INTO THE BREACH


Sirach, Chapter 7, Verse 29
With all your soul fear God and revere his priests.

Sometimes we are tempted to follow any leader who is popular. We forget God’s warning about following the proud and evil hearted, for lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the LORD of hosts. (Mal 3: 19) We may think that following the leadership of our bishops is a waste of time. You have said, “It is useless to serve God; what do we gain by observing God’s requirements, and by going about as mourners-before the LORD of hosts? But we call the arrogant blessed; for evildoers not only prosper but even test God and escape.” (Mal 3:14-15) God knows the heart of a man and if his heart be true God raises that man up as He did Joshua and Moses. God is not a God of the past and continues to this day in the action of raising a man up and He does so in our Priests and Bishops. Just like an architect that uses rocks and sticks to become temples or bridges God uses men to build his Kingdom. Strive therefore to be God’s man or woman. Emulate Joshua in proclaiming, if it is displeasing to you to serve the LORD, choose today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15).

The joy of the Gospel is stronger than the sadness wrought by sin!
Open your minds and hearts to Him, the Savior who strengthens you to step into the breach!

INTO THE BREACH[1]


The world is under attack by Satan, as our Lord said it would be (cf. 1 Pt 5:8–14). This battle is occurring in the Church herself, and the devastation is all too evident. Since AD 2000, fourteen million Catholics have left the Faith, parish religious education of children has dropped by 24 percent, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19 percent, infant baptism has dropped by 28 percent, adult baptism has dropped by 31 percent, and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41 percent. This is a serious breach, a gaping hole in Christ’s battle lines. So, I call upon you to open your minds and hearts to Him, the Savior who strengthens you to step into the breach!
Letter from the Bishop of Phoenix:

 I begin this letter with a clarion call and clear charge to you, my sons and brothers in Christ: Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men. This battle is often hidden, but the battle is real. It is primarily spiritual, but it is progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our own homes. If we fail to enter the breach in the wall of faith: Young Catholic men will have a devastating impact on the Church in America in the coming decades, as older men pass away and young men fail to remain and marry in the Church, accelerating the losses that have already occurred.
What practices can help us to take up our cross and follow our Lord and His church?

If we think of soldiers who do not remain in strong physical and mental shape and who fail to practice the essential combat arts, we know they will not be ready for battle and will be a danger to themselves and their comrades in arms. The same is true for Catholic men; those who do not prepare and strengthen themselves for spiritual combat are incapable of filling the breach for Christ. While there are many habits and devotions that a Catholic man can form, I charge you with keeping these seven basic practices on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. If these practices are not (yet) part of your life, start now!

1. Pray every day. Each Catholic man must start his day with prayer. It is said, “Until you realize that prayer is the most important thing in life, you will never have time for prayer.” Without prayer, a man is like a soldier who lacks food, water, and ammunition. Set aside some time to speak with God first thing each morning. Pray the three prayers essential to the Catholic faith: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. Pray also at every meal. Before food or drink touches your lips, make the Sign of the Cross, say the “Bless us, O Lord” prayer, and end with the Sign of the Cross. Do this no matter where you are, with whom or how much you are eating. Never be shy or ashamed about praying over meals. Never deny Christ the gratitude that is due to Him. Praying as a Catholic man before every meal is a simple but powerful way to keep strong and fill the breach.

2. Examine your conscience before going to sleep. Take a few moments to review the day, including both your blessings and sins. Give God thanks for blessings and ask forgiveness for sins. Say an Act of Contrition.

3.Go to Mass. Despite the fact that attending weekly Mass is a Precept of the Church, only about one in three Catholic men attend Sunday Mass. For large numbers of Catholic men, their neglect to attend Mass is a grave sin, a sin that puts them in mortal danger. The Mass is a refuge in the Spiritual Battle, where Catholic men meet their King, hear His commands, and become strengthened with the Bread of Life. Every Mass is a miracle where Jesus Christ is fully present, a miracle that is the highpoint not only of the week, but of our entire lives on Earth. In the Mass, a man gives thanks to God for his many blessings and hears Christ send him again into the world to build the Kingdom of God. Fathers who lead their children to Mass are helping in a very real way to ensure their eternal salvation.

4. Read the Bible. As St. Jerome so clearly tells us, “Ignorance of the Sacred Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” When we read God’s word, Jesus is present. Married men read with your wife and your children. If a man’s children see him read the Scriptures, they are more likely to remain in the Faith. My brothers in Christ, this I can assure you: men who read the Bible grow in grace, wisdom, and peace.

5. Keep the Sabbath. From the creation of Adam and Eve, God the Father established a weekly cycle ending with the Sabbath. He gave us the Sabbath to ensure that one day out of seven we will give thanks to God, rest, and be refreshed.

In the Ten Commandments, God asserts anew the importance of keeping the Sabbath. With today’s constant barrage of buying and selling and the cacophony of noisy media, the Sabbath is God’s respite from the storm. As Catholic men, you must begin, or deepen, keeping the holiness of the Sabbath. If you are married, you must lead your wives and children to do the same. Dedicate the day to rest and true recreation, and avoid work that is not necessary. Spend time with family, attend Mass, and enjoy the gift of the day.

6.Go to Confession. At the very start of Christ’s public ministry, Jesus calls on all men to repent. Without repentance from sin, there can be no healing or forgiveness, and there will be no Heaven. Large numbers of Catholic men are in grave mortal danger, particularly given the epidemic levels of pornography consumption and the sin of masturbation. My brothers, get to Confession now! Our Lord Jesus Christ is a merciful King who will forgive those who humbly confess their sins. He will not forgive those who refuse. Open your soul to the gift of our Lord’s mercy!

7. Build fraternity with other Catholic men. Catholic friendship among men has a dramatic impact on their faith lives. Men who have bonds of brotherhood with other Catholic men pray more, go to Mass and Confession more frequently, read the Scriptures more often, and are more active in the Faith. Proverbs tells us: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (27:17). I call on each of our priests and deacons to draw men together in their parishes and to begin to rebuild a vibrant and transforming Catholic fraternity. I call on laymen to form small fellowship groups for mutual support and growth in the faith. There is no friendship like having a friend in Christ.



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