What Are “Casual Catholic Men”?
There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of Catholic men, while not rejecting the faith explicitly, have implicitly rejected the faith because of a lack of commitment. They are like an empty suit; the clothes are there, but the man is not.
These are Casual Catholic Men, men who are casual in their faith. Here, the word “casual” is carefully chosen: the etymology of the word traces to the Latin casualis, meaning “by chance” and from the Latin casus, meaning “chance, occasion, opportunity; accident, event”. When speaking of persons, the word “casual” can mean the person is “not to be depended on, unmethodical.”
Casual Catholic Men are “Catholic” because their parents’ had them baptized or because a Catholic spouse drew them into the faith through marriage. Casual Catholic Men do not particularly care about the Catholic faith because for to them it is “nice” but certainly not necessary.
I had a wise old professor who said the most damning thing one could say about another man’s achievement was that it was “nice.” The professor was right: the word “nice” comes from the Latin nescius meaning “ignorant, unaware,” literally “not-knowing.” Telling someone that they are “nice” is not nice; it’s brutally truthful. Casual Catholic Men are “nice”.
Manhood and Commitment
To be a Casual Catholic Man is to not be a Catholic and not be a man. If one is not a believing and practicing Catholic, one is not a Catholic in the real sense of the word. One is not part of the universal Church if one is not in communion with the Church, believing what the Church believes and practicing what the Church practices.
To use an analogy: If a football player said he was a member of a team, but never practiced, never hung out with the team and never showed up for games, he wouldn’t be called a member of the team. In the military, one who deserts is considered AWOL (absent without leave). A Casual Catholic Man is off the team; he is a deserter. And like the AWOL soldier who ultimately gets caught and court-martialed, the Casual Catholic Man will ultimately face something must worse than a court-martial: he will face the King of Eternity in the Final Judgment.
The Casual Catholic Man is not really a man. For at the heart of being a man is to do one’s best to live up to one’s commitments. A man who does not want to and cannot keep commitments is not really a man: he is a full grown boy, who hasn’t developed the maturity to follow through on the difficult and important things of life that require sacrifice and work. The Casual Catholic Man neglects himself and his salvation; he neglects his spouse and his children and their salvation; and he neglects Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church. This is not manly in the least.
Manhood and Dependability
Returning to the meaning of “casual”, the Casual Catholic Man is Catholic by “chance or accident”, not through a sustained act of the will, without which the Holy Spirit doesn’t typically act. This Casual Catholic Man is “not to be depended on”, for he lacks both the knowledge and follow-through that counts when someone is needed to be counted upon.
The Casual Catholic Man’s limited knowledge of Catholic Truth is not worth much, for ignorance cannot confront lies nor make the case for Truth. The Casual Catholic Man’s lack of action in the practice of the faith offers no support to his wife, his children or the Church.
Sadly, the Casual Catholic Man’s greatest, but unrecognized, handicap is that he has nothing to depend on, except himself. Depending on the undependable is like clinging to a punctured inflatable boat in a typhoon; sooner or later, you are going to sink into the depths. Each man’s typhoon, his personal appointment with pain, will come.
Certainly, there is “good” in the Casual Catholic Man, but there are no “good” people in Heaven, there are only Saints. And just as there is “good” is each man, there is a whole lot of “bad” in each man, due to Original Sin. Badness, unchecked, ruins everything.
For some Casual Catholic Men, the bad is a slow-moving cancer that will kill him sooner or later. For others, the badness is acute, though hidden; it leaves a festering trail of broken relationships and compulsive acts, which leave the man and those he has abandoned or harmed in torment.
Becoming Fully Catholic and Fully Man
The New Emangelization is a call to confront the Catholic “man-crisis”. If you noticed the New Emangelization logo, at the center of the “Man” there is Our Lord Jesus Christ. There is good news for the Casual Catholic Man: it is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ loves each man completely, without reservation, and is completely willing to save each and every man, no matter how much the “bad” has metastasized in his soul.
All the Causal Catholic Man needs to do is to make an act of the will to become a Committed Catholic Man. This act is a soul-deep repentance for one’s sins, particularly the sins of omission that have taken Christ and His Church for granted. This act of humble repentance, confessed to a priest who acts in “the person of Christ” (persona Christi; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1558), changes everything, for it opens up a man’s heart to accept the Holy Spirit and the life which Christ promises to give abundantly (John 10:10). Those who accept Christ can be assured that Christ Himself will live in them (Galatians 2:20).
Don’t be an empty suit. Don’t be a Casual Catholic. Be a Catholic and be a man; be a Catholic man.