Written by the other Sherry
As Sherry has mentioned, one of the least honored (and least supported) roles in the Catholic Church today is that of the lay man. I just came across what looks like a very well produced, faithful, creative, and challenging response to that reality: a program called "That Man Is You!", put together by Paradisus Dei.
Some of the description from the website:
That Man is You! seeks to form men who are fully alive by harmonizing what has typically been referred to as the Three Wisdoms of the Catholic Church: knowledge (secular knowledge including medical and social science); understanding (theology including Scripture, the Magisterium and Tradition); and wisdom (contemplative or mystical knowledge found primarily in the writings of the saints).
Recognizing that modern men live in and are comfortable with a culture dominated by the findings of secular science, the program makes extensive use of medical and social science. The findings of medical science have proven invaluable in helping men understand the mystery of the human person, created male and female, while the findings of social science have proven indispensable in helping men understand the fundamental importance of marriage and the family to larger society.
Recognizing that the vast majority of men are married at some point in their adult life, the theological content of the program heavily emphasizes the importance of the spousal union in salvation history: "Marriage has been placed at the heart of the great struggle between good and evil, between life and death, between love and all that is opposed to love" (Pope John Paul II, October 7, 1995). As such it relies heavily upon the writings of Pope John Paul II. Special emphasis is given to his Wednesday audiences gathered together in The Theology of the Body and to his Apostolic Exhortation on the family, Familiaris Consortio.
A particular strength of the program is the vision of woman presented to men. This vision is heavily influenced by St. Maximillian Kolbe's contemplative insights into Our Lady's inseparable union with the Holy Spirit. The understanding of woman provided by this vision is credited with literally transforming men and their marriages.
Recognizing that Pope John Paul II has made the "contemplation of the face of Christ with Mary," an essential aspect of the new evangelization, the program seeks in a somewhat limited manner to introduce men to the Church's great treasury of contemplative theology. The writings of the saints as well as those of Fr. Marie Dominique Philippe, founder of the Brothers of St. John, one of the fastest growing contemplative orders in the Church, have proven effective in providing the theological depth lacking in many men's programs.
By harmonizing these "three wisdoms," the program has "opened vistas" and "made the faith come alive" for men in ways that would have been impossible given a more narrow focus. Men consistently consider the content to be the greatest strength of the program.
The path of conversion whereby men turn away from sin and turn towards God according to each of the three fundamental orientations takes concrete form in The Seven Covenants of That Man is You!
Covenant on Sexual Purity: "I will live in sexual purity according to the sixth and ninth commandments and I will take whatever action is necessary to safeguard sexual purity for myself, my spouse and my children."
Covenant on Financial Responsibility: "I will become financially responsible for myself and my family by giving God the first fruits of my labor, saving a portion of my earnings and eliminating all credit card debt."
Covenant to Reclaim Sunday as the Lord's Day: "I will reclaim Sunday as the Lord's Day by attending Mass together with my family and making the gift of that day to my family so that we may experience the superabundant joy of God together."
Covenant on Reading Scripture: "I will spend at least fifteen minutes a day gently reading Scripture and allowing God to speak to me. I will validate my insights through my spouse and/or spiritual guide as appropriate."
Covenant to Encounter God in the Home: "Seven times each day I will stop what I'm doing and praise God for all the gifts that He has given me, beginning with the gift of my spouse."
Covenant on Intimacy with Christ in the Eucharist: "In addition to receiving Christ in the
Eucharist on Sunday, I will receive Him in the Eucharist once per week in thanksgiving for all his gifts. If I am unable to receive Him in the Eucharist, I will at least stop to visit Him residing in the Tabernacle."
Covenant to Profoundly Receive God's Mercy: "I will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation once each month or immediately upon committing a serious sin. I will manifest the merciful Father by gratuitously offering something to each member of my family at least once per week."
That Man is You! began in the summer of 2004 when a group of exceptional men in Houston, TX decided to pool their talents to do something wonderful for Catholic men all across America. After studying successful men's leadership programs from various Christian denominations and corporate America, they designed a 26 week interactive men's program combining the best research from science with the teachings of the Catholic faith and the wisdom of the saints to develop the vision of a man fully alive. Test programs were run in the Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth areas, which were unqualified successes.
Responding to inquires from numerous parishes and dioceses, a plan was developed to bring That Man is You! to parishes across the nation. The theology was reviewed by leading theologians on marriage and the family. Promotional materials were professionally prepared. A host parish packet containing an abundance of supporting materials was prepared and presenter training workshops were organized. Finally, an interactive website was designed to bind individual programs together and to accommodate the busy lifestyles of modern men.
That Man is You! is a 26 week interactive, multimedia men's program divided into two 13 week "semesters" that follow the typical academic year. The Fall semester is dedicated to developing a vision of man fully alive while the Spring semester is dedicated to becoming "that man." The Spring semester includes an organized Lenten journey that participants make together.
The weekly meetings are designed to provide men with the opportunity to receive and apply relevant information to issues facing men today. The essential elements of the weekly program include:
- Gathering over a Fellowship Meal: Men gather together over breakfast or dinner while light entertainment (sports highlights or bloopers) are projected onto a large screen in the background. The casual meal setting is designed to facilitate men's social interaction.
- Transitional Music Video: Men transition from the casual meal to the heart of the program with the aid of specifically produced religious music videos containing images of our Catholic faith set against popular religious music.
- Master of Ceremonies: The MC has the essential role of ensuring that the men are familiar and comfortable with the overall program structure and logistics as well as setting the tone of the individual sessions. He also helps guide the men in their continuing education efforts.
- Presentation: The presentation utilizes an interactive, multimedia approach where a live presenter is supported through animated PowerPoint presentations and video clips from the original presentations in Houston. The combination of theological material, social science statistics and personal stories is designed to engage the men's mind in understanding the relationship between our faith, our personal lives and larger societal issues.
- Small Group Discussion: The small groups provide the indispensable opportunity for men to form substantial bonds of fellowship which provide the necessary support to embrace a life of discipleship which is counter to the prevailing culture.
It is a 3-year program. The topics for the first year:
Week 1: The Need for Leadership
Week 2: A Society in Crisis
Week 3: The Family as the Foundation of Society
Week 4: The Image of God in Man
Week 5: Behold the Man
Week 6: Woman: The Masterpiece of Creation
Week 7: The Union of Man and Woman
Week 8: Satan's Attack on the Family
Week 9: A New Adam and a New Eve
Week 10: Marriage as the Return to Paradise
Week 11: The Temptation of Modern Man
Week 12: A Broken Covenant?
Week 13: The Passion of the Church
Objectives: Identify the four leadership roles of men. Identify Moral Leadership - man's union with God - as the foundation for all authentic leadership. Identify Satan's enduring attack on authentic leadership. Understand how Christ perfectly fulfilled the leadership roles of man and offers every man the opportunity to do so.
Becoming a Man after God's own Heart
Week 14: What Must I Do?
Week 15: I Will Turn the Hearts of Fathers
Week 16: Becoming a Man after God's own Heart
Week 17: The Temptations of Satan
Week 18: Penance: Conquering the Flesh
Week 19: Charity: Conquering the World
Week 20: Prayer: Overcoming the Devil
Week 21: Scripture: The Ascent of the Mind to God
Week 22: Eucharist: The Practice of the Presence of God
Week 23: Marriage: God Coming to the Soul
Week 24: Confession: The Triumph of Mercy
Week 25: Guideposts for Your Faith
Week 26: The Path to Life
Objectives: Identify the three fundamental orientations of each person and the means by which we encounter God according to these orientations. Identify the three fundamental temptations in the spiritual life and the means for overcoming them. Put into place a spiritual plan of life.
It would be a bit late to begin implementing this program this fall in a parish (they recommend beginning preparation by June of the previous year), but since the materials and presentations are available in audio and video formats, a small group of guys might be able to pull this off even starting this late, with a plan to then do a more full-scale version beginning the following year.