On Men Being Pastors of the Home

Our society is increasingly confronted with destructive cultural philosophies and principles (or lack thereof). We could go through the litany of vices popular culture espouses but most of them stem from the simple fact that our culture encourages people to lead a purposeless or shallow life. If one asked the average American what the purpose of life is, likely they will reply “to be happy”. Of course being happy is a great thing but saying happiness is your life’s purpose is basically answering “I dunno, I never really thought about it”.

The pervading culture is a destructive force and it loves purposeless people because they are easy targets to suck money and effort out of. As with any destructive force, people, especially children, need a safe haven where they can be healthy and recharge themselves before going back into the world every day. Children need a place safe where virtues are taught and talents are nurtured. The natural safe haven is the home, not just for children but for everyone in the family. But for a home to be a safe haven for the minds, bodies, and souls of family members, it has to be set up that way by the parents. It doesn’t just magically happen.

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A quote being shared on Facebook that sums up today’s prevailing mantra. (Full disclosure: I love Bill Murray)

Unfortunately many of today’s parents are still children themselves. This is a problem especially in the upcoming parents of the Millennial generation (my generation). Lacking purpose in their routines, lifestyles, and goals, they are unable to create a home culture that contrasts popular culture.

‘Modern’ men are either too deflated, obtuse, or bashful to step into their natural position as a leader. Our culture tells us that any sort of “roles” in the context of marriage are offensive and archaic. We are told that masculinity is inherently oppressive. So what do most unprincipled men with little defined purpose do? They simply exist. Many are active in their family but only insofar that’s acceptable to popular culture. They let the culture change them instead of seeking to change the culture within their home.

I know many good guys who are husbands and fathers but hold no opinions on married life or parenthood. Many men can talk for hours about sports, hobbies, TV shows, and other extracurriculars but cannot coherently explain why they celebrate Christmas. Many of these men are punctual for things like dinner reservations, sports events, or movies, but cannot imagine committing to making it to Mass on Sunday. There are many good men that have been duped into believing they serve little beyond seeking personal happiness and, when convenient, helping their family be ‘happy’. In turn, the children find it very hard to break this pathetic cycle when they grow up. So what can be done?

The Solution

As we see in the marriage between Jesus and his Bride–the Church–there are indeed ideal roles for the two leaders of a family. The mother is called to be the ‘heart’ of the household. She embodies the subjective tenderness and love of the Holy Spirit. She, like the Church, gives to each of her children as according to their very specific needs. So what is the father? Well, he is the head of the household. Politically incorrect, right? But a heart needs a head just as much as the head needs a heart. There needs to be an objective beacon to help navigate love and tenderness in the proper direction. Tenderness without objectiveness is corrosive sentimentalism but objectiveness without tender love is overbearing.

son-learning-from-his-dad-how-to-shaveI submit that we need a renaissance of purposeful and strong husbands/fathers to be spurred by the awesome and manly example Christ set for marriage/family. If it’s true that the family unit is the “domestic church” as Saint John Paul II often stated, there must be a pastor of this church. There is, the father. It is up to them to guide their family’s spiritual life as a pastor would. The family is where a man can most appropriately and efficiently exercise the duties assigned to him at baptism, that of a prophet, priest, and king. It is urgent that men fight the spiritual apathy that resides within them and, in turn, their families. It is urgent that men find their purpose in the vocations of marriage and fatherhood and navigate their spouses and children to heaven.

If, as society still seems to agree, men are well suited as the protector of their family, they mustn’t only protect their family from physical threats. They must step up as and protect their loved ones from the far more pervasive spiritual encroachments. There’s countless hazards that seek to devour the family and it is the father’s primary job to keep them safe.

The Household Pastor: Prophet, Priest, King

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Of course, the first step for men is to get themselves spiritually healthy(er). If a man cannot walk what he talks, his family will know. How can he encourage the spiritual life of others if he has none himself? It’s hard to help people on an airplane until your own oxygen mask is first secured–don’t you pay attention on vacation? Only once men understand the importance of the interior life and the Church in their own routines are they able to help their family grow.

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  • Be a prophet. A prophet is somebody who simply helps reveal the truth of God. They seek to educate others. Fathers can combat popular culture by explaining to their children the Christian roots behind nearly everything around us. They can teach their children about Christmas and the other secularized holidays. Scripture can be read in the household and applied to real-life situations. Early on, fathers can teach their family how to pray. It’s important fathers learn about their faith so questions can be answered as they arise and if they don’t know the answer they should educate themselves immediately so they can provide one (I can’t stand ‘not knowing’, myself). They should strive to understand their family’s needs through a commitment to listen thoroughly to them.
  • Be a priest. A priest, by definition, is a person who makes sacrifices. Priests connect people to God through prayer, sacrifice, and witness. Men need to pray and fast for their families. Men sacrifice for their family by giving up many of the things that appeal to them so that the people around them can be more comfortable and healthy. Providing witness is also essential. Men can lead by example by being the first in line for confession, they should offer a glimpse of their own prayer life by not being bashful, they should show their children how to behave at Mass and how to receive Christ with reverence. Men should strive to carry their crosses with grace and joy–a reminder I need often!
  • Be a king. A king is someone who leads. A good king is someone who leads with humility and love as Jesus taught. Jesus, the King of Kings, calls us to be gentle, loving, assertive, and virtuous leaders. A father should be at the service of his family rather than the other way around. The Catholic Gentleman summed it up very well:

“It is not chest thumping domination. It is not forcing others to submit to your needs and wants. It is the exact opposite—it is washing your family’s feet.

Put another way, kingship means embracing the lowliest and most thankless tasks. It means changing diapers, taking out the trash, listening to your wife and understanding her feelings and concerns. It means patiently teaching your children virtue through example and loving discipline. It means washing the dishes and rocking a screaming baby. It means leading by example, never asking of your family something you are not willing to do or have not done already. In short, it means laying down your life for those entrusted by God to your care.”

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Finding purpose is the key to living fruitful and truly happy lives. Men must stand up and fight against the attempts to demoralize and desensitize fathers. Chances are that if you’re reading this, you need none of these reminders, so reach out to your buddies that might need some help being the best husband and father they can be in their own families. Ask them what the purpose of their marriage and family is. It’s said that we cannot keep our faith unless we give it away, we can start with our friends.

Saints Joseph and Michael the Archangel, please pray for the strength of Christian men, that we may have the grace to be virtuous, loving, and strong pastors to our families. Amen.

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Saint Joseph, the model father, and Jesus Christ, the model prophet, priest, and king.

[WATCH] Christians Recount ISIS Takeover in Mosul

There’s a very powerful new video being shared that features nine Middle Eastern Christians describing what it was like when ISIS invaded their home city of Mosul–Iraq’s second largest city–on June 9, 2014.

One business owner in the video tells of his father being held by ISIS for $100,000 ransom. To save his father from being brutally killed, he could either pay the money (which he didn’t have) or convert to Islam. After selling his house, car, and shop he was able to pay the ransom before fleeing with his family.

These people are inspiring. Their faith is incredible. One man movingly states, “you feel joy when you are being persecuted for Christ.” These people had everything they had taken from them through violence and terror. They watched family and friends being killed in brutal fashion. They watched their livelihoods vanish and future dissolve. And, while admitting it is difficult, their message is still of forgiveness and love. Not the shallow sentimentalism and infatuation that passes for love in much of the Western world, but true love as concern for someone’s soul and salvation.

How would we react in the face of this terror? Is our faith strong enough to pick up the heavy cross we are called to carry by Jesus?

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

-Matthew 5:10

 

‘The Drop Box’ Shows Superhuman Fatherly Love

Netflix just added The Drop Box and everyone should see it. This documentary features protestant minister Lee Jong-rak and his wife at his church called Jusarang (“God’s Love”) in South Korea. After having a son with severe disabilities and having to sell their home to pay the medical bills, Lee and his wife began making it their mission to take care of other children that society deemed unnecessary in a country that has high rates of abandonment, often ending in death. People began leaving babies at the front of Jusarang (also their home) and the couple would care for them–some with mental or physical disabilities, some not. Because some children would be left in the cold, he created a “drop box” that people could safely place their baby in. Sometimes it would be an injured child or, in one case shown, it was a baby just an hour old still with blood and an umbilical cord attached. He said he has cut so many umbilical cords he can’t keep count anymore.

The love that is displayed for these children can only be described as Christ-like. Taking care of your own child with a disability is very hard and takes extreme patience and sacrifice–how many people could do that for a stranger’s child? Lee and his wife feed, clothe, and care for all the children. Some stay with them for a long time, some get adopted. Their house has become a sort of large family. They giggle, play, and roughhouse with their “siblings” there. They are given a joyful life. They call Lee “papa”. They are kept warm. They are healthy. They are happy. They are raised in a prayerful and grateful Christian household. They have real futures.

Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.

-Ps 27:10

His and his wife’s story is an amazing display of God’s love working through people. There’s sad moments in the film but they are balanced out by tearful joy the viewer feels thanks to the redemptive power of the love this couple shows for every single child that is placed at their doorstep. In fact, it’s so moving that the director of this film was moved to conversion after making the movie (link below). Check out the trailer above for an idea of what it’s like.

Read more about this film:

NCRegeister: ‘Baby Box’ Shows God’s Love

LIFESITE: When he began shooting a film on a pastor saving disabled babies, he had no idea God was planning to save him

An Open Letter to My Father this Father’s Day

Dear Dad,

As I celebrate my first Father’s Day as a father myself, I am better able to reflect on the blessings in my life. Much can be said on the paramount importance of a good father in the formation of a boy, but this post isn’t to address that important issue. This is a letter highlighting the paramount importance of you in my formation.

Growing up I had assumed all fathers were similar. I thought, aside from a few exceptions, every boy had to deal with a dad who always wanted to know what they were up to, how they were doing, made them sit down to family meals, corrected them when they were wrong, or embarrassingly told them “I love you”. I saw your seeming obsession of being there as a perpetual nuisance. I rolled my eyes when you were there for me doing something good and I scowled when you were there for me doing something not-so-good (which was much more common). For a while I viewed you as my archenemy. You too often stood in the way of me doing the things I wanted to do. You were the face of the stubborn facts of life. And despite the cliché, I had no problem taking it out on the messenger: You. I argued with you, I rebelled against you, and I disowned you. There were times you must have thought I was hopeless, but you never gave up. Thank God.

Continue reading

Qdoba Employee: Despair Need Not Apply

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

-Matthew 25:40

Ridge Quarles is like the Michael Jordan of the burrito world. No, not because he doesn’t rip the tortilla when trying to wrap my double portion of meat, it’s because of what someone (Dr. David Jones) caught on camera while he was working.

A customer with a disability ordered a burrito and needed help enjoying her meal. Like the badass that Ridge is, he went toe-to-toe with despair. Despite being submerged in our culture that seeks to desensitize us to the pain and needs of people around us, his heart has not been hardened, he is a man capable of tangible love of neighbor. Like a true gentleman, he didn’t wait for someone else to step up to the plate, he took action himself: “if I wasn’t going to do it, no one was”, he said.
Read the full story here.

“[I] helped her through line and sat her out in the lobby, got her a drink, got her utensils and a napkin and kind of started to walk off. And I was like, you know, ‘Is there anything else I can help you with?’ And she turned around and she was like, ‘Sir, if you don’t mind, could you help me eat?’”

“He didn’t stop to think about, ‘Well, should I help her? Should I not?’ He just went over, put the gloves on and started feeding her,” Dr. Jones said.

I’m going to stop writing now because I got some dust in my eye that I have to get out. . .

If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart…

-St. John Paul II