NEW COLUMN: Growing in Holiness: A Thanksgiving challenge
(POSTED: 11/23/12) I have a confession to make. I have lived through at least seven car accidents while I was the driver. None of them have I caused, just my being in the wrong place at the “right” time. All of them I reflected on asking myself, “Why did that happen?!!” But that’s not the real confession. The confession is that all of those accidents revealed my unfinished business had I died, and how I need to work each day to correct what went wrong “yesterday” — and (do that) for the rest of my life. As a Catholic man, it is my responsibility, and yours, to be a spiritual leader and an example of our relationship with Christ!
I’m sure if you ask your priest or deacon they will tell you the number of people they see at funerals who’ve gone to bodies weeping over unsettled issues. The closer you get to people you have disagreements. It seems that everywhere you look people want to fight you. Conflict resolution involves making right towards others to be at peace with all people; you can’t change others but you can change yourself. Every day you and I need to work toward being a Catholic and a servant leader after God’s own heart. Many times we have good intentions but hide behind things that cause us to never take action on our responsibilities. What do you hide behind: prayers, the TV clicker, gossip, sports, money, pornography, work, …. the list goes on?
If you are married, are you and your wife a “gift” to each other, or do you repay evil for evil? Do either or both of you withdraw from the other to make them “pay the price”? If so, what is it going to take for you to look at each other in the eyes and say, “YOU ARE NOT MY ENEMY!!!” Men – how do you talk to your wife? You may have issues, but she is the ONE (that you married and thus God gave to you), and you should treat her like the queen of your household. Because she is!! If your wife is unhappy, more often than not it’s because of your selfishness (just saying).
What about your family members: children, siblings, parents, cousins, uncles and aunts, and close friends, to name a few. As Father Larry Richards says, “The best way to set people free is with your love, not your judgement.” Yes, sometimes we need to “tolerate” family or friends, and other times we need to “remove” persons from our lives because they cause a threat to our health or to our life. But Christ calls us in all things to respect persons as a man or as a woman no matter how we feel about them.
Sometimes you need to get in the middle of issues in love to move people, whom have your trust, towards their walk with Christ. For example, if a family member is shacking up with their boyfriend or girlfriend, the first step is to get them toward spiritual growth (by sharing stories from your life). This way, God through the Holy Spirit can convict how they are living. Many times we instead try to confront people – who are not practicing their faith – on their lifestyle saying we are doing God’s work, when we are really judging them. God doesn’t need you to do His work! He needs you to love people and let them experience an example of what it is to be Catholic! Be contagious with your Faith!!
At Thanksgiving we sit around the table and share what we are thankful for. George Washington, as President of the United States, proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”
This Thanksgiving, however, I challenge you to take the steps needed to take care of unfinished business. You know what it is. Instead of tolerating those persons or issues, this time tackle them like a football superstar (and then do a version of Tim Tebow giving thanks to God … and maybe make a stop at confession, too). Reconciliation and Forgiveness is not a bad thing. Pride and dictating is. In your position of spiritual leadership in the home responsibility and integrity matters!
Life, and the persons we share it with, is too short. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
Frank J. Casella is Executive Director of Catholic Men Chicago Southland (CMCS) ~ Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man. He is co-founder of the Bishop Perry Catholic Men’s Conference and the CMCS Parish Small Men’s Groups. Contact him on Twitter @FrankJCasella or through the CMCS website: cmcsvirtues.org