Catholic men need encouragement in holiness. We need to be taught by our shepherds, the bishops, what our vocation as Catholic men means. Most of all, we need a call to arms, a challenge to live in a counter-cultural fashion.
I am pleased to share that Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix has provided all three in his powerful new apostolic exhortation directed to his the men of his diocese, but really to the men of America. Even the title is manly: “Into the Breech: An Apostolic Exhortation to Catholic Men, my Spiritual Sons in the Diocese of Phoenix.”
Men, you need to read this letter. Here’s a small sample:
I begin this letter with a clarion call and clear charge to you, my sons and brothers in Christ: Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men. This battle is often hidden, but the battle is real. It is primarily spiritual, but it is progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our own homes….
One of the key reasons that the Church is faltering under the attacks of Satan is that many Catholic men have not been willing to “step into the breach” – to fill this gap that lies open and vulnerable to further attack. A large number have left the faith, and many who remain “Catholic” practice the faith timidly and are only minimally committed to passing the faith on to their children. Recent research shows that large numbers of young Catholic men are leaving the faith to become “nones” – men who have no religious affiliation. The growing losses of young Catholic men will have a devastating impact on the Church in America in the coming decades, as older men pass away and young men fail to remain and marry in the Church, accelerating the losses that have already occurred.
There’s even a professionally produced video trailer to accompany the exhortation.
It is incredibly encouraging to see a Bishop of the Church challenge men in such a fashion. But really, this exhortation will bear no fruit unless Catholic laymen will heed the call and charge into the breech. Will you?