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From Siege2Surge: Re-entry

Before every mission, soldiers join the members of their unit and their leaders to review their mission and the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) they’ll use to accomplish the mission. Virtually everybody knows the TTP, but that doesn’t matter, because today is a new day. The unit walks through the scenarios they may encounter and how they will respond. They rehearse so that they can perform. “Like a well-oiled machine, a well-trained ballet,” one Iraq war veteran recalls of these pre-mission meetings, “we were ready to dance.”


At 1700-2000 hours when they deploy to the ultimate mission of home — the domestic church — most men are not ready to dance. Hopefully they’ve called home to conduct some reconnaissance, but most neglect their TTP. Their modus operandi is “Fire! Aim! Ready!” They react.

But that’s not you: because as an elite spiritual warrior faithful to your first two Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), you are now ready to execute your third SOP: controlled re-entry. One fellow dad summarized this SOP as “breathe, pray and prepare to love (and expect your second wind).”

Breathe. First, you must stop a few blocks from home, pull off and set the car in park. (Adjust accordingly, depending on your commute). Like a rocket re-entering the earth’s atmosphere, you must have this atmospheric drag to conduct a successful, controlled re-entry. The alternative is to burn up or implode in an uncontrolled re-entry.

Pray. There at the side of the road, pray to St. Joseph the Worker in thanksgiving for having a job and being able to provide for your family. Begin to get your head out of the ozone of your office or wherever you work. As you thank the Lord for how lucky you are to be a husband and father, beg for a new grace to help you in your sacred mission this evening. Pray like the evening depends on it. Then thank the Lord in advance for the fact that He will provide for you as you lead your family spiritually in the hours ahead.

Prepare to love (and expect your second wind). There in your idling car — with the phone quiet, the radio and podcasts off — your next step is to rehearse your TTP, because today is a new day. As a grunt “on the line,” you must align every tactic, technique and procedure in service to your outfit: your wife and children. It’s a big lift, especially considering your own shortcomings (and if you are human, the fatigue factor will soon come into play). But you must lock onto the fact that your mission tonight is not to lead your family to entertainment, nice feelings, a clean house, completed homework, or athletic prowess.

“Make no little plans,” as one man said, “they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized.” Some day you will answer for how you stirred your family’s blood to advance a plan of comfort holiness in evenings just like this.  

Allow this reality to come into focus as you review your TTP in light of your recon and the specific scenarios you may encounter. You will lead in dynamic battlefield conditions, cognizant of your prior battle wounds and demons: anger, apathy, arrogance, cowardice, distraction (and we’re only on the first few letters of the alphabet). “Your opponent, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour” (I Pt 5:8). Think about how you will respond, not react. Visualize how you will maintain constant communication — “pray unceasingly” —  with headquarters, and how you will summon the firepower of St. Joseph, the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, your guardian angel, and the “cloud of witnesses” that encompass your home.                                

The stakes are high, but you have nothing to fear.

Close with a prayer to your patron saint — either baptismal or confirmation — that you can leave your day in the car. Then put your car in drive and deploy.

Kiss your wife first, then the kids. Forget the day (and your phone, preferably high up on a shelf, in silent mode).

By executing your third SOP — a predeployment prayer of gratitude, TTP review and controlled re-entry — you have called in a devastating initial strike, and reinforcement (and a second wind) is in the wings. Your enemies are in flight and the ground has been cleared for you to do your job.

Smile. The surge is on, and you are ready to dance.

Johnson is associate director of the St. Thomas More Institute.



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017