RISE Up and Be a Man

30-day challenge builds masculine and Catholic habits

By Perry West

DENVER, COLO. (CNA/EWTN News) — A new 30-day challenge maps out daily actions for men hoping to live authentic masculine Catholicism by reclaiming the identities of sons, brothers, fathers, and spouses, its creators say.

“This program is rooted in four primary identities that sum up masculinity … that all men share in the call to fatherhood, all men are sons, all men are brothers, and all men are spouses,” said Chris Stefanick, host of EWTN’s “Real Life Catholic” and co-creator of RISE.

“Not that [men] are all married and have kids, but those are the ways that we love, the ways that we follow Christ, relate to the Trinity, and serve the Church,” he told CNA.

RISE is co-created by Bill Donaghy, a curriculum specialist at Theology of the Body Institute.

The next 30-day challenge begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14, when Stefanick said he will be starting it himself.

Each week of the challenge is themed: fatherhood, sonship, brotherhood, and spousal masculinity.  Every day offers reflections and daily video challenges, which are tailored to participants’ states in life: single, married with or without children at home, divorced, separated, or widowed.

Weekly videos of men giving testimony to these identities will be included. The testimonies and challenges would be emailed daily or can be accessed through a digital platform on the RISE website.

The challenges are designed to be an individual journey that any one man can take, but organizers have encouraged groups of men to complete the challenges together at their parishes. Each challenge includes points of discussion and reflection for men’s groups. Men doing the challenges on their own may discuss them in the comment sections below the videos.

“We want to form a communion of men praying for one another as they go through these challenges,” said Stefanick.

Stefanick said the challenges are practical and basic, ranging from simple prayers to steps in building authentic brotherhood. Unlike other Catholic male initiatives, he said the program looks to instil sustainable, life-long habits not temporary trails.

“A lot of men’s movements are very ‘rah-rah’ that feel like a testosterone blast combined with ministry,” he said. “But what changes your life is the power of habits.”

“It doesn’t take much to go deeper.”

The challenges will include simple prayers a man might say in preparation for work or practical steps on building authentic male friendships. These steps to male friendships aren’t complicated either, Stefanick said, but are specific, intentional actions.

“The ways to find friendships … is to be the friend you want to have,” said Stefanick. “The specific kind things they do to let their co-worker, who they love in Christ, know that this person matters to them.”

When asked about the crisis of masculine identity within contemporary culture, Stefanick said the reasons are not as important as the solution.

“I don’t think it matters as much as the solution, which is men being intentional about living out who they are in Christ in their lives every day. That’s the solution.”

There is a kind of spousal love and fatherhood that is particular to male identity, he said, and this contains a call to “living out the love of Christ” by leading, protecting, and providing.

“There is a call to fatherhood [and] to spousal love. There is a thing inside of a man who specifically wants to love by laying down his life for his beloved, [like] slaying a dragon [or] going on an adventure.”