The Differences Between Men and Women are God’s Plan

PhotoArt: Summer Lovin’ – Copyright 2008 Frank J Casella

Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God.

1 Corinthians 11:11-12

[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.”

Dr Gary Chapman

Frank J Casella, CMCS-Director

Bishop Joseph Perry: Our Families

Each day gives us a moment to contemplate our families and what we really want them to be… to ask the blessing of God who has brought us together and appointed each one of us to be in this family.

Referencing  our religious roots … in Jesus’ day… each member of the family did something to produce food, practically the only industry.  Carpenters like Joseph would have spent as much, if not more, time building or repairing farming implements.  Jesus would have learned his father’s trade.  Jewish society was a lot simpler than anything we know.  From the moment they were physically able, children worked.  The men ploughed and planted, made repairs, shepherded the flocks and whatever else was needed.  Boys stayed with the men learning the crafts and trades of their fathers and other men in the family.  Girls stayed with the women learning how to turn wool into cloth and grain into flour.

In Jesus day, people lived in very small dwellings in extended family groups. They survived only by recognizing that their survival depended upon each other.  They lived in the same rooms, ate and worked together, prayed together.  It was the values of their religion that created their strongest bonds. Except for daughters who married, few left the home.

Our scriptures and church teaching emphasize the need for exemplary behavior on each our part in order to survive.  This call to proper daily behavior is a Call rooted in faith.  A strong family relies on its faith to guide and direct it.

A family is a living, breathing organism.  Members of the family live off each other; they cope, assist each other and aggravate each other.  They make the best of a situation; they invest in it, get to like it, maybe even need it.  Sometimes families live with situations they shouldn’t; and make bad human investments; and learn to tolerate unlikable things.

Families must be flexible, but within limits. Nothing is ever what it used to be, nor is it entirely different.  Each member needs room to grow.  Families need to expect change and crises as a way of life.  Our Church teaches that the purposes of marriage are mutual love and raising children.  Love is always stretched.  We have to discover new ways to express old love or loved ones begin to feel taken for granted. And children are naturally bundles of constant change. This makes the family a change agent, a growth industry!

Sometimes, families need to face the truth, to avoid a future catastrophe by bearing a present pain or embarrassment.  We need to allow ourselves to be in trouble.  If Mary was found a pregnant teen and Jesus was a runaway teen then we are allowed a scandal or two in the family.  A good rule in family life – all life – is to play the problem where it lies.  We almost always make it worse by trying to improve on our lie.

And, of course, families, like individuals, live on appreciation, without which even the best arrangements fall apart.  Because the family is not an institution; it is an occasion if not an unfolding drama of love.

We worry about our families.  We desire our children to have the best influences, the best education and a reasonable walk through adult life free of trauma and pain if at all possible. We want our families to be wrapped in the blessings of God.  These are good things to ask for.  For these reasons we fall to our knees asking God to keep us in His care.•

Bishop Joseph N. Perry

JNP 2009

The Power of the Cross for Catholic Men

Back to basics. We can’t love the Church if we don’t know and love Christ.

God has called us through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thes 2:14

This struck me on the importance and power of the Cross. And we are given access to this power just through believing in Jesus Christ.

As men we face many challenges in this world. It is simply by the sign of the Cross that we are not alone and are given strength.

Heed these words of the late Francis Cardinal George:

“God sustains the world, in good times and in bad. Catholics, along with many others, believe that only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, savior of the world and head of his body, the church. Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb, no matter their nationality, are on the right side of history. Those who lie about him and persecute or harass his followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up ringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression. There is nothing “progressive” about sin, even when it is promoted as “enlightened.”

The world divorced from the God who created and redeemed it inevitably comes to a bad end. It’s on the wrong side of the only history that finally matters. The Synod on the New Evangelization is taking place in Rome this month because entire societies, especially in the West, have placed themselves on the wrong side of history.”

 

You Become What You Think About

The Catholic Catechism and the Bible tells you how to do the right thing. But you may think, as I have, that a certain movie you see or how you look at that woman walking down the street or sitting in the church pew across the isle is a simple, innocent thing and doesn’t make a difference.

The other day when I was on Twitter a quote I saw from sales guru hit me: “You become what you think about all day long”.  It made me ponder on what I think about every day, which lead me to realize how much my thinking – and lifestyle – has changed over the years.

I used to be more selfish, helping and serving others with the end motive of serving my own needs and ego, and praying for my own needs – talking to God more than listening.  St. Francis says [that] it is through giving that we receive, and I took it literal.

Today …  when I give of myself I don’t look for what I receive, because the real gift is how God is blessing others through me .. which I may never see. My agenda has become God’s agenda. Said another way, I live my life as a prayer.

Your words and actions, men, say a lot about your thinking, and when you live your life as a prayer you see the world and others through God’s eyes … and become more like Christ. You’ll know this is happening when others tell you, because you might be too humble to see it in yourself.

A spiritual director once told me ”the ‘best’ Christian’s are those people who constantly feel that they fall short in living-out God’s will for their life“.

Here are some scriptures from the Catholic Bible that speak to me on what and how you – a Catholic Man – should think:

Power of the Tongue.  James Chapter 3    Proverbs Chapter 15

Thoughts and Thinking.   Proverbs Chapter 18    Matthew Chapter 9

What do you think about all day long?

Without the Cross, your life can be horizontal = world view, selfish and self serving.

When Jesus’ stretched out arms of love were nailed to the Cross, He created the vertical = Heavenly view, seeing others as better than yourself, and helping each other make it through life.

 

Holiness and the Cross

Too many times, we allow sin in our lives to distract us from the Holiness of God. As scripture says, “be still … and know that I am God”.  The two main things that keeps us from Holiness as men is our human understanding of sex and money.

Stay with me now …

The more we be still and look at that crucifix everyday the more we will see how us men need to turn off the porn on the computer; walk away from that affair (emotional or otherwise); stop flirting with all the ladies and instead look at them as a person and as a Woman; turn marital sex from self-gratification into being a Sacred and Holy gift to your spouse; stop using profanity .. PERIOD; stop little white lies and then rationalizing them; and take our minds off materialism: the faster car, the big house or boat, or the latest electronic gadget . .. or just the need to make more money.

(it is not bad to have things, but we must keep it all in right perspective)

All of these.. and more … distract us from keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. When us Men get sex and money – and the power of the Cross – in the right Christian order, we will then shake the world for Jesus Christ!

So, if you are going through an identity crisis I suggest you find the crucifix in your house and just look at it … and look at it… and look at it.

 

Your identity is in Jesus Christ! 

I assure you, the longer you look at Jesus on that Cross, the more He will speak to you about who you are and how you can become more Holy.

The greatest image I have of my late father is how he prayed the rosary, looking at the Cross, each morning in a room with only the window light – just him and God – before leaving for work.

The greatest image my children say they have of me is how I kiss the crucifix each morning as soon as I wake up. What they don’t see is how often I spend just looking at it in holy contemplation.

Us men have the power that when we get our holiness in order can impact the world, the church, humanity, and our families …  and all of this can be felt three generations deep!

We have one message to give through our lives … and the sign of the Cross:

… “only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ.”

 

— Frank J Casella, CMCS Executive Director

 

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Bishop Joseph Perry: Men’s Spirituality

The prophet Isaiah said it first in the days of the Old Testament, before St. Peter ever did in the New Testament.

“Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”

The prophet Isaiah’s religious experience was also a theophany, in which the prophet perceives God on his heavenly throne. God’s majesty and transcendence overwhelm the prophet. He had a vision of a high throne and the hem of a garment that fills the Temple that evoked God’s universal kingship and splendor.

In this vision the seraphim archangels minister to God, praising God’s holiness and the glory that fills the earth. The seraphim angels also prepare the prophet for his mission. In response to Isaiah’s claims that he himself is unworthy, in his words, “a man of unclean lips living amidst a people of unclean lips,” a seraph places a burning coal on Isaiah’s lips, thus purifying him. Isaiah is now prepared to carry God’s message to the people since, as the passage says, his “guilt has been taken away” and his “sin is blotted out.”

Isaiah’s vocational call contrasts the majesty of God, holy, glorious and mighty with the human ordinariness of Isaiah who must be prepared to bear God’s message. Angels purify Isaiah so that he can prophecy for God.

Most of us do not experience visions and theophanies that overwhelm us with God’s might and transcendence. Most of us experience God in the mundane experiences of daily life, in the ordinary reality of conversing with our wives, engaging our children, of going to our places of employment, hanging out with friends, in the ups and downs of family life, walking the dog, seeing a movie, riding the subway or participating in a family reunion.

The ordinary work and leisure of everyday life are where God tends to reach out to meet us. God comes to us where we are, as we are.

Jesus met his first disciples at their places of work. When Simon, Andrew, James and John first meet Jesus in the gospels they were not overwhelmed by a vision but were fixed on their work. In fact, Jesus interrupted their work and the men may have found that a bit annoying. They were not expecting angels let alone a theophany; they were washing and mending their nets after a fruitless night of fishing.

Jesus, however, began to preach from Simon Peter’s boat using it as a pulpit for the day, a powerful image I dare say for God’s presence in the ordinariness of human life. Not in the Temple or a synagogue, where Jesus could also be found but in the boat of a few working men is where the encounter with the incarnate God took place.

After Jesus finished speaking to the crowd He turned to the work at hand, the work of fishing for a living. Indeed, a lot of fish had to be caught because Roman taxes laid against the fishing trade were heavy. And Simon Peter worried about this constantly – being able to pay his taxes.

Jesus teases Simon to “put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon was reluctant to start the process again, especially when they had caught nothing the night before. But when he did put the nets back into the water the catch of fish was almost immediate; the nets straining with the bounty. There were so many fish that the nets began to break. They called for help to their companions, James and John. The boats were beginning to sink because of the weight of the catch.

It is in response to the sudden and overwhelming catch of fish that Simon Peter is suddenly overtaken by his sense of the presence of God in his fishing boat in the seemingly ordinary person of Jesus. Like Isaiah in God’s Temple, Simon’s sense of unworthiness in the presence of God overwhelms him. He trembles as “He fell down to his knees before Jesus, saying, ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!’” As if to say, ‘I am not worthy of what you have provided for me this day!’

A profound recognition of God incarnate took place not while Jesus was transfigured or enthroned in majesty but in the casting and drawing up of their fishing nets. In response to the miraculous catch, Simon recognizes God with him. For Peter and the other fishermen, the encounter was a call to a new adventure. “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will be catching men!” And the gospel tells us, they left their jobs and everything and committed their lives to Him!

God met Peter and God meets us where we are. Like Isaiah Peter initially felt unworthy, unready and unprepared for the encounter and for his new work but God sees us and wants us for who we are and where we are. God will purify us, prepare us for our tasks and make us ready to do our work, however ordinary or exalted this work might be that we’re doing. But our ordinariness will always be a part of who we are, not a place absent from God but where God meets us every day.

II

It’s a matter of finding God in the ordinariness of your life. It’s a matter of letting Christ enter the boat of your life and allowing Him to do some wonderful things for you despite how worthy or unworthy you deem yourself.It’s a matter of keeping focus gentleman, taking the lead over yourself with your life and leading your family if you are a family man. These are not easy times to be a religiously focused man. Some people snicker and make jokes of religion and piety. Some are skeptical about God and his church. Some are put off by the observation that religion doesn’t make you rich in material things. Some believe they can get along in life quite well without this religion thing.

People make the decision easily to attend a football or soccer game rather than attend Sunday Mass. People do this and sleep comfortably the same night thinking they can get up the next morning by their own strength. The sweep of the popular culture out there to live life with little or no reference to God or the Church is immensely attractive. It is an undertow that carries men and their families away from the grace of the Gospel and the sacraments.

Are you interested in saving your wife and your family? Are you interested in your own salvation?

I know a man who insists that every Sunday evening his family sits down and has dinner together. Nothing, absolutely nothing can interfere with that family-time. The teenagers in the family are welcome to bring a friend to dinner, but everything else must give way to the family being together at table for once in the course of a week. The chaotic schedules that bear down upon each of the family members makes coming together next to impossible on other days of the week. But this husband and father considers the Sabbath sacred for his family and underscores each one’s participation.

This same family man, once dinner is finished, leaves the dishes to the teenagers and takes his wife for a half-hour walk outside, just the two of them, to talk and share among themselves.

III

Most of us benefit from a “Plan of Life” that helps us live as a Christian man carrying forth what it is that God has ordained us to do. Living life haphazardly, bouncing from one thing to the next, one chore to the next, whatever-happens-happens kind of approach, from one surprise to the next, from one tragedy to the next, is not a careful way to live as a Christian. A Christian man takes each and every item of his life and analyzes it prayerfully in order to discover what God means for him and where God is leading him.

Our religion is a preoccupation that permeates everything we are and do, that infuses the thoughts we think, the choices we make, the sufferings we suffer and the joys we take delight in. The message of the Lord found in the gospels is the very constitution of our lives.

Therefore, it asks for certain steps taken on our part by way of a structured religious life, to make sure that we are responding to the Lord when he tells us to put out into the deep, to make sure that we have the spiritual armor to combat the onslaughts of despair and temptation and secularism that pushes God away from our lives, to make sure that we, like Peter, can fall to our knees and recognize God’s powerful presence in our homes and families. As Joshua, Moses’ deputy, is quoted as saying in the Old Testament:

“If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve…
as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord!”

 

In a Catholic man’s plan of life, it helps to include:

  1. Some regular prayer with your wife and in the home together – this can be done with use of a prayer book, or the rosary or spontaneous prayerful words from you or your wife.
  2. Making sure Sunday Mass is a non-negotiable with your wife and your children – before sports or other things that amount to entertaining yourselves. We must entertain God first.
  3. Making sure there are Catholic symbols in the home: a crucifix at a minimum, some statue or sacred picture or art that reminds you and visitors to your home what in your life is important. When I visit homes the first thing I look for is some sign or signs of people’s faith. Some people have no visible indications in their households of what they believe in. Reading solid Catholic literature is important in order to keep abreast of news and issues in our church – this can be done through requisite magazines by Catholic publishers or through Catholic outlets’ journalism through the internet. We can always make recommendations about wholesome Catholic literature when asked. There is a variety of Catholic reading material, from the average to the scholarly.
  4. How about an occasional attendance at weekday mass or ten minutes in Eucharistic adoration at a parish chapel nearby?
  5. How about family time marked off in the course of the week where you and your wife and children can spend time together and punctuate the beauty of what God has given you? If you don’t take charge of your family, some thing or someone else will.

Start out small with a plan – something to keep the graces showering upon yourselves. Don’t be afraid men to get on your knees before God and thank Him for the privileges of faith and insight. Don’t be afraid to shepherd your family in the ways of the Lord. Don’t be afraid to put out into the deep and lower your nets, for a catch.

It is not sufficient to merely utter that we are sinful men and rest there. Too many of us relish in the notion that we are sinful men. The Lord would like our friendship, our worship, our conversion of life and our loyalty to Him.

 

Homily of Most Reverend Joseph N. Perry for the CMCS Bishop Perry Catholic Men’s Conference Chicago on April 2, 2016.  St. Ailbe Church, Chicago, Illinois.

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Sexual assault survivors tell their stories

“After conducting a poll of more than 1,000 current and recent college students from around the country, a team of Washington Post reporters interviewed dozens of people who responded that they had, at some point during their time in college, experienced unwanted sexual contact or faced an attempted or suspected assault.”

via Sexual assault survivors tell their stories – Washington Post.