For all of the very pleasant, feel-good things Jesus said, there seem to be just as many challenging requests that we often prefer to keep a little distance from. We love to quote, “Be not afraid.” We are a more little hesitant to re-tweet, “Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42) As faithful Christians, we have to be willing to wrestle with both.
Our saints are no different.
St. Josemaria Escriva once said,
“I find my pleasure in doing thy will, my God, and thy law dwells deep within my heart.”
That is a perfect topic for a blog post. He also said,
“Compromise is a word found only in the vocabulary of those who have no will to fight.”
That one might not go over so well around the watercooler. However, I find that when I read St. Josemaria, it is his challenging quotes that stand out to me.
“‘The life of man upon earth is warfare.’ So said Job many centuries ago. There are still some easygoing individuals unaware of this fact.” (St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way)
My previous pastor gave a homily in which he said something very similar that still resonates with me. He told us one Sunday that when we arrive at the gates of heaven, we should not look as though we just stepped off a cruise ship.
We should look as though we are soldiers returning from battle.
As Christians, we know that we have something greater than this life waiting for us, but getting it is not necessarily going to be easy. Jesus also said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.” (Matthew 10:34) There are certainly many wonderful pleasant things we get to experience in the Christian life, but sometimes the Christian life sets us upon a battlefield, and we must be ready to fight.
“There is need for a crusade of manliness and purity to counteract and undo the savage work of those who think that man is a beast. And that crusade is a matter for you.” (St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way)
Men, one of the battles that is set before us is that which our culture has begun calling “toxic masculinity.” While this is a hot topic now, it is not a new problem.
St. Josemaria wrote The Way in 1934. Even longer ago, Jesus said, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) Too many people would view manliness and purity as opposing forces in this fight, but those are exactly the combination of tools, or we might say weapons, St. Josemaria calls us to use.
Our society tends to view masculinity only in its need to have dominion over things.
Our faith reminds us that this aspect of masculinity must always be hand-in-hand with the responsibility to protect those things entrusted to us. We find this responsibility in purity, and it is not opposed to masculinity. It is just as necessary to it as dominion. It is purity that will counteract our culture’s misunderstanding of manhood.
I think it is fitting now to close with a quote that strikes a good balance between quotable and challenging.
“Christian optimism…is an optimism that leads us to make demands on ourselves, to struggle to respond at every moment to God’s call.” (St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way)
Our faith is always calling us to action. Sometimes those acts are easy and sometimes they may be hard. Regardless, it is my daily duty as a Christian to wrestle with whatever is placed before me and know that Jesus walks with me in all of it.