Every Catholic man who is blessed to come to believe the reality that Jesus Christ is the Savior of Man and that he personally needs Jesus to be his Savior, is received into Christ’s Holy Catholic Church Militant (the Catholic Church on earth) and begins his pilgrimage towards the eternal happiness of being with the Blessed Trinity and all the Saints and Angels in Heaven forever.
The vocation, or work, of Catholic Manhood progresses through 3 stages: Catholic Son, Catholic Father, and Catholic Saint. A Catholic man grows through the 3 stages, with each stage building upon and including the past stage through the disciplined practice of a variety of holy habits which must be mastered and maintained.
Ascending through the 3 Stages of Catholic Manhood
Every Catholic man’s pilgrimage towards Heaven progresses through three necessary stages as he grows in holiness and happiness: 1) Becoming a Catholic Son, 2) Becoming a Catholic Father, and 3) Becoming a Catholic Saint.
Stage 1 – Becoming a Catholic Son
After a little boy is born into the world with his inheritance of Original Sin, at some point, he receives the Sacrament of Baptism and is cleansed of Original Sin and becomes an adopted son of the Almighty Father, a Catholic Son. A boy is blessed to later receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, and as he becomes a teenager, he matures into Catholic adulthood through the Sacrament of Confirmation.
The major goal during the first stage of the spiritual life of a man as a Catholic Son is to bring a man’s selfish thoughts and acts under control and to live his life as commanded by the Blessed Trinity so that he can resist the constant attacks and temptations of Satan and be an obedient and holy Catholic Son; in essence, a man stops rebelling against God and returns to Him. A Catholic Son struggles to overcome his Concupiscence by battling against sin and vice and pursuing many holy acts and growing in virtue; the spiritual battle to grow in holiness requires the Catholic Son to practice multiple habits of holiness.
Stage 2 – Becoming a Catholic Father
For a Catholic Son to continue to mature in his faith and fulfill the calling of God, he must continue in the spiritual battle to pursue personal holiness, while moving into the second stage of Catholic Manhood, that of becoming a Catholic Father. Most men remain laymen and enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony and take on the responsibilities of leading, protecting and providing for a wife and children. Other Catholic laymen remain single and are called to live a chaste life, in the world or as a religious brother. A small number of Catholic men are blessed to be called to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders and enter into the priesthood or the diaconate of the Holy Catholic Church. All are called to become Catholic Fathers.
The major goal of the second stage of the spiritual life of a Catholic man as a Catholic Father is to mature beyond his obedience as a Catholic Son and to lead others to become adopted sons and daughters of the Almighty Father; a Catholic Father has moved beyond simply not rebelling against God to actively striving to cooperate with the calling to help build the Holy Catholic Church, starting with his family, his own Domestic Church Militant. While the ways which a married man, a single man, priest, deacon or religious brother carry out spiritual fatherhood, there is a common movement from personal holiness to becoming a leader who leads, provides and protects others in the Catholic faith. The craft of being a Catholic Father requires a man to master a series of habits which make him effective in the evangelization and catechesis of others.
Stage 3 – Becoming a Catholic Saint
The third stage of Catholic Manhood requires a man to maintain and grow as a Catholic Son and Catholic Father but to proceed to elevated levels of holiness which moves closer and closer to the perfection of love to which Jesus Christ calls every man.
The movement of a soul from being a holy Catholic Son and Catholic Father to become a Catholic Saint is a rare thing on earth, though there have been thousands of examples in the age of the Church of those who have become saints while still on earth. A major transition on the path of a Saint is that a man no longer strives to cooperate with the will of God, but more and more, through a closer and more intimate union with God, God begins to do His will through the man. These holy souls have been purged of sin, are illuminated by Christ and now live primarily in union with Him. Such a man may not yet be perfect and still vulnerable to sin, but he is living in an extraordinary and rare union with God and is nearing the eternal happiness of Heaven; a Catholic Saint lives in God and for God.
For most Catholic men who will eventually be received in to Heaven, the progression towards Sainthood is not completed while on earth and they must enter into the Church Penitent (Purgatory) after their death to be cleansed and purified so they may enter into Sainthood and be received into Heaven.
Building the Habits of Catholic Sons and Fathers
A man who pursues some great goal and works hard in the pursuit of excellence knows that greatness comes through doing the right things over and over, until his routines become habits and his habits become routine. Becoming a better Catholic Son and Catholic Father requires a man to build a series of habits which are necessary for growing in holiness and growing in the vocation of being a Catholic Son and Catholic Father.
The 14 major habits of Catholic Manhood
The Every Catholic Man Daily Devotional provides a systematic approach to help understand and grow in the habits of Catholic Manhood by becoming a better Catholic Son and Catholic Father. There are 14 Major Habits of Catholic Manhood: 7 Major Habits for Catholic Sons (Major Habits 1-7) and 7 Major Habits for Catholic Fathers (Major Habits 8-14).
Each Major Habit is broken into smaller groups of habits (52 in number) which a man can focus upon and strive to master. For men who wish to build a systematic approach to learning and practice, each of the 52 habits can be reviewed once a week during a year (e.g. week 1 – Habit 1; week 2 – Habit 2, etc.; see Weekly Study Plans; periodic review and practice is necessary to build these holy habits.
Grow comes in small persistent daily steps
The idea of tackling so many habits may seem initially overwhelming; but don’t despair! Many of these habits you may have already mastered and growing in holiness is the project of a lifetime; Mt. Everest is ascended one upward step at a time and the same holds true in the spiritual ascent of life. Also, because of the systematic design of the Devotional, many of the habits of Catholic Sons and Catholic Fathers are built right into the Devotional; by simply building the “Master Habit” of praying the Daily Devotions for 15 minutes a day (see Building the Devotional Master Habit of Praying the Daily Devotions) you will automatically begin to grow in many of the holy habits of Catholic Manhood.
To accelerate progress, the habits which help a man become a better Catholic Son and Catholic Father are listed so that a man can review them on a periodic basis and focus on areas which are most necessary for his own personal situation and aspirations. Reviewing the habits is helpful for a man to be able to assess his spiritual progress by identifying strengths and weaknesses in the habits and to make plans to grow in holiness.
To help you more fully assess your progress when you are ready to do so, there is a personal assessment for the Catholic Son and Catholic Father habits which break down the habits into smaller, easier to tackle pieces using questions you can ask yourself. The questions are directly linked to the habits and provide a more detailed view which can help you identify small practical steps to strengthen the holy habits of being a Catholic Son and Catholic Father when you are ready to do so.