There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it.
This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating decay of the post-modern culture. The long list of examples of cultural decay is obvious to those willing to look: industrialized slaughter of babies in the womb; the self-sterilization of contraceptives; epidemic promiscuity, pornography and sexual perversion; the avoidance of marriage; rampant divorce and adultery; so-called “marriage” of homosexuals; substance addictions; gender confusion; filth and coarseness in media; the loss of a connection to nature and escape into virtual “reality”; environmental exploitation; rampant materialism; the lost of the dignity of work; racial animas; commercialized gluttony; the dysfunctional political and legal system. Post-modern society is sick.
In midst of the societal decay, there are men who seek the true, beautiful and the good and are working to bring the peace and joy of Christ to the world: Committed Catholic Men. These men have completely committed themselves to the Almighty King, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to His Holy Church, realizing that true manhood is Catholic Manhood. This is the truest of loves, to love God with one’s full being and to love one’s neighbor as one’s self. Committed Catholic Men have realized the great blessings that flow from being committed to Christ and His Church. Committed Catholic Men have made Sainthood their goal and have made their purpose to lead their families and as many as others as possible to Heaven.
Committed Catholic Men realize that behind the cultural decay, lurks Satan. They have come to know that Satan is real, Hell is real, Sin is real and that life is a battle to confront and defeat Satan, the Evil One who is waiting at every turn to devour the unprepared. Committed Catholic Men are not perfect, but take seriously Christ’s call to perfection. It is only in Christ, that Committed Catholic Men find the courage to persevere when they fall into Sin and are continually strengthened for the battle against Satan.
Every Catholic man is called to give himself fully to Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. How does one become a Committed Catholic Man? Here are 12 steps to grow in loyalty and devotion to Jesus Christ:
- Develop a rousing case for why Jesus Christ is your King – If a man is asked to describe why he loves his parents, wife, children or friends, most can quickly rattle off a long list of reasons for his love. But for most men, Jesus Christ is abstract, conceptual or a long-gone historical figure. Large numbers of men don’t know Jesus as real, alive and present. Each Catholic man must to be able to give a rousing argument for why Jesus Christ is the greatest Man and why Jesus is his King. If a man is not convinced about Christ’s greatness to the point of being able to articulate the case, his growth in faith will be stunted and he will be unable to draw others to Christ. Committed Catholic Men can make the case for Christ.
- Commit to be a Saint of Christ the King – There are no nice people or good people in Heaven, only Saints. Most men have not made a commitment to strive for Sainthood. Men are stuck in mediocrity and need to raise the bar higher; there is no higher bar than Sainthood. Christ’s first words of public ministry were to “Repent!” and every man must repent or die. By making a commitment to Sainthood, a man starts with repentance and aspires to greatness; in this he realizes his own spiritual poverty. In the recognition of spiritual poverty, a man comes to both humbly recognize his need for God’s mercy and to cry out for it. Aspiring to Sainthood changes everything.
- Go to Reconciliation at least once a month – While the Church teaches each man must go to Reconciliation at least once a year, any man who is truthful with himself and Christ knows he needs the Sacrament of Reconciliation much more frequently. Keep a guide to Reconciliation with you, recalling regularly the 10 Commandments. Make the commitment to go to Reconciliation on a pre-determined schedule each month and go to Reconciliation immediately when you fall into grave sin (e.g. when you view pornography). Regular and frequent Reconciliation changes men, for supernatural Grace flows to men during Absolution.
- Pray for 15 minutes every day – Only about a third of Catholic men pray daily; some smaller number, a much smaller number, pray for 15 minutes. How can a man know Jesus if he never talks to Him? He can’t. Commit to get to know Christ the King on a personal basis by approaching His Throne and talking with Him every day for 15 minutes. It is in this personal conversation that Christ will make His will known to each man.
- Discover the majestic manliness of the Mass – The Mass is the “source and summit” of the Catholic faith, and yet, the majority of men claim to “be bored by the Mass” and to “not get anything out of the Mass”. This is because they don’t know what is occurring in the Mass: they have little understanding of the manly symbolism of the Mass, a Sacrament that has been devoutly passed down for 2000 years. They don’t realize that during the Mass they are witnesses to the actual Bloody Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. If a man doesn’t actively participate in the Mass because of ignorance and boredom, he can’t receive the Graces that flow from the Eucharist. Learn the Mass to such a degree that you can explain it to others with the reverence and devotion that Christ’s Sacrifice deserves.
- Participate in Sunday Mass + 1 – It is the minimum obligation of each Catholic man to attend Mass every Sunday; but only about a quarter of men do so on any given week. This is both a catechetical failure and an outrageous insult to Our King. In addition to attending Mass every Sunday, each man should go an additional step to encounter the Eucharist at least one more time during the week either by participating in daily Mass or by kneeling in Adoration for 30 minutes. Most men have much to make up for and precious little time; drawing closer to Christ more regularly will help men make up for lost time. A warning: never approach the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin.
- Pray the Rosary regularly and carry the Rosary with you – Only about 40% of Catholic men ever pray the Rosary, and only 1 in 10 carry their Rosary with them. Praying the Rosary draws a man closer to our Holy Mother and to her Son, Jesus Christ; it is the manliest of rituals, prayed by the greatest Saints over centuries, in quiet places and in the din of the battlefield. It is a manly act of loyalty and fidelity. Commit to carry the Rosary as a sign of your loyalty and faith and as a weapon against the daily onslaught of Satan; Satan hates the Rosary and fears it. Have the Rosary handy at all times to pray a decade in times of gratitude and stress, relying on the Holy Mother to bring your prayers to Jesus Christ. The Rosary is part of the uniform of the Committed Catholic Man.
- Get to know your Patron Saint and Guardian Angel – We believe in a Communion of Saints. Many men don’t have a personal relationship with a Saint or their Guardian Angel. Many men don’t feel connected to the Church, in part because they are not connected to the Saints or to the Guardian Angel that Jesus Christ has appointed for each man. Saints and Angels intercede on men’s behalf and stand by to protect and defend men from daily assault of Satan and his demons. Don’t go into daily battle without a Saint and your Guardian Angel guarding your back.
- Read Holy Scripture for 15 minutes each day – All of Holy Scripture is about Jesus Christ. When a man reads Holy Scripture, Jesus Christ is with him, not figuratively or conceptually, but in a real and actual way. Jesus Himself came to earth to speak the words of Scripture for all men, across all time, to read and contemplate, drawing strength and wisdom and Grace from His words. Reading Holy Scripture can be done by working through books of the Bible and by reading/praying the Divine Office. A man can’t know Jesus Christ without contemplating His Word.
- Be a priest, prophet and king in your home – In the face of a secular culture that attacks valid patrimony, Catholic men need to reassert their rightful roles as priest, prophet and king of their family. We are not talking about being a chauvinistic tyrant, but a true Saint of Christ, with each man serving his wife and children with humble sacrifice, holy example and courageous commitment to lead his family to Heaven. Be a priest by leading your family in prayer. Be a prophet by teaching the truth of Christ and His Church. Be a king by defending your family from the perversions of the culture, correcting them when they fall into error and by leading them the Eucharist and Reconciliation.
- Build a brotherhood with other Catholic men in your parish – In Acts 2:43, the Apostles from the earliest days of the Church give the “formula” for Catholic brotherhood: And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. For a man to grow in faith he must build brotherhood with faithful Catholic men who can challenge and help him grow in holiness. There is an epidemic of loneliness in modern men, even in regular mass-attending men. Make the commitment to build brotherhood with other Catholic men, particularly younger men, men who are at grave risk as they enter adolescence and move into adulthood. Gather the men of your parish in large groups and small, to pray, to learn, to teach and to serve the poor. Be a catalyst, be a leader, working with your priest. Christ will hold all men accountable for their personal response to His command to “Go and make disciples.”
- Commit to tithing and begin to work toward it – The willingness of a man to give his hard-earned money to the Church is a direct indicator of the strength of his devotion and loyalty to the King Jesus Christ. Sadly, many Catholic men give little to the Church, both in absolute terms and relative to other Christian’s gifts to their churches. Tithing is the giving of 10% of a man’s income to the Church including a parish and other Catholic charities. While you may not be able to give a full 10% due to economic constraints, commit to tithing and begin to work toward it, making progress each year, guided by the Holy Spirit.
Being a Committed Catholic Man is the greatest challenge to which a man can aspire to accept and the commitment can seem daunting. Don’t be deterred; be a Catholic Man! Make the resolution, right here, right now to be a Committed Catholic Man. Print this list off and post it where you will see it every day. As in all things, start with prayer. Pray that Jesus Christ will send the Holy Spirit to help give you the strength needed to become a Committed Catholic Man. Pray with your whole heart to Christ and do your best. Our King has promised to answer those who persist in prayer.
Jesus Christ will never let a man down who is committed to Him.
Matthew James Christoff is a Catholic convert. He is the founder of The New Emangelization Project which is committed to confront the Catholic “man-crisis” and to develop new ardor, methods and expressions for the re-evangelization of Catholic men. Matthew is also a co-founder of CatholicManNight, a parish-based men’s evangelization effort that has drawn thousands of Catholic men into Eucharistic Adoration, Confession, fellowship and lively discussion. Matthew lives in Minnesota with his beautiful bride (and childhood sweetheart); they have 4 adult children, 3 “in-law” children and two grandchildren.