Fewer young men are asking women out on dates. Pornography is a real epidemic in our country. People are afraid to invite others to attend Mass with them or even consider a vocation to the priesthood. What do all of these things have in common? A fear of rejection.
“There’s a great fear that we men have of being rejected. Rather than going out there on a limb and trying something difficult, it’s a lot easier to say, ‘nah, I’ll leave that for somebody else,’” says Fr. Damian Ference, priest of the Diocese of Cleveland and professor at Borromeo Seminary.
It is essential that men overcome this fear, says Fr. Ference, by the grace of God. He encourages men to “be like Our Lord who put Himself out there on the cross in order to show us what real masculinity looks like.”
This isn’t easy, and in fact it can be pretty scary! When you reflect on what’s going on in the depths of your soul you can have a meaningful conversion, but you also have to confront reality and your own sinfulness. “That’s hard, but actually, that’s what the Christian man needs to do,” says Fr. Ference. “And his wife, his family, his parishioners (as a priest) or his seminarians, need him to do that. It is difficult work, but what good things are not difficult? We’ve got to be brave and courageous and ask for God’s grace to pull us through.”
Fr. Ference reflected on his own fears about entering the seminary that he would somehow lose himself – his personality and humor and athleticism. “The devil wants to play on our fears, so oftentimes when we are going to do something good for the Church and good to build up the Kingdom, the devil is going to try to get in there and make us run or hide or freeze. So I found out what happened when I entered the seminary was that … you lose the bad parts of yourself … [God] wants to take you as you are and polish you up and be the best version of yourself.”
Today, think about what God is calling you to do. Are you letting fear get in the way?