“No, the end for which God has instituted the priesthood has been to appoint on earth public persons to watch over the honor of his divine majesty, and to procure the salvation of souls.” – Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
By: Susan Skinner and Ashley Blackburn
I was listening to a podcast of Venerable Fulton Sheen on womanhood and he said something that struck me. He said, “women are the guardians of human life.” In that moment, God whispered to me, “and men are the guardians of Divine Life.”
I pondered this for a while, not exactly sure what God was saying to me. I remembered a little while ago, He had spoken to me about the two ways life is brought to us. One way is through woman, in the form of children; and the other through the male Priesthood, in the form of the Eucharist.
Women are the guardians of human life, and men are the guardians of Divine Life. I went back in my prayer to ponder the fall of man. Adam was created by God from the dust of the earth and Genesis 2:15 tells us;
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
If Adam is to “keep” the garden, this requires guarding it to keep it from deteriorating. So in a sense, he guards the natural world, but it is more than this. This is also spiritual task for Adam. Adam himself reveals God spiritually in the world. He is the keeper of the garden, the guardian, so to speak, of the creation of God. He is given the task of naming the animals. Why is this task so important? Because their name reveals who they came from. The naming of something connects the object with the source from which it came. I went to a retreat where the speaker told us how God revealed Himself to Moses as, “I AM”. And the speaker went on to say that when we all introduce ourselves, we actually put God first, as the source from which we came, “I am Susan.” This speaks that I came from God. Adam was in charge of this naming. He connected the spiritual world with the physical world through the names. Adam became the guardian of the Divine on earth as the one who named all things. What a shame that in today’s day and age, “I am” has been replaced by “I feel.” We are no longer grounded in the truth from which we came.
I went back to what Venerable Fulton Sheen stated, that woman is the guardian of humanity. He called her the “custodian of life.” This is because in our very bodies, we are designed to give life. Our bodies nourish and protect our children. Even those of us who do not bear children, by our compassionate natures we are spiritual mothers to all of humanity. When we embrace womanhood, as it was designed, society is actually better.
But the devil tempts both men and women. When Eve was tempted by the serpent, she was tempted in her human desires and she gave in. But it wasn’t just her who fell. Adam was with her. He took it and ate it too. He did not guard God’s creation. He did not keep the garden as he had been commanded to do.
And so we became corrupted. Our purpose defiled. And sin entered the world. But God was not content to leave us apart from him. He sent His Son Jesus to restore our purpose. Jesus was the Word made flesh, once again, showing us the importance of words, of naming. And what did Jesus do? He re-instituted men as the Guardian of the Divine.
Christ in his fully human and fully divine nature was able to do this within himself. God in all his divinity came to this earth through the instrument of Christ’s human body. He did this 2000 years ago, but then continues to do this today through the church (body of Christ) in the Eucharist. He instituted the Priesthood to share in this role as guardians of the sacraments in which the divine grace flows out upon the faithful. Likewise he lifted up the man’s role in marriage and fatherhood by giving us insight into our Heavenly Father; the perfect example of a loving and good father, who creates, teaches, guards and protects his beloved children.
It is not by mistake that Jesus refers to God as Father. While we sit and watch this this role of fatherhood being attacked by our culture, whether it be through insults, divorce, extreme feminism, pornography, etc we watch also the divine life being attacked in the family. Jesus is no longer a living presence in the family as fathers are no longer guarding the divine life in their own domestic churches. It goes even further than that. Studies have shown that if the Father of a family goes to church and is spiritually practicing, his children will be way more likely to go to church as well than if only the mother goes to church. The Father is the guardian of the Divine in his family. His role is important to the family because it was instituted by Christ. Jesus’ insight about his Father is all the evidence we need. Paul talks about the body of Christ and how if one part is hurting or lacking, the entire body suffers. This role of the father in the family cannot be replaced or replicated and when it is lacking the entire family suffers.
In the church herself we also see the marriage analogy. The church is the bride of Christ, and He is the bridegroom. We are faithful children. We are sanctified with Sacramental grace through the Sacraments of the Church. Our Priests are guardians of these Sacraments. Priests have a duty to create, protect, teach, and guard the life of the church. They participate in the creative action of God through the sacraments, bringing divine life to the earth through their ordination. They teach us through their preaching of the gospel. Protect it through their prayers and guard it through their union with the Magisterium.
What we are seeing today is the Church being attacked from both the inside and the outside. The secular world mocks the Priests, and inside of the church some of the Priests themselves, the ordained guardians of the church are getting lost in their pursuits. They have forgotten their role, which was instituted by Christ, to be guardians of the Divine. The priests bring us the divine life, through the sacraments, and they guard it so that it remains untainted by this world. When they stop guarding the church, and give into worldly desires or the changing winds of the culture, then the Divine, Jesus in the sacraments, is no longer protected by them and confusion and corruption ensue. The devil would love nothing more than to make Priests stop bringing us the Sacraments.
Venerable Fulton Sheen stated that the level of society would be at the level of the woman. He said this because women tend to be more civilized and if they deteriorate, the men will only rise to the level the woman sets for him. I am not one who would readily disagree with someone who I think will soon be a great Saint, but I would add a caveat to what he said. That when men no longer seek communion with the Divine, when men no longer guard the Divine in their hearts, then his assertion is correct. But if men seek the Divine and guard it in their hearts, society will not only be great, but it will flourish. But alas, when men don’t guard the divine, everything deteriorates. We see women today submitting to the culture of sex and relinquishing their duty as guardians of humanity by participating in abortion. They have bought into the culture of sex through their participation in pornography, contraception, stripping, revealing clothing, physical body enhancements, plastic surgery, prostitution and escorting. With this men have risen to the level of sex abusers, sex addicts, addicted to porn, molesters, etc. Both men and women have become objects to be used where the divine can scarcely be seen.
If we could learn only one thing, it’s that everything should flow from the Sacramental life. When men guard the divine and women, guard humanity, we actually are living in the Divine will. We must pray for our Priests who bring us Divine Life each week. We must pray for men to be strong in faith. Knocking down our men is how the devil gets a stronghold on society. Knocking down our Priests is the devils ultimate goal, because he wants nothing more than to keep us from a Sacramental Life from where sanctifying grace flows.