React or Respond

I was drawn to this moment of an American Flag mounted on a tree with blooming flowers below it, in the country morning sunlight, because it reminds me of how the Flag is a symbol of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. The phrase gives three examples of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration says have been given to all human beings by their Creator, and which governments are created to protect. Without it we have chaos.

How do you react when you see people being hostile toward Christian beliefs? Do you let your anger simmer, get into an debate on social media, or just keep quiet? It’s difficult to know how to respond to those who show antagonism to our faith, but Saint Peter gives us good advice ….

… but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.

1 Peter 3:13-18

Are you willing to suffer or be misunderstood? Since the world finds holiness, obedience, and reverence for God confusing or even offensive, taking a stand for righteousness may bring you criticism instead of praise.

Then online, Facebook, Twitter and Google were seen as white knights of progress, but now there is a lot more skepticism about their effects and their intentions. Or you might be thinking that maybe you should quit social media because it can hurt your career.

The late Zig Ziglar says “It’s not the situation, but whether we react negative or respond positive to the situation that is important.”

Responding to Our Culture

When we react to a situation it is often a fight or flight action, more often than not it is a defensive mechanism. It is reflexive with little thought of the action or outcome. Reaction is usually a response to an emergency or a crisis, and respond is like a thought-out, deliberate decision.

We also see the aspect of react such as regarding men, their reaction to religious sharing groups, and what discourages them from attending.

Remember these points:

  • Don’t fear the intimidation, but remember that when you are persecuted, you are blessed (Matt. 5:10).
  • Sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart. A follower of Jesus is no longer enslaved to the world but is now a slave of Christ and His righteousness (Rom. 6:18; 1 Corinthians 7:22).
  • Always be ready to give a defense for your hope. This is to be done gently and respectfully—never with anger or condemnation.
  • Keep a good conscience. You can’t foresee how God may use your example. Perhaps your righteous behavior and words will influence others to see their own sin and turn to Christ.

Even though our culture looks very dark, Christ can use your light to show someone the way to Jesus.

As a parent Joseph may have had many more surprises not recounted in scripture. What we do know of him is that he always responded, made the necessary adjustments and took action all the while with an appropriate degree of faith and surrender to God.

Bishop Joseph Perry

Frank J Casella, CMCS-Director

Taking it all in stride

God’s will is that we depend on Him.

Taking things in your stride means, as you go along the bumpy road of life, which most people will inevitably experience, you endeavor not to let the more challenging events you encounter blow you off course.

Much of the strength I get to take things in stride is through my faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. Just because I am a Christian doesn’t mean I don’t have problems. In fact, I probably have more. Because people it seems test you to see the power of your belief.

Anger, worry, struggles and the like are revelations that things are not going our way, and that we are not in control of everything. When I take things in stride, and wait on God and meet Him where He is at work (in my life), it’s always amazing how things unfold and come together in ways that I could never do myself.

Try it. Pray for your circumstances. Ask God to show you what to do. Wait for the answer. Don’t take it back … just wait … in HIS time not yours. You will see.

God’s will is that we depend on Him. So keep it all in perspective and take in all in stride.

Frank J Casella

The Power of the Cross for Catholic Men

Back to basics. We can’t love the Church if we don’t know and love Christ.

God has called us through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thes 2:14

This struck me on the importance and power of the Cross. And we are given access to this power just through believing in Jesus Christ.

As men we face many challenges in this world. It is simply by the sign of the Cross that we are not alone and are given strength.

Heed these words of the late Francis Cardinal George:

“God sustains the world, in good times and in bad. Catholics, along with many others, believe that only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, savior of the world and head of his body, the church. Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb, no matter their nationality, are on the right side of history. Those who lie about him and persecute or harass his followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up ringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression. There is nothing “progressive” about sin, even when it is promoted as “enlightened.”

The world divorced from the God who created and redeemed it inevitably comes to a bad end. It’s on the wrong side of the only history that finally matters. The Synod on the New Evangelization is taking place in Rome this month because entire societies, especially in the West, have placed themselves on the wrong side of history.”

 

You Become What You Think About

The Catholic Catechism and the Bible tells you how to do the right thing. But you may think, as I have, that a certain movie you see or how you look at that woman walking down the street or sitting in the church pew across the isle is a simple, innocent thing and doesn’t make a difference.

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 don’t 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 God’s agenda. Said another way, I live my life as a prayer.

Your words and actions, men, say a lot about your thinking, and when you live your life as a prayer you see the world and others through God’s eyes … and become more like Christ. You’ll know this is happening when others tell you, because you might be too humble to see it in yourself.

A spiritual director once told me ”the ‘best’ Christian’s are those people who constantly feel that they fall short in living-out God’s will for their life“.

Here are some scriptures from the Catholic Bible that speak to me on what and how you – a Catholic Man – should think:

Power of the Tongue.  James Chapter 3    Proverbs Chapter 15

Thoughts and Thinking.   Proverbs Chapter 18    Matthew Chapter 9

What do you think about all day long?

Without the Cross, your life can be horizontal = world view, selfish and self serving.

When Jesus’ stretched out arms of love were nailed to the Cross, He created the vertical = Heavenly view, seeing others as better than yourself, and helping each other make it through life.

 

Holiness and the Cross

Too many times, we allow sin in our lives to distract us from the Holiness of God. As scripture says, “be still … and know that I am God”.  The two main things that keeps us from Holiness as men is our human understanding of sex and money.

Stay with me now …

The more we be still and look at that crucifix everyday the more we will see how us men need to turn off the porn on the computer; walk away from that affair (emotional or otherwise); stop flirting with all the ladies and instead look at them as a person and as a Woman; turn marital sex from self-gratification into being a Sacred and Holy gift to your spouse; stop using profanity .. PERIOD; stop little white lies and then rationalizing them; and take our minds off materialism: the faster car, the big house or boat, or the latest electronic gadget . .. or just the need to make more money.

(it is not bad to have things, but we must keep it all in right perspective)

All of these.. and more … distract us from keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. When us Men get sex and money – and the power of the Cross – in the right Christian order, we will then shake the world for Jesus Christ!

So, if you are going through an identity crisis I suggest you find the crucifix in your house and just look at it … and look at it… and look at it.

 

Your identity is in Jesus Christ! 

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 don’t see is how often I spend just looking at it in holy contemplation.

Us men have the power that when we get our holiness in order can impact the world, the church, humanity, and our families …  and all of this can be felt three generations deep!

We have one message to give through our lives … and the sign of the Cross:

… “only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ.”

 

— Frank J Casella, CMCS Executive Director

 

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What Is A CMCS Man?

Come Holy Spirit, Command Me To Do Your Will.

 

If you’ve been to the Catholic Chicago Men’s Conference, then you’ve been challenged to bring the encounter home. To make a commitment to ‘Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man’, and to be a CMCS Man.

CMCS is Catholic Men Chicago Southland, and who is the sponsor of the Catholic Chicago Men’s Conference. What this means is that although our men’s conference and our online real estate is open and available to Catholic men of Chicagoland, our apostolate has a main focus offline to foster the holiness of Catholic men on the south end of the archdiocese of Chicago.

But don’t let the title of CMCS Man create barriers for you, it’s simply what we call it. In the same way, we call a parish leader the man who coordinates men’s ministry in his parish. This could be a men’s group who meets on a regular basis, or a one time event such as a parish prayer breakfast (that we can help you with).

The main purpose though of a CMCS Man is how you put your Faith into action. How you engage with other Catholic men, for example, meet other guys about your Faith weekly or monthly, or for Men’s Bible study in our homes.

When you attend the conference we give you the A Man’s Prayer’ prayer card. Men tell us that when they pray this each day it transforms their life, usually with an outward thinking mindset rather than inward on self.  If you’d like us to send you more prayer cards, both English and Spanish, for your men’s group or your parish contact us.

The other resource is Bishop Perry’s Virtues of a Catholic Man. The method we suggest is to ‘perfect’ each Virtue in any order until you have them all completed (mastered). This becomes very rewarding and always a work in progress, yet what comes with it is your spiritual nurturing to make Christ the center of your life. God will speak to your heart, you will see.

One thing that CMCS has established since day one is how the purpose of a non-profit mission statement is to transform a person, from good intentions, into right-action.  For this reason we provide encouragement though the CMCS Letter and archive. You can also call or email us for support in your Catholic walk. I personally meet with men weekly over coffee to help them with discernment towards growing in holiness.

We invite you to contact us about your spiritual growth or if you’re looking for ideas relating to men’s spirituality. Please know that Bishop Perry and the CMCS Team are praying for you always!

The Annual Men’s Conference is really the by-product of all we do at CMCS. The life adjustments that we all make the rest of the year determines our spiritual life, and determines the impact we have with our family and our community. We’ve known this to have an impact for up to three generations.  So this, right here, is the core and virtues of the CMCS Man.

Thank you very much for your interest, and valuable time and investment in what it means to be a CMCS Man!

Frank J Casella, CMCS Executive Director
Co-Founder Catholic Chicago Men’s Conference

 

Photo: Frank J Casella © All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

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Called To Holiness – Tools For The Catholic Man

Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and supplications with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. – Daniel 9:3

By Frank J Casela

“Some day I want to be like him”.  Have you ever said those words about your Dad?  “Some day I want to be like him”.
 
If your answer is ‘Yes’, consider yourself blessed.  In our culture, boy’s (and girls) with Fathers absent in homes, or who do not have presence, usually beget Father’s absent in homes.

The same is true for teaching (by example) the Catholic Faith in our home. Recent studies tell us that Dads determine the church habits of their children and thus to a significant degree their eternal destiny.  According to one study, if a father does not go to church no matter how faithful the mother is, only one child in fifty will become regular church goers.

Many Men who are high-powered in the board room, are passive in the family room. We come home from work and – like a big kid – veg out and play games first with our kids, instead of mentoring them by giving our wife time (if she is home from also working) – and cultivate the marriage.  You know how it goes: “the best gift that a Father can give his kids is to love their Mother”.

Men — In the home moms do the nurturing … dads build identity.

Whether or not you are married, what is your character as a man?  What is Character?  Character is what you do when no body is looking. In other words, what are you thinking when you see a woman in church wearing (immodest) flip-flops and short shorts?  Do you think about your own needs and desires or, do you view her as a person and women, another man’s daughter, and see her heart? (It is known in the Vatican for women to ‘cover-up’ their beauty, as to not distract from the Mass)

Men — In the Bible, Eve sinned because Adam was silent …. are you silent?

… Or are you holy and courageous, work to improve your marriage, be better father to your children, grow in virtue, serve the needs of others more generously, be active participants in your parish, and be a better citizen.
 
Here is my short list of tools for the Catholic Man:

When I meet Dad’s for coffee each week, many of them admit to me their kids get everything they want, more than they themselves ever had as a kid … but they don’t do anything about it.   The Catholic Bible says “Do not withhold discipline from youths; if you beat them with the rod, they will not die”. Prov. 23:13  In other words, men, it’s okay … give yourself permission to tell your child “NO”. Your kids will respect you for it.
… Pope Francis said on February 8th, 2015: “Effective fathers do not create robot sons who merely repeat verbatim what has been drilled into them. Rather, an effective father transmits wisdom right into his son’s core, enabling him to feel and act, to speak and judge with wisdom and righteousness.”  It is not easy to transmit this heritage of wisdom; a father must be close, gentle but firm with his children.

Penetrate and fill your wife’s heart with your love an affection.  Because, guy’s, when we don’t fill our wives heart, someone or something else will.  It goes back to Adam and Eve: Adam was not protecting Eve’s heart. Women share with me about their husbands saying that “I don’t want his money …as much as I want HIM”.  In other words, men, what she means is that when she doesn’t have YOU … she wants your money.

Read your Bible daily.  Don’t have one?  Start with the “Today’s Reading” on USCCB.org.  Make sure that what you’re reading is a Catholic Bible, as it has the added books called the Apocrypha giving you the fullness of our Catholic Faith. The Bears’ Pat McCaskey shared at our Chicago Men’s Conference that you can read the Bible in a year and still have time off for Christmas.   Don’t forget to have a copy of the Catechism too.

Live the Virtues of a Catholic Man by Bishop Joseph Perry.  Men — Start with one virtue and don’t move to the next until you have it mastered. Download it here.  Live them!

Join or start a Parish Men’s Small Group.  This is where a half-dozen or so Catholic Men meet to share and encourage each other about the challenges they face in the workplace and at home. Contact us for information.

Spend time with your children every day.  Either reading to them if they are young, or in a meaningful conversation.
MEN — The average Dad spends only seven minutes a day with each of his children.
… Pope Francis, in fact, said “To form a child with a wise heart, a father must be present to his children, he has to “be there” for them. This presence is exemplified by Joseph, who famously, never speaks,  yet he provides a silent witness which is powerful.”  Pope Francis understands the dynamics of good fathering – To be present.

Embrace your Catholic Faith. Trust it, and make your life – more of Christ and less of you.   Many of us Men identify ourselves by our paycheck or the sports Jersey we wear, instead of being a child of God, Husband, or Father. Where do we turn when we lose our job or that Jersey gets too small for us to wear?
Men — Give your personal agenda to God … don’t take it back … then watch what He does with it.

Attend weekly Mass or regular Adoration with the Eucharist.  …. and pray for and WITH your wife and family.  Click for A Man’s Prayer by Bishop Perry.  For example, the greatest image I have of my late father is how he prayed each morning in in a room with the lights out – just him and God – before leaving for work. The greatest image my boys say they have of me is how I kiss the crucifix each morning as soon as I wake up.
Men — When you go to Mass each Sunday, bring yourselves to the Altar … to the Eucharist … as a living sacrifice.

Turn off the TV and read some books!  ‘Journey to Heaven’  — Randy Hain  or  ‘Be A Man’ —  Fr. Larry Richards  Don’t have time …. again, turn off the TV.  Find resources for Catholic men here.

Men — in the end, life is God’s gift to you … what you do with your life is your gift to God.

Make a commitment to holiness …. In the words of Pope Francis “The Church, our Mother, is committed to supporting with all her strength the good and generous presence of fathers in families, because they are, for the new generations, irreplaceable custodians and mediators of faith in goodness, in justice and in the protection of God, as Saint Joseph.”

Thus the mission of CMCS — Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man.

 
Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and supplications with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. – Daniel 9:3

If this article was meaningful to you please share it with your friends.
 

Frank J Casella is Executive Director of Catholic Men Chicago Southland CMCSVirtues.org

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Six Ways to Avoid Becoming a Virtual Family

“Have we thrown in the towel and allowed the wired world in which we live to raise our children for us? Are we contributing to the problem through the examples we are setting for our children?” Randy Hain, with his new blog post for Integrated Catholic Life, offers six positive actions to help us to avoid becoming “virtual families”. Do you and your family struggle with this challenge?”

 

Six Ways to Avoid Becoming a Virtual Family : The Integrated Catholic Life™.