Jesus and Coffee

The impact of Dad’s, the Mass, and the Eucharist.

Glorious Morning – A breakfast sandwich with coffee and the morning sunlight.
Copyright 2015 Frank J Casella on Fine Art America

It is the job of the husband and father, as the priest of his family, to make sure his family goes to church, goes to religious ed, follows the sacraments, and prays together.

I often say, that when a Man leads his family to the pew and lives The Virtues of a Catholic Man it will transform the Church and the Community like no other movement.  Studies tell us that Dad’s determine the church habits of their children and thus to a significant degree their eternal destiny.  According to one study, if a father doesnʼt go to church no matter how faithful the mother is, only one child in fifty will become regular church goers.

If only we knew how God regards this Sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass.

St. Padre Pio 1887-1968

A few short years ago had to give up coffee as a sacrifice to provide more important needs for my family.  I know coffee seems to be simply an everyday commodity but, when you separate your needs from wants, and when you need to put gas in your car (among other things), you look at what is really important. 

This sacrifice has helped me to realize one thing I put before my relationship with Jesus Christ – we all have a hole in our hearts, and we choose to either fill that hole with Jesus and the Eucharist, or something else – coffee is a want that provides me a temporary fix, and the Eucharist is a need that provides me lasting benefits out of this world!

The gift of the Eucharist clearly gives evidence that Jesus incorporated such ritual into his interaction with his disciples. Jesus made powerful use of parables, metaphors and similes to communicate his message and he obviously used words with untold skill and charisma to comfort, to chastise, to challenge and to command, to teach and to guide his own. It is clear, though, that the gift of his body and blood is a ritual, a physical embrace, a kiss that holds us to his heart.

Bishop Joseph Perry

We are blessed so far to live in a country that we’re not forced to give up the Eucharist for some government regulation or more transient pleasure of this world! If you’re not going to Mass on Sunday or bringing your family with you – your legacy – what has stopped that from happening?

As a husband and Father we’re to get our family to Heaven.

The striking thing about the Holy Eucharist is the bond it establishes between love and suffering in the Lord’s own life and in our experience.

Bishop Joseph Perry

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Frank J Casella

Manhood Monday: Being a Disciple of Jesus

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

From Today’s Readings:

Alleluia Jn 14:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

[14:6] The truth: in John, the divinely revealed reality of the Father manifested in the person and works of Jesus. The possession of truth confers knowledge and liberation from sin (Jn 8:32).

“Truth be told, however, Jesus doesn’t want our admiration of him. He wants our discipleship. There’s a difference. Simply, admiring Jesus Christ will not get you saved. Being a disciple of Jesus demands a conscientious, calculated, intentional and determined commitment made to Him and his counsel.”

Bishop Joseph Perry

God bless your day.

The CMCS-Team

Frank’s Photo of the Week

When I saw this moment in time, of a plow in a garden with a chair, it reminded me of my favorite verse from the Bible. Luke 9:62 – “Jesus Said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God”.

What this means to me is like when a farmer plows a field they must be committed to the task to reap the fruit of their labor. Likewise, Jesus in this scripture speaks of the seriousness, and the unconditional nature, of Christian Discipleship. That we must be committed to, and not distracted from, the proclaiming of the Kingdom of God, no matter how briefly.

So then looking at this picture, and the illumination from the morning sun, it’s as if the Holy Spirit is shining on this field with the plow. That there is no time to rest when it’s time to plow.

A picture with a good reminder that God is with us through our work in this world.

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 each year. All men from around the Archdiocese of Chicago and around Chicagoland are invited to attend.

Manhood Monday: Living a Blessed Life

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

From Today’s Readings:

Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Alleluia MT 24:42A, 44

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

The widow is another example of the poor ones in the Gospel today whose detachment from material possessions and dependence on God leads to their blessedness (Lk 6:20). Her simple offering provides a striking contrast to the pride and pretentiousness of the scribes denounced in the preceding section (Lk 20:45–47). 

Likewise, in the scripture verse above, the theme of vigilance and readiness is continued with the bold comparison of the Son of Man to a thief who comes to break into a house.

Do you remember not too long ago when the average person would work for the same company for two or more decades?  It still happens, but not that often. More like eighteen months to three years.

Our paycheck, and identity, and thus possessions, can be taken from us like a thief unless we stay awake with readiness. It is best to be detached from these, and work to truly make Jesus the center of our lives.  And this is the meaning behind the CMCS logo, with the four letters surrounding the crucifix – Christ as Center.

Dependence on God leads to blessedness. It’s not about our good intentions to love God, but how much we offer to Christ to fill our hearts, and He possesses our thoughts and actions, every minute of the day and night.

The CMCS-Team

PS. Thanksgiving Day Prayer click here.

Frank’s Photo of the Week

Click to view larger or to purchase
Photo: ‘In All Circumstances Give Thanks‘ Copyright Frank J Casella Prints | Cards

A Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue in a church hallway, silhouetted by window light.

“Failure is an event, not a person”. – Zig Ziglar

We either succeed or we learn.

When I sit in the presence of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and give thanks for life and every breath I take, I realize how much it’s more about the big picture of things and less about me.

“In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thes. 5:18

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 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.

Are you a Holy man?

By Frank J Casella

Ethics and Integrity

Catholic Men Chicago Southland (CMCS) is about growing in holiness. No matter if it’s our personal life or our business life, when we nurture our spirituality to grow in holiness the most basic benefits are ethics and integrity. Because when we get the person right, then we get the life right.

Our lives are a continual work in progress!

Over my lifetime that I have been involved directly with spiritual men’s movements, including as a third-generation Knights of Columbus, I have seen a lot of good work but have noticed a missing link of (the lack of emphasis) Catholic men inviting Christ to be the center of our lives.

Men’s conferences and meetings from other Faiths I’ve been to usually ended with ‘the sinners prayer’ and how to develop a personal relationship with Jesus, and to be Born Again. And although we receive the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation, Catholic men’s movements mostly focus on subjects such as pornography and bonding as Catholic men to hold each other accountable to our calling, which is important and as we have done too.

The key element I see for Catholic Men, and that I have found to be true since 2004 of CMCS, is to live as a Holy Man. Because I find that it makes you Real. The thing is that good intentions do not transform into right-action. You can’t do the same things and expect a different result.

For example, below are some major points that the CMCS-Team find are the challenges we face today to live as a holy Catholic man:

  • The stress on men given the competition between the sexes; confusion of the roles of the sexes in marriage and family.
  • A need for solid spiritual and/or religious focus to navigate the confused messages given from the culture about what is right and what is wrong, what we should be teaching our children and how they should be educated.
  • A manly spirituality called for each man to understand himself and implement his role as husband and father to be seen as a man of values and morals.

So, if you are a Catholic man seeking motivation to live a deeper holy life, to foster family and Christ as the center of your home and your life, to be an example of goodness in society, and to develop progress and hope for your future, I invite you to take a deeper look at CMCS. To donate your time and your prayers to CMCS.

What you feed your brain is what your life becomes.

Here are some good habits to start with:

1) Make the time to pray ‘A Man’s Prayer’ (PDF) each day. It will transform your outlook on life …. one day at a time.

2) Develop the “Virtues of a Catholic Man“. Start with one Virtue at a time, only then move to the next one. Your goal is to insure Christ is the center of your life.

3) Develop and nurture your most important relationships, your family, and (if you’re married) your marriage. It takes considerably less time to maintain a loving relationship than it does to repair a broken one (PDF).

4) Invite Jesus to show you the way, and watch what happens!! Pray each day and mean it: ‘Lord Jesus, I surrender myself to you, please show me the way’

The name Catholic means universal or Community, so know that you don’t go the journey alone. Keep this in mind:

All local parish men’s groups should stay connected with CMCS. So, have your groups contact us.

CMCS is great for all men no matter where they are in their faith.

CMCS is a great resource for men and Blessing for family men.

Attend our annual gathering, Community is where we connect the dots in our spiritual journey as Catholic men in Chicagoland.

Peace be with you!

Frank J Casella is a photographer, and CMCS Executive Director

Measuring Up To Jesus

By Frank J Casella

The other day when I was on Twitter a quote I saw from sales guru hit me: You become what you think about all day long. It made me ponder on what I think about every day, which lead me to realize how much my thinking, and lifestyle, has changed over the years.

I used to be more selfish, helping and serving others with the end motive of serving my own needs and ego, and praying for my own needs — talking to God more than listening. St. Francis says [that] it is through giving that we receive, and I took it literal.

Today, when I give of myself I do not look for what I receive, because the real gift is how God is blessing others through me .. which I may never see. My agenda has become Gods agenda. Said another way, I live my life as a prayer.

If we focus our attention on bad news and gossip, and distractions, we will miss God’s incredible, visionary, optimistic purpose for every believer: to grow so much in our faith that we shine like beacons to everyone around us!

God’s vision for each church is that we would grow so much in our love for God that we’d love people the way He loves them: unconditionally and passionately. He want’s us to be filled up with Christ’s grace, truth, and purpose so that everything we do will reflect Him to those around us.

Measuring Up To Jesus Photo Copyright Frank J Casella All Rights Reserved

I assure you, the longer you look at Jesus on that Cross, the more He will speak to you about who you are and how you can become more Holy.

The greatest image I have of my late father is how he prayed the rosary, looking at the Cross, each morning in a room with only the window light , just him and God, before leaving for work.

The greatest image my children say they have of me is how I kiss the crucifix each morning as soon as I wake up. What they do not see is how often I spend just gazing at it in holy contemplation.

“If a hypocrite is standing between you and God, it just means the hypocrite is closer to God than you are.” — Zig Ziglar

Frank J Casella is a photographer, and co-founder of Bishop Perry’s Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum.

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.