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alec vanderboom

Every Saturday my husband wakes up at 5:30 AM, takes a shower, grabs his Catechism and heads to a Catholic Men’s Group, called Men of Emmaus, which meets in our Church basement at 7:30 AM.

We only have one car, so Jon needs to either catch the bus or catch a ride. If it’s the bus, Jon has to scramble to find six quarters and walks a half-mile from the bus stop to our Church in the cold. If it’s a ride with his friend Wes, he usually gets treated a free Starbucks coffee.

Bus or car. Sunshine or Sleet. If he’s physically present in Gaithersburg on a Saturday, Jon makes it to the Men of Emmaus Meeting.

Father Francisco warned us at Mass this week, “The people who complain, will always complain.” I’m in the complaining category. While many members of my Women of Prayer Group would adore having their husband’s take an interest in the Catechism, I’ve previously complained “Every Saturday? You really have to go EVERY Saturday?”

“Saturday is supposed to be my Mom’s Day Off!,” I thought fiercely.

The sum total of my “increased” work due to Jon’s weekly meeting happened to be the following: entertaining three kids for an hour, dressing them in church clothes, moving our bed out of living room and back in our/ Mimi’s bedroom, buckling three car seats, and transporting the kids from the car to a church pew in a timely manner before 9:00 AM Mass.

Such a tiny, tiny amount of work to build up the kingdom of God.

Such a tiny, tiny price to pay to have my husband absorb the Catholic Catechism with other men!

Eventually, not through any helpful or cheerful thoughts of my own mind you, it hit me that while we “sacrificed” Jon for 1 1/2 hours on Saturday, he returned to us rested and renewed the whole rest of the weekend.

Soon I actually embraced my “extra” work, telling myself as I struggled to move the floppy IKEA futon mattress back onto my unused IKEA bed frame without further tearing the already broken hand-holds, (we’re a five member family in a 2 bedroom apartment), that my recently widowed friend Theresa & Jon’s co-worker who is still-single-not-by-choice at age 40, would both ADORE having to cover a husband’s usual jobs on a Saturday morning. I did my tasks more cheerfully as a sacrifice for them.

“Offering It Up.”

I thought that was the end of the story.

I didn’t think that I would personally benefit from my husband hanging out regularly in the Church basement with some Catholic men.

Then yesterday, a friend from Virginia emailed me that a porn shop is opening up in Old Town, Alexandria. The new shop with the disgusting shop window display is next door to a toy store, two blocks from a historic waterfront where families eat ice-cream on lazy Saturday mornings, and ten blocks down from a Pauline Bookstore, one of 12 in our whole country, run by the Pauline Sisters, or as I affectionately call them “the librarian nuns.” My friend wanted us to send an email to the Mayor stating our displeasure. She warned us that the First Amendment Issue probably prevents the city from doing anything.

I told my husband this sadly over lunch.

“I’m on it!” he said.

Twelve hours later, Jon forwards me an email from the head of Men of Emmaus. Encouraged by successful efforts by a Catholic men’s group in Pennsylvania, these Maryland men are on it. They want to pick a date to picket and pray. They want to go down early and scout out “parking places.” They want to rally the Catholic Men and Knights of Columbus in the area to join this case.

These men are committed to winning the battle against pornography. They are starting with my friend’s problem neighborhood, fifty minutes away from our parish church.

It is amazing to see these modern Saint Georges fight the dragon.

Ten years ago, I read Larry Flints’ First Amendment Cases with blasé in law school. Back then, I didn’t have a son whose “custody of the eyes” I had to protect. I didn’t really understand the evils that pornography does to marriage, and life, and the dignity of women. I didn’t feel physically ill when I thought of those dear, chaste sisters having to go to work with such evil on shop windows on their street.

“I’m on it!” my husband said.

He’s a Catholic man.

A man who protects his family from both physical and spiritual harm.

I don’t have to worry about my son or my daughters growing up leaderless and adrift in the hostile currents of our present culture.

I’m so honored to be Jon’s wife. You can be sure that I’ll be buckling those three car seats with a little more joy next Saturday morning. Praise to the Lord.