February 23, 2016 // Uncategorized
Diocesan men become battle ready to fight their Goliaths
By Tim Johnson
FORT WAYNE — Over 1,200 men from across the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend were armed for spiritual warfare to battle their Goliaths at the Rekindle the Fire Annual Diocesan Men’s Conference held at the Fort Wayne Coliseum Expo Center on Feb. 20.
Speakers Matt Fradd, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio and Jesse Romero were the featured speakers who provided the tools for men to take home and use in their faith daily.
Father Jacob Meyer, parochial vicar of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Fort Wayne, served as the masters of ceremonies for the event. Priests from across the diocese journeyed to the coliseum to make the sacrament of Reconciliation available for nearly five hours throughout the day.
Throughout the conference, the Abba Prayer for Men, which offers a Catholic vision of masculinity, was introduced and encouraged to become a part of daily prayer. For resources, the men could visit AbbaChallenge.com.
Speaker Matt Fradd’s message to the men spoke of his commitment to expose the reality behind the fantasy of pornography and offered tips to protect families from the dangers of Internet pornography. His goal is set men and women set free from the harms of pornography and to fight it every day.
Struggling in the past with pornography himself, Fradd spoke of how he received both good and bad advice — even in the confessional. “Pornography addiction is a relatively new phenomena,” he said, “and we are all trying to understand this thing.”
He said it is not just a spiritual problem, so it is not helpful to say, “Just pray about it.” He added, it would be good to counsel, “Are you seeing someone about this (addiction)?”
Images of pornography are burned into the brain. Fradd’s advice was “when those images come back to your memory, don’t just pray against the temptation, pray ‘for’ the temptation. Pray for this victim of pornography. Pornography separates body from soul.”
He offered an example of the prayer when the image resurfaces: “Jesus I give you this woman, this victim of the porn industry.” Fradd suggests humanizing her. What are her dreams; what about her family, her siblings?
In overcoming pornography addiction, Fradd suggested prayer and fasting. Pray the rosary, go to the Blessed Mother and ask her to help you love her Son more. He also recommended a free app called “Victory,” which offers a daily calendar to assess progress and setbacks, track Confessions and set up accountability partners.
Fradd’s book “Delivered” has sold 50,000 and has stories of hope and honesty of people who have been set free from pornography. He also highly recommended Covenant Eyes, a filtering and accountability software. “It is the best filtering software on the web, second to none,” he said. “It blocks the bad stuff. If you have children, don’t give them a phone, don’t give them an X-box” without this filtering software.
“Don’t buy it (the technology and electronics) unless you are willing to monitor it,” he emphasized. “I believe we will be held accountable if we give our children unfettered access to pornography. Don’t say, ‘I trust my children.’ The problem is not our trust in our children. The problem is our misguided trust in the Internet.”
Marcellino D’Ambrosio, who holds a doctorate in theology and biblical interpretation, spoke to the men about spiritual exercise. He emphasized a father’s role to be a spiritual leader in his family. Traditionally that role has been to bring food to the table to feed the family, but “spiritual food is also important,” D’Ambrosio said.
This cannot be done by just priests and bishops. “We are pastors of our families,” he said. “We need to bring spiritual truth to the family.”
A father who just brings home the bacon is doing an inadequate job. “Kids get a firm foundation from a father’s love,” D’Ambrosio said.
“Without a father’s love, without the affirmation of a father, a lot of times kids’ foundations are really shaky,” he added.
He said it is important to have fun with our children. It is a way of accepting them. Rejoicing and laughing together is important. And be humble — and laugh at yourself — recommended D’Ambrosio.
His website, https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/dr-italy/ offers encouragement in pursuit of holiness. The Crossroads Initiative is a band of wayfarers who’ve been gripped by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ and are trying to become his disciples.
After lunch and “Interactive Battle Sessions” with the individual speakers, including one session for young adult men with Fradd, the men were energized by Jesse Romero. Romero is a former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff and kickboxer turned Catholic lay evangelist.
He spoke and gave several examples of sheep, who comprise most people of society and live in denial. He spoke of wolves who feed on the sheep without mercy — evil men capable of doing evil deeds. Wolves also include the men who have “checked out,” are lukewarm and indifferent and useless to the Good Shepherd.
He encouraged the men to be sheepdogs. They live to protect the flock from the wolves. Sheepdogs, though aggressive, would never hurt anybody who is innocent.
Romero also was the speaker at a presentation, “How to Be a Good Catholic: 12 Ways to Begin,” on the evening prior for Hispanic men of the diocese. Spanish-speaking men of the diocese found themselves encouraged to take small steps that culminate in a fully Catholic spirituality and lifestyle.
He counseled those present to fight the lure of sloth, pornography and other persistent sins for the sake of eternal life with Christ.
“Your physical desires and your spirit are engaged in battle at every moment,” Romero said. “Which one will win? The one you feed.” His 12 steps for fighting temptation included attending Mass every Sunday and on holy days of obligation, going to Confession at least once a year, receiving Communion at least once per year and financially supporting one’s parish.
Bishop Rhoades closed the conference with the celebration of the Mass.
In his homily, which celebrated the Transfiguration, Bishop Rhoades said, “The event of the Transfiguration involves an ascent and a descent. Jesus took Peter, James and John and ascended a high mountain to pray.”
On Mount Tabor, Peter, James and John see Jesus transfigured while He was praying. His face shone like the sun and His clothing became dazzling white.
“The apostles briefly glimpsed the divine glory of Jesus,” Bishop Rhoades said. “What a remarkable experience it must have been: to see the light of Christ’s divinity! And not only did they see this with their eyes, but they also heard with their ears this great revelation. They heard God the Father proclaim: ‘This is My chosen Son. Listen to Him.’”
Peter, James and John glimpsed the divine glory of Jesus, the glory that illumines the whole history of salvation represented by Moses and Elijah, figures of the Law and the Prophets.
“That moment of glory on Mount Tabor was not meant to last even though Peter wanted it to,” Bishop Rhoades said. “He wanted to make three tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. But Jesus had a mission to accomplish. His intimate dialogue with the Father in prayer led Him to adhere with all His being to the Father’s will. That meant that He had to descend Mount Tabor, go to Jerusalem, and ascend another mountain, Golgotha. Jesus was determined, decisively oriented, to fulfill His mission, to embark on the new exodus with the new Passover, to pass through the passion and death on the cross in order to liberate the human race from sin and to lead us to glory.”
“Our Christian lives also involve ascending and descending,” Bishop Rhoades noted. “The Lord invites you and me to ascend the mountain with Him, to be men of prayer. We must not be too lazy to climb that mountain: to seek to encounter God by entering a space of silence to converse with Him. That’s what the Father told Peter, James and John: to listen to His Son. Prayer is precisely that: listening to Jesus. We need the grace to listen, to nourish our faith with the Word of God. He desires to speak to us. At times, He may give us glimpses of His glory, consolations and inspirations in prayer. Other times, not. But that’s up to Him.”
The bishop added, “My brothers, we shouldn’t consider prayer as something accessory or optional in our lives. It’s a necessary part of discipleship.”
Bishop Rhoades added, “Lent is a time when we learn a little more how to ascend the mountain to pray. And it’s a time through fasting and almsgiving to learn how to descend with brotherly love for others, to take up the cross, and to follow Jesus more diligently. Let us follow Jesus from Mount Tabor to Mount Calvary so as to ascend with Him ultimately to the mountain of heaven.”
Jodie Magallanes contributed to this story.
Over 1,200 men from across the diocese and multiple states gathered on Feb. 20 for the Sixth Annual Rekindle the Fire Annual Diocesan Men’s Conference held Fort Wayne Coliseum Expo Center on Feb. 20. Above, Matt Fradd offered the first talk of the day, which exposed the realities of the struggles of pornography addiction. The conference’s theme was “Battle Your Goliaths.” Speakers also included Marcellino D’Ambrosio and Jesse Romero. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated Mass at the closing of the conference.
Photos by Jerry Kessens
Keynote speaker Marcellino D’Ambrosio, left, signs one of his books at the vendor’s table after his talk at the Rekindle the Fire Annual Diocesan Men’s Conference. Rekindle the Fire representative Tony Staley, center, offers support.
At the Rekindle the Fire Conference on Feb. 20, Jesse Romero offers “on fire evangelization” and challenges men to be “sheepdogs” — to be willing protect their families. Encouraging men to pray daily, he spoke of his book for men, “Lord, Prepare My Hands for Battle,” with prayers written for men to stand firm and rush to the battle lines with Jesus in one’s heart.
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