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Vision: To Foster Catholic Men's Spirituality in Chicago Southland
About Giving Advice
By Frank J Casella

I only give free advice. Because there is a lot of it out there, and the advice you pay for may not work out because each person and circumstance is different.  “For lack of guidance a people falls; security lies in many counselors”. Proverbs 11:14.  'Free Advice ' - Black and White Photograph of two people sitting at table in Urban America Chicago, Illinois. Copyright 2012 Frank J Casella. Click here to purchase.

(From the archives, for someone who needs to hear this again)

Several years ago, my family adopted a rescue Golden Retriever who we later learned had problems with aggression towards women. We consulted a dog behaviorist who helped us work through the issues and, after nine months, our dog became much more like his old self.


With this newfound knowledge, I started giving advice to other dog owners I met on walks. Most didn't care, but a few did and some even came back to me for advice and it made a positive difference for them. And their dog.


Over my lifetime, I've realized that you can't change people unless they want to change themselves. As blogger Seth Godin says, it's best not to give advice unless someone asks for it.


This reminds me about the time that I was the director for my local Chamber of Commerce. Networking events can be a great way to build relationships and network, but if participants view it only as an opportunity to sell their services, they'll find less success. The members who made the most business at our events were those who were interested in the Chamber's mission and volunteered their time to different committees. They waited for someone to ask for their card, and found much more 'business' in the long run. 


At Catholic Men Chicago Southland (CMCS), we often receive requests about Catholic manhood and spirituality. We mentor men on the phone, online, or over coffee to provide guidance or mentoring, without charging for it.


Sometimes, people see advice as criticism. With my own family, many people assume that our simple lifestyle and below-average income mean we're unhappy, and they offer unsolicited advice on what we should do to make more money. While I appreciate their concern, I would prefer if they didn't offer advice without being asked. Or at least ask if I would like some advice. 


A few years ago I spoke to two people in line at the Catholic Charities food pantry, and we discussed how everyone is quick to offer free advice to others, sometimes to the point of criticism. One person was a retired doctor, while the other had turned away from gang involvement. Both shared with me their experiences of conversion and trying to live out their Catholic faith.


A spiritual director once shared with me that the key to giving advice is to offer it sincerely, but remain indifferent to whether it's taken or not. It's important not to persist in correcting others. This reminds me about my own father, how I feel like I've learned more from him after he died, than when he was living, because I keep hearing his advice in my head. 


Receiving advice, whether asked for or not, requires forgiveness. What works for someone else may not work for us in the same way. We need to be creative in applying advice to our lives and forgive those who may become frustrated or not understand us, especially if they are family or close friends.


One interesting encounter at the food pantry was with the retired doctor who said that she had given away all her money and lives a simple, debt-free life. This decision has helped her focus on her relationship with the Lord and to let go of material possessions. This too is a similar way of what I do, and call it the lay persons vow of poverty (though I don't presently need the food pantry because of, I believe, my obedience to God's will for my life). Trusting and relying on God's providence only is a constant struggle, but now I would not live any other way! Most people I know don't understand or relate to this.


When it comes to giving advice, I think there's a lot we can learn from rescue dogs. When you love them and example to them leadership, they love you back unconditionally. Rescue dogs especially understand the difference. How much more when we listen to God's Word, and take action about His will for our lives! 

From Tumblr
Question: What do you do when you see someone who could benefit from your advice? Do you make it your business to tell them, or do you say a prayer for them or wait for them to ask?
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The CMCS Mission: Catholic Men Chicago Southland (CMCS) is engaged in fostering holy and courageous men and proclaiming the importance of husbands and fathers to children and the family. CMCS is a Catholic Apostolate founded in 2004 by Bishop Emeritus Joseph N. Perry, Deacon John Rangel, and Mr. Frank J Casella.
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Catholic Men Chicago Southland
Founded By Bishop Emeritus Joseph N Perry
Executive Director, Frank J Casella 

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