Stoics Paved the Way to Christianity

I just got done reading a surprising book: The Porch and the Cross: Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living, by Kevin Vost. It unveils the striking connection between the Stoics and Christianity.

More Than a Feeling

I admit my knowledge of the Stoic philosophers was thin. I equated Stoicism with responding to life with cold, unemotional stiffness.

Vost disabuses readers of that false notion immediately:

As we’ll see in the chapters ahead, this could hardly be farther from the truth. Their powerful life lessons live on…..They can teach us to live calmer, happier, more productive, humane, noble, and virtuous lives whether we live in Rome, Italy, in Athens Greece, or in Athens, Illinois.

The Stoics actually lived lives full of joy, peace, and meaning. Though bereft of God’s divine revelation in the Old and New Covenants, they stretched their God-given powers of reason to the limit, reaching many of the same conclusions that Christians came to regarding life, liberty, and love.

Four Stoics Walk Into a Bar

Vost focuses on the four most well known Stoics: Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius.

These men ranged from slave to Emperor and had dramatically different personalities, yet each embraced the Stoic philosophy that sought to live a worthy life, a truly human life, and so they were united.

vostVost examines the life and history of each of these men, recounts the most memorable stories (and legends) about them, then synthesizes their writings. He compares their teachings with Christianity and (in most cases) demonstrates how closely they came to the truth.

How close were they to divine truth? Musonius Rufus is considered one of the first pro-life philosophers. He praised large families, extolled fidelity in marriage, argued against abortion and contraception, and connected the purpose of marriage to procreation and the unitive value between husband and wife. Quite astounding for someone who was born a few decades before Jesus Christ.

The Stoic philosophers were not interested in pie-in-the-sky theorizing. Rather, they focused on eminently practical topics like: should a child obey his parents? How should we dress ourselves? What is the meaning of pain and hardship? Must we learn what is good and follow it?

Practical Wisdom

My wife was going through a difficult event, one in which she was fearful of what another person was going to do. Fortunately I had just read an idea in this book and relayed it to her: “you can’t control what that other person is going to do; you can only control how you choose to respond to it.”

vost1That reminder was liberating for her. And she continued to repeat it to herself when she began to worry again. I had to take my own medicine shortly thereafter with a situation that I found myself in, concerned about what someone was going to do that could adversely affect me. The Stoics faced exile and worse for their philosophy, yet wherever they were, they bore it in peace, content to be at home wherever they were sent. This detachment is quite Christ-like, an acceptance of suffering that the saints of the Church have often lived out, and spoken of.

A friend of mine a few years back told me he had left Christianity and become a Stoic. I was confused when I heard this, as I had not read Vost’s book. But now I get it more. He was a liberal Protestant before, and that watered down version of Christianity he ultimately found less compelling than the practical wisdom of the Stoics. I plan to tell him about this book, in hopes it will plant a seed for his return to Christianity one day.

Kevin Vost has written an excellent book, enlightening us about this treasure of ancient times, the Stoic philosophers, and how they came right up to the entryway of Christianity.

Podcast: Mercy Unwrapped on Conquering Porn

Conquering porn
Conquering porn

I’m happy to share with you I was interviewed by Kristine Franklin, aka the Catholic Grandma, on her Mercy Unwrapped show about conquering porn.

We discuss:

  • Damage that porn addiction does to single and married men
  • The challenge of convincing men that porn is wrong
  • Practical tips on conquering lust
  • The application of the Theology of the Body to growing in purity
  • And much more

Click below to listen!

You can also listen to the interview on overcoming porn addiction on sound cloud.

15 Days to Unbreakable Purity FREE Course

I’ve seen a great response to my course helping Catholic men conquer pornography addiction.

They have inspired me with their words and stories and their commitment to growing in purity and becoming men of great virtue.

Springboard to Purity

Some men though are daunted by the fact that the course costs money, so I’ve created a second course for Catholic men that is free and gives them the first 15 days action plan toward unbreakable purity.

One lesson for each day. One action to take each day. Step-by-step to chastity. To freedom from slavery to sin.

Here’s the title of each day in the course:

  1. Resolve
  2. Ditch it
  3. Filter
  4. Accountability
  5. Fellowship
  6. Self-mastery
  7. Confess
  8. Mass
  9. Adoration
  10. Service
  11. Pray
  12. Fast
  13. Inform
  14. Triggers
  15. Power Prayers

Power Prayers

And here is the Day 15 part of the course on power prayers:

When a temptation first presents itself, a good way to respond is to memorize and recite a power prayer.

A power prayer is one that you have down by heart, is short, and is specifically formulated to be helpful to you when tempted.

CPJpegv8smallestI use: “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me!”

And also: “Lord, I pray for the grace to respect and protect all your daughters.”

Or, “Lord, I praise you for the beauty of all your daughters, including this one, but especially for the beauty of my wife.”

When evil thoughts arise: “I reject these evils thoughts utterly.”

One of my favorites: “I desire to give myself to my wife alone.”

When I see a scantily clad woman that I’m attracted to and feel a temptation to lust coming on, I say one of these prayers.

Come up with a few power prayers and start reciting them when tempted.

You may need to try out several. Or, some may work for a time but then you need to mix things up and use new ones.

These prayers are not magical. If they don’t work sometimes, that is okay. It is one more tool in your toolbox. One more way that you call to mind the truth of God and how we made us.

Eventually, lust loses its luster.

I can tell you from experience that, after practicing these things for years, and learning about the theology of the body, when I did fall to temptation, it was not as satisfying as it once was.

In fact, it became so banal and trite. So fleeting, and then made me feel so sick that I wondered why I was falling for this sham that fell far short of real love.

I didn’t conjure up those feelings of dreariness with lust. God led me to it when the time was right. And He will for you too, as you continue fighting to grow strong in purity.

Do not give up! He is with you.

“It is necessary to be strong, in order to become great; that is our duty. Life is a struggle, which we cannot avoid. We must triumph!”
– St. Padre Pio

Start Today

Men who go through the complete 15 Days will receive a coupon discount off the main course as well.

Begin today my brothers to conquering pornography addiction!