The Heart of Man

When God created Adam, He gave him a threefold mission. First, along with Eve, he was to “be fertile and multiply”; to “subdue” the earth and “have dominion” over the creatures of the earth (Gen. 1:28). Then, God gives Adam in particular the commission to “cultivate and care for” the garden where He places him (Gen. 2:15). These passages reflect the keys to a man’s identity in God’s design. The heart of a man desires to generate life and to create things; to be productive; and to provide for and protect others. Said another way, every man is called to be both a husband and a father -- that is, to give himself to another in love, and to be spiritually fruitful.

Each of the particular vocations God can call a man to addresses these longings of the masculine heart in a different way. Married men, priests, religious brothers, and single men all sacrifice themselves for others. They reflect God’s own fatherhood, giving life through their self-sacrificing love, bringing order through their work, and providing for and protecting those whom God places in their care. And all of these vocations are founded on a Christian man’s primary identity -- that of a beloved Son of the Father. His identity flows not from what he does, but from Whose he is -- and that identity gives meaning and direction to his work.

Men's Discernment Events:

Diocesan priests are conformed to the person of Jesus Christ through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which enables them to speak and act in persona Christi capitis (in the Person of Christ the Head). Pledging obedience to the diocesan bishop, the priest becomes a sharer in his ministry, the ministry of Christ the Good Shepherd. Through celibacy (which is intimately connected to the priesthood in the Roman Rite), the priest gives his heart exclusively to God and thus is able to love his people with the Heart of Christ the Bridegroom. That love is fruitful, making the priest a spiritual father for the people he serves. Simply put, priests bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus.

Through preaching and teaching the Word of God, a priest feeds his people and protects them from error and sin. Through celebrating the Sacraments, he brings about new life, sustains it, heals and restores it. Through leading the people of God, most often in a parish, he exercises his fatherhood, ordering and directing the different gifts of the people entrusted to him. And he experiences a profound joy in witnessing Jesus do all of these things in and through him. As he ministers to others in Christ’s name, he experiences a deeper and deeper intimacy with Jesus, who has called him and reminds him, “without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). And in living among his people as a spiritual father, he becomes an image of God the Father for them.

Through consecrated life, a man follows literally Jesus’ call to some in the Gospel to leave everything and follow him. Like diocesan priests, consecrated men live lives of celibacy and obedience, but they also embrace poverty as a radical witness of their total dependence upon God. They make vows to live this life of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in order to be more radically conformed to Jesus Christ. And they do this in community, pledging their life to a particular group of men who seek to live this life together. Religious communities fall along a spectrum, from strict contemplatives like the Carthusians or Trappists, to very active communities like the Franciscans or the Jesuits.  

All religious men bear profound fruit in the Church by their life of consecration to God, whether their ministry is silent prayer and work in a monastery, preaching and teaching, giving retreats, serving the poor, running schools, or missionary work. Religious communities all respond to a particular movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church, so they are distinguished by their charism --the particular gift they bring to the Church -- as well as by the way they live community and by the work or ministry (called an “apostolate”) that they do.

The link to the right will help you explore the different religious communities of men serving in or near the Diocese of Austin. Contact them for more information or to arrange a visit!

Web Resources:

Cloistered Life - A wonderful website sponsored by the Institute on Religious Life. You’ll find information about the contemplative life, how to discern it and some great discernment resources!

Video Resources:

A married man gives his heart to the Lord through his gift of himself to his wife and children. By loving his wife as Christ loves the Church (cf. Eph. 5:25-27), the husband both shows his love for God and allows God to love him through his wife. By God’s gift, that love can bring about new life, which the husband then is called to provide for and protect. As the head of the domestic Church, just as Christ is head of the Body, the married man lays down his life daily for his wife and children. By his gift of himself to them, he makes present both the provident, wise, strong and tender heart of the Father and the passionate, pursuing love of Christ the Bridegroom.

We'll be working with the Family Life office to bring you more resources soon!

Video Resources:

For different reasons, God can call a man to live in the single state. While this vocation is different because it is not distinguished by a public consecration through ordination, vows, or promises, it is nonetheless a call from God to the man to give himself away in love and lay down his life for others. A single man will often have more time and availability than a married man, making him more able to bring about new life through service to others. Like all men, the single man needs a supportive community to walk the Christian life with. And in the times of loneliness, he becomes a witness that we are not made for this life, but for heaven.