Manhood Monday: Living a Blessed Life

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

From Today’s Readings:

Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Alleluia MT 24:42A, 44

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

The widow is another example of the poor ones in the Gospel today whose detachment from material possessions and dependence on God leads to their blessedness (Lk 6:20). Her simple offering provides a striking contrast to the pride and pretentiousness of the scribes denounced in the preceding section (Lk 20:45–47). 

Likewise, in the scripture verse above, the theme of vigilance and readiness is continued with the bold comparison of the Son of Man to a thief who comes to break into a house.

Do you remember not too long ago when the average person would work for the same company for two or more decades?  It still happens, but not that often. More like eighteen months to three years.

Our paycheck, and identity, and thus possessions, can be taken from us like a thief unless we stay awake with readiness. It is best to be detached from these, and work to truly make Jesus the center of our lives.  And this is the meaning behind the CMCS logo, with the four letters surrounding the crucifix – Christ as Center.

Dependence on God leads to blessedness. It’s not about our good intentions to love God, but how much we offer to Christ to fill our hearts, and He possesses our thoughts and actions, every minute of the day and night.

The CMCS-Team

PS. Thanksgiving Day Prayer click here.

Frank’s Photo of the Week

Click to view larger or to purchase
Photo: ‘In All Circumstances Give Thanks‘ Copyright Frank J Casella Prints | Cards

A Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue in a church hallway, silhouetted by window light.

“Failure is an event, not a person”. – Zig Ziglar

We either succeed or we learn.

When I sit in the presence of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and give thanks for life and every breath I take, I realize how much it’s more about the big picture of things and less about me.

“In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thes. 5:18

Thanks for Reading.

Make it a great week. See you in your inbox again next Monday.

Frank J Casella,
CMCS Executive Director

A larger collection of photographs can be viewed on my portfolio.

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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

Bishop Joseph N Perry: Keep Us Thankful O Lord

10 lepers approached Jesus with the request that He heal them.  Jesus instructed them to first go to the priests and offer what Moses has prescribed.  And, on their way they were  cleansed.  One of them, realizing he had been cured, retook his steps to find Jesus and express his gratitude to God.  Jesus, upon receiving the man, was surprised that only one was inspired enough to give God thanks.  “Where are the other nine,” Jesus explained, sadly.  “Was there no one to give thanks to God except this foreigner?”  Luke 17, 11-19

In my short life thus far I have come to understand that thanksgiving takes on its highest meaning following experiences like suffering, chaos, deprivation, poverty and loss.

We raise our children to say thank-you whenever they receive something from someone’s generosity.  However, it takes time and life-experience for our children to understand the real power behind thanks.

For the pilgrims of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, of that first Thanksgiving in the year of our Lord 1621, the beauty of the world was found in its bounty.  They could hear the author of the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy say, “The Lord, your God, is bringing you into a good country, a land with streams of water, with springs and fountains welling up in the hills and valleys, a land of wheat and barley, of vine and fig trees.”

Having arrived in an untamed world underneath it all for them was a deep love of nature and a sense that God was everywhere in the beauty and bounty of the earth.  They knelt to give thanks for that generous gift.  They were now safe after a long arduous journey and a hard winter of deprivation and the deaths of a number of their companions.

Now, in the Plymouth wilderness sitting down with first Americans, eating foods from the wild never before tasted, undoubtedly motivated by gratitude for survival but more deeply moved by a recognition that the graciousness of God had pulled them through the dark, cold days of the struggle to form a new colony away from oppression and religious persecution in their homeland from whence they came.

Pilgrims, they were trustees for future generations and were to set an example for a civilized new world, to, as St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians urges, sing “with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

So, where do the lepers of today’s Gospel come in?  Well, their story is one of giving and receiving.  A thanksgiving story, no doubt.

The inability to give or show gratitude is a mark of disfigurement, a kind of spiritual leprosy.  One who can neither give nor receive can never enter into a relationship of grace, a covenant of love. The leper who returned to Jesus to say “thanks” enters into a relationship with God.

The other nine stood far off, negating even the possibility that something could happen. They stood on the fringes of life because they could not, in their hearts, find time to give thanks. Their spirits remained leprous.  It is almost as if they took for granted that they would be cured, as if it were their right.  Their bodies were now whole, their souls still marked with decay.

Everyone of us has something for which to be thankful.  It helps, I think, to recall the chaos, suffering, deprivation that has marked your life so that power can be given the thanks you raise in prayer on Thanksgiving Day.  For there is wisdom to be discovered from the crosses we are asked to carry in life.

Like the pilgrims, most of us have fought the storms, banished the threats, overcome the fears and made covenants of friendship with God and each other. We are all pilgrims walking an earthly path on the way to a heavenly land where we will be giving thanks for all eternity.

Sitting down to the big meal seems like the highlight of Thanksgiving, but the highlight really comes a couple hours later.  The pumpkin pie is gone, the turkey is picked over, the dishes are done, relatives, friends and guests are gone, the kids and pets are snoozing and somehow, when all is quieted down, the labor for the feast is done, in the depth of your soul you join a whole nation, satiated with food and drink, as if embraced by the wide arms of God, and give a sigh of relief and say “Thank you God!”

Before you sit down to feast at a table others have prepared, remember to say thanks to the wife, the kids and anyone else who deserves to sense your heart and feel what you really mean to them.  Remember to lead your household in prayer in thanks to an all provident God!

We are born into this world with empty hands and we take nothing from this world with us in the end.  All that we have, we receive from the generosity of God.  Today, we thank God for his care of us and praise him for his kindness.

Please respond, “Keep us thankful O Lord!”

  1. We give you thanks O God for our Holy Father the Pope, our bishop, and his assistant bishops and all of our pastors who share in your ministry and authority; that you may guide them so that they exercise your power wisely, let us pray to the Lord.
  2. We give thanks O God for the many blessings you have showered upon us. For those who have not received as much of your bounty, for the poor and needy of your world, the unemployed and those who struggle in any way, we pray to the Lord.
  3. We give thanks O God for your limitless mercy and the treasury of your goodness which you share with us.  That those who do not recognize your love may become aware of your kindness, let us pray to the Lord.
  4. We give thanks O God for the family and friends you have given us.  That they may always know your generosity and protection and be appreciative of your gifts, let us pray to the Lord.
  5. We give thanks O God for the gift of redemption and the forgiveness of our sins; that our lives may show forth more clearly the predilection we enjoy by your Son’s death and resurrection for our sakes, we pray to the Lord.

Almighty Father, we give thanks to your majesty for the many gifts we have received; we ask you to continue your kindness and forsake us not, through Christ our Lord.  Amen!

+ JNP 2011


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CMCSVirtues for November 27, 2014

“How is the Lord continually fashioning our lives?” … “While we do live in a society where we do have a lot of material blessings, we have to make sure we recognize how God is working with the spiritual blessings in our lives,” …. “Sometimes we shy away from that because we know there are areas in our life that are incomplete and we block off the grace of God. My hope would be people would love the life God has given them.”

Archbishop Blase Cupich