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 to 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 Jeff Cavins, international Catholic evangelist, speaker and writer. He was raised in the Catholic Church, but left to become a Protestant pastor for over a decade. Since returning to the Church, Jeff has made great contributions to the New Evangelization. He has developed a Great Adventure Bible series, a wonderful and growing series of Bible studies that parishes can use to draw people into deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.
In addition, Jeff is the director of the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute in Minnesota, training hundreds of lay leaders for evangelization in parishes.
Jeff also leads a number of pilgrimages each year to the Holy Lands. Jeff has hosted a number of nationally‑known shows, including “Life on the Rock” on EWTN and “Morning Air” on Relevant Radio. He’s also written numerous books and articles to help people learn about their Catholic faith and to draw closer to Christ.
To find out more about Jeff Cavins, the Great Adventure Bible series, how to book Jeff to speak at your parish, or to find out about upcoming pilgrimages to the Holy Lands, please visit him at jeffcavins.com.
Jeff Cavins: How are you doing?
Matthew: I’m good. I am so grateful to be here with you. As we spoke beforehand, I’m so grateful for your encouragement over the years, and especially for the Great Adventure Bible series. I’ve been through a number of them and it has helped me understand the great story of salvation history and to realize that I’m part of it. That is such a great contribution to people, thank you.
Jeff: I appreciate it. I created that out of my own need, really, to understand where I was at in God’s amazing plan.
Matthew: One of your recent books, “Walking with God,” that you wrote with Dr. Tim Gray, is also another book I just want to make sure that we mention here. Sometimes people don’t have the time or aren’t ready yet to make a commitment to a 26‑week Great Adventure Bible series thing. But as we’re looking at Christmas coming up and certainly any time of year, this book “Walking with God” `is kind of an encapsulation of that, the Great Adventure Bible series.
Jeff: It is, it’s like a synopsis of the story. It doesn’t replace a study, because a study’s a study where you investigate and you work through it in your own heart. But a book allows you to kind of sit back and observe the story in one fell swoop.
Matthew: It’s a great way to evangelize. I think this is one of the books that we give away at every single Catholic Man Night. People hunger for it. Every time we ask people, by the way, how many of you have read this and seen it and heard of it, more hands are going up all the time.
Jeff: That’s wonderful.
Matthew: It’s a great blessing.
I’d like to start, Jeff, with just the big picture of men’s evangelization. We have a challenging church today for there are so many casual Catholic men. You’ve been in the evangelization trenches for a long time. Stepping back, how do you kind of view the state of men in the Catholic Church?
Jeff: If I were to characterize where men are at right now, I would say that, for the most part, a lot of men are unsure about what their role is in the Church. There have been a number of groups that have popped up around the country in the last 25 years that have done a good job of kind of gaining their attention and bringing them together for a conference or a seminar once or twice a year. Steve Wood had an organization with St. Joseph Covenant Keepers for a while that seemed to be growing.
But there lacks, really, a cohesive movement, or what I would call a major movement, around the country that draws men together into a common cause, raises up disciples, gives them goals in their life, gives them a vision for what it means to be a man, not only as an individual, but as a husband, as a father, as a co‑worker, an employer, employee.
I think that’s one of the things that’s lacking in the movement today is, the scripture says without a vision we perish. A lot of men lack that overall vision for what it means to be a man of God and what your responsibilities are.
Much like the problem that I encountered in basically understanding the Bible, years ago. You mentioned the Great Adventure. Well, the Great Adventure Bible Studies came about because, in my own life, I really lacked a vision for the whole story. What is this story of the Bible? When it comes to being a man, a Catholic man, tell me what that means. A lot of men, they don’t even think in those categories, but they are thinking about what it means to be a man, and be successful in the business world.
All you have to do is go to Barnes and Noble and look at the magazine racks, and you’ll see what a lot of men are interested in, and they’re interested in business success. They’re interested in wine making. They’re interested in muscle building. They’re interested in motorcycles and cars and electronics and all these types of things that get their attention, but in terms of an overarching vision for my life, a lot men are not thinking that way.
Matthew: All those things you mentioned, some of them are almost palpable. The need to feed your family or the need to…You’re in a competitive environment at work where you have to succeed, and your economics depend on it. It becomes very urgent for you.
A lot of the other things you’re talking about are things that distract us in a great way. I stayed up very late last night watching a football game with several of my sons. They know everything about every player, and they’re in these fantasy leagues, and they invested a tremendous amount of time and knowledge.
I bet when you ask many men, “What does it mean to be a Catholic man?” they just don’t have an answer for it.
Jeff: They haven’t been shown. It hasn’t been demonstrated. If I say, “What’s a successful business entrepreneur?” They could probably give me four or five names and the types of businesses that they built, and even, maybe they read a book on five steps to great leadership in the business world. They could tell you a little bit about that or a seminar that their companies sent them to.
But if you say, “Give me five principles of a godly Catholic man,”, they probably look at you a little like deer in a headlight.
Matthew: That’s perfect too, deer season. You look at all the deer coming home on cars around ‑‑ we live up in kind of deer country here ‑‑ but man can get very serious about something that they have passion about. For some reason, men just are not passionate. Some of the research that we developed, looking at just the relative level of passion that men have in the faith, it’s low, and it’s been falling.
It’s an interesting contrast to men who are Evangelicals. Very different, higher levels of passion within self‑designated evangelicals were also self‑designated Catholic men. The fact is, you’ve been in both worlds. It’d be interesting just to hear the contrast. What did you see different? What is it that our Evangelical brothers and sisters are doing that creates that passion, and how can we, maybe, get some of that within the Church?
Jeff: One of the differences between Evangelical men…We’re speaking in broad terms here. The Evangelical man versus the Catholic man is that evangelicalism is, by nature, a simpler faith. It’s fairly simple in terms of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Getting into that relationship with Jesus Christ can be as simple as a prayer over coffee with a friend, to where you make that decision to follow Christ, to become a disciple of Christ. Within a few minutes, you’re actually on that journey.
Typically, you’ll have somebody that invited you, so they’ll stick with you, and they begin to mentor you. They invite you to church, to small groups. You meet their family. You’re introduced into opportunities right away in their church to grow in this relationship.
You contrast that with Catholicism, which we believe to be the fullness of truth, sure, but to the average Catholic man, Catholicism is undecipherable in some ways. It’s big. It’s complex, and there’s many parts to it.
For example, your average 43‑year‑old man, 45‑year‑old man that goes to church, he sees the mass. He reads about confession. He sees statues, and he sees priests and nuns, and he hears about purgatory and heaven and hell and venal sin and mortal sin and all these different things, but he has never had, really, the opportunity to put it altogether and to make sense of it as a whole.
He somewhat understands the details, but he can’t place it into a bigger scheme that he could grab and say, “I can run with this.” As long as you have those details that are not attached to each other, that’s not the type of thing that a man typically will run with. But if you can show them how all of it fits together into a plan, and how their life fits into that plan, then you have a great beginning.
For example, the catechism is a great tool for men in the Catholic Church, because it lays out everything that’s Catholic in a way that a lot of men will get. It organizes it. Men are organizers, they’re fixers.
You have four pillars to the Catechism. You have the Creed, number one. The Creed is the Bible in a very miniature form. It’s taking the entire story of salvation history, God’s amazing plan from the Creation and Fall of Mankind to the solution, to the climax of the story, which is Jesus comes and shows us how to trust the Father, how to live this life that we were truly called to live, and then how to spread it to other people, and let them know about it. That is the story. That’s the Creed. One of the problems that we face is that many men today, they don’t know the basic story of life. They don’t know it, so we start off with that creed.
The second pillar of the Catechism is Sacraments and Liturgy. That’s how you get into the story.
Then you have life in Christ, which is your personal script. It’s what every man should be living, where Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It’s no longer I who live, the Christ who lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who love me and delivered himself up for me.”
The life in Christ, moral law, teachings of Jesus, that’s what we live as men on a daily basis. We know how to be husbands. We know how to be fathers. We know how to deal with money. We know how to deal with conflict at work. We have a script to live by, and that’s our supreme mentor, which is not Steve Jobs, and it’s not Bill Gates. It’s…
Matthew: Brett Farve…
Jeff: It’s not Warren Buffet, it’s Jesus Christ. The Son of God becomes our mentor. Then the fourth is prayer. That ties them all together. But I would say, Matt, that one of the reasons that men are not as involved is because they don’t understand Catholicism and its big picture. That’s the reason a lot of people don’t read the Bible, too.
Matthew: It’s interesting, because there are so many things in the Church. People go off and want to create new things. Not only do we have Scripture, we have the Sacraments that everybody sees, but this great gift of the Catechism as a model, right?
As you’re going through those four parts, for every one of those great gifts that exist in these one of those parts, there’s a stumbling block with men. Creed tells a story, men don’t know the story. Sacraments are the way we enter into life. Men are not going to the Sacraments, and we need to talk about that in a second, about some of the reasons that is.
The idea of the moral life, and men have turned away from the moral life and that relationship with Christ in prayer, men don’t know Jesus. It’s almost like, within the Catechism, we have the basic answers. We have to get to the men’s questions and figure out why is it that they aren’t embracing it. There’s something about either the way it’s being presented or the fact that we’re still kind of going through this clarification, so to speak, and the New Evangelization about what the faith is, that we got work to do.
Why do you think it is that men don’t know the faith or don’t know the story? We talked a little bit about this idea that there’s not a vision. They don’t have the cohesive view of what it means to be a Catholic man, but separate from that, what do you think the stumbling blocks are for men in terms of engaging in their faith?
Jeff: The stumbling block as far as engaging in the faith?
Matthew: We just see so many men not engaging. For example, only 25 percent of people go to mass on a weekly basis. I think the average composition in the pew is something like 60‑40 of regular mass attendees. 40 percent are men, 60 percent are women. We see that 70 percent of people, and the numbers are probably higher for men, go to confession less than once a year or never.
What’s happened? Is it just they don’t…This a pretty dramatic change over the last 30 or 40 years, but what are the stumbling blocks?
Jeff: The answer is manifold. There’s a lot of reasons for it. One gets back to a word that a lot of people are not even familiar with, and that’s catechisis, which is the handing on of the faith, the passing on of the faith. For many of the men today, nobody passed the faith on to them.
When Moses was getting ready to, under the leadership of Joshua, to go into the Promised Land…of course, Moses did not, but he said something very important before Joshua brought them over. He said, “If you’re going to live over in the land of Canaan, where they’re going to take your sons and daughters and sacrifice your babies, and they’re going to introduce you to a lifestyle that’s counter to Yahweh, to God, there’s some things that you have to do.
One of them was the Shema ‑‑ “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one” connected onto “you must teach your children.” What we find in the story of the Bible is that the minute parents stop passing the story onto the next generation, it pretty much dies and it becomes a ritual, becomes a cultural ritual rather than something that is really embraced and lived in the home and discussed at various times.
This is what Moses told them. He says, “You got to teach your children, and you got to talk about this.” When you’re walking to the store, when you’re driving to the ball game, look for opportune moments to share the faith and to demonstrate it in your own life.
For a lot of men today, they grew up in an era where their parents considered religion, number one, private. Number two, the parents didn’t really understand it and thought that if we just bring our kids to church, they’re going to get it through holy osmosis, and that didn’t work. Now we have a generation of men, maybe even two generations of men, who call themselves Catholic but don’t know what Catholic means and never been mentored.
We ask the question, “Why don’t you think that they’re engaged?” It’s like asking, “Why do you think a lot of men are not interested in the sport cricket in the United States? Number one, they don’t understand it. Number two, they never played it or had anybody show them how to play. Why would they be interested in cricket? Yeah, but that’s our national sport. That’s why they go, because it’s a national sport, but they don’t even know much about it, and they don’t have any experience, but they’re there. It’s the tailgating and everything that goes along with it.
I think that that’s one reason is that we don’t know our story and also, we haven’t been mentored. Being mentored is very, very important for men. Men are always looking for someone that knows more, that can help them, to give them the edge. That’s why they go to seminars.
In sports, growing up, you always look to the upperclassmen to help you along. Most Catholic men don’t have upperclassmen. That’s stopped back when they were confirmed. The whole process of growing stopped when they were confirmed as the 13‑, 14‑year‑old boy.
Matthew: It’s indication of just the general brokenness and isolation that we have, right? The family is broken down. You don’t really mentor with multiple generations. People are spread out. You don’t spend time with Grandpa like you used to. You don’t spend time with your dad. The fraternal organizations have kind of all gone by the wayside. This idea of mentorship is an interesting…
Jeff: It’s a very powerful concept, Matt, this idea of mentorship. The process of becoming a man is gone in the Catholic Church. It used to be, and it still is, in Judaism, you reach a point where they call it bar mitzvah. You become a man. You become a son of the Commandments, and you are taught very clearly what that meant.
A book came out a number of years ago called “Iron John,” which talked about the process of becoming a man in various cultures. You literally were accepted into manhood by the older generation, and you had responsibilities placed upon you. We don’t have anything like that anymore except possibly confirmation, but it really doesn’t fill that role.
So here’s what we have. We got a lot of guys that have never grown up. No one’s ever taken them by the hand and said, “Come up to the next level. It’s time to be a man. It’s time to think as a man. It’s time to act as a man, and here’s some responsibility.” This is evidenced by the fact that…You and I are around the same age. Think back for a moment. Do you remember any of your father’s friends running around with sports jerseys on?
Jeff: I don’t remember a single one. Do you remember any of your father’s friends playing video games?
Jeff: I don’t remember a single one, but if you go out there today, you will find grown men sitting around in sports jerseys, playing with video games on their phone. We have a problem with men growing up in our culture.
Matthew: Someone somewhere can put a big picture up, and we could draw all the lines and show all the causality and understand it, but some of this goes back to just the idea that we’re going to reject children, and children aren’t important. When children aren’t important, it means fathers really aren’t that important. That idea that responsibility of becoming a father has fallen off.
We see it in other cultures where they’re much farther down the track. Japan, they have massive problem in terms of just people having children, but just that whole lack of ability to get out of adolescence. You were talking, and I want to go just go back to one point, this idea of men not passing on the faith.
I have done some research, and actually, one of the things I found a little troubling is that as you start to look for research on Catholic men, there isn’t a lot, especially if you look at some of the traditional sources of information about Catholics and the state of the Catholic Church. I had to be a little creative with looking for data, and one of the place I found it is through a series of studies that Gallup has done over the last 20 or 30 years.
You can actually, if you dig in and start playing around, you can get into men-specific data versus women. There’s some troubling statistics around the way men are thinking about the faith. Half of men don’t believe that they are adequately prepared to pass on a faith, which basically echoes specifically what you just said.
Something like 80 percent of the men that are polled believe it’s much more important to live a life than to be a Catholic. The majority of men don’t think it’s absolutely important to pass the faith along to their children.
If you look 20 years ago at 18 to 30‑year‑old cohort and said, “How likely is it that you will leave the faith?” 60 percent of the kids at that point or young men at that point said, “It’s likely, I could see myself leaving the faith.” Today, it’s something like 87 or 83 percent. There’s been this huge erosion in loyalty to the faith, and I think it just echoes back the fact that they have been taught of faith. Because if you know the faith, I think you’re going to be engaged by it, because it’s such a beautiful and powerful thing.
Jeff: There was a study done years ago asking why 50 percent of Catholic college students left the faith, and they asked them. The number one answer was, they said, “I have never seen the faith really lived out. I don’t know what it looks like. I don’t know what to do now.”
If you do know what to do, once you leave home, you know what it means to live on as a Catholic man. You can’t use that as an excuse, that “I don’t know what to do anymore,” because once you’re out of school and high school and you go to college, Catholicism is reduced to going to Mass on Sunday. That’s what it’s reduced to. I could do that, I suppose, but I know there’s a lot of things going on.
If Catholicism was a day‑by‑day, moment‑by‑moment experience where you saw Dad and your dad’s friends, and you heard them, and you sat around the campfire, you went fishing, and you heard what they said and how they talked about their wives, it would mean much, much more.
Going back to what we were saying just a moment ago, I’ll give you an example of what I would do, if I could develop a program, I would focus on this idea of becoming a man. It’s almost like another rite of taking a young boy or a girl and bringing them through a point where they’re transitioning from childhood to adulthood.
I heard a story one time, and I thought it was beautiful. I’ll just share it with you, and do with it what you want. It was a story of a man who had a boy, and his boy was turning 16 years old. He wanted to do something that would be memorable, and he wanted to do something that the son would never forget.
What the father did is he got around himself eight of his best friends, and he said to them, “Guys, I’m going to hold a party for my son. It’s time for him to grow up. He’s growing up in the faith. I want you each to buy him something. We’re going to get together and have a man night, and I want you to present it to him and tell him why you’re giving it to him.”
It was very, very powerful, kind of get you choked up to think about that a big night, the son came, all of his dad’s friends and mentors were there. That’s powerful to a young boy, to see the guys that your dad’s impressed with and he’s friends with. One by one, they presented him with something.
The first guy handed him a hammer, brand new hammer, and said, “Derek…” whatever his name was, I’ll say Derek. “I’m going to give you this hammer, and I want you to remember…” On the side of it, it had a scripture and written in permanent marker. He said, “I want you to remember for the rest of your life that God has called you to build His house, to be a part of it. Someday, you’re going to build a household, and you need to remember to use the right tools to build that household. The Church has given you amazing tools.”
Another man stepped up, and he gave him an arrow, and he said, “I just want you to remember this arrow, that there’s a target in life, there’s a goal in life, and there’s one way to hit that target.” He began to talk to him about how that arrow would remind him to fly straight to that target.
Another guy handed him a compass, and he said, “There’s going to be a lot of choices in life. You can go a lot of different directions. Eternity has two choices, and I want you to always remember where North is in your life. Your father has taught you to…”
He went on with all these about eight or nine, ten amazing gifts, and this kid had all these men give all of this attention to him and talk about his future and that they all gathered at the end and prayed for him.
Tell me that’s not going to have an impact on a young man. Men are lacking this kind of thing today. All we got to do is roll up our sleeves and be innovative and think about passing it on to the new generation. That’s what’s lacking, and we need to spark a generation of men to have conversion, and then spark that process.
Matthew: Part of it is to have people recognize reality. There’s a crisis. There is a crisis, and we see the fruit of it across our culture and our society. Anybody that’s a dad, a thoughtful dad and a thoughtful mom, as they look at their children, they think about the risks. One of the things that…You’re talking about the Catechism and the Sacraments, and you go off to college, “I don’t really know if I’m going to show up for Mass today.”
One of the things that I’d been hearing a lot from people, and a lot of priests, actually, is that the vast majority of people don’t understand the liturgy. As a result of not understanding the liturgy, they don’t really get into it. They’re distracted, they don’t realize there’s a miracle that’s occurring right before their eyes that transcends time and space.
I know you’ve done a number of things, teaching people about the Liturgy, but does that sound right to you that one of the big leverage points might be just helping people understand basic Liturgy?
Jeff: Yeah. It goes back to what we were talking about at the beginning of this conversation. If you don’t know the story, God’s amazing story, to begin with, then the Li turgy does not take on the same meaning. Life in Christ doesn’t take on the same meaning, prayer doesn’t have the same meaning, because they all spring from this amazing story.
The Liturgy is the celebration of the greatest part of this story, which is the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world. Even within the Liturgy, there are a lot of things that if men knew what was happening, they would be interested. They would be interested. It deals with the forgiveness of sins that week. It deals with the tough times you’ve had that week and bringing them and offering them to Christ.
If I said to a man, “Look, you’ve had a rough week. You normally make $1,000 a week. This week, you made $160. What if I could tell you that $160 could become something much more valuable if you just give it to Jesus? Would you do it?” “Yeah, I’d do it.” “Let me show you how.” You struggled greatly this week. You got some people talking about you, and maybe, you are sick, whatever. You can bring all these to the mass, offer it to Christ. It becomes transformed, and you have now a way of offering a gift to Christ that can result in life for many people.
This is one of the things that I have noticed in talking to men, and then I kind of found a niche to get to their heart, is that maybe they don’t know the Bible that well, maybe they don’t know Church history that well, maybe they don’t know the Catechism that well, but if I can start to teach them some things about what it means to love like Christ, to sacrifice like Christ and how to love their children without having a PhD in theology, they want to do that. They want to be the hero. They want to have their life mean something.
One of the things I try to teach men is, how do you love your children just by the difficulties you’re experiencing? How can that be changed into heavenly currency to be of a benefit to your kids.
Matthew: That’s a brilliant way of thinking about it, because every person suffers. You don’t always know what the answer is or you don’t know how to get to the answer, but you’re feeling it. You’re feeling the anxiety about the work, or you’re feeling, “Gosh, the car is broken again,” or “How do I get all this stuff done that I’ve been asked to do?”
That idea of linking it to the suffering of Christ, particularly in the Mass, that’s a… We need that, because sometimes, and I think it’s even your term, the whole heap of Catholicism, right? We get lost in it, and we don’t really recognize what’s happening in the Mass.
I’m always surprised when we pass and we do the offertory, the passing the basket, for people not elbowing each other to put able something in the basket to be taken up as part of your contribution, as part of the sacrifice. I just think we’ve lost what that means. I just think the vast majority of people don’t…
Jeff Cavins: In order to teach the men, we’ve got to…The genius behind any education system is to take the complex and make it simple. Men’s lives are busy today. They’re busy surviving. They’re busy worrying about their future. They’re busy wondering how to raise their kids, their wife, the relationship. We’ve got to start simple and explain these things to men.
What is the Mass? Seven steps, let’s go through it. And then you can get more complex after that if they want to. But, I think starting off and making sure that, if I was going to have a big men’s group, find out, “Hey, do you all know how to pray the Rosary? Do you even know what it is? Or the Mass and what’s happening in the Mass?” Let’s take a night. Let’s go through it. Let’s learn the steps of the Mass and how you can more perfectly enter into it and how it fits into God’s amazing over‑arching story. I think men are interested in doing that. You know?
Let me share with you this. I think this is something that is lacking in the men’s movement today. There’s two things. Remind me to tell you about evangelization a little bit later. But there’s this issue of becoming a man of God. To become a man of God in today’s culture among many Catholics simply is reduced to “I was raised Catholic. My parents had me baptized. I got First Communion, and I was confirmed. Yes, I guess I’m Catholic.” But they never had that conversion experience of saying, yes, as an adult, saying, “I will walk in this and I will own it.”
When you look at the process of becoming a disciple 2,000 years ago, there is a process where the end of that process is chosen‑ness. Let me explain that. A young boy 6 to 10 years old in Jesus’ day went through a process of schooling called the Beth Sefer, the House of The Book. In that House of the Book from 6 to 10 he learned the Torah. He sat with a great teacher, and he learned the Scriptures as a young boy growing up. Somebody made sure that he knew the Scriptures. St. Jerome said that he hardly ever met a young boy that didn’t know most of it by heart.
Then from 10 to 14 they reach what’s called the Beth Amud, the House of Study, where they continue to learn more scripture but at the same time they learn their father’s trade.
So from 10 to 14 they’re learning the word of God, what it means to be a man of God, and they’re learning how to do a trade like a fisherman or a…
Matthew James Christoff: A carpenter?
Jeff: Yeah, a carpenter, whatever it might be. But also during that 10‑ to 14‑year‑old age they learn by questions and answers. This is a technique that fathers can employ big time. I’ll use math as an example. The teacher may say, “Young Shimon.” The rabbi would say, “Shimon, tell me what’s two plus two.” Well, little Shimon isn’t going to say four. Everybody knows it’s four. But he’s going to demonstrate to the rabbi that “I know the topic.” So he says, “Rabbi, what’s eight minus four?” So he answers with questions. He says, “Very good. Matthew over there in the corner, what’s two plus two?” Well, Matthew’s not going to say four. He’s not going to say, “What’s eight minus four?” He’ll say, “Rabbi, what’s the square root of 16?” He’s demonstrating, “I know this topic,” and then he grows.
Now at the age of 14 there comes a point where the young boy has to make a decision. “Am I going to do what my father taught me to do, or am I going to become a rabbi myself? Am I going to become the disciple of a great rabbi?” which every boy wanted to do. It was a great prestigious thing to be chosen to follow a great rabbi, a wise one.
So at the age of 14 the rabbi would say to the young boy one of two things. He would say, “Go ply your father’s trade,” which means not that you’re rejected. But it means, “You don’t have what it takes to become like me. Go do what your father taught you to do.” Or he would hear, ” [speaks Hebrew] , “come follow me.” Now for a young boy to hear the words “Come follow me” was amazing.
“Here’s this rabbi that’s very wise. He thinks I can become like him. Wow. He has confidence in me. I’m going to step up to the plate.” So the rabbi would say, “Come follow me,” and the students say, “Yes, Rabbi.”
He’d become a disciple of the rabbi, which meant not only did he want to become like him, but he wanted to know everything he knew and he wanted to teach like him. So the Rabbi then would say to the young boy, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.”
Matthew: These words are familiar.
Jeff: Yes, they are familiar. “Take my yoke upon you,” which didn’t mean a yoke like an oxen. It meant “See the world the way I see the world. See marriage the way I see marriage. See finances the way I see finances. See struggle and conflict and lying and cheating in the marketplace the way I see it. See the solutions the way I see it. The young man’s saying, “All right. I will.”
He becomes a disciple of the rabbi with the hope someday that he will make disciples. He’ll be a rabbi himself and he’ll make disciples. Well, think for a moment. Where were the 12 when Jesus found them? They were all plying their father’s trade, which meant none of them were chosen. None of them were chosen. How many of us, and how many men, identify with being chosen last on the playing field? A pick‑up game of basketball and the last one, “Uh, we’ll take him.”
People who say yes to Jesus are not initiating this. Christ is initiating this call, “Come follow me.” Why? He says He sees that you can become like Him. But the only way that you can become like Him is to be dependent upon Him, to have that intimate relationship with Him. That’s the only way that you can.
Now, in some ways, a father and child relationship, and we’re speaking here about men, but a father/son relationship is very much like this. How many fathers even think about that, “I want my son to become like me,” and teach them in such a way to where they can duplicate? They can replicate the way they’re… How many fathers know that, “I’m going into a situation tomorrow and there’s going to be conflict resolution. I want my son to watch this.” How many men are thinking this way, of making disciples out of their own boys? This is the model that was given to us, of making disciples. Making disciples does not come by magic. It’s time spent with each other. If men are going to make disciples from their boys, they’ve got to spend time with them.
Matthew: Right. It’s that dwell time and we’ve lost a lot of that. And then the time we do spend together is not…There’s nothing wrong with enjoyment, right?
Matthew: But all of our time is a distractive enjoyment, you know?
Jeff: Yeah. That was one of your questions you were asking earlier. You were asking about one of the problems and I was going to mention it to you. One of the problems is we’re distracted with toys, gadgets.
Matthew: Yeah. You mentioned, and I know you’ve worked a lot with the Lighthouse Catholic Media. They’ve recorded a number of your talks and one of the talks that I know that’s been very, a lot of men have an interest in, although they don’t want to admit it is the talk on pornography.
I’m wondering, and this is something that I believe is probably a fundamental barrier for men engaging in their faith, is that we have such a preponderance of men that are engaged in pornography on a regular basis. When you combine that, it’s something like 70 percent. I haven’t seen specifics for Catholics although, anecdotally, I’ve heard they’re similar to the overall.
You combine that with the fact that 70 percent of men aren’t going to Mass or aren’t going to Confession even once a year and many are going never. We have large numbers of men who are in the “Hell zone,” sort of speak. I mean, if they get hit by a truck today, they’re in that zone where their mortal souls are in serious danger.
And I just wonder if, thinking about how you break through, and this idea that men like challenges and they like to know where they stand, something like “Where do you stand?” It’s a simple picture that shows sin on one axis and frequency of confession on the other. And it’s like, OK, there’s this big “go to hell zone” and then there’s a “purgatory zone” and then there’s a really little, tiny, “you’re going straight to heaven.”
Where do you stand and how do you get out of this predicament that you’re in because, unlike pride, which you’re thinking, “Maybe I was a little prideful maybe,” a little chest pumping, whatever or greed or whatever, pornography is very clear. Men know when telling it and so, to a certain extent, if we could somehow confront men with this and, I don’t know if that’s the right way to do it but, there’s something about that as a barrier to men engaging in the faith.
But it’s also this great opportunity because it’s like, ultimately you might be enjoying these things that you’re doing, you know in your heart you’re ashamed about it. You know you’re confused about it. You know you’re controlled by it.
Jeff: And it compromises your ability to love your wife and to teach your children. You feel like a hypocrite.
Jeff: You do. Well, I think that one of the great answers to that dilemma is that you have men that are engaging in pornography and not understanding why they’re doing it. So, one of the beginning points is to understand, “Why do I sin? Why do I choose the things that really I don’t want to choose and why don’t I do those things that I should?” Paul ran into this. When he said, “I do those things that I don’t.” so forth. They said the answer was Jesus Christ.
The answer in Christ is really to know yourself and to know why you do what you do, if you will, the DNA of sin, taking to look at the architecture of sin. To do that, you have to go back to the Garden of Eden. When you see what happened in the Garden of Eden, you see that God created a tree, the tree of the knowledge of truth and evil. There was fruit on that tree. God created Adam and Even with free will and with reason.
They have the equipment to reason something and to make a choice, whether they’re going to follow God, which was the choice at the beginning, or you can go the other way, you can do your own thing. You can lose trust in God. You can be filled with pride, and you can go after something else, so you have what I would call the great, which is God.
What does God want me to do? What is His will? How did He create me to live? The problem with that is that God has put me in a world with a lot of good things, good as below great. He’s given me a world that is beautiful, a world that’s filled with lushes, wonderful things and tasty things. I can become wise and all of that.
When you look at the Fall, a lot of people think that the Fall is just a matter of “There was a fruit. You were told not to. You ate it. Now, you’re going to go to hell.” That’s a tough story to tell people today. They ate the fruit, we’re going to go to hell. There is a great story line that I’m supposed to dedicate my life to, but you got to look at what really happened with the sin.
It says in Genesis 3: 6 that Eve saw that the fruit was tasty. That’s good. It was beautiful to look at. What’s not to like about that? It made one wise, all good, they’re all good. The choice was not between good and evil. The choices between God and the good things of this world that would replace God, that’s what the choice was between.
If men can understand that, then they can understand their own going off the path. When they choose pornography, they’re not saying, “This is dark and evil I’m going to go after.” They’re saying, “This is beautiful, and it makes me feel good.” At least they think it is but only to find out that it deceives them, and it was actually the opposite, that the good that they chose rather than God landed in sin, which actually changes their heart and their mind.
The darkness comes in, and it’s the deception of sin. Sin comes down to choosing something that you think, as Saint Augustine said in his confessions, something that you think is going to land in happiness, but it deceived you. It deceived you, and that he’s a father of deception, the enemy. No matter what a man does in sinning, you can always back up and identify what is the good he was going after.
If I say to a man, “Why are you watching pornography?” His really dishonest answer is “I don’t know. I really don’t know. All I know is I can’t get out of it. All I know is I keep being drawn back.” “What are you drawn to?” “Beauty?”
That type of thing, he’s drawn to the beautiful things of this world. Then if you continue on with that good, that good becomes a trap and he become addicted. The penalty of the sin is the addiction of staying in the cycle of thinking “This is what’s good.” Then you go to complete deception, which is you call evil good and good evil. Everything is turned around when it all started with “I just wanted to be happy. That’s why I took that drug. That’s why I was drinking at the end of the day. I just wanted to be happy.”
Matthew: It gets back to this idea of hope that Benedict was talking about. We need to be hopeful and find true happiness as opposed to these things that are distracting us. Gosh, everything is turned upside down, that’s kind of a short description of our culture today. The real thing is confused and backwards, and evil is good, and good is evil. It’s a tough…
Jeff: This gets back to the relationship with Jesus and His Church. That is that all things that we need for happiness are found in Christ, in that relationship. Saint Augustine said, and it could be a bumper sticker for every man, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” You go ahead, go after the drug, go after the drink, go after the woman, go after the success, go after the porn, go after all these things.
Your heart will remain restless until it rest in Him. Why? You’re stopping at what looks good, and distorting it becomes an idol in your life, and that’s sin. That’s idolatry. You’re worshiping what should be not worshiped and not worshiping the Creator. It’s the creation over the Creator and men.
Every man I talk to, I can find out whether he’s stopping at the creation and worship the creation rather than the Creator, everything in its right place. There’s nothing wrong, nothing wrong with a hunting trip, but if hunting takes over everything in your life, it’s distorted.
Matthew: I think men aspire to greatness. We would like it. There’s a reason why we look at and we’re enthralled by what we call heroic on football games or tons of movies that come out. Thor was just out. I haven’t seen it, or The Lord of the Rings. All these things are heroic, and men fly to them. They miss the idea, many of us miss the idea that we can live as heroes in our lives if we just understand the great versus the good. That’s a powerful motivational idea.
Jeff: What a vision too, what a vision for every man that’s married and has a family to ask himself, “How can I be a hero to these kids? How can I be a hero to my wife?” I’m newly, in the last three years, a grandfather. You know as well as I do, you’re automatically a hero as a grandfather, and you’re put into a position of mentorship immediately, where you can mentor this child. You have to change their diapers, but you can mentor them.
Matthew: Mentor them, and it gives you an added opportunity to mentor your children that are becoming parents.
Jeff: Do you think it’s better second time around? [laughs]
Matthew: Yeah, you do. Your eyes are much wider open. You and I, we have grand kids the same age, and they’re coming into town…we’re looking forward to that.
Maybe, to spend a minute or two contrasting men versus women, just to kind of put a bit of a distinction on the evangelical efforts, because the church by enlarge…This New Evangelization is a wonderful thing, and we’re making progress on a lot front, but there doesn’t seem to be a distinction between how men and women are different and that men, because of that difference, probably require some kind of very specific targeted effort.
Jeff: There is a difference between men and women. Women are, by nature, more social. They like to relate and talk to one another. They’re very feeling‑oriented. Men are visionaries and conquerors. They like the big picture, and they’re fixers. Women will talk about their problem, then men will discuss how to fix it. There are a number of differences between them.
One of the biggest differences is at the Pre‑Evangelization level. If we understand the process of going from beginning to end in terms of discipleship, you start with Pre‑Evangelization and then you move on to Evangelization, which is an encounter with Jesus Christ. Then you move on to Catechesis and then Discipleship.
You have these four steps, and I think that as I explain these four steps, I think this is one of the big crisis in men’s ministry today, is that the question comes up. How do we get men interested at all in this? How do you get them interested in anything, whether it’s hunting or sport, whatever it is? They have to have some experience with it and how it is packaged, if you will, how it is presented. It has a lot to do with whether they are going to take the next step.
One of the big problems that I’m seeing in our whole Church program ‑‑ not with the Church ‑‑ no problem, but with our means, “ardor” which you mentioned that earlier, are there new methods that John Paul talked about, is that you have Pre‑Evangelization, which is typically a hook or an interest to a man out there. You may be interested in this plan God has for us, that Pre‑Evangelization in the Catholic Church is, to use a Greek word, pathetic…
Jeff: …It’s reduced to pancake breakfast or fall festival and dunking pastor. That’s sort of what it’s reduced to. You think, how many Pre‑Evangelization programs do you know of where men are exposed to and they want to go the next step.
Pre‑Evangelization is a ripe area for men’s ministry today. How do you get the attention of a busy man who’s playing video games, walking around with his Redskins jersey on. How do you get his attention in the faith? Pre‑Evangelization is a ripe area where there needs to be a lot of thought and prayer and innovation in Pre‑Evangelization for men.
Matthew: I thought men that are doing that. Are you…?
Jeff: I think you’re doing it with CatholicManNight, where you’re thinking what men like to do when they go out, let’s do it then. Sure, it’s sin, obviously. Let’s do it, and let’s engage them at that point.
When I was involved in Protestant churches before, we literally sat around and thought of ways to do it. Get this, we did this one night. We did this on a weekend. We found that there were a number of men in our church who were there because of their wives. Their wives drag them to church. That happens to Catholic men too.
They’re thinking about Brett Farve during Mass, and they feel fairly useless. “My wife is the spiritual one in our family. She brings the kids to CCD. Me and my wife, we go to Starbucks. All the kids are there.” He’s relegated that responsibility to her. That’s her responsibility.
We found out that we had probably 25 guys in the church that were not involved, not engaged, but you know what they liked? Cars. They loved cars. What we did at the Pre‑Evangelization stage is we found a way for them to get engaged with serving, and it feel like what it’s like to be a part of the community and to be introduced to other men who might be able to share with them.
On Saturday, once a month, we had free car oil and filter change. At the parking lot, these 25 guys get together, they bring oil and all kinds of things, and they invited all the women. You want your car or your oil changed in the church? Yeah. They came, they served. They found a way to get involved in the community, which led to a deeper conversion. It was like a hook. That is Pre‑Evangelization. They never would’ve come to the church for a seminar in Our Lady of Guadalupe or anything like that, but I can change oil. We’ll start something here. It’s Pre‑Evangelization.
Pre‑Evangelization then moves to evangelization, which is an encounter with Jesus. Pope John Paul II said there are three major encounters, Scripture, the Eucharist, and the Poor. Most men are not going to encounter Jesus in any of those. They don’t know what the Eucharist is, they never study the Bible, and they avoid the Poor. [chuckles]
We go from pre‑evangelization, which is typically weak. We skip over the encounter and conversion with Christ and go right to Catechesis. You need to come into this class. We’re teaching everything Catholic.
They go “mm‑hmm‑hmm”. They drop out. They’re not interested. They don’t got time. I’ll bring my wife, she’ll do it, because they don’t have an encounter in a conversion experience, so certainly, they don’t go onto the discipleship phase, which is the fourth.
Here’s what we need to do. We need to have great Pre‑Evangelization methods that bring them to Christ in a true conversion experience, where they need to make a decision at whatever level that is for them. If it’s changing oil and filters, be the best. We start to bring them in that way. Take men where they’re at. Some guys love hunting. Some guys like NASCAR. Guys are out there are all interested in wine making. Whatever it happens to be…
Matthew: There’s not going to be one thing. There’s going to be a bunch of different things, and we need to look at the culture and what men are engaged in and say, “OK.”
Jeff: There’s an entrance, the doorway here. There’s a doorway here, but what happens so often is we come up with one compact way. This is the way you do it, and most of the men are saying, “Not me.”
Matthew: Yeah, something like that.
Jeff: I’m not doing that. We find out how…There’s all these doors into the Church, and that’s Pre‑Evangelization, and that’s just as creative as your parish wants to go.
Matthew: It sounds almost…Someone else mentioned that men love ritual. If you think about when you go hunting, there’s this series of things that you do. You’re thinking about where you’re going. You’re learning about where the deer might be or where the birds are going to be, or you’re going through your gun, fine tooth comb, clean it, preparing it, looking at the ammo, getting your gear ready, everything, and you go out and execute.
Within the Church, within the Sacraments, within the Liturgy, it’s very ritualistic. Men have a natural…I think that might be another…Where I was going with that was this idea of moving from Pre‑Evangelization to a conversion experience that bringing back that idea of a conversion experience like the bar mitzvah or deciding are you going to do your vocation or are you going to follow the rabbi, but there’s this choice and this thing.
Protestants do that very well. When you see these large tent gatherings where you give yourself to Christ and you make a public expression of that. We don’t have anything for guys who never really took it seriously. That’s an interesting opportunity.
Jeff: It’s moving from one phase of life to another with your father there or and his friends. It’s very powerful.
Matthew: Maybe just a couple more things. What role do small groups play in the evangelization of Catholic men? The importance of them. They’re hard to form a lot of times, because you draw guys in and say, “We’re going to be a part of a group.”
I know that’s…Personally, when I went to the Great Adventure Bible Series, that was one of the big benefits of it. It was that you had this group of men that you met with so many times. When you meet with guys 26 different times or eight different times or different ways of going through it, you build a relationship.
Jeff: You do. It speaks of the nature of the Catholic Church that it’s not just me and Jesus. That isn’t the relationship of just me and Jesus. It is me and Jesus, but it’s a community too and a family, to learn about the Lord takes into consideration small groups where we share experiences with one another.
How do you skin that deer? How did you do that? You start to hear ideas from other men of when did they pray, what do they do with their Bible. Your son had problems with this, fill in the blank too. What did you do?
We’re not alone. We are in a family. Typically, one of the things we need to get over is this idea that our faith is private. A lot of people adopted that attitude, and they adopted it as a cop out. “I don’t know my faith. It’s private. I don’t need to share.” We need to start from humility and admit “I don’t know everything I should know. Maybe you guys can help me.” Let’s help each other as a band of men. Let’s help each other.
You’ll see this in high school football, guys getting together, the band of men, “Ooohh.” They’re helping each other. They don’t see a bunch of guys out there. It’s just me. They’re banding together, and we need to see that more often, having prayer partners where you can pray for another guy and he prays for you.
It’s a powerful mentoring relationship, very, very good. Reading materials that are not long but materials that will feed them, and they can discuss with one another or Bible study. These are all valuable, valuable things.
In small group, you kind of see yourself through the eyes of somebody else. You look at somebody else’s life and say, “Oh, boy. That’s me.” and you learn. I think small groups are very, very powerful, but they will fall apart if somebody doesn’t take the responsibility and say, “I am going to disciple people. I’m going to give my life away to help others get to heaven.”
This is one of the buzz words that’s taking place in the Catholic Church right now, and that is “Intentional Discipleship.” Intentional anything should be a buzz word, but intentional discipleship, the idea of that…This is one of the things I’m putting together right now. I’m doing a study on rabbi‑disciple relationship, getting ready to launch that.
One of the things that I’m advocating is that every man should have two or three other men in his life that’s he’s intentionally doing something with, discipling them. You don’t have to come out and say, “I’m your rabbi.” but you know that you’re taking responsibility for these three guys, and “I’m going to find you good books. I’ll get together and have coffee. Talk if you have a question or prayer. Let me know.” You just start to cultivate that relationship with others.
Matthew: I think that men are hungry for that. I think about there’s this crisis of loneliness in men. It’s well‑documented, sociological…
Jeff: Which leads to the porn, by the way.
Jeff: Yeah. You idle, and you’re bored, and you’re lonely. I just think about this beautiful gift. My background is pluralist. I’m the poster boy for what the culture looks like in for many years. It wasn’t like I didn’t have desire for God. I had deep desire for God, but I hadn’t been formed. I looked and practiced and searched many different places.
Along the way, I had the kind of career where I met literally thousands of people. I knew, the tons of people. How many friends did I have, really deep close friends? I went through 20 years of professional life, maybe built a couple. I’m not kidding you. I can do them on one hand.
Coming into the Church, I found or actually men mentors found me. I have a very large group of friends now, and I have five or six that do pray for me. I pray for them, and they do give me feedback and guidance, and I can talk to them about everything. It’s that the greatest thing in my life besides, of course, Christ in my life. It’s wonderful thing, and I just…
Jeff: I think every man hungers to be mentored and to be accepted and to hear the words “Lek Hackeri [Hebrew]. Come, follow me.” You’re chosen. You’re chosen to be affirmed. I saw that when I was a pastor, how much that meant to men to be affirmed, that you are something. You got gifts, and God does have a call in your life.
Matthew: I really like the idea of being able to select some people that are willing to give up and be willing to be mentors and be willing to be out there, drawing men in. It’s just…
Jeff: Be intentional about it. What is so wrong about making your intentions known that we want to start a movement where men mentor men, where you’d have two or three guys that you can pull your life into and help them. You don’t know all the answers, nobody does, but we can help with what we know. Why does it have to be quiet and sort of subversive? Why not be intentional about it? It’s like, “I want to meet you two guys or you three guys. Let’s get together every other week.”
Matthew: I just think men need to be presented with the idea. It’s going to find fertile ground. If everything that we’re talking about is true about the state of unhappiness and the overwhelming restlessness that man have. If it’s true, and I believe it’s true, and you believe it’s true, then the right sparkle light that fire.
Jeff: One of the things I discovered in my years of being a pastor in the Protestant churches was that men truly wanted to be discipled, but they thought that nobody else was interested in them, and then the people out there that we’re looking at them thought they wouldn’t be interested in me being a part of their life.
This was a typical thing that I found, is that…I’m using myself as an example. Let’s say I come to you, Matt, and let’s say you’re ten years older than me, and we’re both in the business world. The fact that you are older than me, there is something inside of me that’s saying, “I hope you would mentor me. I hope he would share some wisdom and some insight with me.” You’re thinking, “He’s not that interested. He’s a successful businessman.”
Everybody is doing this self talk, and it’s defeating that “Oh, they’re not interested in me. Oh, he wouldn’t care.” Nothing gets done.
Matthew: Americanism, right? We’re driven to be independent and self‑sufficient and totally back way. We have a culture that is totalitarianism.. to shut up about your faith.
Jeff: Another thing, too, is I’ve noticed, as I’m getting older…I’m 56 now, is that there comes a time when I was young, and I first gave my life to the Lord. I was 18 years old, after baptism, of course. As an adult, 18 years old really excited about the faith, going to Bible study and going to revivals and going to all these different things. I’m drinking milk constantly, but then as I got older, I started to realize that a lot of those people that I looked to as leaders were dying and going away. There reached a point, right around 40, 45, where I started to realize I am the leader, and people are looking to me like this now, and I had to make a decision.
Do I want to just blend, or do I want to step up to the plate and realize “Jeff, you are a leader. You are a leader now, and you need to treat people that way. You need to be open to relationships and to taking time to encourage people, because they’re hoping you do, because they’re where you were 30 years ago. They’re looking for leaders. They’re looking for mentors.”
Matthew: With the great work you’re doing at the Catechetical Institute, you’re training hundreds of people that know their faith, and they have a very intentional goal in their life, to go out in parishes. I loved hearing Curtis Martin a while ago…I think you and I hear that conversation where he was talking about the, focus is a great thing, and it’s about drawing people into evangelization on the college campus but ultimately, the goal is to have these people graduate and becoming leaders all across the country. Nothing else gives us hope. Things like that give us great hope.
To close, just stepping back from the details, are there couple of…two or three things as you think about the new evangelization, some of the principles that we want to capture, and you’ve given us a lot of rich thought here. Some things that just pop out, like don’t forget to do these two or three things.
Jeff: I would say there needs to be a serious focus on remedial education from Catholic men. Catholic men are like everybody else. They’re filled with pride. You don’t want to admit you don’t know. Most men are going to wander into the Church and say, “When it comes to the faith, I am clueless.” They’re not just going to do it. You just need to tell them they are.
We know you’re clueless. Let’s go back to some of the basics. Let’s find out what the story is. Number one, what is the big story of life? What’s it all about? How do you fit into it? If you’re married, what are your responsibilities at this point? What’s at stake? Heaven, hell, getting your family there. How can you be a benefit to your family and those around you, not to mention your own life?
Just start to look at what are some of the basics, Bible, Mass, the Catechism, Prayer, Holiness. How do you develop virtue? What are the vices in your life, and how do you go after those? If just those five or six things that I mentioned right there, that’s four or five years of formation for most men at a basic level.
Here’s one of the biggest problems in communicating to men today. Because of the pride factor, Catholicism uses a “meta-language.” They use an in‑house shop-talk language that most men out there don’t understand.
If I said to you, Matt, let’s say you’re a pipe fitter for the company over here, and you’re doing plumbing and pipe thing, and I go over saying, “Hey, Matt. Hey, buddy. What do you say, you’d join me for a Holy Hour, and we’re going to contemplate Original Justice? Then let’s move on to there, and we’ll go to Eucharist.” You’re like, “What?” You don’t understand anything I’m saying. It’s all shop talk, we got to drop the shop talk with these men.
That’s inside language, that’s the initiated. Those are people that are really getting into the minutia. Most of these men don’t know what we’re talking about, but they’re not going to tell you that. There’s a wall up between us.
Matthew: We’re going to be afraid.
Matthew: I don’t want to go and be embarrassed, because I don’t…
Jeff: Is Holy Hour like Happy Hour?
Jeff: I’m in if it is.
Matthew: Yeah, do me.
Jeff: That language thing is a barrier. Give you an example. Scott Hahn and I…Many of your listeners know Scott Hahn. We met every morning for an hour for Holy Hour, and it was about three‑quarters away through that year, a meaning that he mentioned something about a monstrance. I had no clue what he was talking about, but I didn’t want to sound like a dummy. Instead of saying, “What’s that?” I had to go home and look it up, to find out what he was talking about.
We need to anticipate the problem that men are going to face to know this faith better, and we need to go and answer it. I think that oftentimes, when I talk to men, they don’t even know what the questions in their heart are. They don’t even know what the questions of their heart are, but the minute I bring the question up to them, they go like this. “Oh, that’s me. I’ve never thought of it, but that’s me.” I know it’s you.
If I can help bring up the questions in the angst in their life and begin to answer those questions, I got their attention.
Matthew: That’s a great hook by itself. We’re talking about little bit about hooks. What are the questions? Do you have the questions, man questions?
Jeff: What are they facing, and what are ten man questions that facing? I’ll tell you right now there’s a lot of guys in their 50’s right now, wondering if they’re actually going to have employment until retirement. It’s huge. This is a big, big deal in their life. In the mean time, I’m trying to get them to a five‑part series on Saints from Russia. They’re not interested. They’re looking at me saying, “You know what, I got kids graduating from high school next year. The kid wants to go to Penn State. I don’t know how am I going to do this.”
They’re wondering, their father died from heart disease when he was 56 years, and they’re 54, and they’re wondering if I’m a time bomb. It occupies their thinking. How do you deal with that fear? How do you deal with the fear? How do you offer up your suffering and union with Christ? How do you act like a man in the face of death?
That would get my attention. If someone said, “I’m going to spend a whole night, and you’re invited. I’m going to talk about how men deal with death. How to die like a man?” I’d be there, because I’m afraid, and no one’s telling me the answer. No one’s showing me how to die. I know is, tonight, on television, I’m going to see 70 men die on TV. That’s all fake. I know one thing. My dad died when he was this age, and I am scared.
Matthew: It’s the big questions. We need to think more deeply about the psychological motivations in men and where they are standing, what the barriers are, and how do you reach them? We know the answer. It’s Jesus Christ, and it’s the Church, and it’s the sacraments, and it’s that kind of…You got two choices ultimately, and you’re going to go towards one or the other.
This has been really, really helpful. I’m very grateful, Jeff that you could spend time with us.
Jeff: Oh, I had fun talking to you, dreaming.
Matthew: Pardon me?
Matthew: Yeah, dreaming. Yeah, we’ll get there. Verses, you frame the problem, and you get the right people in the room, and things start happening.
I’ve been speaking with Jeff Cavins, international Catholic evangelist, speaker and writer. To find more about Jeff Cavins, the Great Adventure Bible Series, how to book Jeff to speak in your parish, you’ve gotten a good example of how powerful he can be here today, or find out more about his many upcoming pilgrimages to the Holy Lands, please visit him at JeffCavins.com.
My name is Matthew James Christoff, and you can learn more about the New Emangelization project at NewEmangelization.com.