St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, Model for a Man With a Family

By Bishop Joseph N Perry

None of us likes to have our plans changed be that provoked by an accident, downsizing at work or layoff from the job, some unforeseen happening with our children or grandchildren, a spring storm or a natural disaster, sudden death of a family member.  All of these things can intrude on our lives.

St. Joseph might be called the patron saint of changed plans.  In a culture where there were strong predictions, set patterns and long established customs Joseph chose for a spouse a beautiful girl in his village and things started happening.  He awaited the birth of a mystery child and then had to take the expectant mother on an unexpected trip upon news of a government ordered census.  He witnessed the birth of Jesus then had to flee for their lives because of news of a deranged regent by the name of Herod.  He heard strange words in the temple from perfect strangers about the child’s future then had another heart wrenching experience in the same temple 12 years later with the same lost child.

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. 

There was context for this in Jewish culture, namely, Joseph was open to hearing the word of God expressed in what can be described as an active dream-life within a lively sense by his own people that God walked with them and was concerned about them despite Roman legions marching through their streets.  Scripture presents Joseph as a just and upright man, sensitive, in tune with the Will of God.  In retrospect, chosen to protect God’s secret – the origin of God’s Son and the integrity of the child’s Mother.  Joseph must have been a special man for all this.

In this he was a worthy descendant of his ancestor King David of Israel who had to change his plans regularly to fit God’s purpose, for the promise of an everlasting dynasty.  Even more, Joseph is a son of Abraham, the great model of our heritage in faith, another man whose plans were constantly getting changed for the better by a baffling God.  Joseph was submerged in Jewish yearnings for a Messiah whose reign would be forever. He learned to hope against hope and thereby saw some interesting things take place.

Joseph doesn’t seem to have had many accolades or glory days or a Father of the year award.  Joseph simply exits the scene after doing his duty.  I find that is true with a lot of seniors if not an older generation given to duty and responsibility raising children, washing dishes, going to work till they retire or are pushed out, getting sick and dying or following hum-drum routine that carries the blessing of God.  God is found in the ordinary day-to-day rhythms of our lives.

Joseph exhibits a credible manhood, a religious disposition not unfamiliar to his times, but indeed a model for today’s Christian man who searches earnestly for the Will of God in his life and family.

The twists and turns of our lives may not be so momentous as Joseph’s but they can be equally as uplifting.  Life guarantees us its ups-and-downs. We will all have our lot of suffering in this life.  There is no escaping that.  The question is how to benefit from it personally unto our everlasting glory and happiness in heaven.  Suffering and death are part of our debt due to original sin. therefore, they are necessary for our good.

We can imitate Joseph’s uprightness and faith as we address the ways God asks us to shift gears.  Discerning God’s will is not easy. We need to think things over consistently in a spirit of religious faith.  Sometimes we have to dream. Sometimes we have to suffer. The Lord often has a better idea than we do.  Joseph found that out. So can we.


Most Reverend Joseph N Perry is Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, and Episcopal Liaison of Catholic Men Chicago Southland, and Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum


Applause

 

purple-flowers-wpring-garden-photo-frankjcasella

 

Dear Friend,

Do you love yourself for who you are as a person, or for what you do?

As I go out with my camera to photograph how people relate to each other through their body language, I find many of us judge our success by the applause of our audience.

In other words, we do our best work in life, and give our best performance, when we judge ourselves not by results but rather by hard work that builds fruit in people.

For example, when I create a new art photograph my purpose is to share truth, hope, goodness and love, and not look at the sale or the people who may like it or not.

We should applaud ourselves when our life and work solves a problem, fulfills a need, serves a constructive purpose, or lifts others to a higher level.

This to me fosters true happiness in the person who we are.

Enjoy your day!

Frank

Frank J Casella is a professional photographer and executive director of Catholic Men Chicago Southland.

Photo Copyright Frank J Casella All Rights Reserved here

 

Life Mission. Don’t Leave Earth Without It!

By Frank J Casella

I’m sure that you’ve heard of a Lenten Mission and a Mission Statement, but have you heard of a Life Mission?  Do you have a Life Mission and, if so, what is it?

The purpose of a Mission is defined as a vocation or calling of an (religious) organization. As Catholics we are called as a Church to go out into the world and spread the Gospel.

Through a Lenten Mission we are renewed to be an living example of this Mission.

The Mission Statement of Catholic Men Chicago Southland works towards “Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man” …..  to nurture a Man’s character through his spiritual journey.

A Life Mission, however, is the Gospel Mission made personal by transformation from good intentions into right-action.

For example, my life mission is “To be the Man that God has called me to be, being the best husband and father for my family, to be a ‘real’ person to those around me, and to equip others to live a compelling life so they help to equip others.”  A Life Mission is making the Mission Statement personal to the point of living it, eating it, breathing it, sleeping it, etc. (you get the point). It’s transforming Holy Church into Holy Life(style).

I live out my Life Mission by:  1) Daily prayer to see where God is at work in my life, and to meet Him in that work. 2) Spending meaningful time with my wife and kids, and to encourage and lead them prayerfully in their life’s purpose. 3) Allowing my lifestyle and relationship with others to be a living example of my relationship with Jesus Christ – Some people call this servant leadership.

My late Father used to say the famous quote, that if you don’t stand for something then you’ll fall for anything.

Hence, your Life Mission should be your identity in how you serve Jesus Christ, and not by what you do for a living or by what you wear, etc. It’s who you are as a person, and not what you do.

 

“If we build into ourselves a deep understanding and conviction that serving the needs of other human beings is the reason we profit, that the reason we earn money is because we are focused on serving the needs of other people, other people will see this. We must commit ourselves to these convictions. Then and only then will the money follow. The money comes automatically.”
― Daniel Lapin, Business Secrets from the Bible: Spiritual Success Strategies for Financial Abundance

 

When you work for a company, then you are given the company manual. When you become a Catholic you follow the Catechism which leads you to the Bible … God’s Word.  Have you a manual for your life?  In other words, what you do, how you live, and the people whom you hold relationships with will be affected or changed by who you are as a person and your Life Mission.

When I created my Life Mission I then went deeper with my Faith, and something happened …. my friends changed.  Because having one true friend became more meaningful (to me) than to have several ‘friends’.

So, I ask you this question, Man to Man.  What is your Life Mission, and how are you doing it or living it out?  Then too, what is your legacy … how are leaving this life with your wife or kids or those important to you?

The adjustments you make in living your life holy can be felt for three generations.

Do the person’s important to you say ”if Jesus is anything like you, I want to know Him?“  If not, what is stopping this from happening?  Pray and ask God daily how to put your mission into action ..  then watch Him show you .. God’s will is that we depend on Him.

 

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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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Haven’t Been to Confession In A While?

By Bishop Joseph N. Perry

Needing to go to Confession is like needing to check in with a doctor regarding our physical health.  We cannot afford to neglect spiritual doctoring of our souls anymore than we can afford to neglect a physical doctor of our bodies.  The Sacrament of Penance also works for a healthy life.  Mature and healthy men are men who can take themselves to task, recognize their mistakes and take aim to correct those mistakes for the sake of positive connections with their spouse, their children, their friends, the people they work with and, therefore our God.

Check your parish confession schedule or some parish, shrine or oratory that has a regular confession schedule.

 

–  Examine Your Conscience Beforehand –

Have I any habits of serious sin to confess: drunkenness, sexual misconduct, drug use, dishonesty or cheating on the job?

Have I willfully doubted or denied any of the teachings of the Church?

Have I taken active part in any non-Catholic worship?

Am I a member of any anti-Catholic or any secret society?

Have I practiced any superstitions, horoscopes, fortune tellers, etc?

 

Have I used God’s name in vain by use of profanity?

Have I murmured or complained against God?

Have I maligned priests or others consecrated to God?

Have I sworn by God’s name falsely or rashly?

Have I missed Mass on Sundays or holy days of obligation through negligence?

Have I done unnecessary physical work on Sunday?

Have I been disrespectful to my parents or neglected them?

Have I failed in obedience or reverence to others in authority?

Have I mistreated my wife or children?

Have I neglected the material needs of my children?

Have I neglected my children’s religious education?

Have I given my children bad example?

Have I allowed my children to neglect their religious duties?

 

Have I quarreled or cursed anyone or otherwise wished evil on them?

Have I taken pleasure in anyone’s misfortune?

Is there anyone to whom I refuse to speak or be reconciled?

Have I lied about anyone?

Have I rashly judged anyone?

Have I engaged in gossip or spread scandal?

Have I been jealous or envious of anyone?

 

Have I practiced unlawful birth control?

Have I abused my marriage rights in any other way?

Have I committed adultery or fornication?

Have I touched or embraced another impurely?

Have I sinned with others of the same or opposite sex?

Have I disrespected my own body sexually?

Have I harbored lustful desires for anyone?

Have I indulged in pornography or indecent literature?

Have I done anything to provoke or occasion impure thoughts or actions in others?

Have I committed or cooperated with an abortion of life in the womb?

 

Have I stolen anything?

Have I damaged anyone’s property through my own fault or negligence?

Have I cheated or defrauded others

Have I neglected to follow through on my debts?

Have I failed to make restitution for any negligence of mine?

Have I sinned by gluttony?

Have I sinned by becoming intoxicated?

Have I used narcotics?

Have I been motivated by greed or avarice?

 

– The Ten Commandments –

  • I am the Lord your God.  You shall not have any strange Gods before me.
  • You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  • Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
  • Honor your father and your mother
  • You shall not kill
  • You shall not commit adultery
  • You shall not steal
  • You shall not bear false witness
  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife
  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods

 

– The Beatitudes –

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of  heaven
  • Blessed are the meek; for they shall possess the land
  • Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted
  • Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for justice; for they shall be fulfilled
  • Blessed are the merciful; for they shall be fulfilled
  • Blessed are the pure of heart; for they shall see God
  • Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God
  • Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

After the priest welcomes you, either in the confessional box or a face-to-face encounter, which ever you choose, make the Sign of the Cross.  Then you may wish to indicate facts about your life such as whether you are a single man or married, widowed, divorced or….  Mention how long it’s been since your last confession, any difficulties in leading the Christian life and anything else that may help you ease your mind.  If you feel you need help with making your confession, just ask the priest.  He is more than willing to gently lead you.

Confess your sins as they are evident to your conscience.  The priest then offers you suitable advice and imposes an act of penance or satisfaction, such as certain prayers you should say once you leave the confessional or some action to make restitution, some act of self-denial or work of mercy or charity.

The priest will ask you to make an Act of Contrition:

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee.
And I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments.
But most of all, because my sins have offended Thee my God
Who art all good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace
To confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life,

Amen!

/or/

My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against You whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more
And to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy!

Amen.

/or/

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Lamb of God;
you take away the sins of the world.
Through the grace of the Holy Spirit
restore me to friendship with your Father,
Cleanse me from every stain of sin
in the blood you shed for me,
And raise me to new life
for the glory of your name.

Amen.

The priest then extends his hand and pronounces the formula of absolution, making the Sign of the Cross over you during the final words.  You answer, “Amen!”

The priest sends you on your way with Christian best wishes for peace and your well-being lived in God’s grace through a life renewed according to the Gospel and more and more steeped in the love of God.

End by saying:  “thank you Father!”

 

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Bishop Joseph Perry: Men’s Spirituality

The prophet Isaiah said it first in the days of the Old Testament, before St. Peter ever did in the New Testament.

“Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”

The prophet Isaiah’s religious experience was also a theophany, in which the prophet perceives God on his heavenly throne. God’s majesty and transcendence overwhelm the prophet. He had a vision of a high throne and the hem of a garment that fills the Temple that evoked God’s universal kingship and splendor.

In this vision the seraphim archangels minister to God, praising God’s holiness and the glory that fills the earth. The seraphim angels also prepare the prophet for his mission. In response to Isaiah’s claims that he himself is unworthy, in his words, “a man of unclean lips living amidst a people of unclean lips,” a seraph places a burning coal on Isaiah’s lips, thus purifying him. Isaiah is now prepared to carry God’s message to the people since, as the passage says, his “guilt has been taken away” and his “sin is blotted out.”

Isaiah’s vocational call contrasts the majesty of God, holy, glorious and mighty with the human ordinariness of Isaiah who must be prepared to bear God’s message. Angels purify Isaiah so that he can prophecy for God.

Most of us do not experience visions and theophanies that overwhelm us with God’s might and transcendence. Most of us experience God in the mundane experiences of daily life, in the ordinary reality of conversing with our wives, engaging our children, of going to our places of employment, hanging out with friends, in the ups and downs of family life, walking the dog, seeing a movie, riding the subway or participating in a family reunion.

The ordinary work and leisure of everyday life are where God tends to reach out to meet us. God comes to us where we are, as we are.

Jesus met his first disciples at their places of work. When Simon, Andrew, James and John first meet Jesus in the gospels they were not overwhelmed by a vision but were fixed on their work. In fact, Jesus interrupted their work and the men may have found that a bit annoying. They were not expecting angels let alone a theophany; they were washing and mending their nets after a fruitless night of fishing.

Jesus, however, began to preach from Simon Peter’s boat using it as a pulpit for the day, a powerful image I dare say for God’s presence in the ordinariness of human life. Not in the Temple or a synagogue, where Jesus could also be found but in the boat of a few working men is where the encounter with the incarnate God took place.

After Jesus finished speaking to the crowd He turned to the work at hand, the work of fishing for a living. Indeed, a lot of fish had to be caught because Roman taxes laid against the fishing trade were heavy. And Simon Peter worried about this constantly – being able to pay his taxes.

Jesus teases Simon to “put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon was reluctant to start the process again, especially when they had caught nothing the night before. But when he did put the nets back into the water the catch of fish was almost immediate; the nets straining with the bounty. There were so many fish that the nets began to break. They called for help to their companions, James and John. The boats were beginning to sink because of the weight of the catch.

It is in response to the sudden and overwhelming catch of fish that Simon Peter is suddenly overtaken by his sense of the presence of God in his fishing boat in the seemingly ordinary person of Jesus. Like Isaiah in God’s Temple, Simon’s sense of unworthiness in the presence of God overwhelms him. He trembles as “He fell down to his knees before Jesus, saying, ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!’” As if to say, ‘I am not worthy of what you have provided for me this day!’

A profound recognition of God incarnate took place not while Jesus was transfigured or enthroned in majesty but in the casting and drawing up of their fishing nets. In response to the miraculous catch, Simon recognizes God with him. For Peter and the other fishermen, the encounter was a call to a new adventure. “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will be catching men!” And the gospel tells us, they left their jobs and everything and committed their lives to Him!

God met Peter and God meets us where we are. Like Isaiah Peter initially felt unworthy, unready and unprepared for the encounter and for his new work but God sees us and wants us for who we are and where we are. God will purify us, prepare us for our tasks and make us ready to do our work, however ordinary or exalted this work might be that we’re doing. But our ordinariness will always be a part of who we are, not a place absent from God but where God meets us every day.

II

It’s a matter of finding God in the ordinariness of your life. It’s a matter of letting Christ enter the boat of your life and allowing Him to do some wonderful things for you despite how worthy or unworthy you deem yourself.It’s a matter of keeping focus gentleman, taking the lead over yourself with your life and leading your family if you are a family man. These are not easy times to be a religiously focused man. Some people snicker and make jokes of religion and piety. Some are skeptical about God and his church. Some are put off by the observation that religion doesn’t make you rich in material things. Some believe they can get along in life quite well without this religion thing.

People make the decision easily to attend a football or soccer game rather than attend Sunday Mass. People do this and sleep comfortably the same night thinking they can get up the next morning by their own strength. The sweep of the popular culture out there to live life with little or no reference to God or the Church is immensely attractive. It is an undertow that carries men and their families away from the grace of the Gospel and the sacraments.

Are you interested in saving your wife and your family? Are you interested in your own salvation?

I know a man who insists that every Sunday evening his family sits down and has dinner together. Nothing, absolutely nothing can interfere with that family-time. The teenagers in the family are welcome to bring a friend to dinner, but everything else must give way to the family being together at table for once in the course of a week. The chaotic schedules that bear down upon each of the family members makes coming together next to impossible on other days of the week. But this husband and father considers the Sabbath sacred for his family and underscores each one’s participation.

This same family man, once dinner is finished, leaves the dishes to the teenagers and takes his wife for a half-hour walk outside, just the two of them, to talk and share among themselves.

III

Most of us benefit from a “Plan of Life” that helps us live as a Christian man carrying forth what it is that God has ordained us to do. Living life haphazardly, bouncing from one thing to the next, one chore to the next, whatever-happens-happens kind of approach, from one surprise to the next, from one tragedy to the next, is not a careful way to live as a Christian. A Christian man takes each and every item of his life and analyzes it prayerfully in order to discover what God means for him and where God is leading him.

Our religion is a preoccupation that permeates everything we are and do, that infuses the thoughts we think, the choices we make, the sufferings we suffer and the joys we take delight in. The message of the Lord found in the gospels is the very constitution of our lives.

Therefore, it asks for certain steps taken on our part by way of a structured religious life, to make sure that we are responding to the Lord when he tells us to put out into the deep, to make sure that we have the spiritual armor to combat the onslaughts of despair and temptation and secularism that pushes God away from our lives, to make sure that we, like Peter, can fall to our knees and recognize God’s powerful presence in our homes and families. As Joshua, Moses’ deputy, is quoted as saying in the Old Testament:

“If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve…
as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord!”

 

In a Catholic man’s plan of life, it helps to include:

  1. Some regular prayer with your wife and in the home together – this can be done with use of a prayer book, or the rosary or spontaneous prayerful words from you or your wife.
  2. Making sure Sunday Mass is a non-negotiable with your wife and your children – before sports or other things that amount to entertaining yourselves. We must entertain God first.
  3. Making sure there are Catholic symbols in the home: a crucifix at a minimum, some statue or sacred picture or art that reminds you and visitors to your home what in your life is important. When I visit homes the first thing I look for is some sign or signs of people’s faith. Some people have no visible indications in their households of what they believe in. Reading solid Catholic literature is important in order to keep abreast of news and issues in our church – this can be done through requisite magazines by Catholic publishers or through Catholic outlets’ journalism through the internet. We can always make recommendations about wholesome Catholic literature when asked. There is a variety of Catholic reading material, from the average to the scholarly.
  4. How about an occasional attendance at weekday mass or ten minutes in Eucharistic adoration at a parish chapel nearby?
  5. How about family time marked off in the course of the week where you and your wife and children can spend time together and punctuate the beauty of what God has given you? If you don’t take charge of your family, some thing or someone else will.

Start out small with a plan – something to keep the graces showering upon yourselves. Don’t be afraid men to get on your knees before God and thank Him for the privileges of faith and insight. Don’t be afraid to shepherd your family in the ways of the Lord. Don’t be afraid to put out into the deep and lower your nets, for a catch.

It is not sufficient to merely utter that we are sinful men and rest there. Too many of us relish in the notion that we are sinful men. The Lord would like our friendship, our worship, our conversion of life and our loyalty to Him.

 

Homily of Most Reverend Joseph N. Perry for the CMCS Bishop Perry Catholic Men’s Conference Chicago on April 2, 2016.  St. Ailbe Church, Chicago, Illinois.

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If You Don’t Stand For What You Believe, People Won’t Know Where You Stand

By Frank J Casella

Have you ever met a person who says they believe one thing, but then does something else?

Have you ever faced making a decision and can’t find the best answer, or the best direction to go.

In my volunteer work with Catholic Men the topic often comes up about how to make decisions. It usually comes down to based on our personal belief system. Specifically, it’s important to us that we make decisions in the work place and at home that reflect Jesus Christ as the center of our lives.

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.

Many converts to the Catholic Faith I have witnessed are on fire for the Truth of the Church more so than those like me who have been brought up in the faith.

Why is this?

I think it’s because they (converts) have made a decision to the Faith instead of being born into it.

When we make a conscience decision about anything in life, instead of that decision handed to us, then we have an intentional commitment to it.

The thing is, most of us I find try not to make intentional decisions, but rather just live for the moment as long as it takes care of our needs, wants, and personal desires.

So, if you are a Christian, how do you make a conscience decision based on what you believe?

The way I try to do it is to look at the person or matter through the eyes of Christ. To first ask myself if this decision is on my agenda or on God’s agenda. How does Jesus see them or this matter, and how would He respond. … through me.

Many times when I seek where God is at work in the matter, elements come into play that go beyond whatever I could do on my own.

I also try to live my life as a prayer; to have a conversation with God all day long, and do more listening than talking. This takes practice being in tune with the Holy Spirit, and listening for ‘the voice’. Test the small decisions to know that you hear it right first, before moving to the big decisions.

Finally, I spend a few minutes each day just to think. In silence.

After I drain my brain of the many concerns of the day, several things come to mind that I write as a thought and not as a to-do list. It becomes easier over time, as you become more serious and disciplined, and sincere, then God will speak, you will see.

By doing all the above you will find over time that making a decision becomes more easy, and you will have clarity over a matters faster, because you know what you believe.

Some decisions are not made for us alone, and this is were we bring in trusted council to help us with discernment, such as a priest or spiritual director, or trusted friend.

Why is all of this important?

Because our lives are just passing through here on Earth. So the time we have left is meant to make a positive difference for the next generation, compared to when we showed up.

And we do this by making the right decisions in the little everyday things, so that over time we have a satisfying life well lived, rather than a life of confusions and wanderings.

Said another way, I’ve never met a person that served themselves who was happy and full of joy, and living a satisfying life.

So, decide on what you believe, and then let that belief transform your decisions in this life. Sometimes you will find this is opposite of what the world tells you to do.

But, then, if you don’t stand for what you believe, people won’t know where you stand .. including yourself.

 

Frank J Casella is co-founder of Chicago Catholic Men’s Conference, and executive director of Catholic Men Chicago Southland Apostolate.

Portions of this post are from this article on LinkedIn Blog

 

 

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