One of the most persistent memories from my childhood, which both evokes sentiment of reverence and harkens to connection with an element somewhere outside of time itself, is the gathering of my aunt and my cousins each weekend to pray the rosary. As children we often looked lightly upon the seriousness attached to and the significance of such a seemingly small event. I also recall my mother persisting and insisting upon the attendance of every family member in the living room, despite the obvious reluctance and inevitable protests. Still, to this day, I cannot fully explain reasons for the unseen force of repulsion that caused each of us to resist the recitation of such a seemingly good and holy prayer every night. Something so easy and so short (twenty minutes tops) required the greatest effort or strength for participation.
The big question though is not why it was so hard to pray but rather, where were the men? If the most vital of all pursuits is the spiritual pursuit, which will ultimately decide our eternal fate and the fate of the world, why were those who are charged with leading, protecting and providing for their family not taking front and center command in what appeared, for their children, to be a compelling battle. Why did they appear reluctant or even resistant themselves to involvement in a role that potentially impacted heavily the souls of their own flesh and blood? And what made them scorn a duty they were entrusted, as guardians of the holiness of their brides?
Research has found that men are absolutely essential for the health of their children’s spiritual lives (Dollahite, 1998). Investigators found that a woman alone can only be effective to a limited degree. They discovered that it mattered little how devout or persistent the woman in the household was, if the man was not living their faith overtly and was not as respectful in their duty to encourage faith, their children were most likely to fall away from their faith and live it at most in a lukewarm manner. Where are the fathers of Ireland? What great responsibility they have. Do not take lightly these words:
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come” (Matthew 18: 6-7)
Take heed of the words of Christ to Saint Faustina about lukewarm Catholics:
“These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: ‘Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.’ For them, the last hope of salvation is to flee to My mercy.”
The responsibility of a man is so very great. So why is that responsibility not embraced? The answer is because it is too difficult and they have not the power. They have not the strength to embrace the requirements of battle, and thus, they reject the calling of their own masculinity. Is this harsh?
Catholicism is not easy. As we know well it is as easy as passing a camel through the eye of a needle. This is the reason so many reject it or “lave it tae the women”. And yet, was it feminine for Christ Jesus to embrace a cross after being lashed to the point of death. Was it feminine for him to trail that cross to the pinnacle of a mountain being beaten and kicked every step, knowing that his death was imminent. His very example demonstrates the difficulty of the path for He clearly said to all men “pick up your cross and follow me”. In Christ’s masculine action the devil was defeated. In the same way it is through our masculine actions that evil will not touch our families.
Make no mistake, men, we fight in a war. It is easier to fall into sinful behaviors, to ignore the needs of others, and our duty to those under our charge. Being bad is not difficult. The greatest war is obtaining perfection. It is almost impossible. Most men give up or become indifferent; how unmanly. If we are not struggling, we have been defeated. How detestable a man who succumbs to his base desires: anger, envy, lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, pride.
Saint (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina refused to be conquered. As he lay dying he beckoned:
“Bring me my weapon” (His rosary)
He understood that time when battle is most savage. It is at the moment of death, your last moments, when satan strives to snatch you away. With all his might, Pio petitioned the forces of heaven, all the angels and saints, to protect and enter combat for him. The devil hates the rosary. When you start to pray and seek to live your life in union with Christ your King you will find that the most ferocious of attacks, in the form of desires to sin, will seize you. It is at those times you must meld yourselves with heaven and employ all resources Christ has placed at your disposal, your weapons. Live them well, live them often:
The Rosary (The Blessed Virgin Mary)
The Holy Eucharist (Jesus Himself)
The Holy Angels and Archangels
Without these powerful intercessory vehicles you will be powerless to resist and you will fail. satan knows that if he can eliminate masculine presence he can defeat the family and the family’s destruction is his ultimate goal because the family is a reflection of the Holy Trinity and the building block for all society, physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is why we see so many voracious attacks upon the sanctity of the family in our modern world, and now sadly in Ireland, through abortion, gay marriage, contraception, divorce, infidelity, pre-marital cohabitation to name only six. It is the charge of the man to stand up and confront these evils with all their being. But do not be afraid for, in Christ, you have all the protection you require and Christ cannot be defeated. His promise to Peter:
“Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.”
Strengthen yourselves, your brothers, your wives and children. Become the men you were born to be.
A prayer of protection:
“Spirit of our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Most Holy Trinity, Immaculate Virgin Mary, angels, archangels, and saints of Heaven, descend upon me. Please purify me, Lord, mold me, fill me with Yourself, use me. Banish all the forces of evil from me, destroy them, vanquish them, so that I can be healthy, do good deeds and think good thoughts.
Banish from me all spells, witchcraft, black magic, malefice, ties, maledictions, and the evil eye; diabolic infestations, oppressions, possessions; all that is evil and sinful, jealousy, perfidy, envy, lust; physical, psychological, moral, spiritual, diabolical ailments.
Burn all these evils in hell, that they may never again touch me or any other creature in the entire world.
I command and bid all the powers who molest me — by the power of God all powerful, in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary — to leave me forever, and to be consigned into the everlasting hell, where they will be bound by Saint Michael the archangel, Saint Gabriel, Saint Raphael, our guardian angels, and where they will be crushed under the heel of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.”
Dollahite, D. C. (1998). Fathering, faith, and spirituality. The Journal Of Men’s Studies, 7(1), 3-15. doi:10.3149/jms.0701.3
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