Archive for the ‘Vision’ category

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE UNASHAMED

June 13, 2010

    I listened to the latest CD from Lighthouse Media today. I receive a CD every month featuring solid teaching and inspirational stories about God’s loving care for his people. This month  the CD was a recording of a talk by Catholic apologist PatrickMadrid entitled “Why I am a Catholic”. In his conclusion he presented his “Mission Statement” entitled the “Fellowship of the Unashamed

     I AM A PART of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t lookback, let up, slow down, back away or be still.My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is in God’s hands. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, the bare minimum, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, frivolous living, selfish giving, and dwarfed goals.I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, applause, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, the best, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith. I lean on Christ.s presence. I love with patience, live by prayer, and labor with the power of God’s grace.My face is set. My gait is fast, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, and my mission is clear.I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, let up or slow up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paidup, and spoken up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give until I drop, speak out until all know, and work until He stops me.And when He returns for His own, He will have no difficulty recognizing me. My banner is clear: I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.Adapted from the original (author unknown) by Patrick Madridwww.surprisedbytruth.com

       I have no doubt that I have been called to this fellowship but it is not easy to live out this calling every day. I thank God he has given me many companions through my involvement in the Guardian Of  The Redeemer Catholic Men’s Fellowship. I pray that more Catholic men will join us in fufilling this Mission.

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A proposal for Catholic Education

March 23, 2010

I received my enrollment application and tuition notice for my daughter in the Holy Redeemer system, accompanied by a noticeably strident plea from the principle to enroll.  Elementary education is up $250 this year.  I was expecting this, as the timing of Catholic Schools Week marketing lined up nicely with publishing the Diocesan and School system  financial statements.  When we were in a private secular school, tuition was much much higher than we presently pay.

This evening I ran across this very interesting proposal aimed at the vicious circle Diocesan Catholic School systems seem to be in.  Check it out, it is an interesting read.  Essentially it posits that the per child tuition model is not only dead, but unreflective of our Christian values.  What do you think?

von Speyr on Familiarity

January 21, 2010

I was writing a letter to a friend on my thoughts about the TLM (see post from last week).  I came across this quote from Adrienne von Speyr which helped to illuminate my feelings rather succinctly.

To get used to things means merely to rob them of their deeper meaning.  Here is an example: your Sunday best was once an ornament, but later you began using it for everyday wear.  All it does now is perform a service; it no longer adorns you.

Profiles in Courage

April 3, 2009

Sometimes when I find myself mired in a self-centered attitude I think that maybe… just maybe.. if I hear enough examples like these I might be able to truly put myself on a firm path to holiness.  Michael Voris in the video, reminds us “we have to stop complaining about the scoreboard and get in the game”.  Michael walks the walk.  He gave up a broadcasting career and put everything he has into Real Catholic TV — a vision to bring quality Catholic video content to the internet in the new evangelization.  I would embed the video here, but it’s not the right format.  click the link!

Next is the Rev. Walter Hoye.  He was arrested and is now a prisoner of conscience in the Santa Rita Jail.  Why?  For contempt of court in refusing to submit to a judge’s demand that he not sidewalk counsel outside abortion clinics  for three years.  He was jailed for standing on a public sidewalk and PRAYING.  He refused to comply with a law and a punishment that violated his faith.

“It is Thursday, March 26th, 2009 and I am sitting on the top of the second (2nd) of fifteen (15) bunks in housing unit thirty-four (34) east of the Santa Rita jail in Dublin, California. 

Here my thoughts turn towards my brothers, men of the cloth, men who are called and sanctified by God the Father. Men who are preserved as the bondservants of Jesus Christ. Men who serve as the holy burden bearers of God’s word. Men who are the watchmen on the wall. It is now in the spirit of the prophet Ezekiel, I write to my fellow watchmen on the wall.

Ezekiel’s name in Hebrew means, God makes strong, hardens. Ezekiel’s name not only describes his character, but also his assignment. Ezekiel’s divinely inspired and ordained assignment was both unpopular and unwelcomed. Ezekiel’s assignment stood against the prevailing wisdom of his day that called for the leaders of Israel to play it safe and avoid unpleasant topics of conversation…”

Read the rest here

The Rev. Hoye is on a 40-day, juice-only fast.

And let’s all be sure to pray him, and the courage to Be the Change we wish to see in the world.

Daddy, what did you do during Advent 2008 ?

December 25, 2008

 mens-retreat-photo

 

 Daddy, What Did You Do During Advent of 2008?

 

     When I was growing up in the 1950’s, a question asked by many children of their fathers was “What did you do in the war, daddy?” Most American men had been called into the military during World War II. They fought against a clearly defined enemy which threatened the peace, security and freedom of the millions of people living on Earth at the time.

     Although wars still rage on the planet today there is another war in our midst in America to which many of our people, especially men, seem to be oblivious. The war I am speaking of has been called the “Culture War” and it concerns the American way of life. Our late Holy Father John Paul II coined the phrase “Culture of Death” and “Culture of Life” in his Encyclical letter “the Gospel of Life” to describe two opposite ways of life to which the people of a nation can give allegiance.

     Our Catholic Church through its constant teaching and pastoral practice points us to a way of life which will lead us to a civilization of love and truth on this side of eternity and to eternal happiness with God in the next life. The Culture of Death, on the other hand, leads to personal destruction both now and in eternity. Our children and grandchildren are the stakes in the Culture War. In order to win this war all Catholic men need to be focused on the part they are called to play as they live their day-to-day lives.

     One battleground in the Culture War concerns the American celebration of the Christmas Holiday. In our Catholic tradition the Christmas Season begins on Christmas Day and lasts for twelve days. Before Christmas the Church has given us the Season of Advent as a time of preparation for Christmas. In recent years there has been an attack on the public celebration of Christmas by militant atheists. However, many Catholics have themselves abandoned the practice of Advent and they start celebrating Christmas on “Black Friday” at our nation’s shopping malls and downtowns. Their “Christmas” parties are celebrated throughout December with “ Christmas songs” and a spirit of materialism in the air. Many people say it is the most  busy time of the year. Christmas is finished on December 25 to be followed by Kwanzaa.

     Mother Church offers Advent to her children as a time primarily “to be” not a time “to do”. A  time to think, reflect, and listen especially to listen for the voice of the Bridegroom. John 3:28-30.

     During the second week of Advent 2008 twenty “Daddies” living in the Diocese of Scranton responded to our Bishop’s call to holiness and mission by attending the first annual Advent retreat of the Guardian of the Redeemer Catholic Men’s Fellowship at Fatima Renewal Center in Dalton, Pa. The “ Daddies” represented 15 different parishes in the Diocese located from Pennsylvania’s boundary with New Jersey to Central Pennsylvania.

       The retreat, led by “Abba” Leo McKernan., Preacher for Holiness and Mission for the Diocese of Scranton, focused on the passage in the Gospel of John which quotes John the Baptist’s statement about his cousin Jesus while he was baptizing in Aenon, near Salim. “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom, the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice, so this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase, I must decrease.” John 3:28-30.

       We were invited to see Jesus through the eyes of John the Baptist and to hear the Bridegroom’s voice. We were challenged to become the “best man” of Jesus; a term which can be translated from the original Greek as “friend”. We become the friend of Jesus when we respond to his love for each one of us by doing what he commands us. We become that Best Man by allowing Jesus to increase in us by decreasing our ego and self will so that when people see us they will see Jesus.

      I encountered Jesus numerous times during the retreat. I was surprised to meet Him in the hallway of the Retreat Center both days after breakfast. We shared the Retreat Center with a group of Haitian Catholic Women from the Bronx. Their priest led them both days in procession with the Blessed Sacrament from the Main Chapel to a room where they worshiped Jesus in his Eucharistic presence.

     Our Fellowship group met our Eucharistic Lord at Mass and again in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We also adored Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday night and Abba invited us to spend a few minutes with Jesus at His altar face to face.

     We also encountered Jesus in His Word and in song and in our encounter with one another over the 36 hours we were together. What a blessing to be with men who are the “wheat” and not the “chaff” as described in Psalm 1. 

    On Saturday evening, the vigil of the Lord’s Day, we had a Lord’s Day Dinner. The tables were set up as at a wedding banquet .Father McKernan, “Alterus Christus”, among us played the part of Bridegroom. I sat next to him and played the part of the “Best Man”. We toasted the Bride “the Church” present there in the Catholic men assembled with us.

       One reading during the weekend had a profound effect on me. The Book of Nehemiah describes the Jews’ return from Babylonian exile and the resettlement of the Promised Land. During the time of rebuilding, Ezra the Priest found the lost Book of the Law of Moses which he read to the assembled people- the men and women and children old enough to understand. “Today is Holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad and do not weep. For all the people were weeping as they heard the Words of the Law.”

       The New American Bible’s commentary on the Books of Ezra/ Nehemiah states that the Law of Moses a/k/a the Torah was Judaism’s authentic way of life given by Adonai  through Moses and regiven by Ezra the Priest. The remnant of the People of Israel had forgotten that way of life and were weeping because they had been convicted of their sin. As Jesus would later teach “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. “ In our tradition it is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sin and then comforts us when we mourn over our sins and resolve to turn away from them.

      On the way home from the retreat I listened to a CD recording of a talk given by Bishop John Magee to seminarians attending Mt St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg Maryland. Bishop Magee served as Secretary to three Popes: Paul VI , John Paul I and John Paul II. His talk related personal stories about the Popes he had served.  One incident concerned John Paul II soon after he became Pope. One day Bishop Magee could not find the Holy Father in the papal residence including the chapel. He finally went back to the chapel where he found the Holy Father lying prostrate on the floor before the Blessed Sacrament in deep prayer. This is the posture of the priest at ordination and it is a gesture signifying Kenosis or the self emptying. The talk helped me realize that all three of these men imitated Christ in expressing His self emptying love for His Bride the Church.

        I found myself weeping as I listened to this talk. I did not quite understand why I would be weeping. Perhaps it was the realization of the great sacrifices each of these Popes had made for me as a member of the Church.

       I then recalled my confession during the retreat that I had failed to consistently love my wife as Jesus loved the Church. By listening to Bishop McGee’s talk, I received a new understanding of what is required to fulfill the command of Ephesians 5:25. Husbands are not only called to a self giving love rather we are called to a self emptying love for our wives if we are to love them as Christ loved the Church. It is a more difficult standard to meet but we know that nothing is impossible with God’s help especially through frequent visits to the confessional.

       This is the vocation that is set before us as Catholic men. I believe we are called to extend this self emptying love to every member of our families, to our Church and to our Neighbors as defined by Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan. In the final analysis this is the only way we can hope to win the Culture War that rages in our midst. “But have no fear then. Keep in mind the Lord who is great and to be feared, and fight for your brethren, your sons and daughters your wives and your homes.”  Nehemiah 4:8

       Merry Christmas and may the New Year find us more in fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and with each other as we draw Catholic men together in the Diocese of Scranton through the Guardian of the Redeemer Catholic Men’s Fellowship.