A word from Tom Joyce

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Epiphany Association

Spiritual Formation for Christian Men

“Give me something I can work with!” How many times have you heard this said–or perhaps even said this yourself? Usually we’d find ourselves saying this in the midst of a particularly frustrating and challenging problem. By nature, in one way or another, we men are problem solvers – “fix-it guys” – who love to build or fix things. Many of us are experts when it comes to offering advice and solving other people’s problems. However, when it comes to our own life, we are often left scratching our head.

Sooner or later in the life, every man begins to ponder on the meaning of his life and life’s greater questions. The clichés and advice that our secular culture offers tend to be shallow and to offer little solace to these burning questions. Many of us have become experts in the ways of the secular culture. Perhaps we’ve even quoted Christ, saying “render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.” Consciously or unconsciously we’ve taken that as our battle cry. Yet after a life of accumulating possessions, power and accomplishments many of us feel an inner emptiness and, if we are honest with ourselves, exist in an almost permanent state of low-grade depression.

The problem for many men is that we’ve ignored the second half of Christ’s “Render unto Caesar” quote. The heart of that quote is its latter half: “…and unto God the things that are God’s.”

Not having the slightest clue of where to turn to render “…unto God the things that are God’s,” one might be tempted to shout out to God: “Dear Lord, Give me something I can work with!” Like a man picking through a box of nuts or spare parts, we can’t seem to find the answers. We begin to realize that all of our strivings of ego, power, and control are useless in this quest to answer the deepest questions in life. We soon realize that we need God’s help. To echo the Psalmist: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

We need not labor in vain! There is a blueprint for radical transformation and growth. In short it is the God-man, Jesus Christ, as revealed in Sacred Scripture, and the grace-inspired wisdom of holy men and women God has gathered together who have also thirsted for the Lord. Jesus Christ is the only one who fully reveals what it means to be a man, and who makes his calling clear.

Builders are schooled and learn through a “school of experience.” This course on spiritual Formation for Christian Men is designed to offer that “school of experience,” which is the collective experience of two millennia of Christian faith formation; Drawing upon Scripture and the works of the masters – ancient, medieval and modern, – it is designed to help Christian men realize their ongoing formation, reformation and transformation in Christ. Its goal is nothing less than what Saint Irenaeus of Lyons described as “The human person fully alive is the glory of God.”

 

---Thomas Joyce

 

 

About Thomas Joyce:

Thomas Joyce is the second of five children from a Catholic family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After completing his undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University, he joined the Administration of the University to work as a software engineer. He also earned a Masters Degree in Public Management from Carnegie Mellon. Tom is active with the youth group of his home parish; he has served as a Master of Ceremonies for the Auxiliary Bishop of Pittsburgh. Tom is a graduate of the Epiphany Certification Program.