This article is an excerpt from “Answers to The Catholic Man Crisis” available HERE  

Intrigued by something called the “men’s rights movement” I ordered some books by the activists of the movement (all by women, interestingly). Offering an alternative theory for why men are absent, aloof, and irresponsible, they claim men are not abandoning traditional responsibilities but are simply going “on strike”. The claim is that men are very logical, and if society says they are unnecessary or dangerous then they pull away from society into associations of gamers, perpetual bachelors, or simply unmotivated couch-potatoes (the last one is dealt with at length in Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men, by Dr. Leonard Sax).

In Men on Strike, for example, Dr. Helen Smith explains that men are constantly bombarded with claims that they are lazy, stupid, and unnecessary, and we want them that way because in the past men basically caused all of the problems – tyrants, war-mongers, inquisitors, etc. No longer are they potential conquerors or wannabe heroes, but tamed village idiots. From preschool when they begin their flattening out to college when “their kind” becomes the enemy of all underdogs throughout history, they are sold the story that traditional masculinity, that thing they feel drawn to as if they were made that way, is enemy number one.

I’m not sure I can get on board with the whole men’s’ rights movement, but they clearly have a point here. It is overwhelmingly clear that traditional characteristics of masculinity are simply not welcomed in society and are seen as actual dangers to social harmony. Boys typically become “trouble” the moment they get to school where their natural desire for competition, danger, and activity are suppressed. We just keep popping that little rambunctious mole on the head until it stays in its hole, and if he doesn’t, well, we have pills for that. But then in 15 years when he stays in the basement playing with “man-toys” we bemoan that he won’t come out and “man-up.” It is an atmosphere that strangles normal, healthy masculinity. That is, unless you see normal, healthy masculinity as a threat and danger – in that case it’s working just fine.

Worse than public schools for masculinity is average Catholic parish USA. Public schools are graduating about 70% of their boys, but if we consider the most basic practice of Catholics, going to Mass, we’re only “graduating” about 30% (see Catholic Man-Crisis Fact Sheet). I’m no statistician, but I’m pretty sure that is not the model of sustainability.

Like boys in school, the natural, good, masculine traits of men are not welcomed in average parish USA. I think it’s time we see this more clearly and not just blame men for not “manning up” in their faith. It’s not a “man” problem exactly, because the issues are not the same in other global religions or in the global East and South. It is a unique problem here. Religion is not losing men; Catholics in the West are losing men. So, as suggested by the men’s rights activists, maybe we should stop blaming men and start reflecting. In my experience I think there are four especially strong ways we’re making men unwelcome:

1. No Challenge

A priest friend I trust immensely was asked his opinion of the leaked “working document” from the synod on the family, and he noted a point that anyone involved with men’s apostolate will know is a glaring omission: it didn’t mention sin. I have a family, and I can tell you that the greatest challenge of modern families is not modern: it’s the ancient foe. The “challenge” that parishes need to offer men is not one of social action (though it must come later), but of conversion from sin, and a turning of their hearts to their vocation. This is a fight and a challenge, and the more it is understood that way the more men will stand and fight.

2. An Emasculated Organizational Culture

Parish offices and diocesan chancelleries are frequently very status-quo friendly, bureaucratic, and emasculated. The daring and bold action natural (though not unique) to masculinity is often buried under policies, committees, and an unwillingness to do what is “dangerous”. Not always, but often.

I have a friend who wanted to send out a gift of a Catholic Catechism to every Protestant pastor in an area. He wrote a very friendly letter with it explaining that it seems that many people are confused about what the Catholic Church actually teaches and this might help clear up misconceptions and open up dialogue. In short: it was an invitation to learn more about Catholicism. It was bold and daring, but with love and gentleness. The idea was shut down because it might be offensive to some. We’d often rather leave 99 lost sheep behind to recover the one offended sheep. Men experience these things and see it as hypocritical or pharisaical, because “challenging” people to the New Evangelization and then tying their hands is giving them a burden they cannot bare.

3. Horrible Mass Experiences

Wonky and silly liturgy practically begs men to leave. If you’re not with me on this, do two things. First, go to any article about the need to reach more men because they’re leaving the Church, read the comments, and see how quickly men are bringing up the problem with how the liturgy is celebrated at most parishes. You can’t keep ignoring this. Second, go to a traditional, reverent, and beautiful Mass and count the men. There’s your proof. This is a much broader topic, but my guess

is that you’re either aware and embracing of this point or rejecting of it and there’s little I can say to change that. We’ll move on.

The second source of the horrible experience is the sermon. Pope Francis, in The Joy of the Gospel, acknowledges the problem: “The homily is the touchstone for judging a pastor’s closeness and ability to communicate to his people. We know that the faithful attach great importance to it, and that both they and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them!” The Sunday sermon is the chance: it’s the chance to teach, instruct, and inspire the faithful!

As a convert from Protestantism, where preaching is basically the pinnacle of the week, I am constantly amazed that it is an accepted and sometimes expected practice that priests do not prepare a sermon with the utmost intensity and thought. Yes, of course, we’re all very busy, but like a man that overworks to have a big house can lose the love of his family, so a priest that busies himself to the neglect of the sermon will lose his family.

For more on the topic read Pope Francis’ reflection (beginning at paragraph 135 in Joy of the Gospel), I have nothing better to say. But for even more read the great pastoral letter from Bishop Vigneron of Detroit who wrote a great reflection on this topic beginning with Francis words.

4. Parishes Have No Brotherhood

Men are very lonely. Brotherhood is the description most proper to us Christian men, as sons in the Son. This cannot happen solely in one organization or group, but must be the identity that men see in themselves and in each other. “This aim of making the parish community a true brotherhood ought to be taken very seriously,” said Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), “This brotherhood has its source and center in the celebration of the Eucharistic mysteries” (Ratzinger, The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood, 68, 69). Yet, we often don’t even know each other’s names. Many men’s groups have had strange and sudden success, sometimes surprising the organizers. I can assure you it’s not the cleverness of the programs, but that these things are tapping into a deep need.

If you think I am proposing a macho Christianity, I’m not. What I am saying is the world is getting boys and men wrong when they suppress and disdain natural, good, and healthy masculinity, or when they simply make it unwelcome. Society is unwelcoming to men. The average parish is too, but it doesn’t have to be that way. (To see how willing and eager men are to be taught and led, click here). There is a masculine genius, and it is a gift to be embraced. Simple and even subtle acknowledgement of the needs of men, as well as a humble acceptance of their gifts needs to be a priority, because men are tremendous leaders in families and communities. If they leave the Church, they’re not going alone.

We Christian men are longing to be challenged to love, to conquer not the world or each other, but the evil one. Our minds were made for truth and in a world of relativism and banal platitudes we’re starving for it. If men are barbarian conquerors, then I can assure you there is only One who can conquer us in love and raise up a new type of army. We need Christ.

12 28 2016
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  • Phil Alcoceli

    Good Women are God's treasure on Earth and Good Men are the Guardians of that treasure. The high quality of a family, community and Nation depend on the quality of its women. The assurance and defense of that high quality depend on its men. The Devil's first target on the Garden of Eden was the woman because the power to make humankind better or worse is in women. Satan is the originator of the real, corrupting, continuing war on women for this reason.

    Satan is also the originator of the idea that men should be marginalized, ignored and treated as stupid, backward and "unevolved" which then gave Adam the idea of doing nothing after Eve's Sin and then just consenting on it. We are doing the same exact thing today as Adam did and it's time to remind the Eve's of their high calling in God through our own living and holy example, even at the price of our very lives, as true masculinity is mainly and primordially SACRIFICIAL, just like the very Heart of God is.

  • Rae Marie

    A lot of this is true. Feminism, in its modern form, has become a cancer on society and on the Church. It is truly a false form of femininity, that does not want to recognize the strong and heroic in men-or women. We are the Church Militant and not the Church Whimpy that modern society (and forces within the Church) want us to be.

  • gigi4747

    Where I work there is a nondenominational Christian chapel - also used for Mass - and a masjid, a Muslim prayer room. I have noticed that it is largely men frequenting the masjid, but almost entirely women in the chapel. What does Islam do differently? Lots of things, many of which we do not want to imitate. But I think that Islam tends to be unapologetic about the obligation it places on its practitioners. Christianity and even Catholicism specifically? Shamefully, less so.

    And speaking of obligations...about men having "bad Mass experiences." Not sure if the author believes that women have good Mass experiences, but I would like to assure him that that is not universally the case. But we are obligated to assist in the Mass. We could all find excuses not to. I don't exactly love sitting through grueling, unedifying homilies and banal music either, but I do not have much choice. (The point of Catholic worship is the Eucharist anyways, so to refer to the Mass as a good or bad experience probably is not the best way to phrase it.) At any rate, I get that the Church has a terrible attrition problem, but I think we should avoid excuse-making for anyone, male or female.

    There are countless things that need to be done to get men and women back to our faith. Restoring high altars, returning to the Extraordinary Form Mass, how about just priests actually teaching us our faith? Why do priests not use pastors notes and homilies to educate? Why do Catholic schools churn out legions of the lukewarm to hostile? Let us look internally and stop blaming the media or complaining that "the culture hates us." That is not true, in my experience, and even if it were, it would not matter if our priests were doing their job.

  • donttouchme

    I don't think it's complicated. It's the systematic destruction of the father as head of the family, mainly by John Paul II. He deliberately destroyed the authority of the husband/father and replaced it with "mutual subjection." Naturally that affects boys as they grow up and young men in the way they behave and choices they make. They're never going to be the responsible head of a family with the attendant rights and privileges thereof. They have no rights and privileges specifically as men. JPII, the so-called pope of the family, never explains men's rights as men and women's duties toward men. All he does and all anyone since JPII does is talk about how men and women are equal and mutually submissive.

  • Moussa Taouk

    Good points made. A couple of supplementary thoughts:
    Firstly, if the masculine gift is to be welcomed and encouraged then it's of vital importance to ground the kind of masculinity for which we ought to strive in the masculinity of our Lord... that kind of masculinity where the man is ready to die for the good, for the truth, for love of others.
    Secondly, even if less theological than the first, is the kind of self-focused lullaby 'hymns' that we endure at Mass. It makes me (and maybe it makes other men?) feel like they're at a children's sing-along. It's almost embarrassing to sing the songs. I'm a Maronite, and I can attest that at the Maronite Mass, when the hymns are in the traditional Arabic or Syriac language and have a tendency to have a strong character, you would do well to find many men not singing the hymns at the top of their lungs and adding that beautiful deep manly tone to the higher pitched feminine tone.

  • Happy to hear other men sharing these ideas. Gives me courage to press on.

  • sedfghj

    Fair points. Even beyond the gender thing, I think you get at something. Mission oriented people need missions, and status quo bureaucracy and a fear of the mission being mildly annoying to...we are not even sure whom, as your anecdote with the Catechisms illustrates, is poisonous to doing something, a.k.a. mission oriented parishes.

    If we want to save the mission oriented, or inspire some who did not know they were, we should get mission /progress/ goal/ improvement oriented. Something!

  • Andrew Baalman

    Thank you for writing this, our organization is trying to help restore Catholic Manhood, the old fashion in the age of the Crusade Way by restoring the Traditional what was called Military/Religious Order. check it out here https://www.ordo-militaris.us

  • Ben

    There cannot be a renewal of Catholic culture without a wholesale restoration of Holy Mass and the disciplines. As it is celebrated today in countless parishes, the Novus Ordo will not be the liturgy of the great Catholic revival, unless it itself is faithfully celebrated in accordance with the authentic documents of Vatican II.

  • Thanks for this. It's good, and needs to be said and appreciated.

  • Tricia

    My Dad has bemoaned for decades the 'feminization' of Catholicism - not as a knock to women or that the feminine should be eliminated from Catholicism but that the masculine has been eliminated from Catholicism.

    I've taken it a step further. It seems to me that today Catholics (not official Church teaching) is embarrassed by the masculine / warrior contributions to the Faith. All "knights" orders have given up on their military branches; I've heard fewer homilies on Just War, and Righteous Defense than I have on Humane Vitae - which is saying something. I could go on and on.

    We need to rejoice in the masculine / holy warrior roll in Catholicism as much as we do the feminine. A bullet fired from a gun can be a holy thing, if it's done in proper Righteous Defense. A war can be a Holy War. The Crusades were (mostly) a good and holy thing - minus the 4th and some individuals.... If there is Just War then there must be Just Warriors. If there is Righteous Defense then there must be Righteous Defenders!

    Great Article, God Bless!
    Nate

  • GuineaPugs

    Great piece, I'm trying to make it my goal to be the best Catholic role model to my younger brothers and fiancee.

  • Ray

    Hello Sir! PLEASE encourage your friend in #2 to continue with his idea of sending copies of the Catechism. We need this doctrinal apostolate in society very much.
    Also, a similar problem is seen by Brandon Vogt, hence his #FreetheWord plan (perhaps we could help him by organizing a petition to the Holy See).

    I wouldn't want to make an example of myself, but I really would like to encourage us to spread sound doctrine (spiritual reading indeed has made many saints):
    In my first year of college I gave copies of a book by St. Josemaria to my professors, in the hope that it would help them get to know Our Lord and the Church more. Yes, it was a considerable amount to save up for... but soon I hope to ask my friends for help so we can do it again - a collective effort in the apostolate.

  • Mark Homa

    Our Church loves men to "be all they can be", until a man falls on "tough times", then the climate of the Church can change dramatically. Some of Its members can "crush", a person and make a world of trouble too. I was appalled by some behavior in the Church, and the abuse was hard to deal with, nevertheless I still love the Church.

  • Gerard Havasy

    Jason,
    I agree with almost everything you have written. My Knights of Columbus organization was a tepid group of men until we started focusing on the brotherhood of the men and the need to support each other. We are now the most active and respected organization in our parish. It takes "manly" leadership to make this happen.

    • Ryan

      I wanted to pursue a similar endeavor, but had no proof of the outcome until I read this comment. Thank you!

  • K. C.

    A message for Bill below: You're right, Bill. The Knights of Columbus isn't for everyone. It's only for practicing Catholic men 18 years of age or older. And we do a lot more than recruiting and fund-raising. We are a family-based apostolate, men who do good work in our parishes and communities. Our principles are based on charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. If you think you have something to contribute, you'd be welcome to join us. But we don't sit around. We are men of action, loyal to the Holy See and ready to stand in fraternal unity with our priests. And when Father needs something done in or around the parish, he counts on us to do it.

    So consider joining our Order. You'd be among something like 30 million brothers. Not just members. Brothers.

  • Bach

    Gotta get rid of all the Haugen, Haas and Schutte music. Not only is it all nonsensical, it weakens the beauty of the liturgy. "Give us the courage to enter the song?" What? No matter how you spin it, it doesn't mean anything. Real men want real hymns with substance, not all the aSchutte music we hear week after week. It's awful. A hymn is only a hymn if it is addressed to God. Haugen, Haas and Schutte never got that memo. Gimme the Adoremus hymnal any day.

  • Iron Mike

    I tried a couple "Man Up" meetings, but they were pretty dry and stilted when it came to the organizational framework. The speakers were incredibly dull. Things started off well with rosary and Mass and a good dinner (win-Win-win), but then sort of went downhill from there. After the speakers, a lame youtube video was usually shown with an attempt to inspire us, but it achieved nothing more than vacuuming up our time. I went to at least three of these, but no fire was lit beneath me. At least the Knights of Columbus has an ordered agenda, real working activities and a plan once a month. Plus a great dinner. That's something I can latch on to.

  • APTAK

    I dont hear much from Pope Francis on a daily and personal conversion from sin. In fact, I dont hear much from him or our current Archbishop in Chicago on the concept of sin at all. Its almost as if they dont want to talk about sin., or anything hard. What I do hear is alot of talk about the periphery, climate change, immigration, giving to the poor, etc. All of this, good stuff, but not really the true nugget of the Gospel. So, I am losing interest in what the church has to say at this point. It just doesnt challenge me.

    • Joseph N

      Well, what do you mean not hearing from Pope Francis about the concept of sin? I'm very confused with your first two sentences. I think what you are trying to say is that you don't hear too much about the nature of Christian Living (i.e. breaking bad habits, avoiding wrongful desires, and growing in personal prayer and personal virtue with right disposition) and a lot more of the social aspects of the faith (i.e. giving to the poor that is in the proper context of justice and seeking respect of human dignity, social justice). I assume that you are looking more for the first. I would recommend thinking in terms of not just trying to avoid sin in your own life, but also of trying to nurture it in others (i.e. letting the person you meet on the street know that there is a God and that he loves them). As I say as a musician, it's one thing to play all the notes right, but it's another to make it music.

  • Tom Thompson

    I am a lapsed Catholic, although a Protestant convert as well. My wife and I have not attended mass in 4 years. After reading this and reading about Pope Francis I would like to consider reconciliation. Thank you for this insightful piece.

    • Jason Craig

      Tom - c'mon home! We need men that love Jesus Christ. Feel free to email me at any time if you want to talk about that some more.

  • Howard Coughlin

    I am a Knight of Columbus too and there is no greater Catholic fraternal organization within a parish then us. We are a brotherhood of Catholic men who welcome any man over the age of eighteen who is a practicing Catholic. We do church, family, community and youth activities. We do hundreds of hours of volunteer work in our communities. We ate not couch potatoes and are active members of the parish. Viva Jesus!

    • Casey

      Here, here, Howard! Men that join the Knights of Columbus roll up their sleeves and are invited to do the "heavy lifting," as it were, in their parishes. They are challenged to bring the values of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism to their faith communities. Each of my KC brothers lifts me up and serve as a great role models as fathers and husbands and men.

      • Bill

        The Knights are not for everyone: make sure you are not chasing men out by being over aggressive in recruiting and fund raising.

  • Mark

    This is a great article. I am a middle aged Catholic man. In the past I have been a single man at a catholic university, a single man in the military, a single working man living with other men, and now a married man with children. In my experiences, I see
    three basic situations that lead to real brotherhood between men:

    1) Living in Community and/or Praying Together (In this case the depth of the brotherhood seems to be related to the similarity of worldviews and positions on moral issues. Strong agreement leads to strong brotherhood; weak agreement leads to weak brotherhood.)

    2) Working Together (The depth of brotherhood is dependent on the nobility of the task; noble tasks lead to a deep brotherhood, shallow tasks lead to a more shallow brotherhood.)

    3) Suffering Together (Deeper, more intense, shared suffering leads to deeper brotherhood. No one likes suffering, but brotherhood is sacred and it seems right that it should come with a cost).

    In other cultures or other periods in history it seems like these three situations occurred more naturally than they do for us, today, in the Western World. If Catholic men want to experience brotherhood with other Catholic men, we need to be more deliberate about creating and putting ourselves into these three types of situations. Parish men's group should try to incorporate these three things. Sitting in a circle and talking might lead to familiarity, but it almost never leads to brotherhood. A parish men's group needs to facilitate real brotherhood. Maybe some of the single guys are roommates. Maybe its a group that is not afraid to go to the rough side of town and risk getting mugged in order to serve the poor.

    Also consider the words of Jesus: "For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother..." Even if our life circumstances grant us little access to brotherhood in this world, we can always have access to brotherhood with Jesus. We can live in community with Him by staying close to the Sacraments, Adoration, the Rosary, and by praying often. We can work with Jesus by using our own particular gifts to advance the Kingdom of God. And we can suffer with Jesus by offering our daily trials to Him through Mary.

  • David Marcus

    I agree and I am working with my pastor to addressing this issue. Over the past several weeks in his homilies he has used the homilies to make men aware of their responsibilities as Catholic men and the teaching of Christ.

  • Mark Anderson

    Interesting article with several good points.

    I'm in the parish Knights of Columbus Council. Does the author see any role for the K of C in countering these problems?

  • C.V. Compton Shaw

    The following is the URL of a web page from the online site, "The American Gentleman", entitled: " The Feminization of the Church":
    http://amerigentleman.blogspot.com/2015_01_01_archive.html
    It is meant to address the Feminization of the Church through out the Christian community, not just the Catholic Church. The article may be some what controversial to some readers. I am a Deist, although I was raised in the Episcopal Church.

  • MARIE

    I am a 48 year old wife and mother of 2 that is totally coming to the realization that Vatican II may have been very damaging to the Church. I want our men to attend church and be spiritual leaders in our families. I currently attend a N.O. mass because I live in Tennessee where there are few if any Traditional Mass options and I embarrassingly was not even aware there was anything else until about 10 years ago. I would love to seek out more traditional options and am even considering moving to get to a traditional parish. I know this is an article about the concerns of men, but I still can't figure out what the role of the woman is in a traditional parish. Please don't roll your eyes and call me a feminist because that couldn't be farther from the truth. I don't want women priest or even married priests for that matter. I am okay with no female altar servers. I just honestly don't think I know what the role of women in traditional churches is? Respectful answers would be appreciated. I pray everyday for my husband to be more involved as the spiritual head of our family and I am very submissive to him. God bless.

  • Fr. Jeff Lewis

    Thank you for this article and for your insights. But as a priest, I have a question. Firstly, I've come across many articles and blog posts such as this one pointing toward the problem of an emasculated church, and even a few with some proposed solutions, or at least a discussion of the reasons underlying the emasculation. One such reason, you've pointed out: "horrible Mass experiences." Bad liturgy. Bad homilies. Whatever is "bad" that, for a variety of reasons, is making men feel like they don't belong in the Church. So here's my question: what specifics can you indicate regarding bad liturgy? I like to believe that I offer a "noble simplicity" in liturgy, and I like to think that, though simple, my liturgies are beautiful. But I am pastor of three small, poor, rural parishes. We don't have money for the most beautiful vestments and sanctuary accouterments, nor do we have money for, say, paid music directors or musicians. We don't have money for pipe organs. My small congregations are not all trained musically for Gregorian chant, polyphony, and the like; we have guitars and Kindergarten teachers singing in the choir, and they're not bad...but their not organists either. I have to rely on the self-sacrificial offering of time and talent on volunteers. Yet "bad liturgy" among priests often involves/includes bad music, and guitars are frequently targeted. So, I guess I'm defending my parishes a little bit...but at the same time, I am very concerned for holy, sacred, beautiful liturgies, and I definitely would love to have your insight and suggestions. Please email me at your convenience. God bless!

    • Buck

      "Music" by Haugen, Haas and Schutte is awful. Wimpy. "Give us the courage to enter the song" means nothing, no matter how you try and spin it. Using "space" and "place" to refer to the sanctuary just because they rhyme? It's ridiculous. And how about music that emasculates all male pronoun references. Someone has taken a ton of classic hymns and neutered them. That's vandalism disguised as political correctness. Might as well disinvited real men to Mass. Like it or not, the early Church fathers founded our church. There is no such term as "early church mothers." Although they definitely helped. Jesus taught us to call God "Our Father." Many lack the courage to say that.

    • Tom Thompson

      Frankly, I think you are being fed a red herring Father, and bear with me as I tell you why. The only bad thing I have experienced in Mass is my heart and selfish soul. The fact you are this concerned lets me know that I would feel at home in your parish. I suspect a lot of the problems for Catholic men are self-generated...not the fault of the parish priest or the Church. I remember when I was involved in a beautiful old parish in a rust belt city with upper-middleclass families that had been attending for generations. As a fairly recent convert I joined in parish clean up projects, maintenance, and Celtic fund raisers with happiness and a will. I was so proud to be a part of the oldest and most beautiful standing nave in the city. I reveled in the beautiful old marble altar, the enormous pipe organ, the ornate font and European style ornamentation. How differed from the cold utilitarian church I was raised in! But, I found this was not the only difference. The Greatest Generation and their younger siblings were passing away. People of my ME Baby Boomer generation were just that. One event illustrated this for me in a big way. My fellow K of C brothers and their well turned out wives of my generation were clustered around the bar posturing and sipping beer and wine as we helped set up and support the event. As I climbed up the stairs to bring down the next load I found two elderly gentlemen, both doddering WW II vets I later learned served in the worst combat of that war: struggling down the steps with an enormous full coffee urn on a steel roll around. I was heart stricken and humiliated when I saw this. I rustled up a friend of mine and we took over. They had always done this as had their elderly wives who bustled around while their daughter-in-laws and daughters glittered around the bar. I am not saying this was common to everyone of my generation, but I saw it often enough at this and other events. As these good people have aged out or left us, their replacements - including myself - have not picked up the responsibilities and quiet service that their parents gave without a murmur and as a matter of course. My dear Uncle Mike, another WW II vet and my Aunt Liz were also these kind of quiet spiritual warriors. The devoted their retired years to working with the elderly, house bound, flood victims, conducted services in the worst Michigan prisons, and served the poorest of the poor in homeless shelters. I converted due to their sterling example. They did this because it was the right thing to do, as best I can determine. My generation and those that follow have been largely coddled and cossetted from the grim realities of life that this passing generation faced and acted out their faith in the face of. Later, my wife and I moved, did not find a welcoming parish in a small town, and slowly quit going to Mass. It was not the liturgy or the homilies that caused us to quit, going but our own self will. When we have attended a funeral for one of her family it is her elderly mother and friends who do all the work. This is a cultural malaise of selfishness and Pope Francis has demonstrated what is wrong in my own heart, as well as my church. Meeting with her mother today after Mass and I want to bring up Reconciliation. I hear the new priest is a man like you, Father. Thank you for being there.

    • John Flaherty

      Father,
      First, glad to see a priest asking how to solve the problem of dismal music! Prior to arriving at my current parish, I had mostly given up on decent liturgical music.
      I can't offer any proven techniques, but I can offer a few suggestions, ideas of what I would wish to see a priest do in those circumstances. ...By the way, while I live in a large(ish) city these days, I grew up in a more rural diocese; I'm well acquainted with the difficulty that small-town parishes face.

      Here's what I would do:
      1. Pay a visit to the Latin Mass settings page of MusicaSacra (http://musicasacra.com/music/latin-settings/); download a PDF copy of the Graduale Simplex. You'll find good, simple settings of many chants in here to start whatever form of Schola you can.
      2. Arrange meetings with some of the men of each parish; arrange for them to take a greater role in the liturgy. See what you can gin up in terms of willingness to learn a different way of offering prayer at Mass, specifically in the form of Chant.
      You don't have "big-city resources" of organ and big choir, so don't try. For my experience, small towns don't have many people, so most matters tend to be pretty simple. Music for Mass may readily reflect this. I love a good polyphonic piece as much as the next, but I love a simple, but beautiful piece just as much.
      (As a side note, for all that I LOVE music, one of the most uplifting Masses (on Sunday) that I can remember was while "deployed" (in the US) to a different Air Force base. Precisely because the parish didn't attempt to impose some kind of music on Mass--thus I didn't suffer through horrid music--I walked away feeling quite inspired. ...First time in months for that.)

      Don't forbid the guitars, but don't let them dominate either. Most musicians will be inclined toward being as sophisticated as they're able--I certainly am--but that likely will not serve the rest of your flock very well. You'll need to remind them--possibly many, many times--that music in Mass doesn't aim for entertainment, but for prayer. That will probably sink pretty hard, possibly for months!

      3. Review your training programs...or start one or two.
      Invite the men to learn how to serve for Mass too, not just the boys. You'd also be wise to consider how the young ladies and women might contribute. While certainly you'll want to make sure to follow the norms in the GIRM (no glass chalices or ciboriums) and you'll prefer fancier vestments and other items, you might consider requesting efforts to create new vestments or altar linens from what the parishioners could sew together. Being pretty and inspiring doesn't mean it must be expensive.

      4. Consider offering catechism classes; use the CCC, the Baltimore, and a good bible.

      Basically, you'll need to seek out those ways of engaging the faithful, men especially, that both allow men and women alike to be more involved in the works of the parish, but also keep things simple enough the parish could actually do it without much help.
      I could recommend sending a few to learn more about how to do Chant, but it's hard to tell where that might be best available. In this Archdiocese, the music director offered a course of sorts, but I have no way to know if your location acts likewise.
      Or, if all else fails, bug the person who write this blog to give you my e-mail address, and I'll see what I can do!

      • Andrew

        And don't try and "show off" with the music. It is not a choir concert. Also - key is important - a lot of the newer music is not easily sung by men with deeper voices.

    • morgan

      Father, "bad liturgy" includes the homily which in my cases typically center around welcoming immigration and not giving enough to the poor. It includes having anyone other than the Priest give communion. Please remember that Jesus, walking the countryside and teaching is what the people came for, not guitar or tambourine. This article talks about sin. If your readings explained well then that is a good mass. The kids singing solo with first note, middle note and end note strummed by guitar to guide them would be equal to polyphony. Hildegard didn't have a lot of musical equipment just pure voices to sing heavenly songs. Best wishes.

    • KK

      Father: We recently began going to a Latin High Mass. I noticed right away that there are so many more men; at least half, some young with shirts and ties. The Latin Mass has a manly feel with 8 young male altar servers, with the Gregorian chants vs old ladies warbling out a Protestant song. There is no fluff of different people up and down, dressed weirdly (get them to wear an ALB!), doing the readings; it is orderly and predictable, like a military operation with beauty added. The sermons have been about the Power of the Rosary, Types of Grace, The Trinity, Abortion Leads to Euthanasia; all very powerful. During one of our last Novus Ordo Mass homilies, we were told to take out our cell phones and text someone and let them know we were at Mass praying for them. It was a dumb innovation I would expect at a Protestant service. Also, I know no man who likes the sign of peace; I have been told they'd rather sit off by themselves. I know no man who likes to lift his hands to say the Our Father. My recommendation: Learn the Traditional Latin Mass, I could not get my pastor to do it, so we very sadly left. Yesterday, I went to a Bible study taught by a Latin Mass priest and guess what...half of the people were men! On a Saturday morning! I couldn't believe it! It was wonderful!

  • Doug

    The story I heard in Milwaukee is that before Vatican II all the parish choirs were all men. After Vatican II many of the men said something like 'well now the women can sing, let them.' and they quit en masse. Having female soprano and alto cantors doesn't help because most men can't sing along. I mentioned this to the directory of liturgy at my parish. Oh, says he, they just need to sing an octave lower. Hello! Most men didn't sing in the college choir and can't do that without help. Having female lectors, who are more likely to make it sound like they are reading a story to preschoolers doesn't help either.

  • Mark W

    In my diocese, there's really nothing to draw a male out of hiding. I'm male, a convert, I love Latin and chant, and I don't have any feeling of "brotherhood" in my parish. Honestly, I don't even know what that's supposed to mean. I offered to do Vespers once a month with "thee" and "thou" in the translation, and the pastor was very uneasy about it. He allowed me to do it, but I never got any support in things like posting it in the bulletin or announcements after Mass (Taize gets both of those constantly). All because of the older language.

    So, I endure Mass on the weekends and hope for the best in the homiletics. That's all that can be done in this area.

  • Andrew

    I have looked at a couple of the sites that many people have posted here, and there are some great ministries out there. However, I think there is a need to address one particular issue that I find really discouraging as a Catholic man and Father, and I have seen on every parish website. It is the way the Bishop's have responded to the abuse scandal. Imagine if you will that you go to your bank and find that all your money is gone because the manager embezzled it. That is bad. Now imagine that the solution the bank proposes is not that they put systems in place to prevent access by future managers. Instead they require that all customers get a background check, go to "how not to get your money stolen" training, and promote the Regional Manager, oh yeah - and the training is done by the assistant managers who didn't catch the theft.. This is how the Church has responded to the abuse crisis. They will not admit that lax preparation for priests, poor seminaries, cultish treatment of priests, and removal of religious education from parents created a rich harvest for abusers. Instead of teaching about sin and opportunity - they require background checks, attendance at seminars, and teach ridiculous "stranger danger". This makes me want to leave - how dare they blame abuse on the lack of education of parents and volunteers!!! You want men to be welcome - don't demand that to get the sacraments my children attend RE classes taught by someone who doesn't own a Catechism. Don't tell me that the reason children where abused was because parents didn't know enough about "stranger danger", or that the lunchroom volunteer didn't get their fingerprints taken. Fathers need to take back the reins - the Church exists to serve the Family and the faithful. The Family and the Faithful do not exist to serve the Church. But very often when I try to discuss my concerns as a Father, I am told - well that is the way it is, that is what the Bishop wants. blah, blah, blah. Does anyone else find it odd that the same people who allowed the abuse are in charge of making sure it doesn't happen again? When is the last time anyone heard a priest talk about near occasions of sin, or even purity? The current strategy for preventing abuse is not only inadequate - it is dangerous. MEN need to stand up and say - I will not go to your Circus mass, I will not rely on you to "educate" me. The Catechism is available - I will read it - I will read the Bible, I will read the Church Fathers, I will read Aquinas, Augustine. And I will challenge you when you soft pedal the Truth. I don' want hellfire and brimstone. But it would be nice to see some courage - not the same old good old boy garbage. Do any of you have parish priests that will address your true concerns regarding morality, marriage, children? I usually get platitudes - "Do your best", "Kids will be kids", etc. Again - I say - we don't need brotherhood - we need Brothers in Arms. It is not enough to help with parking, barbecues, etc. We must be warriors of Truth.

    • jpoppe

      Bingo Brother, well said. Examples of this go on and on. Want to work in the parish carnival? You have to have Virtus training. Want to go with your kid on the kayaking day trip? Not if you don't have Virtus training first. Oh, and by the way Virtus training is held in your deanery on one Wed night in the October. If you miss it you are out of luck. Lawyers and Insurance companies now run the diocese of the U.S. and the Priests and Bishops are just fine with it.

  • TheInformer

    Hey, the practice of religion necessarily becomes effeminate. Women dominate the decorations and the Mass every week. No dude can relate to that. Unless we think that becoming more womanish is the proper way to practice the Faith. And again, no real man is going to accept that. Look at who attends daily Mass. Mostly women, and often a husband tagging along.

    Islam offers more: the (false) Muslim ideas of living in a manly way of sacrifice and challenge.

    Our priests and bishops............and POPE! never challenge us. Commentators like to try and break it down into a "conservative vs. liberal" political posture, but having gone to daily Mass for nearly 27 years now (and where are the 40-something men at daily Mass? Are they all busy doing important things now and hope to save their souls when they are elderly and got nothing else going on?) And I have almost NEVER heard a challenging sermon in all these years despite having gone to hundreds, or possibly thousands of various parishes.

    Start ordaining real men with manly behaviors and you will attract men back to the practice of the Faith. Most priests/bishops have known little about the world in their education track leading them to their career. Where are the former soldiers, adventurers, builders, farmers etc who have lived life instead of some guy who simply worked his way through college and the seminary and was always cared-for in that environment?

    • Andrew

      And that is a good reason to return to the real reason for all male altar servers. It is not exclusionary to girls, as much as it should be a call to service to young men. Think about this - Christ, in his wisdom created an all male group of SERVANTS - not of leaders, controllers, or kings. Christ created an all male priesthood because he knew women would listen to him. They did not need a call to a life of service - but men need a challenge - a call to a life of courage and sacrifice - a call that requires them to serve - not dominate. Every Sunday I get the immense joy of watching my 17 year old son teach my 8 year old son how to serve at the Altar. And what a change in one year in my younger. Every action is now guided by prayerful reverence. He is excited not to "show off" or "be Special" - but humbled that the Lord would ask him, one who cannot sit still in the pew to serve at the Holy Sacrifice. When I look at the most inspiring male saints in my life - Joseph, Francis, Anthony, Maximilian Kolbe, John Paul II, Augustine, Aquinas - these were manly men - men who put all desire aside for the great honor of service. At the same time - they did not shrink in fear from truth - but fiercely defended it.

    • John Flaherty

      "Hey, the practice of religion necessarily becomes effeminate."
      I don't think that's true at all!
      I think it far more accurate to understand that women have been the more insistent voice in the Church for over two decades, thus the Church's life tends to reflect a "modern woman" point of view. I think a more thorough review of the Church's history reveals that faith appeals very strongly to men if it bothers to remember that men and women are very different. It's in no small part precisely because we've tried to be "gender-neutral" for over two decades that men have quit trying.

  • Jack

    It's been noticed by more than one person that Eastern Orthodox converts are more likely to be men than women. Could this have something to do with the rather strict fasting and abstinence rules held up as the normal praxis, to say nothing about the ancient liturgy (even in the vernacular) that has nothing to do with current fads?

    • Bert

      Eastern Orthodoxy features a manly liturgy. No hand-holding there. No extending our hands in blessing over our neighbor. No wimpy Haugen, Haas and Schutte music. And no emasculated male pronoun references.

    • Bill Russsell

      I attend by the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form, and am not an absolutist about which I prefer. The OF when done well has its strengths but it is decidedly effete in the way it is normally celebrated (sentimental prayers, women dominating the sanctuary including altar girls, and unmanly music. )

  • Richard

    Great article. And I see a lot of respondents commenting on all of the fraternal organizations they have in their parishes. What I'd like to see is for these organizations to do more than direct parking during Easter or put together golf tournaments. They should steer the liturgical style of their parishes and coach our priests and pastors for a more masculine leadership. Believe me, the women won't run away from the Church like men sadly do.

  • Amy

    Sorry to post up - as a woman - on your very excellent and to point article. But even we 50-year-old women have a vested interest in our Catholic men being masculine Catholic men.

    I have five extremely important men in my life: husband, 23 y.o. son, 19 y.o. son, 26 y.o. son-in-law, 3 day old grandson.

    So timely is this article for me. This past Monday I met with my Pastor for precisely this reason! I met with him to tell him he needed to pick up the phone and call my 23 y.o. son and talk to him. He is a messy-ish manly priest with a gentle knowing heart without out a trace of the effeminate characteristic that can be a tad off putting to messy young men.

    My son loves Christ and has told me so many times. At first glance, one would not guess this of him. He wears a "man bun" at the nape of his neck or a oversized knit hat, flannel shirts and stinky shoes. He hangs out at the local craft beer breweries our town is loaded with. He goes to music festivals and smokes pot when he's not working as a pizza delivery guy - which he has been doing for four years. He wasn't cut out for college but he has been financially supporting himself for four years. He lives with a group of like-minded men - not all Catholic. He is asking the big questions, as are his friends. They are open-minded and seeking but also WAITING to be wanted or to be noticed or even, dare I say it, told that they are missed.

    This great-natured young man readily agreed to come along with me to our parishes once a month even of Symbolon. Of the 30 people there he and one other young women who was with her mother were under the age 40 and the bulk of the others were upwards towards 70 years old. If even half of those invited a grandchild or young co-worker the dynamics would change completely.

    And, yet, neither the Pastor or the very masculine Deacon who were running the show made any attempt to talk with him at the break to thank him or encourage him or just say "wow, great to see you!" And they both know him.

    I know this is merely an anecdote but I think is points directly to the point being made here in this article.

    Also, I find it fascinating the Bishop Olmstead of Phoenix just released and Apostolic Letter to his Spiritual Sons - Into the Breach - this very week!

    This would be a great one or two night study to do with a men's group and my husband is hoping to get my sons and a couple of their friends together for a reading and "go over". I would encourage all men to attempt the same. I talked to my son about it yesterday when he stopped by to say "hi" and he thought it would be "interesting."

    • John Flaherty

      Hi Amy! (Or maybe I should say, "Hello, ma'am"!)
      What you describe of your son sounds VERY alike to my own brothers! We're now into our 30's and (in my case) 40's, but we're all struggling to seek the love of Christ and to find a genuine, passionate brotherhood.

      As I read through your comments, I find that I'm a bit conflicted. On one hand, I'm inclined to ask if your son would be willing to write via e-mail if he's struggling with faith. I'm not a priest, but I have enough experience of life, I understand many of the struggles. ...And I've been wanting to find ways to mentor "younger" people anyway. On the other hand, we don't know each other, so we have no way to verify each others' intentions. Bother!
      Tell you what: If your son would be willing to write, you can always try asking the blog author for my e-mail and we can see what happens. If that would work, it'd be wise to let me know why he's writing; I'm liable to delete messages that I don't expect and from people I've never met.

  • teo

    Has the author heard of the Knights of Columbus?

    • Bryan Baker

      First, to Mark W's point, alcohol consumption is expressly prohibited during K of C meetings. If there is a Council that is selling alcohol during meetings they should be reported to the State Officers.

      Secondly, it is sad to see some of the misconceptions posted here surrounding the K of C. I have been a member for almost 6 years, and I have found it to be an amazing experience. Not only have I met wonderful Catholic brothers, I have also been able to help make a marked difference in the community. We are much more than insurance and donuts, and hopefully you'll give us a second look before dismissing the Knights.

    • John Flaherty

      Sad to say, I've come across only a rare few councils of Knights who seem to me to intend to well reflect the ideas that Christ challenged us to live. I'm lucky to be a member of one of those rare few.

    • Mark W

      I know a couple of guys that have had problems with drinking and left the KofC because of the alcohol consumption at the meetings. In my parish, the KofC is responsible for raising money for the parish via donut breakfasts. That's about it. I don't know much about the knights outside what I've seen in my immediate area, but it's nothing that I'd want to waste my time with.

      • Johnny Barleycorn

        Unless these guys are getting loaded, there's nothing wrong with a beer or two before or after a KC meeting. Precluding beer from a function like this is so predictable in the nanny-state culture that has taken a foothold in our Church. It's just another way to feminize a Catholic man's group

    • TheInformer

      Are you joking? Aren't these just a bunch of "nice" married guys selling insurance? That's really all I ever heard about them

  • Kevin Williams

    Our parish is young (19 yrs old) but has strong men's ministry and as a result, men are very active in all areas of our parish.
    Our men's ministry includes the following:
    1) That Man is YOU! men's program
    2) Knights of Columbus
    3) Men's Prayer Group
    4) Annual Men's Lenten Retreat (@Holy Name Retreat Center)
    5) Men's ACTS Retreat
    6) Over the summer, Friday Morning Men's Ministry
    Perfect? Not hardly, but we are an example that it CAN be done!
    www.staoptw.org/tmiy

    • Steve Dallas

      ACTS Retreats are part of the problem, not the solution. Talk about wussyfication of men. So is Holy Name Retreat Center, run by the lame Passionists. That place is terrible.

    • TheInformer

      This is a similar smattering at just about any "ministry department" at any parish. So what?

    • Michael Vinca

      Kevin, curious, what is the difference between #1 and #3. Great parish website by the way, but I didn't see a description of #3 there. (I'm sure I just missed it)

  • Geoff

    There is a local men's retreat that never sounded interesting to me...until I overheard that someone I knew had been minorly injured at it. I perked up because it sounded like the retreat might actually contain something interesting, not just talks and small grouping.

  • Deacon Joseph C. Buccilli, PhD

    The heartbeat of the church continues strongly through our women whereas the healing power of our souls will be strengthened through our men as they motivate themselves to become active role models of faithfulnes and leadership as Jesus showed us by his words and through actions.

    • TheInformer

      Yep. And you will see a different, stronger Church when the men take over and lead.

      • Bucky

        Here, here.

  • Al

    For all the men looking for a mens group that is a man's group, investigate "The Kings Men". Unlike The Knights (of which I am also a member) this group was founded (I am going to give the short version), to challenge men to be good examples of our catholic faith. we meet, pray a rosary, read, discuss and then challenge each other to commit as to how we can improve ourselves and the following week we confirm (good or bad) how we have done.

    • Al

      I apologize, I forgot the link. thekingsmen.org

  • Bob

    A new initiative for men from Bishop Olmstead of Phoenix. http://www.intothebreach.net/into-the-breach/

  • Phoenix Diocese

    Check out Bishop Olmsted's just-released Apostolic Exhortation for men, addressing many of your points. www.intothebreach.net

    • Larry

      Dear Phoenix Diocese (of which I am a member),

      Yes, I've read the bishop's paper. It's gotten lots of promotion in the Catholic media (radio shows and web sites). But none of the handful of parishes that I attend has even mentioned it.

      And honestly, it's just as well. Your "Catholic Conversation" radio show recently had several of the bishop's advisory panel chatting about the paper. It seems clear to me now, that the paper is just cleverly disguised man-bashing. The panel members gushed about all the "wonderful" advice given to the bishop - by women. The advice was for wives to print out the paper and make their husbands read it. It's just more of the usual "you men... everything is your fault! Why won't you just do what we tell you to do?"

      And, as an unmarried man, I know that the bishop did not even consider me while writing the paper. That is nothing new - I know that the institutional church is run by and for the married. But when your spiritual leader writes comments like "unless you are a biological father of children, or serve God as a celibate priest, then your life has no meaning"... well, that leaves a very sad feeling. Especially since I've lived in this diocese for my entire adult life, lived "by the rules", and I've never knowingly met or talked to an unmarried Catholic woman.

  • Sergio Guzman

    I usually stay away from Masculine diatribes, but the reality is this is pretty spot on. I cannot really say that this is wrong. I am involved in Parish Formation and Youth Ministry in my parish, and I have worked for 5 years under Parish Administration and I can tell you that I think this is pretty spot on.

  • Dennis

    Why aren't there Masses offered before the start of the work day? In the area where I live next to Detroit, there are an abundance of Masses after the work day starts (7 a.m. for many, 8 for others, 9 for some fortunate few). Why not have (especially in or near large concentrations of workers) a 6 and maybe a 7 a.m. Mass? What a great way that would be to start a work day (and not just for men)! What a great outreach. And, for many, that is one part of the day when there is time. Our parish has a men's Bible study, which great. At 8:30 on a weekday morning -- great if you're retired, impossible if you are not. There should be men's study groups on Saturday mornings! Make it early before family commitments start -- say, after early Mass.

    • TheInformer

      Yeah, heh...........Mass is "conveniently offered" for the elderly at 0830 during the week, otherwise the church is sealed. I begged all the priests in Ventura California for an evening Mass at ONE parish each day for us working stiffs, and I guess it wasn't convenient (being dinner time or too near prime time TV viewing...I don't know) but all of them suggested that maybe they would bring it up at the next deanery meeting. These pastors/priests can't even make their own decisions.

    • Amy

      Dennis if you pick a study topic and get three of your fellow men - and please reach out to the twenty-somethings, also - and ask you pastor for a place for you to meet each Saturday morning I feel pretty confident he will make room for it. With that core group in place, you can issue an open invitation to all male parishioners. Mixed ages are a great way to transmit the faith but if you begin to see an imbalance - and it will probably be the older men - please make an effort to seek out the young men (even those who have been attending Mass at all) and ask them.

      We laity are the Church. We laity must take responsibility for reaching out.

  • Allan Wirfel

    Great article! You articulated perfectly the thoughts I've had for a long time. Thanks! Keep the articles coming!

  • Bill

    When I proposed a Men's Group at my Parish I was told no by the Priest. He said he couldn't support a group that would exclude women and wouldn't want to offend them. When I pointed out that there was a group that was exclusive for women he said "Well of course the women need to have there own group, there's nothing wrong with that". You're right, being a man is synonymous with having committing a crime.

    • Amy

      That would have pissed me off.

      I have begun a number of women's groups but did not count on my parish support. I pick a great Catholic book, encyclical, or study call up women - some that I'm barley acquainted with - and invite them personally to join a limited study and ask them if they know anyone else that might enjoy a Catholic study. When the short study is over you will have some that will want to continue and some that will skip the next book but want to join the following. Just keep going. The group will expand and contract but the members will all grow in faith and understanding. All of Pope Benedict's "Jesus of Nazareth" series have study guides.

      Oh, yeah, and we have met at the local TGIF's or Pie Co. You would be surprised how many restaurants have small meeting rooms which will accommodate your group, although we have found if we are in the center of the restaurant people will pass by and occasionally comment which is a wonderful witness to Him.

  • Larry Peterson

    "Spot on" article. The emasculation of the American male is in full swing and so it goes in the Church. (Thank God we still have the K of C) In my parish our pastor came in five years ago and our groups have grown from 17 to 36. From the liturgy, choir, EMHCs, ushers and onward to all groups, women are in charge of everything. Even the altar servers are mostly young girls (5th grad and up to 8th) and at that age they intimidate and scare boys off. ERGO--no boy altar servers (maybe a few). Even our so called "parish council" is all women and they are all friends of the pastor. And the beat goes on.

    • Steve Dallas

      You need to give your pastor a copy of the book "The Soul of the Apostolate" that warns about this kind of madness. Seriously, 36 groups??

  • David W. Cooney

    Wonderful article. What a wonderful idea your friend had about sending out the Catechism.

  • Dean

    If it's Brotherhood you quest, might I suggest joining the Knights of Columbus. Not just to pad your résumé, but truly become involved in your Council's activities. We are called "the strong right arm" of the Church for a reason. Join your local Council.

  • Mike

    Awesome, Jason. On point as usual!

    The problem should really be quite obvious to anyone who looks at the male-female dynamic in relationships. In 9 out of 10 arguments a couple has, the woman just wants the man to understand her and empathize while the man wants to fix the problem (see the classic "Nail" video on YouTube). There is something uniquely feminine and masculine about these respective desires and the joy comes in harmonizing the two; not outright dismissing one.

    Apply this paradigm to the Mass (or anything related to the mission of the Church): is it about empathy and community or is it about accomplishing something great, about fixing something amiss in the cosmos? The answer to that question explains men's absence. The solution is to find a harmony of both.

  • LarryD

    Well done. The only quibble I have is that it's Archbishop Vignernon (archbishop of my diocese).

  • Joe

    Great article. I facilitate a men's group and it is a struggle more men involved. We have had some small successes and continue to work at bring more men in. I 'll put the link on our facebook page.

  • Dan Harrigan

    Jason, you are spot on my brother! I see the emasculation of my sons at the Catholic schools they attend! Frustrating to say the least! Great article!

  • Andrew

    While I agree with your main points, I would say many of us see "brotherhood" in the parish and are disgusted that much of it is just parish sponsored "man caves". I have tried many men's groups, and found that they are filled with neutered men sent to the group. For one, as a father, I do not have time to go to a men's group on a school night - there are way to many ways for me to be at home to help my children. I do not brotherhood where we talk about our feelings, group praise, or make crude jokes. I want a men's group full of those aware of the teaching who will work together to support struggles with the faith. I want real men! Men who think about the great teaching of the Church, not necessarily theologians - but not drinking buddies, or buddies at all. I have been told by more than one priest that I am not their audience - yet they then praise me for raising strong Catholic children. Men need to be challenged to accept the cross as Paul emphasized in Ephesians. We must love our family as Christ loved the Church. If the "men's" group serves as an "escape" from the wife and kids - it is sinful, just as sinful as porn or adultery - but with a less sinister face. If the men's group challenges men to express faith through reason, to mentor younger members, or even listen to the insight of younger men - than it will pass on the traditions that make strong men.

    As for the liturgy - most men I know have simple tastes in the liturgy - strong music, strong symbols ( not newfangled) and strong sermons. Inspire me to be a better man, and if applicable Husband and Father. Inspire me to want to shed the burden of sin and take up the truth - to defend my family against the insidious assault of evil. I don't want to be preached to - I want to be told "this is sin" and "this is your sword, shield, and armor!" No go - and fight that dragon! I want brothers in arms - not brothers in potlucks or committees. I don't need my brothers to get in touch with my feelings - I need brothers to stand by my side and say "no more" - no more will I watch my children be raised by milksops - no more will I sit idly by while people teach them that which is false - if I cannot find a solid catechist - I will become a solid catechist. No more will my sons be told that their manhood is measured by their female conquests with a wink and a nod - no more will my daughters settle for less than purity. And no more will I apologize for the great burden, and great calling as a Catholic Husband and Father - I have a job to do - and it is a job demonstrated by the Cross - My family must get all that I have if I am ever to become all that I can be.

    I there are other out there who feel called to this challenge - than I offer myself as brother - and will stand beside them. But I am done with brotherhood of farce and false courage. If my brother does not chastise me when I fall, as he helps me up, then he might as well leave me in filth.

    Maybe my vigor, even though not always this energetic in person is why so many priests do not know what to say to me other than - "you have a beautiful family" - and "you are not my audience".

    • Bradley

      If the "men's" group serves as an "escape" from the wife and kids - it is sinful, just as sinful as porn or adultery. I really don`t think so... I think it can be a healthy form of relaxation. If your drinking beer with `buddies`every night of the week that might be wrong. If you go out and relax with your `buddies`a couple times a month it could actually make you a better father, less angry more encouraging rather than condemning. I know what your getting at but prudence is necessary. Fatherhood is a cross but one made ``easy and light`` because Christ took on our burdens. I`m not condoning sin but healthy relaxation and socializing, for the sake of your family. We all escape we just have to make sure it is healthy and constructive.

    • Steve

      Hi Andrew - have you heard of or had any experience with "That Man Is You"?

      You can look it up at paradisusdei.org. Based on what you've described, I'd say it's one of the closest things I've seen to a men's ministry that actually caters to who men are called to be. We're just getting it underway at our parish / area, and it seems to be off to a solid start.

    • Steverino

      I don't have any problem with any kind of men's group in a parish. Simply having catholic friends (drinking buddies or not) and actual long term friendships which may develop would be a big step forward for many guys out there. Even if theology is rarely discussed.

      • Andrew

        Steverino, I agree those groups can have value as a starting point - but I have found they usually end up avoiding "tough" issues and quickly become and in and out group. They also tend to take men away from their families or act as a night away from the "wife and kids". I have recently been able to connect with a few of my college friends with similar observations - I don't want a "boys club" that can drink. I am not against these groups - but I find that they are most popular because they are easy.

    • Mark

      Andrew,
      I‘m in your camp. The question is how to structure a men’s group in the Catholic Church to meet the criteria you outline. It doesn’t seem like this type of men’s group is welcome or would get past most parish priest. It most likely would need to be set up outside the Church. It might be a while before the Church learns to appreciate and support real fathers. This is a shame, and a challenge that needs to be confronted ASAP. Keep pushing for this in your Church and online.

  • Scott

    Wow. Thanks, that was a GREAT article. I think I'll forward it to my Priest. Perhaps he'll find it as poignant.

    Thanks!

  • Ryan

    Interesting take. I agree with all of the above, but sympathize most with point 2. Risk aversion is a killer of male interest, not only in the church but in any and every institutional culture. The same is true in the military, and it ultimately leads to the very thing it tries to prevent, namely stupid risk taking. If you tell a boy long enough and often enough, "No you can't do that, it might... (insert anxiety producing potential consequence here)" eventually he will either learn not to try anything potentially dangerous, or he will eventually react by doing stuff that is not only truly dangerous, but positively immoral (e.g. drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex, etc.) How much of the pornography epidemic, for instance, can be attributed to a generation of men starving for stimulation, arousal, excitement, and unable, afraid or unwilling to seek out the real thing, and so settling for a neurochemical substitute. The same goes for video games and spectator sports.

  • Jonathan

    Glad you are back! Couldn't agree with you more. I'm on our parish's adult formation council and work with a VERY small group of men in our parish to bring back Catholic brotherhood which is almost non-existent. It's a struggle for sure.