Tag Archives: men

The Mentor’s Handbook: How to Form Boys into Inspiring and Capable Men

Fr. Peter M. Henry
Sophia Institute Press, 217 pages

There’s a “man crisis” in the Catholic Church today and indeed throughout society. Men need to step up and become what real men are supposed to be: gentlemen who stand firm for what is good and true, who do combat with evil, who defend the innocent and protect the vulnerable. It takes men like this to change the culture by forming boys into men of virtue who will carry on this rightful and heroic tradition, as Fr. Peter M. Henry explains. Parents, grandparents, coaches, ministers, troop leaders, and other men who lead boys should take seriously this critical mentoring role, and this book provides an invaluable guide.

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Ponder the portrait of a Catholic gentleman

First and foremost, a Catholic gentleman is a Catholic; that is, he is permeated to the core by the Faith handed down for twenty centuries, witnessed to by the blood of the martyrs, and embodied in the creeds and councils of the Catholic and apostolic Church. The Faith is the air he breathes, and his whole life is dedicated to knowing and following Jesus Christ with his whole heart.

A Catholic gentleman is not the casual Christian-and-Easter Catholic, who treats the faith like a buffet from which to cherry-pick beliefs that suit his way of life. Rather, his way of life is conformed to the truth as revealed through the Church founded by Jesus Christ. He lives by his baptismal promises, rejecting Satan and all his pomps and works. If someone pointed a gun to his head and asked him to deny his faith, he would respond like the Cristero martyrs of Mexico: “Viva Christo Rey!” Long live Christ the King

A Catholic gentleman does not hide his faith, but rather, lets his light shine before men and witnesses to the beauty of the truth with joy, humility, and love. Accordingly, he is a true evangelist. Above all, a Catholic gentleman loves Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, striving at every moment to please them, honor them, and love them with his whole he

Second, a Catholic gentleman is gentle. Gentleness is not highly valued for men in our culture. It is too often associated with a sort of milquetoast weakness that shrinks from challenges. But gentleness is not weakness – it is strength under control.

Anyone who has lifted weights in a gym knows there are showoffs who like to lift more weight than they can handle. After one or two shaky reps, they drop the dumbbells with a tremendous crash, hoping others will notice how much weight they were putting up. But the truth is, dropping weights doesn’t reveal how strong you are. Anyone can drop something heavy. What is impressive is the hulk of a man who can squat eight hundred pounds and still manage to set the barbell down lightly and carefully. His gentleness reveals his strength.

Likewise, a Catholic gentleman has strength in reserve. He can defend the weak when called upon, and he can rise to face difficult challenges when he must. But he is no braggart, intent on crashing his way through life in an attempt to prove his strength. His power is channeled and harnessed, fully under the control of a disciplined will.

Finally, a Catholic gentleman is a servant leader … He is not obsessed with power or authority, for he knows that true leaders do not demand obedience, but, rather, inspire it by their example.

Excerpt from: The Catholic Gentleman: Living Authentic Manhood Today, by Sam Guzman (Ignatius Press, 2019). www.ignatius.com. From Chapter 23: “What Is a Catholic Gentleman?” pp. 125-127

SAM GUZMAN is the founder and editor of The Catholic Gentleman blog and a marketing professional. His writing has appeared in various faith-based publications and websites, such as Catholic Exchange, Aleteia, and The Christian Science Monitor

Manning up is life’s real workout

Masculinity has gotten A twisted, faulty rap lately, as if it is an unfortunate leftover of days gone by.

Christine Valentine-Owsik

But true masculinity aligns with the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude), upon which all other virtues hinge. Jesus Christ is the icon for true masculinity – He abided by His role under His Father’s plan, come what would, and plenty did.

As kids we admired guys who played tough sports, got in fights defending siblings or girlfriends, or who had strength to chop wood stumps with an ax. They walked on the outside of a sidewalk to protect the girl, held doors, pursued her but didn’t expect it in return, and didn’t strive to be noticed. They endured injuries, ran miles in bad weather to strength-train, and didn’t expect anyone to sustain them. They didn’t wear makeup, shop excessively, sunbathe, or dawdle in day spas. They didn’t avoid work. Those in military service were proud to serve. They didn’t bad-mouth parents, or ignore requests for help.

And as girls, we worked toward goals with the resources and talents we had, not expecting what wasn’t ours, or which we didn’t earn. We didn’t use our femininity for victim status, and didn’t see males as the enemy line.

When these guys and gals married, many rejoiced in their young families and went the extra mile to provide for them. If it meant holding multiple jobs, they did. Most knew their place before God.

That was then.

Many of today’s youth have eschewed this, for pleasures and distractions of mediocrity and modernity. And this has bred a pervasive effeminacy.

Too often they cannot face graduation, work, marriage, parenthood, or rigor… despite their ‘life is good’ mantra. St. Thomas Aquinas defines effeminacy as “a sorrow and unwillingness to be separated from pleasure in order to pursue what is arduous and difficult.” Practice of solid virtue – in choosing the good and demanding, over the soft and easy – is life-training for success, and for eternity.

And yet a manly man – or woman – doesn’t necessarily present as a bruiser. Whether young or older, they simply are masters of their passions – at work, in families, in marriage, and before God. They are circumspect and have command of themselves. Manly men and women aren’t afraid of their roles as family leaders and mentors, maintain rightful boundaries, and manage expectations. They don’t lose sight of the broader picture, now or later.

Simply, manliness is putting God first…. in everything. It’s key to ordered families, workplaces, and society.

Manliness is not just attractive to others, but attractive to God. It means overcoming fear of the unknown, to attain an ultimate good. It means following legitimate laws – including those of the Church – no matter the difficulty or unpopularity. It means conquering temptation with urgency and effort, for purity of soul. And finally, it means praying, studying, and living the Catholic faith – regardless of what others say – because that ultimately leads us toward the precious and narrow gate of The Father’s House.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

WHAT TO SEE: Men of faith on the rise

Kingdom Men Rising
Dr. Tony Evans, Kris Franklin, Lecrae, Tony Dungy, Jonathan Pitts
Run time: 116 min
Rated PG

Tony Evans gets right to the heart of what it means to be a real man.

“You can be a male but not a man,” he says. Evans explains: “Malehood has to do with your biological gender. Manhood has to do with your submission to divine authority.”

By that, Evans means that each man is called to be a “Kingdom Man.” In his new documentary, Kingdom Men Rising, he calls upon men to stop being “lame,” rise up, be men of Christ, and fulfill their God-given responsibilities as husbands, fathers, and living examples to others.

It’s what Evans — author, media personality, and pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas — calls “biblical manhood,” and he knows it’s a tall order given today’s broken culture. Yet the culture can only heal if more men live for the kingdom and pass along that heritage of faith to their own children.

Kingdom Men Rising features interviews with Evans along with his sons and daughters, each of whom is successful as a performing artist, author, or preacher. There’s also award-winning Gospel singer Kris Franklin, Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae, pastor Jonathan Pitts, Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy, and ex-NFL players Jon Kitna, Troy Vincent, and Tim Brown. Each offers insights and life experiences affirming the need for men to emerge as committed and responsible Christians.

The film, which had a two-day theatrical release before being marketed to churches, touches upon many issues involving men today, including fatherless homes, pornography addiction, promiscuity, abortion regrets, and life balance. The cast is almost entirely African American, as is Dr. Evans’ preaching style, but the message applies to all men, even if the language and theology is distinctly evangelical at times and might require clarification for Catholic viewers.

“This life is a spiritual battle, [and] you better be ready for a fight because there’s Satan on the other side [and he] wants to take you down,” Dungy says at one point, channeling his best Pope Francis. The devil might try to take men down, but Kingdom Men Rising invites them to stand strong and walk by faith.

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

‘Desert’ retreat rallies men closer to Christ

San Diego Legate Owen Mossy thought he was signing up for an extended study of the book of Exodus when he agreed in January to take part in Exodus 90.

Little did he know that the invitation he received from fellow Legate Mike Sweeney meant that for 90 days, he would be making a daily holy hour and abstaining from alcohol, sweets, eating between meals, TV, and hot showers, plus limiting his Internet usage to essential tasks.

Out-of-this-era encounter

To his credit, the 46-yearold father of six kept his commitment even after learning what was involved. He now says it has changed his life. Before beginning the regimen of intensive prayer and fasting designed for men, Mossy had been going to Mass only on Sundays – sometimes skipping if circumstances seemed to interfere – and to Confession only once a year on a silent retreat. Since embarking on Exodus 90, Mossy has become a daily Mass-goer and, 60 days into the program, had been to Confession three times.

Designed by a priest, Exodus 90 was begun in 2013 for seminarians who, having grown up in a sin dominated society, were seeking greater personal freedom. The 90 days are based on the book of Exodus, which recounts the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land, and during that time, participants enter a desert experience. The program since has been expanded to include bishops, priests, and laymen, thousands of whom have completed the 90-day endurance test after learning about it through friends, dioceses, apostolates, and Catholic leaders.

Inspired by his brother-in-law, a Catholic convert who insisted Exodus 90 was “the coolest thing he’d ever done in his life,” Sweeney sent invitations to members of the Catholic men’s formation group he and fellow Legate Byrnes Lambert lead. When Sweeney learned of his brother-in-law’s plans to repeat Exodus 90, he said, “I felt the Holy Spirit say, ‘Mike, you’ve got to do it and rally your spiritual brothers with you.’”

Eight of the 15 men in the group – five of them Legatus members – agreed to the challenge. “I’ve done silent retreats and Lenten fasts,” Sweeney said. “I’ve been on men’s retreats, men’s conferences, and fly-fishing men’s Bible retreats, and this is the greatest spiritual exercise I’ve ever been a part of.”

Lambert said Exodus 90’s time-tested practices of Christian asceticism have awakened in him a minute-to-minute awareness of Christ’s presence in his daily walk. “I desire Christ more. I need Him more when the comfort is pulled away.”

He added, “The world considers comfort a cardinal virtue and tells us that discomfort or pain is an evil that we must fight to eradicate. As Christian disciples and Legates, we know that the world is wrong here since discomfort is a key part of the cross. Because of Exodus 90, I now see the necessity of intentionally adding some discomfort to my day as an offering to Jesus to unite me to His sacrifice on the cross.”

More available to Christ

James Baxter, Exodus 90 executive director, said the program offers any Catholic man of good will a formation experience that will profoundly impact his life. Many of the participants find it to be just that. “People come up to us afterward and say, ‘You promised me this and you were right. I am a freer man, more available to Jesus Christ.’”

But Atlanta Legate Ryan Foley, who has made Exodus 90 twice and has worked with Baxter to promote it, said the experience is more than about achieving freedom from personal attachments. “This is a powerful moment to become a man of prayer for others, but specifically for the Church.” Foley has used Exodus 90 as an opportunity to offer his time of fasting and intensified prayer for the intentions of friends and others.

Although every man’s journey is different, a common benefit participants cite is that of gaining time by giving up TV and unnecessary Internet usage. For example, Rich Cronin, a member of Legatus’s Genesis Chapter, has noticed that he has more quality time with his wife, Connie. Because they are not watching TV in the evenings, they may read a book together or listen to music. They also have added a Friday date night to give Connie a break from having to cook meatless meals on one of the two fasting days.

Sweeney said the absence of TV viewing also has given him more time with his wife, Shara, and their five children, opening up opportunities to draw and color with his daughters or play catch with his sons. “There’s definitely more time every day and week with family and that’s been the greatest blessing.”

New “fraternity” brothers

Likewise, Erik Jorgensen, who is in an Exodus 90 “fraternity” that includes Mossy, Sweeney, and Lambert, said the biggest benefit for him has been the ability to focus on more important things such as undistracted time with his family and quality meditation and prayer during the day. “Even the little things like not listening to the radio in the car have led to much more time over the course of the day spent in conversation with God. I’ve come to realize how much our modern media inserts itself into the free moments of the day that are now spent in silence and reflection. It has had a huge impact on what I’m thinking about during waking hours.”

Those who take up the Exodus 90 challenge say they also benefit from the requirement that they complete the regimen as part of such a fraternity that meets weekly.

Jorgensen said he hadn’t realized how much inspiration and support he would draw from the group. “That’s been critical to staying in it. You’re never alone in the process. The value of the fraternity cannot be understated. You learn to cherish the time spent sharing your experiences, your highs and lows, and challenging each other to drive on.”

Jorgensen’s fraternity meets every Friday for Mass and then spends about an hour afterward discussing the week and what lies ahead. Members also get and give regular updates on how they are doing through a group text.

Sweeney said for him, the fraternity has been the easiest part of the Exodus 90 regimen.

“It just is so natural to come together once a week and look your brothers in the eye and share your victories and encourage one another through the times we stumbled. It’s beautiful.”

Cronin said when he first heard about Exodus 90 at the SEEK 2019 conference in January, he thought it would be good to do, but he knew he didn’t want to go it alone. A few weeks later, a fellow parishioner at St. Joan of Arc in Toledo, Ohio, invited him to make Exodus 90. “The next thing I knew, I was part of a group.”

Strength-training, clearing obstacles

Before beginning Exodus 90, Cronin had never done any intensive fasting and acknowledges he wasn’t very good at it. Now, he said, by fasting every Wednesday and Friday using the Church’s guidelines for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, he has learned to deal better with his hunger pangs. “In the past, what I would do is always try to satisfy those hungers, feeding them with junk.” Through Exodus 90, he said, he has learned to overcome his hunger pangs, adding, “After a while, they kind of go away.”

Cronin said the program also includes an exercise regimen that has been good for him because he was out of shape after going through cancer treatment last year. “When I first started, I couldn’t run a quarter mile. My weight was only 160 pounds, but physically, my body was just racked. Now, I’m running four to five miles several times a week.”

Asked why Legates should make Exodus 90, Cronin said, “I think no matter who we are, everyone’s got addictions and this program teaches you how to deal with any addiction you have and even your obsessions that are not good. With any addiction or obsession, you’re putting something in front of God. This whole thing is designed to say that God is number one in everything we do and if something is hindering us from putting him number one, we’re going to face that in these 90 days.”

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff write