There is a serious Catholic “man crisis”. Large numbers of men have left the Church and the majority of men who remain are lukewarm. The root cause? Men don’t know Jesus Christ.
Men Giving Themselves to Christ
Somehow, in the midst of heaps of Catholicism, the need to meet and know Jesus Christ gets lost. Some men are turned off by false images of a feminized “Lady with a Beard” Jesus. Others reject the idea of a “personal relationship” with Jesus as being “Protestant.” Others have no idea how to get to know the Almighty King, Christ Jesus.
Do all Catholic men need to meet and know Jesus? Yes! Christ Jesus purposefully chose the Incarnation to reveal Himself. Jesus chose to be in relationship with the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. He chose to be part of a tight knit Jewish community as a child. Jesus called men to be Apostles and other disciples, building deep personal friendships with them (cf. John 15:15). Jesus makes it clear that giving one’s self to Him is the only way to salvation (cf. John 14:6). For those saved, Heaven is the eternal peace and joy of the intimate Marriage Supper of the Lamb (cf. Revelation 19:9).
Jesus says He is the Truth (John 14:6) and that knowing the Truth will set men free (John 8:32). Men must know Jesus! In recent times, St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis have all called Catholics to build a personal knowledge and relationship with Christ Jesus (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 356). Frank Sheed, the powerful Catholic evangelist, explains the necessity of knowing Jesus Christ: “It would be a strange God who could be loved more by being known less.”
Coming to Know Christ
Men must know about Jesus to enter into a relationship. To love and serve Christ, a man must first know Christ. Like any human relationship, a man gets to know someone through his or her background, family, beliefs and personality. Christ, through the Apostles, gives men Scripture so they can know about Him. But knowing facts are insufficient; a man must enter into a relationship through prayer and the Sacraments. Actual encounter with Christ is essential.
Each man must come to know Christ individually, but no man can truly know Christ outside of the Catholic Church. Christ establishes the Catholic Church and the Apostles make it clear that Christ is only fully encountered in the Church. Those who don’t have the Sacraments can only go so far in their desire to know Jesus. Only in the Eucharist can a man come into union with Christ, the most intimate encounter possible.
How Do I Do This?
Every Catholic man can fulfill his duty to better meet and know Jesus by committing to Catholic disciplines:
- Prayer: Prayer is a personal encounter with Christ. Pray that Christ Jesus will help you know Him. Prayer includes conversational prayer, Adoration, praying the Rosary, prayerful reading of scripture (Lectio Divina) and other devotions, including to the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.
- Scripture: Pope Benedict specifically teaches that Christ is actually present when a man reads Scripture. St. Jerome taught that “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
- Sacraments: Christ is encountered directly and personally in the Sacrament of Penance and in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, men can literally be super-naturalized through union with Christ.
- Fraternity: Acts 2:42 shows that the Apostles built the early Church by seeking Christ in the fraternity of other men. Gathering Catholic men together in prayer strengthens and helps men know Christ Jesus.
Every Catholic man can meet and know the Almighty King Christ Jesus. What’s needed is for men to make the daily commitment to know Christ … Christ will do the rest.