There is a sports pre-game show that has a feature called “C’mon Man”. I love this feature as it shows various athletes, coaches, officials and team owners caught doing something either lame or foolish. The premise of the show is that the featured C’mon Man personality hasn’t kept it real and created a “what are you thinking?” moment. So I thought as Catholic men we could translate this into how we live our faith authentically.
Working with teenagers the past 23 years, I am amazed at how many young people, especially male teens are in need of positive male role models even if the teen is from a strong family and has a positive dad relationship. As guys, one of the main ways we learn is visually. What we watch matters. This is why pornography and many movies are so harmful, as we take in the images and then we are stuck with them. It can affect how we treat our spouse and the women in our life. We are kidding ourself to not admit this.
The same principle of visual learning holds true for positive images. If we see men carrying a Bible, praying at meals in public, going to daily Mass, in line at the confessional or still holding a wife’s hand after being married 15 years – we visually learn and connect and by the way become inspired to do the same. The world of Catholic youth ministry needs men to be strong examples, not only for girls but guys as well. Even if you can’t serve as a core member, your example to your family, co-workers, friends and yes even the teens at your parish can be a huge visual sign that helps others learn.
So C’Mon Man and get rid of the parts of your faith walk that are lame or where you are simply going through the motions. Here are 4 ways as a Catholic man you can keep it real.
1.) Daily Gut Checking!
The most important faith question for any man is this – Do I believe that God loves me? No not on a surface or intellectual level, but deep in your heart and gut do you believe this. Through all of your imperfections, sins and times you are less than you want to be, do you believe that God loves you as you are and is pursuing you? If you can answer this question YES, then none of the things you do will be done for show – but simply out of the response to that question.
2.) Deciding to Man Up!
John Eldridge in the book “Wild at Heart” talks about the growing trend of the Church to emasculate men. While the Church needs strong women leaders, it also needs strong men leaders willing to bring to the community their gifts. Why is it that so many men think that for them to grow spiritually they must do it just like the women in their life? On retreats we sometimes do split sessions with guys only and girls only. For the girls we have the girl core members go somewhere with the girls and have a makeup removal party and then discuss the topic as girls free from masks. For the guys- it’s completely different. We usually start by having the guy core members organize a football game and after getting really muddy and sweaty sit down and discuss the topic of the session. St. John Bosco did this often by playing soccer with a group of boys and leading them still sweaty into a time of Eucharistic Adoration in a chapel just off the courtyard they were playing in.
Real men don’t need to put on a show to prove they are a man. They are comfortable in being a guy and simply know their role. As a Catholic man you should have a group of men who you can simply be a guy with and who hold you accountable. I have a group of friends, who if I were ever in trouble would get on a plane and come and help me with whatever temptation or trial I might be facing. Just knowing they are there for me, helps me stay strong.
3.) Sacramentally Going Big!
There is nothing in our life as Catholics more powerful than the Sacraments! If we go big and truly live what they demand we live – our lives are transformed. Do we live our marriages as Sacraments? Do we attend Mass understanding that at every Mass we join the eternal banquet and like Jesus are pouring out our life, dying and rising with Christ! Do we humbly bring our sins to God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Do we reflect on our Baptism and Confirmation asking the Holy Spirit to be unleashed in our lives. For those called to the Deaconate or Priesthood, do you live your vocation with zeal and awe at the honor of serving bestowed upon you by God? Do we desire to die being fully anointed through the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick? How we as Catholic men respond and live the Sacraments plays a key role in whether we keep it real.
4.) Let Mary In!
For men the Blessed Mother can seem like someone who is there only for women. I have found in reality that nothing could be further from the truth for Catholic men. Mary is our mother and she intercedes and plays a role in introducing us to Jesus and to her husband St. Joseph and his missionary heart. St. Joseph is a model for all men. Mary knows what it is like to be around both strong and weak men and she understands us. She will intercede for you and will deepen your relationship with her son in the process. Start by praying a rosary. They say behind every good man there is a woman – maybe the Blessed Mother is that woman for all of us.
So what area of your faith life as a Catholic man could someone show a video of you and say “C’Mon Man?” May we all strive to raise the bar for what it means to be a Catholic man today!