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December 2023 Newsletter

Men, Happy New Year! 

Yes, it is the new year–as always, we start anew in the Church year with Advent (perhaps the most overlooked season of the year).  Scripture used at Mass during the past several weeks has been devoted to the end time, and now, during the beginning of the new year known as Advent, Scripture of course is devoted to preparation and anticipation of the One who offers us the opportunity to overcome death and despair.  This time of preparation is a tremendous gift to us as Catholics.  I hope that you will use this time to prepare yourself and your loved ones for Christmas prudently.


As a Man of Signum Crucis, you are being given tools and the confidence to lead others to a closer relationship with Jesus, whether you realize it or not.  Think back to the wonderful men who have given time to present to us or administer the Sacraments to us during the past year–Father Paul Clark, our Chaplain; Deacon Ray Purvis, our Assistant Chaplain; the many priests who have said “yes” to either concelebrating Mass or offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation; men such as Mike O’Rourke, Deacon Ric Telthorst, Ron Dunn, and Father Mark Porterfield who shared their insights on Acts of the Apostles 2:42; Jamie Smith, who assisted Father Clark and Deacon Purvis on the topic of “Fraternity and Fraternal Encouragement”; Father Anthony Viviano, who presented on the History of and our Devotion to the Miraculous Medal; Lt. Jacob Ceglernski, who gave his testimonial on the History of and Devotion to the Brown Scapular; Father Stephen Jones, who delivered a reflection on the “Four Last Things”; and Philip Schulte, who leads the Rosary in the Chapel before each monthly gathering.  All in all, I think there has been something for everyone, meaning that we are all much more prepared to talk about and show our faith to others–especially our loved ones. 

 

There is no doubt in my mind that your loved ones (whether family members or friends) can sense something different about you given your commitment to this fraternity.  I hope that you will let them know what we do here, and help them understand why your faith is important to you.  Now is the right time to share your faith with them because we know that all the time is a good time to share our faith.  If we attempt to “turn on” our faith when it’s convenient and “turn off” our faith when it’s inconvenient, we know that our loved ones see through that and also live out their faith only when it’s convenient.  And in this day and age, when the culture is stacked up against our youth, their faith often never fully takes root before they are so negatively affected by the outside world.  But, the good thing is, the percentage of young people who fall away from their faith drops significantly when their father (or a strong male presence in their life) is a knowledgeable, practicing Catholic.

 

Men, this is why I mentioned in November that, to me, it’s now or never.  The longer we wait to make a change, to make sure that our knowledge of or our devotion to our faith is perfect, the more we lose our youth (and peers) to the culture.  We all know where we end up when we tread water in a running stream, right?

 

Which brings me to my next point:  what more can I, what more can you, do to enhance our faith in 2024?  Advent is a great time of the year to reflect on what change we will make in 2024.  Let me suggest some things we can do in 2024:

 

1.         On top of the list, first and foremost, come to as many gatherings of the Men of Signum Crucis as possible. You might think that only you benefit from attending, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Actually, while it is good for you to be there, it’s great for others to see you there (and for your family to know you are there) and draw inspiration from your presence.  Please commit to attend as many gatherings as possible in 2024 for your good and the greatness of the fraternity and your family.

 

I am very excited that we are able to continue to allow you men to choose between  Study and Devotion components that are offered each evening you come.  The Study for our next gathering on December 20 will be the first of a four-part series on Church History, presented by Chris Hentges, faculty member and coach at Helias.  Church History was a very popular topic suggested in the survey we took of you men a few months ago.  Chris is extremely well read on this topic, so I know that those of you who are interested to learn how the Church arrived in 2023 in the shape it did will greatly benefit from this presentation.  This presentation will take place in the comfort of the Helias Library, so bring a pen and Chris will prepare a handout for you to scribe your notes.

 

I am very excited to endorse the Devotion component for the evening:  a reflection on the “O Antiphons” of the Church.  In case you don’t know, the “O Antiphons” present seven different titles of Jesus and are used at the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours leading up to Christmas day.  They date back to the 7th or 8th century and have been a large part of the Church’s Advent tradition ever since.  Men who attend should expect to learn about the “O Antiphons,” but the emphasis will be on the reflection on, or Devotion to, the names or titles of Jesus provided by the antiphons.  This Devotion will take place in the Chapel following the Rosary.  To learn more about the “O Antiphons,” click here.

 

Speaking of the Rosary, our Rosary in December will be a “Scriptural Rosary” based on the Joyful Mysteries, led by Mike O’Rourke.  There is no better time than right before Christmas to reflect on those mysteries and Sacred Scripture that supports this beautiful prayer.

 

After the Study and Devotion ends (approximately 7:15), we will head to the Commons, where I will ask any man wishing to step forward to give your pitch to lead additional opportunities for other men to grow in their faith in 2024.  I know that at least three men will offer a “program” for further enhancement of our faith through more frequent Study or Devotion.  If you have a Study or Devotion you would like to offer to other men, please be prepared to announce your idea in two minutes or less when we get to the Commons.  Adding one of these offerings into your plan for growth would be a great start for 2024.

 

Some other ways to enhance your faith in 2024:

 

●     Attend one of the sessions on the Shroud of Turin on January 3 at the Cathedral, presented by renowned worldwide expert Father Andrew Dowden, LC.  To have someone of this caliber come to Jefferson City to talk on this topic is a huge deal for Jefferson City.  Men of Signum Crucis Ralph Voss and Dr. Ken Rowan have been working for the past six months to get Father Dowden here–you’ll benefit greatly from this presentation and will support the efforts of Ralph and Ken at the same time with your presence on January 3, at either 2:00 p.m. or at 7:00 p.m. at the Cathedral.  The Shroud is a fascinating study that can and has transformed many atheists to believers.  I know you are believers, but I hope you’ll plan to attend to add another tool in your toolbox to guide your loved ones to or in the faith.

 

●     Attend the Men’s Conference in Overland Park on February 17, 2024.  Speakers include Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. Ray Guarendi, Archbishop Naumann, Benedictine College President Steve Minnis, and Braden Johnson, a young man who speaks of his reversion to the Catholic faith during college.  Click here to learn more about the “Men Under Construction” group that hosts this annual conference.  I attended last year and plan to attend on February 17 (let me know if you are interested in carpooling).

 

●     Get connected with daily, weekly, or monthly newsletters that help you grow in your faith such as FaithND or the Benedictine Dialogues

 

Thank You!

 

Thanks to Father Fred Elskamp, Father Mark Porterfield, Father Tony Onyeihe, and Father Kelechi Uzuegbu for celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation at our November gathering.  We greatly appreciate the support of all our Pastors and Associate Pastors in the Jefferson City area.

 

Other Announcements

 

Man of Signum Crucis John Doyle has informed me that he can get the book, The Four Last Things, written by Martin of Cochem in 1899, for only $14.  This seems to be the book that Father Jones used as a source for his presentation in October.  Let John know at the December gathering if you would like him to order a book for you.  John will take care of the order and your payments.

 

The Westphalia Men’s Group will meet on Wednesday, December 6, at 6:00 p.m. for Adoration and Confession at St. Joseph Church in Westphalia.  This would be a great Advent devotion to attend during this first week of Advent.

 

Assistant Chaplain Ray Purvis has forwarded an excellent article about Bishop Gregory Mansour and his writings on the “Masculine Soul.”  Click here to access the article.

 

Finally, three of us Men of Signum Crucis could use some financial support as we go on the air of Catholic Radio on December 12 for their Winter RadioThon.  Brian Johnson and his wife Lisa will go on the air at 1:00 p.m., and Steve Meystrik and I will go on the air at 5:00 p.m.  I am not sure in what direction the host will lead the conversation, but I hope to talk about you Men of Signum Crucis and the wonderful fraternity we have here in Jefferson City.  So, brothers, could you spare a dime (or two)?  No contribution for such a great cause is too small.

 

On the Horizon…

 

●     A Men’s Conference here in Jefferson City??  Wouldn’t that rock your socks??  Let me know if you are interested in attending and/or helping to make this happen…  We have tentative dates of Friday evening, April 19, and the morning and afternoon on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

 

Eucharistic Revival

 

            Men, I hope you are staying ever faithful to the Eucharist–we are nothing without it.  Consider attending a daily Mass (or two) each week, and do your family a favor and invite them to attend also. 

 

 

In Conclusion…

 

            I hope you are able to gather with your fraternity of Signum Crucis on December 20 at Helias Catholic.  Ask (another) son, father, brother, uncle, or friend to come with you.  Each man present is needed–someone is better because you are there.  Afterwards, we will enjoy fraternity and refreshments in the Commons.

 

            Men, thank you for your fidelity to the Men of Signum Crucis.  Your dedication to this growing fraternity is inspiring.  I pray that you are growing in your faith each month, and that you will always invite other men to join us.

 

And, let us never forget:  St. Joseph “chose hard.”  Let’s choose to do the same.

 

St. Joseph, Foster Father of the Son of God, and patron saint of the Men of Signum Crucis, pray for us.

In hoc signo, vinces,


Mark Rehagen



Future Gatherings:

●     December 20, 2023 (Study on Church History)

●     January 17, 2024 (Study on Church History)

●     February 21, 2024 (Celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass)

●     March 20, 2024  (Study on Church History)

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