The old Funk and Wagnalls Practical Standard dictionary defines "patriarchy" in the following way, "the head of a family, the chief of a tribe who rules by paternal right; a venerable man..."
Dr. G. C. Dilsaver, in the introduction to his book on manhood states, "Christian patriarchy is a call to service and love....the authentic Christian patriarch must constantly die to himself, that is, constantly do violence to his pride and self-love: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it" (Eph 5:25)."
Thus to be a Christian patriarch in the family is to be a "venerable man" and live a life of service and sacrifice for one's bride and one's family. This is in total contradiction to the brute force of the pagan abusive husband that "puts his wife in her place" as well as contradicting the lazy and childish attitude that places all leadership of the family in the mother's lap. To be a true patriarch, the man must accept his mantle of leadership that is bestowed on him by God and live the calling to service and sacrifice. In this way, man truly develops his three part office of priest, prophet and king.
"Adolescence is the most intensive and potentially profitable period of growth in a man's life. It is a time of physical transformation, growth, and surging emotions that is properly paralleled by the development of the boy's moral powers of self-governance....Those in charge of his formation, the father foremost, must adopt an attitude that views the youth as an apprentice and initiate to manhood." TMM, Dilsaver
As fathers, if we accept this understanding that adolescence is the time of apprenticeship for manhood, we understand that we should, at all times, offer a truly integrated model of manhood to our sons and the young men around us. If we tell our boys, "Do as I say, not as I do", we are foolish to believe that they will actually do what we say. In fact, these young men will develop a keen awareness of those areas in our lives that are not lived faithfully. They will see these facades and learn to imitate them. In other words, the sins of the father, will become the sins of the son, and sometimes in a worse way.
With this understanding, adult men must strive to live lives that are authentic and worth being modeled. If we think our son's are going to turn out "better" than us, just because we want them to be better, we are fooling ourselves. So we must ask ourselves, "Is my life worth being imitated by my son?"
If the answer to that last question is in the negative, we have to ask ourselves...what do we need to change and how?!
"When Christ our Lord wished to give a sign of the intimate union that exists between Him and His Church and His immense love for us, He chose especially the sacred union of man and wife...That Matrimony is a Sacrament of the Church, following the authority of the Apostle, has always held to be certain and incontestable." Catechism of Trent
This very union of Christ and the Church offers us a dual reflection, that is, it offers us insight into both Matrimony as well as insight into the nature of the Church. This union of Christ and the Church is undeniable, as well as unbreakable. This is the why the Church has always carried the torch of Christ's teaching that marriage is also unbreakable...and does not allow for divorce. By understanding marriage we can, in turn begin to understand the Church, and vice-versa.
This is especially important when it comes to the doctrine of exclusivity. A husbands exclusive devotion to his wife reflects that of Christ to His Bride, the Church. Were a man to disavow this exclusivity, it would be as if Christ could somehow put away His Bride, the Church...to somehow disown Her. We know that this is the heresy that led to the Protestant Revolt. The a husband's exclusive devotion to his wife demonstrates to the world that Christ is faithful, and the Church will always be united to Him.
Husbands must then live this exclusivity by avoiding any type of impurity or devotion to outside pursuits apart from his wife and family. This may present itself through a inappropriate devotion to one's work, hobbies, sports, or entertainment. When a man chooses to pursue entertainment (ie, sports television, games, partying)in place of giving devotion to his wife and home, he, in a way, is saying that these are more important to him than his wife. Thus he demonstrates a break with this exclusivity.
Purity is the ultimate form of living this exclusivity in marriage today. With attacks from every direction, it becomes more and more difficult for men to live the ideal of manly purity. However, this is no excuse for lessening the challenge. Men must step up to this challenge and live it out, despite there own weakness, the vileness of the world, or the attacks that come from every direction. One must develop of life of prayer, fasting, and mortification to train oneself to resist these attacks on his manhood and his exclusive devotion to his bride. A man that fails in this, is failing to live his matrimonial vows.
The union of man and wife is sacramental. There is grace to live it, flowing from the fountain of the sacrament itself. However, one must choose to live the ideal of a truly holy, sacramental marriage by choosing to imitate Christ and His Bride the Church. In this way, we give witness to the world, of the beauty of christian marriage and of the beauty of Chr
"The Christian patriarch's pursuit of holiness must be of primary importance in his life. It is even more important than the sanctification of his family. Indeed, it is a man's pursuit of personal holiness that is the best assurance of his family's holiness." from TMM.
So you have thought and prayed about the vision for you and your family...
You have decided that some things need to change...
You are ready to start adjusting, tweeking, and remaking your life to more closely reflect your Catholic Faith...
Now just a minute. Before such changes...or maybe while you are making the changes, have you thought about a fast? Just before our Blessed Lord chose his first Apostles, he went off and prayed and fasted. Maybe we should do the same. Here are a couple of ideas I recently discussed with some fellow visionary men:
-Fasting from one meal a day
-Fasting from supper, thus you eat lunch and then don't eat until the next morning
-Fasting from meat, soda, or some other particular food (this should be done over a long period - maybe 6 months or so)
-An extended fast of just one meal each day while staying hydrated on lemonade or juice.
Once you make this decision stick with it. When you start to say, "well, maybe I can have meat today...after all I am at a business lunch with my boss...just this time", just say NO, stay committed! This will help to renew your vision and help you practice the magnanimity needed to live out the fullness