October 24, 2014

‘The new men of God’ called to be good husbands, fathers, leaders and friends

Deacon Rick Wagner shares the challenges of being “the new men of God” on Sept. 20 during the eighth Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

Deacon Rick Wagner shares the challenges of being “the new men of God” on Sept. 20 during the eighth Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

By Mike Krokos

Men today are called to be husbands, fathers, leaders and friends, which means they must be proactive in living out these vocations.

“Many men live their lives as bystanders or as observers,” said Deacon Rick Wagner, principal and vice-president of mission and ministry at Bishop Chatard High School who also ministers at St. Pius X Parish, both in Indianapolis. “They are not truly engaged with other people, with their faith or with the world.”

Deacon Wagner cited a recent homily by Pope Francis, in which the Holy Father noted, “the Christian life does not allow for navel-gazing. It is a life in which one gets out of oneself in order to give oneself to others. It is a gift, it is love—and love does not turn in on itself, it is not selfish, but self-giving.”

Marriage is a unique communion of persons, Deacon Wagner said, and a husband’s vocation includes helping his wife get to heaven, while a wife’s vocation includes helping her husband get to heaven.

“Once you are married, life ceases being about you,” he said.

Remember why you married your wife, Deacon Wagner noted, adding that it took him a few years to realize what attracted him to his wife, Carol.

“It was because I knew she was a loving, giving person.”

He also encouraged men to “pray together as a couple” with their wives.

In men’s role as fathers, we need to make sure our children come to know God, Deacon Wagner said.

“Parents are the primary educators [of their children when it comes to the faith],” he noted.

The deacon also reiterated a message that Archbishop Tobin shared with fathers at a recent Dads’ Day breakfast at Bishop Chatard: “Don’t send your children to church, take them to church.”

“Instruct them in the faith, and then, let them live the faith,” Deacon Wagner said. “You can’t do that as an observer. You can’t do that as a navel-gazer. You must be engaged in the process.”

A father is no longer required to be the bread winner and the disciplinarian, he added, because their role has changed.

“Dads are challenged to be more loving, nurturing, comforting and supporting,” Deacon Wagner said.

When it comes to our children, we need to tell them we love them, that they have value and that they are never alone, he added.

“Your kids also need to know there is nothing they could ever do to make you or God love them less,” Deacon Wagner said.

In our role as leaders, men need to be willing to be witnesses to their faith, he noted. Fear is one of the biggest stumbling blocks.

“We are afraid of putting ourselves out there, we have feelings of doubt, based on our unworthiness,” he said, citing the Gospel of Matthew where Peter asks Jesus to help him walk to him on the water, but Peter falls in because of his doubt (Mt 14:22-33). “Yes, we’re going to doubt, yes we’re going to stumble sometimes, we’re not always going to be sure. But we need to take the risk, knowing that if we do fall, Jesus will be there to pull us back up.”

In our role as friends, Deacon Wagner said, we need to ask ourselves two questions: One, do we hold our friends accountable? Two, do we reach out to friends in need?

When it comes to holding friends accountable, “You have to be a good enough friend to risk losing that friendship,” Deacon Wagner said.

“How many selfish things do you put in front of helping a friend?” Deacon Wagner asked. “When you do help, do you do it with a servant’s heart, or are we just going through the motions?”

A person with a servant’s heart, he added, does things out of love, not a feeling of obligation.

Being “the new men of God” who are good husbands, fathers, leader and friends, is challenging, Deacon Wagner said, but not impossible.

“These things may be out of your comfort zone, but they are not your skill set,” he said. “It’s what we are called to do as ‘the new men of God.’ ” †


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