This is another great post from Dan Lord who blogs regularly at The Strangest of Wars.
In 1571, the chivalrous Don Juan of Austria led Pope St. Pius V’s hastily gathered defense forces in an epic sea battle at Lepanto against the invading Ottoman Empire and won a history-changing victory. The Ottomans, with their bloodlust, greed, state-run slavery, forced conversions and knuckle-dragging obscurantism, were run out of town and set on a slow spiral down into the sink of history. If, by some unhappy turn of events, an Ottoman-like empire should threaten the world again sometime in the next thirty years, I’d like to nominate my second son, Jack, to lead the resistance.
He still needs some training, of course. He’s only seven. But already I see the Don Juan in him. Consider the following snippet of lunchtime conversation between him and his sister, Sophia. He was six at the time; Sophia was 4—I put her dialogue in ALL CAPS, because she is, in reality, VERY LOUD. She doesn’t have a hearing problem or anything…she’s JUST LOUD. Anyway, as Jack gnawed his peanut butter sandwich (which did not, nor must it ever, have jelly on it), he was feeling very good about himself because just prior to lunch he had singlehandedly slaughtered several dozen well-armed terrorists during a segment of James Bond: Bloodstone for Xbox 360. The exchange I overheard went like this:
Jack: …Yep, I killed all the guys in James Bond. I did. All by myself…
Sophia (loudly): YEAH, JACK! YOU’RE A JEENIE!
Jack (with mild derision): You mean a ‘genius.’
Me: Jack, don’t say it mean. She was trying to say something nice about you.
Jack (quickly trying to atone): Oh, oh, sure, yeah, Sophia, I am a genius.
Sophia: AM I A GENIUS, TOO??
Jack: Welllll….you’re pretty good at drawing unicorns…
Do you see what I mean? Chivalrous. Concerned with defeating evil AND with protecting the innocent.
And he’s devoted to his Catholic faith. With great pride I assisted him in making his First Reconciliation a few days ago and, as I write this, we’re about 17 hours away from his First Holy Communion. I’m so thrilled, I’m busting my buttons. He can gripe occasionally, no doubt, about doing things like going to mass or, worse, Family Rosary Time—he’s an action figure, after all, so connecting those things to his heart takes continual effort.
That’s unlike Daniel, his older brother and Irish twin. Daniel is the Minister, the Monk, the Preserver of Ancient Rituals. I remember back when Daniel was four years old and playing in the bathtub, he poured water, carefully, into various vessels. Wet corporals were laid across the side of the tub with water-filled Tupperware chalices on them and army men were baptized. When Jack plays in the bathtub, sea monsters rule the deep and plastic army men die by the dozens right before one last soldier pushes the button on the underwater bomb and saves the entire bathroom from certain DOOM. Daniel is my High Priest, the Master of Ceremonies. He was hip to the order of the mass by the time he was two; at seven, Jack still falls asleep in my armpit at mass.
But he loves the faith, and he’s serious about learning how it all works. He’s always shown an intense eagerness to place himself at the service of Jesus—as long as it doesn’t last too long or cut into meal-time. But he’s ready to give it all. It is extremely pleasing to me to think that “giving it all” is exactly what will happen at his First Holy Communion: he’ll be putting all of his intensity, all of his indignation, all of his aggressiveness, all of his tenderness, all of his chivalry, all of himself, into the Lord by the act of receiving all of the Lord completely into himself. Jack is about to possess everything he could ever need to defend civilization from anti-Christian thugs, either on a global scale or in those little Lepantos we all fight inside ourselves everyday. To Jack and all of you little twirps out there receiving First Holy Communion: I salute you!