An interesting post this morning by on the First Things’ blog On the Square Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., the Roman Catholic archbishop of Denver . The part I quote is from a talk given in September at an Indianapolis men’s conference for Legatus, a Catholic men’s group. Their mission is one that Orthodox Christians would do well to emulate. From their web page:
Our threefold purpose is to:
Study: Ongoing education is at the heart of Legatus. We are matching members, who have a thirst for knowledge, with the most profound and convincing body of religious knowledge in the history of human thought.
Live: Translating the teachings of Christ and the social teaching of the Church into practical applications helps our members become eminently pragmatic about their faith.
Spread: Legatus is the Latin word for “ambassador”. Our members don’t typically wear their faith on their shirtsleeves. They spread the faith through good example, good deeds and high ethical standards.
With that, let me now direct your attention to Archbishop Chaput’s concluding remarks.
So what are you going to do? How are we going to convert this world? I want to suggest an answer from history.
Did you ever wonder how the early Church did it? I mean, how did a handful of very ordinary men, disciples of an obscure man executed as a criminal, wind up changing the world—conquering an empire and founding a whole new civilization on the cornerstone of that executed man’s life and teachings? And they did it in just a few centuries, without armies, and usually in face of discrimination and persecution.
Never before had a religion taught that God loved people personally and that God’s love began before the person was even born. Abortion and birth control were rampant in the Roman Empire. Christians rejected both of them from the beginning. Athenagoras, a Christian layman, explained why in an open letter he addressed to Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He said: “For we regard the very fetus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God’s care.”
Before Christianity came on the scene, no religion had ever taught that God could be found in our neighbor. The world largely ignored the poor, the hungry, the stranger, and the imprisoned. And it still does. And yet Jesus said that we find God in our love for these least brethren of ours.
Christian love is not weak or anesthetic. It’s an act of the will. It takes guts. It’s a deliberate submission of our selfishness to the needs of others. There’s nothing “unmanly” about it, and there’s nothing—and I mean nothing—more demanding and rewarding in the world. The heart of medieval knighthood and chivalry was the choice of a fighting man to put himself at the service of others—honoring his lord, respecting the dignity of women, protecting the weak, and defending the faith even at the cost of his own life.
That’s your vocation. That’s what being a Christian man means. We still have those qualities in our hearts. We are not powerless in the face of today’s unbelieving civilization. We can turn this world upside down if only we’re willing to love—the kind of Christian love that is vastly more powerful than just a sugary feeling; the kind of love that converts men into something entirely new; the kind of love that bears fruit in a man’s zeal, courage, justice, mercy, and apostolic action.
So I leave you with this: Be men who love well. Be the Catholic men God intended you to be. Be men of courage and fidelity to your God, your wives, your families, and your Church. Put your belief into practice. Do everything for the glory of God, even the little things you have to do each day. Love those who don’t love you. Love—expecting nothing in return. Love—and those you love will find Jesus, too. Love—and through your actions, God will change this world.