Because Catholic Men Are Just That

Posted by Webster 
As the only male in a household of women, I can say honestly that I did not become a Catholic to meet any more of them. I treasure my Catholic women friends, but as I review comments on recent posts—from fellow Catholic men—I realize that there’s a Catholic faith experience that is uniquely male. And I want more of that. 

It’s why I joined and remain active in our Saturday morning men’s group (left), even while recognizing that we are a deeply flawed bunch. It’s why Ferde and I attend a monthly men’s group at a nearby Carmelite chapel (more broken specimens). It’s probably why I went on a retreat recently at a Trappist monastery in the company of two men friends from the parish.

First point about all this, from the credit where credit is due department: If Frank had not joined up here a few weeks back, these thoughts would not be central to me right now. There’s an energy that comes from sharing this space with another guy that is invigorating.

Second point, same department: “EPG,” an American Anglican and eloquent man, has triggered a continuing dialog following my recent post about the Carmelite men’s group. Which in turn triggered this new post.

Third point, before bleeding to death from a self-administered shot in the foot—Frank and I love, I mean we love our women readers. So keep those cards and cookies coming. . . . 

Now, here is EPG’s comment on the Carmelite men’s group post:

Webster, you have hit on a profound issue, and one worth many, many more posts. Many (perhaps most) men go about their lives without substantive friendships. There may be common interests in sports, etc., but few avenues for addressing serious issues, including matters of faith, with other men.

In many respects, our brothers in the Evangelical churches seem to do a much better job of it, or at least attempting to wrestle with the issue. I have a colleague who is a committed Evangelical, and his congregation works very hard at men’s ministries, including accountability groups, quarterly retreats, and much more.

Since I am not a Catholic, I can’t speak to how well most Catholic parishes do. On the Anglican side, however, (at least as practiced in North America), there really is not much — or I haven’t seen much in the parishes and dioceses where I have been.

In some traditionalist Anglican circles, there is concern about the “feminization” of Christianity. I don’t know whether any such trend is a symptom of the problem of failing to address men’s relationship to the church and God, or a cause of the problem.

I sent this comment by e-mail to some of my men friends in the parish. I want to share some of their responses here, with questions they provoke. Then you can go to the original post here and read other published comments. Then come back here (click, click) and chime in.

Question: Why are men afraid of talking about intimate or faith-related issues with one another? A friend writes graphically and humorously:

Women can talk about their most intimate secrets without blushing. Nothing is taboo, their periods, their bodies and their bodily functions. You have a wife and daughters, so you know what I mean. Guys, on the other hand, would never talk about bodily fluids or clots coming out of their bodies. Ever. Men talk about sports. The only fluid we talk about is beer, and that’s inbound.

Question: Has an open discussion of homosexuality made it easier or more difficult for heterosexual men to talk intimately? Here’s a provocative statement on the matter:

I think the whole gay discussion has been a huge detriment to men (not bashing homosexual men, just noticing how it affects everyone). A couple decades ago, nobody cared, but now we have to almost prove we’re not gay. We can’t even say homosexual, we have to say gay. Why? [Next comment] Look at the picture in the chapel. Are any two men sitting next to each other? They’re all spaced as far apart as possible.

Question: What percentage of Catholic men have faith experiences worth talking about in the first place? The same guy writes:

Most Catholic men are baptized and then wander off into the wilderness, never to be seen again. The attraction to beer, baseball, sex and entertainment is greater than the attraction of the Church.

Question: To what extent does it all boil down to a crisis of fatherhood? Consider this:

As men, we are called to be the head of the family. Most men do not live up to that responsibility. Even saying it feels like we’re “disrespecting” our wives, so we willingly relinquish the task to them. More than anything, we are called to be the spiritual leaders of our family. Are we? Most (good) wives would be overjoyed if we accepted more responsibility and took more interest in the formation of our children. . . . Someone has to be the head of the family, and that is the husband / father. But boy, did we let that one go. And now we can’t even talk about it anymore.

Question: How important an issue is EPG’s “feminization”? One of my parish friends thinks it’s critical:

My thoughts are that feminization of the church (and quite frankly, the world in general) is a direct result of several things. One of them is that civilization and humanity have lost site of the “proper roles” of both men and women and the inherent God given differences between both genders. That’s not to say that women should be confined to the home and men need to be dominant, but in today’s world there is nearly complete disregard for these roles and more importantly how they naturally tie back to the creator and what each has been ‘given’. This begins to lead to women beginning to act like men and men becoming spineless and lazy.   I also would submit that today’s man has become entirely complacent with regards to matters of the faith. And with that, men have lost the balls to speak passionately about their faith (and so go the opportunities for deep male friendships as there aren’t many males left who are passionate about important matters like faith).

Question: And finally what can we do about it? Late last night, I got an e-mail from a friend who has also discovered the Carmelite group. Maybe it contains some clues.

I returned to the Church twenty some odd years ago after a long, dark absence, and it’s been quite a journey—primarily solo. For me that’s ok. I’m not antisocial, quite the contrary, but for me the Faith is like my marriage and as such deeply personal. . . . 

The first thing that came to mind in response to the question posed was the men’s group at the Carmelite Chapel which I see you’ve discovered.  I went to a meeting this past spring fully expecting to find a dozen or so well meaning but dottering old timers looking for a night away from their wives.  What a great surprise. It was so heartening to walk in and find 30-40 guys ranging from 17 to 70 years of age and from such apparently diverse backgrounds. The Carmelites and that chapel have played a tremendous role in my Spiritual life, and I think that like the Franciscans’ Arch Street Chapel in Boston, they are missionary in nature as well as a spiritual oasis in the midst of the marketplace.  A sanctuary and refuge for all to avail themselves of in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  It is where I regularly go to confession as I first did in returning to the Church.  So I’m glad you’ve found this group. Since I could not attend regularly I did not commit but it’s comforting to know that if I’ve a free third Tuesday of the month, I can spend a night of prayer,meditation and benediction with real men of the Church.  

Also, since that one meeting, I’ve taken more notice of the men with their families and without at Sunday mass and find great encouragement there also with some fine powers of example.

 * * *

I began this post before 4 am, and I can think of no better way of closing it than with a short poem by William Carlos Williams, Danse Russe:

If when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—

if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely 
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
“I am lonely, lonely,
I am best so!”
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00192810527400675197 ductapeguy

    You knocked it out of the park again Webster. I work in a profession with a majority of women, I live with my wife and daughter. I also need the company of men. I think that's one of the many reasons I joined the Knights of Columbus.

  • EPG

    Webster, I can't thank you enough for this post, and for soliciting the views of others you know. These are remarkable comments.You wrote — "I joined and remain active in our Saturday morning men’s group (left), even while recognizing that we are a deeply flawed bunch" –Well, as we all know, Jesus just as easily could have said, "Where two or three are gathered together, there will be a deeply flawed bunch" — at least on this side of Heaven. I've long thought that my education only really began in the weeks before I graduated from college, and realized that I was about to recieve a degree from a famous institution, but that I really did not know anything. Similarly, the first step towards holiness is reconizing just how unholy you can be. Then the mutual support of other deeply flawed persons can be priceless.So thank God for all the deeply flawed bunches, and especially for your friends who contributed the words above.

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks for the early comments from ductapeguy (love the name!) and the irrepressible EPG. The Knights of Columbus–Any other guys out there belong? I know that Carl Anderson, the grand knight, is nothing short of a sort of American lay pope, but I'm not even aware of the Knights or what they do in our town. Better find out.And EPG, a personal note and a serious one. How about writing us a post or even series of posts some day about "Why I Am (Not Yet) Catholic"? Or "Why I Have Considered Becoming a Catholic (But Am Not Yet or Maybe Ever)"?

  • Anonymous

    Gee, this Catholic woman isn't sure whether I should take a break from practicing law to either find my "proper role" in society, or to find towels and wipe up the tears from this male pity party (I suspect that some of my male parish friends would think that finding towels and wiping up their tears is in fact a major step towards finding my "proper role" in society.)Men–get over yourselves! Here you are looking for some big excuse as to this purported "feminization" of the faith (What exactly does that mean anyway?). Men can't be "real men" as a result of the gay movement. Men can't be real men because "society" has lost touch with "the proper roles" of men and women, resulting in women becoming more masculine and men becoming, what, less manly? I almost tossed my breakfast when I read that (but I think tossing my breakfast would have been a decidely male thing to do).You men have it all—You've had it all for the past 2000 plus years. Jesus was male; the 12 Apostles were all male. This Catholic church has been all male for 2000 years, with women, sitting, as we say in the legal profession, "second chair". What more do you want? The ball's been in your court (ooh, I'm using a sports metaphor–is that another blurring of the "proper roles" of men and women in society?); you've had control over this for well over 2000 years. Yet, you repeatedly make such stupid mistakes–it's amazing that the Church has survived this long.Stop looking for excuses. Start looking in the mirror. If there is a feminization of the faith and the Church, it's because men are afraid to talk about….wait for it…..their feelings. Having a "meaningful faith experience" means admitting that something touched you, something moved you. Having a "meaningful faith experience" means recognizing that you need someone else, and are dependent upon someone else–Jesus Christ. Having a relationship with Christ means having to say "I love Jesus Christ". Most men can barely say those words to their wives; think they can say it about, oh no, another man? Being involved in the life of the parish means admitting that the faith means something to them. Oh, horrors. Time for me to get back to work. I have a legal brief that I need to finish by noontime so I can go grocery shopping and then start cooking for a pot luck dinner at the church tomorrow. Boy, I hope these apparently conflicing "proper roles" don't leave me weeping and moaning and looking for a good man to rescue me from my misery……..

  • Webster Bull

    As Hillary said, Let the discussion begin! :-)

  • http://runswithangels.wordpress.com/ jan

    May I just say that reading this felt eerily like peeking in the men's locker room?Good stuff, though.

  • Webster Bull

    Hey Jan,I have some women friends at St. Mary's who joke about eavesdropping on the Saturday men's group using stethoscopes or something. You can't imagine how much us guys would love to eavesdrop on the ladies room. But we're gentlemen — we'd never do that. Thanks for the comment.

  • Maria

    This was a wonderful post, Webster. Several weeks ago I was dog sitting for someone. As I watched Laney, a chesapeake bay retriever run in the early morning light, it occurred to me that God gave each thing a specific nature. A chesapeake bay retreiver was made to hunt and retreive. When we violate nature, we land in darkness. Indeed, when women, and men resist nature, darkness and sin abound. On men as spiritual leaders of their family–Each night I witnessed my Father on his knees in prayer. As life in the 60's introduced conflict and strain in our fanily, and as I lost my way, I also saw my Father saying his rosary when I would come home drunk. He never lost hope in my recovery. He died ten years ago this past Thanksgiving. I would like to quote from the Homily that a Jesuit gave at this funeral:" I went with his wife Ellen and their children to Jim's bedside–all of them alerted that I would ask shortly for some private time–only to find Jim ready to give his confession, not simply to me, but to all of us. And so he did, asking not only God's forgiveness for any faults he was guilty of, but asking forgiveness of each of his family members, not just generically, but very concretely and specifically. And, of course, forgiveness was given by all and received by all from the heart. In all my years as a priest, and of all the sick beds and death beds at which I have stood, I have never experienced a more moving and genuine exchange of repentance and forgiveness, than that. It brought evetyone together and bonded us as a community of faith, of hope, of love. And thorugh the tears, the joy and consolation, the sense of peace and acceptance, the readiness to accept the inevitable passing, were palpable. And these, of course, are the fruits of the Holy Spirit, that we read about in the cathechism and that we experienced so tangibly that day at Jim's bedside. At that moment, we simply could not doubt the reality of faith's power, of God's presence, of the Spirit's gifts. Seeing was believing."It was the example of my Father, and the great gift of his faith, that helped me find my way back. Don't tell me we don't need men to be spiritual leaders of their families.

  • EPG

    Well, I feel almost churlish posting this right after Pinksy82's post . . . but here it is . . . Anonymous (above) wrote in part, asking what was meant by a concern about the “feminization” of the Church (or churches – take your pick).This (from the Amazon website, originally from Publisher’s Weekly) summarizes the thesis of “Why Men Hate Going to Church,” by David Murrow:Murrow, a television writer and producer, asks and effectively answers the question: "What is it about modern Christianity that is driving men away?" Just 35% of American men say they attend church weekly, he reports, and women make up more than 60% of the typical congregation on a given Sunday. . . . And then there is this, also from Amazon, on the book “The Church Impotent,” by Leon Podles,After documenting the highly feminized state of Western Christianity, Dr. Podles identifies the masculine traits that once characterized the Christian life but are now commonly considered incompatible with it. . . . (I would have included more of the blurbs, but the blog wisely limits the length of my post).Of course, one can argue with their premises, or their conclusions, or just about anything else. But it would be hard to argue that the issue of the real or imagined “feminization of Christianity” is an entirely new concept (I am hardly that original) or that there is not a pretty good understanding what is meant.In my own experience, this might be reflected in • A distinct drop off in church attendance by males once they reach adolescence; • An overwhelming predominance of women as Eucharistic lay ministers (which I have observed in both RC and Episcopal churches) (and no, this does not imply either approval or disapproval of women in that role – I’ve just noticed when they are overwhelmingly female);• The abandonment (in the Episcopal Church) of certain hymns once associated with what once called (in an earlier era) “muscular Christianity” (such as “Onward Christian Soldiers”)• References to the three Persons of the Trinity in terms other than “Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” such as “Creator, Redeemer, Inspirer” (which I have heard used in an Episcopal service);• A reluctance to use the third person personal pronoun to refer to God;I could go on . . .None of this means that women shouldn’t be writing legal briefs, or flying the space shuttle, or that they should be confined to the house. But it does mean that there is something in contemporary Christianity to which many men fail to respond.And it’s worth asking, “Why?” And it’s worth arguing about the answers. I only ask this favor, engage us on the arguement. Please don’t think that claiming that you almost “tossed your breakfast,” by the fact that these questions are being raised will count as an argument, much less win respect for an argument.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    All…great comments! @Anonymous: I hear you! And yet, though the leadership (Holy Orders) have "been all male for 2000 years", the lay leadership of men fell into disrepair and must be rebuilt IMHO. That may be a consequence of the societal changes in the post-War (World War II) era, maybe because of some other reasons (heck I don't know much!).But I do know this: I'm a recent convert but have been a Christian since I was 10. I know I need to be more involved in my Parish, of that I have no doubt. And I wonder, if more lay men (and women) are involved, how much better the Church would be in all aspects. I would argue that many Catholic men feel that they have no real say in how things are done within the Church, therefore they don't bother being engaged. I would argue also that that supposition is one that many men make in ignorance. In my post "Because Don't Give Up The Ship Makes Sense"I alluded to this. Thankfully, I recognized the "life line" when it was thrown to me! Lay men need to recognize that they have a role to play in the Church (and in their families too!).

  • Webster Bull

    Many good thoughts here. I particularly want to respond to pinsy82. Great story about your dad. You may have read where I wrote that five minutes after I told my dad I was converting, he (the non-Catholic) said there were a couple of things he had done in his life that he was deeply ashamed of and that he hadn't even told my mother about. My mother was sitting at the table with us.I think men by their nature carry such things inside as much if not more than women, and it's for this reason that confession has been such a great blessing to me. Still embarrassing, still tough to get my ass in gear and go, but every time–thank you, Jesus!My father never had that opportunity, and I think he may have suffered more in his last days because of that. What a gift your father gave you!

  • cathyf

    The Insta-wife once made a claim that one of the defining characteristics of "manliness" is doing your duty without complaint. My immediate response was, yes, and one of the characteristics of women is that we do our duty and kvetch about it.First of all, I think it is really good to know yourself, and to know, quite simply, does talking about it make it harder or easier to do those things which are your duty? I think that this is one of those definite differences between men and women. Also, I think it's good to take a walk on the other side sometimes. Women can learn from men that sometimes we talk too much and talk ourselves into things that make life harder. And men can learn from women that the walk can be easier when you have someone to commiserate with, to appreciate the wittiness of your rants, and to help you laugh at the stupidity of life.

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks, Cathy. I think we can definitely learn from each other, especially if we listen, which is supposed to come before talking. I struggle with my own "manliness," as you define it, when I do my duty, don't get the credit I think I deserve, and then suffer a silent and stupid martyrdom. Which is probably just as wrong, and less healthy, than openly kvetching. Men will never do it quite the way women do (my friend was right, look at the guys in that picture from the chapel, all 3+ feet apart!), but in the end, what is it we're asked to "do"? Live the first and second great commandments. Love God, love your neighbor, and do as you will, or, genderwise, as you're wired.

  • Robert LaPorte

    Part one: Too lengthy to publish on this site in one offeringBob I'm not sure what my legal friend means by we have it all? And I haven't seen or read any response that remotely emanates from any theological knowledge of the subject at hand. The issues mentioned above, and most of the responses remind me as to how far away we are from the true recognition of what the Lord wanted. Jesus spoke to the multitudes and though he was aware of the social prejudices of his time, he paid absolutely no attention to them as it related to his ministry. He surrounded himself with "broken women" as well as "broken men." He was counter culture when it came to not only speaking to women, but was surrounded with outwardly sinful womensuch as Mary Magdeline. Our "perception" of our role in life, shouldn't be defined by the social influences of our day. And we as humans, cannot go through the process of life, without being infected by the "current thoughts" of the culture we live in. I could write for hours here, but poverty 70 years ago, wasn't the poverty of today. Fatherhood 100 years ago, wasn't fatherhood today. Ironically you could make a case for motherhood as being the only "unchanged" rolein God's plan. One only has to pay attention to life, and see watch children and how their innocence reacts to the "episodes of life"that we call time. Ask anyone who wants to be truthful on the subject if they ever encountered this. A child is happily playing with his Dad, and falls and gets hurt. Nine times out of ten he'll cry for his mother. And the one percent that doesn't make me wonder how mom is, and if she's played her "role in life" as my friend referred to? Have the same child with his or her mom, and encounter something life threatening, and see if both mom and child aren't looking for Dad. I'm sure that any radical feminist would find this one revolting, but its true. And again, if Dad isn't the protector of his family's safety, then I wonder if Dad has fallen prey to cowardice. Much significance has been placed on gender these days. Much of societies "ills" as it relates to perception, and the pursuit of "Revealed Truth" have been influence by societal attitudes towards gender. Mankind has always thrown the Gifts of God back at him, because those gifts haven't satisfied humanity from the get go. And the gift of sexuality as it relates to the building of the kingdom, versus our perverted views of sexuality, is just another example of our "getting it wrong." Same sex attraction wasn't God's intention for the building of the kingdom. The infection of "feminism" has confused 3 generations, all in a different way. Constantly offering the "prejudiced glasses" to view the things of life through. Much of our convictions are a result of our perceptions. At least those that are not Divinely inspired. How we elect to "View" reality is left open to us, God seemingly allows us to make our own judgements, and doesn't coerce us into believing one way or the other.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12442813565745123497 MUJERLATINA

    @ Webster: Wonderful post!! Please see my comment on "Are Catholic Women Happy?" to understand WHY I wholey disagree with "anon. the Lawyer." I enjoy your blog immensely, for the very fact that I gain insight into the spiritual journeys, thought, ideas and feelings of the men who write and comment here. Yes, as a woman, sometimes I feel like a 'voyeuse' here at YIMC — but that's okay. The Women's Movement and many of Vatican II misinterpretations threw a monkey wrench into societal gender roles — and both men and women are still reeling from this. If you see the post-Vatican II priesthood it reflects the 'spinelessness' of the male gender of our generation. I used to be angry like 'Ms. Anonymous Lawyer', but over time I came to embrace my unique role as a woman in the Church and in society. I long for the pre-Vatican II days when you could identify a Religious by her beautiful habit, a Nurse by her 'toque' (cap) — each nursing school had its unique toque, and a priest by his Roman collar. When I became a physician we had "White Coat Ceremony" when we received the honor to don a white lab coat for the first time. Now in my hospital the nurses wear scrubs and a lab coat, as do the lab technicians and the orderlies: so do the food service personnel. I think you get my drift. There is something marvelous in God's unique design of our gender roles. Society, in its attempt to equalize us has destroyed the beauty of our distinct gender roles. Kudos to you Webster for opening your blog to us women, so that we might glean insight into the male journey towards God. And thanks for allowing us to particpiate!! Pax Christ.

  • Robert LaPorte

    Part Two:Jesus was "God's Perfect Invitation." The life of Christ, wasn't about God proving the points surrounding the social ideologies of mankind. It wasn't God's opinion that men were better than women, or vice versa. The "Jesus Event" transcends everything written above, and speaks to God's intention for the world, both male and female. Initially we see God "consulting" and I use this term accurately, God consulted womankindwhen he asked Mary to be the "New Arc" of the covenant. Mary wasn't coerced, she was pursued, and asked. God seemingly waited patiently. Ask any man who has the courage to tell the truth, if this truth of life hasn't played out for them, "waiting patiently for a woman's answer." God then "instructed man", in the form of Joseph, of his intention. Joseph wasn't asked what he thought of this situation that he was placed in, even though the situation caused his life circumstances to appear scandalous. Both Mary and Joseph said yes to God despite that "yes" presenting discomfort to the normality of their lives. Jesus, at the insistence of his Mother began his public ministry at the wedding at Cana.Mary was present and witness to all the miracles, and at the foot of the Cross. Womankind represented in the Gospel as devoted,loving, and courageous in the personhood of Mary. Makes me wonder why women feel so persecuted by Holy Mother Church? It emanates from a forgotten "Presence", as well as a "diminished devotion, respect, and love" of our Blessed Mother. I guess many of us feelthat we need to "start at the top?" It remains unclear to me where the top is. Jesus began his ministry at the insistence of his Mother, and not his Father? Pope John Paulcalled Mary the "co redemptrix" of the world. Both Mary and Jesus illustrate, that God's intention for humankind, remains unchanged, and neither offers more than the other as it relates to our human sexuality. Jesus redeemed mankind through his death and resurrection. Mary offered hope to a broken universe, through her "willing participation" in the Jesus Event that we call the "Incarnation." And God waited patiently.And God continues to wait patiently, for all of us as we self delude, and compete for issues of equality that He hasn't authored, but that are our own skewed perception of truth. We waste much of our lives, haggling over the trivial. We only have to listen to the words of Christ when James and John ask where their "place will be in the kingdom.". "You know not what you ask." One doesn't have to be a social psychologist to be able to discern that the word "role"has become the plantar tendon of the world. And if and when it becomes enflamed, many hobble through the moments of their lives hampered, rather than proceeding without regardto it. 50 years ago, when the issue was mute,men could be men, (and yes have their respective issues), and women could be women, (and yes have their respective issues) and neither felt that it diminished the worth of the other, but rather was simply a result ofa process that we call Creation. You only have to look closely at the Lord's closest friends, John, Peter, Mary and Marthaand Lazarus to find all that is needed to know about Christ as he relates to life, and our humanity. Life around Christ wasn't a "who's first, and who's second chair event."

  • Webster Bull

    OK, I declare this post a roaring success. Not only did we get a thumbs-up from "Doc"/"Bones" (alias Mujerlatina), and what a great comment, but even better, her comment falls squarely in the middle of an enormous, too-big-for-this-space meditation on the question of the day by my good friend Bob. Anyone who knows Bob will know he's a card-carrying member of our Saturday morning men's group. Anyone who doesn't know Bob, won't care. Thanks, Bob, and thanks, Doc! You give me the courage to carry on.

  • Robert LaPorte

    Part Three:Christ interacted with these people in a totally understanding way, recognizing that each had shortcomings uniquely peculiar to themselves, and as a result of their own afflictedness as a result of having been born into the condition of "original sin". To mention just a few. Peter was a blowhard,big grandiose promises, never kept. Mary and Martha always with their priorities wrong. Witness when they told the Lord that He was Late? When our Lord arrives, whether he is 4 days late, He is still on time, Just ask Lazarus about that one. His beloved John, who loved the Lord, but couldn't muster the courageto fight, but rather stayed in the hidden distance, out of site during our Lord's Passion, no doubt an act of human cowardice. Seemingly the Lord surrounded himself with people much like us all. Broken, strugglingwith perception, hampered by iniquity, but maintaining a firm resolve, that outside of the "Jesus Event", there exists nothing that speaks to our humanity as concretely as the Lord's words do. Why did Jesus elect to have his two apostles, "prepare the Last Supper?" It was custom for women to prepare such a feast, but our Lord elected to have his two apostles do it.Why? I'm not sure. I hope to ask that question when I see him, hopefully sooner than later. I can offer, certainly not because the Lord found men more worthy? Not because our Lord felt women were inferior? These positionsare held, because we filter our lives throughthe siphons of our "social prejudices" and not through the filter of purity, Jesus. Our Lord had a "Distinct Role" that he wanted from his apostles. What that Distinctness was, we continue to play out some 2000 years later.For any of us to feel second chair to any other as it relates to the Jesus event, leavesme on my knees praying for a broader, less prejudiced perspective of the personal invitation that our lives are to us. I've been invited to something special, my humanity, it's different in many ways from my neighbor's, and I have only a short time to align it with what is correct, and that is the Gospel message as it relates to my life. Why did Jesus appoint men to the priesthood that night? I'm not sure, and I"m comfortable with Not being Sure. I hope to remain comfortable with not being sure. I don't feelthat God has made mankind better than womankind, but my human pursuit needs to be viewed by me, through the filters of purity.I need to beg for a greater sense of my masculinity, and beg for meaning to my life as it relates to my life's circumstances. I Pray to Jesus and Mary for the strength to be patient, courageous, pure, faithful, honest, and steadfast. I would hope that my female friends would do the same. Pray for meBob

  • Webster Bull

    I guess Bob had some ammo left. Thanks, my friend!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    And all of this discussion echos what was said of the life of a Christian in this world in the Letter to Doignetus (see today's LOTH Thoughts post for links). Sheesh!

  • Maria

    We should be done with this, right? But, look what I found at Saint Mary Magdalen, a UK Blog:Christianity is about Revelation, God revealing Himself in His Son and in His Church.The language of Revelation is “gender specific”. God becomes Man, specifically male. He reveals the first person of the Trinity as “Father”. In a recent email discussion with an Orthodox bishop friend this gender specific revelation was the significant reason for the ordination of men alone, the clergy are an icon of God.For Catholics too, this is not an insignificant argument, maybe it needs to be taken more seriously.Today it is tempting for liberals to downplay the masculinity of what has been revealed and to androgenise God. When that happens there is also a downplaying of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the imagery of the Church as Bride, Mother as Mistress. Traditionally the dominant image of the Catholic and Orthodox Church is the icon of the Mother of God. It is interesting too that the groups of women religious that grow are those which delight in speaking of themselves as “brides of Christ”.Father and Mother are part of the language of Revelation, I think they are also part of the language of Redemption. “God the Father” and “Mother Church” are complimentary, they are not replaceable by the simple notion of “parent”.I suspect that much of the success of the early Church’s missionary work was dependant on being able to identify God as Father. For a community consisting of women married off at young age, of slaves, whose bodies could be misused by their owners at will, sold off as children, whose fathers were likely to be their mother’s masters, or simply bred, as an animal might be, the notion of a loving Father must have been deeply healing.In an age as abusive to children as that of the first centuries of Christianity the proclamation of God’s Fatherhood and the Church’s Motherhood is absolutely necessary. Interesting, huh? Thanks so much, Webster. Enjoy the snow.

  • Webster Bull

    Great stuff, Pinksy 82, everything except "Enjoy the snow"! As my manly man friends say, Eeeeek!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Webster, it's Jules. One of these days I'll figure out what my URL is (I'm a little technologically inept) but for now I keep needing to post via the Anonymous route. Anyway, on to the important stuff. Lots to think about/discuss both in your blog topic and in the comments that followed! First of all, I want to address Anonymous comment that "You men have it all—You've had it all for the past 2000 plus years. Jesus was male; the 12 Apostles were all male. This Catholic church has been all male for 2000 years, with women, sitting, as we say in the legal profession, "second chair"." As a female Catholic, I completely disagree. Men do not have it all – they cannot carry a precious life within their bodies and give birth to that life! (and granted, women cannot conceive that precious life without a man…) Without women, (and offspring) an "all-male" church wouldn't flourish, it would simply die out. And without Mary's "Yes" the Catholic Church wouldn't exist, so I'd say in "legalspeak" that a woman was in the "first chair"!!! Mary didn't say "You know God, I really would prefer to BE the Savior of the world". . . she accepted her "proper role" as mother to our Lord. We shouldn't belittle the female role in the Church because the Son of God was just that, a male, and the 12 apostles were male and the priesthood is male (therefore our Pope, Bishops, etc. are male). We women should celebrate the unique gift of being feminine – our fertility!Secondly Anonymous, I don't see these men complaining! They are opening up a dialogue and discussing why more men aren't involved in the Church and passionate about their faith, I applaud them for that! I wholeheartedly agree with them and would love to see more men involved in their parishes, discussing and professing their faith and some even more involved within their own families.The "feminism" of the Catholic church, as I see it, is women wanting to "take over" the running of the church, instead of accepting our role, which for many of us is again, feminine, by our nature. That doesn't mean I cannot be an extraordinary minister, or take on another lay role, but it does mean I can only be an extraordinary minister, not a priest. I'm okay with that. It's funny, I'm a Catholic woman and I never think of my Church as dominated by men. Men are not the enemy. Men and women ARE different, and should bring their different gifts to the table to build up our church, not tear it down b/c the other does "this or that role." Nor do I see my marriage as dominated by a man, although I would say my husband is the head of our household. The term "proper roles" which offends so many women, shouldn't. My husband and I have traditional roles, he works and provides for our family so I can stay home with our children. To me, that doesn't mean he "dominates" our lives, but he supports our lives by being strong in examples of morality, work ethic, as provider, AND in faith.Pinksy82 your post was beautiful and I agree with so many of the other great comments like Mujerlatina, Frank, & Cathyf.

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks so much, Jules. You're a great friend and an *important* woman in our parish. I really appreciate your speaking out on these issues. Back when I was in a magic show, we used to say that only men were magicians because women already have the greatest magic, what you called fertility, the ability to give birth. Now that I'm a Catholic, I am continually impressed with how women are honored by my Church, as saints and blesseds, as examples to us all, men and women, over 2000 years. My former church may have woman ministers now, and openly gay ministers and God knows what all, but "my" Church has Therese of Lisieux and Joan of Arc, which is about all I need to know.

  • EPG

    I think I might be speechless. Many thanks, especially to mujerlatina, pinsky82 and Jules — it's nice to know that we men aren't nuts when we wonder about this stuff.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08617886731914131420 Robert B. Heath

    What the hell does that poem mean?

  • Webster Bull

    It means that a man's inner experience is as meaningful and mad as a woman's. That a man's life, and particularly a father's life, is lonelier than anyone can imagine or than he lets on. That each of us is a wild, weird, misshapen thing–to the point of absurdity. That God loves us anyway. (Williams doesn't say that, but I think it.) That in solitude men can find solace. And that despite these–and many other interpretations–we are the happy geniuses of our households. Or at least it's OK to think so in the middle of the night, when wife, child, and Kathleen are sleeping. Who is Kathleen, you should should have asked. OK? :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08617886731914131420 Robert B. Heath

    Thanks, Webster. I was a little worried there. As to Kathleen, I would assume she is an older daughter, as juxtaposed against "the baby." However, happy genius or not, I won't be dancing naked in the middle of the night!

  • Webster Bull

    Hey, Robert, I worry all the time, especially when I find myself dancing naked (or blogging, which is worse) in the middle of the night.


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