CALGARY – The great failure of men today is the same one shown in the Garden of Eden when Adam failed to stand up to the enemy of his soul and protect Eve from the wiles of Satan, says U.S. evangelist Curtis Martin.
That passivity is an inherited tendency that men have been subject to ever since, Martin told 200 men at an annual men's conference.
Men need to make a deliberate choice to become winners in the spiritual battle. That means leaving their comfort zone, getting out of the boat, and taking on the adventure of their Catholic faith.
Martin, founder and president of Fellowship of Catholic University Students (Focus) and a regular on EWTN's Crossing the Goal TV program, said the current culture contributes to the passivity of men by offering a life of comfort and ease.
"We live in the most comfortable generation and culture of the world. We need to remember, as Benedict XVI said on the first day he became pope, the world offers us comfort, but we are not made for comfort, we are made for greatness."
Men today are failing to take up the challenge to be heroes, like the frontiersmen of an earlier era, or their fathers and grandfathers meeting the challenges of two Great Wars, Martin said at the March 16-17 conference.
Every man needs to be challenged to be a hero, to rise to the occasion and step up to the plate. While it requires a crisis to bring greatness out of men, there are sufficient areas of crisis in the Church and society, that there is no shortage of causes with which they can become involved.
"What men are terrified of is failing or looking weak. So, they opt to stay comfortable and hang back, instead of stepping up to the plate. "
Citing the experience of an infant learning to walk or a child to ride a bicycle, Martin said failing over and over, but getting up and trying repeatedly, makes all the difference in being successful. Rather than being a stumbling block, failure can be a powerful tool for training.
His antidote to the passivity of men today is to train them to take on the adventure of being Catholic. Meeting together in small groups is an essential part of supporting one another, he said, noting that the saints did not become saints in isolation but were supported by others seeking to live holy lives.
One of two North American lay representatives to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, Martin said the mission of Catholics is always to evangelize.
"It is the evangelical imperative to reach out to others. New evangelization means to share the good news that God loves us and offers us new life which can be found in the Church. It is presenting the same message with new effort and new methods."
Martin said the message in most cases is being presented to people who know it, but it is not central to their lives.
There is a misunderstanding, as well, that faith is a private matter. While it is deeply personal, it was never meant to be kept private. It was meant to be shared with others.
Men, he said, have an important and significant role to play in reaching other men and introducing them to faith.
Another area where men need to be intentional and make personal decisions is in handling of finances. What the culture takes as success is different from what the Church views as success.
Addressing the issue of financial freedom, Phil Lenahan told the men the highest priority in life is not the amassing of material possessions, but rather the attainment of eternal life.
"We get wrapped up in day to day living, and are influenced by the messages of the culture that say we get fulfillment from what we have, rather than recognizing we are made in the image of God and have an eternal purpose."
Creation of wealth is an essential part of financial planning and freedom, according to Lenahan, the treasurer at Catholic Answers and founder of Veritas Financial Ministries.
He says he stands with Pope Benedict who has said the alleviation of poverty cannot be resolved solely be redistributing existing wealth.
"We have an inescapable duty to create wealth as a way to help people live in a dignified manner by fulfilling the responsibilities God has given them, and to help those around us. Being generous is part of a godly financial plan."