Men’s Lenten Reflection – God Wants Us to ‘Show Up Every Day’

With their voices lifted in a resounding a cappella rendition of "Be Thou My Vision," 200 men of the Allentown Diocese stood ready to assist at the opening Mass of the 2024 Men's Lenten Morning of Reflection, on March 2 at St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Easton.

Celebrating the Mass was diocesan Vocations Director Father Mark Searles, who challenged the men not only to "reflect on the infinite gift of God's mercy," but also to "be sharers and bearers of it as we glorify the Lord by our lives."

After Mass, the retreatants enjoyed a Lent-appropriate breakfast of coffee and plain donuts before reassembling in the church, where Bishop Alfred Schlert gave the first talk.

"We know the story of the calling of Peter. And we know the story of the transfiguration," the Bishop said. "But I want to focus on what those Gospels don't mention, or better yet, who the Gospels don't mention: Andrew.

"Andrew was the very first one to bring someone else to Jesus, and he brought his brother Peter, who would be the first Pope. Despite the privileged role that Andrew had, Peter was the one on whom Christ would build His Church.

"At the transfiguration, Peter, James, and John were chosen to walk up the mountain. Andrew was left with the others.

"We could say that Andrew might be the patron saint of the overlooked."

Yet "whatever was going on in Andrew's mind, he stayed committed right to the end, even to giving up his life."

Bishop Schlert had some advice for anyone who might be feeling underappreciated.

"Remember Andrew. Remember that he kept his eyes on what he was called to do.

"We are doing – if we show up every day – what God wants us to do."

Father Alexander Brown, assistant pastor of St. Anne, Bethlehem, and one of the diocese's newest priests, spoke on the subject of prayer. Having worked as an apprentice blacksmith while in high school, Father Brown leaned on his own experience to share an unusual perspective.

"I'd like to talk about the art of craft, the activity of making things with skill by hand," he said. "Three aspects of craft can really teach us about prayer.

"First, craft teaches us humility. We invest ourselves in craft, and ask the question, What do other people need from me? This is how we grow in prayer, to work on what is good for others.

"Second, craft teaches us patience. We're so used to instant gratification, but craft takes time, takes effort and dedication. How much more do we need to wait upon the Lord?

Finally, said Father Brown, "When you engage in crafts, you can say, 'I am fallible.' There's a selflessness there. 'I am limited, and Lord, I need you.' This is the great gift that God gives us."

In the final presentation of the day, Father Keith Laskowski, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, Easton, touched on difficulties in prayer.

"Distractions are part of our experience in the spiritual life," he assured the men. "Sometimes, however, we need to ask, What is the content of our distraction?

"For example, someone's face comes into your imagination. God can be bringing this person to your awareness; perhaps you need to pray for him.

“We can easily dismiss those distractions that take us away from what we want to do, but actually are the way that the Lord wants to bring us important things.

"What ultimately the Lord wants is for us to come into that intimate relationship with Him. He wants us to know Him."

The Men's Lenten Morning of Reflection was sponsored by Men Alive in Christ, an outreach of the Diocesan Commission for Men.

The 2024 diocesan men’s conference will take place Saturday, Oct. 19 at St. Joseph the Worker, Orefield. Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers will be the keynote speaker. To receive email updates, sign up at the Commission for Men website,


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