Homily: How to be a Man

Homily: advice to my oldest son, graduating from high school


Be a hero – the right man in the right place at the right time, prepared to get things done. But how do you do that? It doesn’t just happen on it’s own. Too many men are too lazy or vice-ridden to step up and do real work. You don’t want to be like them. They have made bad choices and must either repent or suffer for their sloth. You, too, will make some bad choices, but I pray that they will be ones of discernment or mis-calculation rather than of character. And I trust that when mistakes do come, that you will repent, heal the damage you have done, and get back to work. That is what real men do. That is what heroes do.

So how do you become a hero? It won’t be easy. You might think that the heroes we read of in books and see in movies had a head-start. After all, Hercules and Percy Jackson were demi-gods, and Harry Potter had magic. But I tell you this; the demi-gods and magicians of legend are myths that point to prototypes that are much better and true. The one who is able to say, along with apostle Paul, that “it is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20) is greater even than Gilgamesh, the hero of myth who was claimed to be two-thirds god; and the power of one who has acquired the power of the Holy Spirit has more power to transform this world into something better than even Mithrandir himself.

You have accepted Christ. You allow God’s Holy Spirit to sanctify and empower you. But the question remains; “How do I become a real man? How do I become a hero?” Three pieces of advice: manage your resources, cultivate virtue, and be True.

1. Manage your resources wisely.

Let me begin with some very practical advice: like the men in the Lord’s parable of the talents, God has entrusted you with certain resources, to include your time, your money, and your heart. You have to be deliberate in how you use these – in fact, you shouldn’t just “use” them, you should invest them, and the dividend you are always looking for is the greater glory of God. This is how you obtain the reward of “good and faithful servant; this is how you become a hero. Let me elaborate.

  • When it comes to time, don’t waste it on things that pull you away from your purpose. Be wise when you establish your routine of prayer, worship, work, rest, and recreation. Each of these things is necessary – find a balance that is sustainable. For a man of many abilities like yourself, part of your stewardship will be learning when to say “yes” and especially when to say “no” to opportunities.

  • When it comes to money, I have some very specific advice: start with a habit of tithing, saving, and paying for things up front. By tithing, I mean taking the the first ten percent of all you earn and offering it in thanks to the Lord by giving it to charity. Most, if not all of this, should go to your local parish. Too many people offer thanksgiving from the residual part of their budget. When they finally decide to get serious, it is a real challenge for them to show genuine thanksgiving through tithing because they have filled their budget with other things. This is like people who put off fasting while young, then find that their age does not allow it. Start now. The same goes for saving.: start now. And when it comes to debt: just don’t go there for anything but real property. It’s a trap.

  • Your heart is also a resource. You have to guard it. Chastity is the traditional word for guarding your heart. People who are wise in the ways of the world will tell you that this is an old-fashion trick to keep you from having fun. Is the doctor who tells you to stay away from crack trying to keep you from having fun? No, he is trying to save your life. Romance and sex are powerful, and they have strong spiritual dimensions. Your heart was made for serious commitments, don’t waste it. Be chaste. When it comes to sex, being a wise steward means being celibate outside marriage, and being true within it. Don’t respect the opinions of people who do not honor and safeguard your chastity. And as a man, this rule of chivalry is always in effect: you must honor the chastity of the women you love.

2. Cultivate the old fashion virtues of hard work and dependability.

My second piece of advice on becoming a real hero is working hard and being dependable. The Lord says “let your yes be yes and your no be no” (St. Matthew 5:37). He points out elsewhere how despicable it is to say you are going to do something and then not follow through with it (St. Matthew 21:28-31).

Do not be the kind of person who demands respect, be the kind of man who has earned it; do not be the kind of person who expects people to trust him, be the kind of person that has earned that trust. You are not entitled to anything but opportunity – you have to work to manifest that opportunity into something real and meaningful. This is true even if you are between jobs – get up every morning and get it done.

Sloth is one of the deadly sins because it destroys you. Never let it be said of you that you are lazy or unreliable. You have already made some big commitments: to Christ as a Christian and to His ministry as a Reader. Do not forsake these vows. You are about to make another by pledging your life to the defense of this country. Lord willing, one day you will make other vows, perhaps of marriage, perhaps of something else: take them all seriously. Far too many people do not live up to their vows and promises – they have said “yes” to their father, but have not done the work that goes with it.

And do not just follow through for the big things like baptism, tonsuring, or enlistment, for the Lord tells us that the “One who is faithful in little things is also faithful in greater things, and one who is dishonest in little things is also dishonest greater things.” (St. Luke 16:10). In summary: be a man, not a grown up boy. We have too many overgrown boys in this world. What we need is men.

3. Be True.

This is the most important thing of all. It is the guiding principle of all real heros. It, not skills or weaponry, is the difference between the paladin and the mercenary. Notice that I did not say “be true to yourself “ – you have studied tnough psychology to know that this is a phrase devoid of any real meaning; you have also observed enough human nature to know that it is most often used as an excuse for pride and egoism. Nor did I say “be true to religion” or “be true to your country” or anything else. I could have said “be True to Orthodoxy”, or “be True to God”, but we both know that this would have been redundant. God is Truth and Orthodoxy is The Way of Truth.

Everything good that I have done has come from nothing else but following St. Paul’s advice to the Philippians: “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Think on those things … and then “get r done”.


Become perfect as God is perfect (St. Matthew 5:48). With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible (St. Matthew 19:26). You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).

Let me finish by paraphrasing the words of one of our greatest heroes, Saint Patrick (from his “Breastplate”):

Christ with you, Christ before you, Christ behind you, Christ in you,

Christ beneath you, Christ above you,

Christ on your right, Christ on your left,

Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of you,

Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of you,

Christ in every eye that sees you,

Christ in every ear that hears you.

This is the path of the hero. This is your path.


  1. Thank you for posting!


  1. […] podcasts begins with advice for young people to become heroes.  The rest is devoted to introducing listeners to some findings in moral psychology and their […]