I recently watched an awesome documentary put out by Rogue Fitness titled “Levantadores – The Basque Strongman.” It’s only about 30 minutes – I think it’s well worth your time.
My good friend and fellow strongman Jared Zimmerer posted about it and shared many good thoughts (click this link or the photo above for his post), so I’m going to point you to his post instead of simply repeating everything he’s already said. What I will write about to catch your attention are the following points:
- I am highly intrigued by the father-son relationships that take place in this culture of the Levantadores. The fathers pass on the lifestyle of being a strongman, which means much more than simply how much a man can lift.
- These men are not only strong, they are determined, exude perseverance, and are faithful. Without knowing these men personally, able to watch them, and judge their daily actions, it’s clear to me that they are tending towards virtue.
- At the heart of this culture is faith and family.
- Their culture isn’t self-serving or self-centered… they are united in common bond, for the greater good, and the improvement of one another.
- Their strength is incredible.
- Their fitness is functional, meaning that it’s usable and they use it! This is what I strive for with my workouts through CrossFit. Functional fitness for a healthy lifestyle.
Here’s the video. Enjoy!
After you watch the documentary, please send me your thoughts on social media comments or via email. Dave@TrueManhood.com.
A lie flying around in our culture – one that is very prevalent, and common-language for many – is the encouragement to “Live a balanced life.” (or other variations of it.) It’s sneaky in the way that it is extremely mainstream while still flying under the radar. It’s subtle, yet dangerous. I’ll explain.
Living balance is the commonly held idea that — if a person does things in a balanced way, or at least in a way that doesn’t emphasize something too much or too little, that he’ll be living rightly. And thus, by living rightly, he will become happy. If everything in a person’s life is “just right”, and nothing tips the scales one way or the other, the balance they experience will make all things right. — There are many problems with this idea. First, living balance isn’t rooted in anything tangible, ie: what does ‘balance’ even mean? Doing merely what I want to do (balance), even if in a moderate fashion, doesn’t mean that I’m doing what I ought to do (order.) What we ought to be doing, regardless of who we are or what our state in life may be, is to live virtue. Living virtue allows us “not only to do good acts, but to give the best of our self.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1803.) Giving the best of myself is what I ought to do.
The “balance lie” would state that as long as the individual isn’t negating some aspect of his life, or at least not too much, he can do each activity in a balanced fashion. The truth about order is that, I’m called to living a life that is worth the very best. Choosing activities merely because I want to do them, isn’t necessarily pointing me towards that very best. Depending on what activities I’m doing, they may or may not be evil in-and-of-themselves, yet they may not be quite what I ought to be doing. Here, the question must go deeper (again, more than simply what I want to do) and ask the question, do I possess the virtue of temperance? Am I exercising justice? What about fortitude? Am I living prudently? Are my actions pointing towards charity? In attempting, however, to live virtue and do the greatest good, I’m challenged to order those things, along with others in my life, so that ultimately, I’m able to possess the virtues and live as closely to the example set by Christ as possible.
Here’s a video where I explain this idea a bit further. Live order.
There’s a difference between maleness and manliness. A person is a male by virtue of his sex (gender), his DNA. A male is not a man simply because of his age, his profession, his marital status, whether or not he’s a virgin, what he owns, or any other arbitrary factor. A male becomes a man when his life is manly. What is manliness? Virtue. This is one of the 3 main tenants of TrueManhood.com – nothing new for the readership.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraph 1803, states that virtue is “the habitual and firm disposition to do the good.” The CCC clarifies that virtue is an action… doing… a verb. So when does a male become a man? When he does good. You’re a male reading this… are you a man or are you simply a male?
Thankfully, with the definition that the Church gives us, we don’t have to wonder whether or not a male is a man, which means that we don’t have to wonder whether or not our sons (or the males interested in our daughters) are men. It’s the benchmark by which we “grade” them. When we know that, we can move forward to help these males continue to live in a manly way. This brings me to my point…
Manliness isn’t given, manliness is earned. Before something can really be earned, someone must know what they are earning, thus males must first learn what manliness is before they can earn it. As fathers, it is our responsibility to not only live out manliness (ie: virtue) but to teach it. The world gives various versions of counterfeit manliness for our boys to shoot for (search “Cultural Manliness” on this site for more on the world’s main version) and if we don’t teach them what authentic masculinity is, their only option is the world’s option.
The world’s option isn’t an option for me. It’s not an option for my son, Dave Jr. It’s not an option for my daughters Lily, Emma, and Maria. The world’s option is a lie.
Let’s work together as Catholic fathers to teach our children (male and female) what masculinity is. If you ever wonder, just refer back to the Catechism, to TrueManhood.com, or to the “Guide to Virtue” found on my site. More to follow on dads teaching their sons what TrueManhood is all about.
The concept of ‘sexy pressure’ for girls at Halloween had never crossed my mind before my wife sent me a NY Times “parent blog” article – here it is – but now it’s resonating with me. Makes me think about 10 years from now… what’s life going to be like for our little ones? (Please read the article so that you understand what I’m talking about. And not, I certainly don’t prescribe to what the author of the article is saying, but simply bringing it up as a point of discussion.) I’m a father of 3 daughters, and although they are young, I’m aware of the pending pressure that’s coming – but apparently not aware enough.
In the article, you can sense that the pressure on girls comes mostly from other girls. They didn’t talk about whether or not the guys thought they were ‘too sexy’, but the pressure stemmed almost exclusively from what the other girls perceived. (I assert, too, that the pressure they feel isn’t so much real as it is only a perception, and the one quote shows that, when she says, essentially, “it’s not discussed but everyone knows it.”) I’ve always found this to be true; the guys aren’t aware enough, most of the time, or don’t care enough, to make a big deal out of girl’s clothing. Although there is that aspect when a girl is dressed in a “slutty” manner (per the article) when guys notice and begin to pay attention to her. This is age-old.
What’s the big deal here? Isn’t this just adolescent development, trial-and-error, and growing pains? No, I don’t think so. It’s a big deal because of the culture around our kids. They see particular things online, on TV, in movies, in music videos, etc. and whatever is “it” MUST be emulated. At least in their minds. Whatever’s hip, cool, newest, biggest, baddest, and those things that push the moral lines, is what is desired. Again, this is age-old. The shiny thing that grabs attention is what becomes so sought after. So, with our young women, and this idea of “dressing sexy for Halloween”, what do we do? Fathers… where are you?
Here’s what we do. I’ve written about this before, I speak about this all the time, I teach my kids in class this concept in all we do. It’s not a new concept… it too is age-old. We teach our kids that they are intrinsically good and that God loves them, and that we love them. We instill in them a self-worth that is so strong that it can stand up against any cultural phenomenon, any peer pressure, any moral dilemma and come out victorious. Without this self-worth, without this knowledge that they have a dignity that is deserving of only the greatest, they will fall into the pressure of the world to find their happiness, self-worth, and coolness factor from other things. In the end, those other things won’t bring happiness, only emptiness.
Fathers: if you’re not the most loving, caring, compassionate, uplifting source of goodness in your daughter’s life, then why not?! She needs your attention, your affection, your love, your discipline, your care, your concern. NEEDS it like she needs water, food, oxygen, and shelter. An absolute necessity. If you’ve failed her in this area up to this point, work to fix your mistakes. You’ve got 10 days before Halloween, it’s not too late. And let’s be real, Halloween isn’t the issue, but it certainly accentuates the issue.
From time to time, bishops write what are called ‘apostolic exhortations’… a letter or article or writing that calls the people to a higher level of knowledge on a topic… that encourages the reader to live a particular way, or to consider a worldview that may be different from what they currently believe and are living. Many apostolic exhortations have to do with modern crisis and societal concerns that the bishop desires to spend time and effort working to correct. The latest of these exhortations comes from a great man, a great shepherd of the people, and a wonderful bishop, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix in Arizona. Watch the trailer below to be inspired to read the exhortation, which you can find by clicking on the link below.
Click HERE to get to the exhortation. It is lengthy, and the website has much more on it than just the exhortation, so be prepared to save the site and come back to it as you need to.
I applaud the efforts of Bishop Olmsted and all the men and women who support him in this project. He couldn’t be more right in what he says and writes… we are absolutely in a crisis and need the fullness of the teaching of masculinity to come out and to be spread. That IS the work of TrueManhood Men’s Ministry and we stand in solidarity with Bishop Olmsted.
Pope St. John Paul the Great (JP2) was “A Pope for the World.” He helped bring peace to the world by fighting the Nazi’s, communism, and the tyranny of the Cold War. He traveled the world like no previous Pope in history (obviously, modern technology and transportation-accessibility helped that) and was embraced as a man of peace. The way in which he challenged the world to become united was incredible, and although there were always those who disagreed, he was instrumental in peace-filled actions (too numerous to mention) all around the world. For these reasons, and others, he was a Pope for the world.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was “A Pope for the Church.” Even before his time as Pope, and certainly during and after, he worked to solidify the liturgy and to make certain that orthodoxy within the Church was upheld. His work dating back to Vatican II is incredible, and the Church is better because of it. Pope Benedict worked to unite the Church and to strengthen Her from within. For these reasons, and others, he was a Pope for the Church.
I believe that Pope Francis is “A Pope for the Others.” Pope Francis – due majorly in part to the media – has had a huge impact on the lives of “the others.” What do I mean by “others”? Well, those who are outside of the Church for whatever reason. Francis takes the age-old approach of, as I’ve mentioned before, “The Good Shepherd.” Francis knows that the sheep have been dispersed, attacked, and lost, but he desires for even that 1 lost sheep to be brought back into the fold. Much debate about his ways, his tactics, and his methods have been scrutinized and brought into question. For the millionth time… what he is doing is good, faithful, and amazing! Catholics who are opposed to him need to seriously check their pride, egos, and motives because you’re missing the big picture. Maybe, just maybe, not everything in life is all about you.
See, Pope Francis is an evangelist. I and others know this because I see him and his methods, and I too prescribe to this form of ministry. I too am an evangelist and believe that his approach to ministry is absolutely effective and working. Just look at posts and comments from atheists, agnostics, anti-Catholics, and especially from fallen-away-Catholics… they are drawn to him and his heart. One small example! They see his authenticity and genuine care for others and that causes them pause and urges them to consider not only what he does but what he says. This speaks volumes. Beating people into submission doesn’t work. Forcing, coercing, bribing, and/or guilting people into a set of beliefs doesn’t work. Telling people how bad they are, casting them out further, and alienating them doesn’t work. What works is love, and no matter how counter-cultural it is, we must begin to believe that love is the answer to all things. For these reasons, and others, Pope Francis is a Pope for the “others.”
Perhaps you’re an “other” and happen to be reading this. Thanks for stopping by, I’m glad you’re here. I hope that my site is a place that encourages you to consider what authentic masculinity really is, and hopefully will inspire a response towards living as an authentic person. If you’re a man, the challenge is simple – live by following the example of Jesus Christ, the One True God and True Man; virtue, virtue, virtue. (Check out my resources tab above and click on the “Guide to Virtue” for more.)
Men, I hope that as you read this, you realize that there are many in our midst that are opposed to the Catholic Church. They are opposed to the ideas of TrueManhood, they are opposed to religion, they are opposed to faith-based-anything. They have bought the lie of the world (cultural manliness) and as far as they are concerned, that’s fine, fun, and good for them. What they are missing is the alternative… a life as God intended it, serving one another, loving one another, and preaching the Good News. Pope Francis does this naturally, and is really spectacular at it. Take heed and learn from him. He’s prompting you to do the same, in your unique way, so that others can see the light of Christ through you.
News came out recently about Pope Francis’ changes to the annulment process. Many have questions, and some have bashed the Pope for these changes, saying he’s now, essentially, allowing divorce and remarriage. The critiques come from, I believe, a ‘fundamentalist’ approach to the Scriptural beliefs of marriage, divorce, and remarriage (see Mark 10, for instance.) However, Pope Francis isn’t just “okaying” divorce and remarriage – he is (in my humble opinion) making a pastoral move. This move, as it were, is taking into account various aspects. (Note: annulment is not divorce. For more, read this post on Catholic.com.) For TrueManhood, these aspects pertain to male leadership and faithfulness in general and I think they are worthy of discussion here.
The various aspects I see in this new decree:
- Marriage has trended strongly towards being merely a civil agreement, not a sacramental union imaging the Most Holy Trinity. When we reduce the Sacrament of Matrimony down to a civil contract, we are unable to freely give ourselves to our spouses, and it’s much “easier” to simply walk away. Men – it is common for people to say that “men are afraid of commitment.” I have witnessed this in some males, but not everyone. For a marriage to work and work well, it is my belief that a man must absolute commit to TrueManhood each and every day. If you screwed up yesterday, today is a new day.
- Marriage preparation, in many cases, is a laughable waste of time. This sounds harsh, but the facts are the facts. I hear story after story of people having terrible experiences in marriage prep, engaged encounters, and so forth. This isn’t to say that they are all bad – I’m aware of many good programs and approaches – but it’s something the Church must remedy. Priests (often whose hands are tied for various reasons) consent to marry uncatechized persons who are regularly breaking many of the Church’s basic requirements (ie: not actively involved in the life of the Church, cohabitating, engaged in pre-or-extramarital relations, contracepting, and so on) and thus bringing into question the validity of the sacrament from the very beginning.
- Marriages are ending in divorce at a staggering rate, and those involved need salvation too. Pope Francis has proven time and again that he takes the pastoral approach (that of the Good Shepherd… think “leave the 99 for the 1 lost sheep”) because people need love, care, and relationship before they will ever follow a set of rules. This is really the heart of true evangelization. Because of #’s 1&2 above, this group of individuals (again, uncatechized – meaning that they don’t know the teachings of the Church, thus are unable to apply them to their marriage and unevangelized – meaning that they don’t know the person of Jesus Christ in an intimate relationship) believe that they are unable to now be a part of the life of the Church (which is the means that Christ gave us to be united with Him in Heaven) and therefore leave. Pope Francis wants to minister to these people, and allow the faithful to do the same.
- The process for annulments has been extremely time consuming and costly. Although we don’t wish annulment on anyone, when valid, it is the right thing to do and to be granted by the Church. For some dioceses, the process takes years and costs hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. Pastorally, this isn’t helping the families in need of annulment, but making it much more difficult. Pope Francis’ plan is to streamline the process, cutting the Tribunals down from 2 to 1, and giving the judges more decision-making abilities. Some take this as lessening the process so as to be able to give annulments out like candy… but that’s not what this is at all. The entire process of annulment will still take place, but should be much more cost effective (Pope Francis wants them to be free, if at all possible) and be a much quicker process.
- The legal nature of annulments has likely turned some away from Catholicism towards other denominations. Because of the above mentioned issues, and the stigma that “a divorced person isn’t welcome in the Catholic Church”, this legalese is driving a wedge between baptized persons and a community which would support and build them up. The Church’s mission is for the salvation of all, not just a select group of people who are sinless. Because we all sin, we all need salvation!
I’m very well aware of the struggles of marriage… it’s really stinkin’ hard! Sometimes, annulments are what is right and good. When this is the case, they should be granted. When it’s not, then they shouldn’t. Whatever your current status (single, married, divorced, annuled, widowed, etc.) I suggest that you look up the Church’s teaching on marriage, why She says that marriage is so important, why She teaches that marriages are indissoluble, and why spouses should fight together to save their marriage. Use the Catechism of the Catholic Church, along with Sacred Scripture, encyclicals, writings of the saints (DEFINITELY see Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s work on the matter!) and see how it benefits your life. It will enrich you and hopefully you’ll be able to share that with someone else who might be in need of the knowledge too.
To Pope Francis: thank you for challenging us all to be more pastoral and loving in our interactions and evangelization efforts. We could take a legalistic approach, but that will likely push people away. Instead, we remain faithful to the Church, with a true heart of charity, desiring that all come to know, love, and serve God. Specifically for the men reading this post, I want to encourage you to study the Church’s teaching on marriage, and then lead your wives/families in it. If your marriage is struggling at all, and you do this, you’ll find that the Church is urging the spouses to become a total gift of self, like Christ did for his bride (the Church). When you do this, marriage is what it is supposed to be. When you do this, marriage plays a huge role in your sanctification and your evangelization. Men, it’s now that we have the opportunity to shift the world’s thinking on what marriage is and how to do it successfully.
I’ve had a front row seat to one of the greatest marriages in the history of time. Today, my parents celebrate 50 years of marriage! A tremendous feat! I’m extremely proud of my parents and want to publicly acknowledge their love, their sacrifice, and their unfailing commitment. You make me better, you aid my marriage, and I am so grateful for you.
I’ve written (and moreso, spoken) about my Dad on many occasions. He’s an amazing man, and is/was a leading example for me in my pursuit of TrueManhood. He has tons of characteristics that I love and admire, and I wouldn’t be half the man I am today if it wasn’t for him. Here are some of the major highlights:
- My Father loves my Mother unconditionally; everything he does is directly related to my Mother’s well-being, her concerns, her likes, her desires. His example of how a man cherishes his wife is second to none. #awesomehusband
- My Father serves my Mother unfailingly. For the entirety of their marriage, my Father has worked his tail off so that my Mother could have safety, security, comfort, and so that she would be able to do what she was created for. #whenamanlovesawoman
- My Father is the consumate gentleman. As a child, the example of being a gentleman was constant from my Father. My virtues related to being a gentleman (mostly in the area of Justice) is 100% correlated to my Father’s behavior and high standards. #gentleman
- My Father cherishes all women. Sincerely, my Father has a heart of service towards the fairer-sex… never failing to serve a female, no matter what the need may be. He’s always polite, always charitable, always deferent to the women he encounters. I cannot recall, even once, when I’ve seen my Father choose himself over a woman. He has always cherished my aunts and female cousins (there were far fewer of them than male cousins), and treated every female stranger with the utmost respect. #womenarethecrownofcreation
- My Father is a hard worker. Still today in his 70’s, with both knees repaired and a major back surgery, my Father does his own maintenance on his house, takes care of his vehicles himself, serves in numerous ways at his parish, helps me and my brothers, and serves on a non-profit board. The spirit of our bluecollar family, passed down from generation to generation, comes to me from him. #hardworker
I would also be remiss, especially on this most somber of days for America (9/11), if I didn’t mention my Father’s 30-year career serving our country as an enlisted serviceman in the United States Air Force. 30 years! Talk about dedication.
My Mother – I certainly don’t want to leave my Mother out of the conversation… and in fact, I couldn’t talk about my Father without talking about my Mother as well. She is a huge part of my Father’s character. From the moment they met, my Mother has challenged my Father to be who he is. She brings the best out of him, and holds him to the very highest of standards. It wouldn’t be a shock to tell you that their complementarity is so perfect that they make each other more holy; the point of marriage! The perfect way that my Mother fits my Father, and returns his love and service with more love and service, is a testament to her devotion and care for him. They truly are the perfect spouses for one another.
Jesus had Joseph and Mary – the Holy Family. I have Tony and Charlene – great examples of love, service, dedication, and faithfulness. Thanks Dad and Mom – Happy Anniversary!
I’m now a couple of weeks into my new career as a teacher. I’m really enjoying it, and the kids are amazing. We have great conversations about the faith, and I really believe that I’m reaching them. As I consider each of my classes and each of my students, I haven’t yet breached the subject of pornography. I’m working now to form bonds of trust and mutual respect, and want to work towards gaining moral authority with my students. We’ll get there, and I don’t think it will take long.
In one class specifically, but in all seven of my classes generally, I’ll be diving into the topic of The Theology of the Body, and when we dive into that topic, we must (absolutely MUST) discuss the topic of pornography. So I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to breach the subject, and how I’m going to deal with the responses. I’ve presented to middle and high school kids plenty of times on the topic, but never in the classroom setting… always in retreat and/or talk situations. This is going to be much different.
This got me thinking… if parents don’t fail with pornography use themselves, and also don’t know whether or not their children do, does the topic ever cross their mind? Is pornography an “out of sight, out of mind” problem? I know it crosses mine because I’m aware of the realities in my own life (past use), as well as the realities of the industry and the prevalence. Here are some distinct groups when it comes to porn awareness.
- Users: obviously, they’re highly aware of porn and are abusing it frequently. It’s on their mind, if not constantly, very regularly.
- Those fighting: highly aware and trying to create awareness in others.
- Those in recovery: depending on the length of recovery, it may not be a frequent awareness, but they’re aware.
- Those oblivious: have no knowledge of the topic, aren’t aware at all.
- Those in denial: refusal to believe that porn is actually a problem.
What group do you fall in? Are you a man using porn? Does it rule your life? What are you doing about it if this is you? Or, are you in recovery? Perhaps you’re oblivious and don’t know much about porn. (You’ve come to a good site to learn more about the truths of pornography! Just do a search in the white box.) Are you a parent who is in denial of how bad pornography is and how likely your child is using it? Wherever you might be, please continue to educate yourself on the matter and realize that, even if porn is “out of sight”, it can’t be “out of mind.”
I hope to be creating some good new resources for parents on the topic of fighting pornography, and I want to get them out to you very soon. In the meantime, please look through my site for help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for specific questions.
Rugged. Strong. Hefty. Masculine. Words to describe my new Rosary from a company by the name of Rugged Rosaries, by CordBands.com. This company reached out to me about advertising on the site, but before I could okay that, I wanted to see the product firsthand. I wanted to see the follow through, the craftsmanship, the quality, the final product. They delivered!
I was amazed at the turnaround time. Within 48 hours of requesting the Rosary, I received it in the mail. The entire package was impressive, including more than was expected. From the Rosary, to the packaging, to the significance of the business card, the pride that Shannon and her family take in the Rosaries they make is evident. They’ve turned a hobby and passion into a serious evangelization tool for the Church. There are tons of designs, options, and unique gifts. I cannot recommend their product highly enough!
If you’re a parent looking for a teen boy (or older), a wife looking for her husband, or a godparent, Confirmation sponsor, or mentor looking for a classy, masculine gift… look no further. The price point is higher than a cheap, plastic Rosary or other tied cord Rosaries – and for good reason. You won’t be replacing this paracord Rosary, nor the hefty beads anytime soon! I’ve had many Rosaries in my pocket over the past 12 years (since my conversion) and none of them have lasted much more than 2 years, tops. I’ve ruined some of my favorite and most meaningful Rosaries carrying them around with me. The rope, chains, and beads broke. The knots became loose and frayed. I had to continually change my everyday-carry Rosary. You will not have that problem with this product!
Please, take some time and head over to CordBands.com to check out the site. And with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, you can’t go wrong.
Want more on the Rosary? Search “ROSARY” in the white search box on this site!