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

The Value of Hope

By Frank J Casella

Hope.

As I go through my daily life the Lord is showing me more and more how everyone is in search of hope. The economy, employment, world affairs, policies and programs, health care, religion and politics, to name a few. 

All of these bring concern and cause us to look for a sense of hope. One thing I’m seeing since the big tax cut talked about in Washington, is businesses talking about more prosperity, and utilities talking about lowering pricing. But I’ve not met anyone who is experiencing this … in their pockets … yet they have much hope for when it starts to take effect. 

Some people say that the problems of the world have to do with racism, or intolerance of one kind or another. There seems to be a dividing line between people who have faith in God, and others who say faith in God is a distraction and only causes more problems to expectations or progress. 

The people I watch who do prison ministry say that over ninety percent of the men in prison have a broken relationship with their fathers. This is the root of their anger. Ministers find that when these men reconcile with their fathers, or if their fathers are not living to prayerfully and truthfully forgive them, that these men start on the path of hope towards inner peace and less anger. They no longer express anger through their actions.

Hope is so valuable to our lives, two of the many examples happens to be one of the most downloaded shows of the Zig Ziglar podcasts. It’s also one of the most used words or topics on the Seth Godin blog.

Pope Francis says of hope,

“We must help one another … in the many needs of everyday life, but also when we are in need of hope. “

And this brings me to my childhood, when I didn’t talk much and was thus studying people and behaviors. How I saw then the way people were searching for hope, and how today the purpose for my pictures (as a photographer) and how I co-founded this Catholic apostolate to men.  

This is what I call my ‘why’.

… When I help others to find hope, and see it living in the soul of their eyes, it gives me hope in the many needs of everyday life. Priceless!

Has anyone ever asked you “what is your ‘why'”??  If so, what do you tell them?  Also, what is your hope or what gives you hope in life?


Frank J Casella is a photographer, and co-founder of the Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum, and Catholic Men Chicago Southland

Measuring Up To Jesus

By Frank J Casella

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 do not 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 Gods agenda. Said another way, I live my life as a prayer.

If we focus our attention on bad news and gossip, and distractions, we will miss God’s incredible, visionary, optimistic purpose for every believer: to grow so much in our faith that we shine like beacons to everyone around us!

God’s vision for each church is that we would grow so much in our love for God that we’d love people the way He loves them: unconditionally and passionately. He want’s us to be filled up with Christ’s grace, truth, and purpose so that everything we do will reflect Him to those around us.

Measuring Up To Jesus Photo Copyright Frank J Casella All Rights Reserved

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 do not see is how often I spend just gazing at it in holy contemplation.

“If a hypocrite is standing between you and God, it just means the hypocrite is closer to God than you are.” — Zig Ziglar


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