Have you ever been awakened at 2:30 in the morning to a loud crash? Running out of my bedroom i wasn't sure if i was going to run into a burglar or one of my children playing with pots and pans. Of all the situations we can be in one that tests our safety and that of our family is surely the most nerve racking. the unknown crash that wakes us, the pan that falls on its own, the light that mysteriously goes out; the "what-ifs" are always coursing through our minds as we struggle to explain away the intruder, whether said intruder be a mouse or a simple branch banging away at the siding of the house. Fear can be a powerful motivator. The adrenaline flows, the fists clench and I, being he man i am, automatically go into commando mode. I am a butcher by trade so the tools of my trade come In handy whilst finding some weapon to defend my brood. I am partial to the 12 inch cimeter knife; looks scary and is light in the hand. Yet as i walk the property toting my machete i cannot help but think of the saints. You can ask why, i was wondering why too.
Jean-Marie Vianney nightly would battle satan. In fact he too was awakened one night with loud noises. Parishioners came over with guns to rise up and protect the saintly cure'. Crash after crash was terrifying the gang when all of a sudden Jean-Maire was given an insight: the noise was the prince of demons himself! Realizing this he dismissed the men protecting him, needless to say they were "relieved" of their duty. After their departure, our saint then dealt with the intruder. Baseball bat...12 inch cimeter...musket...no. Our saint chose the rosary. And he attacked In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
St.Pio too was privileged to fight against our adversary. Times he would be left bloodied and beaten on the floor. Was he scared? I'm sure he was at one point. But our Lord has a way of calming the fears of those who allow themselves to be thrust into battle in His name. St. Faustina also saw many manifestations of satan, noises in the night, visions of demons as ravaging dogs ready to leap upon her. What was her weapon of choice? The sign of the cross. Benedict, Vincent Ferrer, Clare of Assisi, Maximilian Kolbe, Catherine of Sienna, Teresa of Avila, the list goes on and on. God's holy saints, warriors in the battle, finding themselves in situations that would terrify the average Joe, but they stand firm in faith. With God all things are possible, truly if He is with us, who can be against us?
Yet here i sit, knife by my side, still shaking, blogging at three A.M just in case. Lying in bed attempting to sleep, my thoughts drifted to mundane matters. Disney world, pizza, work then BAM! like a ton of bricks...Isaac Jouges. I was reminded of a particular event in his life. When returning to Huron camp after restocking food and supplies in Canada, Isaac, his religious companions and the Hurons they were with were ambushed by the bloodthirsty Iroquois Indians. They all were thrown from their canoes and then battle was on. Jougues found himself thrown very far from the scuffle and was able to hide in reeds on the shore. One by one his companions fell and were bound hand and foot as the torture began. Already they were being skinned, burned and beaten. Jogues for a moment thought to flee. Quickly he dismissed that thought. "I am a Priest. How could i even think of abandoning my children in their hour of need? Who would bring to them the consolation of Holy Mother church? Or the grace of the sacraments to strengthen them in this thier darkest hour?" Immediately Jougues arose from the reeds and called out to the Iroquois to come get him. Puzzled by this act of bravery the Indians did not know what to think. As Isaac's most eloquent sermon began those who would be hearers pummeled him with all their might. Bloodied and beaten Isaac stopped them only when they reached out to bind his hands..."Stop, you do not have to do that. These my brothers will bind me to you. For as long as they live i will not abandon them." Together they went to their certain doom, yet they praised God because He was truly amongst them as Father, in the person of their Priest, St. Isaac Jougues.
The thrill of battle has subsided, the smoke has cleared. The only noise i hear now is the hum of the laptop and the click of the key as as i tap-tap-tap away. Here i stood, or sat, family protector. What was the noise? Well i still don't know but i have some thoughts. Raccoons? maybe. Birds? Possible. Burglar? Not likely. Divine providence? I think i get the point, as my cousin Vinny would say. Sometimes to get the point across to stubborn children we must let them learn the lesson on their own, the whole time supporting them in the process. My quest for manhood needed to come here. Why? I am not Commando, nor Rambo. I am not Rocky, nor The Terminator. I am not Benjamin Martin, nor William Wallace. I am not Jean-Marie Vianney, nor Padre Pio. Identity crisis sometimes are the most trying of all. Maybe i woke up tonight to learn that simple lesson. The noise i heard was not so much an exterior threat but an interior awakening.A knock at the door of my heart. What did i find when i opened up that door? If i told you that would ruin the surprise. After all the shock of the knock is half the battle. The knock will come to us all in our due time. Whether we are ready or not. The enemy does not discriminate. He will come and what will he find? Will fear win, or will faith once again rise up from the reeds and proclaim that I will not fall, i will rise and i will fight, not by flesh and blood but by prayer and sacrifice. The Noise my friends, for me, was my own inadequacies as a father. The Iroquois who ambushed me are the vices that hold me captive. I will not abandon my own in this fight. I will not give in to fear and run away from duty. I will face the enemy head-on, in love, in prayer, in Christ Jesus our Lord. This time though i put the knife back in the drawer and only bring myself. For self sacrifice is the greatest love of all, therefore my most powerful weapon in this battle. Uniting ourselves to our Lord on the cross, we see the true meaning of provider, protector, lover and most importantly of a true man. Let us answer the knock and follow in His footsteps. Be not afraid, brothers, be not afraid.