God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in proclaiming the gospel of his Son, that I remember you constantly, always asking in my prayers that somehow by God’s will I may at last find my way clear to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may share with you some spiritual gift so that you may be strengthened, that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith, yours and mine (Romans 1:9-12).
Timothy, my co-worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my relatives. I, Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus greet you (Romans 16:21-23).
When the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe (Acts 14:20).
The community of believers was of one heart and mind (Acts 4:32.)
What is your image of St. Paul? Do you imagine him to be a “lone ranger” Christian traveling from town to town and evangelizing without a support system to help keep his spirits high and his eyes fixed on the Lord? But the reality is that Paul’s missionary work would have been impossible without his brothers in Christ. In fact, as he opens his Letter to the Romans, Paul tells his readers how much he wants to visit them again, “that you and I may be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith” (Romans 1:12). It’s obvious, too, how much he cherishes them, because he sends personal greetings to so many of them at the close of his letter along with his other brothers in Christ (Romans 16:21-23). Even after being stoned in Lystra, he still needed to rely on his brothers to tend to his wounds, help him regain his strength, and send him on his way with Barnabas, his faithful companion. (Acts 14:20).
I do not believe that God intended for Catholic men to live out their faith on their own. We too need brothers in Christ for strength and encouragement as we face the challenges of the Christian life. Like Paul, we too need a community of believers to help us become more and more like Jesus (Acts 4:32). We need friends with whom we can share our ups and downs, just as Paul did with Timothy and Barnabas. We need brothers in Christ to hold us accountable for living authentic Christian lives as Catholic men. And we need the grace that comes from giving of ourselves to help our brothers as well.
In your prayers, take an inventory of your relationships. Do you have a close Christian brother who you can rely on for spiritual encouragement? Are there men you can give more time to in order to help them? Are their friendships that fill you with the peace and confidence of Jesus? Is there a group of men you can meet with to support and pray for one another? If so, they are the relationships to cultivate. If not, why not talk to your pastor about forming a men’s group in your parish.
As a trustee of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (NFCM), I encourage all Catholic men to seek other men who share their faith and who have some common interests. They may be fellow parishioners, co-workers, or neighbors. Begin meeting together regularly. You’ll be surprised at what God will do within your group, especially a group of men who love Him and one another. By standing shoulder to shoulder with other Catholic men, you can accomplish so much more than on your own.
All over the country, the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (NFCM) is supporting the formation of Catholic men’s fellowships groups where Catholic men build relationships with one another, share their faith, and support one another through prayer. The NFCM website (www.nfcmusa.org ) currently offers many different resources for small Catholic men’s groups. A good description of each of these resources is provided on the website. The website also offers resources for forming and leading men’s groups.
I believe Catholic men standing together in Christ can change our families, our culture, and the whole world.
“Father, thank you for calling me to build relationships and community with other Catholic men. Help me to set aside my fears, my timidity, and my selfishness so that I can be more united with those you have joined to me in fellowship with your Son. Lord, open us all up to the grace of community and fellowship!”
Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/ ), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism , (http://www2.wau.org/partners/ ), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us .
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/ ) for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Prayerfully reflect on the Scripture passages at the beginning of this article. In what way do they reflect God’s desire that we as Catholic men need to be in fellowship and community with other men?
2. In what way do you agree or disagree with the following statement from the article? “I do not believe that God intended for Catholic men to live out their faith on their own. We too need brothers in Christ for strength and encouragement as we face the challenges of the Christian life.”
3. In what way has your understanding of authentic Christian manhood increased by your relationship with other men or by being part of a Catholic men’s group?
4. How is the love between brothers in the Lord different from the love of your wife or the love between men and women?
5. Whether or not you are part of a men’s group, do you believe that “By standing shoulder to shoulder with other Catholic men, you can accomplish so much more than on your own”? Why or why not?
6. In what way do you agree or disagree with the concluding statement, “I believe Catholic men standing together in Christ can change our families, our culture, and the whole world”? If you agree, what steps can you take to make this a greater reality in your life?