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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Courageous is Not About What But Who...

After absolving my sins, the young priest (I would say in his early to mid 30’s) gave me my penance and then turns to me, as he whips out a pen, and asked, “Do you have a piece of paper?”

Caught off guard, since I had never been asked to write anything in a confessional before, I started sifting through my wallet in search of scrap paper and wondering what in the world was he going to give me; homework?

“Here,” I hand him an old business card.

He starts writing in the back of the card and says, “I want you to reflect on the Baptism of Jesus in the Gospel. Let the words sink in and truly reflect on the moment, by which we, in our own Baptism, become part of God's family and, like Jesus, become His beloved sons and daughters." I think, great. It is homework, but cool. I could do that.

He continued, "And also, I want you to listen to a song by a group named Casting Crowns, named Courageous (check out video), and reflect on those words as well.”

“Courageous?” I had just seen a movie trailer for a film with that name. As if he heard my thoughts, he offered, “It’s also the title of an upcoming movie.”

The movie, which opens in theatres on Friday, by the creators of Fireproof, is a story about four police officers, who put their lives on the line every day but only understand what it means to be courageous, when tragedy hits their ranks. They come to realize that courageous is not about what they do but who they are and who they are meant to be.

The point of the movie, and song, is that many times we, as men, get so busy and wrapped up in our careers and self-centeredness that we neglect the things that are most important in life, namely our family. It is among the greatest factors in the high divorce rate in the U.S. and, thus, the deterioration of the American family (which has a domino effect on society).

It reminds me of a quote I have used before in my blog by Bl. Pope John Paul II, who wrote, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live in."

Let's face it, it's not easy. Since many marriages are failing, and single parent homes are becoming more prevalent than in days of old, society, especially the media, reinforces the notion that men are not needed. Women can make it and raise a "family" on their own. Kids don't need their fathers (which may all be part of a bigger agenda, but I'll leave that for another day).

All you have to do is watch the prime time TV sitcoms to see that men are reduced to nothing more than stereotypical lazy, uninvolved, immature, irresponsible, bumbling buffoons, with nothing to offer, except light humor. In recent years, some of the culprits include: Everybody Loves Ramon, According to Jim, Yes Dear, especially the brother-in-law, and, to a lesser extent, because he was not a father, King of Queens (I’m leaving out probably the granddaddy of man-mocking sitcoms, The Simpsons, because I have never been interested in watching it).

This is what our kids, especially boys, are learning as acceptable male behavior. It’s no wonder marriages are failing before they start. It’s pathetic.

Now, to join our regularly scheduled program, which is already in progress. As far as the song my confessor asked me to reflect upon, it says, “We were made to be courageous. We were made to lead the way… We were warriors on the front lines, standing, unafraid. But, now we’re watchers as our families slip away.”

Those are pretty ominous words. It made me wonder if my wife had come to Confession with the same priest before me.

Yet, as I listened a little longer, and looked up the words to the song, I realized, it’s a song of hope. It goes, “This is our resolution, our answer to the call. We will love our wives and children. We refuse to let them fall. The only way we'll ever stand is on our knees with lifted hands. Make us courageous Lord, make us courageous.”

It resonated within me. I understood why the priest wanted me to reflect upon the words. This song was written for me (and all men like me).

I am not just meant to be courageous as protector and provider. I am meant to be courageous in following my calling as head of my family. And, that means not just physically, but spiritually. I am called to be the spiritual guide of my household and to lead my family to heaven. This is who I am and what I meant to be.

It's a challenge that takes courage to fulfill and to realize I can't do on my own. Fortunately, I have confident hope that, like the voice heard over the Jordan River, almost two thousand years ago, as the Spirit descended in the form of a dove, I too am a beloved son...

Check out the trailer for the movie…

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