By Josh Low
Having started as a blog for Catholic men seeking to encourage virtue, the pursuit of holiness and the art of true masculinity, The Catholic Gentleman has turned into a community of more than 100,000 followers worldwide.
The man behind it all – husband and father of four, Sam Guzman, spoke to The eRecord journalist Josh Low recently and touched on his life, conversion and experiences in the Catholic faith, as well as the call and inspiration behind The Catholic Gentleman.
Having been raised a Protestant and taken ‘church hopping’ from Baptist fundamentalist and hyper-Calvinist churches to Lutheran and mega churches along with everything in between, Sam said he saw and experienced the full spectrum of Protestantism.
In his university years, after a period of rebellion and cynicism towards Christianity, Sam said the pastor of a nearby Presbyterian church ‘turned his world upside down with his preaching’ and ignited a hunger to delve even deeper into Christianity.
“Around that time, I got a job in the Bob Jones University Art gallery, which is filled with millions of dollars’ worth of incredible artwork, almost all of it Catholic, which was ironic as Catholics were regularly ridiculed.
“During my shifts, I would try to translate the Latin inscriptions on these paintings and wondered at the faith that inspired them,” Sam said.
The beauty of that artwork and the ‘strange, yet fascinating foreignness of their content’ had an impact on his search for the truth and the faith of the apostles, launching him on a several year journey which resulted in a deep love for the Catholic faith.
However, throughout his conversion process to Catholicism, Sam said he was frequently searching for resources for men.
“Like many young men, I suffered from the lack of clear cultural norms for masculinity.
“Were men supposed to be ‘College-Humour’ reading, beer swilling “bros” forever? Were we supposed to be macho meatheads whose masculinity was measured by our bicep size?
“The cultural archetypes for manhood were countless and there was no one to show me the way or reveal what true masculinity was,” he said.
Sam was inspired by a website for men designed to revive vintage manhood, which praised the values of a virtuous life; drawing lessons from the lives of men like Theodore Roosevelt and Benjamin Franklin.
“But even though I loved the site, I noticed that the author always stopped at natural virtue. There was rarely a religious component to his content,” he said.
While praying St Maximilian Kolbe’s Consecration to Mary novena one day and asking to be used in some way, Sam said he suddenly had a clear mental picture of a website for Catholic men called The Catholic Gentleman.
“I could even see the logo in my head. It would be a site that would move the reader from natural virtue to supernatural virtue.
“Instead of holding up men like Teddy Roosevelt, the saints would be the models of virtue in action,” he said.
“I admire the many saints, martyrs and apostles of the early Church. It’s easy to forget them because they lived so long ago, but these holy men and women lived in times quite similar to our own and can teach us many important lessons about how to bear witness to the faith.
“There are so many more, and that’s one of the best things about being Catholic – there’s a saint for everyone. We can never say, ‘Holiness isn’t possible; it isn’t achievable’ when we have tens of thousands of examples that it can.
“I quickly opened my computer, created a website and Facebook page, and the rest is history.”
With more than 100,000 followers across the world, Sam says he never expected The Catholic Gentleman to have grown in the way that it has over the past four years.
“I never expected it would have the reach that it does, especially considering it was a project thought up rather quickly, and with hardly any planning.
“I must give all the credit to our Blessed Mother. This is really her project and has been since the beginning,” he said.
Sam explained that the only purpose behind The Catholic Gentleman is to help men become more like Christ.
“If I can help one person come closer to the heart of Jesus or help even one person love God and neighbour more, that will be success in my book.
“We live in a world where the average person sees 5,000 advertisements a day, all telling us what is important and what we should value.
“I see The Catholic Gentleman as a media ministry rebelling against those messages and offering an alternative paradigm – the kingdom of God, which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
“My wish is to help men first of all to desire to become holy and then equip them to pursue it.
“Again, this ministry is in our Blessed Mother’s hands. Where she leads, I will go, but those are my desires for The Catholic Gentleman,” he concluded.