Fr. Robert McTeigue, SJ, writes that the world suffers for lack of Godly men . . .
What do you want for Christmas? No doubt you’ve been asked that question many times in recent weeks, and you have surely asked that question of your family and other loved ones.
I want to pose another question: “What do you want for Advent?” To some, that question is scarcely intelligible. Let me ask it this way: “What would you like to receive from the Lord, and what would you like to offer Him?”
To answer those questions, let’s turn to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pastor who heroically resisted the Nazis. “A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes — and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside — is not a bad picture of Advent.”
Waiting for the door of freedom to be opened, waiting to be liberated from our captivity, from our limitations — those are very fine images of Advent. We’re like Lazarus in the tomb, waiting to be called forth. But once the prison door is opened, what shall we do with our undeserved second chance? I want to relate those Bonhoeffer-inspired questions to my earlier query: “What do you want for Advent?” To answer that, I would like to address primarily men.
My brothers, what I want for Advent is to be freed to unite with a strong company of Godly men, men who know that they are called to be husbands, fathers, priests and heroes. I want to walk out of the tomb into the light with other Godly men who are ready and eager to use their God-given manly freedom and strength to stand up for the honor of faith, family and community.
Our nation, our Church, our culture, and our communities suffer from the lack of such Godly men. Why do we lack such men? To answer that question, consider these words from French Cardinal Louis Pie (1815-1880) and his Christmas homily of 1871:
“Is not ours an age of mis-lived lives, of un-manned men? Why? Because Jesus Christ has disappeared. Wherever the people are true Christians, there are men to be found in large numbers, but everywhere and always, if Christianity wilts, the men wilt. Look closely: They are no longer men but shadows of men. Thus what do you hear on all sides today? The world is dwindling away for lack of men; the nations are perishing for scarcity of men, for the rareness of men. I do believe there are no men where there is no character; there is no character where there are no principles, doctrines, stands taken; there are no stands taken, no doctrines, no principles, where there is no religious faith and consequently no religion of society. Do what you will; only from God you will get men.”
We need real, Godly men. What we see around us is a generation of not men but merely “boys who shave” — males who are unwilling to shoulder the cross of being a true man, a man who sacrifices, leads and provides. We suffer from a lack of men willing to take responsibility for the children they beget, for the women who love them, or for the civil liberties they enjoy. They’re not the entire problem, but these Peter Pans who live in their parents’ basements, spending their days smoking dope, watching porn, and demanding a free ride are surely not now ready to be part of the solution.
What is the solution? First, we must turn to the Lord and cry out, we must clamor for our liberation, we must ask for the cells and tombs of our lives to be opened. Second, we must obey the call to emerge from the darkness and live as free men, men made in the image and likeness of God — men redeemed at a terrible cost and consecrated for a greater glory. Finally, all of us — men and women, young and old — must prepare our boys to be Godly men. We can begin to do so by honoring the heroic fathers of our past and present; we can do so by proclaiming Jesus who is true God and true man; we can do so by insisting again and again that God is a great and loving Father.
What should we want for Advent? We should turn to the Lord and ask Him to liberate males and call them to be Godly men who can provide for, protect, and serve all who are entrusted to their care. And when we see the blessings that flow from Godly men who have become true husbands, fathers, priests and heroes, then we can echo the words of the psalmist: “The plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of his heart, through all generations.”
FR. ROBERT MCTEIGUE, SJ, is a professor of Philosophy at Ave Maria University.