I’d like to use this opportunity to talk a bit about my husband, who may be wildly embarrassed that I’m using him as my muse for this post. My husband works hard. He is a very predictable man, sure of himself, and resolute in his decisions. He uses humor to make light of situations and balances out my whimsical optimism with his reality-based thinking most days. But an admirable quality that he’s had since before we met is that he has an intrinsic motivation toward duty. He is a man of purpose. I love him for it all and am proud of all he’s done in service to others. Plus, I’m certain I don’t tell him that enough. So here it is, publicly acknowledged and acclaimed!
When I reflect on the men I know, I often see a sense of duty and purpose driving many of their decisions and commitments. Not only men are often dutiful, but many take pride in what they do. I’d like to reflect on this sense of purpose through the lens of the saints and Scripture. We find men of God in Scripture who did great things and were called for a purpose like Abraham and Saul. We find holy men among the saints who were called to a sense of duty like St. Peter and Blessed Father Michael McGivney. These men were each very different, lived at different times, and were challenged by God in different ways. Each one was called with a duty to serve and be faithful, too. They were men of purpose.
We know the stories from the Old Testament about Abraham and how he was chosen by God to be the “Father of Many Nations,” how he was blessed in his old age with a child, and how he was faithful to the point of sacrificing his son. God chose him to make a covenant with, and he will forever be remembered for his steadfast obedience to the Lord. We also know the story of Saul, who persecuted Christians, endorsing stoning and doing terrible things in God’s name. Then one day, a bright light knocked him down and he was blind until he converted and believed in Christ. On that day, his name was changed to Paul, and he became a missionary who traveled all over bringing with him the Word of God. Both men were called by God and were given a purpose.
There are two other holy men I’d like to consider as well, the first being St. Peter. I like to think about his example because every time I read about Peter in Scripture, he seems to lack purpose until Jesus speaks to him. At the Transfiguration, Peter’s first thought is “let’s build tents” when he sees Moses and Elijah with the Lord and he hears God’s voice in a cloud that says, “This is my Son…Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17: 1-9). Later, in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus is arrested, Peter acts on impulse and cuts off the ear of a servant until Christ tells him, ‘Put your sword away!” (John 18:10). Throughout the Gospels, Peter seems so relatable. Although well-intentioned, he often says or does things out of turn. It is after the Resurrection when Jesus forgives him and tells him to, “Feed My Lambs…Tend My Sheep…Feed My Sheep” (John 21: 15-17), that he is entrusted to be the first pope with the help of the Holy Spirit. He was taught by and learned from Jesus, and now he is ready to be the leader he was intended to be. Jesus gave purpose.
The fourth man of purpose I’d like to consider has a bit of significance to our family: Blessed Father Michael McGiveney. Fr. McGivney was born in Waterbury, CT in 1852 and grew up in an immigrant Catholic household. Later, he became a seminarian and then a beloved parish priest at St. Mary’s in New Haven where he walked with people in their daily lives. A man of purpose himself, he recognized the hardworking men in his community and started the Knights of Columbus in 1882 as a fraternal organization of Catholic men. He knew that, united in faith, these Catholic men could be invigorated to help their communities and the order grew. Fast forward over a century, and lay men both young and old are still pining for purpose and the Knights of Columbus has provided that for so many. Most importantly in my life, my husband has found faith, fraternity, and unity in his work through this organization and I’m proud that he’s found such a calling for service as a Knight. Blessed Father Michael McGivney provided him and countless other men with purpose.
At a time when so many things seem to be challenging our Catholic faith, there are ways we can keep on persevering and people who we can rely on for help. Look to those who are resolute. Look to the ones who have never waivered, to those with faith. Faith provides this duty and purpose. It comes out in a variety of ways, as shown in the examples of the many men I’ve reflected on here. We all are looking for purpose--whether it’s a small child finding purpose in helping around the house or a new member of the Knights of Columbus hoping to find purpose in fraternity and service. I challenge you to reflect on the examples of men of purpose I shared and consider what Christ is asking of you today. Where do you find purpose?
“Be a Person for Others” - St. Ignatius of Loyola.
“Seek God and you will find God. Seek God in all things and you will find God in all things. Seek God always and you will find God always.” - St. Vincent Pallotti
And the greatest purpose of all: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)