Being a Catholic has never been easy. A quick glance at the lives of the saints can confirm that from her very beginnings, the Catholic Church has been countercultural. As an 18-year-old Catholic man, it seems to me that many of my generation are passively apathetic on matters of religion. It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are a few tips for growing closer to Christ as a young man.
Prayer. Prayer must be an essential part of your day. I’ve found that praying first thing in the morning allows me to pray consistently and start my day with Christ. The Liturgy of the Hours, the rosary, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet are great prayers that can help us grow closer to our Lord and his Blessed Mother. If your parish, or one nearby, offers Eucharistic Adoration, then I’d encourage you spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It should go without saying that you need to be receiving the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion regularly. Get to Mass at least every Sunday!
Fraternity. In a diocese that encompasses 16 counties in northwest Wisconsin, it’s easy to feel isolated in your beliefs. This is where fraternity can help. Forming intentional friendships, especially with other young men, has born great fruit in my own life. Speaking openly about serious matters with peers who are also striving for holiness is crucial. Find a couple of guys who are striving to live out the faith, and get to know them. I’ve met some of my closest friends while attending the diocesan high school discipleship weekends.
Excellence. In 1925, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati scrawled the phrase “Verso L’alto” on the back of a photograph taken while mountain climbing. This quote, often translated “to the heights,” should be taken as a reminder to constantly strive for greatness in Christ. A few ways to do this include refocusing your prayer life by going on a retreat, completing a Marian consecration, or participating in a spiritual exercise such as Exodus 90. It is also vital to continue learning about the Catholic faith. We have more than 2,000 years of writings and traditions, with many great saints who can inspire and guide us. Take advantage of modern technology by subscribing to Catholic YouTube channels such as Ascension Presents, Bishop Robert Barron, and FOCUS Catholic. Another great online resource is the website The Catholic Gentleman, which features articles on manhood with a style reminiscent of G.K. Chesterton.
Although we are coming of age in a difficult time for both the Church and the world, I am confident that through God’s grace, we can become the kind of men who will change the course of history. Draw inspiration from our brothers and sisters the saints. Stay close to Christ and his Blessed Mother through prayer. Invest in fraternity. Strive for excellence always. Verso L’alto, my brothers.
Aidan Jones, 18, is a member of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Superior. He is the son of Brett and Meghan Jones, of Superior.