The Blacksmith of My Manhood

My father in his trusty Model A pickup 

My father in his trusty Model A pickup 

Give a lad a training suitable to his character and, even when old, he will not go back on it.

Proverbs 22:6 Catholic Online 

   Good fathers remain indispensable to every child on the planet.  A father is the person God entrusts to look at each child he gives them, and call them into adulthood.  Fathers should take the faith filled heart a mother forms, and steel it like a blacksmith works metal.  The steel must withstand every tempest the world will throw at it until our bodies fade to dust.  I am blessed my father did this for me, and I accepted his molding to form the man I am.

    From an early age I remember my Dad as a pillar of strength and determination.  He still gets up before dawn, works long hours, deployed at our nation’s call for forty-five years, learned things from diverse resources way before the birth of the internet, demands honesty and gives it unfailingly, requires common sense be applied to all critical thinking, expects you to know a fact based history on what you speak, and displays a dogged determination to achieve which puts a bulldog to shame.  My father steeled my heart to respect my mother and her core values.  He then slowly built a frame around my heart to carry me into adulthood.  

    My father’s greatest wisdom, in forming his children, was to ensure we knew how to think.  My father knew our world would be as different from his as his world was from his father’s.  As a result, he knew his children needed well rounded educations grounded in those family core values.  This frame protected us, gave us limbs to build new futures, and a head to seek the wisdom of the Lord in new faraway lands when he was not there to guide us.  My father trained our character traits to last a lifetime.  

    After meeting many people with dads who failed to accept their duties as fathers, I know I am a blessed child.  I also believe this is why I am committed to do the mission my father does, but often shields from view of his own children.  My father throughout the years tended to lost sheep, and got them better prepared to meet the world.  He gave these lost sheep the blacksmithing their fathers should have given, or the sheep rejected out of the pride of youth.  Some responded well, others did not.  In any case he tried, and willingly gave of himself without desire for acclaim or fortune.

   I am blessed with a Dad who embodies God’s call for father’s to follow.



My Childhood Pillar of Faith

My Mom gets her hands on her youngest grandchild

My Mom gets her hands on her youngest grandchild

    Teach us to count up the days that are ours, and we shall come to the heart of wisdom.   Psalm 90:12 from Catholic Online

   While reading a great book called The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, the author postulates a necessary part of raising families of strong faith is a pillar of prayer inside the extended family.  This person’s prayer can sustain their children, draw grace towards them and be a beacon home to the Lord’s wisdom.  I closed my eyes, and without any thought saw my mother as my childhood pillar of faith.

    I saw my mother with her rosary in hand praying through her asthma attacks when no medicine existed to calm it.  I remember her praying when her children encountered challenges to our faith and souls.  I always remember her humility when she knew a complex problem exceeded her immediate knowledge, asking the Lord to show her the way through the maze ahead one step at a time through prayer and hard work.

   I know she received this the path of prayer from her parents.  My Nana told us to pray for the soul needing the ambulance when it raced past her house in Easton, Pennsylvania.  My Nana and Pappap said the rosary together every night when I lived with them for their family.  So it was generational…and a great gift.

    Now the challenge is to be the pillar for my children to remember, and know the way home always starts with humility before the Lord in prayer.  Until I get it all right I will know my Mom has me covered…



A Lesson in Forgiveness for Thanksgiving

    A few weeks ago a most incredible person told me a story, a story of forgiveness which humbled me.  The story goes something like this…

    Years ago this person suffered a great injustice at the hands of another.  Bonds of trust broke, and a relationship broke into pieces.  The breakup effected more than the two inside the relationship.  The shattered relationship hurt many others, and still does to this day.  Defenses went up to prevent additional pain, but the grace of forgiveness remained open to the offender.  Not only does forgiveness flow, the offender gets prayers and encouragement to return to the church and obtain salvation from the victim!  

    I suffered a few injustices in my life, and I will admit my pride gets the best of me from time to time when the wound resurfaces.  When I asked the person, their response was “To hold on to the anger and hate is to condemn your own soul to Hell.  We can only move forward to Christ when we release the hate and let it fade away.  We can only achieve heaven when we wish for those who harmed to repent and join us again on the path to heaven.”

    I prayed about this on a few nights since I heard this sermon of word and deed.  I realized how much more I need to grow as a person to reach this type of holiness…and I hope I can imitate their example with a few more years of practice.  Until then, I’ll also pray this incredible person continues to show people like me the true path of Christ in this fallen world.


P.S. The photo is of Kellie at the Antiedam Battlefield Museum.  It was a wonderful moment to watch her enjoy flowers, amidst the stories of war.  It reminded me of the decades it took to heal the wounds from the Civil War, and the lesson above being the path towards reconciliation.

Go home to Christ with the Holy Family

Holy Family in the Desert at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Holy Family in the Desert at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

       Some of my favorite meditations during the Rosary focus on the Holy Family.  I find many lessons in their lives, mostly unsaid, which help us understand how we need to live our lives in this fallen world.  When God gave them each a unique mission for our salvation, each member of the family did as requested.  Take in a bride and adopt a baby as your own…St Joseph check.  Flee to Egypt and leave EVERYTHING behind in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT…Check.  Watch your child die on the cross, innocent of everything except being our just and holy savior…check.

    In our faith community of Regina Caeli Academy we had two mothers pass away during the past month in Texas.  One from cancer, and the other suddenly during delivery of her third child.  Each woman left behind a family lead my faithful men of the church.  For them I pray the example of the Holy Family provides a path to continued holiness, and reunion in heaven.     These husbands had strong families of faith, and now face a period where they may feel the heat and cold of a desert journey until they reach safety of peace in understanding the will of God.  In some ways it reminds me of Joseph and Mary as they carried their child Jesus to from Bethlehem to Egypt and back to Nazareth.  A long journey which must occur under the guidance of faith to succeed.

    As we gather for Thanksgiving, remember families like these two around the country.  Pray the light of Christ stays strong in them and their children.  May it be lit by their desire to obtain the graces of heaven, and rejoin their mother in eternal life.  It should be a prayer for all of us as well.  God wants us all to come home.