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For Catholic men, a time to ‘overturn tables’

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More than 85 men marked the Feast of the Archangels Sept. 29 by gathering for a morning retreat at St. John the Apostle Church in Leesburg under the theme “Turning Over the Markteplace Tables in our Temples: A Time of Grace.”


Retreat master and professor of historical and systematic theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., Msgr. Michael Heintz called on the men to see themselves as temples of the Holy Spirit and to overturn decisively whatever tables they had allowed into their “courtyards.”


“You are governed by the Holy Spirit,” said Msgr. Heintz, “and there is no part of you that Jesus doesn’t now want to reign in. Do not be the ‘double-minded’ man of James 1:8. Your Catholic faith is not ‘part’ of your life — it’s your whole life.” Throughout the morning, the men were encouraged to examine their own “tables,” which the retreat organizers defined as “the ungodly attitudes, behaviors and habits” that we allow to clutter our courtyards.


“We are priests in our own temple,” said St. John parishioner Bill Atwill at the outset of the morning, “and someday we will each give an account for how we have served as stewards of this temple. No table stands in my courtyard without my permission or tacit approval, and the way we oversee our temple is fully within our circle of influence.”


Atwill founded a parish men’s group called the Fellowship of the Modest Proposal, which co-sponsored and organized the retreat with the parish’s Knight of Columbus Holy Family Council No. 6831.  


The retreat included Mass, talks by Msgr. Heintz, quiet times for individual reflection, table discussions and according to event organizers, “lots of coffee.”


“The morning challenged us to not be content with the stagnation and complacency that so often settles in,” said parishioner Mark Voorheis. “I think we all left feeling more empowered that we, the men of St. John's, have a formidable army of men ready to live the call to holiness and to tackle the challenges that face our church today.”


“I feel refocused,” said parishioner Bill Leake at the close of the morning. “Msgr. Heintz reminded us that we are worthy of God’s love,” said parishioner Phil Rusciolelli. Atwill added, “Msgr. Heintz made clear that holiness often consists in doing the little things, the seemingly ‘boring’ things, well.”


“As Catholic men today the last thing we can do is to be pew potatoes,” said Grand Knight Rick Wagner. “The retreat was a shot in the arm, a call to each of us to clean up the courtyards of our own temple so that Jesus Christ can work through us as his instruments.”


Johnson is associate director of the St. Thomas More Institute.


Find out more


For more information on men’s ministries throughout the diocese — including the annual diocesan men’s conference and parish men’s groups — go to arlingtondiocese.org/Enrich-Your-Faith/Men-s-Ministry/.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018