Men! We need you watching on the wall.

The Collect for the 16th Ordinary Sunday (Novus Ordo) has strikingly military imagery.

Propitiare, Domine, famulis tuis, et clementer gratiae tuae super eos dona multiplica, ut, spe, fide et caritate ferventes, semper in mandatis tuis vigili custodia perseverent.

Famulus and feminine famula appear frequently in our prayers. Famulus is probably from Latin’s ancient cousin, the Oscan faama, “house.” A Latin famulus or famula was a household servant or hand-maid, slave or free. They were considered members of the larger family.

Custodia is “a watching, guard, care, protection” and has the military overtone of “guard, sentinel”. Vigil is “wakeful, watchful”, and, like custodia, can also be “a watchman, sentinel”. Liturgically, a “vigil” is the evening and night before a great feast day. In ancient times vigils were times of fasting and penance. Men who were to be knighted kept a night’s vigil. They were watchful against the attacks of the world, the flesh and the Devil. They fasted, prayed, and examined their consciences in order to be pure for the rites to follow.


Look propitiously on Your servants, O Lord, and indulgently multiply upon them the gifts of Your grace so that, burning with faith, hope and charity, they may persevere always in your commands with vigilant watchfulness.

I was reminded of this Collect by the following video.

They are “standing on the wall”.

A tip of the biretta to my friend Fr. Heilman for this.  He wrote at his place:

A rather large and important study conducted by the Swiss government in 1994 and published in 2000 revealed some astonishing facts with regard to the generational transmission of faith and religious values. In short, the study reveals: “It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.”


This confirms the essential role of father as spiritual leader, which I would argue is true fatherhood. Fathers are to love their wives as Christ loves the church, modeling the love of the Father in their most important earthly relationship. Fathers are to care for their children as our Father in heaven cares for us and finally, fathers play a primary role in teaching their children the truth about reality. It is the father who should instruct his children in their understanding of the world from a consciously and informed Christian worldview. It is the father who is essential for sending his children forth with a biblical view of reality and a faith in Jesus Christ that is rooted in solid understanding.

It is time for fathers to return to honorable manhood and reconsider their priorities and realign them with God’s commands, decrees, and laws, teaching these things to your children “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. jameeka says:

    Along these lines….

    Men in a small parish in Portland, Oregon (archdiocese of the Great Archbishop Sample) have started a local Holy League, which meets once per month. The priests and men are strong fine Catholic men trying to become more holy. May their tribe increase and be leaven for the rest of the diocese.

  2. FXR2 says:

    Fr. Z,
    It is a shame that there are so few comments on this post. I have seen similar comments in the past and as a result when I came home home from work, on my 24-7 rotating shifts. On Sunday morning I always changed into a suit and took the family, all 8 of us to Mass. Nothing conveys the importance Sunday Mass better than when the Father of the family stays up, dresses, and takes his entire family to Mass even as he loses sleep. I am a horrible sinner, but I always tried to demonstrate to my family what is important.


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