Catholic men address ‘identity crisis’ of fatherhood

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BOSTON, Mass., June 15, 2013–Several prominent Catholic men offer advice in new new book on how to respond to the modern uncertainty of what it means to a father and a man.

“There’s a severe identity crisis in fatherhood, and in a related way, the concept of manhood,” Brian Caulfield, head of the Knights of Columbus website “Fathers for Good,” told CNA June 7.

Frequently in pop culture – especially in sitcoms on television – fathers are shown as clueless or out of touch and domineering, he said. When this is the only example of fatherhood and masculinity men have, that role almost becomes “a self-fulfilling cycle.”

However, no matter what the “external factors” are, such as pop culture or economic status, a man must be aware that his value and worth are from God, Caulfield emphasized.

In the newly-released, “Man to Man, Dad to Dad: Catholic Faith and Fatherhood (Pauline Press),” Caulfield compiles advice for men with short entries from several contributors, including a cardinal, a marriage counselor and a professor.

“My dad knew the importance of small acts of love,” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York says in the introduction, “and so does God, our Father.”

This book addresses that example of fatherhood by giving men tips and advice on topics such as discipline, family time, and a man’s relationship with his wife.

One of the most important ways men can make sure they’re engaged in family life is by avoiding what Caulfield called the “man cave” or the act of closing himself off from his wife or children.

“There can be a man cave in your heart and that’s really where it starts; where you’re not totally open to life, where you’re not totally open to your wife or you’re not totally open to your children in giving yourself and in giving your time.”

Although the book mainly features men who are husbands and fathers, Caulfield said any man can benefit from reading this book.

“This is a challenge to men to reach that higher goal and to realize their higher calling,” he said.
Although this book is directly aimed at Catholics, Caulfield said all men – no matter what their religion – have a duty to adhere to virtue.

However, because of a Catholic man’s “sacramental” and “incarnational” view of life, they also need to frequent the sacraments and engage in their faith.

Caulfield said the Daughters of St. Paul approached him to compile a book after he jokingly pointed out that they had no books for sale when he stopped by their booth at a men’s conference.

Days later, they got in touch with him telling him that he raised a good point and asked him if he had any interest in writing a book for Pauline Press.

Caulfield decided rather than writing the book on his own, it would be best to gather insight from experts in their own fields. What resulted was a compilation of essays that offer insight on different areas of concern for men and fathers. (CNA)

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