React or Respond

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

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

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

1 Peter 3:13-18

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

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

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

Responding to Our Culture

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

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

Remember these points:

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

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

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

Bishop Joseph Perry

Frank J Casella, CMCS-Director

Bishop Joseph Perry: A Prayer for Employment

Pray this each day, whether or not you are employed.

O God, Father of us all, You bestow on us gifts and talents to develop and use in accord with your Will and to advance your kingdom on earth.  Grant to me, through the intercession of Saint Joseph, the man chosen by God to care for you in your childhood and youth, employment and work that I may with dignity provide for my family. Grant me the opportunities to use my energy and abilities for the good of those who depend upon me for care and support.  You placed me in charge of this family.  I beseech your assistance in helping me provide for them as you would have me do. You are our God and head of this family.  Amen

Bishop Joseph N Perry

Click here to download (PDF) copy

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


CMCSVirtues – St. Pope John Paul II

Saint Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care. May he always guard, protect and enlighten families.

– St. Pope John Paul II

 

 

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