“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” is a line spoken by Henry V at the beginning of Act III from William Shakespeare’s aforementioned play. This was the first thing that entered my mind yesterday afternoon after seeing the title of the newly published Apostolic Exhortation, Into the Breach, written by the Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix. Just as King Henry V rallies his men to battle, so too has Bishop Olmsted sought to rally the Catholic Men of the Diocese of Phoenix with this letter.
Knowing that it was about to be released, I was excited to read it quickly, not realizing that I was going to read in within hours of its initial release for the simple reason – I could not put it down! As a Catholic man, this letter says to me that there is so much more that I should be doing in my daily life. It makes me realize that some of the decisions I chose in my youth were not the best for me. It helps me realize that I am not alone, that other men, “bands of brothers,” are fighting just as I am fighting. Finally, it makes me realize that even in dark times, the light of Christ’s hope shines for all to see.
This Apostolic Exhortation is truly a rallying call to not only the Catholic men of the Diocese of Phoenix, but to all Catholic men in every diocese in the Universal Church. The two words that came to mind when I read this letter are – Boldness and Fortitude. Bishop Olmsted speaks to his “spiritual sons” in the way that we need to hear it. Using analogies such as an athlete, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the British Spy Agent, James Bond, the Ordinary of Phoenix articulates what true and real masculinity should look like today.
Using the words of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Francis, and other Popes and Saints, Bishop Olmsted examines all aspects of the masculine nature. In a time when the culture is trying to destroy masculinity and femininity like never before, this letter stands as a direct order to the men of this diocese, and all dioceses, to stand up, to speak up, to be boldly Catholic, and to do battle against Satan and all his allies. The opening paragraph of the letter states,
“I begin this letter with a clarion call and clear charge to you, my sons and brothers in Christ: Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men. This battle is often hidden, but the battle is real. It is primarily spiritual, but it is progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our own homes.”
This opening paragraph mirrors what I have been telling my now RCIA Catechumens and Candidates since the beginning of August. The Church has always been at war with spiritual forces, and at times, physical forces, but for us today in the early years of the 21st century, we are engaging in a specific battle that is part of the overall war. To place it in context of the Second World War, we are in the Battle of the Bulge. Just as the Battle of the Bulge was a German offensive, the battle we fight today finds its offense in the Sexual Revolution of the 1960’s. As the Allies fought the offensive; so we must do the same today.
With this all being said, let me entice your spiritual appetite a little more to personally pick up and read this Apostolic Exhortation by quoting some points that stand out for me, although there are many more that I could share –
“A true Catholic man stakes his life on this proposition – that all is made new in Jesus Christ.”
“Be confident! Be bold! Forward, into the breach!”
“We truly encounter Christ at Mass when we receive the very gift of Himself in the Eucharist. For this reason, I call upon my brother priests to awaken the sense of transcendence in the hearts of men through reverent and beautiful liturgy, helping men to rediscover Jesus in the Eucharist each and every Sunday…Teaching men to understand the fullness and power of the Mass must be a top priority.”
“Men, we must never believe that holiness and courage are things of the past! You and I are called to a holiness that shows Christ to the world as our forefathers have done countless times throughout history, following the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”
“Do you, my sons, have true brothers in Christ in your life?”
“Next, let us seek to understand more deeply man’s calling to spousal love. Every man is made to live as a husband and a father in some way: “God assigns the dignity of every woman as a task to every man.” Each man is called to commit and give of himself completely.”
To read the Apostolic Exhortation, Into the Breach, click on the link and you will be brought to the main page where you find English and Spanish translations. I would also encourage you to watch the trailer as well. It looks like there is going to a video/film aspect of this letter. When I find out more about it, I will write about it on my blog.
Pray that this letter is well received here in the Diocese of Phoenix and that Catholic men will have the courage to subtract the things in their lives leading them away from Jesus, and add those things that will bring them closer to Him. Pray for Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and all the Bishops of the Catholic Church. Amen.
St. Jerome…Pray for Us.