As men living in the world today, we can feel isolated in our faith. We look around in search of inspiration, but the state of the world can leave us uninspired, dry, and alone. Why? Because, “every guy needs a brother.” Our culture today almost seems opposed to this, it encourages the lone wolf, the individual, the ego-maniac. It pits man against man in a competition for the best job and the prettiest girlfriend. It will only allow for a weak ‘brotherhood’ which never surpasses meeting up with a few “guys” and having a few too many drinks – followed by the inevitable ridicule.
But what we need is real Brotherhood! A brotherhood of men which has Christ at its very core and not the individual. A brotherhood through which each man is strengthened and not set in competition. A brotherhood in which men are striving together for sanctity.
This short video titled ‘Crossing the Goal – Brothers’ speaks of this. Created by Likable art, it truly is hard hitting. When I first came across it I instantly shared it with a men’s prayer group which I’m a part of because I wanted my brothers to see it. It stirs in us an awareness of the need for real brotherhood.
Here we have seven musts if you want to bring men together in this noble pursuit.
Put Jesus Christ at the center from the very beginning. Don’t be coy about it. Pray that other men will be inspired to come together as well, and start with those around you – they may be just as keen as you to get things started but just as unsure as you are, so ask. When you do start to come together as men, don’t let it be a social event with a bit of prayer. Let it be completely for God. There’s a great freedom and honesty that comes in recognizing that what you are doing is for God, it satiates the deepest desires of the heart.
2. Make yourself available.
Be available. Say yes! We all live busy lives, but if you want to find those brothers with whom you are going to grow closer to Christ, you need to start saying yes. And when you’ve found those brothers, make time for them! It may be difficult – you may have to say no to other things – but it’ll be worth it. Set times and dates when you are going to meet and stick to them. And be available to meet on those unexpected occasions; when a brother is in need – be available.
Pray together. Pray with each other and pray for each other. You may find that each of you prays in different ways, so be open to that and learn from that. Find patterns and habits of prayer which are easy to do regularly together.
A few suggestions may be: The Rosary, Lectio Divina, Intercessory Prayer, The Divine Office. Encourage each other in frequenting the sacraments of The Eucharist and Confession. It is through prayer that we will grow in our relationship with God, and God will in turn strengthen the relationship between brothers. You’ll also discover a great strength and openness that comes with praying as a man, with men – among brothers – which can’t really be put into words.
We need to be open with one another. As it says in the video, we need to open our lives, we need to ‘take off the masks… come out from hiding’ and ‘tell the truth about our lives’. You cannot grow with brothers if you are not being real with them in the first place. We all suffer, we all struggle. A mask will do nothing for you or your brothers, and it will certainly hide nothing from God, so be open.
Serve each other. This point wasn’t actually my own, it was given to me by someone who I consider a brother when I told him about this article, and I think it’s very beautiful. It doesn’t have to be big, it’s just recognizing that we are to put others first, put your brothers before yourself. Find ways in which you are able to serve them.
This isn’t a recruitment drive! You don’t need every man you meet to be in your brotherhood, or coming along to prayer meetings. Don’t worry if it’s just you and one other guy. You’ll grow as God deigns. But at the same time, don’t be exclusive. Don’t turn men away who are wanting to seek Christ with you. Welcome them and embrace them – find Christ in them.
7. Be Normal.
Finally, please be normal! Go to the pub together, meet up socially. When you have a BBQ in the summer don’t just invite either your ‘Church’ friends or your ‘work’ friends – invite them both and introduce them to one another. It’s not weird. What’s weird is keeping Christ to yourself for one hour a week on a Sunday. You’re brothers – be brothers.
To end, I want to point out a beautiful story taken from the Gospel of Mark about the 4 men who carried their paralyzed friend to Christ. Mk 2: 1-12. This is brotherhood. These men were brothers. They would have had normal lives, and undoubtedly busy days. There were only five of them, but they were available to each other. The four men who carried the paralytic could have been doing any number of other things that day but they came together to bring their friend to Christ. They had Christ so much at the center of their brotherhood that they tore down the roof to get to Him!
Now it’s your turn. Make that decision now to come together, to lay it all down, and to run with other brothers in following Jesus Christ. Be men who storm heaven as the saints did. Tear down that roof together, men!