A challenging, provocative, wise, and thoughtful piece of instruction for all men on the subject of supreme importance - their faith.
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - As I sit down to write this, there's a giggling tickle-fest going on in the living room. Daddy and his squirming, laughing kiddos are having a great time, and I am delighted. This happens regularly around here. I'm blessed to be married to a man who enjoys being with his children and isn't afraid to show his affection for them. Precisely the kind of dad Fr. James Farfaglia talks about in his new book, Man to Man: A real priest speaks to real men about marriage, sexuality and family life.
What I found when I read this book was much more than the title implies. Far from being just another marriage do-and-don't book, this is a challenging, provocative, wise, and thoughtful piece of instruction for all men on the subject of supreme importance - their faith. It's really a book about the spiritual life, and Fr. James wastes no time in telling readers flat-out that "If you are not going to live a very serious life of prayer and sacramental life, take this book and throw it in the garbage right now. Forget it. Do not waste your time."
Right away you know this book isn't for sissies. This is straight talk, and Fr. James doesn't pull any punches or beat around the bush. He gets right to the heart of the matter, confronting the difficult topics without fear, always with a pastor's love.
Readers will be rewarded with Fr. James' refreshing directness about the real meaning of chastity, the difference between sex and making love, the difficulties of marriage, the importance of leadership in the family, the role of a father in the home, and most of all, the necessity of a committed life of prayer.
He begins by tackling our culture's obsession with sex and lust and the damage that has done to marital love. We need to go back to square one and learn what love really is, and how true love finds expression in marriage. Many readers may be surprised to see the words "chastity" and "marriage" in the same sentence! Fr. James illuminates the virtue of chastity and shows us how it is not only possible within marriage but essential, for chastity leads us to greater love.
Wives will be glad to know that Fr. James implores men to be tender, affectionate, romantic, and gentlemanly. He insists that husbands must learn to talk with their wives and be willing to listen! Lest the men despair that Fr. is being one-sided, he also reminds the ladies that marriage is not a one-way street, and women must help their husbands to understand them and make the effort to understand their man. He unflinchingly discusses the beauty of sexual love in marriage, and the right way to approach this intimate gift.
As I've said, this book is really a call to live a holy life, and Fr. James leaves no wiggle room in this regard. "Stop living in your head, journey to your heart, and start learning how to love. If you really love your wife and family, stop sinning. Real men know how to love correctly." He goes down the list of our day's most invasive forms of temptation: the Internet, TV, movies, pornography, adultery, alcohol and drugs, and lays it on the line. If you cannot master the temptation, radical changes must take place. "Fidelity requires manly courage and self-mastery."
Faithfulness and happiness are simply not possible without a serious life of prayer, and Fr. James isn't shy about telling men they can't make excuses anymore. Prayer can't wait til there's a crisis: "The spiritual life must not be based upon need. God is not a soft drink machine. Nor is God a candy store. It is time to get out of the nursery school and grow up."
"A serious life of prayer, Eucharistic life, and devotion to Mary are essential ingredients for any real man that wants to be authentic."
"Not only are we to fight against sin, be it mortal sin or venial sin, but we must also get to the root of our sins and remove the inordinate affections that cause us to sin in a certain way. However, to avoid sin is not enough. We must grow in holiness."
With loving firmness and encouragement he reminds men, "Remember, the goal of our spiritual life is to become a new person in Christ. It is not enough just to be a 'good person' or to be 'nice.' We are called to be saints."
I cheered out loud when he talked about the importance of being a gentleman and extending the chivalrous acts of kindness that have sadly disappeared in our society. I actually feel sorry for men today in many ways. Radical feminism has emasculated men and denied them the opportunity to be the men they were created to be. I nodded in agreement when he said, "It is true that a wife wants her husband to be manly. Manliness means that a man is going to be a leader." Fr. James leads the charge for men to reclaim their leadership role in their homes and families, with the clear understanding that a Catholic husband and father is always a true gentleman who loves unconditionally.
I also loved that he tells men they can't ignore their responsibility in shaping their children's spiritual lives, in forming their character, teaching them good manners, and how to properly interact with the opposite sex. He gently instructs fathers they must be loving and affectionate with their children, and spend a lot of time with them. There's no substitute for a father who's present.
Bottom line, this book is solid guidance for any man who's serious about being the best Catholic man, husband and father he can be. Fr. James is true to authentic Catholic teaching in every way, including the holy obligation that married love remain open to new life. This book is not only worth reading, it's worth giving.
In fact, this book will give in more ways than one. In a fund-raising effort, sales of this book will be used to help start a Catholic elementary school in Fr. James' parish community. Your cost includes shipping, and all proceeds go toward founding the new school. Check out his website at www.mantomanbook.com. Order a copy of this marvelous book and you'll give as great a blessing as you'll receive.
Jennifer Hartline is a Catholic Army wife and stay-at-home mother of three precious kids who writes frequently on topics of Catholic faith and daily living. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.
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