October 30, 2009

In the ‘game of life,’ choose to live for Christ and others, priest says

Father Rick Nagel preaches the homily during Mass at the fourth annual Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference on Oct. 17 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. (Photo by Mary Ann Wyand)

Father Rick Nagel preaches the homily during Mass at the fourth annual Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference on Oct. 17 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. (Photo by Mary Ann Wyand)

By Mary Ann Wyand

Choose to live your life for Christ and others, Father Rick Nagel urged 950 men attending “Lions Breathing Fire—Cast Out Your Nets,” the fourth annual Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference on Oct. 17 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. (Related story: Super Bowl champion encourages men to follow God’s plan for life)

Father Nagel is the director of young adult and college campus ministry in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the Catholic chaplain for Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis.

In his homily during the conference Mass, he explained that St. Ignatius of Antioch, a great saint of the early Church, laid down his life for the Lord as a martyr.

“In our own lives, we are called to be men who lay down our lives for Jesus Christ and for one another,” Father Nagel said. “… Do our lives, mine and yours, acknowledge Jesus Christ, the son of God the Father? Do the ways that we live our lives really bring Christ to our world? Do we acknowledge Christ in the way that we live and in the words that we speak?”

He also referred to comments by a conference speaker, Chris Godfrey of South Bend, Ind., about being strengthened “in the game” of life by a personal relationship with God.

Godfrey was the starting right tackle for the New York Giants in 1987 when the team completed the National Football League season with a 17-2 record and Super Bowl XXI championship.

God calls men to holiness, Father Nagel said, and to demonstrate heroic virtue in our world.

“That’s what it means to be a son of God the Father,” he said. “Today we had a lot of opportunities to hear about the word of God, to learn more about the word of God, to receive Christ more fully in our lives, [and] to think about what it means to be men of heroic virtue. The question is, ‘Are we in the game?’ Have we decided that we are going to be virtuous men of God, … to be holy, … to follow Christ with all of our being, with everything that we have? Christ said, ‘There is no greater love than this than to lay down one’s life for that of a friend’ [Jn 15:13], and he modeled that for us on the cross.”

To truly follow Christ requires desire, drive and devotion, Father Nagel explained. “If we’re going to be ‘in the game,’ we’ve got to do more than just sit on the sidelines. … We better have our head and our heart and our whole being in the game.”

The conference has been an opportunity to have a personal encounter with Jesus, he said, and get to know the living Christ better as men of the Church and men of God.

“All of you are here for a reason,” Father Nagel said. “God has touched you today, there’s no doubt about it, by those who have come to share their stories, to share their wisdom, to share Jesus Christ with you. Pay close attention to that. Whatever it is that has resonated with you today, whatever you have heard here that you know is right and true and good, make sure it gets transferred to your heart and to your whole being so that each one of us can leave here today and say, ‘I’m in the game,’ and our lives reflect that by the way we choose to live each day.

“We can’t stop with the desire that has been placed in our hearts today to continue to grow as men of virtue, to continue to grow as men of holiness, to continue to grow as men of Jesus Christ,” he said. “… Now the drive must be set into place again. … The good news is that Christ meets us right where we’re at and continues to journey with us forward to grow closer to him. … The things that will drive us are so beautiful and so clear and so true and so good. [They are] the sacraments, prayer [and] … the saints that have gone before us [who] help us be driven to follow Christ.”

Become men of the Eucharist, Father Nagel emphasized. “… Be men who know that Christ is beautifully present at this table today. … Be men who are willing to change your lives for the good of others around us. Be men who have the drive to love the sacraments. … [Be] men of reconciliation [who are] … willing to make some sacrifices to be sure that our souls are OK.”

As one body of Christ, he said, we face these challenges in life with help from God’s grace.

“We all desire eternal life,” Father Nagel said. “We have the drive to be in eternity, to be in paradise, one day. Who will you bring with you? … We’ve got to be accountable for one another [and] encourage one another. … Be men who are devoted. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon. We must be steadfast in our commitment … to the sacraments, to prayer and to study the lives of saints who have gone before us, and to model that in our own lives.”

When we do that in daily life, we teach others about the love of the living Christ, he said. “Bring others to Christ by being men of great virtue in our world. … Choose to be ‘in the game.’ … Choose to be on the journey to holiness.”

(Next week: More coverage of the Men’s Conference.)

Local site Links: