Thursday, June 26, 2008

Esto Vir! Be a Man!

I just posted this on the Catholic Dads Blog:

Today, being the feast of St. Josemaria Escriva, I was prompted to recall what was likely the best advice I've ever received in confession.

A priest of Opus Dei, quoting St. Josemaria, once told me, "Don’t say, 'That person bothers me.' Think: 'That person sanctifies me.'" (Would that I actually put this into practice in my daily life, then I'd really be getting somewhere.)

It seems to me this advice is particularly applicable to us as dads. As the heads of our families—and thus, our domestic churches—it is we who are given the uber-important task of setting the spiritual example in our homes.

Griping and moaning about anyone or anything we find less than agreeable is so facile; any schmuck can do it without exerting the scantest effort.

But refusing to complain—now that takes fortitude. And think of the model we offer our children (and our wives) when we show patience instead of descending into bitter, angry bellyaching.

St. Josemaria again:

Don’t say, “That’s the way I am – it’s my character.” It’s your lack of character. Esto vir! – Be a man!

The two aforesaid pithy counsels are taken from an excellent book (originally published in 1982) of St. Josemaria's called The Way, of which I just came across a review titled, coincidentally, "Esto vir! – Be a man!"

In it, the writer of the article, Joseph Rendini, quotes St. Josemaria's introduction to The Way:

Read these counsels slowly.
Pause to meditate on these thoughts.
They are things that I whisper in your ear – confiding them – as a friend, as a brother, as a father.
And they are being heard by God.
I won’t tell you anything new.
I will only stir your memory,
so that some thought will arise
and strike you;
and so you will better your life
and set out along the ways of prayer
and of Love.
And in the end you will be
a more worthy soul.

Rendini then observes:

By 1975, men had in general stopped speaking to each other in this way – simple, direct, forceful but intimate, the way fathers should talk to their sons about the most important things. This manner of speaking caught my attention.

It caught mine, too. It's for this reason that I continue to return to The Way as a springboard for mental prayer, and why I frequently recommend it to others who are seeking good spiritual reading.

1 comment:

The Dutchman said...

You know what? In 1975 there was one group of men who did talk to each other that way: Communists. I don’t mean New Left types; I mean the old heavy industry and Gulags, Marx/Lenin/Stalin style communists. In my early communist training, comrades would never hesitate to speak of duty, sacrifice, obligation. One was constantly to be on the alert against falling into “Bourgeois Deviations’ (such as loose sex, boozing, consumerism) or into “Petty Bourgeois Individualism” (basically the sin of pride). Refusing to have children (and make cadres for the revolution) was simply sexual consumerism, while abortion was the murder of unborn comrades. It was a keenly felt slight to be called a “slacker.” They may have been on the wrong track, but they were real men.

I think this is why I liked communism. My parents’ secularism held nothing for me. It demanded nothing, promised nothing of lasting value, and de-valued everything masculine. As Dr. King once said, “A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.”

Some five years ago, my ex-communist, now Catholic, buddy Scott gave a copy of The Way to my son. It became his favorite book and he made me read it.