I have counseled many men in my life, both young and old. I have also had the great fortune to receive counsel from men of greater stature than myself. Giving advice is not something that I do lightly, as advice in of itself is free and without responsibility. The older that I get the more I tend to steer away from giving advice; not because men don’t listen, but rather that they might actually act on my counsel. What a terrifying thought.
But some things I do know, or at least I believe that I do. What I know now may in a few years be swept aside like the mists that as of this moment engulf the mountainside outside my window. But if we put nothing to keyboard for fear of wisdom being superseded then the silence will roar in its eternal void. So I type away, and I hope that I am only a little wrong as opposed to being completely mistaken.
As modern men we inhabit and are consumed by the physical world. Our spiritual selves are poor barren things, decrepit younglings that have never received suitable nourishment. But some of us are awakening to the possibilities of a spiritual side of life; of inhabiting this world as a preparation for the next. And if you are a man then you want to do things correctly. There is no point in wasting time or in following paths that are designed to lead to nowhere. And nowhere is another word for damnation.
In short, you have to get this right. It is the great test. We have to learn and to prove ourselves worthy of God. Yes, He loves us. But in the end He has also granted us the power to choose, the power to rise or fall, the power to succeed or fail, win or lose. The countless distractions of this world are our obstacles. But the greatest obstacle of all is ourselves, of our fallen human nature.
If you study the lives of the great saints then you will encounter people who both lived their lives on this earth but who strove at every moment to prove themselves worthy of God. When they had to choose, they chose wisely. They chose prudently. Their virtue overcame the obstacles deliberately placed in their path. And as such they had a much tougher time of it.
Short term pain, long term gain. Oh how I have lived by that motto in my life, and it has served me well. But the ultimate short term pain and long term gain is this life over the next. There can be no greater test than that. But how do we hold steady to this great task? How do we as men overcome the banality of daily life that so easily casts us forgotten into the void?
We pray. We pray when we rise from bed, and we pray before we lay down for the night. We set the tone and thus we sing the proper song. We pray the Rosary during the day. We go to Mass. We pray before each meal. We offer a homily when we pass a church or a crucifix on the road. We remind ourselves on a constant basis because this world is designed to make us forget.
And we lead. First of all, we lead ourselves, that is what I have described above. Then we lead our families. And if we are so predisposed, then we also lead our communities. We do not shy away from our responsibilities but we do not glory in them either. If we must leave the tranquility of our farms and go to war then we do our duty until peace is achieved.
Every day is a battle. Every year is a campaign. Every lifetime is a war.
How do you see yourself? Do you simply exist or are you aware and active in your militant faith? To be or not to be. Every moment of every day, that is the question. If you are reading these words then you want to know. The willingness, the desire to rise above the challenge is what separates us. Our excellence in our daily lives, in the tasks that we assign ourselves, in the burdens that we bear, all of this is what makes us worthy of God. We were born men, and so we were given the ultimate responsibility. Don’t shy away from it. Rather, grasp it with both hands and level the ground before you. History is not over, far from it. In two hundred years the men of the future will be fantasising that they might have lived in our own time. Make the most of what you have.
And remember always, that in the end we do it all for His glory. So that we might be worthy of His name. What greater love than this? Praise be to God.