Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Return of Masculine Catholicism

Inside Catholic recently ran a feature that first appeared in the July 2007 issue of Crisis Magazine, The New Catholic Manliness. The opening paragraph hooked me, and I had to read the whole thing.

It is a source of no small irony that, even as radical feminists within and without the Church have railed for two generations against patriarchy and phallocentrism, it can be quite plausibly said that the post-conciliar Church in this country has, for all intents and purposes, been run by women.

What I found was a refreshing defense of masculine Catholicism, of which I, being a man, am a big fan. The author, Todd Aglialoro, goes into the past and traces the arc of the pendulum from what it could be argued was a male-dominated Church in the 1950s through what came to be a feminized Church following Vatican II, to what in some ways is a Church re-discovering its masculinity today.

Let me say now, as clearly as I can, that I believe there is room for both masculine and feminine spirituality within the Church. I even engage in and benefit from some pious devotions and practices that tend toward the feminine side of the scale. But men need masculine ways to relate to God and to live out their vocations as husbands and fathers.

The Psalmist declares, “For you light my lamp, O Lord; my God brings light to my darkness. For with you I will attack the enemy’s squadrons; with my God I will leap over their wall.” (Psalm 18) The imagery is distinctly masculine, as it is when the Psalms speak of the blessed man contending with the enemies at the gates (Psalm 127). Elizabeth Scalia notes that St. Catherine of Siena wrote to Pope Gregory XI, “Be a manly man. . . I wish to see you as a manly man so that you may serve the Bride of Christ without fear, and work spiritually and temporally for the glory of God according to the needs of that sweet Bride in our times.”

Men need models of authentic manliness in order to clearly distinguish virtuous masculinity from its macho imitation. Women also need to see models of masculinity in order to know that it does not in any way demean or subjugate them or their femininity. Our children need to be very carefully taught that godliness is not a sign of weakness, and that real men are selfless and sacrificial.

The future of our civilization just might depend upon it.

No comments: