By Kevin Pluchar, parishioner since 2015
It was Easter Sunday. Lent was over and the time of celebration had begun! My family filled my Aunt’s house for lunch. The succulent smell of turkey, ham, green bean casserole, and sweet cakes made my mouth water. As we said grace and began the feast, I recalled years past when I would devour my plate quickly. So quickly in fact, I would be in line for seconds right behind those still awaiting their firsts!
This year was different though. This year, I took my time. I enjoyed my meal and my time with my family more than ever before. I had control over my desires this Easter Sunday. Even though my body craved a generous helping of everything on the table, I knew with absolute confidence I could tell it ‘no.’
The self-control I had found was a result of my faith journey the 3 months prior. I found myself doing a 90-day intensive fasting program with a fraternity of other men. I found myself praying the rosary every day. I found myself going on the men’s CRHP retreat. I even found myself at daily mass! But most of all, I found the true and permeating joy that I had been seeking for years.
I was raised Catholic but like so many in my generation, I drifted away during college. Without God playing a leading role in my young adult life, I fully experienced the culture that our world pushes on us. Although it initially felt good to say yes to everything and everyone, I was not actually satisfied. I turned to more and more of the distractions the world offered, hurting those I cared most about in the process. My inability to say ‘no’ to my desires was destroying me from the inside out.
It takes courage to deny ourselves. It takes courage to say ‘no’ to the newest gadgets of the year. It takes courage to say ‘no’ to an event that would result in missing Sunday Mass. It takes courage to say ‘no’ to your favourite TV show. It takes courage to say ‘no’ to clicking on that website you know you shouldn’t visit. Denying ourselves pleasure is countercultural. At times the hardest ‘no’ is said to friends and family encouraging those worldly pleasures.
While I became a parishioner at St. Elizabeth Seton in 2015, I only truly joined the Seton family this year. This year I got connected with a fraternity of men striving for holiness. I could not have completed the Exodus 90 program without the support of the men in my group. They helped me fight through my temptations. They helped me do battle with the habitual sins in my life. I have learned that our courage to be strong men of faith is derived from the other men around us. We cannot do it alone.
You might have to deny yourself a worldly pleasure to attend the Courageous event on September 9th at Seton. However, you might find what you have really been seeking all along. No matter what, you will find a group of men who will support and encourage you to overcome the challenges we all face in this world. That is why I will be at Courageous – because I know I need the encouragement and support to stay strong and have the courage to deny myself.