Perseverance, Confession and Men of Honor

One of the most important attributes of a leader and a Christian is perseverance. Perseverance is the ability to overcome obstacles in order to achieve a pre-determined goal. The character of Carl Brashear in the 2000 movie, Men of Honor exemplifies this value. Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is an African-American sailor in the post-WWII era that dreams of becoming a member of the elite Navy Diver Corps.



The first obstacle Brashear encounters is the racism and bigotry of the era personified in the character of Master Sergeant Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro), who is given orders to not allow him to pass diving school. Despite these challenges, Brashear refuses to give up and soon discovers that he cannot overcome them by sheer stubbornness alone. He will need to learn to ask for help, which he finds from his wife, Jo (Aunjanue Ellis), and his former nemesis, Sunday. To see how the movie turns out, you will have to watch the rest yourself. I highly recommend it!


So how does this relate to the Christian life? The Christian life is challenging! We are constantly beset with difficulties: temptations, seemingly unanswered prayers, despair, a dry prayer life and fatigue. It is hard to follow the Ten Commandments and live a life focused on God! We are called to strive to overcome these challenges, not alone, but with help from our Savior Jesus Christ.


We have two wonderful aids to assist us in living the Christian life: prayer and the Sacraments.  Jesus Christ, our Savior, taught us to pray and gave us the example of how and when to do it through his frequent withdrawal to quiet places to pray during his ministry. Secondly, he empowered his Apostles, and (through them and their successors) his priests to baptize, to forgive sins, and to celebrate the Eucharist. In confessing our sins to Christ in the Sacrament of Confession that we open ourselves to receive God's graces especially those offered in the Eucharist. Such graces allow us to persevere through the challenges in this life.


We are called to be like Carl Brashear, to relentlessly focus on achieving our one goal (a faithful Christian life) and to allow nothing to stop us. Our focus should be on living Christ-like lives. In order to be successful in this endeavor, we need to be quick to admit that we cannot do it alone. We NEED to take advantage of God's sustaining graces through prayer and the Sacraments, especially Confession and Holy Eucharist. .