Note from Ron: Today’s article was written by our Brother in Christ, Brian Squibbs. I’ve known Brian for years and he’s nothing short of amazing. He’s an incredible man of God, husband, father, and friend. He also helps lead the Troops of St. George at the national level which is an incredible amount of work. Also, it’s taken me a few weeks to post this and I’m proud to say that Brian and his Exodus brothers have completed their 90-day Exodus and have now begun the next phase of their spiritual journey! Well done Brian and thank you for all you do!
Man was created for greatness—for God himself; he was created to be filled by God. But his heart is too small for the greatness to which it is destined. It must be stretched. – Pope Benedict XVI
Brothers and sisters, my story is one of a great awakening in my life, a reversion to my Catholic faith that I have been raised in since birth.
As Pope Benedict has been quoted in some way or fashion for years, look past the comforts the world offers, as God made us in His likeness and for Him. It is only through active listening in spiritual mediation of recent months that this has hit home like a 2 x 4 across the skull (yes, I am a man, so I suppose it is a thick skull).
Where it all began…
I’m not going to bore you how it took 39 years of “getting by” and not breaking any of the world’s laws, but muddling through plenty of sin, to now, but I am going to share when I first truly listened to God’s call and the path it has taken.
The call came as I was struggling to connect with my eldest son, as unlike me in my youth (and I will try and tell you still today), I was a pretty good athlete.
As I explored avenues for ways to connect and spend that much needed quality time with my first son, I landed on the Troops of Saint George. Who doesn’t like the outdoors (ok, so maybe primitive tent camping is not for everyone, but trust me, you can persevere through that for all the other good God’s nature and beauty has to offer), and an outdoor adventure that centers around Christ and His Sacraments….bonus!
I answered the call and Alex and I joined. Right off the bat, I liked the touch that I too was joining as a member, quickly taking away the possibility of me being lazy and asking my loving wife to take him to meetings or activities.
After the first campout where we literally built an outdoor Chapel out of trees in the 100 degree September Texas heat (much like the fish that I have caught, it may have been nearing 110), the love for this time with Christ, my son, and other like-minded Catholic men was ablaze. I remember listening to Alex describing that first campout to Lisa as we got back Sunday like it was yesterday. Going to the sports analogy that I can easily relate to….Home Run!
Keeping with the baseball analogy, the curve ball was quickly behind. After a couple of campouts, I volunteered, well you can say, was elected as our patrol’s Lieutenant. Next thing you know, I am partnering with other leaders of the troop on recruitment and communication for Troop 5 of Keller, Texas.
Where is the curve ball come in to play you ask? Remember, I had become a member to have a place to relate and spend quality time with Alex, and while this was happening, something else started to take shape. I started to meet men that I saw, maybe smiled and nodded to at Mass each Sunday, but never went out of my way to speak to or get to know.
Some of these men were just like me, muddling through, and some were on fire for Christ far ahead of me. Now, pride could have kicked in and I stayed away, but I continued to listen to Christ’s subtle hints, and showed up at Mike Short’s house one evening for what was titled “Guns and Rosaries.”
The name was enough for me to come to at least one gathering, but man, it has led to so much more. This G&R, as we like to call it (maybe trying to relive our youth and the other G&R many of us used to listen to), was a men’s group where we show up with our favorite 6 pack, quickly drop it in the community ice chest for sharing with others, pray a Rosary together, listen to a talk by a great shepherd in the Catholic Church and then share in fellowship.
Before the Irish, storytelling, side gets away here, and this blog post becomes a novel, let me get to the point. Through this G&R group, Mike is constantly sharing ideas, his calls from Christ, with others, and he and Ron Pereira began the Intentional Encounter project. As I have tried many workout / diets along the way, as I have a fond love for food, I quickly gravitated towards the “40 Day Challenge” posted on this new blog.
A friend, Jeremy, and I decided this was going to accompany our Lenten Journey, kicking off the so apt “40 Day” challenge on Ash Wednesday. It had all the right makings with practicing asceticism in some of the food I love, getting a workout ritual up and running, and most importantly, a spiritual component, with daily Bible reading and reflection.
At the same time Mike and Ron were getting this blog up and running, Mike shared a post by Those Catholic Men about a program called Exodus. I am reminded today of Mike’s email, and I quote, “…seems a little radical, but I think together we can do it. Our families and the world need us to be radical!” Fresh off reading “Into the Breach”, a powerful exhortation from Bishop Olmsted, Heaven needs us men to step up and Hell is afraid!
Even with all of this ammo and a strong reason, looking at my loving wife and three sons, I put this call to the side. A couple of weeks later, on a Troops of Saint George campout at the Black Family farm, a friend, Chris, made a plea for me to join him on the Exodus journey.
Out of respect, I heard him out, threw out “jabs” about how Lebron is getting old, and this could be the Cavs last stand for an NBA title, and how baseball would be kicking off, and my Tribe have a solid young team (see a theme here?), and I need to keep up with our next ex-quarterback on the Browns. Even with all of that, Chris set my mind into “think through mode,, and after a well written last plea email he sent Sunday evening as we got back from the campout, who was I to deny this journey?
The reason for the “jabs” above, and beyond being a helpless sports fanatic from northeastern Ohio that is used to “sports suffering,” I have an obsession to sports, watching them, and well, the computer, phone, and throw in work for good measure. When your son Luke says, “Dad, why are you always on your phone or the computer, and your only reply is, “son, I’m busy” well, God is calling for a change.
The Exodus program, as described on this blog several times, is one on of great prayer and devotion to our Lord, coupled with a life of asceticism. When paired with the Intentional Encounter program, that Mike and Ron continue to add to, and cutting out TV, computer, and all other areas the Exodus program calls for, this last 76 days have been an enlightening, albeit persevering through many struggles with my fellow Exodus brothers in Chris, John and Andy, and amazing journey towards God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
As the journey still continues, and through God’s call that I listened to, even if begrudgingly, I can actually hear the Holy Spirit as I have reduced the “noise” of this world and the evil one!
Back to the start…
This journey God put me on started with a way to connect with my eldest, and here I am, a son of God, listening to his call to lead my family, those around me, and myself towards Christ. After all these years of calling myself Catholic, I truly believe I have engaged in a personal relationship with Christ, and am listening to how he wants me to be great by modeling Him for others. That thick skull referenced earlier still comes into play, but I trust in Him, and will continue to do so.
In Listening to Catholic Answer’s guest Steve Ray recently, he talked about how he challenges himself to engage others to share his love for Christ and the Holy Catholic Church each and every day. As mentioned to my Exodus brothers, our weight loss is not why folks are talking to us, it is simply a conversation starter, as we are carrying ourselves differently as we work towards modeling Christ, and He wants us to evangelize the Catholic Church through sharing our journey.
I am blessed to be able to share my journey that will continue until I pass from this life, but all thanks be to God for calling his son home!