October brings days ripe with modern history for the Church. In this month we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Its days also mark the start of the Year of Faith. It seems appropriate, therefore, that a column for Catholic men should present thoughts, past and present, for all men to consider for the year ahead.
In his 2011 apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of a “task that every believer must make his own” in the upcoming Year of Faith; mainly, to “rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed” and to “reflect on the act of faith” (9). The Holy Father challenged all Catholics to ask in the year ahead what forms the faith can take in their lives. He called for reflection about the extraordinary dimensions that faith can make and add to the ordinariness of our lives.
How can the Catholic man do this for the year ahead?
One way is to appreciate Mass for the first time or more fully, for it is in the Eucharist that we encounter Christ personally – man-to-Man. For the year ahead, he can attune his ears to the Holy Spirit speaking to his station in life through liturgical readings. United in a single voice that pronounces one creed in many languages around the world, he can discover with others the authentic joy in professing “one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church”. He can celebrate, as part of the Body of Christ, millennia of traditions and teachings rich in faith, rooted in hope, and radiating in love.
Another way is to take the Good News beyond church doors to a world in sorrowful need of it. Witnessing during the Year of Faith won’t require a man to ride upon a white horse like knights of old. We can accomplish the task without such flash by exalting men humbled by prayer. We can forge the image of a new kind of knight, one armed comfortably with the knowledge of Church traditions and teachings to be sure, but also linked into modern communication media with surety. Fully employed, underemployed, or unemployed Catholic men for the year ahead will stand before the Cross, alongside the Blessed Virgin Mary, as a disciple in loving service to Christ and His Church.
The Year of Faith will call for conversion and conversation if it is to leave a legacy upon hearts. It will become a milestone for men individually as much as for the Church collectively by daring men to cast off sinful deeds of darkness and boldly wear virtuous armor of light (cf. Rom 13:12). It will seek men to speak without fear in defending human life and religious liberty in a public square that absolutely fears talking about absolute truth.
For the year ahead, greater numbers of Catholic men will step forward as silent heroes for their families, parishes, and communities. Such men will give more of the time, talents, and treasures which they know God gave them in the first place. And, in the process, they will make the Year of Faith ahead the measure for faithful men for many more years to come.
Jason Godin teaches United States history at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas.