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Retreat reflection: Helping others by helping myself.

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It’s good to retreat from time to time for self reflection and regrouping. Sometimes we have to travel to an island to gain perspective of the main land. This weekend I went on the Annual Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocesan Men’s Retreat with about 80 other men with the mission of getting away, listening to hear a life lesson, and discerning my calling/vocation.


Men’s Retreat at Camp Timpoochee

We had two days and two nights of spiritual talks, small groups, self time, prayer, church service, and recreation time with similar minded gentlemen. The small group questions were intriguing and engaging. We each had our individual matters to work on, but it was good to be around other masculine men. Fr Crawford had me laughing with his quirky personality that came along with prolific messages, “humility humility humility humility humility humility humility…. we’re not talking wuss here fellas.”

Personal Reflection Time

Personal Reflection Time

During personal space, we were encouraged to do something peaceful that we enjoy to do and listen to the quiet. I enjoy writing; I wrote God a letter while listening to the waves of the Gulf of Mexico. I almost put my letter in my empty water bottle to toss it into the water, but I didn’t want to litter. The thought was the same. It was healing to write down personal troubles and give it up to God.

Early morning by the water

Early morning by the water

Everyone received different take-aways. From the few guys I asked what they gained from the retreat: some took away how to be a better man in their personal relationships, others felt they were there to help others as leaders, some said they figured out how to better organize the juggle of time between work and home. I had a slightly different take-away. For years, I have focused on helping others as much as I possibly can. While still being motivated to help others, I feel like for a short time it will be best for everyone if I focused on helping myself. Before I can love others, I must love myself.

Young Man and The Sea

Young Man and The Sea

I’ve been working on a book idea for two years. The closer I get to a finishing story, the more the story changes. It’s time for me to quit a few community efforts and think about helping myself. I have to target what makes me happy, what makes joy, and do it everyday over and over. Maturity is being mindful about what we are doing and where our decisions will take us. Fr Tim gave us a homework assignment; he told us to go home and write down a goal for next year. Leave it up to me to take the writing assignment to the next level by publishing it. My goal for this time next year is to finish my book, “Young Man and The Sea of People”. In all truth, I need to hurry up and get this book out before I have to change the title to middle aged man and the sea.


[Video] Ave Maria sung by child brings crowd to tears

During a special Bishop mass honoring Our Lady, an 11 year old brought the full cathedral to tears with her performance of Ave Maria. Complete silence of awe came over the audience when Cecilia Malley took the microphone to sing as her mother, Almira, played the piano. Cecilia told me after the mass that she practiced for this event for one year. At the end of the mass, Bishop Gregory Parkes gave her a special thank you and the congregation gave her a standing ovation.

DSC_0784 Cecilia Malley at the microphone and Almira Malley on the piano

IMG_9498 Bishop Parkes gave the youth a few words of appreciation

DSC_0744 John Malley – age 12, Theresa Malley – age 9, Cecilia Malley – age 11

Watch the performance

Giving with Integrity: Record Setting Donations

Charity has always been a defining characteristic of the Knights of Columbus

Charity has always been a defining characteristic of the Knights of Columbus

Give to receive in order to give more” my former banking and finance colleagues would say. I admit that the phrase sounds appealing, but my Father taught me a better concept. It took me a long time to understand the wisdom of His simple philosophy- Give from your heart and expect nothing in return.

In my past, I’ve witnessed crooked charitable offerings. It was uncomfortable for me to give without knowing the accountability of the offering. I would ask myself, “how can I have faith in the organization that I’m giving to?” I trust God, but people will always be suspects. I started donating my time in order to ensure offerings of mine and others’ would truly go to its intended use. In 2009, I joined a charitable organization 1.8 million strong, the Knights of Columbus. Since I have been a Knight of Columbus for nearly five years, I can endorse with full confidence every penny donated is being spent honestly for the cause.

Judging by the numbers, I’m not the only one believes this. While charitable donations giving in the United States grew only by 2% last year, giving through the Knights of Columbus grew three times as much, 6%. Last year set a record of $167.5 million donated (Franciscan monastery). Over the past decade, the Knights have donated $1.475 billion to support charitable works with consecutively increasing for 13 years(EWTN). More valuable they have given more than 673 million volunteer hours to support charitable works (CNA).

Pope Francis also praised the integrity and loyalty of the Knights of Columbus during an audience in Rome October 2013, the Pope met with Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Charity has always been a defining characteristic of the Knights of Columbus … and committed to preserving, cultivating and passing on to future generations…” he said (Vatican Information Service).

From my banking days, I understand the finance culture of loopholes and backdoor giving. I saw so many gimmicks, tricks, and lies… I have zero tolerance for anything less than truth. I applaud those who give honestly from their heart.

@BenjaminHorbowy “Respecting Parents… what’s that?”

In today’s modern comedy shows, we see the image of what family is or what people think it should be. In these shows, the dad is a goofball who never seems to get anything right and the mother is an emotional control freak who rules the home. There’s humor in these scenarios, but they lack to show the Truth.

From my education in social sciences under the political science department, I can ramble off the political correctness of gender roles with the understanding that traditional families are not the most common or effective if you view the meaning of family from a scientific perspective. I understand that I am very blessed to have a functional family who is still together. The meaning of family according to the dictionary: a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household. By that definition, it sounds like there’s a few people stuck together under a single roof. I would like to suggest a slight modification to this definition. Family is a group of people who are affiliated by marriage, birth, legalities, and co-residence who respect each other.

What does it mean to respect each other? As a 31 year old bachelor without children, I will not address showing respect to your spouse or kids. I will talk about  respecting parents. I could mention the secular understanding that respecting yourself is one way to honor your parents, but my understanding of respecting your parents is to learn from them. They spent time teaching us proper ways of how to communicate, socially interact, and make decisions. Their interest is that their children are healthy in mind, body, and soul. It would be disrespectful to disregard that time and act like a fool.

Ask yourself the next time you are doing something foolish such as lying, gossiping, driving home buzzed, or sitting in a tattoo parlor is this respecting myself, my family,… my parents?  Our fourth commandment tells us to honor our parents. This is the only commandment that comes with a promise… you can find it in Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long…” God wishes us to live long… with wisdom!

Benjamin Horbowy