Though every Catholic man wants to be happy and Jesus promises every man true and lasting happiness, a Catholic man can falter in the faith because his Catholicism has failed to be helpful in his quest for happiness. Sadly, millions of Catholic men have drifted away from the faith. Millions more have faltered in the faith, fallen into a dangerous spiritual lukewarmness (Rev 3:16, CCC 2094) and have become casual Catholics, men who practice the faith infrequently with little gusto. Many Catholic men who continue to loyally practice the faith experience dryness and sometimes feel like they are just going through the motions; never-the-less, they march on in faith.
In glorious contrast, there are millions of Catholic men who have been blessed to choose to receive the true and lasting happiness Jesus promises and zealously practice the Catholic faith; their lives are vibrant, joyful, purposeful, and they live with a contagious Catholicism which inspires and blesses their spouses, children, family, friends and many in the world; these are truly happy men. Despite the extraordinary fruit in their lives, these heroic Catholic men are ever eager to become even more fruitful in Christ.
What is the difference in the faith lives of those who falter and those who thrive in the faith? There are three main reasons why men fail to find the happiness Jesus promises:
1) Failure to believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of Man
A man who has failed to find happiness in Catholicism often has not come to really and truly believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of Man who can give him true and lasting happiness. If a man doesn’t believe Christ is the Savior, he will not thrive as a Christian.
The main reason why a man fails to believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of Man is because he has never really met and come to know Him.
Many Catholic men have only vague ideas about Jesus that are incomplete and inaccurate, false ideas which can never inspire a robust and life-changing faith in Jesus: for them, Jesus is a theological concept, a mythical figure, a pretty good teacher, a vague figure of ancient history, or a de-masculinized false caricature of Jesus who has rosy cheeks, doe eyes, and carries around a little lamb.
2) Failure to believe a man personally needs Jesus to save him
A second cause of why a man can fail to find the happiness Jesus promises, is that he has not yet come to believe that he is in deep trouble and that he personally needs Jesus to save him.
There are several reasons why a man may not yet believe he personally needs Jesus to save him. Perhaps most often, a man simply is filled up and satisfied with his pursuit of worldly pleasures and doesn’t think he needs Jesus in his life. A man may have convinced himself that he is a pretty good man who is not hurting anyone. A man may believe he is pretty smart and has “figured things out” and developed his own spiritual or moral approach that doesn’t depend on Jesus.
Men who don’t believe they need Jesus have failed to understand or believe several truths. A man may not yet understand he will either experience the eternal happiness of being a Saint in Heaven or experience the eternal agony of the Damned in Hell; sainthood and damnation are the only two outcomes for every man. A man may not realize the perfection necessary to become a Saint and the impossibility of becoming a Saint by his own efforts. A man may not have looked deeply in to his own life to discover the great burden of sin he is carrying by what he has done and what he has failed to do, and how his sin is the root cause of his restlessness and unhappiness.
A man’s failure to understand his desperate personal need for Jesus to be his Savior often traces to an incomplete or even false catechesis which downplays or ignores sin and the realities of Heaven and Hell, fails to call men to the perfection of sainthood, and falsely presumes that pretty much everybody gets to Heaven.
3) Failure to zealously practice Catholicism
The third cause of why a man has not yet found the happiness that Jesus promises is because he has failed to zealously practice the Catholic faith.
The root cause of a man’s failure to practice Catholicism is that he hasn’t learned the life-saving practical power of the faith and experienced the profound happiness which the faith brings to a faithful man. A man may have been taught lots of rules and not learned how the rules leads to happiness. A man may have been taught heaps of Catholicism but never learned the big picture and what really matters. A man may have been taught a de-masculinized Catholicism which is unattractive to a man. A man may have been poorly catechized with “bits and pieces” Catholicism which seems inconsistent or incomplete. A man may have been taught tons of theology but never really learned how to successfully practice the faith to grow in happiness in daily life.
One of the reasons why so many men fail to grasp the great blessing of Catholicism is that the teaching and practice of the faith has been de-masculinized and softened to the point where hard truths and consequences of the faith fade. Many catechetical programs are taught in a gender-neutral way largely by women and fail to recognize that men and women have been created differently by God, struggle with different sins, and are motivated differently in the practice of the faith. When the teaching of the faith becomes more about feelings than truth and logic, and when a young man is not fathered in the faith by holy men, he will look to other ways to mature in his masculinity.