Thursday, March 10, 2011

Three Roles of a Man: Priest

All men are called to a sacrificial life. Without self-sacrifice a man’s life is utterly useless. Fathers are meant to sacrifice their lives for the Church, their wives, their children and their country. Through our labor and perseverance we are able to give our families and our society a happier, healthier life. Unfortunately, most men see their careers as what makes them who they are so they strive to be at the top of the totem pole no matter who they step on. The presentation of a “real man” in today’s society portrays men as the Machiavellian man who takes from everyone and gives nothing back. The idea of “only the strong survive” has turned into “only the strong are worthy of life”. This skewed way of looking at our masculinity is dragging whole societies and all of humanity down with it. Men are meant to give of themselves and never to ask for, or expect anything in return. The real man is the man that gives himself fully and completely to his mission, not for any vain-glory but for the completion of the mission. Priests are our ‘on earth’ sacrificial lambs. In “Persona Christae” they give themselves to the higher purpose of the salvation of their flock. In the same way lay men are called to a life of self-sacrifice and humility. An excellent example of a priest of his household for all men to look to is the story of James J. Braddock in the movie Cinderella Man. His family was going through a rough time as was his country and the only way he knew how to provide for his family was through the literal sacrifice of his body in the boxing ring. Boxing was his way of getting through the great depression. His body was old and beaten down from years of hard labor on the docks of New Jersey, yet he knew that allowing his body to go through a few more fights his children and wife could eat and have heat in the house for one more day. There is a great line in the movie when his wife asks him to give up being a boxer because there was a chance that he could get seriously hurt and his response was, “I don’t ask you to stop being a woman, please don’t ask me to stop being a man”, he realized his mission and he must follow through. When the press asked him what it was he was willing to put his neck on the line for, his simple answer was “milk”. Even though he was fighting for the providing of food and shelter, something all men must do, we also must be consumed with the mission to save our child’s soul. We are called to be fathers in the physical world, but our purpose in life is to bring our families to heaven. Fatherhood is God's gift to menin order to take these little gifts of children to mold and create into a good man or woman. We provide and sacrifice for the good of these gifts because we know, deep down inside of us, that this is what we are called to. Just as a priest provides his spiritual children the means to grace and a fulfilling spiritual life, so does a father provide the lessons in life and the example of authentic masculinity. It’s quite ironic how quickly children can make a man’s priorities go from panoramic to tunnel vision. Our souls will be judged according to our relationships with God and with other people. Jesus gave us an example to live by; He did not live for Himself, His whole purpose, His whole mission was the salvation of others. From the very beginning of His life He showed us men how to live for others and let ourselves be humbled in order to be great. He provided an example of obedience when He obeyed His earthly mother and father for thirty of the thirty-three years that he was on this earth. He provided an example of humility when He came down from heaven as God Himself to become a little helpless child and even more when He becomes bread in the sacrament of the Eucharist. He provided an example of self-sacrifice through the cross. Jesus was, and still is, the definitive man’s man. He provided blood for the sacrifice of our sins so that we could be free, free from sin. Just as our American ancestors bled for our right to freedom in this beautiful country of ours, Jesus provided the means, by blood, sweat and tears, for the freedom to enter paradise. He also provided the perfect example of intolerance of moral tyranny. The definition of a priest is “one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God”, we must give God our lives so that He can work through us. By giving our wills completely over to Jesus we not only provide the love of Jesus to our brethren but we also provide God Almighty with a tool to be used for the salvation of those brethren. Just as a priest is the mediator of the spiritual, we men are the mediators of the world for our families. Our children and our women learn about the world through us. We are the ones that allows the world to either make sense or complete nonsense. We mediate what the world is to our families, if we make the world a place of wonder, excitement and a view of Divine Beauty this is how our children will see it, if we on the other hand make the world a doom and gloom place our children will see it this way. Are we working to live or living to work? What type of example of a man in the world are we setting? Does our life represent a man willing to sacrifice in order that others may live? Do our daily actions portray a man willing to provide what is necessary for our family’s salvation? We are called to be the priests of our households and without a priest the flock will scatter. “No deep conviction is aroused in the incredulous until they see the scarred hands and the broken heart of the priest who is a victim with Christ. The mortified priest, the priest who is detached from the world- these inspire, edify and Christify souls.” – Bishop Fulton Sheen, The Priest is Not His Own

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