[The following was written on my last night in Mexico on a Men's Pilgrimage to visit Our Lady of Guadalupe. The pretense of the post that I had been praying about my mission in writing and reaching guys with my writing. I got the answer first from Mary, then I ran and got my laptop to write the following in the dark chapel.]
“Write. I need you to write. I desperately need you to write. My sons need you to write. My daughters need you to write. Go. Run.”
I sit here in the convent of Mexico. Jesus is exposed, men are kneeling, Raffy is on his guitar leading us, and the priests and men are praying.
I realize that if I’m ever going to stay true to myself, I need to remember who I am and why I am. I do this out of gratitude. Men saved my life. From seeing the examples of the guys I looked up to at Freshman Retreat, to Anthony, to Esto Vir, to letting go of my sexual desires, to finding out what a chaste love is like, to finding that it is so much more than I had ever experienced, to finding a woman who was worth doing everything different for, who was worth changing my script, who was worth not messing up and losing, who was worth honoring and giving my best, who was worth dying to myself and my desires so she could find be on her own, someone who I let die in me, someone who I let back in my life, someone I let myself take a risky chance on again, someone I wanted to do it right by asking God, my parents, her parents, someone I wanted to line the stars by lining the timing of my proposal with other friends' prayer asking her on consecrations to Mary, ending on 10 de diciembre, the Feast Day of Our Immaculate Conception, and here I write on 10 de julio, exactly one month away from 10 de agosto, the day of my wedding.
Why do I wait? Because I love her so much. Because I want to be able to give the best Matt available. Everything I’ve dreamed and prayed to happen for me for my wedding day in terms of the version of myself is all coming true ---an acne clear face, a body pure from pornography, a mature mind, some financial momentum and a plan, and surprisingly an abstinence from a passionate cross of masturbation I thought I’d always have. I leave it all behind because this side of life feels so much better and is such a better gift that I want to give to her. Even before I knew I was going to be her, I wanted to prepare myself to be and give the best version of the Matt I am. BVMIKA. The Best Version of the Man/Matt I Know I Am.
What a beautiful, rare, and humbling thing to be surrounded by such strong, holy, and faithful men. The strength I see in all of them is directly rooted in their humility. Our reflections to each other were one of the most moving moments for me on this trip. Words how Our Mother has healed one man’s wife, how Our Mother has let another man be able to finally sleep, how Our Mother has replaced another man’s birth mother who passed away, and how one man wishes he could have shown Our Mother to his daughter sooner. Others reflected on how at times they feel like they have failed their wives, their children, how we could have yelled less or hurt less. In everyone’s humility, there was a sign of men wanting to be better men.
These men have showed me what it’s like to be real men, by showing and revealing to each other their complete necessity for our Father, and for many of us, our Mother. One father has told me how he has one rule for whoever his daughter dates ---that that man has to show that he loves God more than her. Whew. Strong fathers, strong daughters. Strong fathers, strong sons. The smile I see on another father’s face as he speaks about his children. He loves them dearly and it’s so clear and touching.
To see grown men cry, it’s safe because we are surrounded by only men, yet so strong and inspiring for us younger guys. We can only be as humble as the examples that are put before us. To see grown husbands and fathers sing their praise for God and tell Him the we love Him. It’s humbling and inspiring. Yet at meal time and while walking, we laugh and joke on each other, hit each others’ backs, serve each at meals, work together later in washing the dishes. The chapel I sit in and the basilica and the surrounding holy areas around Our Lady of Guadalupe are all sacred, but what I find most sacred these past three days is the space between us.
As I said on the bus, we never send one man to find a war. We never send one man to fight a fire. We never send one officer to check out a situation. He fights with others. Spiritual warfare is no different, and this holy time with each other has convinced me that there is no other way do it. We are not meant to fight alone. We are meant to fight with partners two by two, in companies, in platoons. We are all getting deployed, and we need each other’s backs.
Lord, we need you. We truly need you. Mother Mary, we’ve needed you to soften our hearts, to gentle our minds. You’re the soft love we need, and Father you’re the strong armor we need. Jesus, we need you in us. Holy Spirit, work through us. And brothers around us, let’s step forward on the offensive together.