Thursday, November 04, 2010

Man Love

Manliness and Christianity used to go together, now they seem poles apart. Although we don't have women clergy in the Church, women seem to dominate practically every field of parish life, education, catechesis and every level of lay "ministry". Following an earlier post and the comments, I suspect there has been an even more fundamental change in Christianity than liturgy.

It touches our very image of God himself, Christ and our understanding of Love. God is Love but in the scriptures and the Church's liturgy this Love is shown to us in God the Father and the man Jesus Christ. Holy Wisdom is portrayed as femine and but the Father and Son are decidedly masculine. Though Christ is often portrayed as being moved by compassion his love always manly, it isn't touchy-feeley.

The Old Testament presents manliness in terms of duty, fulfilling vows, obedience to God, heroism, bravery, suffering, even to the point of death, for the common good. Some how I can't imagine Sarah being willing to offer her son Isaac as a sacrifice, for the sake of "faith" Abraham is willing to thrust his knife into the flesh of the son he loves. It is precisely when Samson, David or Solomon get in touch with their "femine side", their emotions, that things go wrong.

The love Christ shows is about loving even when your hands and feet are being nailed to the cross. It is about filial obedience, "thy will be done, not mine". Jesus expresses admiration for the Centurion who speaks of obedience, "I say to one man go, and he goes...". It is a love that loves even when feelings are absent which seems to be summed up in Jesus saying, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me".

Jesus tells his disciples, "If you love me, keep my commandments", "I give you a new commandment: Love one another". There seems to be little about feelings here and much more that is about duty and obligation. Indeed as we are told to love our enemies, it would seem emotions are actually the enemy of the love Jesus wants from his followers.

In society generally, as in the Church, the way men have traditionally shown love, through bravery, heroism, patriotism, self denial, duty, have actually become not only unfashionable but mistrusted.

I wonder if the parade ground style of the extraordinary form, the lack of emotion, the self control, the precise detailing of every action and every word is something which appeals to men and consequently make the older Rite more masculine.

48 comments:

Laurence England said...

I like serving the EF because it is ordered, structured, everything is centred on Christ.

I like the EF Mass because you've got a book that tells you, explicitly to pray the Mass. There is no real making it up as you go along. It tells you how to pray the Mass in Latin from beginning to end. Then you've got the devotions at the end of Mass.

It sends out a clear message that while God graciously descends in Holy Communion, we are serving God, not God serving us.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Interesting post..but what do you do with the girls & women? Do they have to go to the OF?

I'm concerned about my 11 & 13 year old sons in terms of the Liturgy & priesthood...

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Hope you don't mind borrowing you for my blog?

mikesview said...

Many years ago a Catholic writer suggested that the English language could be considered to be deficient in words about love. The word 'love' can reasonably be used, he said, to translate at least four Greek words, which mean quite different things. He quoted 'eros', 'philia', 'storge' and 'agape'. These range from physical love to the love of martyrs for their self-sacrifice. With that in mind, one can see why statements (in English) about love have to be very careful to avoid smirk-provoking ambiguity and double entendre. More succinctly, a (normal) man may love his daughter and mother very much (agape?) but doesn't want to have sex with them (eros?). In a broader sense it shows the importance of proper translation. Come back Latin, all is forgiven.

B flat said...

I think you have a hit the mark in your perceptive post, Father.
You refrain from underscoring the point of how educative and formative the traditional Liturgy was for each successive generation.
May this resume and be effective again, by regular and more frequent and widespread celebration of the EF.

The good of the whole Church Militant, for which the Pope has such care, requires this. If you are right, as I think you are, then this is true especially of the young; enormous problems are already visible and active in the world which they will have to face, and please God, overcome with love.

John said...

Young men need heroes to admire and hope to emulate. In our society, I wonder who their heroes are? Football players? Pop stars?
The masculine virtues of saints, martyrs, missionaries and, yes, soldiers are a very far cry from present day "heroes". At a tangent, I've often wondered about Isaac - did he ever recover from seeing his father, whom presumably he trusted, stamd over him with a knife in his hand? God intervened and all was well but Isaac must have remembered that his father was ready to kill him.

Manuel said...

To reply to John interesting diversion: on a faith perspective, I think that Isaac must have supernaturally rejoiced because of the fidelity of the father and his perfect love for God, stronger than the love for his son's material life.

On the other hand, we know that Isaac's sacrifice is a symbol for our Lord's one. So somewhat Isaac's attitude toward Abraham might have been a mirror of the Christ one's for the Father that accepted his sacrifice for us.

To go back to the post, I fully agree Fr. Blake, many thanks for your words. The loss of support for manly religious attitude is a plague for the OF faithfuls. Of course, feminine's proper attitude must be respected as well. In my opinion also this woman's part is much better respected in the EF liturgy.

I read today in the Online Catholic Herald that most Irish Catholic women do not feel valued by the Church. And that's mainly OF Church.

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2010/11/04/poll-most-irish-catholic-women-do-not-feel-valued-by-the-church/

There could be various reasons for that, but I'm quite sure this is not the case for EF.

Ma Tucker said...

Women have always liked men to be manly. Men have always liked men to be manly. Certainly women put up with more rubbish than men do for the sake of communal relations. This is part of the feminine nature. I really disagree with classifying the liturgy using a scale of testosterone. The fact is, one is more serious, devout and holy in its prayers and actions than the other.

Furthermore, Jesus cried for Jerusalem. He cried on the cross. He cried in the garden of Olives. He cried on hearing Lazarus's death. Mary cried at the foot of the cross. Jesus was cross on a number of occasions. God gave us our emotions so they are good. Certainly they can be perverted like lust and pride are perversions. Seriousness is an emotion surely. Devotion is an emotion. St. Francis Liguori cried much in sorrow for the offense his sins caused our good God.

I suppose I would contend that there is a difference between proper emotion and the sad counterfeit of false flatterty, pride stroking, attention seeking "worship" that goes on in some but certainly not the majority of our churches that celebrate the ordinary form.

James A said...

Absolutely spot on. Many military men of my father's generation in particular find the touchy feely stuff and ad lib shenanigans excruciating. The EF is at once beautiful and deeply austere and your remark about the "parade ground" discipline is very well made. That is the stuff to inspire vocations - priests who want to be priests of the Church Militant and not just social workers.

Natasa said...

I absolutely agree that men have to be men and that these days there are no good role models in mainstream society. The Church has to be able to fight this negative trend and the EF Mass is a part of that.

However, it seems to me that you see the feminine as negative. I don't think it is fair to blame the current state of affairs on women being involved in church. Perhaps if men showed more initiative and desire to be active than things would be more balanced. Why blame women for this?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Natasa,
I'm just stating what is.
I think suggesting men might get more involved doesn't quite work.

Scott said...

You nailed it, Fr. Ray – what a great topic! This issue has gotten press in the US with regard to Vanishing Male Syndrome in the Protestant churches. Those interested might want to refer to Leon Podles’ 1999 book “The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity”, or to an on-line essay “Men and Church” by Frederica Mathewes-Green, who reports on her survey of why American men are so attracted to Orthodox Christianity.

One of the lamentable US weekly news magazines (I have forgotten which) reported on bizarre workshops sponsored by some Evangelical churches to encourage men to explore male Christian spirituality. Apparently this involved beer, bad language, football and belching. Hardly manly in my view.

Podles theorizes in part about the fallout from medieval Western “Bridal Mysticism” and a resulting gender division between “head” and “heart”. As Mathewes-Green puts it, “men retired for brandy and cigars in the Systematic Theology Room, while praying and church-going were given over to women.”

Physiocrat said...

I like the precision of the EF mass but then I would. However, it is only recently that I have come to appreciate this quality.

gemoftheocean said...

H'mmmm..I expect you've never seen a girls' drill team....

Lynn said...

I completely agree. I'm probably on the fringe if the survey of Irish women can be taken at face-value, but I've long been disappointed by what seems to be a lack of "masculinity" in the church. In my limited experience as a new convert the dominance exerted by parish women has struck me more than any supposed male dominance.

I will say, however, that while I think men could and should take a stronger role in parish activities, I don’t think you can blame ‘feminization’ for the touchy-feely nonsense. I personally don’t see true femininity as ‘touchy-feely’ at all. That crap owes more to the introduction of pop psychology and post-modern hippy culture rather than the dominance of women. That same pop psychology, premised as it is on subjective feelings, victimhood, and an egotistical view of ‘self-esteem’ has not only led the church on the wrong path but has also given women a false model of femininity. The historical women I admire are actually quite strong and honorable albeit in a different way from men. In the end, both men and women should focus on rooting the false emotional subjectivity of modern culture out of the church.

Zephyrinus said...

Dear gemoftheocean.

"H'mmmm..I expect you've never seen a girls' drill team...."

What, ON THE SANCTUARY !!!!!!!

JARay said...

Please excuse me if I seem to ramble a bit. I am not rambling.
"mikesview" mentions the four Greek words for love and indeed the only recording of C.S. Lewis's voice that I know of is his explanation of "The Four Loves" which Mike has listed...eros, storge, philos, agape.
In St. John's gospel chapter 21 we have Jesus asking Peter if he loves him and Peter replies three times that he does.
Now.
If we turn to the Greek in which John wrote his gospel we find something just a bit different.
The first time Jesus asks Peter he says "agapas me" but Peter does not reply "agapo se" he replies "philo se". The question Jesus asked was if Peter loved him in the sense that Jesus loved Peter and was prepared to die for him. It is the love of the Father in sending His only son to redeem mankind. Peter's reply was in the sense of a love of the mind. We get the word "Philosphy" which is a love of the mind for wisdom...philo..sophos. Peter did not answer with a love in the sense of the love with which he was asked.
The second time Jesus asked Peter, he used the same question "agapas me?" Again, Peter evaded the question and replied "philo se"
The third time Jesus asked Peter it was Jesus who changed the question, because he asked "phileas me?" and again, Peter stayed with the same verb "Philo se".
But we should note that Peter did eventually show that he loved Jesus in the same sense that Jesus loved him because he did suffer martyrdom for love of Jesus.
After each of Peter's replies Jesus gave him a commission and I believe that he gave Peter three different commissions.
The first time, Jesus said "Boske ta arnia mou" "feed my lambs" and Jerome has "pasce agnos meos" in his Latin vulgate.
The second time, Jesus says "poimaine ta probata mou" and Jerome has "pasce agnos meos"
Now which is it???
Is it "shepherd my sheep" or is it "feed my lambs"?
Why would Jerome translate "sheep" as "lambs"?
The Knox Bible has a footnote on this point. This says that there was an ancient version which read "poimaine ta probata micra mou"...."Shepherd my (little) sheep" and his version therefore reads "Shepherd my shearlings" because shearlings are neither lambs nor are they sheep. They are the YOUTH of the flock.
And after the third question, of course the command is "boske ta probata mou"...feed my sheep.
Taking those commands as being three different commands, we have feed my lambs, shepherd my shearlings, feed my sheep. Peter is commanded to look after the ENTIRE FLOCK with the appropriate method for each section according to its needs....children, youth and adults.
I think that this makes more sense than the usual reason given for Jesus asking Peter three times if he loves him simply because Peter had denied Jesus three times. It is more subtle and more expansive of the total commission given to Peter as the one who was to guide the Church in the forthcoming years.

John Lamont said...

It is worth noting that Archbishop Rembert Weakland was involved in the creation of the Novus Ordo. I don't want to attribute the feminisation of the NO entirely to his influence or the influence of clerics like him - it was probably rather a case of a feminised conception of worship, of the kind noted by Leon Podles, led characters such as Weakland to be attracted to liturgical 'reform' and to be given power over it.

Natasa; holding that it is evil for men to be feminine is not the same as holding that the feminine is evil. In fact, if masculinity is assimilated to femininity and hence disappears, femininity cannot continue either: the two are complementary and cannot exist without each other. A properly masculine liturgy will thus promote femininity as well as masculinity. You may ask; why should the liturgy not be feminine rather than masculine? The answer seems to be that the liturgy is enacted by Christ through the instrument of the priest, and Christ was a man. Removing masculinity from the liturgy is thus removing Christ from it.

epsilon said...

Lynn - Hear Hear! Nothing disgusts me more than the way priests are being sidelined by the laity - especially parish councillors.

It's absolute rubbish to think that women in power would make things better - you only have to look at Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth I to name but two. More women in the British parliament voted for war against Iraq than men proportional to their numbers.

Mitch said...

Father you might enjoy the book: The Church Impotent by Leon Podles

Moretben said...

That Frederica article's good, (despite the misattribution of St Athanasius's famous aphorism)

http://www.frederica.com/writings/men-and-church.html

I would only add a couple of observations, trying to be helpful:

Like it or not, Catholic "Traditionalism" is not traditional Catholicism: it is itself a product of disruption and discontinuity, and therefore equally prey to distortions and exaggerations. The antidote to touchy feely liturgy is not frigid rigid liturgy. Some of the Roman rite celebrations I've witnessed in the last few years have looked more like exercises in hyper-rubrical parody than anything genuinely alive.

Secondly - the article gives prominence to something I'm constantly banging on about on these blogs; the absolute, necessity of recovering meaningful ascesis as the basic condition of genuine recovery.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Yes Moretben, it goes deeper than the expression of liturgy, it is not so much about doing manly things but being manly.

The concern with agere over esse reflects the superficiality, the outward show, of contemporary culture.

Auricularis said...

Some of the Roman rite celebrations I've witnessed in the last few years have looked more like exercises in hyper-rubrical parody than anything genuinely alive.

The same can be equally said of Orthodox liturgies I have attended as well. Only God reads people's hearts.

shadowlands said...

A few months ago, I dreamed I had walked onto the altar in St Mary Magdalen's and Father Ray shouted at m: "No women allowed!" The funny thing is, I have no desire to be anywhere near the altar (except at Holy Communion). I hope my dream isn't exposing some secret feminist leaning?
As for female power and it's effect on the liturgy, we should take a leaf out of St Hilda's book. She was one strong woman and they did the Synod of Whitby, 664 AD at her place, didn't they? So, women can affirm and re-inforce traditional Catholicism, and still empower the men folk!

Pray your rosaries. Our Lady sorts your gender roles out properly, no competing in her heart.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Shadowlands,
I don't do that, I am not a misogynist, I rarely shout, never I hope in Church.

The Church has aleays warned us about taking dreams too seriously.

shadowlands said...

I don't think you are like the angry image in my dream Father Ray. To me, It says more about my feelings about myself, and my standing before God,( not standing on the altar obviously). I maybe imagine God is angry with me and my subconscious used you as a representative of Him? I can't really control that, my head tends to dream whatever it wants when I'm asleep. Daydreaming whilst awake is more manageable ;).

Mac McLernon said...

Fantastic post, Fr. Ray. You've really hit the nail on the head here.

shane said...

The first thing I noticed after loading this blog was the title of this post. I was rather afraid to read any further.

Paul, Bedfordshire said...

Moretben Wrote: "Like it or not, Catholic "Traditionalism" is not traditional Catholicism: it is itself a product of disruption and discontinuity"

I think you have a point, which Pope Benedict has gone some way to address in Summorum Pontificum.

The Moto proprio returned the EF back into mainstream church life and increasingly it is being integrated into the normal life of the Church by priests like Frs Blake, Basden, Finigan and McSwiney rather than being something separate.

At my parish we have an EF Mass on Sunday at 5PM and people sometimes go to the EF only because it is the only evening Mass, which is I think a good thing as people are accepting the Mass is the Mass is the Mass.

I like the EF but don't buy into the whole traditionalism package, which appears to include things like homeschooling and seems in some cases to decry everything modern as being associated with forked tails, as I really dont want to be in what seems in some ways to be a Catholic equivalent of the Bluebell Railway. I'm not a traditionalist I'm a Catholic.

nazareth priest said...

As an Anglo-Irish descendant American, I can just say this:
the EF offers good manners, polite custom, and a way to love God in a very formal way; me Mum taught us manners and politeness with others...God is the ultimate "guest", yeah?
As for manliness; to be protective, careful of other's needs, always in readiness to serve...this is also so apparent in the EF rubrics and customs.
The very gentleness, care and protectiveness of the priest's, as well as the other ministers of the altar, for the Sacred Guest, as well as for the faithful, points, in my mind, to the heavenly Father's love. What some might characterize as "formalism" or "dead ritual", is, in fact, a definite respect and love that is made manifest in very determined gestures and rituals.
Great meditation, Father!

Peter said...

Spot on Father. I'm a young man and I find that most of what passes for Catholic worship today is banalised and emasculated. Bring on the EF Mass or at least an OF offered as the Church desires, not according to the narcissism of the priest.

Nârwen said...

>gemoftheocean said...
>H'mmmm..I expect you've never >seen a girls' drill team....

How come nobody responded to this ?
Also, what I read of that book by Podles (I couldn't force myself to finish it..) reminded me of the 'muscular Christianity' movement of the 19th century, whose chief exponent was Charles Kingsley, famous for his public insult to Catholicism in general and Blessed Newman in particular.

Bryan said...

Dear Mikesview,

You write: "He quoted 'eros', 'philia', 'storge' and 'agape'."

Well the "storge" really puzzled me so I have just spent ten or so minutes looking for this "storge" as I have never seen this word. (Is that a manly thing to do I wonder).

I have found an obscure word used rarely by Aeschylus - stergethron - which means a love charm and therefore for love.

Woodhouse provide a better list here:

http://artflx.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/efts/dicos/woodhouse_test.pl?keyword=^Love,%20v.%20trans.

As to the main topic - as there are no lay readers or EMHC there are no women in the Sanctuary at Old Rite Masses. Also there are no female altar servers either. This must make a difference.

MartinT said...

Spot on, Father. I know the Church has to be inclusive, but I cannot help feeling that a sanctuary and sacristy that is run by women is not that inclusive either.

It is hard to comment without putting one's foot in it and saying something non-PC. But blokes are different and there are things that women like and men don't - like shopping. Modern worship is a 'turn off' for too many people.

The beauty of the EF is that we are all equal before God, male or female, saints or sinners. We can be devout or enjoy the music, kneel at the front or stand at the back, God is pleased to see us.

Zephyrinus said...

Narwen. I responded to it.

georgem said...

It's the silence of the EF which brings me closer to God. And it's silence which is so counter to the culture of noise which besets us.

The injunction to be active from morning to night to validate our lives, to be more Martha than Mary, is just as relentless.

How difficult, then, to be quiet and still enough to hear God speak. And what a pity that the Church goes along with the mores of the age instead of having the courage to be counter-cultural.

We saw the model in Hyde Park during the Pope's visit. Thousands upon thousands of people in total and concentrated silence with the roar of London all around them. I had hoped that the message would be picked up by the hierarchy.

Sadly not. The wittering before, during and after (usually the OF) Mass continues unabated. Sometimes it seems that God doesn't actually get much of a look in and those who crave silence and contemplation in order to be nearer to Him are regarded as oddities.

johnf said...

Good post Father

Some very good comments as well.
Like Bryan I was wondering about storge, a word which I had never met before.

But I have found it under a Greek to English Lexiconon the web

στοργή = affection, attachment

Sadie Vacantist said...

I have just returned from TLM so this is hot off the press:

The beauty of the TLM lies in the fact that, unlike the Paul VI Mass, I am not incandescent with rage at the end of it.

That's about as good as it is going to get for me.

JimG said...

Thanks for those perceptive remarks Fr. The Church in our isles largely lost mostly men and the working classes (as then were) post-'spirit of VII' reformism.

Ma Tucker said...

Nazareth Priest
Thank you for that. Your summation is exactly how I experience it.

Barbara MacKalski said...

Brilliant article Father Blake.

Fr D said...

Father, I have just seen this posting and I think you are on to something here.

I am a Military Chaplain and I definitely find that my soldiers prefer the EF. I started saying it in Afghanistan during my last tour there in 2007-8 and I have continued it almost daily back home, thanks to the Holy Father's Motu Proprio.

Why do the soldiers like it? Silence, Order, Precision and not being persecuted by bossy women constantly telling them where to sit or thrusting bits of paper into their hands!

Some people - men especially, I think - just want to come to Mass and worship God.

In the EF, everyone knows where they are and there are fewer surprises or sacerdotal solipsisms. Also, the lads who serve on the altar like the "professionalism" required to get it right. I do think this is a particularly "masculine" trait.

I think it was the late Cardinal Heenan who warned that the Mass of Paul VI potentially would have the unintended consequence of driving away ordinary working men due to its "feminised", middle-class presentation.

How prophetic!

Father John Boyle said...

Dear Father

Naturally I fully agree with you.

On the other hand, today I concelebrated at Assumption Grotto in Detroit where all Masses, EF and OF, are celebrated ad orientem. There was something about facing God, not the people, for the Liturgy of the Eucharist that produced the same effect you and I both perceive at EF Masses. There was a competent team of men and boy servers, all doing their jobs with precision, and the celebrant, deacon and concelebrant, simply doing and saying what they were instructed to do by the rubrics. Also: only chant (English antiphons, Latin ordinary - de Angelis), no congregational singing. Communion kneeling and on the tongue (by intinction) with communion plates.

All very 'manly' and prayerful.

Not that I do not fully agree that the EF Mass is the higher form of the Mass.

Father John Boyle said...

Further to previous comment, I need to make a correction. There was congregational singing of the Ordinary of the Mass, but no hymns.

shadowlands said...

I really really really don't like the way the comments are going. In the sense, that sensitive females might shrink back into their holes and not realise their own vocation, in Our Lady's team.
The more the encouraging anti-female comments are coming in, the more frightened I am getting, for true Catholicism.
I am a female. I have no sisters, but two brothers. And five sons I have given birth to,(plus the sons Our Lady has given me, (her priests, five, on blogger, that I am to pray for daily and also encourages me to fast for, but I need persons to pray for me, to have the continuing power to fast for them (you wanna get real with the deal? Email me, and promise me you are praying for me! The other side is active and energentic (satan). She (Our Lady, will send me more priests then)). Pray also, if Our Lord, is asking you to pray for priests. Pyramid praying, is not the same, as pyramid selling. Come on girls, let's forget L'oreal, because you're worth it. Let's do fast, because, the priest is worth it!
Any women, feeling at a loss on this planet (it's a common phenomenum (never could spell that well)email me, Our Lady has a plan and an outcome, and she needs your involvement. She will win. The Trinity can never say 'no' to her. She only seeks the will of God. Her soul magnify's the Lord. She is where, we have got to be. Think about it. Representative's. Forget ego. Forget L'oreal. What Our Lady gives, is forever. She gave us Jesus. What more, do you want?

Rusticus said...

A very perceptive post, Father. As "Fr D" noted, the late Cardinal Heenan realised the effect that the new Mass would have on the number of men attending Mass - and how right he was!

I attended an EF Mass a few days ago. It was at 1130 on a weekday morning and it was absolutely heaving down with rain, so the congregation was not large - but it was overwhelmingly male.

QED

mikesview said...

shadowlands: In your posting of 8:11:10, you ask, nay demand, that people e-mail you with their promises of prayer in support of your lone campaign of prayer and fasting. I've looked, but can't find/see your e-address. Please provide. Thanks.
Can I say that being 'chippy' about the whole 'women-in-the-church' thing doesn't really do anything except distract us all from the one aim, which is to offer ourselves to almighty God by loving and honouring him in the Mass. Like many men I have a vocation, that of being a husband. I have no regrets whatever about choosing that vocation. Occasionally, however, I muse about being a priest, even though as a married man the priesthood is barred to me - a situation with which I whole heartedly concur. Which in a way means that men are in something like the same situation as the women who feel that they are excluded from something by a stern, unfeeling and unforgiving church. You may say is all this disputation and wrangling really worth the time it takes up? To which my response would be: quite! See what I mean about distraction?!

mictel08@yahoo.co.uk said...

johnf, post of 6:11:10
bryan, post of 5:11:10
JAray, post of 5:11:10

Thanks for your responses to my posting of 4:11:10.
By putting στοργε in the search engine and clicking up the first response in the list that came up, I found the following suggestion for the translation of the four terms under discussion:
Στοργε, storge - love of e.g., parents for their children.
ερος, eros - romantic love.
φιλια, philia -friendship.
αγαπε - unconditional love (e.g., the love of a martyr)