Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix has just issued an Apostolic Exhortation entitled Into the Breach, in which he basically tells Catholic men that they need to stand up and start fighting – for their Church, for their culture, for their families, and for their own souls.
While formally addressed to the men of his own diocese, the 23-page exhortation is a challenge to all Catholic men across America. It is clear, it is engaging, and it is inspiring.
I’ve only begun to read Into the Breach, and already there is too much good stuff to share here. Better that way – you should read the whole thing.
A few excerpts that are too good to pass up:
Bishop Olmsted begins the Apostolic Exhortation like this:
He then explains why he is issuing this exhortation, at this time:
“As our fathers, brothers, uncles, sons, and friends fall away from the Church, they fall deeper and deeper into sin, breaking their bonds with God and leaving them vulnerable to the fires of Hell. While we know that Christ welcomes back every repentant sinner, the truth is that large numbers of Catholic men are failing to keep the promises they made at their children’s baptisms – promises to bring them to Christ and to raise them in the faith of the Church.
“This crisis is evident in the discouragement and disengagement of Catholic men like you and me. In fact, this is precisely why I believe this Exhortation is needed, and it is also the reason for my hope, for God constantly overcomes evil with good. The joy of the Gospel is stronger than the sadness wrought by sin! A throw-away culture cannot withstand the new life and light that constantly radiates from Christ. So I call upon you to open your minds and hearts to Him, the Savior who strengthens you to step into the breach!”
Bishop Olmsted tells us three questions he intends to answer:
“In this Exhortation, I will address three primary questions:
1. What does it mean to be a Catholic man?
2. How does a Catholic man love?
3. Why is fatherhood, fully understood, so crucial for every man?”
Sound like pretty good questions to me. I don’t know about you, but I want the answers.
Bishop Olmsted says priests have a responsibility to Catholic men too. I should warn you there is an extreme level of truth, goodness, and beauty in this paragraph:
“Yet we do not merely look to Jesus. We truly encounter Christ at Mass when we receive the very gift of Himself in the Eucharist. For this reason, I call upon my brother priests to awaken the sense of transcendence in the hearts of men through reverent and beautiful liturgy, helping men to rediscover Jesus in the Eucharist each and every Sunday. I ask my brother priests to teach the faithful about the powerful truth of the liturgy, especially in ways to which men can relate. Teaching men to understand the fullness and power of the Mass must be a top priority. What a joy it is for men of God when they are led by priests who have a confident sense of their own masculinity, their call to participate in Christ’s spousal love, and their generous, life-giving fatherhood!”
Yup, yup, yup.
This too is brilliant:
“Each man should make a decision to have a patron Saint. While there are many more, I offer the names of ten saints with whom each and every Catholic man should become familiar. Next to each saint’s name is listed the virtue with which he is associated, as well as the sin which opposes that virtue. When we identify our sin and the needed virtue, we can identify which saint’s intercession will be particularly helpful:
- Joseph (Trust in God – selfishness)
- John the Baptist (Humility – arrogance)
- Paul (Adherence to Truth – mediocrity)
- Michael the Archangel (Obedience to God – licentiousness and rebelliousness)
- Benedict (Prayer and Devotion to God – sloth)
- Francis of Assisi (Happiness – moralism)
- Thomas More (Integrity – double-mindedness)
- Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (Chastity – lust)
- Josemaría Escrivá (Boldness – worldly fear)
- Pope St. John Paul II (Defending the Weak – passivity)”
There is more (way more) including seven basic practices all Catholic men should keep, advice for grandfathers, the importance of developing and maintaining good friendships, the “three masculine loves” (friend, husband, and father), and much, much more.
Bishop Olmsted, thank you.