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.
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.
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!
In May 2014, I attended the inaugural Encounter Young Adult Conference in St. Louis, Missouri as a vendor and sponsor, and was welcomed to give a brief testimony on the topic of “Hunger”, specifically related to my personal story, struggle, and addiction to pornography. Hunger was one of the themes that day. I finally got some editing done and uploaded it to YouTube. It’s also on my YouTube Channel with other videos like it.
There are several themes within this short talk that are vitally important. If you search through the years of archives, you can find many of them explained. I realize that’s difficult, and lots to sift through, so hopefully some of the resources I’m working on creating and making available will help. These important themes are: accountability, God’s forgiveness, having a plan of action, brotherhood, personal effort, virtue, and more. If you have questions, or a specific scenario you need help with, don’t hesitate to contact us. Email us at ContactUs@TrueManhood.com.
James Foley is, seemingly, a saint; a living witness to the faith. He very literally gave his life for the sake of the Kingdom. He was beheaded for being a Christian. From what I can tell, he lived heroic virtue, especially in the face of persecution, even to the point of death. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes martyrdom as “the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude.” (CCC 2473.)
James Foley was a journalist working to make the plight of the Syrian people known to the world. They have been oppressed and tortured, and most recently, as I hope we are all aware, have been brutally murdered, often by beheading, by Islamic terrorists. His work put him in terrible situations, and he knew his life was in danger. He was proud of the work he was doing, and knew well the reality of the holy war taking place in the Middle East.
Jim was a Catholic, and believed firmly in prayer. During his time in the Middle East, he was held captive, and ultimately, was beheaded by the terrorist cell The Islamic State (IS). Their cowardly act of absolute destruction of human life was horrific, while Jim’s witness was absolutely beautiful. He was a TrueMan! In the face of danger, he was courageous. In the face of persecution, he was faithful. In the face of evil, he was true goodness. He lived charity, and gave his life as a witness.
In a recounting of his first captivity in Libya in 2011, Jim wrote about how prayer, the Rosary specifically, got him through. He wrote: “If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.”
Here’s a video showing his parents – talking a little about Jim and his faith.
So the question for us now is, “Do you realize that martyrdom is a real possibility in our world?” I often hear people talking about “those other people” who were martyrd, as if it couldn’t (and won’t) happen to us. I suggest that each man reading this post consider what he will do in the face of oppression, so that when that day comes, he will know and will be prepared. Brothers, we cannot wait to prepare, because the forces of evil are strong, and they are coming for us. Whether it be terror cells like the IS, or some other form of hatred towads Catholics, we will experience persecution, and it may even lead to our death. If you’re living virtuously now, it will make all the difference then. Virtue = authentic masculinity. Virtue = TrueManhood.
Lately, I’ve been given a great opportunity to record some programming for the Catholic radio program in western Kansas, Divine Mercy Radio (KVDM), out of Hays, Kansas. The show I host is called “One Body – Stewarding God’s Creation.” The show is all about the theology of the body, and the great gift that God gave to us through our bodies, our sexuality, and the intended plan He has for us regarding our bodies.
I recently recorded a show that will air soon on KVDM on the topic of pornography. I share parts of my story and talk about resources, ways to overcome, and a little bit about brain science. (Only the basics!)
I also had the opportunity to video this show, which I plan to do for all of my shows from now on. That video will be available soon.
Here are some promos for the show. I hope you are able to listen in or catch the podcast.
Just wanted to remind everyone that our “TrueManhood.com’s Guide to Virtue” is always available for free here on the site. This guide is a great tool to learn what virtue is, how to live it, how to overcome vice, and a tool to help us along our journey. Please print, share, and repost so that others can have this great resource.
CLICK HERE for the guide.
Email us anytime for help with your study of virtue. email@example.com.
In a story that started buzzing yesterday, Porn Harms reported that Google has agreed to stop advertising sexually explicit material. Here’s a story from Breitbart.com. I’m glad to hear this news, but I realize that it’s merely a small (tiny, miniscule, maybe even irrelevant?) step in the fight against internet pornography. On a positive note, they have removed all of their pornography apps from the Google Play store, a very positive step forward!
It wouldn’t really matter if Google dropped, blocked, and deleted it from their services; porn is available. It’s so available that it pops up when we don’t want it to, when we don’t expect it to, and in completely harmless situations, like when our children utilize the internet. If you’re a man, there are countless things you can (and should) be doing to help prevent yourself from falling into the trap of internet pornography. However, when children are involved, we can’t sit by acting as if nothing is happening, because it is. The likelihood that your child, anywhere over the age of 3, has seen pornography in some form is astonishing. Ignorance to this fact is never the answer.
The reality is that parents must teach their children the truths about porn, the human body, anatomy, and sexuality. The only way to win back purity in our insane culture is to teach the truth and to teach it openly to everyone, including our children. Age-appropriate education is vital. There are various ways to talk to your children, starting at a very young age, about their bodies, about appropriate behavior and touch, about sexuality. As children grow, that age-appropriate information changes, develops, and increases. It is a misnomer to call any form of sex-ed “the talk”, as if it happens once. Insteadof “the talk”, it should be “the on going series of education, information, encouragement, explanation, and truth about our bodies, sexuality, and reproductive organs”. That series should include the appropriate information, and shouldn’t leave out the consequences of poor choices and poorly formed consciences.
Notice that I’m not saying that we should ban sex and never talk about it. That obviously hasn’t worked. The puritanical approach towards sexuality can’t last and causes rebellion. Sexuality is too important, too special, and too powerful to suppress. Notice, too, that I’m certainly not suggesting that we let our kids go hog-wild sexually, as if there’s no consequence to their choices. Instead, just as the Church teaches in Her infinite wisdom, we should embrace human sexuality, with full-knowledge of the purpose and plan, and interact within that intended purpose. Freedom exists there.
I’ve come across many parents as I’ve taught on this topic, and as I’ve presented at parishes across the country. My presentation “Helping Parents Protect Their Children from the Internet and Technology” has shown me that many more parents need to know the truth, be equipped with resources and information, and be instructed on how to talk to their kids. It’s never too late, but that doesn’t mean you should continue to wait. Parents – have the conversations with your kids, and do it today. Oh, and Dads… this isn’t Mom’s job. It’s your job. Do it.