Matthew James Christoff: Hello. My name is Matthew James Christoff. Welcome to The New Emangelization Project. The New Emangelization Project is a call to confront the Catholic man crisis and respond with new ardor, expressions and methods to draw men to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.
If we wish to have a New Evangelization, there must be a New Emangelization, creating generations of Catholic men who are on fire for Jesus Christ.
Today I’m speaking with Dr. Bob Schuchts. Dr. Schuchts is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has integrated his Catholic faith and a charism of healing into his therapy, practice, and teaching for over three decades.
He is the founder of the John Paul II Healing Center, which offers conferences all over the country to help priests, seminarians, religious and lay people of all ages and stages of life to find healing in our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.
Dr. Schuchts has undergraduate degree from Columbia University and a masters and doctoral degree in Family Relations from Florida State University. He has taught on the faculty of several universities and also at the Theology of the Body Institute and the Center for Biblical Studies.
He’s been a guiding influence for the establishment of Fraternus, a parish-based Catholic movement that’s focused on helping mentor boys to become virtuous Catholic men.
Dr. Schuchts also has a new book coming out called “Be Healed: A Guide to Encountering the Powerful Love of Jesus in Your Life,” which you can find on amazon.com.
To learn more about Dr. Schuchts’ work or to invite him to speak at your parish or conference, please visit the John Paul II Healing Center at jpiihealingcenter.org. I think I got that right. Did I, Dr. Schuchts?
Dr. Bob Schuchts: That was good. I learned a lot about myself. You left out a couple of the very most important things. That is I am married to my wife Margie for 37 years and have 2 grown daughters, 2 sons‑in‑law, and 7 grandchildren.
Matthew: Which when I find men who are serving the Church in such a robust way like you are motivated by Jesus but certainly with the fact that they’re trying to pass on a beautiful Catholic culture to all their children and grandchildren.
Dr. Schuchts: Yeah, and as much of that is a struggle in our lives to do that, that’s paramount in following Jesus in that way. Just everything outside of our home that gets taught, if it isn’t at least attempted to be lived inside the home, it just becomes a mockery.
Matthew: It’s taken me a long time to understand that. Thank God that so many are called to the Catholic Church and begin to find some of that healing and wholeness in their life through the Church and through the great kind of work that you are doing.
Dr. Schuchts: It is a challenge in all of our lives to live that authentically.
Matthew: Dr. Schuchts, I know we’re going to reach into a number of topics during the next 45 minutes or so but I’d like to start with the big picture of men’s evangelization. We have a real challenge in the Church today because so many people are casual in their faith. This is particularly true of Catholic men.
How would you generally characterize the state of Catholic men in America today?
Dr. Schuchts: I think there’s a word that you’ve used which is “crisis”, that I think captures both parts of it. One is I think we are at a crisis which is a real turning point and a real opportunity and also a real serious situation. The serious situation is we don’t have to look very far to see how many fatherless families there are. How many young men that aren’t even growing up until they’re past 30. How many people are addicted to pornography.
The crisis at that level is just so apparent. The apathy, different parts. But the other side of that crisis is I’m seeing men hungry like I’ve never seen them before. I’m seeing men desperate for Jesus like I’ve never seen them before. Now, that’s a small percentage of men that I’m seeing that way but I think it’s a sign of something really good happening right now in the Church.
Matthew: I’m also seeing this and the many people that I’m speaking with about what’s happening with men in the Church and pockets around the country are talking about the same thing. Of course, we can’t ever lose hope. Christ works in very different ways. This time, through this New Evangelization, He is lighting people on fire.
You started to talk a little bit about some of the brokenness that you’re seeing. Can you talk more about both the nature of the sin or the brokenness that you see in men in particular? But also, a bit of where they are in terms of their connection to the Church? And for those many men that are being drawn to the Church, what is drawing them at this point?
Dr. Bob Schuchts: I think there are a couple things that are drawing them. Again, you know in your own history what you’ve experienced as you were drawn into the Church. I think we look at the leaders of the Church like Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, at that level. Those are beautiful, strong images of manhood.
I look at each of those men and I just see these are men who aren’t afraid to be real and are courageous, are strong, are faithful, have a deep love for Jesus. When you look at that…If you look at any organization and you look at the leadership and you look at somebody that you can look up to and trust. That’s so rare right now in our culture.
We’ve done it with athletes who constantly disappoint us. We’ve done it with corporate heads who constantly disappoint us. We’ve even done that in the Church and they’ve disappointed in various ways.
But when you see authentic examples of manhood like that I think every man is drawn, just by our very nature, to say, “I want to be a real man like that. I want to be a man of faith like that. I want to be a man that has courage like that.”
Matthew: That’s really interesting. I’m thinking of a particular figure in the Church, I’m not going to mention the name, who was very manly and virile and led large groups of men to our Lord. But I think, at the same time, maybe some men put their hope in him as opposed to our Lord. That’s always a big danger. This particular person has fallen a bit.
Dr. Schuchts: I can imagine who you’re referring to. Yeah, that is tragic. The man, as you focus on so well in every men’s movement and every person in the Church needs to, is the man Jesus Christ. The Church preserves the authenticity of who He is as God and as man as an image for all of us. And so, that’s really where our focus needs to be.
Matthew: I know you have a book coming out that addresses that idea of drawing closer to Christ. I’d like to get to that in a minute. I want to spend a little bit more time on trying to identify the brokenness in men that you’re seeing, because you speak at conferences all over the country. If you could again characterize and maybe prioritize as you look at men, what are the major things they’re struggling with?
Dr. Schuchts: I think the most obvious thing right now, and it may not be obvious to everybody, but the most obvious thing to anybody who works with men, whether it’s priests in the Confessional or therapists working with men or people in the men’s ministry is the plague of pornography. That, on one hand, is a symptom of the brokenness but on the other hand it is a bondage that men live in that once they get into cannot get free without Jesus.
I really believe that one of the things that’s leading men to get serious in their faith is they recognize when they get trapped in something like pornography. It could be other things, but when they get trapped in something like pornography, they realize their life just keeps going down until they turn outside of themselves to Jesus.
Pornography, sexual immorality in general, is one really serious manifestation of the sin in men’s life right now. Men and women but particularly in men’s life. Certainly it affects everybody.
I think the self‑centeredness of men that I see right now. All of us are subject to it, but the examples of when my daughters were in their 20s, particularly my second daughter. My first daughter met her husband in her early 20s. My second daughter went through her 20s because the lack of really strong men who were willing to be husbands and fathers.
It was this delayed adolescence that has brought most men to delay marriage and family life or vocation until they get into their 30s. I think it’s a real serious issue in our culture. What that means is I can have any kind of sexual intimacy that I want to in my teens and 20s and just continue to use women without making any kind of sacrifice, without caring for them in any way.
I think that’s probably even a deeper issue than the pornography use. If I go even to a deeper level, the fatherlessness, the lack of children growing up in solid homes with mother and father and with a faith that’s really substantial. I think that’s really the real crisis.
Matthew: It’s very interesting. I’m sure you may have seen this little study that was out in the last year or so. A 95 year old Jesuit priest did some analysis of Confessional data somehow through the Vatican. I don’t know exactly how he got the data but it was published in general.
He talked about the confessed sins of women and men. In women, the top three were pride, I believe envy, and anger. Men were lust, sloth, and gluttony, which tie into the things that you were talking about, pornography and self‑centeredness and laziness.
Dr. Schuchts: That’s interesting. I wasn’t familiar with that.
Matthew: One of the things that occurred to me, and I’ve mentioned it to several people, is this. As we’re looking at this blossoming of men who are finding their way back to the Church and becoming very enthusiastic about the Church. I can’t help but think that maybe Satan has overplayed his hand a bit on this pornography epidemic.
If it is pride a man can argue, “Maybe I was prideful. Maybe I wasn’t.” Or if it’s greed, “Maybe I’m a little greedy or maybe I’m a little lazy.”
But every man, it’s a yes/no binary. “Am I looking at pornography or not?” It’s almost like they realize that this is wrong, by and large.
Dr. Schuchts: And not only wrong but enslaving at such a deep level. I think that’s right. Christopher West talks about spiritual ju‑jitsu. You know how the very places that Satan gets a trap we just, in God, turn upside down and be used for good.
When I think of the Scripture in Romans that says, “When sin abounds grace abounds all the more,” I think of John Paul II’s inspirational writing in the 60s and 70s, “The Theology of the Body.” And then this culture that we’re faced with. What an answer to it. Here’s God’s hand being reached out to the men in such a beautiful way in the teaching and the Sacraments and every other way.
Men that are desperate have a hand and reach out, too. Whereas if that wasn’t there you can imagine.
Matthew: In your experience…And in my own experience I know it was a crisis which finally woke me up. Is that what typically is drawing men back or what’s the process that men are drawn back to the Church or out of sin?
Dr. Schuchts: There’s probably a small percentage of children that grow up in families that it’s just a strong role models in both parents who love Jesus and they just grow up in that faith. I see that happening in my grandchildren. The faith is there.
I think in a minority sense that’s going on in the Church but probably in a majority sense I think we get to a point, whether it’s a crisis that leaves us, “I have nowhere else to turn. Where can I go?” Or an emptiness that just has this, “All the things that I thought were going to satisfy me just are empty. They don’t satisfy me.”
I see men coming from both of those places. The desperation which is that sense of, “I’m trapped here and I need help,” or the emptiness which is, “Nothing’s satisfying me. Where can I find that satisfaction?”
Matthew: One of the other things that comes up through these CatholicManNight events is this need for brotherhood and camaraderie which…I know you’ve thought probably very deeply about this. In general, it seems like we’re seeing more loneliness and isolation of men. There seems to be a hunger just for brotherhood.
Dr. Schuchts: That’s a very good point. I think that’s a part of that emptiness side is just when we, as men, get cut off from other men and from real, genuine relationship and friendship. I think there’s a really vital part of us that’s missing and I agree. Just that fellowship draws a lot of men out.
Matthew: It seems, too, that people struggle or men struggle and they look for different kinds of relationships that are on the edges or they’re trite in some way. They’re not based on a true friendship.
I know for a number of men that I talk to and I know it’s true for me. You can know a lot of people but if you don’t share the most fundamental thing which is our Lord Jesus Christ you can never get that closeness.
Dr. Schuchts: That real relationship, yeah. That’s been the story of my life, too. I know, even in my own family, I have several brothers and my dad. We got to a certain point where our relationships were superficial until each one of us went through spiritual conversion.
I remember the amazement I felt on my Christ Renews His Parish weekend back about almost 30 years ago. Just men being so real. I’d lived in these environments where it was all shallow and all surface. We’d have conversation about sports. That was nice. We’d have a conversation about family at a surface level but until I met men who were talking about Jesus and talking about their lives and their brokenness and their desires and real important things in their lives. I really felt isolated in my relationship with many, even my brothers and my dad.
That all began to change. When that changed, my relationship with friends changed. My relationship with brothers changed. My relationship with my father changed. There was a lot that changed and just gone to that deeper level of men’s fellowship at Church.
Matthew: There’s the carrot and a stick, right? For some of us, it’s that crisis where we’re locked in sin. We feel that desperation. Then there’s this whole other aspect of Catholic spirituality, especially among men is that there’s something really aspirational and wonderful. It’s not just putting salve on the wound or stitching it up, it’s this whole beautiful healing and wonderful experience that you can have joy. It’s not just the absence of pain, it’s joy.
Dr. Schuchts: Yeah, that’s very much true. It’s not getting over with this problem, but it’s finding a fulfillment and a joy.
Matthew: I’d like move into the next part of the discussion, the differences between men and women. Part of this is, and this whole idea of the New Emangelization is the idea that there needs to be…There’s some statistical analysis that backed us up. There needs to be something specific to men as we think about the New Evangelization.
The Church, by and large, seems to have a generic approach officially or from an institutional standpoint. Can you talk a little bit about the differences between the spirituality of men and women? Then maybe we can get into what you see in terms of what works from an evangelization standpoint.
Dr. Schuchts: Let me just talk by my own experience. I work with men and women separately and men and women together and have for a long time. It’s all important in the spirituality, but there’s something about men being by themselves, allows us as men to go to another level of our faith and also of our heart.
I remember back when we started Christ Renews His Parish and the men’s and women’s weekends. People were protesting, “Why, why separate out? Why be so separatist?”
We would do activities together. Always when we came together with men and women in the activities in the parish after the Christ Renews His Parish experience, the collective sharing, the men would be a lot more quiet, and the women would speak more. They’d be more comfortable sharing their faith. But the men would all of a sudden get quiet in sharing their faith.
It wasn’t that they weren’t willing to speak. They weren’t willing to intimate at that level when women were present. That’s why there’s something when men get together, it frees men up to share the different level than when they’re present with their children or present with their wives or other women.
That’s a fundamental thing that I’ve noticed. There’s a way in which…Because women have a facility of sharing their heart, we men feel inadequate at some level, and being able to do that when we’re with women, and we also feel guarded, because we don’t know whether it’s safe.
Matthew: We may want to be look strong to impress the ladies. One of the topics that comes up with younger men or boys is the fact that when you go to an altar server program or young girls are starting to come in, all the boys flee. It’s probably the same [laughs] same thing.
Dr. Schuchts: With the adult men, yeah. [laughs] Yeah, doesn’t change much. I could touch a little bit on the theology of this.
Recently, I’ve been studying the theology of masculinity and femininity a lot because of the work we do. It’s a footnote and jump off Theology of the Body. It talks about the word for male and the word for female. The word for male in Hebrew is zechar, which means “to remember”. The word for female is negabah, which means “to be open and receptive”.
As we look through the whole history of scripture from Old Testament to New Testament, whereever man is called to be the covenant representative of God. He’s called to remember God’s love and bring it into every situation that he’s in. When he forgets, the whole culture goes down the tubes too when men forget. When men forget the covenant.
Women are called to communion. That’s their gift. That’s the openness. They’re called at the service of communion.
When men don’t step into that role of spiritual leader in the home, then there’s no freedom for the women to draw the communion. Then they find communion with one another. We look for men to be in that kind of covenant relationship. They have to have communion with other men to strengthen each other, to be in that position.
Matthew: That’s interesting when you look at the etymology of words. You’re saying that the men are called to remember and honor the covenant, and they need to do that in collection with other men. That’s built into the definition of the way that the Hebrews defined male. Women, most men would get…They communicate and they’re about relationship.
I had someone tell me recently that men, by and large, are not looking for a relationship with Jesus Christ. They’re looking for friendship or to follow for Him to be our King. They get really squishy around the word “relationship”.
Dr. Schuchts: There’s obviously lots of exceptions to that. But I think of the general rule that that’s probably true. There’s a sense of order for men, of being in the right order more than being in the right relationship.
Matthew: When you work with women and men, do you use a different approach as you draw them together? Let’s say you’ve got them separated or you’re doing something specifically for women versus men. Is there a different approach that you take with them?
Dr. Schuchts: Yeah. Our men’s retreats, for example, are very different to things we do with men and women together or when I’m working with just women. As an example, men’s retreat we’ve done in the past, we’ve used movie clips. It is really interesting how much more a man’s heart opens through watching movie clips than through talks.
Because most men can stay intellectual and analytical, most men can go to a meeting and discuss a topic and stay completely at that analytical level through the entire meeting. With that, there’s no movement and healing, just understanding, which is good. Understanding is a great thing. If all I do is understand, then there’s a part of me that I’m still living disconnected from my heart.
If you’re going to engage a man not only in his understanding but in his heart, which is what happens is you incorporate things like movies into the talks. All of a sudden, a man can integrate in a whole new level and experience healing and experience transformation. That would be an example of the difference of what we do.
Matthew: Are there some specific movie clips you can give as an example of the kinds of things that men respond to?
Dr. Schuchts: Yeah, there’s lots of different ones, but I’ll give you a couple that come to mind. An obvious one, is “Braveheart”, in that scene where the men are being called out to be men and not live in their fear. That would be an example. Maybe a less obvious example would be the movie “The Kid”. Are you familiar with that movie? The Kid, Bruce Willis.
Matthew: I can’t place it right now.
Dr. Schuchts: Bruce Willis is a man who’s an image consultant, who has this external image of manhood but has not encountered his own heart. In the movie, this little boy shows up, who’s him as a kid, like Scrooge in the Christmas past, but it’s him.
They get into this dialog. You begin to discover why this man just lived on the surface. Because he’s overcoming the pain of his childhood and doesn’t want to deal with anything, and so he’s running from himself but trying to fix everybody else, which is how a lot of men live.
We’ve used that movie clip. Several movie clips from that movie have been powerful to men of bringing the back into facing the areas that need to be healed in that way. That would be two. There are many others but those are the two examples.
Matthew: Just maybe think about how men can watch the same movie over and over and over, and things like Star Wars, which is all about heroism, Braveheart, Gladiator, Rambo. The list goes on and on and on. What is it about men that are different in that way? Why is it that those kinds of movies speak to men and draw them?
Dr. Schuchts: That goes back to what we’re talking about at the very beginning. We have such a lack of hero images. As men, we need heroes. We need people to look up to, to say, “This is what I want to be. This is how I can move from this place where I’m afraid into the courage that it takes, to really make a difference.”
There’s something in us that responds immediately to that, which is Jesus is that image when we come to discover that. If we can come out of the effeminate Jesus image that’s too often presented to us in the Church and really find the truly integrated tender, masculine, strong hero that Jesus is, that’s what draws men’s hearts to Jesus.
Matthew: In a way, all of those movies that we just mentioned, they include not just the hard edge part but the sacrificial part that is probably embedded in us through Christ and the genius of what He does with the Cross that speaks to us.
Dr. Schuchts: Absolutely. I go every year, as I mentioned to you, to the seminary and a seminary in Minnesota, in fact, where you’re from. The first night, I asked the men to identify their favorite movie and which character do they identify with and why. Then we go around and as we discuss these movies, and they discuss them with each other, I say two or three things to them.
I say to them, every good movie is a presentation of the Gospel. It wouldn’t be a good movie unless it was, in some way, represented the Gospel. Every good main character that you identify is an image of Jesus in some way or another. I said, “That man that you see in the movie that you modeled after, that you wanted to be like is written into your heart as a desire for you to be. If you will follow that desire, you will live into your manhood.”
Matthew: That’s a powerful idea and one that…You mentioned spiritual jiu jitsu. We got to use this culture that we’ve got. Saint Paul did it quite well, just the idea of drafting and rethinking what it means to be savior with Julius Caesar and Jesus saying, “I’m the Savior and I’m the King.” It’s interesting.
Dr. Schuchts: Some of the movies that I wouldn’t go to see if I knew some of the content were going to…Some of the movies that have touched me because of that same principle. As much as we need to be very careful of what’s presented in a movie, we also may not want to throw the baby out with a bath water.
Matthew: In my own conversion, by the way, there was a movie that was fundamental, that had a huge impact. That was “The Passion of the Christ”. I just think that that movie, if we could get more men to see it…We’re actually planning an event up here in the Twin Cities with fathers and sons, with appropriate age, of course, to watch that together as a Lenten activity.
Dr. Schuchts: That’s a powerful movie. That’s so powerful that it was overwhelming. That movie. If that doesn’t wake you up, I don’t know what could.
Matthew: It’s a very emotional thing for many men to watch that. For me, in particular, and part of what’s driven my zeal for evangelization, which is obviously Jesus has called me and the Holy Spirit is moving me, but that part where Peter has denied Jesus three times and the cock crows and he looks at Jesus…Any man can look at that and go, “How many times have I denied Jesus..today?” [laughs] You can get pretty discouraged.
Dr. Schuchts: Just in that scene, that’s one of the most moving images to me in all of Scripture. I meditate on that a lot of…The gaze between Jesus and Peter at that moment. As Peter as he’s “weeping bitterly”, I’m just picturing that moment of mercy and love and truth of Jesus in His eyes.
There’s no way to hide, but there’s all there is is love there and how do I reconcile this? I just denied this man. I just betrayed this man, and yet He loves me. How do I deal with that? That is so powerful. I can see why that was a conversion moment, because it is for me.
Matthew: I think that many men don’t feel loved, for whatever reason. It’s hard to…You’re someone who is clearly a leader and thinking about psychological things.
When your father and mother break the house up. You can’t help but feel abandoned or if your father never marries your mother, you know…
Dr. Schuchts: Our own sin and our own shame that causes us to pull away from whatever love is there. It’s all of it. We have a hard time believing and accepting that we’re loved. We have a hard time having intimacy, that kind of eye contact with anybody, because of that.
Matthew: That’s the big challenge, right? To introduce people back to Jesus Christ. Of course, this is something that has always been at the core of our Church, but there’s research out that says about half of Catholics don’t believe you can have a personal relationship with God, which I find is a stunning statistic, particularly given the Eucharist.
Dr. Schuchts: I know.
Matthew: We see…Go ahead.
Dr. Schuchts: It’s a problem in Catechiesis, because these are the whole Sacramental system is intended so that being encounter. Yet, somehow, we miss it. We disconnect from the Person in the activity.
Matthew: There’s obviously lots of parts to it, but one is that catechizes…Many people, and this comes up very frequently when I talk to people, they don’t understand the basic idea of the liturgy. They may understand the basic, but they’re apathetic when they go to Mass. They don’t understand what’s really happening.
Bishop Piché up here in the Twin Cities, whom I’m sure you’ve met and know. This is the genesis of how we started CatholicManNight, was Bishop Pates saying, “Casualness and people and particularly in men is that they don’t know Jesus Christ.” Which is a perfect way to talk about this upcoming book that you have coming out. I believe there’s a book coming out in April.
Dr. Schuchts: In March.
Matthew: In March.
Dr. Schuchts: In March.
Matthew: Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Dr. Schuchts: It’s called “Be Healed”. Originally, I started writing it as a way to reach the general audience, general public, general faithful and those who are seeking with what we do with our healing a whole person, conferences, and also the sexual wholeness conferences, also men’s conferences, those kinds of things.
I realize we were just communicating to a small group of people in terms of the need that was out there. To be able to write a book that presents that in a way that people can have an encounter and not only have an encounter with Jesus, but have an encounter that’s really transforming and healing. And not just come and know who Jesus is, but come and know Jesus in the deepest places of your life. The places of your life that are still in darkness or the places in your life that are still in a place of hopelessness or a place of feeling abandoned or rejected, feeling unloved, to go back to our conversation.
The whole book is a guide to encountering the powerful love of Jesus in your life. It’s a process of moving into that encounter.
Matthew: It sounds like a beautiful book. I’m looking forward to it. This idea of knowing Jesus with your intellect but also with your heart and through your soul, to have that relationship or that friendship is you have to have both, but…You have also. Go ahead.
Dr. Schuchts: We start a book, actually, in terms of an encounter of Jesus and the woman at the well. Then talk about Jesus as teacher, because that’s how most of us come to know him. First as Teacher, until we move from Teacher to Healer to beloved Son, in the early parts of the book.
Matthew: Wonderful. That’s beautiful. I’m looking forward to it. I also wanted to speak for a moment or two about your work with Fraternus. I know you have been a guiding influence. Can you say a little bit about that?
Dr. Schuchts: I will give you the genesis of that. There was a young man by name of Justin Biance who was the founder, I’m co‑founder with him, of Fraternus. He was in college as a leader at a Catholic Student Union in Florida State University with the Brothers of Hope.
We were in a men’s ministry at my parish, Good Shepherd. We were studying the Theology of the Body, Christopher West’s book, Good News About Sex and Marriage. As we were meeting, the men were all lamenting and saying, “I wish I had this as a young man. My life would’ve been so different if I could’ve learned this as a young teenager.”
As Justin was sitting there with the young college man, looking at what he was going to do with his life, there was this fire that started burning in him. It was a fire that was already burning in me. The two of us began to talk. It was actually six months later that he was freed up to be able to do the major work on that. I serve more as a mentor to him in that process. He engaged others who were men that he had gone through formation with in the Catholic Student Union and began to develop that program.
I’ve been involved with it from a standpoint of, again, mentoring the leaders of that but not directly involved with the content development except for giving blessing to it. It is intended to develop the relationship that we’re talking about.
Four young men starting at the age of 13 all the way up to high school. The high school young men mentor the middle school young men. The fathers and the leaders in the community mentor both groups. It’s a men mentoring men and leading into really reliving the virtues of the Catechism and the faith in that kind of vital relationship with Jesus.
There are chapters around the country and there’s some up in Minnesota. It’s growing around the country. The idea is not just to give boys catechizes, but give boys relationship with men who can walk them into that catechizes in a way that’s transforming to all of them, to their whole person.
Matthew: People can find out more about that at Fraternus.net. I recently had a chance to sit down with Jeff Cavins, and it’s interesting. He was talking very much about the great importance of mentorship, not only across generations, but for adult men to grow in their faith. They need mentors, other men, who can draw them in and guide them.
I know for me, I’ve been blessed with a number of mentors who not only encouraged but correct me…[laughter]…quite often.
Dr. Schuchts: I don’t know where I’d be without men in my life, mentors in my life, brothers and mentors. If you think about it, we think that children can go through Catholic education without that mentoring and become the kind of Catholic men that we’re looking for. It’s impossible. It doesn’t happen in a family. It doesn’t happen anywhere. It doesn’t happen in the school. It’s that relational mentoring, fathering that allows us to grow into what we’re learning.
If we’re learning something and we’re not living it, then it becomes a disconnected idea rather than a reality to us.
Matthew: Thinking about ju jitsu a little bit, thinking about where we get leverage with men today. Perhaps one of the things that we can do is talk about trying to save our sons and our daughters for adult fathers that…It’s hard to reach 20‑something year olds, as you mentioned, that are not quite ready to grow up yet. When you’ve got children, if you’re paying any attention at all, you got to have some concern about that. If we can come up with ways of focusing on that, we can draw, wake men up.
Dr. Schuchts: I agree with you. That’s where it needs to be. That’s where some of the programs around the country, like That Man is You, Crusillo or Christ Renews His Parish or the projects that you’ve been involved in. Those are relational in that way like Fraternus is. That’s why they work.
Matthew: A couple more quick things before we wrap up here. You mentioned that there’s a new conference that’s going to be starting this year called Crossing the Jordan.
Dr. Schuchts: Yes, Crossing the Jordan.
Matthew: Can you give a short discussion about that in how men can find out about it?
Dr. Schuchts: It’s going to be up on our website after the first of the year. As we begin to launch that. We’ve got another men’s conference outside of John Paul II Healing Center. We wanted to bring those in John Paul Healing Center. My brother, Bart Schuchts and Ken Kniepmann, who’s our executive director, the three of us are primarily developing this conference. We’re in the formation stages right now.
If you think about the Jordan…Again, going back to Jeff Cavins, who you mentioned, he does a really incredible teaching about the importance of the Jordan in Salvation History. Think about all the events that happened in the Jordan. The Israelites crossed over the Jordan into the Promised Land. John the Baptist was in the Jordan, baptizing. Jesus himself was baptized in the Jordan. I just lost his name, but the man who was…The prince who had to go into the Jordan and wash seven times.
Matthew: Oh, yeah, I’m blanking on it.
Dr. Schuchts: Elijah.
Dr. Schuchts: I’m blanking out too. You think about the significance of the Jordan as it relates to all that imagery. Each one of us has a Jordan in our life, has a place that we’re called to step into.
The Jordan is very closely connected to the desert in all of those stories. The desert is the place of training for men. The place where things aren’t going the way we want them to go and things are drying up. Whether we’re in financial crisis or whether we’re in crisis in a relationship wherever they are, it’s that desert place that we learn how to trust God and follow Him and come into relationship.
God said, “I will woo you out into the desert to bring you to Myself.” The desert is very critical as time of testing, but the Jordan is the place of stepping in Faith and into the things of our destiny, and into the things of our promise.
What we’re wanting to awaken in that is that the longing that we all have, that we given up on of stepping into who you really are as men, and the destiny that guides the individual destiny that God has for each one of us. At the same time, looking at the fear in our life that keeps us from that.
Men don’t like to acknowledge their fears, but we’re plagued by them. It’s our fears that keep us from being the men that we’re called to be. We’re going to keep that head on, probably use movies, other small group processes and those kinds of things to bring men into an encounter with Jesus in that way.
Matthew: This is something that you will be launching during 2014, is it?
Dr. Schuchts: Yes. We’re launching it in 2014.
Matthew: Excellent. Hopefully, we could stay in touch. If I can get down there, wherever it is, I’ll attend too. It sounds fantastic.
Dr. Schuchts: That’d be great. That’d be great. We’ll do that.
Matthew: To close, as we’ve been talking about the various parts of this New Emangelization or the need to evangelize men, what are some of the, if you step back from it, some of the guiding principles that you might give advice to a group of men, priests, that want to light men on fire. What are some of the guiding principles that you would give them to guide their efforts?
Dr. Schuchts: You’ve mentioned several of them, but I’ll just go back to those and whatever else comes in my mind.
One is it has to be real for men to really do engage in. The priest, the leaders and the people involved, these can’t be just a religious exercise. It has to be something that really engages the whole man. That engagement needs to be with a priest or a bishop who’s willing to go there himself.
One of the beautiful things, again, about Christ Renews His Parish and that I experienced in Crusillo many years ago, was the involvement of the priest with us. We got to relate to them as real men, not just as our fathers but as fathers who are willing to get involved.
That’s really a key thing. When men are willing to get involved, whether it’s as mentors, as fathers, as brothers and be real with each other, then there’s room for the Holy Spirit to work in ways that doesn’t ever happen outside of that, in my experience.
I should say never happened but rarely happens outside of that. Those are key factors, that it’s real, and men are being real with each other, and we’re encountering the real Jesus. That we’re really focused on finding out not only who He is but finding out how to enter into an encounter with Him. That’s a genuine encounter. That’s more than just what I know about the person that I know. That changes me, and it changes us as a community. That’s really critical.
The other thing is the movement of men needs to go beyond just doctrine. Although, good doctrine is absolutely critical so that we stay in the Truth, but it needs to go beyond doctrine, into the place of where we live, the places that we struggle.
Most good men’s movements do that. We move beyond. This is what the Truth is. How do I live the truth in my life here, where I can’t seem to get past this thing and how do those two things come together?
Matthew: That’s interesting. That’s…Pope Francis, in September, I believe it was. He said there’s three ways that you encounter Jesus. One is in prayer, two is in scripture and three is that actual walking with Him. If you lack that fraternity or that brotherhood, it’s really hard to walk it alone even when…Jesus is so powerful. We’re corporal creations, right? We need to be around other men who are trying to do the same thing we’re doing.
Dr. Schuchts: I go back to my early days of Christ Renews His Parish. I can tell you, 26 years later, the men who stayed in community and the men who had an experience and went back to living in isolation, there’s a huge difference between those two groups of men in terms of where they have come on their faith.
Some of those men who went back in isolation are still practicing their faith but there’s not been the growth as the men who have just continued to stay in communion and stay in community.
Matthew: Do you think that these kinds of events, retreat kind of events where you’re separated for some period of time with other men, is one of the major things you need to do as you think about evangelization of men?
Dr. Schuchts: My own personal experience and the experience of most of the people that I know who are men have had some kind of a catalyst experience like that, some kind of an experience that it can go off and have an encounter. It doesn’t always happen immediately. Sometimes it’s several of those before the encounter can take place.
I think if you try to gather men without an encounter like that, without some kind of profound experience that is more than just a couple of hours getting together, then there’s really no basis of community together. It reverts back to the typical men’s club at Church which stays at the surface.
Matthew: The challenge there is figuring out how do you draw people to this because men that are casual in their faith are saying, “I don’t have a weekend to do this. I don’t have six, eight hours.” We have to be clever about that and think of new and different ways to do it, I think. And also get the word out.
Dr. Schuchts: I think, in my own experience again, the most powerful kind of invitation comes from somebody else that they knew who experienced something that was different. They see it and they’re attracted to it.
It happened, both within my family, but it also happened in our community. When people get attracted to something that’s different than what they saw before and they know that it wasn’t a human change, then all of a sudden they say, “I want that.”
It’s like I want that ice cream. You just told me about that ice cream, I tasted it and wow, I want more of that.
Matthew: Right. Any parting thoughts, Dr. Schuchts?
Dr. Schuchts: No, just thank you for, first of all your willingness to give your whole life to this. Secondly, I think you’re right on course, in terms of trying to bring this new evangelization in a particular way to the men.
If we’re called to be zechar, if we’re called to be covenant heads, we’re called to be the ones who lead in this New Evangelization, not just follow, our families, our wives, our children. I just love the work you’re doing.
Matthew: Well, thank you and praise our Lord, Jesus Christ for working with a knucklehead like me.
Dr. Schuchts: [laughs] With all of us.
Matthew: Today I’ve been speaking with Dr. Bob Schuchts. He’s the founder of the John Paul II Healing Center. To find out about Dr. Schuchts’ work ‑‑ and in particular to invite Dr. Schuchts and his team to come and work with your men and your parish, or in your archdiocese ‑‑ please visit him at John Paul II Healing Center at jpiihealingcenter.org.
My name is Matthew James Christoff and you can learn more about the New Emangelization Project at NewEmangelization.com.