We have a Catholic 'man crisis' today. We have men who were raised in the faith but are not practicing it. We have men who are awfully ignorant of what the Scriptures and the Catechism teach on moral issues affecting our society today. We have men who have left the Church and have failed to commit themselves fully to Jesus Christ. It is no wonder we are confronted with so many evils and crises today. On this excerpt from an interview with Cardinal Burke by The New Emangelization, he gives us a picture of the current state of men in the Church today. For the complete transcript, please visit this link. We do not need 'nice men'; we need 'real men'.
I think there has been a great confusion with regard to the specific vocation of men in marriage and of men in general in the Church during the past 50 years or so. It’s due to a number of factors, but the radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized.
Unfortunately, the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church, leading the Church to constantly address women’s issues at the expense of addressing critical issues important to men; the importance of the father, whether in the union of marriage or not; the importance of a father to children; the importance of fatherhood for priests; the critical impact of a manly character; the emphasis on the particular gifts that God gives to men for the good of the whole society.
The goodness and importance of men became very obscured, and for all practical purposes, were not emphasized at all. This is despite the fact that it was a long tradition in the Church, especially through the devotion of St. Joseph, to stress the manly character of the man who sacrifices his life for the sake of the home, who prepares with chivalry to defend his wife and his children and who works to provide the livelihood for the family. So much of this tradition of heralding the heroic nature of manhood has been lost in the Church today.
All of those virtuous characteristics of the male sex are very important for a child to observe as they grow up and mature. The healthy relationship with the father helps the child to prepare to move from the intimate love of the mother, building a discipline so that the child can avoid excessive self‑love. This ensures that the child is able to identify himself or herself properly as a person in relationship with others; this is critical for both boys and girls.
A child’s relationship with their father is key to a child’s self‑identification, which takes places when we are growing up. We need that very close and affirming relationship with the mother, but at the same time, it is the relationship with the father, which is of its nature more distant but not less loving, which disciplines our lives. It teaches a child to lead a selfless life, ready to embrace whatever sacrifices are necessary to be true to God and to one another.
I recall in the mid-1970’s, young men telling me that they were, in a certain way, frightened by marriage because of the radicalizing and self-focused attitudes of women that were emerging at that time. These young men were concerned that entering a marriage would simply not work because of a constant and insistent demanding of rights for women. These divisions between women and men have gotten worse since then.
Everyone understands that women have and can be abused by men. Men who abuse women are not true men, but false men who have violated their own manly character by being abusive to women.
The crisis between man and woman has been made much worse by a complete collapse of catechesis in the Church. Young men grew up without proper instruction with regard to their faith and to the knowledge of their vocation. Young men were not being taught that they are made in the image of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These young men were not taught to know all those virtues that are necessary in order to be a man and to fulfill the particular gifts of being male.
Making things worse, there was a very fluffy, superficial kind of catechetical approach to the question of human sexuality and the nature of the marital relationship.
At the same time, in society, there came an explosion of pornography, which is particularly corrosive for men because it terribly distorts the whole reality of human sexuality. It leads men and women to view their human sexuality apart from a relationship between a man and woman in marriage.
In truth, the gift of sexual attraction is directed toward marriage, and any kind of sexual union belongs properly only within marriage. But the whole world of pornography corrupts young people into believing that their sexual capacity is for their own entertainment and pleasure, and becomes a consuming lust, which is one of the seven capital sins.
The gift of human sexuality is turned into a means of self‑gratification often at the expense of another person, whether in heterosexual relations or in homosexual relations. A man who has not been formed with a proper identity as a man and as a father figure will ultimately become very unhappy. These poorly formed men become addicted to pornography, sexual promiscuity, alcohol, drugs, and the whole gamut of addictions.
How Does One Become a Committed Catholic Man?
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.”
12. 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.