"It is the anti-Christian ideologies of secularism and liberalism - embodied in the modern state and promoted by the mass media - that have directed the attack upon the traditional familial order. These ideologies, inherently materialistic and therefore at least in practice atheistic, hold that the state is the highest, in fact, the only legitimate authority that exists. As a corollary to what is tantamount to the deification of the state, an absolute code of morality ensues where man is viewed purely as a political being and his good defined exclusively in terms of political rights. And the issuance and bestowal - or rescinding - of these rights are the exclusive domain of the state. It is the state, not God, from which these rights are seen to originate; and it the state, not man's nature in the image of God, which defines these rights" TMM, Dilsaver pg 167
Traditional familial order in these disturbing days can often be buried under the issue of one man and one woman marriage. However, seen in the light of biblical history, we are speaking of a more richer understanding of the family and the hierarchy establishes a proper order. For to speak of family without a hierarchy is to speak of a family in disorder. This disorder comes directly from the denial that there is a God-established duty for each member of the family, and that in failing to fulfill this duty is to fail in truly being "family".
Destruction of the traditional family is not the result of same-sex marriage, but same-sex marriage is the result of the destruction of the traditional familial order. Let's face it, if families were functioning and beautiful order carried out in the majority of families, it would perpetuate itself. However, each member of the modern family seeks his or her own rights, goods, and way. No longer does the family function as a cohesive whole, in which each member sacrifices for the others. Fathers selfishly seek wealth and power in the workplace forfeiting their kingly dignity for wage-slavery. Mothers abandon sacrifice and selfless service of the family for increased wealth, entertainment, and control. Children are thrown to the wolves through over-involvement in modern sports and activities that promote selfish individualism and fame over humble development toward their ultimate goal of eternity with God the Father. These perversions are the root of the current state of the redefinition of marriage, and these are what the modern state and culture have peddled to the world over the last 100 years.
Why has the destruction of the family been on the agenda of the state? As Dr. Dilsaver states, it is the goal of the state to gain power and claim sole arbitration over rights and authority. By disrupting the order of the family authority structure, the state is able to supplant the father as the guide and leader. The state becomes the sole authority that every member of the state goes to, to decide what is right and wrong. This can be seen in the power of the modern state education system, that daily gains more and more time and power over the children forfeited to it. The behemoth now feeds them three meals a day, bandages their injuries, indoctrinates them, provides counseling and health care, and then attempts to "educate" them for future productive roles in society. Teachers view parents, and especially fathers, as threats to their authority, and will either politely snub their leadership, or outright tell them, "I know better for your child - after all I spend more time with them every day!"
As the political powers pretend to quarrel over the so-called issues of the day, let us return our focus to our own area of responsibility - our family. What we need is the power of Elias, "that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people" (Luke 1:17). So many seek to place more and more power into the hands of the politicians, on both sides of the aisle, that the state is assured to gain the power it seeks. The only answer to the issues of the day, is a turning of the hearts of men to true Christian Manhood, true leadership, and true kingly, priestly, and prophetic fatherhood.
"The lesser of two evils." It's a phrase bantied about in politics, education, business, ok, well in just about every aspect of life. This phrase is used to justify just about anything that might go against my ideas and philosphy of life, but seemingly demands a decision. I use the word justify loosely, for is there really any justice in choosing an evil?
As men we are constantly bombarded with decisions that demand a response. The challenge for many is to see that there may be more than just the two options presented...there may be a third way. Although many may think I am refering to politics, lets take a real life scenario that may be presented to a father in a properly patriarchal family: sports. What is a father to do when deciding how much his children will be involved in sports?
One might see that there are two options, either my children play in organized sports or they do not. If they do, that means practices and games which may conflict with family meals and religious observances. If the children are not involved in sports, well, they may be deprived of the physical outlet for excess energy and the learning experience of playing on a team. These two options are all many parents will ever consider. But wait, could there be a third or fourth option?
Let's face it, many of us just don't put the effort into thinking through these things until we learn that our child learned some new four letter words or worse yet, was exposed to some evil on a peer's cell phone while traveling with the team. We seem to be more concerned with being perceived as overprotective or controlling by other parents than holding a true standard of goodness in our homes. God forbid that our child would be deprived of the great learning experience of playing tee-ball!!!
So what is a father to do? The decision always has to start with our eternal goal in mind. What benefit is this to my child's soul and eternal salvation? What is the effect on the child's soul by opting out? The next step is to face our own insecurity and baggage - Why do I want my child to play midget football? Why do I feel like I am neglecting my child's welfare by choosing to not enroll him in the local soccer league? While this sports discussion is just an example, this decision making process goes for most every decision related to my family's welfare. Do I make decisions for the eternal good of all or am I earth-bound and making decisions based on worldly concerns?
Of course, the really hard part is facing the consequences of our decisions. Am I seeing my college-age child distancing himself from the faith because of his sports performance anxieties? Am I able to embrace the cross of children playing around the house, rather than farming them out to some volunteer soccer coach?
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?
Lately, I have been really busy. Spring has sprung and with it...LIFE! With the end of the school year comes vegetable gardens, chicken butchering, the ongoing battle with taming the weeds on our little corner of the 28 acres, and the inevitable run-in with ticks, bees, and dive-bombing barn swallows. This is also the time designed by God for us to pray the traditional novena to the Holy Ghost.
Spring always has a powerful effect on me. I chalk it up to my farming ancestors and the need to work harder and longer during these weeks of planting. The windows of opportunity to get seed in the ground are small, and the farmer is ever aware of the quality of the soil and sun. Spring is the time God has set for planting, not only in the field of the earth, but also in the field of eternity. We celebrate the joy of Easter, but ultimately, the Holy Ghost is coming to finally give life to the seed that was planted on Good Friday ("unless a seed falls to the ground and die..."). Pentecost is the great feast of establishing the Kingdom of God in the power and courage that was hidden in the hearts of Peter, John, and the rest of the Apostles.
I have often had a problem with those that have called recent years or events, "a New Springtime". Whether it was Pope John Paul II calling for a new springtime in the Church or those calling the modern revolutions in the east, the Arab Spring. It always struck me as odd...in the Church it seemed like the hem was coming loose and more and more dissent was becoming metastasized in the Church (think Georgetown today?!) How was this a Springtime? As to the Arab Spring, well, it may well become a Christian Autumn in the Middle East. All of this being said, I have recently reflected upon springtime and may see what the Holy Father was trying to inspire.
Springtime is a time for planting, fertilizing, growth, new life, etc, etc etc. To use some old scholastic philosphical terminology, Spring is the great time of potentiality. The seed holds within it potential to become a verdant head of lettuce. The egg holds within it the potential to become a chick, then a full grown chicken, and then dinner for my family. The Apostles held this potentiality in themselves from Christ breathing on them in the upper room. We hold potentiality within us from our Baptism to become all that God desires of us. As Christian men, we hold within ourselves the great potential to become the priest, prophet, and king of our family and of turning our little corner of the world to the good God that has made us.
All of this potential is what ultimately makes Spring great. I often laugh at the image of the pessimistic farmer (yep, they are all around). What is funny is that, although he may be pessimistic, he still tills...he still plants...he still fertilizes...and yes, he still harvests the crop in due season. Many of us may also be pessimistic in our attitudes about ourselves, our kids, our wives, our families. We seem to be stuck and can't change our ways. We are stuck in our addictions to entertainment, food, pleasure, and selfishness. Spring tells us, "Don't give up...just plant some seed...watch it grow!" God is telling us, "If you have died with me, so you shall be raised up with me." All the potentiality of our Baptism is there, waiting for us to pray and act. Pentecost will see the great germination of the seed of our Baptism if only we will let it grow.
It has been some time since I sat down and dedicated my mind to this blog. Life is full having seven children, working in business, and attempting to live a full liturgical life. Just this weekend I was blessed to take my boys out for a day of work at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Elyburg, PA. The drive to and from as well as the time spent in solitude (with a chainsaw) allowed me some much needed time to reflect. I only share it here with the hopes that in some way it helps you as well as encouraging me to live this life to the full.
What I had been thinking about while lopping an enormous bush/tree was how much we need to relearn what it means to be human, to be men and women, to be saints. Many of us were not raised in homes where true masculine, spiritual leadership was the norm. Unfortunately, many of us live in a culture that is opposed to this God-honoring leadership. It is rarely taught, preached, or modeled. We may know good men. We may know good priests. And yet, we may still be longing for that model of manhood we would wish to imitate.
I could say that the message is simple, just imitate Christ. However, in our fallen nature we tend to skew the true image of Christ and make Him more like us than like God. For instance, what would Our Lord do in His home when it came to a decision to be made? Would He, trusting that His Mother was "full of grace" allow Her to make the decision; would He confer with Her to get Her opinion; or would He make the decision and then inform Her of it? These are questions that we can ask ourselves if we are really trying to be the spiritual leaders in our homes. If you are asking these questions, at least you are thinking about it. This pursuit is part of the process of us becoming the men God intends us to be. We must pray, seek, and fast.
I could also say that a simple answer is for the man to make every decision and that all must pass through him. The challenge here is one of immense conversion on the part of both man and wife. Many homes have the wife and mother as the spiritual leader and so to turn this table would take a boatload of grace. It is one thing to desire this, it is another to do it. The challenge here is that the man must take full responsibility for his decisions and the wife must humbly accept his leadership. In many ways this is what is modeled by the Church in what St. Paul speaks about in Corinthians. I think of this little nun who is called "Mother" at the Carmelite Monastery and the great responsibility she has with her spiritual family. The convent is not ruled by democracy, but is up to her spiritual and temporal leadership to grow and be fruitful. What is it about nuns that we are able to accept them being submissive to rule, while us in the world run from it.
This simple answer also is a challenge and an ideal. Is it ever fully lived? Is it ever fully realized? Let me ask another question: are we ever fully holy? While this simple answer may turn complex in us asking ourselves silly questions about if the husband needs to decide what the wife is going to eat for her midday snack, we must in some ways embrace this simplicity for it is truly a holy challenge. It requires self-sacrifice, courage, wisdom, and prudence, all of which when practiced can only help us reach our goal of holiness and heaven. Think about this for a moment...if the husband must bear the responsibility of every decision (as he truly does, whether he accepts it or not), this should produce in him an awe of this responsibility and thus lead him to seek wisdom in prayer. He may see just how much is laid upon his shoulders and thus, in prayer and fasting, seek God's will.
On the flip side, if he sluffs off this responsibility and falsely delegates it to his spouse, he may miss just how important his role and life are. He may forget how much God expects of him and think God will not hold him to account since it was his "wife's decision". For those of us in business, we know that everything that is delegated is ultimately the responsibility of the person on top of the "food chain". While I may delegate a task, it is my responsibility to see that it is done on time and done correctly. When we stand before God's throne He will not say, "Oh Chris, don't worry about that time, that was your wife's fault...I know you were busy at work and couldn't be bothered with such a frivolous decision about the spiritual life of you children!"
So, this simple answer requires a simple question. What could the harm be to attempt to learn, live, love, and grow into this ideal? You may have a laundry list, but before you allow those to make you run away, ask yourself a question: If my wife and I are going to attempt to live this ideal, and we are going to do it in prayer, sacrifice, fasting, and conversion and beg God's forgiveness and Grace all along the way - how can we go wrong?