Be a Man!
Becoming the Man God
Created You to Be
By Father Larry Richards
Ignatius Press, 2009
196 pages, $14.95
To order: ignatius.com
Father Larry Richards, the popular men’s conference speaker, has written his first book, Be a Man! Becoming the Man God Created You to Be.
And what a book it is. If you’ve heard Father Richards speak, you can “hear” his words leap off the page in the same no-punches-pulled style that makes his message clear. At the same time, it feels as if he’s addressing you personally.
He’s uncompromising with the truth: no soft-soap, yet never abrasive. He’s challenging but compassionate and encouraging.
One way Father Richards gets across his points is by recounting his own challenges in learning and living what true manhood is. He gives us stories and incidents from growing up, the seminary, and people he has dealt with. He also gives men practical ways to meet their faults and temptations head-on in order to be the men God created them to be, including reclaiming their God-given leadership roles in the family, the Church and the community.
“One of the roles that men have, given to them by God (see Genesis 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23) is to be the spiritual leaders of their families,” writes Father Richards. “Now this is where I have called men ‘spiritual wimps’ for many years. Many men have let their wives be the spiritual leaders of their families, but this is not the way God created it to be. Now this does not mean that you are the master of your wife and family; it means, like Jesus Christ, you are the servant leader of your family. … First off, it means you lead by example.”
This is but one of many passages where Father Richards points to the best role model of true masculinity: Jesus Christ.
Through all 10 chapters, he makes very plain the practical step-by-step route men need to take to regain their true masculine role and to grow in holiness. Chapter titles give major hints about how to do this: stay focused on the final goal of eternity, live as a beloved son of the Father, repent, live in the Holy Spirit, be strong, be genuinely loving, be wise, be holy, and change the world.
The chapter on knowing and accepting that God loves them as a son should make readers eager to see what lies ahead. Along this spiritually adventurous route, there are plenty of specific challenges on the necessity of surrendering to the Holy Spirit and the importance of prayer, reading the Bible, Mass, repentance and Eucharistic adoration.
A bonus is the simple summary at the end of each chapter: three tasks that men should accomplish in order to achieve the chapter’s goals.
Although men are shown how to overcome flaws that keep them from becoming the men God created them to be, the book itself hasn’t a noticeable flaw.
Father Richards’ uncompromising style is refreshing. It adds to the challenge — and men love a challenge. Even a man already fitting the role God created for him can still find plentiful inspiration and challenge in this book.
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.