Dear young man,
In many ancient cultures, and some current ones, there would be a coming-of-age ceremony, a sort of “manhood” ceremony. Often this would occur around age 14 or so. After this ceremony, you were considered a man—a very young man, yes, but you were no longer a child. You no longer slept with the other children, and you were probably expected to change your way of living. You would go to war with the older men, a thing which often defined what made a man.
God created man first. Woman was made as his companion and help (this is where all the feminists start yelling abuse at me). The role of a man is special.
You are the provider. You are the leader. You are the one who must give everything in order to make a safe home and family. God gave men more physical strength in order to accomplish their role as fathers and husbands. Women should be able to look up to you, as Mary would have looked up to Joseph. Joseph had great strength and faith in God. Can you be a strong, practical leader?
I wish that every time I looked at an 18 year old guy, I actually saw a man. Instead I most usually see an old boy. What is the difference? Of course, every person is a unique individual, and their growth will be unique to them. But being a man means you do not shirk from responsibility. It means being ready to take whatever the world has to throw at you. It means being ready for whatever God has to toss in your path.
Being a man also means being respectful to those around you, particularly your elders. This may sound like an old-fashioned notion, but it shouldn’t be. Respect is timeless. I feel that we young people in today’s society do an awful lot of talking and not a lot of listening. The older generations have actually lived and experienced things as well. Why don’t we start listening to them instead of shoving in our opinions at every possible turn?
Don’t be afraid of hard work. Again, take St. Joseph as an example. He must have been a pretty hard-working guy. Hard labour takes us closer to God—he sanctified it when he came and became a carpenter himself. If you are called to marriage, it is your responsibility to get a good job that will provide for your family.
God made work a means to get closer to him. It also provides good exercise to the mind and body. This also relates to the effemination of men that is rampant in today’s culture. Since we are called to be counter-cultural, you must respond to de-masculinization by being real manly men. Be a witness to yourself, those around you, and society in this way.
Respect the women and girls in your life. Treat them well. John Paul II says, “God has assigned as a duty to every man the dignity of every woman.” Womanhood is rapidly losing its meaning; men must assist in reassigning the proper dignity of women. Do not objectify women, and do not view them as less than you are. Even though man is the leader and provider, he is not entitled to more than woman. See her for what she is; a daughter of the King.
Remember: “The man who thoroughly loves God and his neighbour is the only man who will love a woman ideally–who can love her with the love God thought of between them when He made man male and female.” – George MacDonald, The Baronet’s Song
The important points?
Respect your elders – Listen. Don’t pretend to know things that you don’t know.
Work hard – Man was made for work, and it sanctifies him. Don’t be a lazy bum. Be prudent and provident. Remember the future.
Honour women – Women are special. If you love them well in the spirit of God–all of them–you will be rewarded. They deserve your respect.
And always, always pray. Surrender all to God. Sanctity is not only for “pious” women. A man who truly loves God and does all for him is being the best man he can be. Don’t be afraid to show your devotion; while those in the world may scorn you, you will be witnessing for the King’s reign.
This is Part Two of a four-part blog series. The first part was entitled “Dear Teen.” The next two parts will be titled “Be Gentle, Be Strong, Be Beautiful” and “Don’t Let Your Age Define You.”