WAR, AND RUMORS OF WAR, natural disasters, a pandemic — there are countless issues on a national and international level about which we can concern ourselves. If we let it, the fractious state of the world can challenge our inner peace and even overwhelm us.
It is important to remember that such disturbances are mentioned and foretold in Scripture, yet Jesus tells us not to fear. “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”he asks (Mt 6:27).
Thus, if we are tempted to needless anxiety by the latest news report, we should focus instead on what is in front of us. We can start with our own spiritual lives — including prayer and reception of the sacraments. And we can turn our attention to our own spheres of influence and to serving those around us. The start of Lent is upon us, which provides a wonderful opportunity to do just this — to clean our own spiritual houses and to make a gift of ourselves to others.
For most people, this call to self-gift is most immediately lived out through the vocation of marriage and family, which is the fundamental building block of society and of the Church. As St. John Paul II reminded us in his 1994 Letter to Families, “The history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family.”
Building up Catholic families was a primary concern of Blessed Michael McGivney and the reason he founded the Knights of Columbus. Today, we remain dedicated to protecting families’ financial security, strengthening families in the faith, and coming to the aid of families in times of crisis. Our support of marriage and family life through numerous spiritual and charitable initiatives is an essential part of the Order’s identity.
Speaking in his Angelus address on the feast of the Holy Family last December, Pope Francis observed, “God chose a humble and simple family to come into our midst.”
‘We must all find ways to put others before ourselves in everyday situations. Let us, therefore, put down our phones, pause to listen, and strive to put the needs of others — especially our spouses and children — ahead of our own.’
The Holy Father then reassured the faithful that, in the midst of challenges, “we learn how to be a family” and how to “walk together” in small ways. The way we do this, he said, is by putting “you” ahead of “I.”
This can be tough to do, but the alternative is worse. “It is dangerous,” Pope Francis explained, “when, rather than listening to one another, we blame one another for mistakes; when, rather than showing care for each other, we become fixated on our own needs; when, instead of dialoguing, we isolate ourselves with our mobile phones.”
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. We can all do better — in our marriages, families and other relationships. While dying to self and putting “you” before “I” is a lifelong goal, Lent is the perfect time to start.
Men in particular need practical ways of accomplishing goals, so here are just two ideas for married men: First, choose a household task that your wife dislikes and surprise her by doing it. Second, in your daily prayer, bring your wife’s intentions to the Lord before your own (and if you are not sure of her intentions, ask her — and then listen to her answer).
More broadly, we must all find ways to put others before ourselves in everyday situations. Let us, therefore, put down our phones, pause to listen, and strive to put the needs of others — especially our spouses and children — ahead of our own.
In giving of ourselves freely, in putting “you” ahead of “I,” we are also putting “Him” ahead of ourselves, and we can count on receiving much more in return. In each of the four Gospels, Jesus declares this great paradox of the Christian life: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
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