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Regnum Christi | Legionaries of Christ

Into the Breach: Becoming the Man and Leader God Calls Me to Be

For Men’s Catholic Conference, Immaculate Conception, May 20 2017

Have you ever seen the movie produced by and starring Kenneth Branaugh, depicting Shakespeare’s Henry V? In one of many very famous passages in that play, Shakespeare puts into the mouth of the King the “Once more into the Breach” speech, from which we took the theme of our Men’s conference today. The context is this: King Henry is in a crucial battle with the French, the battle become intense, and just as the French are just about to break through the English lines, King Henry says: “Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more; or close the line up with our English dead”. Fundamentally, his words say that only if each one of his soldiers shows his bravery and his worth will the battle be won. The King stirs up his men’s courage, and of course, the English win the battle.

In September of 2016, Bishop Thomas Olmstead, Bishop of Phoenix, also used this image as the title of a letter written specifically to the men of his diocese. In this letter he challenges the men of his diocese to step up to fulfil their vocation as Catholic Men, to step “into the breach”. Bishop Olmstead, like King Henry, was convinced that only if Catholic Men “step into the breach” will we win the cultural and spiritual battle that engulfs our modern society. So, drawing from this letter, I would like to propose to you three brief ideas for our talk today. 1) Our cultural context today. 2) Our catholic masculine identity, and 3), what I call “be a man”, or “Man-Up”.

 

  1. The Cultural Context in which the Catholic Man finds Himself Today

 One thing we should always understand is that if we want to be saints, we have to accept that we have to be saints in our society today. It is not much use trying to act like, for example, Saint Bernard, at least in what he had to do for his times. St. Bernard counselled kings (they are rare and ceremonial), promoted the crusades (would not go over too well today), and worked hard against the Cather or Albigensian sect in southern France (that sect also no longer exists). We can imitate his humility, his love for Mary, etc., but as far as what we have to do, how to direct our action… that depends on our context today. It is true that back in medieval times a Catholic Man would show his mettle by crusading, or taking part in some great battle such as that of Lepanto, but that is not the case for us today. In the letter I spoke of Bishop Olmstead analyzes our contemporary culture, and then gives us some clues on how to direct our action. He divides the actual cultural context into three concepts that I will touch on briefly:

The New Evangelization 

Without a doubt, something is not going well with the Catholic Church and our Christian faith in general in the world today. Bishop Olmstead states correctly that our Christian society is under a real attack by the Devil and his forces; that we are in a war. He gave these statistics: since the year 2000, in the US, 14 million Catholics have left the faith, parish religious education of children has dropped by 24%, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19%, infant baptism has dropped by 28%, adult baptism has dropped by 31%, and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41%.1 And then he concludes: One of the key reasons that the Church is faltering is that many Catholic men have not been willing to “step into the breach” – to fill this gap in the Church that lies open and vulnerable… A large number have left the faith, and many who remain “Catholic” practice the faith timidly and are only minimally committed to passing the faith on to their children and to those around them.

We will come back to statistics later, but for now, let us just say that as Catholic men today, old or young, it is vitally necessary that you be fully committed to what St. John Paul II dubbed as “the new Evangelization”. Evangelization means bringing Christ’s message into the hearts of men. That has always been a duty of all Christians, but what makes it “new” for us today is that we live in a society where the Christian message and proclamation has already taken effect. 95% of the time, wherever you go you will be in the midst of either old Christian nations, or at least peoples who have long ago heard of or been proposed the Christian message. Our evangelization is no longer like the one of the movie the Mission; we are no longer with the North American Martyrs in Canada or among the Franciscans in California or the White Fathers in Africa or the Jesuits in China and Japan, for example what we see in the movie Silence. In general, these peoples have already heard the Christian message.

What we have to understand as Catholic men is that the mission is different today. We have to find new ways of “reconverting” our people, re-proposing the Gospel in a way that is attractive and effective. This is at the same time both daunting and exciting. I think of the first Jesuit missionaries in the New World, who had to be creative, find new ways to reach the indigenous peoples (music, for example), learn new languages, learn new cultures and skills. Something similar we have to do today…

If I love the Church, if I want to pass on my faith to my children and my community, then at least I should ask myself the question: what am I doing to be a “new evangelist”? I will tell you one thing the men of this parish just did: they put on this conference! Do you know how easy it would have been for them to do nothing at all? If we had been in that battle of King Henry, we all know how easy it would have been not to jump into that breach. John F. Kennedy used to like to repeat the quote: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. So, are we doing anything? Are we stepping into some breach? If not, why? Is it not perhaps because we have become lazy, afraid, or, as Patrick Arnold calls it in his excellent book, Wildmen, Warrios, and Kings, we suffer from “The Numbness”? It so, if it is laziness, shake it off. We all know that we cannot be lazy in our business life and our work? Why then should we allow it in our spiritual life?   If it is fear, let us stop worrying about persecution or failure. Generally, we are so afraid of failure that we can be tempted not to do anything. But why should we care if we fail, as long as we tried? It was Winston Churchill who once said: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without losing confidence”. Finally, if it is “the numbness”, get yourself a spiritual director, join a men’s catholic group, find ways of motivating yourself. New Evangelization is all about getting out there and doing new things. I hope that this initiative of our Men’s Catholic Conference will truly bear good fruit in the future. If it doesn’t, no matter: let’s try then something else, something even newer! New Evangelization! Every one of us should have this question in our hearts: what am I doing to evangelize?

A Field Hospital and a Battle College

Living in our contemporary world means that we have to see the Church in a different light. The Church’s essence -as the Mystical Body of Christ, with a hierarchical structure, etc.-, hasn’t changed, but where the Church puts its emphasis and energies surely has changed.

Pope Francis has coined a very effective term: the Church as a field hospital. This is very true. If I walk into a group of well-fed, healthy, well-armed soldiers, my advice to them is going to be very different than if I walk into a group of wounded ones. They are all soldiers (Catholics), they have all the same destination (win the final battle, heaven, etc.,), but to the healthy soldier I explain attack tactics, and to the wounded I stop the blood from pouring. It is true that in our modern day USA Church, we have so many wounded Catholics. We have to start by healing them, and this takes a lot of patience and time.

Nevertheless, although we are all weak and sinners, and we all need healing, I think that most of you here today are not in this category. The job of healing certainly is everyone’s task, but generally, this healing process is more suited to the priest or religious that have that kind of time and training. I think that for most of you here another image is more applicable, an image that Archbishop Olmstead proposes: the Church as a Spiritual Battle College. The Church is, and has always been, a school that prepares us for spiritual battle, where Christians are called to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6), to “put on the armor of God”, and “to be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). And we are called to enlist in this Battle College, or if we are already there, to intensify our training.

This is especially appropriate for us Catholic Men. Let us remind ourselves that in traditional Church teaching, the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ is divided up into three groups: the Church triumphant in heaven, the Church suffering in Purgatory, and the Church on earth is, yes, the Church militant. Whatever our lives will be like in the after-life is up to a certain speculation, but here, it is essentially militant.

The word militant come from the latin miles which means “soldier”. Militancy is defined by Dictionary.com as: “vigorously active and aggressive, especially in support of a cause; engaged in warfare, fighting”, and Merriam Webster says the same: engaged in warfare or combat :  fighting, aggressively active as in a cause.” St. Paul often speaks in this way, for example in the letter to the Ephesians that I just quoted: Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  

This militancy isn’t violence against persons, but rather spiritual militancy, being an active and aggressive soldier engaged in spiritual combat against sin and its effects. That is what we most need from our men today. At the end of his life, St. Paul claimed to have the title of “soldier of Christ” (2Tim 4:7): I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith. Good fight here is αγονα καλον, “agon” meaning just plain old simple fight or combat. We get our word “agony” from this. The Greeks knew well that combat and agony or suffering always went together. “Kalon” could be translated “beautiful”. So we could translate this phrase of St. Paul thus: “I have fought the beautiful fight!”, the fight for our faith. Of the many struggles that we have in our lives, have we taken upon ourselves the most beautiful of all, the fight for our faith?

The question is this: can we call ourselves “militantly” committed to fighting against sin and its effects in our lives and in the lives of our communities? In his book that I have already mentioned, Patrick Arnold says that one of the distinctive characteristics of masculine spirituality is “adversitiveness”, or “agonism”, again, from our Greek word, agon.   Quote: “At its best, man’s spirit is characterized by this struggle of “fighting for life”. Why we as men do this today? I believe the fundamental reason is that this struggle always implies suffering, agony, and this makes us afraid. Again, it is fear. So away with fear! Man is at his best when he overcomes his fear of suffering, and throws himself “into the breach”, when he engages in the Church as a Battle College. So let us not be afraid. St. John Paul II’s constant refrain and motto should motivate us: “Do not be afraid!” In fact, our conference this morning is the fruit of the Church as a Battle College. Let’s keep this going: let’s make it even better, bigger, and stronger.

A Crisis of Faith: Respecting God’s Creation

Thirdly, Bishop Olmstead speaks about the huge problem today of gender confusion. We should understand that this is one of the greatest assaults against the human being. Sin is choosing my way, not God’s. What we call “gender ideology” is nothing more than rejecting God’s creation and plan for the human person, and trying to supplant it with our freedom to do with ourselves whatever pleases us. This ideology is particularly dangerous because it attacks our very roots: Bishop Olmstead quotes Pope Francis: Man and woman are the image and likeness of God. This tells us that not only is man taken in himself the image of God, not only is woman taken in herself the image of God, but also man and woman, as a couple, are the image of God. The difference between man and woman is not for opposition, or for subordination, but for communion and procreation, always in the image and likeness of God. It is rejecting God’s creation at its very start, in its most essential quality. Dostoyevsky once famously said: If God does not exist, everything is permitted. Is that not what is happening today?

Let us summarize. All times in history have had their battles. Our battles are specific to our times. What is lacking more in our times than before, however, are men who are willing to step up into the breach and to fight these spiritual battles. As we have said, “agon” means agony, battling means suffering. Suffering means difficulty, agony, scars. To go back to the play of Henry V by Shakespeare, in one moment of the play, the day before the final battle of Azincourt, Henry reminds his men that the battle was to take place on an English Saint’s Day called St. Crispin. Henry tells his men:

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named…
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

This isn’t just poetry or drama: unfortunately or fortunately, it is the real situation we are living today. So, what are we going to do so that we don’t walk around scarless, and hold our manhoods cheap because we were not willing to fight?

 

  1. Second Point: Our Identity as Catholic Men

Bishop Olmstead begins his reflection on our second point saying this: Every man, particularly today, must come to a mature acceptance and understanding of what it means to be a man. This may seem obvious, but in our world, there are many distorted images and much evidence of confusion regarding what is true masculinity. We can say that for the first time in history, people have become either so confused or so arrogant as to attempt to dictate their masculinity or femininity according to their own definitions.

What is our identity as Christian men? In order to reflect upon this, I would like to go to two scriptural passages. The first is from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah. Let us read just a portion of the first chapter:

The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah 5Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. 6“Ah, Lord GOD!” I said, “I do not know how to speak. I am too young!” 7The LORD answered me, Do not say, “I am too young.” To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you. 9Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying to me,”See, I place my words in your mouth! 10Today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, To uproot and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant…. 17So you, prepare yourself; stand up and tell them all that I command you. Do not be terrified on account of them… 18 I am the one who today makes you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of bronze, against the whole land: Against Judah’s kings and princes, its priests and the people of the land. 19They will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you”.

What we see in this reading may very well apply to many of us.   Jeremiah felt himself to be just a normal man, with his limitations and weaknesses. Jeremiah was naturally timid, he felt unprepared, but God called him to be prophet: “Ah, Lord GOD! I do not know how to speak. I am too young!” Jeremiah didn’t feel ready to be a fearless prophet of God’s truth. Indeed, he felt afraid and ignorant. Nevertheless, the Lord called him anyway, and despite many difficulties and sufferings, he became one of the greatest prophets in the entire history of Israel.

What we see here is exactly the opposite of what we saw in the gender ideology movement. Jeremiah didn’t feel “comfortable” about being a prophet, or a leader of his people; he surely would have preferred to change his vocation, or even the fact that God had created him in this way and had singled him out. In fact, later in Jeremiah, chapter 20, in a moment of crisis, Jeremiah expresses a very deep suffering, complaint:
You seduced me,* LORD, and I let myself be seduced; you were too strong for me, and you prevailed. All day long I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. 8Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage I proclaim; The word of the LORD has brought me reproach and derision all day long. 9I say I will not mention him, I will no longer speak in his name. But then it is as if fire is burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding back, I cannot! 14Cursed be the day on which I was born! May the day my mother gave me birth never be blessed! 15Cursed be the one who brought the news to my father, “A child, a son, has been born to you!” filling him with great joy. 16Let that man be like the cities which the LORD relentlessly overthrew; Let him hear war cries in the morning, battle alarms at noonday, 17because he did not kill me in the womb! Then my mother would have been my grave, her womb confining me forever. 18Why did I come forth from the womb, to see sorrow and pain, to end my days in shame?

But Jeremiah does not cede. In the end, he knew who he was: a prophet of Yahweh; he finally accepted this and did the work he had to do. He was truly a soldier of God, not because he was strong, but because he answered his vocation as a man: he stepped up into the breach.

Another passage from scripture that we can meditate on is from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 4:

16He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom*into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read17and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: 18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,* because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” 20Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.21He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” They asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” 23He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’”*24And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.25*  28When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury.29They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.30But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

What are we seeing here? Something similar to what we saw with Jeremiah. Jesus is in the early part of his ministry. He is young, not too well known yet, and here we see him going back and preaching… to his home town! Everyone knows Him, thinks he isn’t anything too special, just Joseph the Carpenter’s son, and all of the sudden he comes out with a truly incredible speech, or we might even say, a homily. He implies that He is the Messiah, and goes on to tell them that if they do not mend their ways, despite all their self-assurance and their pride of being God’s chosen people, they will soon find themselves bereft of God’s graces, and on a dangerous downhill path to unhappiness and disgrace. His townspeople become infuriated with him, so much so that they want to throw him out of the town off a steep hill (by the way, tourists can still visit this site today, called Precipice Hill, near the present day Nazareth). The Gospel says: But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

It is difficult to know what goes on in the Heart of Jesus, but I think we can say that humanly speaking to do this also must have demanded of the Lord a great courage. He knew he was walking into a big problem. He could easily have avoided it. Nevertheless, Jesus knew who He was and what He was called to do, and nothing, not mockery, not ill-will, not even violence, was going to keep himself from that. Jesus’ great power, his incredible spiritual freedom to always do what he had to do, was based above all on the conviction of his own identity: he was the Son of God, called to be the Messiah, the savior of the world. And nothing was going to stand in his way.

The great lesson in both of these readings is that if we want our Christian and Catholic culture and civilization to survive, we too have to stand up and have the courage to be Catholics, and even give public testimony to it. With the shortage of priests and sisters that we suffer in our Church, especially today we all have the vocation to ensure the Christian culture in our families, our communities and our nation. Still, is it not true that we are often afraid or embarrassed of praying in public, or defending the Church in a conversation, or standing up for pro-life issues, etc.? Being an authentic Catholic isn’t a question of being intolerant to other faith communities –far from it, I believe good Catholics are the most tolerant people of all- but of being brave enough, like Jeremiah, and even more so Jesus, to live up to our vocation of being true Catholics in the midst of our communities. It is knowing who we are and living up to it.

All of us here are Catholic Men (or Christian). Have any of you ever read John Eldridge’s “Wild at Heart”? In it, he claims, rightly so, that all men are called to “A Battle to Fight”, an “Adventure to Live”, and a “Beauty to Rescue”.   Each one of these categories could be applied to each one of you. Each one of us is called, in a Jeremiah type of way, to fight for the Kingdom of Christ, to begin an adventure, even if it causes us discomfort, and to rescue the beauty of our Christian families and society. Not in a brash or holier than thou way. Everything we do should be done with charity and humility. But yes in a courageous way, and very often in a public way.

Sometimes, like Jeremiah, we can be afraid of doing this, we feel we are not up to this, we don’t know how, or we are afraid of what others will think of us. But as we have already stated, St. John Paul II always used to say: “Do not be afraid!” This may bring us hardship: it certainly did to Jeremiah. This may bring us misunderstanding or sometimes even mockery : it certainly did to Jesus. But all precious and good things in life eventually have to be earned, won, and protected.   Which brings us to our third point: Be a man!

 

  1. Be a Man, or « Man-Up » !

What is it finally to be an authentic Catholic Man? In his letter, Bishop Olmstead says, and quite correctly, that the model upon which we should always measure ourselves is the perfect Man, Jesus Christ:

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. What was visible in Christ’s earthly life leads to the invisible mystery of his divine Sonship and redemptive mission. The Father sent his Son to reveal what it means to be a man, and the fullness of this revelation becomes evident on the Cross. He tells us that it was for this reason that He came into the world, that it is his earnest desire to give himself totally to us.   Herein lies the fullness of masculinity; each Catholic man must be prepared to give himself completely, to charge into the breach, to engage in spiritual combat, to defend women, children, and others against the wickedness and snares of the devil! 

Now if this is true (and as Catholics I would think we would all acknowledge it to be true), then where in the life of Jesus is this “masculine virtue and strength” most seen? I would like to propose to you an answer that comes from our Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI. In the second encyclical that he wrote, Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope), the Pope writes: “the capacity to accept suffering for the sake of goodness, truth and justice is the essential criterion of humanity”.   How true that is. If we ever want to measure how human our societies are, how civilized, how Christian, how good, then here is a touchstone we must never forget: how much is this society willing to suffer for the sake of goodness, for the weak ones, for the helpless ones. The same goes for us as Catholic Men, a fortiori, even more so: our capacity to suffer for the sake of goodness, truth, and justice, for the sake of our faith, is the essential measure of your catholic manhood. When in Jesus’ life could his masculine virtue most be seen? In his suffering, even unto death, for us. I thought of this recently when preparing a homily for the fourth Sunday of Easter. In the Gospel that day, Jesus says: This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.” Did you hear what He said? Why did His Father love Him? For one reason: because He was willing, like no other of us has ever been willing, to lay down his life freely for the good of those he was called to save. “the capacity to accept suffering for the sake of goodness, truth and justice is the essential criterion of humanity”.   And the essential criterion for each one of us.

A man has to know how to suffer. He has to be ready to suffer, he has to have big shoulders. That is what a great part of the vocation of the man is all about. And especially suffer for those entrusted to him as father, husband, and leader of his family. A man should never forget that both from a perspective of nature and faith (Ephesians 5), the man is the head of the family. For the Christian, to have authority means to have the obligation to serve. But to serve means also to suffer… Why do we think there are so many young men who no longer want to marry? Because then they won’t have to take the responsibility on… they won’t have to suffer… Nevertheless, if we go back to what Benedict XVI said, then we see what a tragic sight it is to see these “eternal adolescents”, never willing to commit, to suffer for others. They must be very low on the human value scale…

What happens when the man abdicates from this role? Let me give you just one example: attendance at Church. Some of you might know this, but in the 1990’s the Swiss did a study about when a person’s religion carried through to the next generation. The result is dynamite. There is one critical factor. It is overwhelming, and it is this: the religious practice of the father of the family determines, above all, the future attendance at or absence from church of the children. If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, 59 percent will become irregulars, and 38 percent will be stop going altogether. And what happens if only the father is a regular Church goer? Extraordinarily, the percentage of children becoming regular goes up from 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and to 44 percent with the non-practicing, as if loyalty to father’s commitment grows in proportion to mother’s laxity, indifference, or hostility. Perhaps it wasn’t like this in the past, but in today’s secular society, the study shows that if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only about two children in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular).

Just using this one example, the lesson is obvious: if you are not the spiritual leader of your family, your children will not remain Catholics, or at least the chance that they will is greatly decreased.   This is extremely serious. The family is essential, and you are essential to the family! When he was still Cardinal Ratzinger in 1986, Pope Benedict XVI wrote this: the destruction of families is the surest sign of the Antichrist, who, under the disguise of bringing peace and liberation, destroys all peace… Men! If the only other thing we get out of this conference is that all of you man-up, and start going to Church again, and begin assuming your role as spiritual leader of your families, that will be another huge success for this conference.

Let us add one final thought before we end. Venturing into psychology is always a risky step, but one of the conclusions of Arnold in his analysis of male psychology is that one factor is decisive in enabling men to “step into the breech”. Do you know what it is? It is the psychological concept of the “hero”. Let me quote: “ What is the decisive factor that catapults a merely biological male into a man in the best sense of that word? It is none other than the archetype of the hero. Without the energy of the hero myth, male characteristics either atrophy like paralyzed muscles or run wild in both self and other destructive excesses. The activation of the hero archetype is the single most important factor in the creation of a man’s masculine identity.” We won’t go into that more now, but chew on that one for a while. Are we American Catholic men atrophying, or are we at least striving for a heroic ideal?

Let us end with this. In the same way that the father’s abdication in the religious example and instruction of his children is catastrophic, we should expect the same catastrophic result coming from our abdication of our roles concerning the Catholic Church and the faith in our community and nation. Let us return to that quote:   the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. This is exactly what happens in the family, but also in our communities and our nation. Let us remember what I quoted from Bishop Olmstead near the beginning of this talk: One of the key reasons that the Church is faltering is that many Catholic men have not been willing to “step into the breach” – to fill this gap in the Church that lies open and vulnerable…?  So if we sometimes complain of the state of the Church or the faith in our nation, or community, or even family, let’s first of all take a hard look at ourselves. Blame goes to the one with authority.

So let us not be afraid. Let us take advantage of movements like this morning to recommit ourselves to our vocation of Catholic men.

 

Into the Breach: An Apostolic Exhortation from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted