Father Walter J. Ciszek, S.J. - Model of Christian Manhood
Books - He Leadeth Me, With God in Russia
If you have not yet read either of Fr. Ciszek's books, you should order one now and read it. He demonstrates the ideal of Christian manliness through the suffering he was forced to undergo at the hands of his Russian prison guards. His story brings together a desire to serve God, suffering, crisis of faith, redemption, freedom, and the ability to rely totally upon God. Read it today! Learn more at http://www.ciszek.org/
"I believe in the resurrection of the body..."
So we say when reciting the Credo of our faith. I always think back to the debate we had among a group of seminarians back during my college years upon if we would have clothes on in heaven. While this type of debate might seem a bit silly and for those too involved in the theology of their faith, debates like these cut to very important beliefs that we hold.
Believing in the ultimate resurrection of our bodies sets the stage for a whole theology wrapped around this belief. For instance, why would God want us to have our bodies back at the end of time, and for eternity? Why did God assume Our Blessed Lady into Heaven, body and soul? Why did Christ rise in His Body, and why did the wounds remain for Thomas to put his hands into?
These beliefs are rooted in our pre-fallen goodness, that belief that in our original state, all was good. It is also rooted in the fact that as humans we are body and soul, not just soul as are angelic spirits, and not just bodies, as are animals. We are created as body and soul unities and at death this unity is broken. Once broken, it is considered incomplete, and thus, we believe, that on the last day our bodies will be resurrected and united once again with our soul.
Why does this matter to us souls who are still united to our "mortal coil"? It matters because, as man and woman, God created us. The modern world tries to convince us that we are all equal and the same. What foolishness! Any person with eyes and half-a brain can observe, yes, observe scientifically, that there are major differences between the sexes. It remains that God has created us male and female for a purpose. This purpose shows itself most profoundly in our procreative roles. These procreative roles are God-given, but our God-given roles don't end at the procreation of little Catholics. These gender differences also cut right to our call to holiness. In fulfilling God's procreative plan we are truly men and women. In fulfilling God's calling to us in our gender, we doing what is spoken of the wise farmer in Psalms, that in due time, the seed will flower and fruit.
Our gender determines much of who we are to be in God. By being a true man or a true woman, we are living how God wants us to live. Practically speaking this means living out of traditional gender roles.
Here are a few for modern men:
1. Establishment of Christian patriarchy in the home, and ultimately in the world through our home. This means not only being the decision maker, but having the prayer life and holiness to give a foundation to one's leadership.
2. Being the protector and provider for our family - physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
3. Embracing a penitential lifestyle - thus giving a holy basis for our role of leadership.
4. Embracing and promoting purity of life - as married men this means exclusive devotion to one's wife, remaining pure oneself, and militantly protecting the purity of one's wife and children.
5. Magnanimously giving of oneself for a higher calling as opposed to what is witnessed today as modern men are often self-absorbed and stuck in perpetual adolescence.
The more and more we are able to embrace and life out these callings, the more we are imit
It it truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God; Who didst establish the salvation of mankind on the tree of the Cross; that whence death came, thence also life might arise again, and that he, who overcame by the tree, by the tree also might be overcome: Through Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with these we entreat Thee that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted while we say with lowly praise. (Preface of the Holy Cross for Passion Sunday)
As we enter into the last weeks of Lent, we are face-to-face with the Cross of Christ and our own sinful nature. The Imitation of Christ calls this the "Royal Road of the Cross" and Dr. Dilsaver takes up this theme in relation to a man's struggle with his falleness.
"To hope when his heart is broken, to believe when all is dark, to love when that love means crucifixion, this is the call of the Christian patriarch. But long-suffering takes a heavy toll, especially on men. Fathers are charged with rectifying, alleviating, and remedying. But fathers are only human, and when they are unable to rectify, alleviate, or remedy they are pained by their failure, even if this failure is beyond their control. Men are made to fight and control a situation, and when they cannot or the effort is futile, they are often broken in spirit. But for the Christian patriarch, being broken in spirit should be seen as being broken in all self-reliance and pride. Though he be utterly devastated in his natural manhood, if the Christian says, "yes" to this devastating pain, the enduring spirit of Christ will wax within him. [...] Indeed is is the failures and defeats that provide the greatest means of sanctification and thus allow a man in the throes of this sanctifying purgation to continue to "fight the good fight" on the very deepest and most efficacious level." TMM, pg 124-125
He goes on to ask, what is defeat, and what is victory in light of the Holy Cross? In fulfilling our call to fast, pray and give alms during Lent, we are asked to be "defeated", that is, we are called to give up our food, give up our time to prayer, and give up our money and goods. In "giving up" we are becoming victorious in Christ, this is the great paradox of our faith. In dying we rise!
On the flip side of this, Christ gives us the Beatitudes that lay out for us a completely different set of values from those of the world. We are blessed if we are poor, hungry, peaceful, meek, and persecuted. Does not the world tell us that we must be rich, well-fed, successful, and famous? The Christian man must embrace these beatitudes and make them active in his life, thus setting his feet on the Royal Road of the Cross.
This Royal Road of the Cross is most lived when a man has exhausted all his own power and resources. As a father of a large family I experience this everyday, whether it be with our financial resources or my own failing energy at the end of the day. With my wife about to have our seventh child, it reminds me of the pain and suffering that my wife will endure when she gives birth - there is really nothing within my power to "rectify, alleviate, or remedy" the pain she will endure. While my wife is saying, "yes" to the pain of childbirth and awaiting the fruit of this suffering, the little newborn Fifelski, I too must learn to say "yes" and embrace her pain in the depths of my manly heart, and be compassionate, that is to suffer with her. Of course, there is no better Model of this than Our Blessed Mother, who suffered with Her Son on the Royal Road of the Cross, to the extent that it is said of Her, that she experienced all the sufferings of Her Son on the Cross in her heart, that He experienced in His Flesh.
Coepiscopi means fellow bishops. The phrase is taken from St.Augustine's address to his "fellow bishops," the familial men of his diocese of Hippo. St. Augustine said to his Coepiscopi: "Each and every one of you have in the home the bishop's office to see to it that neither his wife nor his son nor his daughter nor even his servant fall away from the truth. For they were bought with a great price."