Manhood Monday: Being Light Through the Gospel

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

From Today’s Readings:

Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Alleluia See 2 Tm 1:10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Consider the deplorable conditions of life and political turmoil and crime that result in the massive trek of people from their homelands looking for relief and safety and a future for their children. We think of the children in cities across the country when they explode in racially charged violence. We think of Christian communities in Syria and Iraq who are remembered for their founding back in the days of St. Paul, but are today destroyed by unconscionable acts of fanaticism. We think of Bethlehem where the Christ savior was born mandated as a ghetto populated by a people who trace their lineage to Christ’s ancestors but who are pushed to the margins of society. All of this begs for prayer and a Christian voice. ….

Thank you, brothers and sisters, for your faith and hope, your sober words of calm in the midst of conflict and mistaken reference. Thank you for your generosity so eloquently evident with various causes and programs that lift people to see more clearly the light of Christ in their lives.

From the CMCS archives by Bishop Joseph Perry

God bless your day.

Catholic Men Chicago Southland Apostolate (CMCS)


Frank’s Photo of the Week

Photo: ‘In Daddy’s Arms‘ Copyright 2012 Frank J Casella

Instead of death and sorrow, let us bring peace and joy to the world. To do this we must beg God for His gift of peace and learn to love and accept each other as brothers and sisters, children of God. We know that the best place for children to learn how to love and to pray is in the family, by seeing the love and prayer of their mother and father. When families are broken or disunited, many children grow up not knowing how to love and pray. A country where many families have been destroyed like this will have many problems. I have often seen, especially in the rich countries, how children turn to drugs or other things to escape feeling unloved and rejected.

But when families are strong and united, children can see God’s special love in the love of their father and mother and can grow to make their country a loving and prayerful place. The child is God’s best gift to the family and needs both mother and father because each one shows God’s love in a special way. The family that prays together stays together, and if they stay together they will love one another as God has loved each one of them. And works of love are always works of peace.

– Saint ( Mother ) Teresa

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.


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Bishop Joseph Perry: It Is a Graced Moment

Crossing the Line – Photo Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella

A range of emotions stir inside us these days and admittedly it’s a challenge sorting through these feelings.  We might ask ourselves – ‘what should be the response of Christians in times such as these?’

Thank you, each of you, for your efforts all along at bringing people together. It’s part of our job description as Christian leaders.  We cannot rest assured that neighborly regard is structured effectively – even within the Christian community.

As if the health crisis wasn’t enough to stretch nerves to the breaking point; a series of policing incidents around the nation resulting in the deaths of several African Americans have ignited a powder-keg of frustration – exposing wounds festering for months, years and beyond with no clear solutions in sight. 

We have so much in common as human beings but are shortchanged by our lack of contact, lack of mutual understanding, people with different experiences, different world views and even different assessments as to the foundations of today’s unrest.  We are reminded that bigotry and indifference are woven in the fabric of America. Racial and economic inequality goes on. Systems and institutions and government have historically different approaches to white, black and brown thus erupting in situations out of control. 

To make matters worse, COVID-19 alone has left untold numbers unemployed, under-employed, numbers ineligible for government stimulus, leaving people with no money yet with families to feed and mortgages and rents to pay. And when black and brown people push back hard mainstream America wonders why everyone’s upset. The surprise itself becomes an insult.

It is consoling to see the many people from around the country, white, brown, black, Asian, as peaceful protestors in wake of the Breona Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd killings.  It is an encouraging sign that the concern is widespread and that there are many people out there wanting to be agents of good-will.

We are faced with the unfinished business of race in this country, the unsolved issues of poverty, opportunity vs lack of opportunity.  We have hardly given second thought to the stratified society we live in thinking it to be normal –if you people would just pull yourself up by your bootstraps, it is often commented. But untold numbers of people have no boots with which to pull up straps.  

Structures in a materially rich society have left large numbers disenfranchised from life such that they cannot, to use the words, “breathe” the air of a free and prosperous society like ours. While we are all the same, humans with sweat and tears, the differences allowed to fester among us are huge.  And some insidious factions looking on are intent on keeping it that way.

We are believers.  Instead of focusing on our anger, or attributing blame to whomever, feeling inconvenienced by the recent mayhem, maybe empathy is the right feeling for the moment – for the poor and the displaced and the mistreated and the forgotten are always just around the corner, down the street, and even the next door neighbor.  How can law enforcement reorient themselves in face of individuals and communities in crisis so that the dignity of human life remains uppermost with methods of keeping order?  How can we re-educate ourselves away from the visual and emotional dissonance provoked by skin color?

Our Church lives and works amidst these realities. Our gestures in all instances must be welcoming of everyone, corrective in face of injustice, formative in bringing people together across neighborhoods and natural boundaries and separate enclaves we have built for ourselves.  We should be busy about the business of defying our comfort levels with single-racial churches, ministries and projects and going out of our way to schedule diversity in the things we are and do as church.  It’s a daunting task in respects with its own level of fatigue. But we can’t give up. So much is at stake as evidenced by the messages issuing forth from the protests and demonstrations crying for something different. We Catholics can help lead the way.

An old rabbi once asked one of his students, “How can you tell when night is over and day has begun?”  The student thought a moment and said, “Could it be when you see an animal in the distance and can tell if it is a sheep or a dog?”  “No,” answered the rabbi, “think again!”  The student did, but to no avail.  The rabbi then said, ‘It’s when you can look into the face of another and see that it’s your brother or sister. If you can’t see this, it’s still night.”

So, what tends to keep me from seeing a brother or sister in the face of another?  We are frightened when the image from close-up or from afar is black!  Martin Luther King once said: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Thank you, each of you, for your efforts all along at bringing people together.

May your gift of the Spirit O God continue to enflame our hearts, that we might bring your peace and justice to a troubled world.  Instill in people of every language, race and culture, a commitment to live justly and a desire to be one with you and with your Son, Jesus Christ.  We acknowledge You to be Lord, forever and ever.  AMEN

Bishop Joseph N Perry

2020

We Yearn For Peace!

By Bishop Josph N Perry

My late father was a World War II veteran who was assigned 1942-1945 to the European Theatre. That generation of men has been dubbed the greatest generation for reasons of their patriotism, their family values, and work ethic. It has also been suggested that many of the WWII veterans that returned home had been made pacifists by the ravages of experience connected with that war. The sons they spawned turned out the Vietnam War generation – my generation – who fought that war, others of whom became draft dodgers and pacifists, protesters through the streets for an end of a longer than long and lengthy conflict in Asia.

My father would not allow me as a child to have guns and holsters and toys that dealt with war. I was ill-equipped to play with the neighbor kids when they played war or Cow-boys and Indians or pretended to shoot each other. I did no quite understand it back then, only later in my adulthood did I begin to understand what my Father was doing with me that he could not quite articulate.

Ours is a different generation. We have gathered to pray, once again, for a new year safer for our children to travel the streets and sidewalks to school and church and parks and other places. We cannot confine our children to inside the home. It is natural for children to want to be outdoors. Continue to encourage them as you have always done to be aware of what’s in front of them, in back of them, on the side of them. More and more kids travel to school on busses or in cars these days. Yet even then, encourage your children and grandchildren to be vigilant, to speak up to parents and teachers when they see something wrong and where to take refuge if danger closes in on them.

When we were growing up my mother did not allow us to watch certain TV shows that were considered “adult entertainment”. In the 1950s, adult entertainment was Payton Place and The Untouchables. We had to go upstairs while mom watched her favorite TV adult shows. I wasn’t able to watch The Untouchables until I became an adult and then got a kick out of some floozy sitting atop a desk filing her nails while her gang lord crook wearing a gun and holster next to his rib was on the phone bringing booze into the city. Those images were off-limits for children of my time. How things have changed with the tenor of morals displayed on the viewing screen and the troublesome Internet!

Today is different. Notice, the popular video games with which children and teens are engaged. Most of them have to do with rabid violence, high powered weapons cutting down opponents and blood spurting every which way. Kids have these at home and work them with their coins in video arcades and at shopping malls. This is considered innocent youth entertainment. And we purchase these games for our youth. I suggest we should fast from these images and other movies where people like actors Stephen Seagal and Vin Diesel and others act out glorified violence. Unbeknownst to us these images work themselves in the consciousness of our youth getting across the idea that violence and killing are the only ways to be somebody. A gun in the hand always renders one a false sense of power.

Now, I am not saying my parent’s methods of raising us were the best. All I know is that I did not turn out the worse for it. I believe there is something to be said for steering clear of giving birthday gifts and Christmas gifts and gifts in between that symbolize violence and killing so prevalent in our city and other cities across the country. Follow through with the rearing of your kids and grandkids on this. Support your prayers and messaging by fasting from the images and instruments associated with violence. Then, sooner or later, the kids will understand.

Bishop Joseph Perry

JNP2017

Giving Thanks. Living In Peace.

Life, and the persons we share it with, is too short.

12We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you, 13and to show esteem for them with special love on account of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. 15See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all. 16Rejoice always. 17Pray without ceasing. 18In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

1 THES Chapter 5:12-18

I have a confession to make. I have lived through at least seven car accidents while I was the driver. None of them have I caused, just my being in the wrong place at the ‘right’ time. However, all of them caused me to reflect on me asking “why did that happen”?!!

But that’s not the real confession ….

The confession is that all of those accidents revealed my unfinished business in that moment had I died, and how I needed to work on each day to correct things that went wrong ‘yesterday’ … and (do that) for the rest of my life. As a Catholic man, it is my responsibility, as it is yours, to be a spiritual leader for our family and an example of our relationship with Christ!

Our first ministry is to get our faimily to Heaven.

I’m sure if you ask your priest or deacon they will tell you the number of people they see at funerals who’ve gone up to bodies and weeping over unsettled issues. The closer you get to people, the more you have disagreements.

It seems that everywhere you look people want to fight you. And today both online and offline. Conflict resolution involves making right towards others to be at peace with all people – and we can’t change others until we can change ourself first.

Bishop Perry’s Men’s Forum 2018

Every day you and I need to work toward living and being “The Goodness of a Catholic Man”, and a servant leader after God’s own heart. Many times we have good intentions but hide behind, or allow, things that distract us to never take action on our responsibilities: prayers or the Cross, the TV clicker, your fears, gossip, sports, money, pornography, work …. the list goes on.

What do you hide behind ?

If you are married, are you and your wife a “gift” to each other, or do you repay evil for evil? Do either or both of you withdraw from the other to make them “pay the price”? Do you threaten divorce instead of work on better communication, no matter what it takes? If so, what is it going to take for you to look at each other in the eyes and say ” YOU ARE NOT MY ENEMY!!! “

Men – how do you talk to your wife? You may have issues, but she is the ONE (that you married and thus God gave to you), and so treat her like the queen of your household. Because she is!! I have learned, when our wives are unhappy, more often than not it’s because of our selfishness (just saying), by not filling her with our love and affection in the way God that made her.

What about your family members: children, siblings, parents, cousins, uncles and aunts … and even close friends … to name a few? As Father Larry Richards says, “the best way to set people free is with your love, not your judgement”. Yes, sometimes we need to tolerate family or friends, and other times we need to remove persons from our lives because they cause a threat to our health or to our life. But, otherwise, Christ calls us in all things to respect each other as a person, as a man or as a woman, no matter how we feel about them.

The reality is that God doesn’t need you or me to do His work! He needs us to love people and let them experience an example of what it is to be Catholic! To be contagious with our Faith!! Spiritual poverty is very common because of our hard hearts. To become the body of Christ we all need to be renewed in prayer.

Let us bring our questions to Jesus. Let Him show us through this renewal how to witness the way in His love.

…. So, going forward, I challenge you to take the steps needed to take care of unfinished business! You know what it is.

Instead of tolerating those persons or issues, this time tackle them like a football superstar … even if it means to make a stop at confession as a first step. Reconciliation and Forgiveness is not a bad thing. Pride and dictating is. In your position of spiritual leadership in the home, responsibility and integrity matters!

Pray is the best way. God, through our action, will then show us how to do the rest.

Life, and the persons we share it with, is too short. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

Frank J Casella

How are you giving to others?

Giving Thanks, Living In Peace

Photo: Copyright Frank J Casella All Rights Reserved

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it represents everything that is important to me: My entire family, my wife, my kids, my friends, my open table (especially my Italian side, always have room for one more), food, and my faith in God and in this country.

There is no busyness, like with Christmas to follow, and there are no concerns about the meaning of the holiday across religious or political lines, its just simply being thankful …. and grateful.

There are a couple things I’m grateful for: Firstly, the almost 20 years that Catholic Men Chicago Southand (CMCS) has been in existence. That many of you reading this have either volunteered behind the scenes, been to our events or donated with your dollars, and you continue to believe in the vision (trust me, I pray and question all the time to be sure that if its no longer a fit then its time to quit, and you just keep on giving).

The other thing I am grateful for is my gift of photography, for all the people who have mentored me over the years, and namelss others who make it possible for me to provide and share hope and God’s love to people through these pictures.

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I’d love to hear from you: what are you are grateful for? Mention it in the comments.

In the past, when asked, we’ve read things like this:

“I am grateful for my family and for good health. Those are big-ticket items on my grateful list. I am also grateful for a warm home and food on the table and wonderful friends and neighbors.”

“I’m grateful for the gift of life and the love that has been poured over me. I’m grateful for family and friends who accompany me on this journey life, Love, and faith.”

“When you have been fighting cancer, every day is a gift.”

How are you giving to others?

GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world on December 3, 2019 and every day.

Please consider a gift to CMCS to support Bishop Perry’s apostolate of nurturing Catholic men’s spirituality in the Chicago Southland.

Also, now is the pre-sale for the Bishop Perry’s Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum on April 18, 2020. This will be a special way for you to invite and give other men for the Christmas Season, the gift to participate in the Forum .

If you will not be able to attend this event, donations are accepted to offset the expense of offering complimentary tickets to priest’s and seminarians, and others who can not afford to attend.

For example, we always ‘scholarship’ a table to the men of Zacchaeus House, please give to them as well this season of giving. Click here to read a recent article about this other apostolate of Bishop Perry.

And lest we forget …

Bishop Perry’s classic and timless article on Thanksgiving; Deacon Rangel’s article on ‘The Works of Mercy. What are we doing about it?’: and from two years ago, reflecting on my article on things I have reflected on, in talking with other men. These are somewhat long reads, so make a pot of coffee or enjoy during your holiday travels.

On behalf of Bishop Perry and the CMCS-Team, Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers and, of course, the CMCS-Men!

Frank J Casella