Register Radio - eMANgelization and Practical Theology

This week on Register Radio, Jeanette De Melo talks with Matthew James Christoff, founder of the Catholic men's organization The New eMANgelization about challenges facing men and women to authentically live our their God-given masculinity and femininity. In the second part of the show, Dan Burke and Peter Kreeft discuss Kreeft's new book on St. Thomas Aquinas, Practical Theology.

Matthew Christoff on eMANgelization

Matthew James Christoff converted to Catholicism in 2006. He founded The New eMANgelization project in 2013 to develop a new ardor, method, and expression of evangelization of men. One way Matthew has done that is by engaging top Catholic thinkers on the causes and solution for what he calls the Catholic "man crisis." Recently he interviewed Cardinal Raymond Burke about the evangelization of men, which set off a lively discussion in the Catholic blogosphere about authentic masculinity and femininity.

“We have a severe Catholic man crisis. It’s widespread across the United States,” said Christoff. “About one in three Catholic men that were baptized in the faith have left the faith, and the majority of men that remain in the faith, from various statistical studies and so forth that we’ve done, are lukewarm. They don’t really know the faith, they don’t practice the faith, and they’re not committed to passing the faith along to their children.”

Christoff said this will affect not only the future of marriage, but also the future of the Church in the United States. He’s been working to combat this problem over the last five years. His work started with the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul and then he founded The New eMANgelization in 2013 in response to the problems he encountered.

The focus of The New eMANgelization is “to confront the Catholic man crisis, develop solutions in terms of the things we can do to evangelize and catechize men, and to really light men on fire for Jesus Christ and Holy Mother Church.”

A lot has happened since Christoff founded The New eMANgelization: he’s assembled an extensive fact base, he’s conducted close to 70 interviews with leading Catholic male evangelists, and he’s recently fielded a survey of 2000 men about how priests are evangelizing men and what can be done to help them.

In his recent interview with Cardinal Burke, which went viral on both Catholic and secular sites, Christoff said there were three main points. First, Burke concurs that there is a serious man crisis in the Church. Second, Burke believes that crisis is caused by not only secular influences, such as radical feminism, but also things that the Church is failing to do. And third, Burke highlighted things men of the Church need to do.

“Ironically, the thing that’s drawing so much attention to the man crisis is the reaction from radical feminists, which also proves the Cardinal’s point,” Christoff said of the attention the secular media has given to this interview.

What Cardinal Burke is talking about, Christoff explained, “is when feminism — or any other thing — but in this case, radical feminism, becomes exclusivist, focusing on its own goals and end, without taking into consideration men and children, in this case.”

“Men, if they’re not evangelized and catechized, aren’t going to change how they treat women,” Christoff said. “I can assure you, the work we’re doing with The New eMANgelization, there’s no talk of denigrating women or men being somehow domineering. The focus is on being priest, prophet, and king in the spirit of Saint Joseph, which is humble, sacrificial, willing to lay down his life and men’s lives for our women and for our children and for the Church and for society.”

Christoff mentioned a recent interview he did with Dr. Deborah Savage on the Masculine Genius. “Both the feminine and masculine genius are rooted in Genesis from her perspective,” Christoff said. “Men tend to be exterior focus. God gives me the chance to survey the landscape and name the animals; a very outward focus. Women tend to be more relational and inward focused, to children…as well as that relationship with the men.” 

Authentic Catholic femininity and authentic Catholic masculinity are at the core of our challenges in the Church today, according to Christoff. The battles between the sexes does us no good.

We have to look to those who are speaking out and trying to lead us closer to Jesus through the eyes of charity and reason, and Christoff is passionate about continuing his work.

Links of interest:

Peter Kreeft on Practical Theology

Dr. Peter Kreeft is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King's College. He is the author of numerous books as well as a popular writer of Christian philosophy, theology and apologetics. He also formulated, together with Fr. Ronald  Tacelli, “Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God.” In this episode of Register Radio, Dr. Kreeft talks about his new book on St. Thomas Aquinas, Practical Theology.

What motivated this book, Kreeft said, was justice. “I think people have not done justice to Aquinas’s practical dimension. Most of the books on Aquinas are about Aquinas as a philosopher or a theologian in a theoretical dimension. He certainly is one of the most brilliant — if not the most brilliant — mind in history, but he’s also wonderfully practical. I found in my own experience that browsing through the Summa Theologica gave me gems for my own spiritual life, so I wanted to share these gems with the public.”

This book is practical because it’s user-friendly, it works, and because it’s about lived practice and not just lived theory, Kreeft said.

“Aquinas is a very simple thinker, a very clear thinker, and a very one-directional thinker,” Kreeft shared. “Not only theoretically, everything came from God and ended in God, but practically.”

What’s helped him on his own journey of spiritual growth as he’s worked with Aquinas’s work over the years, Kreeft said, was common sense. “Aquinas says things that you don’t expect a great theologian to say. For instance, one example, he asks why God often deliberately refuses to give us grace to overcome our sins. He says, well, it’s the same as the doctor who wants to cure a deadly disease, and so for that purpose, he tolerates the symptoms of a lesser disease, which would get in the way of curing the more serious disease. And the most serious of all spiritual diseases is pride. So if God let us conquer our more obvious sins, we’d probably succumb to a more serious sin and become Pharisees.”

The book is organized very simply. Kreeft read all 4000 pages of the Summa and ordered them in that chronological way. There are little excerpts of about a page or so, “so you could read it on a little trip to the toilet; it’s good bathroom reading,” he said. “It’s not a complicated outline.”

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