After former Vice President Joe Biden announced that he was running for president, he said, “We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation.” During a subsequent interview with Good Morning America, in an attempt to mimic Trump, Biden said that his campaign slogan is, “Make America Moral Again.” He then said that his goal is to “make America return to the essence of who we are, the dignity of the country, the dignity of people, and treating our people with dignity.”
My wife and I were married in June 1980, which was a month after I finished my first year in law school. One of the weekly television shows that we watched together during the first year of our marriage was the prime-time soap opera, Dallas. We’ve come a long way since then. Today, there’s no way we would waste our time on that type of show.
Since the beginning of time, all successful civilizations have been governed by behavioral standards that everyone understood, embraced, and passed on to future generations. These behavioral standards were so well-known that they were taken for granted. Anyone who questioned the standards was considered a misdirected fool who lacked maturity, experience, and wisdom.
I ordinarily attend daily Mass at Sacred Heart Church in downtown Peoria. Last Monday (March 25), I saw my parents at noon Mass and talked to them after the Mass. My mom told me that it was the 58th anniversary of her consecration to the Mother of God. I knew that she had made her consecration years ago, but I was not aware of the actual date.
As I walked out of the doctor’s office, my mind flashed back to the mid-1980s, when I taught Business Law at ICC. I spent a lot of time preparing for that class, but it was worth it. The young, fresh-faced students were captivated by the stories I told about my experience as a lawyer. To make the class more interesting, I intentionally wove stories throughout the material I presented to them. This made an otherwise boring class into an adventure into the inner workings of our justice system.
One of the things that I taught my students was the four basic elements that are required before a contract can be legally binding between two parties. The four elements are:
1. Offer – a promise to act or refrain from acting.
When I was a teenager, there was an ad that frequently appeared in the comic books that promoted the “Charles Atlas Bodybuilding Course.” The ad was written in comic-strip format. The first frame of the ad showed a young man who was a “97-pound weakling” being humiliated in front of his date by a bully kicking sand in his face.
The next frame of the ad showed the young man in his home kicking a chair and sending away for the Atlas body building course. The ad then showed the man receiving the course and building up his muscles. The last frame of the ad showed the man on the beach punching the bully in the face. He was then identified as the “Hero of the beach,” while a beautiful girl standing next to him declared, “Mac! You are a real man!”
Back then, teenage boys wanted to be just like the man in the ad — tough, muscular, and admired by pretty girls. At that time, to me, real men were warriors who didn’t back down from bullies. That’s the way my dad and my grandfather, Tom Williams, were while I was growing up. They were tough, strong, and ready to do battle if it ever became necessary.
As I grew older, I realized that being a real man wasn’t just about being tough and strong. There were more important qualities that real men possessed. Those qualities included a man’s loyalty and devotion to his wife and children, his work ethic, his resiliency, his industriousness, his confidence, and most importantly, his strong faith in God. Fortunately for me, I was able to learn about those qualities from the example of my dad and my grandfather.
If you think about it, those same qualities have been found in real men since the beginning of time. The men of the Old Testament — including Abraham, King Solomon, and Moses — had those qualities. The Son of God and His foster father, Saint Joseph, had those qualities. And, of course, all of our Lord’s followers — including St. Peter, St. John, St. Stephen, and St. Paul — possessed those qualities.
Today, in America, there is an unprecedented attempt by what I call the “power brokers” to silence and eradicate men who possess those qualities. Such men have been branded as being toxic and harmful to society. The word “masculine” has become a bad word — a word that is associated with bullying, arrogance, and sexual abuse.
Who are the power brokers? In most cases, they are the men and women who are in control of Hollywood, the mainstream media, the institutions of higher education, the public school system, the multinational corporations, the high-tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Netflix, and our federal, state, and local governments.
The power brokers have perfected the practice of lumping certain individuals into cleverly named, all-inclusive evil categories. After coming up with a clever name for a particular group of individuals, the power brokers proceed to silence and restrain those individuals by slandering, berating, demeaning, and bullying them into submission. The power brokers use every tool at their disposal to accomplish their goal. They are masters at using social media and the court system to get their way.
What do the power brokers have in common? They are all evil to their very core. As a society, we are often surprised by the behavior of someone who is truly evil. Unfortunately, we don’t really have any predictable ways of recognizing and dealing with individuals before it becomes obvious that they are evil.
So what makes a person evil? From a Catholic perspective, a person becomes evil when he either (1) allows himself to be consumed by one or more of the seven capital sins, or (2) intentionally chooses to engage in and embrace sinful behavior. (As a reminder, the seven capital sins are pride, lust, anger, avarice, envy, gluttony, and sloth.)
When a person surrenders to sinful behavior, he becomes an agent of the devil. It is at that point when evil metastasizes inside the person’s soul and begins to spread like cancer. And like cancer, the evil does not usually reveal itself until it has gotten out of control and has destroyed the conscience of the person.
Whether they know it or not, at a spiritual and subconscious level, the power brokers are agents of the devil who are committed to one primary goal — the complete silencing and, if necessary, the destruction of every person who is a reminder to them that their sinful behavior is an abomination, and that they must either repent or they will burn in Hell for all eternity.
Who is it that is a reminder to the power brokers, by word and example, that their sinful behavior is an abomination? The answer is, real men.
What is it about real men that is a threat to the power brokers? It’s their deeply held belief and faith in God, His Church, and His commandments. The real men that I’m referring to are those men who are devout Christians or Jews. Their lives are governed by the Judeo-Christian values and beliefs that have been the foundation of all successful civil societies since the beginning of time — values and beliefs that reject sinful behavior while promoting virtuous behavior.
If you pay any attention to the news, you know about what happened to Nicholas Sandmann, a 16-year-old Catholic boy who attended the pro-life March for Life in Washington DC on Friday, January 18, 2019. Sandmann and several of his classmates from Covington Catholic High School attended the march.
Sandmann was ruthlessly attacked by the power brokers after a three-minute video was posted on Twitter by a member of a radical group. The video allegedly showed that Sandmann was being disrespectful and confrontational with a so-called “Native American Elder.” After the video was posted, Sandman was savaged by the media, members of Hollywood, government officials, and even members of his own church. There were multiple instances where people made death threats against Sandmann and his family.
It wasn’t until a second, two-hour long video was released that the true facts of what actually occurred were revealed. That video showed that it was the native American protester who walked over to Sandmann, lifted up his drum until it was close to Sandmann’s face, and then began beating on the drum in an attempt to get a negative reaction from Sandmann. While the protester was attempting to get Sandmann to become confrontational, Sandmann simply smiled and stared at the protester.
Despite what was revealed in the two-hour video, the power brokers have continued to attempt to destroy the good name and reputation of Sandmann and his fellow students at Covington Catholic High School. Why? Because to the power brokers, Sandmann, his classmates, and his church are toxic.
To the power brokers, toxicity is synonymous with belief and faith in God.
To my delight, Sandmann’s father is a real man who is not going to let the evil power brokers get away with trashing his son’s and his family’s good name and reputation. He has hired the top libel and slander attorney in the country to go after the power brokers. I hope that the Sandmann family and their attorney obtain a multi-million dollar court verdict against the power brokers.
There is a spiritual war that is going on in our country. On one side are the evil power brokers who want to silence and eradicate the real men who they believe are a threat to their sinful way of life. On the other side are the real men and their families who believe in and are faithful to God — men who do their best to lead virtuous, holy lives.
Make no mistake about it. This is a war that is raging between good and evil and it’s up to you and me to do everything in our power to be victorious (with the assistance of our Lord and our Lady).
Our Savior warned us that we would be hated by His enemies. His enemies not only hate us but they also genuinely believe that we are toxic and poisonous to their beliefs and way of life.
All the more reason to stand tall like real men and defeat the enemies of God.
A few years ago, Georgette and I decided that we were going to discontinue the newsletter. While we had received compliments over the years from various individuals, we felt that four pages were excessive and that it was unreasonable to expect people with busy lives to sit down and read a four-page newsletter about our family.
We announced to our children that we were going to discontinue the Christmas newsletter. Our youngest daughter Teresa refused to accept our decision and told us that if we weren’t going to write the newsletter, she was going to do it on her own. She then proceeded to do exactly what she threatened she would do. She wrote a four-page newsletter. We didn’t want to offend her, especially after she had taken the time to write it, so we mailed the newsletter with our family picture.
Every year since then, Georgette and I have told Teresa that a newsletter was not necessary, but she has consistently insisted that she be allowed to carry on the tradition. This year, I actually thought that Teresa would finally relent and give up on her quest to continue writing the newsletter. Why? Because at the ripe young age of 22, she works the equivalent of two full-time jobs. Her first job is with a local company as a web designer, photographer, and graphic designer. Her second “job” is her own wedding photography business (photographsbyteresa.com).
I was wrong about Teresa being too busy to write the newsletter. As usual, she refused to take no for an answer and wrote the newsletter. Here’s how she began the newsletter:
I received a text message last week. It was from my dad. This is what his message said:
I believe that one of the biggest shocks we’re going to experience immediately after our deaths will be when God reveals to us what we could have achieved if we had followed His plan for us. The disparity between what we actually achieved on Earth and what He planned for us will be so enormous that we will be completely flabbergasted. What will be most obvious to us is how selfish we were and how most of our thoughts and actions were focused on what we could do for ourselves rather than what we could do for God and our neighbor.
In order to close the gap between who we actually are and what God intended for us to be, we must focus daily on managing and eliminating our pride and our primary fault. We must freely choose to actively resist the tendencies and temptations that favor our pride and our primary fault. At the same time, we must also choose to practice the actions and virtues that are contrary to our sinful tendencies and faults. By doing this, we will be imitating our Savior in a minor but important way.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, while our Lord was praying and anguishing over the suffering and death he was about to endure, He could have easily chosen to flee and never return to Jerusalem or any of the cities surrounding Jerusalem. He had a free will just like you and me. He had the freedom to choose to disappear into the wilderness, or to accept and embrace the suffering and death that His Almighty Father had planned for Him. By freely choosing to follow His Father’s plan, He opened the gates of Heaven for all of us.
Unfortunately, most people don’t think about what God’s plan is for them. They don’t think about or realize that before they can successfully follow God’s plan, they must first diligently work on eliminating their faults. They behave as though they will never have to answer to God for their behavior. Yet they wonder why their lives are so empty. And they blame others for their inability to improve themselves.
If you have read about some of the lives of the saints, you know that they had a daily regimen in which they prayed and assessed where they were in life and where they thought God wanted them to be. They knew the importance of self-management. They also knew that if they were to live up to God’s expectations, they had to develop certain habits and rituals that forced them to regularly review and manage themselves. They weren’t perfect at this, but they were at least 10 times better at it than most people are at managing their lives.
One of the techniques Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught to his students was for them to set aside time each day — early in the morning and again at around noon — to determine how well they had done since the last time they had reflected on how they were spending their time. They were taught to reflect on: (1) how well they had done in managing and overcoming their faults, (2) how well they had done in following God’s plan and the plan they had prepared for themselves, and (3) what God’s plan for them was for the next half day.
In reviewing how well they had done in overcoming their faults, Saint Ignatius’s students were instructed to review what each of them had done to manage and correct their pride and their primary fault. Had they freely chosen to give up the traits that were associated with their faults? Had they freely chosen to practice the virtues that were contrary to their faults?
I want to suggest to you that you immediately incorporate Saint Ignatius’s exercise into your daily regimen. I’m going to provide you with a cheat sheet that you can use to review — in the morning and at around noon of each day — to determine what sinful tendencies you engaged in, and what virtues and virtuous actions you engaged in. Here’s the cheat sheet:
Pride – Defiance, intolerance, vanity, boastfulness, disdainfulness, revengefulness, impatience, unforgiveness, self-centeredness, stubbornness, unbridled ambition, self-aggrandizement, dishonesty, hypersensitivity, conceitedness, haughtiness, touchiness, and blindness to advice.