The session for men began with a rousing call to worship by Adam Bitter. He shared the story of one of his friends who has cerebral palsy and who, consequently, has trouble raising his hands in worship. Even in his weakness, Adam’s friend pushes his body to the limits out of love for God. Adam called us to be leaders in worship, to give everything we have to Him. What an awesome challenge that I think we all need.
Pete Burds began by telling us about one of his childhood heroes, pitcher Randy Johnson. Johnson once threw a 105 mph fastball that accidentally hit (and obliterated) a bird. If you dare, you can view the video here.
Pete talked about role models of many kinds: firefighters, parish youth ministers, pastors, family members, and military personnel. We all have our heroes like these, and conversely, we all know men who are bad examples of what it means to be a man.
It’s important that we wrestle with the question of what it means to be a real man.
Most of us respond to heroes who are willing to sacrifice in significant ways for a greater cause: the greatest example for all of us of what it means to be a man is Jesus.
Another great example of what it means to be a man is St. Ignatius of Loyola. Pete explained that St. Ignatius, while recovering from a cannonball wound, began to read the Gospel and the lives of the saints. These role models led Ignatius to begin to live for the greater glory of God.
What if everything we did was not for our own selfish desires but rather for the greater glory of God?
Pete has struggled, as many of us have, with addictions ranging from Mountain Dew to things far more serious. A key turning point in his conversion from a particular sin was the decision to tell a friend – only to discover that his friend has the same struggle. If we reach out to our friends, if we are transparent and vulnerable – even though it’s tough for us to do this – we can receive the support we need to grow in virtue.
Pete reminded us of the epic quote from St. John Paul II:
“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son…”
Before the workshop ended, we prayed with and for one another. There is something indescribable about a group of men praying together; my hope is that this kind of vulnerable prayer will continue well beyond this weekend.
What was hidden in darkness, I decided to bring into the light.
No matter what sin you have in your life – it does not define you.
You are the son of a Father who is ridiculously in love with you.