Phoenix, Arizona, USA (Thursday 16, 2017, Gaudium Press) A summary of the Apostolic Exhortation of the Bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmsted, follows:
Catholic men must reclaim and live the virtue of Christian masculinity, says Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted in his apostolic exhortation, Into the Breach!
The name of the exhortation is taken from the Prophet Ezekiel, “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land…” (22:30).
Citing statistics about the decreasing involvement in parish life and participation in the sacraments, the bishop notes that “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.”
In defining what it means to be a Catholic man, Bishop Olmsted says that Jesus, fully God and fully man, is the perfection of masculinity. “Only in Jesus Christ can we find the highest display of masculine virtue and strength that we need in our personal lives and in society itself.”
Bishop Olmsted then leads into the second question of his exhortation: how does a Catholic man love? The bishop describes the types of masculine love: as friend, husband and father. Stressing the importance of men finding a “band of brothers” to join in Christian fraternity, he offers examples in the diocesan Men’s Conferences, the Knights of Columbus, the That Man Is You program and the Cursillo movement.
“We see that Jesus called His disciples to Himself in such a way that they would form deep bonds of friendship and brotherhood,” he says. “I am convinced that if men will seek true brotherhood, the adversities we face today will solidify bands of brothers who will be lauded in Heaven!” added the bishop.
In describing how a man loves as a husband, he challenges young men to prepare for marriage before meeting their future brides. “Such training in sacrifice is to love your bride before you meet her, so that you may one day say, ‘Before I knew you, I was faithful to you.'”
Speaking to those called to be husbands, he reminds them of St. Paul’s exhortation for husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. “This is the glory, men! Called to marriage, you are called to be as Christ to your bride.” When proclaiming this truth, he says, “you radiate the light of Christ in an area of society so darkened by what has always threatened spousal love.
Moving into the final section of his exhortation, Bishop Olmsted notes that the number of children born to unmarried homes has increased 700 percent since 1950, adding that there are those in the culture who don’t see fatherlessness as a problem.
“Do not be fooled by those voices wishing to erase all distinctions between mothers and fathers, ignoring the complementarity that is inherent in creation itself,” he says. “Step up and lovingly, patiently take up your God-given role as protector, provider, and spiritual leader of your home. A father’s role as spiritual head of the family must never be understood or undertaken as domination over others, but only as a loving leadership and a gentle guidance for those in your care.”
Bishop Olmsted also encouraged those whose fathers were absent in their lives. “There are many reasons why men abandon their responsibilities, or even if they remain, stay distant, as a result of the lack of positive experience of fatherhood in their own lives,” he says. “This wound in your heart may not yet have healed. … Allow Christ to show you the Father who never abandons his children, but rather offers his only begotten Son.”
The bishop concluded his exhortation with a call to action, “We need to get off the sidelines and stand up for life on the front lines. We need faith like that of our fathers who defended the children of previous generations and who gave up their own lives rather than abandon their faith in Christ. My sons and brothers, . . . we need you to step into the breach!”
Source Diocese of Phoenix