As we welcome our highest number of new brothers and have reached a grand total of 1300 members (May 2020), it seems an appropriate time to lay out what you are signing up to by joining Catholic Man UK!
I’m Sam Baker, one of the founders of Catholic Man UK, along with James Leatherland.
This post is the transcript for this video (slightly edited for reading).
You may have been invited to ‘like’ CMUK by a friend or family member and simply clicked yes with a passing interest. You may actually have been looking for a page for Catholic men in the UK, rather like the ones from the US that this group was inspired by. Either way, you probably have your own idea of what this group is, or should be.
Let me explain the aim of the Catholic Man UK movement, partly by explaining what this group is not primarily about, then what it is meant to be about – and then a few further points that I’ve detailed on our website and on this blog. Please take a moment to look at both. You can then make an informed decision as to whether or not this group is for you.
There are many issues facing the Church today that one could take up the banner for, and many battles that could be championed. Over the few months that we’ve been running this group, we’ve seen some fervent debates around the themes of Church leadership and Church liturgy, for example.
Catholic Man UK, however, has not been set up to fight those battles. There are only so many battlefronts a man can face at one time, and I’ve not chosen to tackle these. My advice to you, if you are disappointed by this admission, but are passionate about, say, Church leadership and Church liturgy, is to set up your own group and to champion your own chosen cause.
No, my passion is helping the Catholic man understand the purpose and importance of his role as a father, because we have all been created by God the Father with the primary task of bringing His paternity to others.
We are – and should be – the living hands, the voice, the face and the heart of God the Father to the families entrusted to us, to the people in our care and to everyone we meet. And that goes for the young as well as the old, the single man as well as the married, the layman as well as the priest. All of us are called to reflect something of God’s fatherhood to the world.
As men, we can talk about our vocation to marriage, to the priesthood, to the single life, or to a particular mission. But ultimately, our primary vocation is towards fatherhood, to become and to act like fathers, in whatever we are called to do. That is why CMUK’s motto is agere sequitur esse – action follows being. We must act according to what we have been created to be.
And why is this? Well, let me explain something of the battlefront that I have chosen to face. Today, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, a day that recognises the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in Portugal and her messages of prayer, repentance, penance, and devotion to the rosary and to her Immaculate Heart. Years later, one of those children, Lucia, would write that “a time will come when the decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family”.
Ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan and his fallen angels have waged a battle against mankind – in what Fr Linus Clovis calls their “perverse attempt to prevent the perpetuation of human flesh”. Satan does not want to see the endurance and preservation of God’s family; his pride does not want to see humanity sitting on the thrones that he and his minions once occupied. So he does all he can to prevent it: he destroys families by destroying marriages and he destroys marriages by destroying men. As Pope St John Paul II said, society goes by way of the family – and I would add that the family goes by way of the father, and I include in this the father of the parish as much as the biological father.
So here is my point: in the decisive battle between Christ and Satan over marriage and the family, Catholic men must step up and follow their King!
We are not waging war against our fellow, faithful Catholic brothers; we are not polarising them, judging them or rejecting them. We are not, as St Paul says, “contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness”. No, we should be exhorting men to stand up, to put on the armour of God and to fight a spiritual battle!
The battle begins first and foremost in our own souls. We should fight to become men of virtue long before thinking of leading and protecting families, parishes and other vocational duties entrusted to us. We must reject Satan and all his empty promises; we must fight for purity: no pornography, no lustful fantasies, no second glances; we must fight our inertia and instead structure our time, our activities and our prayer life; we must destroy self-centred habits and let charitable ones take root; we must fight our juvenile demands to be free to do what we want and, instead, pursue duty and responsibility. To continue the quote from St Paul, we must pray at all times, keep alert, and persevere.
In setting up Catholic Man UK, I wanted to join with other men who sense deep down that this is our true vocation and our true battle: the masculine development of virtues and the fatherly protection of marriage and the family through prayer and sacrifice.
Returning to Our Lady of Fatima, we have been given the weapon of the rosary, a weapon that Padre Pio called the weapon of our times. It would be wonderful to see as many members participating in our weekly Sunday evening rosary as have participated in some of the divisive debates within the group!
This is not to say that robust debate is not essential! Members have critically suggested that vigorous debate is manly. Yes, when it builds other men up, rather than pulling them down through personal attacks. St Paul tells us to fasten the belt of truth around our waists in the same sentence as he tells us to be equipped with the gospel of peace. We need to know the Faith that we profess and we need to share it charitably, all the while “making supplication for all the saints”.
To support debate outside of the themes of masculine virtues, manhood and fatherhood, we have set up the Discussion Forum – once, perhaps, a wilderness of antagonism and quarrels, now a preserve for academic consideration of matters of faith and church teaching. Please use it in that manner and encourage others to do so.
So, let us be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Pray that our brotherhood of Catholic men in the UK grows strong in number and in fraternal love. Keep exhorting one another to render service with a good will as to the Lord …, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same again from the Lord.