Brotherhood of Virtue Catholic Men’s Small Group Program for Purity

The devil likes to keep us isolated, alone, and pick us off one-by-one.

This tactic works diabolically well, especially in the area of sexual sin and lust.

Catholic men in particular are ashamed to talk about this vice, afraid for others to find out about it, and so they remain isolated, without encouragement, without brotherhood and the fraternal sharing of proven actions that work to conquer it.

That is, until now…

Introducing the Brotherhood of Virtue

My good friend Gerardo and I have been involved in the men’s group at our parish for many years.

That program has been great: we consistently get 30 – 40 men coming every week. In the years we’ve done it we have gone through:

  • All of Steve Bollman’s “That Man Is You” programs
  • Father Larry Richard’s Be a Man program
  • Deacon Harold Burke Sivers Behold the Man

Each year Gerardo and I have been asked to present to the group about growing in purity and conquering pornography.

How to Start a Catholic Small Group Purity ProgramAnd we’ve done that, presenting the statistics on men addicted to pornography, the young age at which boys are exposed to pornography, the toll it takes on families, marriages, and souls, and so on.

We give men some good ideas for how to conquer these sins, but we knew that something was missing. One presentation, once per year, with some bullet points on a presentation wasn’t enough to make a dent in the problem.

So we talked to our parish priest and asked him if we could make a special men’s group devoted just to conquering these sins.

After a lot of discernment, our priest agreed, and the Brotherhood of Virtue was born. It’s a small group program for Catholic men to grow in virtue, especially in purity, to conquer lust, and to find fellowship and encouragement while doing so.

What a Catholic Small Group for Purity Looks Like

Gerardo and I ran into difficulties along the way: the parish was concerned about confidentiality for the men in the group. It was also concerned about the sensitive topics we were going to be discussing.

But we didn’t let that stand in our way. We worked with the parish to carefully understand each concern and address it. For instance, both Gerardo and I got certified under the Ethics and Integrity program that our diocese uses to help keep children and vulnerable adults safe from abuse.

brotherhood of virtueWe also scheduled the monthly meetings for the group to be at 6 am in the morning when no one else was at the parish, providing anonymity for the men.

Further, we specified that we would meet regularly with the parish priest to discuss what was happening in the group and what support we needed, especially if we had challenges we couldn’t address ourselves.

Finally, we addressed the biggest question: what would our meetings look like each month? What content would we use? How would we structure it?

After a year and a half of trial and error we came upon a formula that works well for our monthly, one-hour long meetings:

  1. Say a short prayer together: Our Father or Hail Mary, etc.
  2. Watch the next video in the Brotherhood of Virtue series
  3. Discuss the questions presented at the end of the video
  4. Resolve to do the action items from the video
  5. Pray the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet together

The Video Program

Gerardo and I outlined what each meeting would look like, then recorded 15 – 20 minute videos about the topic. These videos are then played as the main content of each meeting.

They include us sharing personal stories, actionable strategies, and offering wisdom from the Church’s treasury of Scripture and Tradition to help men conquer this vice.

At the end of each video we give discussion questions relevant to the topic that help bring the men together to share their own victories and struggles.

You can watch one of the videos right here to see what it looks like.

What we have created then is a turn-key program that any man can bring to his parish, diocese, or Catholic organization.

How Do I Bring This to My Parish?

One benefit of Gerardo and I going through the process of hammering out what this program would look like at our parish is that we know, step-by-step, how one can be started at your parish.

To help men who are interested in starting a Brotherhood of Virtue program, I made a short course explaining what steps you need to take to start one.

This guide is completely free and takes you through the process of meeting with your pastor, showing him the program, explaining the benefits, answering objections, promoting the program, and inviting men to join it on an ongoing basis.

Most men will not be called to take this bold step of faith in starting such a program. But for those who are called to do something about this widespread problem and strengthen their brothers at their parish, we have made it much easier with the program. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, be an eloquent speaker, or reveal your own struggles.

Instead, you can use the Brotherhood of Virtue program and have an instant men’s group for purity at your parish or diocese.

God bless,
Devin

Like Going on a Retreat With St. Therese

I just finished reading an insightful book–really more like a retreat–about my patron saint titled Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Therese of Lisieux.

The book includes thirty letters from the saint to her sisters, fellow nuns, and missionary priests. After each letter, the authors (Anthony Lilles and Dan Burke) offer an explanation of the letter and a reflection on its themes, with particular focus on how St. Therese’s Little Way can be applied to our lives.

St. Therese Converted Me

St. Therese actually helped me become Catholic.

I was a Protestant and wanting to read more about the saints, intrigued by St. Francis and his radical poverty.

A friend tipped me off to St. Therese; I bought her autobiography (The Story of a Soul), devoured it in a short time, and came away amazed.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me about this incredibly faithful young woman?” I wondered. It planted in my mind doubts about my Protestant beliefs. If an obscure young nun who died at age 24 in France a century ago was this holy, what does that say about the entire Catholic Faith?

I took her as my Confirmation saint, and Fr. (now Bishop) Mike Sis proudly announced her name when he confirmed me.

I bought multiple books about her, including one with quotes from her sister Celine, as well as a book about the letters she wrote to the missionary priests (those letters also appear in this book).

A Retreat With St. Therese

Anthony Lilles
Anthony Lilles

But in spite of my familiarity with her, most of these letters were new to me. I read them eagerly, looking forward to the gems of deep faith that she would present, and they did not disappoint.

Neither did the reflections offered disappoint. Normally I find reflections written by laity to be ho-hum in their value. But Lilles and Burke demonstrate a remarkable understanding of the saint, her Little Way, and her Act of Oblation to Merciful Love.

Each of the reflections provided me with good food for spiritual growth. While one could read the entire book over a thirty day period, I read it during my Holy Hour in adoration and so read one per week.

The result is like going on a retreat with St. Therese as your Spiritual Director. She was a Novice Mistress at the Carmel in Lisieux, so she was used to imparting wisdom to people in the first stage of the spiritual walk.

St. Therese Was No Wallflower

Dan Burke
Dan Burke

Some people have gotten the impression that St. Therese and her spirituality were saccharine and weak. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the authors explain how challenging her Little Way was, denying oneself time after time during one’s daily life. I rarely deny myself even once during a day, let alone every minute and hour!

Her love for Christ was great; as she said in her oblation, she had “immense desires,” a poignant phrase that captures how much she wanted to love God and others.

Here is her Act of Oblation to Merciful Love which the authors reference throughout the book. Read it and ponder the heart behind it:

ACT OF OBLATION TO MERCIFUL LOVE

J.M.J.T.

Offering of myself
as a Victim of Holocaust
to God’s Merciful Love

O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to Love You and make you Loved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish Your will perfectly and to reach the degree of glory You have prepared for me in Your Kingdom. I desire, in a word, to be saint, but I feel my helplessness and I beg You, O my God! to be Yourself my Sanctity!

Since You loved me so much as to give me Your only Son as my Savior and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine. I offer them to You with gladness, begging You to look upon me only in the Face of Jesus and in His heart burning with Love.

I offer You, too, all the merits of the saints (in heaven and on earth), their acts of Love, and those of the holy angels. Finally, I offer You, O Blessed Trinity! the Love and merits of the Blessed Virgin, my Dear Mother. It is to her I abandon my offering, begging her to present it to You. Her Divine Son, my Beloved Spouse, told us in the says of His mortal life: “Whatsoever you ask the Father in my name he will give it to you!” I am certain, then, that You will grant my desires; I know, O my God! that the more You want to give, the more You make us desire. I feel in my heart immense desires and it is with confidence I ask You to come and take possession of my soul. Ah! I cannot receive Holy Communion as often as I desire, but, Lord, are You not all-powerful? Remain in me as in a tabernacle and never separate Yourself from Your little victim.

I want to console You for the ingratitude of the wicked, and I beg of you to take away my freedom to displease You. If through weakness I sometimes fall, may Your Divine Glance cleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my imperfections like the fire that transforms everything into itself.

I thank You, O my God! for all the graces You have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy I shall contemplate You on the Last Day carrying the sceptre of Your Cross. Since You deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion.

After earth’s Exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for Your Love Alone with the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally.

In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself. I want no other Throne, no other Crown but You, my Beloved!

Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years. You can, then, in one instant prepare me to appear before You.

In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVE, Asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God!

May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear before You, finally cause me to die and may my soul take its flight without any delay into the eternal embrace of Your Merciful Love.

I want, O my Beloved, at each beat of my heart to renew this offering to You an infinite number of times, until the shadows having disappeared I may be able to tell You of my Love in an Eternal Face to Face!

Living the Mystery of Merciful Love is a worthy addition to the canon of books about St. Therese. I am sure from Heaven she is adding every reader of it to her intercessions before the throne of God. Get in on it!