Bp. Olmsted (D. Phoenix) issues to men a tremendous call to battle!

Liberal catholics want to wussify the Church.  They effectively embrace the world’s ways and think the Church should adapt her teachings and practices to shifting secular mores.  They accuse those who still dare to stand up in the public square and defend what is written into our being by God and what is taught through divine revelation and the Magisterium of the Church of being “culture warriors”.  Apparently being a warrior of any kind is bad, but it is especially bad when you tell them that, no, you can’t support abortion, you can’t have sex with people of the same sex and, no, there really are difference between men and women.

From Catholic World News I read about a challenge that Bishop Thomas Olmsted issued to Catholic men in a pastoral letter called “Into The Breach” (cf Henry V, iii: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…”)

Bishop Olmsted issues powerful challenge to Catholic men

In a powerfully worded apostolic exhortation addressed to the men of his diocese, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona, has urged them to “not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you.[MS is going to swoon upon his fainting couch and probably even clutch at his pearls.]

In a 23-page exhortation, entitled “Into the Breach,” Bishop Olmsted challenges men to join in a “primarily spiritual” battle against forces that are “progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our homes.”

Bishop Olmsted writes that the cultural crisis has arisen primarily because “Catholic men have not been willing to ‘step into the breach,’ and his purpose in the document, released on September 29, is to rally good men to the cause. [What has caused this?  Our clergy abandoned their roles and the Church became in key ways “feminized”. Moreover, our form of Holy Mass was changed and devotions were abandoned.  The result has been a weakening of Catholic identity which has devastated Catholic manhood.]

Bishop Olmsted explains that Catholic men are needed to conduct the “New Evangelization,” to re-introduce Christian principles in a society that has come to neglect them. He also cites the image offered by Pope Francis, of the Church as a “field hospital,” providing urgent care for those wounded by societal problems. [“Field hospital”… sure.  That’s where you do triage and you stop the bleeding fast.  Then you send the wounded soul on to the real facility where the more difficult work is done.  Furthermore, lot’s of the wound die in field hospitals.  So, while field hospital is a good reminder of one aspect of the Church, we need more.]

Reflecting on the complementarity of the sexes, the bishop calls for active resistance against “gender ideology” and a dedication to living out male virtues, particularly the virtues of fortitude and chastity.

Addressing the question of what it means to be a man, Bishop Olmsted reminds his readers of how Pontius Pilate referred to Jesus: Ecce homo– “Here is the man!” The bishop observes: “Only in Jesus Christ can we find the highest display of masculine virtue and strength that we need in our personal lives and in society itself.” [Sacrificial love in perfection.  He also got pretty angry, and properly so, and went into action.]

The bishop urges men to undertake a campaign of spiritual growth, advising regular prayer and use of the sacraments, [GO TO CONFESSION!] reading of Scripture, and unselfish service to wives and children. He recommends imitation of the great males saints. He cites the words of one of these models, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati: “To live without faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for truth – that is not living, but existing.”

In closing his apostolic exhortation, Bishop Olmsted calls readers’ attention to the scandal of Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the sale of fetal tissues. “We need to get off the sidelines and stand up for life on the front lines,” he writes, adding:

We need faith like that of our fathers who defended the children of previous generations and who gave up their own lives rather than abandon their faith in Christ. My sons and brothers, men of the Diocese of Phoenix, we need you to step into the breach!

God bless Bp. Olmsted.

Here is how his letter begins (PDF HERE):

I begin this letter with a clarion call and clear charge to you, my sons and brothers in Christ: Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men. This battle is often hidden, but the battle is real. It is primarily spiritual, but it is progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our own homes.

The world is under attack by Satan, as our Lord said it would be (1 Peter 5:8-14). This battle is occurring in the Church herself, and the devastation is all too evident. Since AD 2000, 14 million Catholics have left the faith, parish religious education of children has dropped by 24%, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19%, infant baptism has dropped by 28%, adult baptism has dropped by 31%, and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41%.[1] This is a serious breach, a gaping hole in Christ’s battle lines. While the Diocese of Phoenix may have fared better than these national statistics, the losses are staggering.

One of the key reasons that the Church is faltering under the attacks of Satan is that many Catholic men have not been willing to “step into the breach” – to fill this gap that lies open and vulnerable to further attack. [And a lot of catholics are actively working to widen the breach!] A large number have left the faith, and many who remain “Catholic” practice the faith timidly and are only minimally committed to passing the faith on to their children. Recent research shows that large numbers of young Catholic men are leaving the faith to become “nones” – men who have no religious affiliation. The growing losses of young Catholic men will have a devastating impact on the Church in America in the coming decades, as older men pass away and young men fail to remain and marry in the Church, accelerating the losses that have already occurred.

These facts are devastating. As our fathers, brothers, uncles, sons, and friends fall away from the Church, they fall deeper and deeper into sin, breaking their bonds with God and leaving them vulnerable to the fires of Hell. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] While we know that Christ welcomes back every repentant sinner, the truth is that large numbers of Catholic men are failing to keep the promises they made at their children’s baptisms – promises to bring them to Christ and to raise them in the faith of the Church.

This crisis is evident in the discouragement and disengagement of Catholic men like you and me. In fact, this is precisely why I believe this Exhortation is needed, and it is also the reason for my hope, for God constantly overcomes evil with good. The joy of the Gospel is stronger than the sadness wrought by sin! A throw-away culture cannot withstand the new life and light that constantly radiates from Christ. So I call upon you to open your minds and hearts to Him, the Savior who strengthens you to step into the breach!


Please, God… would that more, nay rather, all Catholic bishops would write and speak like that.

Here is the speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man,
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, conjure up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage:
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let it pry through the portage of the head,
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide;
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English,
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought,
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument.
Dishonour not your mothers: now attest,
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture: let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit; and upon this charge,
Cry ‘God for Harry! England! and Saint George!’

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. yatzer says:

    Oh how to get that message to the men who really need to hear it, particularly in my own family. I can’t do it, though. They need to hear it from another man.

  2. Auggie says:

    Knights of the Noble Lustre… unite!

  3. MWindsor says:

    Oh, no, no no, Father. Not Branagh.

    Hiddleston – The Hollow Crown. I can’t find a clip, but there’s this:


    There’s a very good chance that I had an ancestor at Harfleur. He was injured and returned to England before Agincourt. >sigh< Just like my family…Slipping on a banana peal and missing the important bits. Getting ever so close, but…

    We need a Henry V. Both for the Church and for the U.S.

    [I’ve seen the whole “Hollow Crown”.]

  4. Auggie says:

    One of the hundreds of agenda items for the Knights of the Noble Lustre will be to have “a good talk” with male actors who now routinely wear lipstick (I’m watching bright-lipped Poldark tonight). And perhaps “a good punch” to the kisser needs to make a comeback.

  5. ck says:

    Thanks for pointing me to this outstanding work. I’m proud to have been confirmed by Bishop Olmstead!

  6. Eugene says:

    What I would give to have a bishop like this real MAN in our diocese. God bless guide and protect him. What a great message compared to the Pope’s message to the American bishops about not offending, in effect shutting them up.
    And BTW I guess the good Bishop can forget about a promotion to a larger diocese or a red hat, like a well known archbishop who compared the dismemberment of little preborn children to the plight of the unemployed. The good Bishop’s plain talk does not fit the current narrative of the MSM driven agenda of the Church of nice.
    Maranatha Lord Jesus

  7. S.Armaticus says:

    Phoenix is rising from the ashes! First this:

    (SSPX church dedication) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy3v9gNPrwI

    and then there was this historical “kumbaya moment” ( http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/2032-catholic-identity-conference-makes-history)

    and now the good bishop’s call to arms.

    What a three-peat!

    On an aside, I know where I’m going to retire. :)

  8. CatholicMD says:

    Thank you Bishop Olmsted! What are the chances of similar men being appointed as bishops in the near future? Crickets…

  9. tominrichmond says:

    OK, yes, Catholic men should do all these wonderful things; most of my acquaintance have been for years, unsung.

    But when the bishops abandon or never join the fight, when the clergy never lead, where’s the accountability? What ails us is not so much a lack of backbone of Catholic men, who are doing the best they can where “the rubber meets the road”– it’s the absolute abandonment of leadership amongst the clerical ranks, and after all, the Church is a hierarchy, there’s only so much that can be done from the bottom of the pyramid.

    Can you imagine the effect if every bishop forcefully and publicly rebuked all the fake Catholic politicians and judges among their subjects? If they came together and banded with the Knights of Columbus to fight against homosexual marriage and for religious liberty against Obamacare? With leadership, amazing things could occur.

    But with our current crop of limp-wristed effetes in charge, when individual men try to work for the good they’re often seen as problems by those in charge, not as noble warriors. Alas.

  10. oldconvert says:

    Why is it that everything that has gone bad in the Church in modern times is invariably attributed to “feminization”? Seems a somewhat misogynistic claim to me.

  11. Magash says:

    Hold your ground. Hold your Ground.
    Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan!
    My brothers.
    I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.
    A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
    An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day!
    This day we fight!
    By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!

    Not Tolkien, but probably Fran Walsh, still pretty good speech, if not as good as Shakespeare.

  12. moon1234 says:

    The modern church is very feminized. It is just that society has also become this way to a great extent so it is not easily seen. It is sort of like tainted water. If everyone is drinking it, then most won’t know what pure water tastes like so most don’t see the problem.

    There really isn’t a place for young or middle aged men in the modern Church that promotes a Catholic sense of what a man should be. Traditionally a father or a single man was seen as a leader, a provider and someone who defended the faith. In modern society feminists denigrate this role as they see it, incorrectly, as misogynistic. When the women who are important in men’s lives (Wives, mothers, daughters, etc.) don’t support a man in a traditional male role, then a man will back away.

    It is why, I believe, we have such an interest in sports from men. I know so many men who treat Sunday sports almost like religion. They would rather stay home and watch the game than go to Church. Why? I personally believe it is because most sports are almost all male dominated. Males see their peers in sports as hero’s. Most of society admires them. Sports heroes have become the modern equivalent of apostles with lots of disciples tuning in each Sunday.

    I attend the EF of the Mass almost exclusively now. Why? I feel like this form of Mass respects the unique roles that God established for male and female.

    However, I do NOT feel welcome at organizations such as the Knights of Columbus. I am not denigrating them or their mission. In my area the Knights are usually made up of retired men who have a weekly meeting and sometimes dress up to serve at Mass. They do not seem particularly welcoming to a young or middle aged man.

    I would like to see some type of organization that I could join that ASKED me to DO SOMETHING to support the Church (other then contribute money). I want to do something hands on. Something that is beneficial. I would LOVE to have an hour once a week where a Priest or the Bishop would give a talk, have prayer time, etc. that is geared just towards men and what we should be doing in the world. Marching orders if you will.

    If we want men to be more engaged in the faith and be the leaders that they are called to be, then men need to be treated that way. Most men will rise to a calling, if the calling is there.

  13. frjim4321 says:

    I don’t know that the siege mentality serves us (or the gospel) very well.

    [But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. – Matthew 24:43 RSV]

  14. frjim4321 says:

    However, I do NOT feel welcome at organizations such as the Knights of Columbus. I am not denigrating them or their mission. In my area the Knights are usually made up of retired men who have a weekly meeting and sometimes dress up to serve at Mass. They do not seem particularly welcoming to a young or middle aged man. moon123

    Also they have become increasingly enmeshed with partisan politics.

  15. Joseph-Mary says:

    I sent a note and the link to the video to the Catholics on the 40 Days for Life list where little women do the bulk of the prayer vigil and also to a dozen rather local Knights Councils, of which only 4 have supported the 40 Days for Life. Men, rise up! Do you always want little altar girls and the army of older ladies surrounding the altar a EMHCs? Women will step up when the men step down….
    1. Rise up, O men of God!
    Have done with lesser things.
    Give heart and mind and soul and strength
    to serve the King of kings.

    2. Rise up, O men of God!
    The kingdom tarries long.
    Bring in the day of brotherhood
    and end the night of wrong.

    3. Rise up, O men of God!
    The church for you doth wait,
    her strength unequal to her task;
    rise up, and make her great!

    4. Lift high the cross of Christ!
    Tread where his feet have trod.
    As brothers of the Son of Man,
    rise up, O men of God!

  16. MikeM says:

    I used to belong to and sometimes lead a Catholic young-ish adult men’s group. Just having that fellowship was valuable. In response to criticisms like Tominrichmond’s, while I think that clerical leadership on these things is important, I think that a lot of what’s lacking is fraternal support among lay men. Priests and bishops have their appropriate roles, and I wouldn’t want to minimize those, but I think that the most pressing need is for venues for lay men to learn from and support each other. There’s a unique value when you can bring together the perspectives of a college student, a single man in his mid twenties, a father of a newborn, a father of a teen, etc. As individuals, a lot of us try to do our best “where the rubber meets the road,” but we need each other’s help at least as much as we need support from those from above to be effective and to be able to stand strong.

    And, Oldconvert, not everything that’s gone wrong is “feminization,” and even to the extent that “feminization” is a problem, it is not all women nor exclusively women who are to blame for that. “Feminization” might not even be the right word, since I don’t think that the rightful feminine aspects of the Church are well served by the loss of the masculine ones. It is, however, quite discouraging for a lot of men when there is no clear masculine role for them. And, unfortunately, masculinity is treated as some sort of disease throughout much of our society. As a kid, I was forced to read Nancy Drew books because stocking the Hardy Boys in the school library was seen as sending the wrong message… And while I’ve, personally, learned to roll my eyes and move on from those sorts of clowns, that sort of mindset doesn’t seem to disappear as people get to college, the workforce, the “adult” positions in the Church, etc.

  17. oldconvert says:

    @moon1234: do you have Catenians where you live? I hear good things about our local group/branch/whatever, and from young men at that. Also, if more men stepped up to the traditionally male roles of server, lector etc, I think many priests would be delighted to train them.

  18. frjim4321 says:

    Rise up, O men of God!

    Great hymn tune.

    FESTAL SONG as I recall.


    The text is fairly obsolete these days given the gender-exclusive language.

  19. Mike says:

    The text is fairly obsolete these days given the gender-exclusive language.

    One of the saddest parts of gender ideologues’ lives must be their blindness to their self-imposed Sisyphean burden of irony.

  20. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    I fear this is too little, too late. At least here in America…

    I don’t like the siege mentality myself either. We’re not under siege! It goes against our standing orders from our Lord, Jesus. He said the gates of hell shall not prevail against us! Jesus DIDN’T say “The Gates of Heaven will never be breached by the forces of hell, so chillax, guys.”

    Our side is NOT the one under siege!! We’re the ones who are supposed to be laying siege!! We are on the offensive!

    We’re failing in that.

    Gay marriage becoming law? Assisted suicide? Divorce and remarriage without annulments? Hell, even my pet-subject, the expansion of islam in the world today! All of that STUFF isn’t the Evil One going on the offensive against us. All that that is just the evil one improving his defenses against us.

  21. restoration says:

    While certainly a strong exhortation, he was very thin on what steps he is taking as a bishop to address this very serious matter. Is he ending altar girls in his diocese? No. Is he limiting lector and EMHC duties to men only? No. Is he calling for married Catholic women with children to remain at home and not outsource their motherhood to the daycare industry? Men would ask this question more readily if the bishop asked it first. Is he calling for Catholic women to stop emasculating their husbands with the ongoing rebellion of women in our culture? Nope. I didn’t hear anything about encouraging women to honor the marital debt which is a big problem in many marriages.

    Just asking men to be more service oriented. .. Most faithful Catholic men I know already serve 24-7 for their wives and children and get a lot of grief in return with defiant wives who only obey when they feel like it. Didn’t hear that mentioned in his document.

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