Strength in Unity

Parish small groups for men

By Deacon John Rangel, CMCS Director of Misson

Participants list their responses during a recent Bishop Perry Men’s Forum. Photo Copyright Frank J Casella.

Noteworthy: We’re posting this again in light of the present COVID-19 Pandemic and the new tools available online for audio and video conferencing, and how you can connect with the men in your parish.

In the second Story of Creation (Gn 2:18) The Lord God said: “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him”. From the beginning God created man with an inherent desire for human contact, a need for human interaction and relationships.

Scripture contains many passages that cite man’s need for relationships and the positive benefits that accrue therefrom. “As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man.” (Proverbs 27:17)

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Man is a relational creature. It has been empirically demonstrated through study after study that when man is deprived of human contact he suffers emotional, physical and spiritual harm to his well-being. We know also that men fulfill their human relational needs in different ways than women. We men tend to be less willing to share emotions and feelings in personal relationships, jealously guarding our vulnerability or perhaps not wishing to signal a position of “weakness”. Not withstanding our guarded actions, we men need to participant in meaningful personal relationships in order to grow and be fully human.

A cornerstone of CMCS’ ministry is to encourage men to develop men’s small groups within their local parishes. Why small groups? Well for one, Jesus himself provided the model when he called a small band of twelve men to be his disciples. Was this a randomly selected number? I don’t think so. I believe Jesus knew that the unity, strength and discipline required of his initial followers would best be accomplished if they had an intimate personal relationship with him and each other. The rest is history!

Why are small Catholic men’s groups so valuable to the men participating, as well as to the local parish? Here’s what some men have to say (Source: Small Christian Communities: A Vision of Hope.)…
“Jesus showed us that a radically new relationship is possible between God and
humans and among human beings. It is a relationship of integrity, wholeness, and  freedom from fear and anxiety. It is a relationship of justice and peace. It is the coming of the reign of God.”

PJPII said …”small faith communities are a sign of vitality within the church, an
instrument of formation and evangelization, and a solid starting point for a new society based on a civilization of love.”

Lastly, Small Men’s Groups are a readily available and easy to implement tool to help us live out the eight virtues of a Catholic man offered to us by our Vicar Bishop Joseph Perry.

Does your parish need a Men’s small group? CMCS can help!!  Contact us Today for more information. You provide the interest and connections at your parish, we do the rest of the work. Contact us today!

Until Next week, remember, all things are possible with God and prayer.          Pray the Rosary!

Are God’s Priorities Your Priorities?

Suggestions for making what is important in life, priorities

Photo: ‘Day of Interment‘ – Copyright 2019 Frank J Casella on Fine Art America
No Second Chances

Over the recent months there has been much in the news about the meaning of life. The COVID-19 virus is the one important thing that happened and caused us all to put things into perspective. We are all faced with death like overnight.

I couldn’t help but think of the number of car accidents that I have lived through, and the thoughts on how close those came to put me a similar state of death. We only live one life here on earth, and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. There are no second chances!

Sometimes we get so busy with our priorities, obligations, and agendas that it is easy to forget what is most important: Relationships.

This is why it is so important to always take care of unfinished business, and to prioritize our relationships? Spending meaningful time with the persons who are important to us and our life, and let them know this. Do the things that show them this.

In the business world we are taught that you don’t get a second chance at a first impression. There is much in life today that recycles but, with the years we have left, God willing, what is the lasting impression that YOUR life makes on this world? If you are a husband or father, your wife or children need your influence more than they may tell you … or even know!

In other words, after you and I die is there evidence that we have lived?

…. or are we just passing through???

God’s Presence In – and Through – Your Life

There was a time in my life when I was allowing myself to be used by technology, especially email. I had several email addresses (at least way more than I have now), and it bothered me when I couldn’t respond to an email within ten minutes. Short of the long, I was having an “affair” with technology and my computer.

Today, I track my computer time, designate “offline times” and make a WBO list (when back online), and shut down my computer at night so that I don’t go back to it. I don’t use a Smartphone, rather a flip phone when out and tablet with WIFI when inside, and I contact my friends the old-fashioned way = I call or visit them to make our relationship benefit from personal touch.

“A Catholic man practices presence with his wife and children”.

Bishop Joseph Perry

This is one of Bishop Perry’s “Virtues of a Catholic Man”. Presence is what technology in our present age cannot replace. With Smartphones the average person today consumes 350 percent more information than someone living just 25 years ago.

This information overload leads to shortened attention spans, memory loss, mental fatigue, and – in some users- a form of addiction. It is said that the average person’s attention span is that of a gold fish: nine seconds. Remember when Facebook was known as the “third largest country”? And Twitter was known as the “water cooler”.

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications addresses the fragile relationship between nature and modernity by reminding us: “Depending on how they use media, people can grow in sympathy and compassion or become isolated in a narcissistic, self-referential world of stimuli with near-narcotic effects”. In a recent poll, one in seven people said they see less of their spouses because of time spent online.

What about you?

One way to determine if technology is in control of your life is to include technology use in your examination of conscience. At the end of each day, and before you (go to) receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation; take a moment to ask yourself:

Have I been using technology to deepen my relationships with God and others, or to avoid them?
Has my time online caused me to neglect anything or anyone that I should be paying attention to?

Remember that God is not flashy, and doesn’t have to “Like” you when you post a prayer request, he is always there. God desires to be present in your life, and to communicate with you, and with others through you. Connection to Him is the one constant that will never depend on a signal, service provider, or even a monthly payment.

Another form of technology that can keep you from balancing your life is the television (or Netflix), and that infamous clicker. Sports engagement, or even that gamming, can become a huge distraction when not kept in check. If your wife or family talks to you while you’re engaged with this stuff and you become hostel or angry for being disturbed, consider that you have an addiction.

Anything that is not in moderation is not of God: food, shopping, children, sports, hobbies, etc.

Here are some suggestions for making what is important in life, priorities. I suspect you might have some more to add to this list:

  • If your wife is disciplining the kids and you don’t stop what you’re doing to back her up, then consider your priorities are off the track.
  • When family is gathered around the dinner table, texting goes into the drawer. Literally! Talking with each other is the game plan.
  • Family prayer….especially nightly with small children…. also spirituality conversations with the older children.
  • Mealtime prayers with children of all ages from small to older …. children learn more from our actions than from our words … even when out to eat.
  • Making prayer and especially conversation about our Lord and Catholic Tradition part of Family ritual.
  • Telling family stories with a “message” of hope especially where God’s hand can be emphasized…
  • Daily praying A Man’s Prayer, and living The Virtues of a Catholic Man.
  • As always: If you’re not filling and penetrating your wife’s heart with your love and affection, someone or something else will.

Frank J Casella

Catholic Men and Divorce

A resource for men.

“You should be on guard, then, for your life, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.”

Malachi 2:15
Photo: ‘Applause‘ Copyright 2016 Frank J Casella

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.

Avoiding Divorce

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!

Frank J Casella

Manhood Monday: The Women Among Us

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

From Today’s Readings:

Alleluia  See Lk 1:28

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, [1:3637] 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’.

Zig Ziglar

The CMCS-Team


Frank’s Photo of the Week

Photo: ‘True Prosperity’ Copyright 2011 Frank J Casella

True Prosperity

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.

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Strength in Unity

Small groups for men.

In the second Story of Creation (Gn 2:18) The Lord God said: “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him”. From the beginning God created man with an inherent desire for human contact, a need for human interaction and relationships.

Scripture contains many passages that cite man’s need for relationships and the positive benefits that accrue therefrom.

“As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man.” (Proverbs 27:17)

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Man is a relational creature. It has been empirically demonstrated through study after study that when man is deprived of human contact he suffers emotional, physical and spiritual harm to his well-being. We know also that men fulfill their human relational needs in different ways than women.

We men tend to be less willing to share emotions and feelings in personal relationships, jealously guarding our vulnerability or perhaps not wishing to signal a position of “weakness”. Not withstanding our guarded actions, we men need to participant in meaningful personal relationships in order to grow and be fully human.

A cornerstone of CMCS’ ministry is to encourage men to develop men’s small groups within their local parishes. Why small groups? Well for one, Jesus himself provided the model when he called a small band of twelve men to be his disciples. Was this a randomly selected number? I don’t think so.

I believe Jesus knew that the unity, strength and discipline required of his initial followers would best be accomplished if they had an intimate personal relationship with him and each other. The rest is history!

Why are small Catholic men’s groups so valuable to the men participating, as well as to the local parish? Here’s what some men have to say (Book Source: Small Christian Communities: A Vision of Hope.)…

“Jesus showed us that a radically new relationship is possible between God and humans and among human beings. It is a relationship of integrity, wholeness, and freedom from fear and anxiety. It is a relationship of justice and peace. It is the coming of the reign of God.”

St. Pope John Paul II said …”small faith communities are a sign of vitality within the church, an instrument of formation and evangelization, and a solid starting point for a new society based on a civilization of love.”

Lastly, Small Men’s Groups are a readily available and easy to implement tool to help us live out the eight virtues of a Catholic man offered to us by our Vicar Bishop Joseph Perry.

Deacon John Rangel, CMCS Co-Founder and Director of Mission

Fixer and Feeler

As the story goes, there was a husband and a wife who would together take their dog for a walk each day. As the wife talked about her thoughts the husband would interrupt as he tried to solve the problems. By the time they got back home, often they would both be more frustrated than when they left.

Then one day the man shared this with his priest during a light conversation, and the priest shared with the man how most women are feelers. To instead just spend time listening to his wife, and when he became frustrated by what she was saying, or trigger his emotions, to just keep moving and listen.

So the next time while out for a dog walk the man just kept quiet as his wife kept talking about her thoughts. Before you know it, the wife realized they got home and the husband didn’t have his turn to talk. What happened is that she talked herself through her thoughts, and that was the purpose the husband served.

So guy’s, we listen to fix and women listen to feel. But, more important, with all the information overload that we have in our culture today, it is important to listen to what people mean, not just what they are saying.

Sometimes it is best to just be in the moment, and not try to fix the moment, our wives want simply our time.

On Living Our Lives To Bring Goodness Into The World

Branch Out
Photo © Frank J Casella All Rights Reserved here

 

Branch Out

By Frank J Casella

When I saw this moment of the golden hour morning sunlight illuminate the twisting branches of a tree, it made me think about family, friends, and the (end of year) holidays.

Our lives are a work in progress, they take many twists and turns, and each of us takes a different direction in life.

As we gather for the holidays, sometimes it can be very trying. Said another way, sometimes our friends can be more like family than our own family.

My take on it — branch out.

My late brother used to pick on me often at family gatherings, almost to the point that I didn’t show up at times. After he passed away it hit me in a big way what he was doing. That he was trying to express how much he believed in me but didn’t know how say it or show it. He really loved me as a brother.

Two days before he passed, it was he who called me to tell me how much he loved me.

If we allow the actions of others to build resentment towards them, we face the danger of spending the rest of our lives judging them instead of loving them for the person they are.

It is said that ‘hate corrupts the container it is in.’

All this to say, we branch out when our actions are what bring Family together or not. Be patient and try to see what others are saying or where they are coming from.

I learned from a very important friend the hard way, that every person has a right to their opinion. We also have a right to accept it or progress on without it.

For those of us who live our Faith, to branch out means that He is the vine and we are the branches. See everyone through the eyes of Christ. Love them, don’t judge them …

Yes, easier said than done. But unless we are on the edge of our chair, then we are not depending on God’s will and living our faith.

 

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

 

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