And so the long Sanford saga has ended in divorce. Tiger’s accident was not just an innocent mishap. There was a time when I thought MarkSanford was a bright light of the conservative movement. There was a time when I thought Tiger was “great” beyond the world of golf. But both have failed.

The tragedy is not so much about the harm–if any–caused to us, the hopeful conservatives or the fans of the PGA Tour. The tragedy is seeing men who had achieved the highest positions in their respective professions failing as men. They have become nothing because they could not be faithful to the most basic parts of their lives: family, self-control, faith.

As I’m sure Tiger would tell you, success on the course often comes down to mastering the fundamentals. Golf is a mental sport above all, and if you have mastered the fundamentals, you can fall back on them when the doubt comes into your mind or the competition gets too fierce.

Marriage is a bit like that, I suppose. Being a man is a lot like that. We need to be sure we have mastered the fundamentals and we need to continue to refine and improve on them. In our game as husbands, we must keep the love for our wives foremost in our minds throughout the day.  It means avoiding places we should not be. Or being with people we should not be with. As men, it is about properly ordering our passions through prayer and developing the habits of chastity, diligence, a love for productive work, and self-possession. As fathers, it is about spending time with our children and showing our affection for them.

It is these fundamentals that some in society have forgotten. And in forgetting them, they have brought ruin to themselves and their families. Mark Sanford could not face the bottom line. Tiger’s greatness was confined to golf. Both have forgotten the fundamentals.

As we proceed through Advent, I think it is a good time to recall the fundamentals of life. Not just those of being a husband and father, but a disciple of the Lord. What basics have we forgotten? What do we need to do to truly prepare a place for the Lord to enter our hearts and our lives more fully this year?

Cross-posted at Catholic Dads

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