In The Fall, a fictional philosophical novel by Albert Camus, one character reflects aloud: “I sometimes think of what future historians will say of us. A single sentence will suffice for modern man: he fornicated and read the papers. After that vigorous definition, the subject will be, if I may say so, exhausted.”
I first heard this line read to me in an undergrad class years ago and amidst stifled laughter and reticent head nods the whole class agreed: It was a bleak diagnosis, but a sure one. I don’t know about you, but somehow I always envisioned my life ending up a little more heroic than “he fornicated and read the papers.” On the one hand I laughed with my classmates, but on the other hand I cringed. Is this really where man has ended up? How can I avoid this fate?
…I’ll tell you how.
…By joining EXODUS.
EXODUS is a sort of rule of life that will go up on TCM next Tuesday, February 2nd. It’s tried and tested by Catholic men and tailored for Catholic men. The specific details and requirements will be made public upon the launch, but for now I’ll try to summarize. EXODUS is a discipline that is aimed at helping men find freedom. As Catholic men living in the world we may find it hard to avoid ‘fornicating and reading the paper.’ Or maybe we don’t. Maybe it’s harder to get away from video games………or sports…or alcohol, or porn, or Netflix, or just sleeping in! Almost every man in our society today has something that binds him and keeps him from being the man he’s meant to be – the man he could be, if only he were living in the freedom of God. This is where EXODUS comes in. Pick your poison, and EXODUS is the beginning of your antidote.
It’s not a fad. It doesn’t boast the newest methods. It’s not based on the latest studies. This is sort of the wisdom of EXODUS. It’s not trying to be “hip” or win points in esoteric circles. It’s not a program in frantic search for solutions. Rather, it takes the position of Ecclesiastes 1:9-11
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already, in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things…”
Thus, rather than looking for new things, EXODUS looks for what has worked: Fasting, prayer, discipline, and penance. It involves dying to yourself and to the world every day so that Christ can live in you. It’s not a form of Jansenism, (earning our way to freedom and salvation), though the evil one will call it that. It’s simply a submission of oneself to the King who came and promised “to bring glad tidings to the poor…to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” He will do the work, but we have to give him ample space to start. And this is not always as easy as it seems…
I went through EXODUS a little over a year ago and I was amazed at what I found. Many things – innocent and good things – I had been using to hide from the Lord. All of the sudden I was without college football, Miller High Life, and my iTunes Library. I couldn’t escape from the Lord in tough moments anymore. Reality would not bend to me. Everything was quiet and my great recourse became the Lord. The fasting and penance opened up my prayer life. My relationship with Jesus never made more sense. It reminded me of the old poem:
Christ, He requires still, wheresoe’er He comes
To feed or lodge, to have the best of rooms:
Give Him the choice; grant Him the nobler part
Of all the house: the best of all’s the heart.
Give Him the nobler part. He requires still, and once you give it to Him, He will reign as King in your heart. It was not easy. It might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But gosh was it ever worth it. I felt as if I was living within the spirit of Jerome, or Benedict, or Francis. I was embracing a simple Truth, ever ancient, ever new. I knew well as I participated in EXODUS that I was a Christian.
So men I urge you, consult your spiritual-fathers, find a group of brothers, and commit to EXODUS for 90 days. Or you know…you could just fornicate and read the papers…