“The Great Adventurers of the modern world.” With these words Charles Péguy, the great French Catholic poet of the early twentieth century, honored the fathers of families. Péguy was killed in the first of the modern world’s global wars, but if he were alive today, he would probably feel the need to underscore his statement.
What soldier of fortune faces a greater challenge than that confronted by the father, in partnership with his wife, navigating the ship of the family through the currents of modern life?
Immense Challenges
Erupting from the depths of life’s sea, raging storms — seen only as warnings on the barometer in Péguy’s day—now crash full against the seams of the family ark, tearing at its white sails of holiness, pounding against its bulwarks that are the unity and indissolubility of marriage. If at any given time the parents underestimate the danger or fail to respond adequately to the challenge, the ship may founder.
“The Great Adventurers of the modern world,” indeed. And called to an adventure of no little importance: the pitting of ourselves against all the enemies of fatherhood; the warding off of all the daily advances of a multibillion-dollar advertising industry devoted to making us and our children avaricious, lustful, and proud — all of this, yes, but more. Ours is not only a defensive action; we must at the same time take the offensive. We fight against storms, but for the sake of arriving at our destination. The enemy without must be held off while each day sees new attacks of the enemy within.
The Call to Sanctity
And yet, for all this, the call to sanctity remains and is one conditioned to each person’s state in life: for fathers of families, it is in and through our fatherhood that we are to achieve our fullest holiness. Not