I had the privilege to be on the Board of Catholic Men’s Fellowship (CMF) of Pittsburgh for several years, serving along-side some wonderful men who became good friends. At that time, one of the primary things CMF did was put on its Annual Gathering of Catholic Men. Then COVID hit, having a negative impact on all events…boy do I know that story in working in the Steubenville Conference Office at Franciscan University.
On Saturday, September 23, I had the opportunity to reunite with several of my CMF brothers at the 15th Annual Gathering of Catholic Men. Having stepped away in 2017-18, it seems like a lifetime ago and yet we just picked up where we left off. It was wonderful being with brothers in Christ, sharing in and being part of the fellowship which bonded us back then. It was a good example of community, the importance of brotherhood, especially in this crazy world we’re living in today.
That crazy world is a great segue to Mark Houck, who in my opinion stole the show on that Saturday. That’s not an easy thing to do being preceded by Chris Stefanick and Ennie Hickman, two of the best speakers in the Catholic world…btw both of them did a great job, delivering their own impactful messages. That said, it’s difficult to compare with the story told by Mark Houck.
As you might remember, in 2020 Mark was arrested at gunpoint; 20+ FBI agents surrounding his house, banging on his door at 6:30AM, with his wife and 7 small children at home. All this actually happened on September 23rd (Feast Day of Padre Pio), 3-years to the day of the Gathering just a little over a week ago. Mark told the gruesome story, including how he was mistreated by the FBI that day all the way up to him being acquitted after refusing a plea deal most people would jump at.
Hopefully CMF will have it up on its YouTube channel soon. I’d encourage spouses to watch it together, as my wife and I did.
There are so many things I could talk about from Mark’s story that day, but the point which continues to resonate with me is Mark “standing his post”. As he said, just showing up, doing his job, doing what the Lord calls him to do. His examples were that of a husband and father. A pro-lifer who for more than a decade has been praying every Wednesday at the same abortion clinic. A ministry guy who’s helped men for years through his apostolate, The Kings Men…doing great stuff which I’ve experienced firsthand.
Mark made an observation about how we’ll ultimately be judged by our Lord, Him looking at that gap between the life we led and that which God anticipated for us with all the graces He gave us individually. Did we do what he called us to? Did we stand our post? Did we show up? Did we do our job?
My “schtick” is the love of Christ. My catch phrase is that in “understanding and internalizing the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, the unimaginable is achievable”. There’s a lot there that requires a lot of unpacking. One of those points is this…when you truly know the love of Christ, you have to give it away.
I walked away from Mark’s talk convicted. Like you, I’m on this journey. What does it mean to stand my post, to show up, to do my job…do what the Lord calls me to do? In the end, how is our Lord going to look at my “gap”? Please keep me in your prayers as I pray for you. And let us together pray for Mark Houck and his family.
You may have heard…Mark is running for US Congress. Given what I know about Mark, his walk and his experiences, I couldn’t feel any better about endorsing him. He’s an example for us all, standing his post, doing what our Lord has asked him to do. I’d invite you to join my wife and me in supporting Mark’s candidacy financially….
As always, please email me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with questions, concerns, comments, or prayer requests.
God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!
Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!