“Stop DESIRING to be holy, & RESOLVE to be holy”
- St. Frances de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life
PROBLEM WE SOLVE
WHY ARE SO MANY CATHOLIC MEN FAILING TO GROW IN HOLINESS TO BECOME WHO GOD CREATED THEM TO BE?
LOW COMMITMENT, NO ACCOUNTABILITY, & DISCOURAGEMENT
"My child, know that the greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and an exaggerated anxiety. These will deprive you of the ability to practice virtue."
- Jesus to St. Faustina in Divine Mercy in My Soul, 1488
In many ways, we already know the things the Lord has called us to do each day. Love God, & love our neighbor. Pray, read Scripture, live out our vocations with consistency & integrity, grow in holiness and virtue, fulfill our work responsibilities, care for our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, etc. But, why are we so inconsistent in actually doing them? The answer is that simply KNOWING what to do is not enough. We need the COURAGE to actually put our faith into practice. Specifically, the reasons our courage and resolve falter are three-fold:
1) CRISIS OF COMMITMENT
Lack of a deep level of commitment to our goals and good intentions. Our 'why' is not convincing enough to merit the sacrifices necessary to become who God created us to be.
2) LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY
We don't have the godly accountability that we need from trusted family members & friends. Without that, it's far too easy to rationalize why our commitments can be broken. After all, if we don't share our spiritual commitments with anyone, then no one would even notice when we fail to live up to them.
3) THE PARALYZING EFFECT OF DISCOURAGEMENT
This is one of the primary sources of our spiritual battles. The soul needs love, truth, and encouragement like the body needs food and water. Not only do many of us lack authentic friendship and true Christian community to provide a consistent source of encouragement and support, but we also have not put into practice the small daily actions necessary to lead to fullness of life in Christ. We think that if we can't read the Bible for 30 minutes or do a full Holy Hour, then there's no point in doing anything. Then we give into discouragement from 'not doing enough' which certainly doesn't help the situation! Add in the constant assaults and lies from the evil one that we are worthless and beyond the hope of redemption every time we stumble and fall, and it's no wonder that many give into despair, & that we do not see more living saints in our parishes!
SMALL THINGS WITH GREAT LOVE IN THE CONTEXT OF A 'WARRIOR SQUAD'
"None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."
- St. Teresa of Calcutta
The Church is full of amazing resources from the immense supernatural gift of grace we find in the Sacraments, to the Scriptures, the Catechism, and the nearly endless supply of Catholic books and devotionals at our fingertips. We can and must take advantage of all of these. But, one key aspect in God's solution for renewing the Church which is too often overlooked is found through the lived reality of discipleship in the context of a small group of 4-6 men who meet at least monthly which we call 'Warrior Squads'.
But, how exactly do these small daily actions with the accountability of a
Warrior Squad small group address these serious obstacles to growth in holiness?
1) THE ANTIDOTE TO LOW COMMITMENT
Being in a small group firmly roots your 'why' in the deepest purpose of your life - to become a saint, get to heaven, and bring others there with you. Furthermore, through the daily actions and the frequent communication with your Squad, that commitment is constantly reinforced. With our culture pressuring us in so many negative ways, calling each other on with the 'positive peer pressure' of going all in for Jesus is a natural antidote.
2) THE ANTIDOTE TO LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Your Squad has your back, and you have theirs. We have an extremely high value for BOTH joyful encouragement AND gently calling each other on to greatness - to reject mediocrity and live the life God has called us to. We make Jesus' words a lived reality that he came that we might have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). Proverbs 27:17 says, "As Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Hebrews 12 goes further and says that if we do not allow God to discipline us, then we are not true sons (v8)...(v11). "God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness." Just as God the Father BOTH encourages us AND disciplines us, so too should we experience both of these aspects from our fellow Warriors. However, this does not happen by accident. It takes great intentionality. Give your small group permission to call you on in whatever area of your life that you need support. If you know all they do and say comes from a place of love, then you won't become defensive when they gently call you on to the 'fullness of life' for which you were created.
3) THE ANTIDOTE TO DISCOURAGEMENT
Beyond the tangible support & encouragement we receive from the brothers in our Warrior Squad, there is also a great spiritual & psychological benefit when we have an unwavering commitment to consistent daily prayer with no excuses. Before a man is married with small children & work responsibilities, it is easier to commit to extended prayer every day. This is still a wonderful practice, and ideally we would be so lost in prayer we don't even look at our watch! However, when the demands of life make it difficult to keep our commitments, we cannot let the inability to do a full Holy Hour every day to keep us from doing the small things that we ARE able to do. Jesus would rather us begin with daily consistency overflowing from a deep love for and trust in Jesus rather than doing a Holy Hour once a week or a 3-day retreat once a year, & barely communing with the Lord outside of those times. This is completely in line with the Little Way of St. Therese, & with doing 'small things with great love' as taught by St. Teresa of Calcutta. Furthermore, when we discern well how much daily prayer time the Lord is calling us to, & then have a radical commitment to it, we become more sensitive to the Lord’s voice & promptings, & receive a deep sense of the Father’s encouragement & delight in us, as well as the satisfaction of being a man of integrity who is true to his word.