Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Man’s Common Questions

Reaching into the hearts of many men, I find their confusion is immense. Many are searching. Not sure where their happiness on this earth lies. Late last year, I recollect speaking with one man on the phone – accomplished in the martial arts – “Father I do not know who I am anymore….” You can only make it so long in life trying to reach one goal after another. The real questions of a man’s identity catch up with most men at one time or another. And so they ask three fundamental questions: Who am I? What am I made for? And how do I get there? These are most common because they touch what his closest to a man’s thoughts, heart, and source of happiness. This first question concerns: His identity, the second: his Mission; and third: his Journey. These are all related; hard to divide them.

As I see it, [1] every man seeks his Identity, which he wants to be anchored and secure in. [2] He wants his summons to a Mission, because he desires to know what he is made for and yearns to accomplish it. [3] And he needs to know the Journey he must take, in order to move in the direction he is supposed to go. Okay, so how does one actualize all of this? What are the steps?

Seems to me, we have to look at the heart of a man to find the answers, particularly in the beginning. The “heart” is at our core—just look at the Scriptures. It moves us, stirs us, brings out the hero in us. Doesn’t it seem right that the Creator would format our nature with inner drives to help us reach the ends for which we were designed? Seems if men do not connect with this fundamental part of them—the heart—they miss out in becoming the integrated man they should be; and well, they also lose out with achieving real happiness and the genuine bonding they were meant to experience. Otherwise, life becomes a series of goals, a set of laws, a litany of relationships….

Friday, February 6, 2009

Beloved Son is Basis for all Other Identities

We have put allot of time into the Journey of the Son. And there is reason for that. It is the basis for our further journeys, as if we were to stack them one upon the other. We move from the Beloved Son to the Loyal Brother, to the Vital Man, to the Devoted Husband, to the Strong Father, and finally, to the Veteran Sage. Sonship stands as foundational for all the others. It is the cornerstone of a man’s identity and growth. A beloved son makes a loyal brother, a beloved son and brother make a good man. And so on we stack these identities, adding each one upon the other as we move on to the identity of a husband, a father, and a sage.

Given my pastoral experience, the problems or struggles a man faces in any of these latter stages usually points back to an issue in childhood; that is, to a gap or wound in sonship. Thus, to revive or heal the son in every man is to strengthen him in each successive identity. It is easy to imagine that a wounded son is going to make a wounded man and father. And so to face one’s journey of sonship, to accept it, to put it on the path to healing, and to lift it up to God, will make any man a better man, father, husband, brother, etc.

That process of facing that journey of sonship can be complex. There are many facets of doing this…. I will be bringing some up. How start? Be still long enough to listen to your heart, wait upon God to speak, and you will be amazed at what he reveals.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Heart of the Son

Christmas is now upon us. Last time I wrote of that connection of love with our earthly fathers, and how that can affect the relationship with Our Heavenly Father, and our reception of the gifts He imparts. Ultimately, our paradigm for relationship is that love of the Heavenly Father for the Divine Son, and that love the Son returns to the Father. The Son did take flesh in time, and the Father loved Him still as a Son with humanity. And this Divine Son loved the Father not only divinely, but also humanly, with a human heart. This heart had a human journey or “formation” to be sure.

And what of our human hearts? How were they handled? The journey that our hearts have made with our parents is going to tell allot about us. This will likely define how we relate to our Heavenly Father. So, to work through this, we have to face this journey in own upbringing. In our natural perspective, we must know that we are worthy the love and gifts of an earthly father in order to be fully convinced that we are worthy of the love and gifts of the Heavenly Father. A great struggle with many. To my thinking, if you cannot get past this, you cannot move forward in life very well. And you will be held back spiritually.

If we do not face our hearts, something will always hold our soul back from the dynamic of love to which we are called. Many men I find are confused about their interior longings and frustrations of soul. And they feel trapped. There can be some relief when we come to understand certain patterns of our behaviors: the strengths and weaknesses of our father's love for us, how we respond to the love of God, how we embrace His direction in our lives, the difficult circumstances we face, the joys. Yes, it can be somewhat of a painful journey -- of looking at yourself, facing your heart and your pains, particularly in light of your journey as a son.

How do we begin this quest of facing the heart? Well, as I mentioned before, just begin speaking to your Heavenly Father. What are you to say? Well, just look at how the Divine Son spoke to His Father. Look at his words carefully, notice how He approaches Him. And maybe just imitate His style. And wait patiently for the Heavenly Father to speak back.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Greetings from Rome

My brothers, I realize it has been a while since I have e-penned some of my thoughts on the masculine journey. Sorry about that. There has been more travelling this year than I would otherwise desire to have… but an important part of getting the word out concerning a man’s identity and struggles… Sure, lots of work putting the Amator Institute together, I have been spending great amounts of time mentoring men, particularly men’s leaders… and just keeping a spiritual life in order… I often wonder how people do it all with kids! There are few greater admirers of parents than myself…. Let’s just move on from here.

For over a week I have been in Rome, and the sights, the tastes, the people, are as I have long remembered them. Two weeks total this trip. No, it is not exactly vacation time; but I have been taking time out to smell the rose—or rather, the Chianti. I came here for various things: a conference, to organize a pilgrimage, to keep various persons in the Vatican informed on what I am doing, and, also to work on the creation of the new crest I am designing for the Amator Institute, and the rings which will be made for the men involved in this work. The creator of this new crest and the rings is the same man who designed the ring for the Benedict XVI. He is excited about this project. I met him fortuitously at a dinner party two years ago.

At the Springtime of Faith conference, I spoke on “Docility to the Holy Spirit.” In the present age it is certainly a wonder how the Spirit is working, and exactly through whom. Seems the Spirit blows in many directions, and has varied ways of operating in persons… I surmised, though, that what likely blocks many from their journey with the Spirit is that lack of fathoming and realizing the cause of that “generation” of the Holy Spirit. What do I mean? Well, recall that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the love of the Father and the Son. That’s right, from this dynamic exchange of the first two Persons in the Trinity the Spirit was/is generated, in eternity. Could it be—as I posit—that many are blocked from the energetic suffusion of the Spirit in their lives because that love of the Father and the Son is something unintelligible to them? Something that they have not realized in their own lives?

Seems to me, if we—men and women—can come to appreciate the love of the Father for the Son, and the love of the Son for the Father, we can reclaim the produce of this love: the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. There is no question that minds are darkened incredibly today… and of the fruits? Well, how many do you know experience such fruits as joy, peace, chastity? And what of all twelve of them! And how many of these same persons have some kind of “father wound” or some kind of block in the relationship with their fathers that leaves them unsettled, lacking peace. How many fail to experience that approval or validation of our Father who looks kindly upon us and proclaims “You are my beloved, and in you I am well pleased.” Jesus Christ heard this a few times. If the relationship of father-child is not in good repair , the Spirit will likely have a hard time functioning! The key? The start? Well, open that dialogue to your Heavenly Father more often, be persistent in knocking at his door, and wait for Him to speak back…

I am off now to see two men officials in the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Bringing the message of the masculine journey to those even working in the Vatican is always a pleasure…. And a real “discovery” for them….

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Journey of Sonship

Okay, gentlemen, now let as look at the journey of sonship in terms of the path of mutual Glory. Let me explain. When walking with God, we should do so not for our own sakes, but for the sake of the Heavenly Father. It is the mission of the Father we are to carry out. It is His itinerary we are called to sustain—all for His glory. Spiritually, every man desires to culminate his life in honor of his father; thus, those words of Jesus resound: “I have glorified thee on earth; having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do” (Jn 17:4). Every man realizes there is something beyond himself that he is to accomplish. Whatever the mission, the Father bestows it, and it is He who is exalted when it is completed. Nonetheless, this glory, realized for the sake of the Father, was accomplished not simply in view of the work carried out by the Son, but by the Father’s own work in the Son. The glory of the Father was manifest in the Son, certainly in all His deeds, but especially in what the Father engendered in the Son. Glory was imparted to the Son to make the ultimate sacrifice, and in so doing, return the glory to His Father. “Before His death, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, 98Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee,..’” (Jn 17:1). My brothers, you are called to glorify your Heavenly Father in all your words, in all your thoughts, and in all your actions—in your particular mission. But as with the Son, this glory will be brought out foremost through the Father’s work in you. To the Father be given the credit of glory: “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my Father who glorifies me…” (Jn 8:54). Til our deaths, we will deeply yearn to give and receive this validating gift of glory. Ours is to allow it to channel both ways as best we can....

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Allright gentlemen, it is good to be back with you. In continuing the journey of sonship, and continuing to look at the paradigm of our Our Lord with his Heavenly Father, we need to look at how it is that our Lord pursued his sonship mission by carrying out the will of the Father, following His commandments, and the mission He bestowed.

Fathoming Christ’s entire life as oriented toward accomplishing the tasks and mission of His Father’s will is an integral part of divine sonship. The journey of communion with the Father is to not only know Him, but also to do what he commands. In this way, one can find that
peace and contentment he desires. “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:9-11). No question, our completeness as sons is accomplished when we realize the summons of our fathers—that one in heaven as well as on earth.

Certainly, what the Heavenly Father requires is oftentimes difficult; yet, upon our shoulders should faith be placed that the Father is with us—that He will guide us and strengthen us in the mission to which He directs us. This was the test of His only begotten Son on the journey
to Calvary. The test of the Christian man is to face the sturdiest hardships, even unto death, in obedience to the Father. “So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him” (Jn 8:28-29). What is fearsome to all men is to put that trust in God the Father that He will assist us in even the worst of trials. The way of the cross gives us that paradigm to follow; supplying the image of strength. And when we accept it, the Father is pleased.

So go now, and move forward in this part of your journey of sonship....

Friday, July 11, 2008

Remaining in Communication with the Father

Gentlemen, the journey of Sonship to Manhood to Fatherhood is not as complicated as it seems. And what I will be doing here in these weeks-months ahead is guiding you along this journey — sure with some practical steps and credible principles. Now, that journey we will be walking is your venture in sonship as grounded in your relationship with your heavenly Father. Jesus Christ provides the full and intense example.

While Our Lord walked this earth He was always in communion with His Heavenly Father. Not simply an awareness of presence, but a fullness of vision. This is a certitude of faith. While we cannot expect this fullness of vision on earth, nonetheless, ours is to strive for an open communion—as ongoing as we can get it. The connection between the Father and the Son was one of perfect communion wherein their knowledge of each other was intimate. “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son…” (Mt 11:27). Each Divine Person knows the other thoroughly; this is the ideal for every father and son.

For us, the secret to this communion with the Heavenly Father is to commence dialogue with him as a son. It is we who have to take the initiative. The Father is doing His part, we need only to dispose ourselves to receive him; and this conversation we must commence in the quiet of our hearts. “But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Mt 6:6-8). Each man is only to engage in this trek of personal conversation with the Heavenly Father, and talk to Him as a son. And it is not your needs or amount of words which secures communion, just your openness to receiving Him and getting to know Him. This will reassure that all your needs will be met as a son.

My brothers, you need to give some quiet time to our Lord. You need to be quiet; He needs to do some – maybe most -- of the talking. Yes, it is tough to close the door to your world, and face your heart… listen to your soul… yeah, there are allot of things we need to face: the good, the bad, the ugly…. But the most important thing to face is your Heavenly Father, and talk to Him. This is vital in your journey of sonship. So stop today, take the time, reach out to Him with your heart…. And listen. And then do this again, tomorrow… and the day after….