Friday, May 7, 2010

Bullets and Grenades

The Knights of Columbus Veritas series includes a booklet entitled “Becoming a Real Man of God,” written by Fr. Roger Landry. Fr. Landry also has a book which covers the same ground. [UPDATE 5/12: The book that I was thinking of was written by Fr. Larry Richards, not Fr. Roger Landry.] I don’t know which came first, that is, whether the book is an expanded form of the booklet or the booklet is a condensed form of the book. The booklet is available as a convenient podcast that can be listened to on any mp3 player.

At one point, Fr. Landry offers a very brief reflection on 1 John 3:16,18:

In marriage preparation, I often ask would-be grooms whether they love their fiancé enough to take a bullet for her. Never has one said no. Then I ask whether his answer would be the same if the bullet took one of the following forms: being abstinent before marriage; giving up smoking if she asks; being on time if his is habitually late; cleaning up after himself better; patiently telling her what happened that day at work if she requests it; learning the faith better to help pass it on to her more completely; or making the time and the priority to pray with her. These are the types of grenades on which many men refuse to dive. But these gifts of oneself are so much more valuable than almost any material gift one could give, and they are a far greater sign of real love than any ring could symbolize.

Yes, we men are called to a heroic level of virtue to which few of us rise. It is not so much that we refuse to throw ourselves on that particular grenade. It is more that the threat is cumulative and chronic rather than acute. The damage is done gradually rather than all at once. Further, the grenade is always there – it never goes off, and it never goes away. That, and not necessarily a selfish disregard for his beloved, is why many men do not react to the threats that Fr. Landry presents.

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