A complaint often heard by many young women looking for a Catholic spouse today is: “Where are all the men?” Unfortunately, many young men seem to have gone AWOL in the combat for the reign of Christ the King. If they are not running with the devil, they are at least running with the world. This race they run is not St. Paul’s but their own. Why are many of our young men sprinting away from Christ’s call to leadership and fatherhood? Ultimately, they have not the maturity to “man up.” The road most traveled is by far the easiest road traveled.
If maturity is needed, then what matures a man? A priest once said that three things were needed to mature a man: love, suffering, and responsibility.
Not the emotional and sentimental love that weakens the will and effeminizes society, nor the lustful “love” that enslaves our youth, but it is the sacrificial love that young men need. They must love something outside of themselves. They must love a woman. This Woman is firstly the greatest of all women that walked the face of the earth, the Blessed Mother. She is the mother of fair love and of chaste love, both of which will teach all men to love properly. She was loved first by God, and she knows what it is to love in return. The next woman they must love is their own earthly mother. She who gave them birth must be loved and thanked for the gift of life. Thirdly, they must love their sisters and their feminine relatives. The love of these women is ordered and good. It protects and safeguards. It honors their name. It defends against attackers and pursuers. It is a love that is unselfish. It is a love that teaches respect and admiration of women. If this love is missing in the beginning, our young men will seek a love that is lustful, selfish, damaging, and often abusive. How many of our young men find themselves in selfish relationships that do not seek to preserve the women’s greatest gift, her virginity. True love is unselfish. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the proof for this as He hung upon the cross in order to protect the beauty of His Bride.
Since the fall of Adam, every man must suffer. Centuries ago, before the comforts of air conditioning, flat screens and modern travel, man was forced to confront suffering face to face. Today we have many quick and ingenious ways to escape mental and physical suffering. Our young men are not exempt from this ingenuity. They are often more eager to run to Redbox than to the Confessional box after the pangs of a guilty conscience; more quick to glorify themselves on social media than to humble themselves in front of the communion of Saints. It is our human nature. Men do not like suffering. Our Lord Himself would have chosen a different garden were it not His Father’s will. Christ gives us the grace for every difficulty presented to us, but what is needed on our part is the courage to accept the cross presented. The young man of today desperately needs fortitude, that moral virtue which gives us the strength to endure through the difficult. If a young man cannot persevere through the cross given him, he is no soldier of Christ. The supernatural builds on the natural: “Be a man, then be a man of God.” If our young men can’t hold down a job, they certainly won’t be able to down a family. If they can’t be faithful now on YouTube, how can they be faithful some day to their wives. Today, more than ever, young men are needed who can “astise their bodies and make them their slaves”; men who can be masters of themselves and not be mastered by something else; men who can unite their sufferings with those of the Sufferer. A disordered world needs men who are who willing to put order back into themselves, young men who can take suffering and inflict suffering on their unruly and wild concupiscence. We need men with enough grit to become saints. Our Lord was the man of suffering. All sufferings were not in vain but brought life and redemption. Christ was silent before a sensual Herod, so must our men do likewise today before the sensual world. When of the enemies of the cross present themselves, we must take no part in their works.
Why is man so quick to avoid responsibility for his actions? Why did Adam hide himself after he ate the fruit? Why was he not standing in the midst of the garden saying, “Here is the fruit we ate, Lord”? Man fears to admit culpability because he fears the just consequences of his irresponsibility. Modern man is an expert at this practice. He wants the mountain top without the hike, the pleasure without the pain. He will indulge himself in sexual activity but dodge the progeny designed with the act. If modern man is found guilty of a crime, surely someone or something else that made him do it. He will hire the best lawyers to prove to the world he had no control over his actions. Heaven forbid that he take responsibility for his actions.
Our young men need to take responsibility and need to be given responsibility. They must be man enough and humble enough to own up to the truth, to their faults and to take the prescribed punishments and consequences. Once they are at this point they must be given the burden of responsibility. Obligations will force their wills to make decisions motivated toward a higher good than themselves. To be on time for work or college is demanding. The video games must be turned off earlier, texting must be cut short, preparations must be noted. Responsibility by its nature is unselfish. There is now something much bigger at stake than one’s personal life and pleasure. Jesus Christ Himself took the responsibility of Redemption. Modern man will be saved by taking seriously the responsibility of the cross.