Continuing this series on masculinity in the Catholic Church, I want to bring you another voice today. My perspective on this topic is limited, and external, due to being a woman. But being a married woman, fortunately I have easy access to the thoughts and opinions of a Catholic man! Recently I “interviewed” him for his take on manliness, the Man Crisis in the Church, and what manliness is in respect to religion. DH (Dear Husband) is a convert of almost ten years now, having been raised in a completely non-religious New England military family. His perspective brings a fresh look at this topic.
Me: I am working on a series of posts for my blog on masculinity and the Catholic Faith. What does it mean to you to be “masculine” or “manly”?
DH: Being manly means protecting, being brave, working hard. It means providing for others, and having loyalty. Especially having family loyalty! Also being patriotic.
Me: Being patriotic? Hmmm! Interesting. I have never thought about that. Since you converted almost 10 years ago, have you seen manliness in the Catholic Faith?
DH: Yes. I have seen reverent men with their families, bringing their sons to Mass. They dress and worship appropriately. There has been a manly presence in some priests, like the mission priest we met in Maine who was part Iroquois, remember? And our current pastor as well.
Me: Ha ha! I remember that mission priest! Father made us ushers, more like bouncers, in the Cathedral, for that evening. He was very masculine, for sure! So, is that what you think a manly religious man is like?
DH: A manly religious man is the head of his family. He leads the family in prayer—at meals, for the Rosary, and blessings.
Me: Thousands of male saints have given all of us a good example, each in his own way. Do you have you any manly patron saints?
DH: I think that most to all of the male saints were very manly. The martyrs gave the ultimate sacrifice. Especially St. Maximillian Kolbe at Auschwitz.
Me: Do you have any thoughts on the recent scandals in the church over the last 15 years?
DH: These scandals are like a bomb. They attack manliness, and the roots of masculinity. It shows that the cancer is within the Church. How are we supposed to look upon these men as role models and leaders? It is horrible for their fellow men to see that.
Me: At most of the parishes we have gone to since we met, there have been relatively few men at Mass every Sunday. What do you think will help the men come back to Mass?
DH: The celebration of the Mass should be tied to manliness. I mean that the music and the setting should be reverent and serious. The things in the church should be beautiful. Something that is beautiful is well-crafted, and that is a sign of respect. Mass is supposed to strengthen the soul, and seeing respect for God at Mass strengthens us.
Me: So, besides Mass, what else do you think would help reverse the falling away of men from the Faith? Can you think of steps people could take to stop the attrition and bring them back?
DH: Yes. First, we have to pray for the hierarchy and the clergy. We must have good, strong, manly men in the Church. The priests and bishops have to be an example to laymen—showing reverence to God, and saying Masses that have beauty and precision.
Me: Thank you for your ideas, thank you for talking with me. It sounds like it is hard to be a faithful Catholic man nowadays, but I guess it has always been. I will pray for you to St. Maximillian and St. Joseph today!
When he was growing up, my husband was always conscious of the proud heritage of generations of military heroes in his family. Although his family was not religious, his parents raised him with the manly virtues of courage, honesty, and self-sacrifice. I like to think this helped him recognize the Ultimate Truth when he had grown up. Because his mother’s family had once been Catholic, he had always thought that he would be a Catholic someday, somehow. (He told me that when he was a teenager he used to write “Catholic” on every paper that ever asked what his religion was, even though he had never been baptized nor even so much as entered a Catholic Church.) It’s the beautiful work of Divine Providence: the military role models in his family, and the Faith of his ancestors, played a huge part in making him the Catholic man he is today–another voice in the movement to help the Church restore the masculine and the men to the Catholic Faith and Catholic living. Deo gratias!