We continue the 52-week plan to grow in Catholic Manhood by becoming a better Catholic Son and Catholic Father. 

At about the halfway point of the year, this week we transition from becoming a better Catholic Son and begin to meditate upon becoming a better Catholic Father. 

Before diving in to the habits of Becoming a Better Catholic Father, it will be helpful to step back and review how a man grows in holiness and happiness through the stages of Catholic manhood on his ascent towards Heaven, review the Power of Building Habits to grow in Catholic Manhood, recap the major habits of Becoming a Better Catholic Son and preview the major habits of Becoming a Better Catholic Father. 

Review of the three stages of Growing in Catholic Manhood

What are the 3 stages of Catholic Manhood? – Every Catholic man who is blessed to believe the reality that Jesus Christ is the Savior of Man and 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. 

What is the first stage of growing in Catholic Manhood? The first stage of growing in Catholic Manhood is 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. 

What is the second stage of growing in Catholic Manhood? – The second stage of growing in Catholic manhood is 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. 

What is the third stage of growing in Catholic manhood? – The third stage of growing in Catholic manhood is 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. 

Review the power of Building the Habits of Catholic Manhood

Why are habits important to growing in the Catholic faith? – 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. 

What is the Every Catholic Man approach to Growing in Catholic Manhood? – Every Catholic Man offers a systematic approach to help a man understand and grow in the habits of Catholic Manhood by becoming a better Catholic Son and Catholic Father. The ECM approach seeks to integrate and simplify the rich and broad wisdom of the Catholic Church into a series of major habits and sub-habits.

There are 14 Major Habits of Growing in Catholic Manhood: 7 Major Habits for Becoming a Better Catholic Son (Major Habits 1-7) and 7 Major Habits for Becoming a Better Catholic Father (Major Habits 8-14). 

Each Major Habit is broken into smaller groups of sub-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.). Periodic review and practice is necessary to build these holy habits. 

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. 

Recap of the 7 Major Habits of Becoming a Better Catholic Son

Up to this point of the 52-week plan to grow in Catholic Manhood, week by week, we have worked through the 7 Major Habits of Becoming a Better Catholic Son and 24 weekly sub-habits which can help a man grow in his vocation as a Catholic Son. 

The more vigorously a man meditates upon and practices these habits the more he will accelerate his spiritual ascent, particularly if he focuses upon habits which are holding him back in his spiritual life. 

The 7 Major Habits of Becoming a Better Catholic Son are: 

Major Habit 1 – Make Union with God your Ultimate Purpose, giving you the desire to avoid Hell and to seek the Beatific Vision of Heaven and to draw closer to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit every single day of your life.

Major Habit 2 – Be Continually Formed in the Catholic Church by consistent study of the faith, accepting, and conforming your entire life upon the wisdom of the Church.

Major Habit 3 – Live a Rich Liturgical Life by organizing your life around the rhythms (daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, annually) of the Church and building deep communion with the Saints and Angels.

Major Habit 4 – Battle against Sin and Vice by continual examination of your well-formed conscience, holding yourself accountable to shun Sin, mortify your appetites, and discipline and care for your physical body.

Major Habit 5 – Strive to Grow in Heroic Virtue by building the virtues you most need to overcome your vices and to systematically grow in the Theological and Cardinal Virtues and to build the virtuous talents God has given you. 

Major Habit 6 – Perform Works of Mercy to serve those in need and build the Church so you might be found worthy of being admitted into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Major Habit 7 – Build a Band of Catholic Brothers, forming deep brotherhood with a small and close group of brothers, engaging priests and deacons, and building relationships with and mentoring a broader Catholic men in your parish.

Preview of the Major Habits of Becoming a Better Catholic Father

What is the goal of 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. 

The major goal during 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.

Who is considered a Catholic Father? – 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. Every Catholic man is called to be a spiritual father who brings many souls to become children of God through Jesus and His Holy Catholic Church. 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.

Why focus on fatherhood in Catholic married life? – While Catholic men can be called to different types of fatherhood (married laymen, single laymen, religious, priests or deacons), the great majority of Catholic 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. 

The Every Catholic Man approach focuses on Catholic men who are called to the vocation of married life because the vast majority of Catholic men are called to married life and can be blessed with specific practical habits to help them lead their wife and children to grow in holiness and happiness. 

What are the Major Habits for Becoming a Better Catholic Father? – There are 7 Major Habits of Catholic Fathers (Major Habits 8-14 of Catholic Manhood) and 28 smaller Habits (Habits 28-52) which can help a man grow in his vocation as a married Catholic Father. The more vigorously a man meditates upon and practices these habits the more he will accelerate his spiritual ascent, particularly if he focuses upon habits which are holding him back as a Catholic Father. 

The 7 Major Habits of Becoming a Better Catholic Father are:  

Major Habit 8 – Build Unity with Your Bride by entering into the Sacrament of Marriage and building a shared Catholic faith life through which the husband and wife seek the salvation of each other.

Major Habit 9 – Establish Authority, Order, and Culture in your Domestic Church by asserting your God-given headship of the family, firmly and charitably setting rules, and building a robust Catholic culture in the home. 

Major Habit 10 – Lead your Family to a Deeper Union with God, imitating the example of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and Saints. 

Major Habit 11 – Evangelize and Catechize your Family by personally acting to help draw your bride, children and other family members to Christ Jesus and His Holy Catholic Church.

Major Habit 12 – Protect and Defend the Family spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically from Satan, demons and all evil attacks. 

Major Habit 13 – Provide for the Family, balancing the desire to give good things to the family without falling into materialism. 

Major Habit 14 – Cultivate and Build the Talents of the Family, helping each child grow in the stature and the ability to answer God’s unique call to build the Kingdom of Heaven and His Holy Catholic Church. 

A word of encouragement: Becoming a Catholic Father is one of the most challenging (and rewarding) things any man can aspire to do. Excelling in the habits may sometimes seem impossible to achieve, for every Catholic father battles to protect his family from the attacks of Satan and the very strong work of Satan in the modern culture, a culture that is depraved and at times seems to wash over and overwhelm his family. 

God, the Almighty Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is thrilled and delighted when you desire to draw closer to the Blessed Trinity and aspire to grow in holiness as a Catholic Father. God loves you and will help make you a saint; all you need to do is rely on God and consistently do your best and God will give you the grace to become a saint. It will not be easy, but St. Joseph, the patron of the Catholic Church and Catholic fathers will intercede on your behalf. St. Joseph, pray for us!