G.K. Chesterton once responded to a newspaper’s solicitation of articles responding to the question, "What’s wrong with the world?" with the reply, "Dear sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton."
It was, perhaps, the most incisive, comprehensive and challenging thing he ever wrote.
My Catholic brothers, especially my fellow bachelors, that is aimed squarely at you and at me today.
The culture around us, through government edict, abuse of power, indifference and apathy, is going to hell in a handbasket. What are you and I doing to change the course?
To be sure, the voyage didn’t begin with the recent same-sex "marriage" decisions, Roe v. Wade, Lambeth in 1930 or even the rise of nominalism. It began back when Adam failed to protect Eve in the Garden of Eden.
In other words, the history of men failing to protect that which is most important is long and infamous.
I frequently write things because I need to hear them myself — with the expectation that I am not unique in my troubles — so someone else may merit from hearing it, too. So here goes.
First off, guys, what is your first thought in the morning? This is basic. Is it, "Where’s the snooze button?" "Where’s the coffee?" "Ugh, another day at the office?"
Or is it, "Thank you, God, for another day"? If it isn’t this last one, try to make it that. You’ll be amazed how well it focuses the rest of the day. Or at least the morning.
Why are you not praying more? Again, I aim this at myself also. I’m not talking daily Mass necessarily — though it is a fantastic practice — but, for instance, if you hear a siren of a fire truck, ambulance or police car, offer a prayer for the safety of the responders and those whom they are going to help or hinder. A Hail Mary takes very little time. Perhaps work yourself up to a daily Rosary walk at lunchtime. It can seem quaint, but the rhythm of the prayer, the subject matter of the mysteries, the chance to just detach for 15 or 20 minutes can be cathartic.
Are you visiting the sick? Taking time with the lonely? Giving money to charity is great, but money is so easy. A person bedridden or unable to get out much would be helped far more deeply by a smile and a cup of coffee than a $20 bill. Time and human contact are treasures from heaven. Share your treasures.
And here’s the secret: When you do that, you benefit from the experience at least as much as that person does, if you let yourself benefit.
Here’s the harder one: Are you called to marriage or a religious vocation? Then why are you not pursuing it harder? What is standing in your way? Once again, I am part of my intended audience here, so no one gets a free pass on this part.
Those of us who think marriage is our calling, please, for the love of all that is holy, embrace that beautiful calling and pursue it. Make the time to seek and date. Pray more fervently that God prepares your heart to share it with she whom he has prepared for you. He will put her in your path if it is meant to be.
If she is there in front of you, what is holding you back? Infirmity? Sin? Feelings of inadequacy?
If it’s infirmity, nothing will help more than another willing to share the struggle. If it’s sin, root it out as best you can, draw closer to the Lord, and trust that he will give her (and you) the strength to help tame what is still wild within you. If it’s feelings of inadequacy, well, you probably are correct, because no guy deserves the woman who will take him. So please do the world a favor and swallow that pride that paradoxically keeps you down. We desperately need more good Catholic couples to be a witness to the world of what love really is.
As for those of us who think a religious vocation is our calling — priesthood, consecrated singlehood or religious brother — frankly, the advice is the same: Whatever is holding us back is smoke and mirrors from the same liar who made a coward of Adam. He is there to make cowards of us, too. Again, paradoxically, because there is no power that can thwart the will of God in our lives without our permission. We simply need more good men dedicating their lives to nurture the Church so that she might bear more good fruit. Whichever it is, the world needs us to step up. Too many of us are too comfortable living in and of the world, and we can see where this compliance has brought us.
Manhood’s first failure started this whole mess. Let us not perpetuate that failure in our own lives by failing to be the men we were made to be. Each and every one of us is called to follow our Savior, take up our own crosses every moment of every day, in the manner we were made to take them up — and follow him to Calvary.
Tom Crowe is the Web-content editor at Franciscan University of Steubenville,
a former seminarian and a contributor at CatholicVote.org.
Follow him on Twitter @TomCrowe.