November 3, 2017

Conference speakers equip men for spiritual battle

Father Michael Keucher holds a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament during an outdoor eucharistic procession that was part of the Sept. 30 Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Father Michael Keucher holds a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament during an outdoor eucharistic procession that was part of the Sept. 30 Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Catholic men from across the state prayed together, participated in a eucharistic procession on the streets of Indianapolis and learned how they have been equipped to enter into spiritual battle and share the Good News during the annual Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference on Sept. 30.

The conference, attended by nearly 400 people, took place at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis and was organized by the Marian Center of Indianapolis.

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson greeted the participants and prayed that the conference “truly be one of fruitfulness, of encounter, of accompaniment, of dialogue, one that helps us to continue to cultivate those virtues so necessary in our society today, transforming hearts, minds, the world itself by the witness to the Good News of the Gospel.”

He also encouraged the participants to be “like St. Joseph, to make a difference in your family and other families, keeping Christ at the center.”

Speaker Brian Patrick explored how Catholic men can follow the example of St. Joseph.

“We are called to be spiritual leaders,” said Patrick, host of EWTN’s flagship radio show, “Morning Glory.” “We are called to be the fathers of our families. … We are called to be like St. Joseph, to have our minds and our hearts open to the will of God. We are called to be courageous men of action when we hear that simple, quiet voice.”

In the middle of the day, the conference featured Mass at nearby St. John the Evangelist Church.

Father Michael Keucher, who served as the conference’s master of ceremonies, was the principal celebrant and homilist at the liturgy. He encouraged the worshippers to read Scripture daily.

“You spend part of your day, every day, with Scripture, and you will be a better man, a better husband, a better father, and a little bit closer to heaven every day,” said Father Keucher, administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville.

A eucharistic procession on the streets next to the church followed.

Kevin Chaffe, a member of St. Louis Parish in Batesville and a conference participant, was glad to be in the procession that was witnessed by many pedestrians.

“It’s great that we show Jesus to other people,” he said. “We got a lot of quizzical looks today. I hope some people asked some questions and learned a little bit about the Catholic faith.”

Craig Schebler, 23, a member of St. John Parish, was impressed by the procession.

“We don’t have to just hide our faith,” he said. “We can show it and be proud of it as a large group of guys who stand out in the crowd.”

Kory Schebler, another young adult member of St. John Parish, was glad to see so many other Catholic men at the conference.

“You don’t see a Catholic culture anymore if you’re not really looking for it,” Schebler said. “So, seeing that there are this many guys who are willing to give up a Saturday to grow deeper in their faith and learn how to be better Christian men encourages me to continue on the path.”

During the afternoon, Msgr. Charles Pope, a priest of the Washington Archdiocese and a regular columnist and blogger for national Catholic publications, described the struggles Catholics face in contemporary culture, but noted that the battle is ultimately a spiritual one.

“What is the war now that’s going on all around us?” Msgr. Pope asked. “It’s not about clubs, swords or tanks. It’s about ideas. It’s about the truth versus a lie. It’s about light versus darkness. It’s about God’s vision versus Satan’s. That’s what the war’s about.”

At the same time, he encouraged his listeners to be confident in the battle.

“We’re on the winning team, brothers,” Msgr. Pope said. “We have the victory. The victory is ours. Jesus has already won the victory. And we are simply asked to apply that victory to our lives and the lives of others.”

Deacon Larry Oney of the New Orleans Archdiocese then shared with the participants how the Catholic faith—and especially the gifts of the Holy Spirit—have empowered them to fight boldly in that battle.

It can even, he said, be as simple as a father making the sign of the cross on his children at the start of their day.

“When you make the sign of the cross on your son, in particular, as a man and father, you’re making a declaration to the Enemy,” Deacon Oney said. “You’re invoking the power of God and the protection of God around him.”

Another powerful weapon to use against the devil, he said, is simply to praise God.

“Praise is a weapon,” Deacon Oney said. “It tears down strongholds. You’ve got a problem? Begin to praise God. … The devil doesn’t want you to know these things. Praise scatters the enemies of God.”

Msgr. Pope concluded the conference by exhorting participants to be witnesses to their faith in their daily lives.

“If we’re going to have authority and be witnesses, we can’t just know about what we’re talking about, we have to know what we’re talking about,” he said. “You can’t just know about the Lord, you have to get to know him personally in your life, to see and know by your own experience what he’s doing in your life and to be able to testify to it.”

He encouraged the participants to be able to tell others how they have come to know Christ and how the Lord has worked in their lives, telling them to have “a three-minute elevator version and a longer one, too.”

“My brothers, we have an awesome, beautiful, wonderful moral vision that we’re proclaiming,” Msgr. Pope said. “This is the life that Jesus Christ died to give us, a life free of greed, free of sensuality and sexual confusion, free of anger, wrath and bitterness, free of all that stuff and more, a life that has a heart that’s on fire for love of God.” †

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