[11:11–12] These parenthetical remarks relativize the argument from Gn 2–3. In the Lord: in the Christian economy the relation between the sexes is characterized by a mutual dependence, which is not further specified. And even in the natural order conditions have changed: the mode of origin described in Gn 2 has been reversed (1 Cor 11:12a). But the ultimately significant fact is the origin that all things have in common (1 Cor 11:12b).
This blog, if it is your first visit here, is sponsored by Catholic Men Chicago Southland apostolate (CMCS). Some people have the idea that CMCS is all about men. In reality CMCS is about relationships, and placing women in their rightful place of honor, because without women none of us men would even be born into this world. Just like how we wouldn’t have Jesus without Mary.
As our mission reads: “CMCS has a practical way of evangelizing Catholic men young and old, and their families, of helping them to understand what the culture often rejects – how men and women should relate to one another in complementary ways and how important husbands and fathers are to children.”
This element of personal relationships and communications between men and woman can easily get lost today and with the online world, especially social media which has become flawed from its original purpose. And this is why CMCS hosts an annual Men’s Forum, so that us guys can share our thoughts with each other on important topics. The results most often being that we come to realize how hard we are on ourselves, and how our own concerns and struggles are very similar to other Catholic men, more than we ever thought. You would most likely never learn this with an online discussion forum.
And we see from 1 Corinthians how men and women have more things in common than we may think or realize, or our culture would want us to believe, and all of this is God’s plan. This relation between the sexes is made to compliment each other, if we’d just allow ourselves to see it this way and through God’s eyes. Sometimes we need a mentor, counselor, priest, or a book to help us better relate to each other, but it is possible with effort and intention.
Once we discover that differences between the sexes, or husband and wife, are meant to be a blessing, we try to learn from each other and thank God for them and each other.
“There are no irreconcilable differences, only people who refuse to reconcile. It all begins by accepting our differences as an asset rather than a liability.”
If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce…. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.
I love this quote, because I find it to be so true. What do you think?
So the story goes, there were two teen-age friends who passed each other on a Sunday morning. One friend said to the other, “I’m going fishing, would you like to go with me?” The other friend replied, “No, I’m on my way to Sunday Mass.” This same thing happened for a month of Sunday’s until the one friend said to the other, “You know, I’ve invited you for several Sunday’s to go fishing with me, but never once have you invited me to go to Mass with you.”
The Catholic word for invitation can be evangelization.
So the question here is, what is a true friend? The Lord Jesus Christ gave us the definition of a true friend: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15). Jesus is the pure example of a true friend, for He laid down His life for His “friends.” What is more, anyone may become His friend by trusting in Him as their personal savior, being born (again) into new life in Him.
Proverbs is another good source of wisdom regarding friends. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). The issue here is that in order have a friend, one must be a friend. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6). “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
So to have a true friend means that you have to be one. I first learned how to be a true friend by the example of my father with his friendships. I consider myself fortunate. I learned too that sometimes to have true friendship is easier said than done. I stopped counting the number of times that I’ve been honest with a friend – someone I cared much about – who gave me the (trust or) permission to speak to them about their life …. as others have done with me … only to find the person doesn’t want to hear it or talk about it, or becomes hurt or offended by what I said – but this also taught me how to say things better.
I’ve learned the hard way that either few people today know what a true friend is, or we are fortunate to have one person in our lives that we consider a true friend – someone that we trust to be matter of fact with us, loyal, and to share our deepest secrets with. And often (sadly) this is someone other than a sibling or our wife, rather than in addition to.
As I’ve said before in other blog posts, Jesus confronted people because he loved them. However, you don’t have to look real hard to see in our self-gratification culture today that many friendships are on the basis of “if you don’t tell me what I want to hear, then you’re not my friend”. It’s common today to work at giving others their own space and not offending them. Even spouses are to be the best of friends – a gift to each other – yet many marriages I find have too many stressors and distractions to even think about working at friendship, much less marriage. This can be one reason many couples today live together without marriage vows.
With marriage especially, the important thing about friendships, and relationships, is to be embracing differences. In marriage there really is not irreconcilable differences, only people who refuse to reconcile. It all begins by accepting our differences as an asset to each other in the marriage, rather than a liability.
Said another way, reconciliation and forgiveness is the most important action in maintaining a true friendship …. and marriage. It happens when we care about others and their feelings before our own, when we have to put our pride and our personal agenda on the back burner, so to speak. I have discovered that unless it hurts it’s not true friendship, for God gives us true friends not only to inspire each other, but to help us to grow and to strengthen our trust and faith in Him and the power of prayer.
Sometimes this process of God “pruning” our lives can take years. It means going through – as many times as it takes – the process of working through misconceptions, barriers, etc. when society says walk away and move on to another relationship.
In the Gospels (Mark 12:41), the poor widow gave two small coins worth a few cents, and Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”
True friendship gives from it’s poverty, from what we don’t have. Not financially, but from our ‘unfamiliar territory’ – when our conscience and our will tell us to do what the Lord commands us, despite our own human understanding.
The way to know you have a true friendship is that, a true friend keeps coming back. It’s usually a person whom you’ve never known anyone like them … And you know that you never will again. That you are both better persons for knowing each other. Someone you can thank God for bringing into each others lives. And this can also be several people, each, throughout the seasons of life.
All of this reminds me of the old James Taylor song, “You’ve Got A Friend”. The lyrics go something like:
” You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, to see you again
…. You’ve Got A Friend”.
How many of us have a friend like that? Or even, how many of us ARE a friend like this?
Today, ask your wife, your kids, and your friends, “How can I be a better friend to you?”
I know that I’ve only scratched the surface here about true friendship. So, I would like to learn what true friendship means to you? Make a comment below, or send a private email on the Contact Us page. I will share (anonymous if you say so) response to this question in an future blog post.
Where might the word of God be leading us when it comes to our family life?
The word of God leads us to the heart of what it means to be the Church, and therefore also to the heart of what it means to be a Christian family: For the Church and our families to be light, we must be centered on Christ and imitate Him, going out to the peripheries to bring the Gospel.
Marriage and family concerns everyone: Each of us comes from a family. Each of us is a son or a daughter. In God’s plan every child is meant to be the fruit of his or her mother’s and father’s love for each other in the sacred bond of marriage. This is why conversations about marriage and the family in the public square concern all of us, and this is why the Church’s teaching on marriage and family is important for all of us.
Acknowledging the experience and pain of broken marriages and families: Sadly, many of us have experienced or know family or friends who have experienced the pain of a broken marriage and family. Each experience is unique, and the Lord’s mercy is great. Even for those of us who find our family situation difficult –and that probably includes all of us at one time or another! –we each have a role to play in God’s vision of the family. Ultimately, all of us are part of the perfect family –God’s family –as beloved sons and daughters of God the Father.
“Domestic Church”: Very early in the life of the Church, the Christian family, founded upon the covenant of marriage between husband and wife, together with any children they were blessed with, became understood as the domestic church. This understanding has profound implications.
Considering particular aspects of the family as the domestic church: What does it mean to call the family the domestic church?
The Catechism of the Catholic Churchspeaks of the family as the place where one learns endurance and the joy ofwork, fraternal love, generous – even repeated -forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life. (CCC, nos. 1656-57). A particular aspect(s) of the domestic church might be highlighted. Concrete stories orexamples could assist as well. Here, let’s take three of the points mentioned in the Catechism as it relates to the family: love, forgiveness, and prayer:
Family as school of love: First, family life is where we are meant to learn to love. The family has its foundation in the promise of lifelong, faithful,and fruitful love between husband and wife.
Family as school of forgiveness: Second, the family, as the domestic church, is called to be a school of forgiveness. Every day, we are reminded that we are far from perfect. We are all sinners in need of mercy, forgiveness, and healing.
Family as school of prayer: And now for the third point, on prayer: to love and to forgive in the way that Christ calls us requires the Lord’s grace. We cannot be salt of the earth and the light of the world without God.
As adomestic church, the family is called to be a school of prayer, keeping the Lord at the center of the home, so that His light will shine brightly throughout the home, into the neighborhood, the community, and the world.
May the Lord be glorified in all our words and deeds, and may our families shine with the light of Christ for all to see.
Like too many Catholic husbands and marriages today, I have been faced with the possibility of divorce in my almost 30 year marriage. Fortunately, my wife and I worked through this devistating period of our lives – truly by the grace and mercy of God! But not without the feelings, anger, emotions, and all the ‘stuff’ that comes with it. It is always a constant work in progress, for a lifetime.
As I talk with other Catholic men about marriage and divorce in our time, it is evident to me that marriage is under attack in our culture, if not our world – especially with people of Faith!
The number of weddings – between a man and a woman – is down, people are cohabitating more often than not, and Satan is using every means possible to confuse our thinking and distract what we truly believe. And the holidays – Thanksgiving through New Year’s – is widely known as a time when divorce has most impact on our lives and relationships, direct or indirect.
While divorce removes some pressures, it creates a host of others, says Dr. Gary Chapman in his book‘The One Year Love Language Minute Devotional’. If you are considering divorce, only a small percentage of divorced individuals claim to have found greater happiness in a second or third marriage. “The grass being greener on the other side of the fence is a myth”, he says.
Divorce should be the last possible alternative, because far too many couples opt for divorce too soon and at too great a price. It should first be preceded by every effort at reconciling differences, dealing with issues, and solving problems. When couples seek and find proper help, many have reconciled.
Guys have Hope!
With the right information and proper support, you can be a positive change agent in your relationship. Follow God’s advice and guard your heart, remain faithful to your spouse and seek help. The path towards divorce is filled with more pain and difficulty, believe it or not. Healing takes time. God’s time.
One thing I decided to do in my experience with divorce is to change my perspective and change myself first. I didn’t know about it at the time, but this too is what Dr. Ray Guarendi says “You can’t change your spouse’s behavior and attitude. But you can change yours.” in his book‘Marriage: Small Steps, Big Rewards’. So I will share more on this in another blog post.
A Resource for Men
When I went through my divorce experience I found there was very little online about men and divorce, as much as there was for women. So I decided then to do something about it by writing more articles – and this is one of them. It just has been taking some time in listening to the Holy Spirit about how to go about it. So now, in due time, you can use the keyword ‘divorce’ in the search bar on this blog and have yourself a resource. God bless you!
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
In the Gospel reading for today, [1:36–37] The sign given to Mary in confirmation of the angel’s announcement to her is the pregnancy of her aged relative Elizabeth. If a woman past the childbearing age could become pregnant, why, the angel implies, should there be doubt about Mary’s pregnancy, for nothing will be impossible for God.
Mary’s womb is known by the Church as the First Tabernacle, for her saying ‘Yes” and believing in the impossible. God needed a woman first to bring His plan of salvation into the world.
This is why us men should place our own mothers and wives and daughters in the rightful place of honor and respect, and pray the Lord be with them and bless them among women. Do you think this would bring a new light or perspective in your relationships with them?
The best way to make your spouse and children feel secure is not with big deposits in bank account, but with little deposits of thoughtfulness and affection in the ‘love account’.
Frank’s Photo of the Week
When we walk in the way that we should go, and treat others the way we would like to be treated, we find true prosperity.
Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Thanks for Reading.
Make it a great week. See you here again next Monday.
Frank J Casella, CMCS Executive Director
A larger collection of photographs can be viewed on my portfolio.
Pope Francis is known as “The Quotable Pope”. An example of this is from each day on Twitter like this one:
” Consumerism has accustomed us to waste. But throwing food away is like stealing it from the poor and hungry. “
,,,, I can relate to this because my family has been in that position of having to turn to our parish and St. Vincent DePaul Ministry or Catholic Charities food pantry to put food on our table. There is a present statistic out that says the average American family dumps in the trash 140 LBS. of food each year.
This is food that is paid for from our working incomes. I’m sure we all tithe our cash to give to the church or to further God’s work. Why not make less trash with our food and do the same??
Likewise, when Francis Cardinal George came to be our Ordinary here in Chicago, it wasn’t too long before he said …“The greatest poverty is not to know Jesus Christ” … So, spinning the Popes quote from above, if you will …
” Always be a consistent living example of the Gospel. Because failing to do so is like stealing from the spiritually poor the opportunity to know Jesus’ love”.
Finally, not too long ago when my son’s were teenagers (they are now in their 20’s) while taking my son to his sports practice, the thought occurred to me how many households in my neighborhood have two parents that work out of the home. How they put their children into multiple sports programs with the intention of while they are working to “provide” someone else will take their child to the events.
I constantly would get phone calls, emails, etc., (from parents) assuming that since I’m taking my child anyways to take theirs too … and they will lie and rationalize to get it done, without any thought of the liability they put on me in the event something happens to their child.
Personally, my wife and I are that kind of parent who alwyas sat on the sideline even during practices to send the message to our boys they are important to us. Sure we have “better” things to do, but It personally gave me windshield time in the car to talk with them about what they saw happen in practices or in the games, or let them lead the conversation to become more a part of their lives.
We don’t get a second chance at this while they grow up. Sometimes us dad’s, as the priest of our house, have to lead the conversation with our wives about which parent is going to cut back – or cut out – the work load to live on less (maybe less sports programs) to invest more into our children and instilling their faith formation.
“With the “culture of waste”, human life is no longer considered the primary value to be respected and protected.” ~ Pope Francis
By the way, that picture at the top of this article, from the Bishop Perry Men’s Forum, all the left over food goes to the poor.
Prayer – At the heart of every good marriage is a relationship not only with one another, but with God. In order to be able to give fully of ourselves, we must come to the Lord and ask to be filled with the ability to give. If we try to do this on our own accord, we will quickly become overwhelmed and fail. We can’t give what we do not have. Give the gift of yourself to your spouse by making time to pray each and every day for your marriage.
Intimacy – Enjoying times of intimacy with your spouse is an essential component to a strong marriage. It may sound strange to newlyweds, but over time the busyness of life gets in the way of time together as a couple. Be intentional about keeping the romance alive – in more than just a physical way. Create time in your schedules for date nights, meaningful conversations and having fun together. Make sure your marriage bed is a place where God’s free, total, faithful and fruitful love is expressed to your spouse. (For a more in-depth look at what this means, visit www.theologyofthebody.net) We cannot give ourselves more fully to our spouse in any other way than to practice holiness in the gift of intimacy, the gift God has given us through the Sacrament of Marriage.
Be considerate – Every morning when you wake up, think to yourself, “What is one thing I can do for my spouse today?” Of course, you can do more than one thing, but really think about what you can do to make his or her day more enjoyable. It could be saving him the last piece of chocolate cake, doing a chore that is normally his responsibility, complimenting her in some way, or giving her an extra long good night kiss. It is helpful to know what your spouse’s love language is so that you can serve him (or her) in the way he (or she) will most palpably feel the love behind the it. Pope Francis also encourages us to be considerate in our marriages by frequently using these phrases: May I?, Thank you, and I’m sorry.
Don’t expect things in return – This is a difficult one. A wife loves her husband for who he is, not for what he does for her… and he for her. Sometimes when we start to make the effort to be selfless towards our spouse we wait in expectation for them to return the favor. To truly make a sincere gift of self, we must give for the sake of pleasing God and not desire our spouse to reciprocate. Turn your labors of spousal love into a prayer to God. Seeing your actions as a prayer will help to avoid feelings of resentment or bitterness if your spouse does not return the favor.
Submission and Sacrifice – This last idea is really two, but they go hand in hand. Both words cause us to be a little uncomfortable in today’s culture. However, they are necessities for every marriage. We must learn to subdue our own desires and to sacrifice our wants for the good of our spouse. Put the other’s needs above our own. It takes a significant amount of trust in God and in your spouse to be able to do this. In Ephesians 5:21-26, wives are instructed to submit to their husbands, but also note that husbands are called to lay their lives down for their wives just as Christ did for the Church. When we start to embrace this concept, we realize it is a drastically different definition than “50 Shades of Grey” would lead us to believe. A Christ-like type of submission is done out of pure love, with the intention of leading our spouse to heaven. We sacrifice and submit for the good of the other. How do we do this in everyday life? Decide that instead of putting up a fight over issues, you will yield and take it to prayer. Try to be the person who does not have to always get the last word in. Let go of minor things (not putting the cap back on the toothpaste!) and give them to God.
Marriage is a gift. It takes work, but produces great joy. The road to marriage molds our hearts and prepares us for heaven. Our weaknesses are revealed and many times it can be painful to see how much we need to grow in selfless holiness. Yet, at the same time, God grants us the ability to foretaste the joy of heaven here on earth through the love of our spouse. Apply these tips and begin to see the fruits of giving the gift of your whole self in your marriage.
Lord, teach me to be generous, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to look for any reward, save that of knowing that I do your holy will.
And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.