The men of Franciscan University found themselves on their knees in prayer, on their feet in worship, and on their guard as dodgeballs flew from every direction all in the course of the night Jan. 30.
Franciscan University Men’s Ministry team headed yet another successful faith formation experience, The Man Event, a night of talks from Franciscan associate professor of theology William Newton, PhD, STL, MTS, and speaker Brad Farmer; Eucharistic adoration; Mass; and the organized chaos that is dodgeball.
After a period of praise and worship, Newton delivered a powerful talk on the importance of prayer as it pertains to true manhood.
“A serious life of prayer is really a life of courage,” he said. “We connect the virtue of courage to manliness, and there’s a truth to that.”
Newton’s talk was delivered, in part, to guard against typical spiritual fears.
“We shy away from the spiritual life because prayer isn’t about us asking something of God; it’s about God asking something of us,” he said. “And that ‘something’ is everything.”
He stressed three individual loves vital in communication with God: love for neighbor, family, and self. For love of self, Newton presented the metaphor of a long-distance flight, in which “the spiritual life is the in-flight refueling.”
The Gentile Gallery was full of men intent on facing a challenge which Newton reiterated at the conclusion of his talk.
“The Lord is looking for men who will take this challenge seriously,” he said. “Do not take that call lightly. Sit down. Count the cost. You start to finish. You’ve got to begin now a habit that you can keep up for every day of your life.”
After answering several questions with insight and receiving two lengthy rounds of applause, Newton stepped down from the stage, and the men headed to the Aerobics Room of the Finnegan Fieldhouse for round after round of dodgeball.
Four teams were created, and allegiances formed quickly as dodge balls flew and teamwork reigned.
After six rounds of the sport, refreshments were served back in the Gentile Gallery, immediately followed by a talk delivered by speaker Brad Farmer of APEX Ministries.
Farmer focused his speech on embracing the love that Christ has for men and allowing it to transform the identity of the contemporary male.
“We’ve forgotten who we really are, and we’ve forgotten who we were made to be,” said Farmer.
God’s love, Farmer said, is as vehement is as it endless.
“If God stopped thinking about you passionately for one second, you would cease to exist,” he said.
The fact that Christ hung on the cross and thought of all of humanity individually, means that “you are all unique, unrepeatable,” said Farmer.
Farmer also elaborated on the reality of sainthood.
“You don’t have to be a mystic to engage in a life of prayer,” he said. “In fact, that’s how you get there. You were made to be a saint, and what it means to be a saint is to live deeply in reality.”
After entertaining the men with his juggling skills, he reassured them that “you are all a big deal because of who you are: a being loved by God.”
The Rev. Nathan Malavolti, TOR, led a holy hour of adoration in Christ the King Chapel following the talk.
Mass concluded the prayerful efforts of the night.
The Rev. Gregory Plow, TOR, re-emphasized the importance of a life of prayer in his homily, citing “Into the Breach,” the Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted’s Apostolic Exhortation to all Catholic men, as an impetus for that drive.
The night concluded with a time of social fellowship in the J.C. Williams Center, with beer, soda and pizza provided.
Already the reaction to the night was positive.
“It was all pretty inspiring, the Mass, to be surrounded by just the guys,” said sophomore Brad Montgomery. “I felt really called out to be a better man in prayer.”