March 18, 2009
Catholic conference aims to foster the faith and virtue of men
One of the best success stories of lay Catholic action in Colorado in my 12 years as archbishop has been ENDOW (“Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women”). The brainchild of Marilyn Coors, Betsy Considine and Terry Polakovic, ENDOW has mushroomed from a small group of women looking to deepen their Catholic faith to a national organization. ENDOW draws members of all ages, but it has a special appeal for young women seeking to develop their talents and leadership skills in a way that serves the Gospel.
In Christian thought, men and women have equal dignity—historically, this has set Christianity apart from Islam and many other religious traditions—but they exercise leadership in different and complementary ways. A strong Christian marriage requires each spouse to be obedient to the needs of the other; and once children arrive, that both parents place the needs of the family above their own.
What that means in practice is this: good Catholic women need good Catholic men for the Christian community to grow and thrive. In the New Testament, the Christian husband is the head of his family. St. John Chrysostom describes the Catholic father as the family’s “bishop” who exercises his headship not as a form of domination, but of service, courage, justice, self-sacrifice and love. This kind of headship demands a level of male maturity and Christian formation that much of our culture now actively works against. One of the deepest problems in modern American life is the refusal of too many men to grow up; to take responsibility for their actions; to make commitments and then to keep them. Forty-year-old male adolescents may be funny on TV, but in real life, they’re not funny at all. They’re a disaster.
We don’t have an ENDOW-related program for men in the Archdiocese of Denver. But we do have other excellent programs like “That Man Is You” that offer Catholic men an opportunity for friendship, Christian fellowship and deepening their faith.
I also want to recommend in a special way the Rocky Mountain Catholic Men’s Conference scheduled for this weekend, March 21, in Colorado Springs. One of the great appeals of the conference—aside from outstanding speakers like Peter Herbeck, Luis Soto, Father John Lager, O.F.M. Cap., Sean Dalton, Paul Young and my friend Bishop Michael Sheridan—is that it demands nothing more than one day of a man’s time. But that one day can be decisive. It can renew a man’s spirit, it can enkindle a love for the Church and Scripture, it can remind a man of his vocation as a Catholic layman, whether single, husband or father; and it can lead a man to the most important relationship of all: a friendship with Jesus Christ.
Over the last several decades, the Church has rightly emphasized the dignity and importance of women in the life of the Church in our country. But we’d be making a very big mistake if, in the process, we neglected the need for strong, virtuous men to lead and serve the Christian community. God created men and women to depend on each other and to create new life with each other—both in the form of children and in their service to society—within the embrace of his love. We need a new generation of mature, committed Catholic men who can say to the Lord, as we heard in the Gospel last weekend, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
Most of the men who read this column can find the time to do what they know to be important. This conference is important. Take this opportunity to attend the Rocky Mountain Catholic Men’s Conference. At a minimum, it will be time well spent. But it could also change your life in the deepest and best possible way. Your family and your Church will be stronger for it.
Rocky Mountain Men’s Conference
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