I just read a great article that I have to share with you.
The article, “The New Catholic Manliness“, can be found at a wonderful blog, Sancte Pater.
The article explores the idea that not too long ago, the Church became dominated by the feminine sense of spirituality. Now, however, there is a return a more masculine spirituality.
I, for one, welcome this return. There is a dearth of vocations to the priesthood, and I believe this is related to the decline of a true masculine spirituality. More than that, I believe that in the last half of the 1900s, there was subversive emphasis on the feminine. If a return to a more masculine spirituality helps increase vocations to the priesthood, I welcome it.
Here’s a taste of the article. I encourage you to read the whole thing.
Not all these effects, as we shall see, have been bad. But one of the worst has been a subjugation of traditional masculine virtue: the concept of distinctly and properly manly Catholicism repressed, stigmatized, covered up, or otherwise forgotten for lack of practice. And the more “feminized” Catholicism thus became — the more its pews became recognized as the province of wives, children, and the effete — the more likely were men and their post-pubescent sons to stay away. All of this is making today’s Church, according to Leon Podles, author of The Church Impotent, “essentially a women’s club with some male officers.”
In many instances, Monsignor Swetland and Bolster both insist, there was a genuine correction in order, a worthy contribution from the “feminine” perspective to be made. But it all went too far, and quickly. (Consider as a parallel how the revolutionary affirmation-based child-rearing philosophy of Dr. Spock morphed into the coddling excesses of the baby boomers.) Suddenly a generation of men — both lay and clergy — that not long before had finally been able to admit that it was “okay to cry” became the Phil Donahue Generation: limp caricatures of sensitivity. Fathers — of families and of souls — lost their authoritative voice, or abandoned their responsibilities to seek self-fulfillment. Meanwhile, catechists, newly unchained from dry and rote formulas, soon reduced the content of the Faith, as Bolster puts it, to “Jesus loves you, now let’s make a collage.”
Bollman sees his ministry as part of a larger wave. “There’s definitely something going on here,” he says. Throughout the Church, “God is awakening in more men the desire to be real men.” This means making sacrifices, being “willing to pay the price to do the right thing.” In order to make such a sacrifice a man must “draw on all his masculine strength,” Bollman says, and in so doing he steers clear of the two extremes of false manhood that are “deadly to male participation in the Church”: the “wimpish Christianity” that presents neither challenge nor reward, and the machismo that keeps proud men off their knees.
Perhaps above all else, this new breed of seminarian has a fundamentally different orientation toward the Church, a posture that is decidedly husbandly. “The priests we’re forming now,” says Monsignor Swetland, “their mission is to love, cherish, and protect their Bride the Church. Whereas so many priests and seminarians of my generation, they wanted to change the Church.” This doesn’t mean that these men are blind to the Church’s faults and failings; however, they view those troubles in the larger context of a “battle to fight on her behalf.” This spirit of spousal fidelity, combined with a healthy accent on God’s transcendence (whereas the feminine approach, Monsignor Rohlfs muses, “tends to accentuate His immanence”), has the added effect of sealing these young priests with a deep and trustworthy orthodoxy.
In practice, this means a return to teaching hard or “crunchy” doctrine, a return to transcendence, a return to the fullness of Christian mysteries. Not, Bolster stresses, a return to the days of rote catechesis, but rather a new approach that “corrects current imbalances” without being merely reactionary. Thus, for example, in teaching Christology Jesus will still be “our friend” — as CCD children drew on their felt banners in the Seventies — but He will also be presented “as our God and Creator and Judge of the universe,” with fully divine and human natures united in the Second Person of the Trinity. A lesson on the four marks of the Church will include the translation of “catholic” as “universal,” and therefore welcoming of all, but now to be followed by emphasis on evangelization and penance rather than on cheery inclusivism.
These excerpts demand a closer reading of the whole article, and I encourage you to do so. The blog, Sancte Pater, by the way, is great, too.