The landing page of Exodus 90 makes a clear proclamation: “Now more than ever, the church needs men who are free.” James Baxter is working to help men get there.
“I was part of the fraternity that started Exodus 90,” he notes, “which has been the heart of my work over the past four years. Exodus 90 is a challenging 90-day period of prayer and asceticism supported by a fraternity of likeminded men. The 90-day framework is rooted in neurological research, and the spirituality represents to men the ascetical tradition of the Desert Fathers of the third and fourth centuries.”
The goal of the program is to gradually and consistently achieve greater personal and spiritual freedom modeled after the story of the Israelites in Exodus. By the end, men are less entangled with those things that might have enslaved them before.
“They are more focused on the essential,” says Baxter, “contemplation, vocation and good work. The importance of our mission is in some way emphasized by recent negative examples. The Pennsylvania grand jury report and the chaos that has overcome the Church in its wake are what happens when men do not pray, mortify their flesh or practice accountability.”
Baxter said he spent a lot of time looking outside the Church for successful business models and growth strategies and tried to implement them into the Exodus 90 mission. “I could only do that because I had confidence in the union of faith and reason,” he says. “I made a series of decisions that most in the Church world would not immediately appreciate: Our brand mark is secular, we spread first through digital strategies, we didn’t make the program easier but called men on to a grander life. Looking back, I think I did so because I knew that faith is the highest form of reasoning, and our theological virtue operates at all times and upon everything if we are in the right position.”
Baxter calls his time in Catholic studies “a sheer grace” that “shaped my vision for life.” After four years in Catholic studies, Baxter had the opportunity to study at the International Centre of Newman Friends at Littlemore Oxford. There he read Newman for a solid month. “During that time,” he recalls, “I distilled my Catholic Studies experience to one principle that I wanted to live from – that the Cross of Jesus Christ is the measure of everything. All truth unites in his face, and no culture or subject or industry or experience is untinged by the fact of the Incarnation. This has considerably shaped my work and vocation to marriage. Reality is a gift from the hands of a God who is present. I did not know that before Catholic Studies.”