Society today tells us that, as men, we are not supposed to cry, we are not supposed to show our emotions, and we are supposed to be the stronger gender.
As Catholic men, we realize all those demands that society puts on us are ridiculous. We know that men cry, show emotion, and are not called to be superior to women. We figured out that, while some attributes can characterize men, but they are not what make us men.
When I joined my catholic fraternity at my home parish, I received this awesome book called The Way by Josemaría Escrivá. I carry this book around with me everywhere I go. It includes brief paragraphs of wisdom, reminding us of the many ways we can strive for holiness in the midst of the many struggles that we face in our daily lives.
One of my favorite quotes is number 672, which reads, “You can sure you’re a man of God if you suffer injustice gladly in silence.” I think this quote is awesome because it reminds us how tough we are called to be for the Lord, how it is not always easy to be a Catholic man, and how we are called to boldly sacrifice. This is what real men do, right?
Sure, striving to be better, that’s part of it. But the other part is never forgetting that you and I — just as we are — are also enough.
One of the great examples of manliness in our Church, often overlooked is St. Joseph. Living his life next to Jesus and Mary, it’s no wonder that he is a bit overlooked. However, St. Joseph goes through a whole adventure of his own in the midst of everything going on around him; and in it, he gives us a great example of what being a man is all about.
Saint Joseph was a man of prayer and a man dedicated to his job. He lived his life according to the law as best he knew how. As we all know, he was also entrusted to care for the Son of God and His mother, you know, a small task. When St. Joseph found out about Mary’s Immaculate Conception, he reacted like any other man would – shocked, to say the least. He did not what to do. He was scared for himself and for Mary because he knew that any woman who was pregnant outside of marriage would be stoned to death.
While still scared and confused, he was visited by an angel in a dream, who told him about God’s plan. Though still scared, Joseph soon realized he was called to trust in God, even when all of his human senses were probably telling him otherwise.
Saint Joseph wanted to do what is best, not just for himself, but also for Mary and Jesus. He is a great example of accompaniment and although he is a very quiet guide and worker, he is a part of Jesus’ life as His teacher of the faith, teacher of work and work ethic, and as a support for Mary, his wife.
On the other hand, St. Joseph also is a great example not because he was perfect and did no wrong, but rather because he showed us that as men, we are going to make mistakes. Saint Joseph’s first reaction to Mary’s big news was to be scared (he wanted to divorce her quietly) and probably angry — and with good reason!
How many times have we received news that we may not have expected or liked? How did we react? Saint Joseph himself “suffered injustice gladly in silence.” His life was even at risk because of the role he had accepted to undertake, yet he decided to continue to suffer silently and care for Mary as best he could.
Saint Joseph’s “suffering” is only [partly] calmed when he receives a visit from the angel messenger. It is not until then, that he feels ready to step up to the plate. As we know, he goes on to become role model (and patron saint) of fathers for a reason. He displays his humanness through his initial frustration and fear but also shows us the way to overcome that – trust in God. Saint Joseph displays what all of us men should have engraved in our hearts – we are enough… we just need to trust.
Dear brothers, while we strive to be better for us, our families, our friends, and our communities, we must always remember that we — just as we are — are enough. Can we strive to be better? Of course we can! And we should! But never lose sight that we are also made in His image and likeness and that our flaws are shortcomings are only a stepping stone for what is to come. We are not called to erase those flaws and become perfect, we are simply called to let go of our humanness and trust our most perfect example of manliness – God.
Saint Josemaría Escrivá, pray for us!
Saint Joseph. Pray for us!