He’s a dear friend, and speaks very much like many other men who have their story to tell.
His dad was hard working, but never really there. Work became a sign of what real men where about – work and straight talking. Calling a spade for what it is; and not taking any nonsense from anyone. He’ll admit to his mistakes – but not in a public way that looks for a sympathy vote. His is the stoical Scots-Irish way.
His life was that of loss for many years: he lost his faith; he lost his wife; and he lost his children. The world around him encouraged it all and he was too caught up in the Sixties-Seventies suicide mission to realise what was going on. His own family was swept away in it too.
He had been an altar boy growing up in the Sixties. And then his world collapsed..
He went to seminary but was considered ‘psychologically unsuitable’ – he believed in celibacy – so was “asked” to take some time out.
He married to a girl he grew up with; but that didn’t flourish. Their only child died at birth.
He drank and did drugs; and worked long days doing hard labour. He was a hard man – who put his fist where his mouth was when he had to. He lived a life of disrepute but held onto some things. “Never treat a lady like dirt”, was a principle he tried to respect. He met another woman who conceived a child by him – she had the baby killed before it was born. He begged her not to do it; he begged her. He passes her in the street some days. He still grieves.
He came back to the Faith in a round about kind of way. Then he began to piece things together. He was always intelligent, but now he could see he had been a fool to follow the fools of his day. He sees now how the castration of his generation took place, and how he willing put his manhood on the chopping block.
He still grieves. He grieves the loss of his family and neighbourhood. No-one in his family returns there any more. Too poor for them now. Too dangerous. He doesn’t notice it. It’s home to him.
No-one in his family goes to Mass. One sister is an evangelical pastor who hates men and Catholic bishops. His family-parish Church (it was Polish) is gone. There’s a sports centre there now to help the poor immigrants get the message It’s empty most of the time. There’s talk of it becoming a mosque. He sees the deficiencies of manhood in this too.
Yet, he does not despair – and he hates the presumption of most sermons he hears. He does not despair because even although he sees that the lost men are forgotten about, he knows that Christ is faithful to His promises. He chose twelve men to teach all nations the truth of the Catholic Faith, and he knows no matter how much men are rejected that it is only through their hands, and through their words, that the answer is given to any doubts he may have, and that his sins are absolved.
He cries after every Confession, rapped in the mystery of God’s justice and mercy.
He listens now – even with his poor hearing – for the sacred whisper of the Forgotten Men: Hoc enim est corpus meum.
And he knows he is not alone.
He does not refuse to answer when some one asks him something in charity; nor does he sound like a gong booming.
His “yes” is yes, and his “no” is no. He lives now by the Credo he learned years ago.