(Long introductory speeches. Queue to 5 minutes 45 seconds.)
…to keep Me from destroying the land; but I found no one. – Ezekiel 22:30
(Long introductory speech. Queue video to 7 minutes.)
When the Holy Father uses the term “the environment,” he means something very different from what your usual run-of-the-mill “environmentalist” means by the term. – Catholic World Report
INTO THE BREACH – An Apostolic Exhortation to Catholic Men
+Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix
Bishop Olmsted: Satan is ‘especially active’ around abortion facilities, so be vigilant
May 6, 2014
An interview with Devin Schadt, whose new book challenges men to recognize that fathers are not defined by their occupations but by their vocations
Devin Schadt is a husband, father, and speaker whose book, Joseph’s Way: Prayer of Faith (80 Days to Unlocking Your Power as a Father) was recently published by Ignatius Press. The book is the first of a two-volume series that seeks to “transmit the message of the glory, necessity, and power of fatherhood.” Devin is the cofounder of the Fathers of St. Joseph, an apostolate that works for the renewal of authentic fatherhood, and he lives in the Midwest with his wife and five children. He recently corresponded with Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, about the family as an icon of the Trinity, the example of St. Joseph, and how families goes the way of the father.
CWR: What was the inspiration, or origin, of Joseph’s Way: Prayer of Faith? How did your own experience as a Catholic, husband, and father shape this book and the second volume, Prayer of a King?
Devin Schadt: Joseph’s Way was born out of crisis. Our third daughter, Anna Marie, was born at 28 weeks gestational period. After an emergency caesarian section, she spent a month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in order to develop her lungs and digestive system, and eventually returned home with our family. After five days she contracted the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is a type of cold that attacks premature infants’ lungs, often causing death. We readmitted Anna Marie to the pediatric unit at the local hospital, but the team was not equipped, nor did they have enough experience, to care for a child that small. Due to neglect, and ten hours of apnea, Anna Marie suffered a hypoxic event, wherein not enough oxygen was transmitted to her brain. By the time the Medivac team stabilized her on life support and she had arrived by helicopter at a children’s hospital a couple of hours away, she had suffered three clinical death experiences and permanent brain injury.
Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers
Clayton C. Barbeau’s The Father of the Family communicates a spirituality that truly embraces what it means to be a man of God
The Catholic contribution to male spirituality was relatively sparse until the 1990s when, sparked largely by the success of the Protestant Promise Keepers movement, interest in strengthening the faith of men and helping them to deepen their relationship with God—while increasing their knowledge of the Catholic faith through apologetics and catechesis—began to rise. Today, the resurgent Catholic men’s movement has yielded a steadily growing number of conferences, books, study programs, prayer groups and several male-oriented Catholic television series. Much of the Catholic literature has focused on fatherhood but recent works have broadened the spectrum, embracing a more holistic approach to male spirituality.
Clayton C. Barbeau’s excellent book, The Father of the Family: A Christian Perspective (Sophia Institute Press, 2013), an updated and expanded edition of his earlier work, The Head of the Family (Sophia Institute Press, 2002/The Liturgical Press, 1970), explores various aspects of Christian fatherhood with a wonderful blend of timeless spiritual wisdom and practical insight. Although written for fathers, Barbeau’s book provides rich fare for any man who hungers to go deeper in his faith. A family therapist by trade, Barbeau is careful not to psychoanalyze fathers, avoiding the mistake of Richard Rohr and others who have lost authentic male spirituality amidst the exploration of Jungian archetypes. The Father of the Family, by presenting a spirituality that truly embraces what it means to be a man of God, makes for an effective weapon of choice against the ever-encroaching culture of death.
Four aspects of Barbeau’s presentation on fatherhood stand out in this book: the power of God’s love in a father’s life; his use of Scripture; the direct, to-the-point style of writing; and the wonderful balance between the spiritual and practical dimensions of Christian fatherhood.
Like the hook of a popular song that you constantly hum, the love of God is a constant theme that flows seamlessly throughout the entire book. This new edition reads like an extended reflection of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s first encyclical Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”) or even a homily by Pope Francis, with a splash of Saint John Paul II’s theology of the body thrown in for good measure. Barbeau understands that he’s writing to men, and does not dilute and trivialize the power of God’s love in a father’s life so that it becomes unrecognizable as the driving force of male spirituality. The evangelistic moment of a man’s encounter with Truth—the realization and subsequent inculcation of Christ’s love in the life of a husband and father—is not a mere expression of a “feminine side” but connects his life to the Cross: “the essence of love is sacrifice. We have the constant reminder of Christ’s Cross that it is through sacrifice that love is proved […] The lifelong sacrifice of ourselves to the good of others is what constitutes our fatherhood in its fullness” (34).
Why the New Evangelization May Flop
The call for a New Evangelization is a desperately needed initiative especially when it is directed at baptized Catholics who are secularized and distant from the Faith. A serious hemorrhage of Catholics, especially youth and young adults, is due to what St. John Paul II termed an “invasive secularism.” Yet, the New Evangelization may be a flop when it comes to evangelizing families.
Key to the long-term success of an evangelistic effort that results in widespread cultural transformation is the targeting of specific “people-groups” (a term used in missions and in evangelistic planning) that are keys for the conversion of others. In other words, instead of trying to evangelize everyone, the focus is put upon those who in turn will be instrumental in the conversions and reversions of others. As far as I can tell, the key “people-group” for the New Evangelization of families has yet to be identified, namely fathers.
Yes, it’s encouraging that we now have annual Catholic men’s conferences in many places, but that’s a long way from a full-court, year-long, and multi-faceted effort at evangelizing fathers.
The Southern Baptists, who are effective evangelizers, published these remarkable results from research done by their church resource division:
• If a child is the first in the family to become a Christian, there’s a
3.7 percent probability that the rest of the family will become Christians
• If mom is the first in the family to become a Christian, there’s a
17 percent probability that the rest of the family will follow
• If dad is the first in the family to become a Christian, there’s a
93 percent probability that everyone else in the family will follow his lead