Reordering A Life

Bret Ware is a husband, father, and parish secretary at St. Elizabeth Parish in the Diocese of Springfield, Ill. “I wasn’t originally drawn to Exodus,” he says. His friend, Deacon Michael Halbrook, introduced Bret to the program and its impact. 

As a result, Bret started the shorter Lent exercise from Exodus — or what he refers to as “Baby Exodus.”

“It was a good primer to get me used to the idea of prayer, asceticism, and fraternity.”

These foundational pillars of Exodus continue to impact Bret daily, long past Easter Sunday. His relationship with the Lord has changed, as well. “It’s just better; all the way around. I understand my place as a father, husband, friend, co-worker, and even as a citizen.” Furthermore, he says his understanding of what the Lord asks of him daily has increased.

“I am excited about what the Lord might have in store for me and know that it is only by his grace that I am here.” Bret’s confidence in his identity in Christ has solidified since the beginning of Exodus 90, but he admits it has not always been easy.

His main obstacle initially was helping to show his wife how Exodus would be a positive thing for their family. They both needed to know this would be his Exodus, not hers. Even with proper communication before the start of Exodus, there were still challenges.

Bret explained that TV was and still is a significant part of the time he and his wife share. “It was a challenge for me NOT to miss that time together.”

Another obstacle for Bret was the idea that he needed to be perfect. “Just like going to Mass doesn’t mean I am perfect by any stretch…doing Exodus isn’t…about being perfect…or checking all the boxes… it’s about a reordering of my life and priorities.” Bret is not the only man who may be tempted to see Exodus and the asceticisms in a legalistic context. He reminds us that asceticism allows us “[to discern] who and what is most important.”

Bret was one of thousands of men who participated in Exodus 90 in 2022 and returned for another round in 2023. “I have found…that you should never anticipate how it will go. What might have been a struggle the first time might not be the next [time] and vice versa.” 

During his Exodus, Bret could not anticipate the reality of grieving a family member. He says that it added an extra challenge to remain focused but that it was a huge blessing to have the support and prayers of his fraternity throughout the process.

To any man considering Exodus, Bret has a simple question: “What have you got to lose?”

“Give ninety days to the Lord,” he says, and “give yourself a chance to find out what else God has in store for you.”