One of the hottest pages on Facebook these days goes by the unlikely name of “The Catholic Gentleman.” Here's Regina Magazine's exclusive interview with the young gentleman behind this fascinating look into the minds and hearts of young American Catholics today.
Q. So, you are “The Catholic Gentleman” on Facebook, but who are you, really?
A. My real name is Sam Guzman, and I am 25 years old. I live in the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin, USA.
I am not a cradle Catholic; I am a convert. My journey to Catholic faith is too long to share here, but very briefly, I was raised protestant with a strong Reformed influence—as in the doctrines of John Calvin. In college, I strongly considered becoming a Baptist minister, and further on my road to Rome, an Anglican priest. Eventually, after much agonizing study and prayer, I realized that Jesus had founded only one true Church, and I had to unite with it to be faithful to him. My wife and I were confirmed in the Catholic and Apostolic Faith Easter of 2012.
By day, I am the Communications Director for Pro-Life Wisconsin, a legislative action and educational organization dedicated to defend the dignity of human life from conception until natural death.
I am married to a beautiful woman, and I am the father of three children—one in heaven, one just over a year, and one about to be born.
Q. How did you arrive at the idea for this page?
A. For many years, I have been a faithful reader of the site, The Art of Manliness—a blog which seeks to encourage a revival of classic manhood. AoM regularly features articles on everything from shaving, to starting a fire, to virtuous manhood. Frequently, posts will center on manly heroes, such as Teddy Roosevelt, and draw practical wisdom from their lives.
While praying about how I could serve the Church, the idea occurred to create a Catholic version of The Art of Manliness. Instead of inspiring men with the example of Teddy Roosevelt, I envisioned sharing the lives of the masculine gentleman saints from the history of the Church. After all, these extraordinary men modeled true holiness, masculinity, toughness, and courage better than anyone else.
Rather than sharing advice on the virtuous life from Ben Franklin, I envisioned blogging about the four cardinal virtues, the three theological virtues, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and other treasures of wisdom and knowledge left to us by Holy Mother Church. I realized more strongly than before that everything a man needs to know is contained in the Catholic faith, and I simply wanted to share that with the world. The Catholic Gentleman was born.
Everything a man needs to know is contained in the Catholic faith, and I simply wanted to share that with the world. Hence, The Catholic Gentleman was born.
Q. What are you trying to accomplish?
A. First and foremost, it is my desire to inspire men to be saints by creating an atmosphere—an ethos—of Catholic manliness. Contrary to popular opinion, there is nothing more manly, challenging, or rewarding than the pursuit of holiness. The truest men were the saints.
Unfortunately, the Church has been effeminized and softened in recent years, and men have drifted away. This happened for a number of reasons, but seeking to deny it will do no good. It is a fact. Most men no longer see the Catholic faith as something worthy of a man’s interest, and this is a tragedy in the highest degree. I want to counteract this notion by presenting images that portray the strength, majesty, and beauty of the Catholic faith.
Along the way, I hope to encourage a revival of classic manliness. Men today are told that they are either fools, belching brutes, or effeminate fops. This simply isn’t true. Men (I include myself) need to know traditional manly arts like how to treat a lady, iron their pants, use technology responsibly, defend their families, or polish their shoes.
I want to emphasize that I am very much learning as I go. It has been said that the best way to learn is to teach, and I find that adage true. By no means do I consider myself the master of all things manly or Catholic. But that really isn’t the point. True masculinity is a journey, and we are all at different stages of it. I am the one managing the page and writing the posts, but this community is about journeying side by side, encouraging one another and learning together.
Finally, I want to have fun. Catholics know how to have a good time, and I want the page to be a place where men can talk about manly things and enjoy themselves. There are a lot of bad things happening in the world, and we all need somewhere to laugh and be encouraged, even if it is an online community.
Men today are told that they are either fools, belching brutes, or effeminate fops. This simply isn’t true.
Q. What is your definition of a Catholic Gentleman?
A. Above all, the Catholic gentleman has God at the center of his life, informing every decision, desire, and action. He loves and protects everything that is good and true. He fights zealously for the honor of Christ and his Bride, the Catholic Church. He pursue holiness with his whole heart, mind, and strength. He is a virtuous man.
The Catholic gentleman is also cultured and courteous. He doesn’t dress like a slob, and he is respectful of others. He is temperate and self-controlled. He knows how to treat a lady, and he cherishes true femininity. He is humble enough to learn from others, and he does not scorn wisdom or learning. He does not sink to the lowest common denominator or choose the path of least resistance. Instead, he is always ready to courageously embrace sacrifice and suffering.
The Catholic gentleman loves and protects everything that is good and true. He does not sink to the lowest common denominator or choose the path of least resistance.
Q. Can you give us some examples of Catholic gentleman — from history, from today?
A. There are countless Catholic gentleman, but among the saints, St. Francis de Sales is foremost. This humble man was universally known for his gentle courtesy and the warmth of his charity. He even earned the nickname, “the gentleman saint.” You can read my profile of him in the link above.
Among modern Catholic men, I believe Pope Benedict XVI is a shining example of Catholic gentlemanliness. While he is often overshadowed by the charismatic John Paul II and Pope Francis, Pope Benedict is a wonderful and holy man, and it is hard to overestimate his contributions to the Church. He possesses both a profound intellect and a profound humility, and throughout his pontificate, he sought to promote the treasures of Catholic culture—artistically, musically, and liturgically.
Q. Who are your fans? Male? Female?
A. Due to the nature of the content, most of the fans are men. However, I am continually surprised at how many women readers we have. While I can’t speak for all women, I believe women are drawn to true masculinity, just as men are drawn to true femininity. While feminism has sought to effeminize men, deep down women love men that are tough and strong, but who are also gentle and holy. That is my theory, anyway!
It is also worth noting that we have protestant readers. Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians have left comments that they enjoy the page. I always take the opportunity to encourage them to become Catholic!
Q. How do people react to your page? Any negatives?
A. We had one angry atheist pay a visit, but other than that, all the feedback has been very positive. It is incredible to see the passionate community that has formed in a short amount of time.
Q. What are your plans for the page you have created?
Long term, I want to give back to the fans with opportunities for them to share their projects and passions. I am still working out exactly how this will be done, but I am constantly receiving links to great things men are working on, and I want to share them in some way.
In addition, I am working on a book. While the blog is a great venue for sharing brief thoughts, I see the need for a full length book covering Catholic manhood. There are many such books for women, but only a few for men.