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More from “The Catholic Gentleman”

A few days ago I began a new series of articles based on Sam Guzman’s book, The Catholic Gentleman: Living Authentic Manhood Today (San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2019) with an article titled “Are You for Real?”

Today I offer my second article in this series. In “Are You for Real?“, I left off discussing where the meaning of our life comes from. Moving ahead, Guzman says, “What does man mean? The great crisis of the modern world is not one of theology, or a lack thereof, but, rather, one of anthropology – of what it means to be human. The key to understanding something is to learn its purpose. What was it made for?” (30).

Humans were not created to serve their own self-interest. We were not created to become materially wealth (God offers something of infinite value). We were not created to become famous. We were not created to have the most toys or the most personal pleasure. Guzman writes, “First and foremost, human beings were created for communion, for relationship. Our lives make no sense apart from others” (31). We are created for love.

In terms of our human body if two people of opposite gender had not come together, we would not exist. “Each of us originated from the union of our mother and our father” (31). As God designs it, we are to be born into a community that we call family (see my blog articles on family here). While we are created to be one community, we are not all created exactly the same in physical form. As we read in Genesis 1:27, “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” We are all created in the image of God but some are created male while others are created female. As Guzman writes to men, “Furthermore, our bodily maleness reveals the fact that we are designed as incomplete in and or ourselves. Male biology needs female biology to make sense” (31). “We are one half of an equation, one piece of a bigger puzzle” (32). God is our Creator. When a male and female come together in marital sex, they can share in God’s creative nature in having children.

There are those who think they can change this. They want to redefine marriage as well as what it means to be male and female. Here Guzman writes, “You can try to define your own concept of existence, but it won’t change reality” (32). We discover what we are really created for when we choose to live as God created us. Just as males and females have differences in their physical bodies, God has made male and female differently in other ways. Males tend to be more logical while females are more nurturing. (This does not males can’t be nurturing or that females can’t be logical). God created male and female to work together as husband and wife, the two becomes something better, balancing what each other does. (see Guzman 33-34).

From here Guzman moves into how we present ourselves. He refers to past times when “Being well groomed and caring for one’s appearance was deemed a matter of respect for others. Slovenliness was considered unthinkable to anyone who had an ounce of dignity and self-respect” (39). How do you dress? Of course, we dress differently for different settings. When I worked as an engineer on construction projects, I wore jeans and work boots. I did not wear a tie (that could have been dangerous) but I did wear a decent looking shirt and kept it tucked in. That was the way I dressed for work. It is not the way I dressed for church on Sunday. When I went to church as a parishioner, I put on comfortable dress shoes, dress slacks, and a button up shirt. I did not dress this way to look good in front of others (that would be pride). I dressed this way as a form of reverence as I came to God’s house.

We can also talk about modesty in dress. As Guzman writes, “Modesty is often associated with coverage of skin, but this is not really what it means. At bottom, it means humility; it means not drawing excessive attention to yourself” (41). For those who do not cover their skin, I wonder what they think of themselves. Do they think the only way to get people to like them is to show off their bodies? Sadly, I think can lead to the person being seen as an object of physical pleasure, both by the person that is looking at them and how they look at themselves. What is most important is who we are on the inside, not the outside. God wants us to make our outsides presentable but it is who we are on the inside that matters most (the outside can say something about the inside). When Samuel judges Eliab by his external appearance, God said, “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God loves a beautiful soul, so much so that when we make our souls ugly in sin, God makes our soul beautiful again when we come to him with a contrite heart in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

As I end for today (I will be writing more articles inspired by Guzman’s The Catholic Gentleman), I would like to remind you that I what I write here is only a portion of what Guzman writes. I am not trying to summarize the whole book. I am offering a few points. If something intrigues you such that you want to know more, I encourage you to read the book for yourself.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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