Act Like a Man: 5 Tips with St. Thomas Aquinas
“What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him?” (Ps 8:5)
In the face of gender theory and feminist ideologies which challenge the notion of manhood, the Church needs real men. We need to respond to the Biblical command viriliter agite found frequently in the Vulgate. The phrase translates as “act like a man” in one form or another in Scripture (1 Cor 16:13, Dt 31:6, Ps 30(31):25, 2 Chr 32:7, 1 Mac 2:64). One man who obeyed was St. Andrew, and his very name suggests it. St. Thomas Aquinas explains, “Andrew is interpreted ‘manly’; for as in Latin, ‘virilis‘ [“manly”] is derived from ‘vir’ [man], so in Greek, Andrew is derived from ανηρ [anēr: man]. Rightly is he called manly, who left all and followed Christ, and manfully persevered in His commands.”
Commenting on St. Andrew, St. Thomas gives us 5 tips on how to viriliter agite.
- Obey Promptly: “Aristotle states, ‘Those who are moved by God do not need to be counselled; for they have a principle surpassing counsel and understanding.’ St. Chrysostom pronounces the following eulogium of them: ‘They were in the midst of their business; but, at His bidding, they made no delay, they did not return home saying: let us consult our friends, but, leaving all things, they followed, Him, as Elisha followed Elijah.’ Christ requires of us a similar unhesitating and instant obedience.”
- Build Up: “And so Andrew, being now perfectly converted, does not keep the treasure he found to himself, but hurries and quickly runs to his brother to share with him the good things he has received. And so, the first thing Andrew did was to look for his brother Simon, so that they might be related in both blood and faith: “A brother that is helped by his brother is like a strong city” (Prv 18:19); ‘Let him who hears say, ‘Come’ (Rv 22:17).”
- Hunt Souls: “This gives us the situation of the disciples he called: for they were from Bethsaida. And this is appropriate to this mystery. For ‘Bethsaida’ means ‘house of hunters,’ to show the attitude of Philip, Peter and Andrew at that time, and because it was fitting to call, from the house of hunters, hunters who were to capture souls for life: ‘I will send my hunters’ (Jer 16:16).”
- Preach with Courage: “Every preacher should have those names, ‘Peter’ and ‘Andrew.’ For ‘Simon’ means obedient, ‘Peter’ means comprehending, and ‘Andrew’ means courage. For a preacher should be obedient, that he might invite others to it: ‘The obedient man shall speak of victories’ (Pr 21:28). He should comprehend, that he may know how to instruct others: ‘I had rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others’ (1 Cor 14:19). He should be courageous in order to face threats: ‘I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall’ (Jer 1:18); ‘I have made your face hard against their faces, and your forehead hard against their foreheads. Like adamant harder than flint I have made your face’ (Ez 3:8).”
- Commit: “Our Lord declared that it belongs to the perfection of life that a man follow Him, not anyhow, but in such a way as not to turn back. Wherefore He says again (Lk. 9:62): ‘No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’ And though some of His disciples went back, yet when our Lord asked (Jn. 6:68, 69), ‘Will you also go away?’ Peter answered for the others: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?’ Hence Augustine says (De Consensu Ev. ii, 17) that ‘as Matthew and Mark relate, Peter and Andrew followed Him after drawing their boats on to the beach, not as though they purposed to return, but as following Him at His command.’ Now this unwavering following of Christ is made fast by a vow: wherefore a vow is requisite for religious perfection.”
This post was written by Br. Irenaeus Dunlevy, O.P., who was born the youngest of four children in Columbus, Ohio. He grew up in the rural southeast suburb of Canal Winchester. After leaving the area for college, his family joined the Dominican parish of St. Patrick’s in Columbus. He received a Bachelor and Masters of Architecture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and practiced for a religious architecture firm in the DC area. Br. Irenaeus entered the Order of Preachers in 2013.