According to Catholic evangelist Matthew Christoff, “There is a serious “man-crisis” in the Catholic Church.”
How bad is it?
It is widespread and serious. Unless the Church, including its bishops, priests and lay men begin to take notice and make the evangelization of Catholic men a priority, the Catholic Church in the West will decay, as more and more men abandon the Church. … Unchecked, the exodus of Catholic men from the faith is likely to continue as men become increasingly casual about Catholicism.
Recognizing this crisis, Pope Benedict XVI wrote:
In vast areas of the earth the faith risks being extinguished, like a flame without fuel,” the pope warned, “We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of a religious sense which represents one of the greatest challenges for the Church today … The renewal of faith must, then, be a priority for the entire Church in our time.
A society increasingly disengaged from the Divine Life has no place to go but down. Definitely not progress, but a radical descent away from our greatest potential. As Jeffrey Kuhner of the Washington Times observed:
For the past 50 years, every major institution has been captured by the radical secular left. The media, Hollywood, TV, universities, public schools, theater, the arts, literature — they relentlessly promote the false gods of sexual hedonism and radical individualism … Tens of millions of unborn babies have been slaughtered; illegitimacy rates have soared; divorce has skyrocketed; pornography is rampant; drug use has exploded; sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS have killed millions; birth control is a way of life; sex outside of wedlock has become the norm; countless children have been permanently damaged — their innocence lost forever — because of the proliferation of broken homes; and sodomy and homosexuality are celebrated openly. America has become the new Babylon.
STATE OF GRACE – THE ONE THING NECESSARY
In midst of this societal decay, there is a new movement to awaken in men their baptismal call to be priest, prophet, and king in their homes and in the world. This is a movement that acknowledges the supernatural realities of our faith. This is a movement that understands that commitment is born out of “connection.” Let me explain …
Being in the “state of grace” means being free of mortal sin, but it also offers us something more. According to Fr. John Hardon:
St. Thomas Aquinas believed that man is more than a composite of body and soul, that his is nothing less than elevated to a supernatural order which participates, as far as a creature can, in the very nature of God. Accordingly, a person in the state of grace, or divine friendship, possesses certain enduring powers, the infused virtues and gifts, that raise him to an orbit of existence as far above nature as heaven is above earth, and that give him abilities of thought and operation that are literally born, not of the will of flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
“The heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God,” wrote Pope Benedict XVI, “is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind … the Evil One has power in this world, as we experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God.” The motto of the Evil One is “Non Serviam,” “I will not serve.” Our daily motto must stand in contrast to this; it must be identical to Mary’s: “Serviam!” — “I will serve!”
It is clear that the Holy Father was encouraging us to place our emphasis on reconnecting to the Divine Life of God — the “state of grace” — which is classically referred to as the unum necessarium – the one thing necessary.
The “one thing necessary” constitutes the essential foundation for the interior life and consists in hearing the word of God and living by it (I will serve!). It stems from the story of Martha and Mary (Lk 10:38-42), where we first see that, amazingly, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity was sitting right in their living room. Now, Martha remains busy and disconnected with the good and noble protocol of hospitality while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, her eyes locked on His Holy Face, peering into His soul, hanging on His every word. Mary is actually in adoration, soaking in everything our Lord wants to give her. I like to say that she is “Mary-nating” — soaking in the gusher of God’s graces. Mary had come to understand what St. Augustine said: “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Remarkable!
When Martha objects to Mary’s lack of activity, Jesus tells Martha that she remains anxious and upset about many things while Mary has chosen the better portion, the “one thing necessary” (unum necessarium). Mary was the one who was making the guest truly feel welcomed while Martha remained detached, going through the motions of the demands of protocol. God is light and love and truth Who brings order and meaning and serenity to our lives. While we remain disconnected from our Source, even as we perform our noble duties, we remain easily agitated and frustrated in our disordered and chaotic existence as we continue to walk in darkness.
Just like Martha, we may be about doing good and noble things, such as parish programs or helping our neighbor or even doing our routine of vocal prayers. Yet, somehow, many men remain disconnected. God longs for more than our “duties” … God wants “us.”
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen put it this way:
Neither theological knowledge nor social action alone is enough to keep us in love with Christ unless both are proceeded by a personal encounter with Him. Theological insights are gained not only from between two covers of a book, but from two bent knees before an altar. The HOLY HOUR becomes like an oxygen tank to revive the breath of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the foul and fetid atmosphere of the world.
These regular HOLY HOURS spent in adoration of our Eucharistic Lord — common among our ancestors, but rare today — are absolutely KEY in helping men to become “connected” to the Divine Life of God. So, how do we get there? As a band of brothers, let’s get a movement going …
IT’S TIME TO FORM A NEW HOLY LEAGUE
Pope St. Pius V formed the original Holy League in response to the dire situation in which Christian Europe found itself in 1571. Small bands of Catholic men and remnant armies from various nations came together under the spiritual leadership of the saintly pontiff and the physical leadership of Don John of Austria. Pope St. Pius V asked all of Christendom to turn to Our Lady and pray the rosary. Through the prayer of the rosary, fasting, and the grace of Almighty God, on October 7, 1571, at the Battle of Lepanto, the Christian fleet under the banner of Our Lady and rosaries in hand, won a crushing victory over the Ottoman Turks, saving Christendom and the West from Muslim rule. Pope St. Pius V attributed this stunning victory to the intercession of Our Lady’s Rosary and instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory, which was soon renamed to Our Lady of the Rosary, which is celebrated annually on October 7.
At this particular moment in time, the Church finds itself in a similar situation to that of the Church in the late Sixteenth Century. However, instead of a powerful Muslim fleet on the horizon, the Church and the family are threatened daily by relativism, secularism, impurity, and confusion regarding Church teaching. The battle today “is not against human forces but against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness, the evil spirits in the heavens” (Ephesians 6: 10-12).
In response, Catholic men are coming together to create faith formation groups and apostolates to combat these supernatural forces of evil. This new Holy League is an alliance of these men’s organizations, which are faithful to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. The mission of the Holy League is to “work together” to provide opportunities for men to unite in prayer for purification from sin and predisposition to Supernatural Grace, awakening the threefold offices of Priest, Prophet, and King received at Baptism.
The Holy League is a Roman Catholic men’s solidarity movement that seeks to:
- Provide a Holy Hour format which incorporates: Eucharistic Adoration, prayer, short spiritual reflections, the availability of the Sacrament of Confession, Benediction, and fraternity;
- Encourage consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and entrustment to the Purest Heart of Joseph;
- Promote “Catholic Life” through the precepts, devotions, and sacramentals of the Church;
- Create a unified front, made up of members of the Church Militant, for spiritual combat.
“Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.” (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
I ask you to join the Holy League movement by starting a Holy Hour in your parish. For more information about the Holy League and how to become a part of it, please visit our website.
Together, let’s be men of Christ. Let’s make a stand for His Holy Church, for our families, and for the world.
Fr. Richard M. Heilman is a priest of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin State Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus. He is a regular guest host on Relevant Radio’s The Inner Life, and is the founder of the Knights of Divine Mercy, which is an apostolate for Catholic men’s faith formation..
He is also he founder of the Ladies of Divine Mercy, which is an apostolate for Catholic women’s faith formation. He is the author of the Church Militant Field Manual and the Roman Catholic Man website, which are both dedicated to helping Catholics understand and train for their role in the mission of combating evil and rescuing the souls of our loved ones who have lost the precious gift of faith.