It’s time for Catholic men to “man up” and truly follow Jesus Christ in their faith moving beyond the rut they can find themselves mired in when it comes to religion.
That’s the challenging message noted author and speaker Jeff Cavins gave during one of his presentations at the recent God Squad men’s conference - Be Not Afraid To Be A Saint - at St. Peter’s Church in Calgary.
Cavins said men need to understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and to walk with Jesus and be His representative.
“There’s a big difference between being a fan of Jesus and a follower of Jesus,” he said.
“We as modern believers can get caught in a rut . . . Where are we at today as men? Are we fans or are we followers? Are we merely going after theology or are we in a real relationship? And one of the ruts we can get into as men is that we get really excited about studying this stuff. We really like to study the faith . . . But there’s a rut that we can get into if we’re not careful. And that rut is that our faith can be simply made up of studying the faith.”
So our faith isn’t so much having a relationship with Jesus, coming to know Him, becoming like Him and doing what He does on a regular basis but our faith is reading the latest book, watching Catholic television, listening to Catholic radio, etc.
“In other words, the rut is that our faith can become our hobby,” said Cavins as he related a story about photography and how initially he learned all there was to know about the hobby, but it took him a long time to actually buy a camera and to “take a shot.”
“It is possible to get into a rut where you know the faith well; you can converse with others . . . You’ve got the Bible, you’ve got the Rosary, you’ve got a Catechism, you’ve got novenas, you’ve got holy water. You’ve got all the equipment set up, but you’re not taking the shot. That’s the problem we can get into particularly I would say as men we can get into that rut.
“You might be interested in theology, and dogma, and doctrine and councils and everything else. And that’s cool. But that isn’t going to get you to grow spiritually. The only thing that’s going to get you to grow spiritually, the only thing that’s going to help you deal with the vices in your life, is not a CD - that can help with ideas - but the only thing that’s going to deliver you . . . the only thing that’s going to help you grow as men is a relationship . . . I’m not in love with theology. I like it. I enjoy it. But I’m not in love with theology. I’m not in love with doctrine. I’m not in love with dogma. I’m not in love with debates and apologetics. It’s all necessary and good, but I’m in love with Jesus.”
Cavins said everyone has been chosen by Jesus to become like Him. But you cannot become like Him without Him and your lifestyle has to reflect that chosenness.
“So men I’m challenging you tonight . . . Guys you’ve got to decide who you’re going to follow . . . and you’ve got to man up and follow Him,” he said.
“You as men you are not called to complacency and you are not called to comfort. That is not the calling on your life . . . The calling on your life is not just to have your retirement plan established . . . The calling on our life is such that Jesus said to every man in here one thing more than anything else combined . . . Be not afraid. Why would Jesus say to men be not afraid more than anything else? Because He knows that what he’s calling you to will give you a reason to be afraid.”
Every man is called to go beyond themselves, to go into waters deeper than they’ve been before, to encounter challenges they have never, ever dreamt of encountering and avoiding.
In an interview, Cavins was asked why it is difficult for men to get out of the rut and become a follower as opposed to a fan of Jesus.
“One of the reasons that it’s difficult for men to get out of the rut is because in many homes, not all, it’s their wife that really is the one that is the leader of the spiritual activity of the home,” he said. “The wife is more relational. Men are more service oriented. They want to do things together. I think that’s one of the reasons why we see a lot of men not taking a leadership role.
“But I also think the point of entry into activity in a local parish is confusing to men. There are not a lot of natural points of entry. We don’t build on what St. Thomas said. Grace building on nature. Men do some things naturally. For example, men naturally lead. Men naturally provide. Men naturally protect. You don’t have to teach a man to do that . . . Then we want to bring that into the Church into the spiritual dimension of being a spiritual protector and leader and provider. There’s not a lot of points of entry into involvement in parishes.”
Cavins said many people have also been taught that their faith is a very private thing. One of the biggest problems with men getting out of that rut is that they have not been formed well in Scripture and they don’t want to talk to anyone about it. And unfortunately, many men have not grown up. They have not had other men take them and mentor them.
“And they are still playing with toys. Electronics. Sports. And things like that. But they have not had this rite of passage into manhood and responsibility, and they don’t have a lot of mentors to follow,” said Cavins. “One of the problems is we’re just so inundated with entertainment, sports, finance, games, cars; you name it. They’re distracted. They’re absolutely distracted, and this is not the love of their life.”
Written by Mario Toneguzzi
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers