Rule of Life

A Rule of Life for 2023, discerned and coming out of annual retreat 2022:

  • Prayer:
    • Draw close to God in a Holy Hour each day, striving for at least 30 minutes of contemplative prayer.
    • Pray the Office of Readings, Lauds, Vespers, and Compline each day.
    • Pray my daily Rosary, offering:
      • the first mystery for the Holy Father and my bishop;
      • the second mystery for priests, deacons, and religious, those in formation, and for vocations;
      • the third mystery for Suzanne and our boys;
      • the fourth mystery for all those for whom I’ve promised to pray;
      • and the fifth mystery for the men of Exodus and of the world.
    • Read from the Gospels every day, seeking to learn more of Christ the Servant.
    • Pray the Auxilium Christianorum prayers (including the Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ), Litany of St. Joseph, and the Exodus reading & reflection each day.
  • Vocation:
    • Live extreme ownership of my role as husband, father, and deacon.
    • Bring the best of my work to the mission & team of Exodus.
  • Sacrifice:
    • Offer a cold shower each day.
    • Fast until Noon on Wednesdays for Suzanne and our family, and on Fridays for my bishop and the Church.
  • Self:
    • Perform some form of exercise and pushing my body each day.
    • Be purposeful in choosing the healthier food option.
    • Make a daily Examen (within Compline).

To live the promises I made at my wedding and at my ordination:

  • To take Suzanne to be my wife; To be true to her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health; To love her and honor her all the days of my life.
  • To be consecrated for the Church’s ministry by the laying on of my bishop’s hands and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • To discharge the office of Deacon with humble charity in order to assist the priestly Order and to benefit the Christian people.
  • To hold fast to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience, as the Apostle urges, and to proclaim this faith in word and deed according to the Gospel and the Church’s tradition.
  • To maintain and deepen the spirit of prayer that is proper to my way of life and, in keeping with this spirit and what is required of me, to celebrate faithfully the Liturgy of the Hours with and for the People of God and indeed for the whole world.
  • To conform my way of life always to the example of Christ, of whose Body and Blood I am a minister at the altar.
  • To show respect and obedience to my bishop and his successors.

The Prayer of Ordination of Deacons:

Draw near, we pray, almighty God,
giver of every grace,
who apportion every order and assign every office;
who remain unchanged,
but make all things new.
In your eternal providence,
you make provision for every age,
as you order all creation
through him who is your word,
your power, and your wisdom,
Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.

You grant that the Church, his Body,
adorned with manifold heavenly graces,
drawn together in the diversity of its members,
and united by a wondrous bond through the Holy Spirit,
should grow and spread forth
to build up a new temple
and, as once you chose the sons of Levi
to minister in the former tabernacle,
so now you establish three ranks of ministers
in their sacred offices to serve in your name.

And so, in the first days of your Church,
through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
your Son’s Apostles appointed seven men of good repute
to assist them in the daily ministry,
that they might devote themselves more fully
to prayer and preaching of the word.
By prayer and the laying on of hands
they entrusted to these chosen men the ministry of serving at table.

We beseech you, Lord:
look with favor on these servants of yours
who will minister at your holy altar
and whom we now humbly dedicate to the office of Deacon.
Send forth upon them, Lord, we pray,
the Holy Spirit,
that they may be strengthened
by the gift of your sevenfold grace
for the faithful carrying out
of the work of the ministry.

May there abound in them every Gospel virtue:
unfeigned love,
concern for the sick and poor,
unassuming authority,
the purity of innocence,
and the observance of spiritual discipline.

May your commandments shine forth in their conduct,
so that by the example of their way of life
they may inspire the imitation of your holy people.
In offering the witness of a clear conscience,
may they remain strong and steadfast in Christ,
so that by imitating on earth your Son,
who came not to be served but to serve,
they may be found worthy to reign in heaven with him.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
℟ Amen.

Laborers for the Harvest

It was a 5-month journey of active prayer, discernment, and discussion leading up to the role and opportunity at Exodus 90 that I am starting next week.

At one point on that journey, I drove to Terre Haute, Indiana – roughly halfway between my house near St. Louis and James the CEO’s near Indianapolis – and spent a day with him in discussion and mutual discernment.

We met at a parish in Terre Haute that graciously lent us some space, and we started the morning in their perpetual adoration chapel. Starting that day in adoration and prayer before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament was the best way to start the day, and a sign of things to come. (Every member of the team at Exodus is asked and encouraged to spend at least a Holy Hour in prayer each day.)

In the tiny, beautiful building hosting the parish’s perpetual adoration chapel, on the wall just to the left of the altar with the monstrance, was a framed piece of art. It appeared perhaps cross-stitched, and it caught my attention as soon as we entered the chapel to pray.

It quoted Luke 10:2:

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.

Luke 10:2

For a Holy Hour at the start of a day of discussion and discernment for this role, that Scripture verse spoke to me deeply in prayer.

It still does today, as we celebrate the Feast of Saint Luke. It’s also a line at the end of each Communion service, as we pray as God’s people to call more men to the holy priesthood.

I’ve prayed that line almost every day since that day in the adoration chapel. Where is the Lord sending me today?

On this Feast of Saint Luke, in the Church’s “Year C” when our Sunday Gospel most of the year is from Luke’s Gospel, it feels like I’m celebrating the feast day of a close friend with whom I’ve journeyed this year. I’ve prayed over his Gospel each day, proclaimed it almost every Sunday, and preached on it most of those Sundays. There’s a closeness that I feel to him and his Gospel now, journeying this year as an ordained servant and herald of the Gospel.

I’m grateful especially for the clip of Luke 10:2 and what it has played in my discernment and prayer life, and how it helped lead me to the next step on my career & ministry journey as they come together.

Where is the Lord calling you – and me – to labor in his harvest field today?

Saint Luke, pray for us.

A New Adventure: An “Exodus”

With men of Exodus and some members of my new team at the Exodus 90 Conference in August.

This week, the news was shared at Adobe that I’m leaving my role there. After 15 years, I’m grateful for the learning & growth, friendships & opportunities, personal & professional success, and amazing friendships.

Last December, I was in the Lehi, Utah office and enjoying breakfast with a long-time friend & coworker. We shared similar hopes to work five or ten more years then “retire” and spend more time with family & other interests.

So what could pull me away more quickly? An Exodus, you might say.

A Rosary on the Road, and a Proposal

In May, I drove to Fort Wayne, Indiana, at the request of the leadership team of Exodus 90. I was spending a day with them in a “focus group” on better support for parishes & parish leaders.

Driving the loop around Indianapolis, I was praying a rosary and had a random prompt hit my heart. I heard, “You’re going to be a leader in Exodus.

Unsure what it meant, I held that in my heart until the next day, after the meetings, when their CEO James Baxter asked if he could talk about something. Over the next few minutes, he floated the idea that perhaps I might join their team to lead their operations. I could help him lead their team to a broader scale and impact.

That kicked off a conversation over the course of several months. We continued discussing whether it was the right mutual fit and whether it made sense for both of us.

It also kicked off a lot of prayer and discernment for Suzanne and me, and for our boys as we included them in the discussion.

A Bit About Exodus

Exodus 90 is a ministry – a movement – devoted to setting men free from attachment to the things of the world and forming them into men for others.

Exodus has a vision to be the formation house for a million men around the world.

I’m excited to be joining as the new Head of Operations, to help lead a new chapter of growth and innovation.

I believe that more men need Exodus, and this is a unique opportunity to bring my experience and background to this mission. It’s also an opportunity to better integrate my identity as a Catholic deacon, husband, and father with my professional experience.

There’s a lot of room for Exodus to grow and to help more men, and I’m grateful and excited to be on mission to free and to form men for others.

Consolation from the Blessed Mother

This has definitely taken discernment, courage, and trust. To be honest, you don’t leave a role like mine at Adobe for a role in a church-related ministry and make any more money. I’m pretty sure my “retirement” timeline just moved from 5-10 years to 10-15 years. But for the mission, it’s worth it.

There’s also a lot of risk in a small team getting a model right and making the impact they want to have.

At the end of the discernment journey, though, I came to know this was the right step. But giving notice to my leader at Adobe wasn’t easy. I hadn’t left an employer in over 15 years!

However, after walking through my decision (and my notice) with my manager last week, I turned to the other side of desk and glanced at my personal computer.

Just arriving was an invitation to the conference call for the weekly rosary of the Exodus leadership team.

From the start of the journey into Team Exodus to the start of the journey out of Adobe, Our Lady had sent me signs. That was a deep and wonderful consolation.

Next Steps on the Journey

I am floored by the notes from friends & coworkers, along with requests for one-on-one meetings to say ‘goodbye’. The next eight or so working days are going to be a deeply emotional time of farewells.

I’m left quite simply with a deep sense of gratitude for the 15 years at Adobe, and now for this new opportunity with Exodus.

I also have a renewed appreciation and gratitude for Suzanne and the boys. Their support of my career journey and this decision in particular have edified my understanding of their love and support, and also of my responsibility to them.

Thank you for your continued prayers & support on the journey.

Sign up for a weekly email update from me – use the form to the right


Today’s Press Release from Exodus 90:

Deacon Michael Halbrook speaks to Exodus Parish Guides during the 2022 Exodus 90 Conference in Indianapolis this past August.

Tech Executive Joins Leadership of Exodus 90

Former Adobe Director tapped to lead operations of fast growing men’s movement

Fort Wayne, IN, October 12, 2022The worldwide spiritual men’s movement, Exodus 90, is set to welcome a new addition to their leadership team this month. Former Adobe executive Deacon Michael Halbrook, of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, will start his new role as Head of Operations on October 24.

Halbrook’s first experience with the popular men’s formation program was in 2016 during the organization’s infancy, and then again in 2021. He went on to become one of the first Exodus Parish Guides – volunteers trained to help Exodus men lead their parishes through the Exodus 90 spiritual exercise.

“Exodus changed my life and helped me become a better man,” states Halbrook. “I’ve seen it not just within myself, but with so many other men who’ve taken on the 90-day journey as well. 

“Joining this team and helping it grow and impact more men around the world was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Prior to joining the team at Exodus 90, Halbrook served as Director of Technical Account Management at Adobe – capping 15 years in various roles, including Chief of Staff for the consulting business. In those roles, Halbrook led various teams, day-to-day business operations, communications, special projects, change management, and more.

“It has been a great grace to have Deacon Michael bring his management experience to our small team,” adds James Baxter, co-founder and CEO of Exodus. “The Lord’s timing – as we always know – is perfect for this moment in the life of our young mission.”

Exodus 90 has grown rapidly in just the past seven years – with more than 60,000 men worldwide taking on the ninety-day spiritual program. It has now been translated in five different languages, with more in the works for 2023.

Halbrook got his start in leadership at radio stations in the St. Louis market – serving as on-air talent and online director before founding and selling a dotcom business in 2000, and leading digital media and analytics for customers including AT&T and Anheuser-Busch.

He lives in Granite City, IL with his wife of 18 years and their four sons. His diaconal ministry at St. Elizabeth Parish includes serving his pastor as director of faith formation and liturgy.

Men everywhere are encouraged to find or start a local Exodus 90 fraternity in preparation for Easter by January 9, 2023.

###

For more information on Exodus 90 and a complete press kit, visit https://exodus90.com/media/.

Since 2013, Exodus 90 has evolved into a powerful 90-day spiritual exercise that reaches across the globe to impact fraternities in more than 65 countries, freeing over 60,000 bishops, priests, and laymen from enslavement. Through a regimen of daily prayer, asceticism, and fraternity, Exodus 90 summons men back to the foundations of their faith, stripping them of worldly addictions and reinvigorating their devotion to Christ.

Sign up for a weekly email update from me – use the form to the right