Sunday, November 4, 2007

ever said, "What a character!"?

My Way Sunday
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reflections on being a Christian man, part 1

Last evening I attended an ordination in Memphis, TN. My nephew, Dennis, was ordained by his Roman Catholic Bishop, J. Terry Steib, SVD, DD. Dennis is now a Deacon ... a transitional deacon. It is called transitional because it is a stepping stone to ordination as a priest of the Church. He is preparing for the priesthood for his diocese, the Diocese of Memphis, TN. His priestly ordination will take place next June 7, 2008. He is completeing his theological studies at St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in southern INdiana.

Some events seem to give pause for additional consideration, and this one did that to me. Each of us is created by God in His image and likeness [Gn 1:26 Then God said: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. ...]. Each of us is unique in all of creation. Each of us is expected to use the many different gifts and talents for the common good. Dennis is answering his call.

Am I?

Are you?

What is there about me, as a man [male], as a Christian man at that, that should make me stand out and be a reflection of that which God intended me to be? I want to share with you some thoughts along that line - thoughts that started en route driving 9 hours to Memphis. I intend this to be a continuing reflection for several weeks of Sundays. Join me in these reflections.
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Of the first things I've considered, those that seem of most importance to me are the qualities that define the character of the Christian man. First and foremost in my development of manly Christian character are issues of taking responsibility before God. I am responsible ... I am not a victim of some heavenly prank. This realization carries with it a lot of gravitas - weight, heaviness, significance.

In the Old Testament book of Joshua, I read in Chapter 24:
"Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve him completely and sincerely. Cast out the gods your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
Like Joshua before me, I need to take responsibility for my family, my 'house', my household. That means a lot of different things ... and 'things' are a part of the equation. God has blessed me with 'things' - they are ALL His. I have been appointed as chief steward of that portion of His creation entrusted to my care.

In our society and culture, money is a medium of exchange. I exchange money with others for things and services held by them. They exchange money with me to obtain things and services from me. I am responsible to use that money wisely. It is God's money. I am charged with looking after it and using it for His purposes and designs.

The notion of tithing comes to mind. A portion of that money needs to go directly to God's work. For me that means financial support to His church and other charitable works. It cannot be just what I have left over - it needs to be significant, and needs to allow for almsgiving, also.

Additionally, in the order of manly character development, I need to join with other like-minded men and take responsibility for the wider social groupings with which I come into contact in my neighborhood, city, state, and nation. Governments are in place for the broader common good. The micro level is my responsibility. I need to be "my brothers' keeper".

[to be continued next Sunday]
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