If I were to ask my parents if they knew what love is I am quite positive I would get an entirely different answer than if I were to ask a young couple in their college years. The word "love" is bantered about carelessly, even though many are afraid to either admit their love or to speak it out. Love can mean so many things to so many people...it can have theological and philosophical meanings...even Popes have written documents on love.
So what can I add by entering into the fray? Not much in the big picture, but when it comes to men living out their calling to imitate Christ in their homes, it means defining a very specific goal and action for that role. You see, men, as called by God to act as the priest, prophet, and king in their home are called to a very specific goal of their love. This goal, this end game is to see all of our family one day in Heaven. This goal, this ultimate end, is also the ultimate good, the Beatific Vision as it is called by theologians should guide all of our actions in the home.
Recently I was asked what I thought about video games in the home. When judged by the ultimate goal of eternity with our Heavenly Father, the answer seems clear to me. Unfortunately this clarity is not shared by many. The reason for this may be that many still have a somewhat worldly way of looking at things...I know I suffer from this quite often. Take for instance my post during the spring in which I confessed "motorcycle lust"; how does purchasing, riding, and enjoying the two-wheeled beast help me obtain my ultimate goal? If I am honest I will say that it won't, in fact, it could be a great hindrance to me achieving my goal.
Back to the video games. This, of course, is a question faced by many christians these days. Entertainment of all sorts is thrown at us in a constant barrage...sports, games, electronics, movies, parties....only the strongest ones make it through unscathed (and I don't claim to be one of them). These things are like grenades thrown into the home, if we don't thrown them out they are going to blow up and wreak havoc on our family. Why do I call them grenades? Well, let's go back to how we judge the worth of something, does it help us and our family obtain our goal of eternity with God? In my mind, video games are the most clear...if anything they steal a soul away from Christ by initiating the child into immoral fantasy where killing, maiming, stealing, and gore are acceptable. It also draws them into an unreality, ie, driving, sports, fighting, etc, all without having to lift more than a thumb. I have even heard a child state that he was great at football, even though he never actually played outside of his family room! Once confronted with the reality of slippery grass, flying pigskins, boys larger than himself, and the need to run, jump, throw, and catch...he was totally flumoxed.
So the grenade is that thing that forced its way into the home, blows up, all to the destruction of the home and its members, in this case, video games.
Now back to love. As men we show our love in many ways, but the most important is to "love" our wife and children into Heaven. While kisses and hugs, flowers and presents may get us a listen from our family, in the end, our leadership, our Christ-like bearing, our sacrificial manliness will be the greatest help to our family. In these times it is like a heavy snowstorm leaving three feet of snow on the ground. The true TMM man will shovel the path to clear a way for his family, and then guide his wife to the path, going before her, and then he will call his children, guide them, and at times carry them along the path. Is this what we do? or do we just throw them into the snow?
The battle for purity is life-long and involves numerous skirmishes...some won, some lost. One must first face up to the fact that purity requires manly strength and commitment to the battle. One can never shy away from the battle, or indeed the battle is lost.
This battle for purity may be likened to defending a castle stronghold. How so? Well first, if we are true men of Christ we should, by our faith and life of grace built a strong wall of defense in our life. This involves disposing of the enemy so that he no longer is able to abide within our castle (or cloister?). This wall is also our insulation from the onslaught of the world, meaning that we have pushed the world from our souls in a way that keeps our kingdom free from its influence. This wall of defense is built stone by stone through a lifetime of gracefilled commitment to Christ and faithful living out of the call of our King.
Secondly, the wall is only as defensible as its points of entry. Do we leave our castle vulnerable by leaving the gate wide open and unguarded? Are the sentries on guard and walking the top of the wall and turrets to keep an eye out for advances of the enemy? Is our castle supplied with the necessary provisions to endure a siege of the Enemy? Have we added defenses to our wall to ensure the impenetrability of our fortification?
These questions related to the battle for purity should make us think that a castle's defense is only as strong as its weakest point of entry. The famous Trojan Horse allowed the enemy to penetrate within the city's fortified walls. If our gate is unbolted and unguarded, our castle shall soon fall. In other words, are entire spiritual life can come crashing down in one instant by failing to bolt the gate...by failing to keep watch! Who among us has not experienced the frustration of a committed life of grace thrown away on a fleeting moment of weakness?! That is a lost battle.
Most often, it is not a great struggle, but rather a shock, as if we didn't see it coming...why, usually because the little acts of faith, hope, and charity had given way to little acts of selfishness, laziness, pride, and self-love. We fail to bar the gate when we refuse to do the right, and most often hard thing by choosing instead to hang on to selfish comforts like entertainment (think TV, movies, music etc.) Watching a 2 hour movie causes a man to embrace pacifism for a brief moment and allow his virility to be squandered on fantasy. Four hours of watching football also wastes a man's energy and virility and something fleeting and meaningless. These seemingly "little" things slide the bolt back on the castle gate, leaving it wide open for the entrance of the Enemy.
While the gate may be bolted, if the wall is not watched and a sentry posted, the wall runs the risk of being overrun. While a strong wall is a great benefit in the battle, the Enemy can easily scale it with his machines of war. We may keep our wall strong by avoiding fruitless entertainment, and by building a strong wall through faith and penance, but without the sentry all may be lost. The "sentry" is a life of prayer and study. Prayer, as Christ hinted to in the Garden of Gethsemane, is watchfulness. By dedicated time and effort to our relationship with Christ we grow more watchful for the little attacks of the Enemy. If we were to fall asleep and not keep watch with Christ, as did Peter and the other apostles, we run the risk of losing site of the vision Christ has for us. We may run away, just as Peter and John did, when attacked.
Men, the bottom line is this: The battle is won through little means. The skirmishes and attacks will continue until the day we breathe our last. These battles require our fortifications to be strong, but also our preparations to be wise. If we tend to the "small" things, our victory is assured. FIGHT ON!