Perhaps some of you have seen the book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover : Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine. Coauthored by a Jungian psychologist and a mythologist, it uses these four categories to discuss what healthy masculinity might look like in the world today.
As one who got caught in the great divide between traditional and modern concepts of manhood (though perhaps this divide is one that exists for every generation), I’ve spent a lot of my life actively and intentionally thinking about what a man should be—about what kind of man I want to be, and how that might express itself in the various roles of my life (husband, father, priest, friend, and so on).
In thinking about these things, I’ve found these four categories helpful. I realize at first they might sound presumptuous, but that depends on how the concepts are defined. The mature (desirable) warrior, for instance, is courageous and disciplined, as opposed to being the kind of man whose childish conquests often end in destructive activity.
And it’s this concept of warrior that I’ve been thinking about lately, because it overlaps some of what seems to be necessary in being a good priest. Part of what has drawn me to this calling is dissatisfaction with the world (as beautiful and glorious and good as it often is). An essential piece of that to which I’ve committed my life to is the fight to make our world a better place.
Of course my greatest battles are with me. It was, for instance, a very real wrestling match with myself to actually go to Mississippi.
But the question I struggle with—and one of the ones I know I sometimes get so very wrong—is, how do I know when to stop fighting?