminded of these little books by Mother Angelica. She shares in a simple way how to turn to Jesus, say your prayers, pray to the Holy Spirit, and go to confession. That is simply what religion, and loving God, is about. And remember we have Bishop Perry’s Virtues of a Catholic Man to help put this all into action.

You can’t have and live your Faith without action …. towards loving God. You can be given the Catholic sacraments, but they mean nothing unless you work on them … all the time.

The Church is known as the redemptive agency in the world. And a very important aspect of this is the Eucharist. We as men, especially those of us who lead a family, need to bring ourselves to the Eucharist as a living sacrifice. We need to do this to the point of being transformed from the good intentions of viewing it as only a Host, into the right-action of being moved by the presence of the Living Eucharist.

Read these words slowly at least three times shared by Benedict XVI: “The declining participation in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration shows how little we Christians of today still know about appreciating the greatness of the gift that consists in His Real Presence. The Eucharist is devalued into a mere ceremonial gesture when it is taken for granted that courtesy requires Him to be offered at family celebrations or on occasions such as weddings and funerals to all those invited for family reasons.”

The Living Eucharist is one of the most important ways I think we come to love God, and to become renewed and mastered by the Faith. And to see how and where God is at work in our lives and in others. This is a free gift that helps us, as Benedict XVI says: “To see and find the living Church is a wonderful task which strengthens us and makes us joyful in our Faith time and again.”

This is how the man working on my house came to tell me about his son. Because, I gave God my time to just be in the moment, so the man felt the love of God radiate from me to the point that he opened up to sharing what he is struggling with. God presents these moments to us when we bring ourselves into one-ness with Himself, the Master of the Faith. And through people is the most common way I have seen how God works in the world.

Thanks for reading.

Follow me on LinkedIn LinkedIn.FrankJCasella.com


Side Note: To the men reading this from Chicagoland, be sure the check out the Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum coming in two weeks. Hope to see you there!

Your Struggle Is Part Of Your Story

We all go through the dark moments in life. If you’re like me, you try to take the easy way out in moving towards the light. The thing is, often times until we go through the struggles we really don’t learn the full story.

For example, in times of struggles I often prayed for God to show me the way, but I never seemed to find any answers. Often times, after the fact, it is revealed to me that because I didn’t wait on God in His timing that I missed out on the blessing. Because I tried to avoid what I thought would experience pain or challenge.

Had I meant what I prayed for God to show the way, and not take it back as soon as I gave it to Him, because this is the easy way, then people and circumstances would have come into my path to show the way … and the rest of the story would be revealed.

I have lived through job layoffs, health setbacks, car accidents, people and their shortcomings, long-term unemployment, marriage issues, and the inevitable short on money when there is an ’emergency’ need, to name a few. In all of these I have learned that my viewpoint is not always God’s viewpoint. That I’m usually focused on my needs, and God is focused on using my circumstance to bring others into relationship with him, in addition to meeting my immediate need.

One other thing I’ve learned from all this is that, many times we struggle because we don’t know our life mission. That when we know our mission, some people call this your ‘why’, and we find a way to serve others through our mission, then we have less struggles in life. Because many times serving others without a mission we are fighting ourselves or getting in our own way. We should see others through our mission to know how to best serve them.

Broken relationships, for example, are like a vase that falls off the table and breaks into many small pieces. Depending how we look at it, if we try to put the vase (relationship) back together piece by piece seeking for God to show us through the struggle, instead of looking at serving self before the other person or giving up and taking the easy way out, that vase has the potential to become a beautiful mosaic.

You have to decide how important the struggle is to you, and grow through it, and how much you want God to complete the story in your life.

Jesus had to go onto the Cross to do the will of God. This struggle that He encountered was and is a part of His story. What struggles have you experienced that are a part of your story?

Reflect for a moment on how you can better allow God to radiate His love for a beautiful life from your past struggles and storms.

God’s will is that we depend on Him.

 

Frank J Casella is Co-founder of Catholic Chicago Men’s Conference, and Executive Director of Catholic Men Chicago Southland Apostolate.

 

 

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Easter Message from Bishop Joseph N. Perry

We walk with the Lord this week in his suffering and keep vigil with him for his resurrection. The grace and merit given the death and resurrection of Jesus is communicated to us in our Baptism. We consciously absorb these mysteries and their graces by our participation in the Church’s liturgies this Holy Week: Palm Sunday the Lord’s entrance into the city of Jerusalem; the commemoration of his Last Supper and arrest on Holy Thursday; his death and burial on Good Friday; the Holy Saturday Vigil where we move with some powerful scripture passages from darkness to light, receive new converts to Catholic faith and fellowship, renew our baptismal vows and celebrate the resurrection. Come the feast of the Resurrection next Sunday, Christians climb to the rooftops to shout out to the world, again, the greatest piece of news ever, namely, that our God in Jesus in alive, when evil men meant him dead and the life he now has is promised all of us who believe in him while we await His return to take us with him.

It helps not to skip to Easter Sunday unless we have walked with the Lord through his passion. We can’t experience Easter appropriate without having gone through Good Friday. This remains a metaphor for all our experiences of life. I think of it this way:

• If someone we loved died tragically and we were not there with them, our affection for that person would drive us to want to know every detail every minute, every second of their passion and death. We would want to walk their path, rehearse each step, each place that led up to that loved one’s death, as if to be with that person vicariously when we could not be there with him or her when it happened.

• We have heard of people traveling to Normandy, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, even the rough streets of the city for just this purpose. “I want to know!” “I need to know how it happened and why…” we say. It is the same with Jesus. 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.

Holy Week contains special days for our walk with the Lord. Consult your parish Holy Week schedule for the times of services. Take your spouse and children with you so that the graces of this holy season can embrace you and your loved ones.

 

~ Bishop Joseph N. Perry

 

 

 

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