Dean of students gives advice to men to grow in virtue

Andrew Nichols
Distribution Manager

“We often don’t want to give God what he asks,” the Franciscan University of Steubenville dean of students said to several dozen male students in St. Francis Hall Saturday morning.

Matthew Schaefer, dean of students and a graduate from Franciscan with a masters’ degree in philosophy, talked to students, mainly from Francis Hall, on the necessity of virtue.

Schaefer was residence director of Francis for three years and spoke of his experience with students and helping their growth and faith.

“It’s through friendship that we really evangelize and encourage the virtues,” he said.

Schaefer brought forward a few points that stand out as techniques men can use to grow in the virtues and said men often are afraid of opening up to God because they think they will lose their identity as an individual if they do.

Schaefer quoted a line from the song “Jesus Christ” by Brand New: “But I’m scared I’ll get scared, and I swear I’ll try to nail you back up.”

This line exemplifies what men do in their spiritual lives, but this is precisely what the virtuous man does, Schaefer said.

Our goal ought to be “the complete self-surrender to the will of the Father and so, by doing that, we have the opportunity, then, to love others and to become virtuous,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer told a story about his confessor, who said to him, “Well, turns out, you’re not perfect yet; well, let’s move forward.”

Schaefer used this story to make his second point on brokenness clear.

“This is the holy life: the idea of getting back up after you screwed up again,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer highlighted some areas where men could work on brokenness but clarified that perfectionism is the other side of the coin.

“Perfectionism looks at (the self) instead of keeping your eyes focused on the Lord and trying to do the Lord’s will day in and day out,” Schaefer said.

But Schaefer provided an antidote to this perfectionism: sit down and do an examination of conscience before getting too tired.

“Make a resolution every day to do one thing better, and you will increase the virtues,” he said. “You will become a more virtuous man. And that’s what we need across our world, is more of them, right?”

Schaefer’s 20-minute talk was followed by questions, which primarily focused on practicality and scrupulosity.

Freshman Lucien Plante said he got a great deal out of the talk.

“One thing that really stood out to me was that perfectionism is narcissistic. I never thought about it in that way before,” Plante said.

Schaefer’s talk was the second in a series of talks sponsored by Francis Hall called “Be A Man,” discussing the formation of great men in faith.


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