Manly forgiveness

I was reading a blog post over at Dale Price’s blog where he was seeking advice on how to deal with daily Mass attendees who criticize his wife for bringing the children to Mass.  My suggestion was to forgive those who comment and continue to bring the kids.

But the issue got me to thinking about a father’s role in the family and forgiveness.  Moments like the one Dale points to are infuriating to the family.  It’s easy to get really angry.  Sadly forgiveness if often seen as a wimpy solution to the problem.  To use a different word besides wimpy, try efiminate.

There is frequent talk about why men don’t come to Church and a big reason is because Church is put in very feminine terms these days: love, peace, forgiveness (in the wimpy sense).  Many talk about changing the things we emphasize to cater more to men.  While I think there are some things that need to be done in this regard, the big risk here is that we miss that love, peace and forgiveness are not necessarily femine things.

Specifically with forgiveness, it takes great strength to forgive when threatened or abused.  I think of the example from the movie Braveheart where Wallace asks forgiveness of his father-in-law for the events that led to his wife (his father-in-law’s daughter) being killed by the authorities.  Wallace gets down on one knee in front of him.  The father-in-law puts out his shaking hand at first as if to grab him in a violent way.  He then recoils slightly, calms his hand, and places it on Wallaces head in an act of forgiveness.

THAT is a masculine forgiveness.  One that takes strength, honor and discipline.  One that summons all the strength one has to muster.

We as fathers need to instill that sense of forgiveness in our families.  We need to teach it to our children.  We need to be leaders with our wifes in displaying it.  We need to help our priests proclaim this masculine nature of forgiveness.  That turn the other cheek is NOT about some mild tap and a wimpy reply, that it is about being repeatedly pounded to the ground and having the fortitude quell the pain, to stand up and look your aggressor boldly in the eyes while you stand before him and proclaim “I forgive you”.

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