There’s a man crisis in the Church – it’s no secret.
The telltale signs of a losing battle are all around us. Broken lives and families are the walking wounded, the casualties of this struggle… and souls are in peril. So what do we do? Well, for starters, let’s get our own houses in order before going to war.
Where do we begin, though? Where do we look? The answer is simple – Christ. We need to get right with our Lord and surrender to Him before taking on the forces of the Culture of Death. As much as we feel the need to turn things around ourselves, as Catholic men, we have to realize – God is in charge and He’s the real muscle we need.
Face it: The Lord doesn’t need us to do 1,000 push-ups before breakfast every morning. In fact, there won’t be any significant victories if we put it all on our own shoulders like some kind of one-man army. So, don’t start thinking you need to be the “Catholic Rambo” who goes into the jungle, punches the devil in the face and settles everything. God is going to win this, not you… but that doesn’t mean we sit down.
Not doing anything is exactly why we’re at this point in our Church’s history. If enough good Catholic men stood up before we got here, we’d be living in a much different society, right? The damage is done, though, as they say, so quit whining about it. It’s time to move forward under the banner of Christ our King.
The big issue is that, as a group, we’re too spiritually neutered by sin to take a stand.
We can’t stamp out abortion if we’re slaves to contraception and porn. We won’t mould our families into the saints the world needs if we’re too busy crunching numbers for our fantasy sports teams. We’ll never make strides for peace if we’re busy blowing the heads off zombies in the latest violent videogame. So, our call of duty isn’t on PlayStation – it’s turning to Christ to fight the sins we’re struggling with.
SPIRITUAL COMBAT STARTS AT HOME
So, what’s a good battle plan? Well, aside from the Ten Commandments, nothing is written in stone. Here are a few simple ways, though, for us to get started.
1 – GO TO MASS: That’s simple enough, right? Most of us have the option of going at a number of different times on Sunday, or even the Vigil Mass Saturday evenings. Remember, it’s a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday, unless there’s a really, really darn good reason… and being too tired doesn’t count. To start pumping up your Catholic muscles here, try going more than once a week. Going everyday is a great goal, but not always possible, so try going at least one extra day and build from there. Some spiritual food for thought about the Mass:
The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the altar. If you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart and mouth all that happens at the altar. Further, you must pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the altar. When acting in this way, you have prayed Holy Mass. – Pope St. Pius X
2 – GO TO CONFESSION: When we sin, we put up a barrier between God and ourselves. Not only does this weaken our connection with the Lord, it also dulls our senses when it comes to fighting temptation. Going to confession, guys, will definitely help overcome sin, but it’s also your duty. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says, “According to the Church’s command, ‘after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year’” (CCC 1457). That’s the minimum. Going once a year won’t help you much, though, in your spiritual battles. You need to wipe the slate clean much more often if you want to see a noticeable difference in your life. Think about it: What would your car look like if you only washed it once a year? That’s nowhere near as bad as what your soul looks like when you’re only in the confessional once every 365 days. Try going once a week or even once a month – and bring your family.
3 – EUCHARISTIC ADORATION: When you’re in a relationship with someone, you want to spend time with them, right? So, get in front of the Blessed Sacrament and spend some alone time with Christ. Don’t be afraid to let it all out while you’re there. This would also be a good time to give Him thanks and praise for all the ups and downs in your life. If you’re great at time management, you won’t have any trouble doing this. One hour a day is ideal, but the responsibilities of life might not lend itself to that. Try once a week or even once a month.
4 – PREPARE FOR TEMPTATION: You know you’re going to be tempted. That’s about one of the only things you can be sure of in life, aside from death and taxes, right? We all know the enemy is coming, so let’s be ready for it. This involves prayer, guys, and we need to make extra time for this. The Rosary is one of the best weapons we have in our fight against the devil. Satan hates the prayer. Doing the full five decades doesn’t take long, we’re talking about 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s hard to focus. It’s normal to get distracted, so take your time and pray through it. If a full Rosary is too tough (it won’t be if you keep at it) try praying a single decade. Another easy thing you can do is to say three Hail Marys for purity when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed. Even a little girl can at least do that, so it shouldn’t be any problem for a full-grown man. Besides, our Holy Mother wants to help us reach her Son, so don’t be afraid to be a momma’s boy in this case.
5 – READ, READ, READ: Get reading. It’s always great to begin with Sacred Scripture, so you can’t go wrong dusting off your Holy Bible. Then there’s the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You don’t even have to by a copy of this one, there’s plenty of free material online by the Vatican. We’re also living in 2016, so you have access to all kinds of books by the saints and other great Catholic writers.
6 – JOIN A MEN’S GROUP: Go join a good Catholic men’s group. If it’s more about kumbaya than Christ, get out fast. Look for something that’s going to build up your faith alongside some brothers in arms. As a Catholic man, you’ll be amazed to learn you’re not alone in your struggles. In fact, it might give you a chance to help other guys grow deeper in their Faith.
7 – NO SURRENDER: Be prepared to fail – because you’re going to. Don’t worry, though, because as long as you’re being tempted, you know you’re on the right path. If the devil wasn’t tempting you, you’d already be deep in his clutches. Temptation is going to happen, but it’s our mission as Catholic men to fight against it. Our lives like a version of boot camp for eternity. We’re going to have to drag ourselves through the mud and barbed wire at some point, but the fight is what’s going to make us stronger. Just because you fall, you don’t have to stay down. Ask Christ to pull you up and He will – He wants to. In those moments when you think you’re at your weakest, that’s when Christ can do the most amazing things in your life.
I hope these suggestions help. You don’t have to go 100 mph out of the gate on these ideas, because it might too much. If it’s too overwhelming, you might consider giving up and that’s the exact opposite direction of where we need to go. Take small steps if you have to, but at the very least, get going! Above all, guys, don’t forget: Jesus Christ defeated sin and death with His sacrifice on the cross. If we think we can handle this ourselves, then we’ve already lost. So… don’t forget Jesus.
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