My husband and I recently celebrated our 11th anniversary. While we didn’t do anything extraordinary to celebrate, this day left me reflecting on how thankful I am for both my husband and our marriage.
You don’t have to look far or watch too many tv shows to see that manhood and fatherhood are under attack. We are constantly bombarded with false opinions of who and what men should be.
So what are some traits of a strong Catholic man? While certainly not exhaustive, the following list is a list of traits I knew I would want in my future husband, along with the opinions of a few saints on those qualities.
1. A strong Catholic man is honest and trustworthy.
I knew that if I were going to trust a man enough to give my entire self to him in marriage, he would need to be honest. I recently read my kids a book about Abraham Lincoln, which told a story of him mistakenly overcharging a customer six cents while working as a store clerk. When he closed up the shop for the night, he walked three miles to return the man’s six cents. My kids couldn’t believe he would walk so far, and it was a great lesson for them about the importance of honesty in all things, big or small.
2. A strong Catholic man is humble.
I think it is safe to argue that the saints found few things more helpful for advancing in holiness than humility. In fact, many saints referred to it as the building block for all other virtues. “Humility is the foundation of all virtue. When it is lacking, the other virtues will also disappear.” -St. Maximilian Kolbe And, perhaps even more to the point, this gem by St. Bernard of Clairvaux: “Humility, Humility, Humility.”
3. A strong Catholic man loves sacrificially and generously.
Real love should cost us something. One of my favorite saints, St. Maximilian Kolbe, knew this well when he willingly gave up his life to save that of a stranger. “Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving. Without sacrifice, there is no love.” -St. Maximilian Kolbe
4. A strong Catholic man is self-disciplined and has control of his passions.
He would never use someone, either for pleasure or personal gain. He is always looking out for the greater good of the other and realizes he is fully free when he is not enslaved to his passions.
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” -Proverbs 25:28
5. A strong Catholic man surrounds himself with other strong Catholic men, who will encourage him to live out his own vocation.
Holiness is so much more attainable when you are being strengthened and encouraged by your friends instead of discouraged. “Fly from bad companions as from the bite of a poisonous snake. If you keep good companions, I can assure you that you will one day rejoice with the blessed in Heaven; whereas if you keep with those who are bad, you will become bad yourself, and you will be in danger of losing your soul.” -St. John Bosco
6. A strong Catholic man doesn’t take himself too seriously.
In a world where seemingly everyone is offended at the drop of a hat, being able to laugh at yourself is a quality that will get you far. I love being around people who approach life with humor and perspective. “Saints have a sense of humor. A saint can be defined as one who has a divine sense of humor, for a saint never takes this world seriously as the lasting city.” -Ven. Fulton Sheen
7. A strong Catholic man is obedient.
Again, in our world of entitlement, this is a virtue that is presumed to be out-dated and all but forgotten. But the saints would argue that obedience to those who have authority over you, whether it be a spouse, work supervisor, or of course God Himself, is one of the highest and most desirable virtues. “The first degree of humility is prompt obedience.” -St. Benedict “Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola
8. A strong Catholic man works hard at all he does.
There are few things that drive me crazier than my kids taking half an hour to do a five minute chore, simply out of laziness. And laziness becomes even more frustrating to deal with when it’s being exhibited by a grown man. Of course there is a time and place for fun and relaxation! But as St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Without work, it is impossible to have fun.”
9. A strong Catholic man is firm in prayer.
This was perhaps the most important quality I looked for in my future spouse. I knew that statistically, the father’s religious practice influences the future religious practices of children drastically more so than the mother’s practices. It is the job of Dad, as spiritual head of the household, to be firm in prayer. “” -St. Vincent de Paul
Indeed! It is important to keep in mind that while it may seem impossible to find a man with all of these traits or to attain them as a man, the desire to have them and the willingness to work at them is of utmost importance. With Christ and prayer, all things are possible, even attaining these lofty traits.