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Header-Exhortation to Catholic Men

By Luiz Sérgio Solimeo

 

We are immersed in a cultural war which is destroying the most sacred foundations of our civilization and increasingly plunging the world into chaos and violence.

In this context, it is important that Catholics, following the path of their ancestors, abandon self-indulgence and engage in the fight, mindful of the promises made at Baptism and of having become soldiers of Christ by Confirmation. They need to launch forth “into the breach."

 

A Vibrant Call to Battle

This is the call that the Bishop of Phoenix, Rt. Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, makes to the men of his diocese – and by extension of the whole country – in his vibrant document of September 29, 2015: An Apostolic Exhortation to Catholic Men, My Spiritual Sons in the Diocese of Phoenix.

As the illustrious bishop said with words reminiscent of the great calls for the Crusades of old, it is a call to battle:

I begin this letter with a clarion call and clear charge to you, my sons and brothers in Christ: Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men. This battle is often hidden, but the battle is real. It is primarily spiritual, but it is progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our own homes.

 

The Fight as a Defense against the Attacks of the Devil

This cultural war against the Church, Bishop Olmsted ponders, is inspired by the father of lies. He asserts, “One of the key reasons that the Church is faltering under the attacks of Satan is that many Catholic men have not been willing to ‘step into the breach’ – to fill this gap that lies open and vulnerable to further attack.”

For Catholic men, ceasing to fight is devastating because they ultimately “fall away from the Church, they fall deeper and deeper into sin, breaking their bonds with God and leaving them vulnerable to the fires of Hell.”

 

The Fight as the Duty of Every Baptized Person

With that, “Catholic men are failing to keep the promises they made at their children’s baptisms – promises to bring them to Christ and to raise them in the faith of the Church.”

Praying the Rosary“Many fruits of our Christian heritage still exist, but the roots below the soil are under siege,” underlines the Bishop of Phoenix, and this is why the fight has a reason for being and also becomes urgent. The remnants of our Catholic heritage must be not only preserved but restored to their fullness.

But the struggle for truth and morals, for the honor of being Catholic, is not only a sacrifice we make; with the assistance of divine grace, this struggle gives us the joy of a warrior fighting for a just cause.

According to Olmsted, “In Christ’s mercy and truth, we become strong in His strength, courageous with His courage, and can actually experience the joie de guerre [joy of the battle] of being soldiers for Christ.”

This “joy of the battle” that visits the soldiers of Christ is one of the purest and most intense joys that can be experienced on earth.

 

Click here to become a Rosary Rally Captain in October!

 

The Church, a School of Spiritual Battle

“The Church is, and has always been,” Bishop Olmsted notes, “a school that prepares us for spiritual battle, where Christians are called to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:2), to “put on the armor of God,” and “to be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).”

This “joy of the battle” is a powerful incentive for Catholics to engage in the struggle and recover the true concept of manliness so distorted in our society, which also influences Catholics. Today there is a crisis of manhood.

 

Our Lord Jesus ChristOur Lord Jesus Christ, a Model of Manliness

The true model of manliness is not the one the world offers, but Our Lord Jesus Christ.

As the Bishop states in his document:

Jesus of Nazareth – who at once is fully God and fully man, and the perfection of masculinity. Every moment of his life on earth is a revelation of the mystery of what it means to be man – that is, to be fully human and also, the model of masculinity. Nowhere else can we find the fullness of masculinity as we do in the Son of God. Only in Jesus Christ can we find the highest display of masculine virtue and strength that we need in our personal lives and in society itself.

 

“Gender Theories” and the Destruction of Society

The gradual disappearance of virility greatly contributed to the so-called "gender theories" that destroy the complementary differences between men and women. The emasculation of man is accompanied by a masculinization of women. Unisex clothes, androgynous haircuts, replacement of family life by a career outside the home, these all favor this loss of true femininity.

The Bishop of Phoenix explains:

[T]he rapid advance of a “gender ideology” has infected societies around the world. This ideology seeks to set aside the sexual difference created by God, to remove male and female as the normative way of understanding the human person, and in its place, to add various other “categories” of sexuality. This ideology is destructive for individuals and society, and it is a lie. It is harmful to the human person, and therefore, a false concept that we must oppose as Christians.

It is quite clear that no one can change sex according to his fancy. The DNA present in every cell of the human body bears the mark of the person’s sex, male or female. This does not depend on anyone’s will but on the designs of God, and to try and force nature contrary to these ends is a sin, a rebellion against the Creator. People can change their appearance by hormones and surgeries, but not their nature: they will always be a man or woman as conceived in the womb.

 

The Crisis of Paternity

Confusion and loss of masculine or feminine identity profoundly hurt the family and therefore society with the loss of the notions of fatherhood and motherhood, once so lively in Christian civilization.

The bishop comments:

A Father teaching his childrenToday’s attack on fatherhood, and by extension, motherhood, is multi-pronged and breathtakingly damaging. 41% of children are born into unmarried homes in our day, an increase of 700% from 1950, when the out-of-wedlock birthrate was a mere 6%. These children are not fatherless because of some sweeping physical conflict, like World War II, which caused many wounds of fatherlessness, but rather because, far worse, fathers’ own willed absence is happening on a massive scale. … Catholic men also contribute far too regularly to this same scandal that devastates the heart of a child and makes too many women in our culture live as if they were widows!

Touching on the father’s irreplaceable role in the family, Bishop Olmsted exhorts Catholic men: Men, your presence and mission in the family is irreplaceable! … We need faith like that of our fathers who defended the children of previous generations and who gave up their own lives rather than abandon their faith in Christ. My sons and brothers, men of the Diocese of Phoenix, we need you to step into the breach!

 

Click here to become a Rosary Rally Captain in October!

 

The Role of Healthy Friendship

Not only must Catholic men recover the sense of physical and spiritual parenthood, but also a sense of manly friendship among men, a fellowship which helps men to face the difficulties of life and is above all an aid to progress in the spiritual life. This friendship has nothing romantic or self-serving but is part and parcel of our social nature, leading men and women to the practice of friendship. Saint Thomas Aquinas says that a friend is another self; and Our Lord commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Unfortunately, in the individualistic and hedonistic society we live in, the natural sense of friendship is being lost and that which sociologists call “loneliness in the crowd” is continually expanding.

 

A Rosary Rally

 

Sexual Revolution, Unhappiness and Solitude

The proximate cause for the loss of manliness, the masculinization of women, the loss of the sense of fatherhood and motherhood and that of friendship is the Sexual Revolution, which took on a violent and devastating impulse in the mid-60s.

The bishop comments:

How did it come about that a culture so steadfast in supporting marriage and spousal commitment two generations ago became a culture that has reduced sexuality to mere pleasure and self-serving ends? The answer is the Sexual Revolution. For many, the Sexual Revolution promised “free love” and liberty from the shackles of old ideas about masculinity and femininity. What resulted was the separation of sexuality from the commitments of marriage and a widespread option for sterility (chemical and surgical sterilizations), amounting to a denial of what is most essentially masculine and feminine in the person. Worse, the Sexual Revolution ushered in the scourge of abortion, pornography, and sexual abuse so rampant in recent decades. Instead of real and authentic love, this false “liberty” offers cheap pleasures that mask a deeper loneliness and pain.

 

Defending Chastity: the Great Manly Weapon

Man praying in ChurchInto the Breach prescribes the classical remedies presented by Catholic tradition and by authors of spiritual theology: constant custody of the eyes, control of one’s imagination, prayer, vigilance, frequenting the sacraments, especially confession and Communion, daily examination of conscience, devotion to the saints and so on.

But above all—and this is the major contribution of this admirable Apostolic Exhortation by Bishop Thomas Olmsted— Catholic men must conceive the spiritual life as a struggle and practice virtue as a means to prepare themselves for the struggle in defense of Christian principles and values, especially the great virtue so heavily attacked today: chastity.

A manly, strong, combative chastity that is neither bashful nor apologizes for existing, but is seen as a powerful and necessary weapon in the fight against the destruction of the family, the Church, and civilization itself.

 

Gratitude to a Valiant Bishop

We therefore close these quick considerations on his extremely timely Apostolic Exhortation Into the Breach with heartfelt thanks to the valiant Bishop of Phoenix.

 

Click here to become a Rosary Rally Captain in October!

 


 

For more information please click here to visit: Into the Breach

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for July 16, 2020

Today God invites you to do good; do it therefore today. Tom...

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July 16

 

Today God invites you to do good;
do it therefore today.
Tomorrow you may not have time, or
God may no longer call you to do it.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Elias saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in t...

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Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel can be traced back to the hermits living on Mount Carmel in Israel during the Old Testament. This ancient community prayed for the advent of the Virgin-Mother through whom salvation was promised to mankind. In Hebrew, “Carmel” means “garden”. In ancient times this mountain was celebrated for its lush, verdant, and flowery beauty.

It was also on Mount Carmel that the Prophet Elijah prayed to God for rain during a terrible drought afflicting Israel for its sins and idolatry of Baal. The first sign that his prayer was answered was a tiny cloud that appeared in the sky out over the Mediterranean, the precursor of a great rainfall.

Elias saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah (7:14). The hermits took after his example and prayed likewise for the advent of the much-awaited Virgin who would become the mother of the Messiah. Praying thus became their spiritual mission.

Theologians see in that little cloud a figure of Mary, bringing salvation in the seventh age of the world. As the clouds arise out of the sea without the weight and the salinity of the waters, so has Mary arisen out of the human race without its stains.

In the twelfth century, St. Berthold, a Frenchman, pilgrim or crusader, came to Mount Carmel seeking to visit Elijah’s cave, and ended by founding a community imbued with the Marian spirit of the holy prophet and the hermits of old.

St. Brocard, successor of St. Berthold, set their way of life to a Rule, which was approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. From the time of St. Brocard, these monks were known as the “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.”

Our Lady of Mount Carmel cannot be mentioned without also mentioning her brown scapular. On July 16, 1251, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, an English Carmelite monk, and then General of the Carmelite Order. On one arm she held the Child Jesus and on the other a brown garment called a scapular, to be draped over the front and back of a person. As she showed him this garment she said, “This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved.”

This privilege is extended to lay persons who, wishing to participate in this promise, choose to be enrolled in a small version of the scapular by an officiating priest or deacon.

This practice must not be understood superstitiously or “magically”, but in light of Catholic teaching that perseverance in the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity are required for salvation.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protest...

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Walk to Conversion

In September, I brought the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the home of Mr. John Black and his family in Kings City, California.  John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about thirteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California (though these are holy sites, they also serve as tourist attractions.)

“Who is this Junipero Serra anyways?”  he asked, as the tour guide shared the history of the mission. “Well,” the guide responded, “you are standing on his grave!”  Surprised, John looked down and read inscription on the stone. Sure enough, Blessed Father Junipero Serra was buried right there. “I became electrified,” John told me, “I had to learn more about this man and about the missions.”  The more he studied Blessed Serra, the founder of the first nine missions, the more impressed he became, and he decided to travel on-foot to all 21 missions. 

With the blessing of his wife, now left at home with their two infant sons, John left for his solo expedition, taking with him a single backpack, the bible and little money.  He told me that every mission he visited he felt the presence of someone receiving him, even if the mission was empty. He felt this ambiance in the missions so serene and uplifting, and began to realize it was the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that made him feel so at home.

At one point, John collapsed from exhaustion near a mission run by Franciscans, who kindly hosted him for the night. Before he left the next day, one of the friars gave him a first-class relic of Blessed Serra. Since he was Protestant, John did not know what a relic was, but not wanting to appear rude, he accepted it. Not long after he left the Franciscans, John became lost in the wilderness in the middle of the night. Through his exhaustion and fear he heard a voice say, “Let’s help John.” He had the distinct feeling that Blessed Serra was guiding him, and gathered the strength and courage to continue. About six hours later, he stumbled upon the next mission. “It was kind of a miracle,” he said, “I was really lost!”

During his journey, John slowly came to a realization. “I know what you want from me, God,” he thought to himself one day, “you what me to became a Catholic. That is what this is all about!” However, he still had many questions about aspects of Catholicism that have been rejected by his Protestant faith – mainly about the Blessed Mother. Yet, from that point on he received answers to all of his questions, especially his reservations about devotion to Mary: he believed that it was once again Blessed Serra answering him.

With the help of Blessed Serra, one problem after another was resolved in the solitude of his travels. By the time John reached the final mission, he wholly decided to become a Catholic. “I realized that by having devotion to Mary, you love Our Lord even more,” he told me.

John returned home, filled with zeal and enthusiasm for his newfound faith. He shared his astonishing experiences with his wife, and she too converted. “I feel at home in the Catholic church,” John said, “and I have never loved Our Lord Jesus Christ more than I do now.”

by Joseph Ferrara

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John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about fourteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California 

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