Recently, my two youngest stood on the church steps following Mass to pose for a picture. My daughter posed like a princess and my son contorted his features into a striking semblance of a howling warrior– squatting, fists raised, ready for battle.
Our family has taken dozens of similar photos over the last twenty years of parenting eight children. It’s a study in sibling differences, but also in the nature of males and females. They are not the same.
I have been reading about the early Church and apostles and this recent photo made me think of the twelve called by Christ and all their messy zeal. They surely smelled more like fish and woodsmoke than they did of incense.
I’ve also noticed a recent increase in prayer requests from those whose husbands are struggling with their faith.
Times are difficult. On top of perpetual scandals, we now have the 2020 abandonment by spiritual fathers. New divisions, wounds, questions and pressure. Good men are struggling. Not because they are weak, but because they have lost sight of their mission in a time when evil appears as good and good as evil.
As I contemplate the apostles as real men (truly my brothers and fathers in faith), I sometimes imagine them walking into the room just as my husband would. The sound of their sandals scuffing across the floor and water running over rough hands as they return from a workday.
Real men. Not storybook characters. Their hands made fires, built shelters, and were bound by enemies. Their mouths proclaimed the Word. Their eyes fell upon the Messiah. Their hearts knew both fear, courage, grief, and joy.
It makes me think of the men of my own domestic church…
Of calluses and axes, debates and wrestling matches, night prayer, service at the altar, mealtime, division and reunion.
These thoughts help me to connect with the Church when heartache sets me adrift. Every time I hear about another McCarrick, I also hear the words of my brother, Paul…
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel…Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1?: 6-9)
What is foul and false walks among what is holy. I pray that our men will be steadfast in holding the line against that evil, and will be restored to fidelity and clarity…
We need you, gentlemen. The enemy is in the gates. Stand strong for Christ.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.
Photograph by Melody Lyons.
Editor’s note: For more on authentic masculinity, see Into the Breach by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted.