A lot has been written about the importance of getting men back into the Church.
*About 11 million adult men in the U.S. were raised Catholic but left the faith and men are under-represented in the Church versus their share of the total population (46% of parishioners are male versus 49% of the population).
*Men don’t believe that Catholicism is unique and essential for a happy life.
*8 out of 10 men agree that “how one lives is more important than being a Catholic.”
*4 in 10 men believing that Catholicism does not have a “greater share of truths than other religions.”
*Only 38% of Catholic men strongly agree that they are “proud to be Catholic.”
*Only 26% of Catholic men consider themselves to be “practicing Catholics.” 
*Only 34% of Catholic men strongly agree that Catholicism is “among the most important part of life.” 
There are more statistics at RomanCatholicMan.com, as well as at The New Emangelization, describing how things are regarding Catholic men. The recent Pew Research Center’s religious landscape poll showing a rising number of “nones” in America presents a challenge as well. So what’s the answer? What will attract men back to the Church?
There are a lot of things that can be done, and no single silver bullet will reverse things. But I have one, simple suggestion for starters: Be a disciple, not a dicksciple.
We all know what a disciple is. Disciples attract. Disciples challenge. Disciples are guided by the Holy Spirit, using their charisms to build up God’s Kingdom, thus leading men – and women! – into the Church. Disciples are in relationship with Jesus Christ, on a deep and intimate level. Not in terms of “I know who Jesus is”, but in terms of “Jesus has called me, and I am following Him.” And then they invite others to follow along. Fellow Patheos blogger Sherry Weddell wrote the awesome book Forming Intentional Disciples, which highlights the critical need for the Church to form disciples (note: I’ve read the book, gone through the Called & Gifted process, and came out a changed man. Very powerful. I highly recommend it).
A dicksciple, on the other hand…well, let’s highlight the signs of dickscipleship. There are at least six.
1) Freemasons are EVERYWHERE, and they’re controlling EVERYTHING!!!
Yes, Freemasonry is a thing, and membership is verboten for Catholics. But claiming the hierarchy is rife with Freemasons, that they’ve sold out the faith, and you have incontrovertible proof? Come on – conspiracy theories aren’t gonna inspire guys to become Catholic. For instance – the Year of Mercy logo is a symbol of Freemasonry? Stuff like that makes the Raëlians seem normal. Sure, the logo has inspired emotional responses – and looks kinda strange – but a representation of evil and conspiracy? Smacks of dickscipleship…
2) Addressing the Holy Father by anything other than his title or taken name.
Cos nothing says “I respect the office of the pope” more than by calling Pope Francis “Bergoglio”. Or “Jorge”. Or by calling him a Marxist. Same goes for those who called Pope Benedict XVI “Ratzinger”. Imagine how that invitation might sound? “You know, Joe, it sounds as if you need to return to Church and the sacraments. Before Bergoglio completely destroys everything by changing doctrine. Cos that’s what he’s doing – have you heard about the Synod of the Family??” That’s not how a disciple talks.
3) “Admonish the sinner” is the only Spiritual Work of Mercy.
Hey, if the only tool in your spiritual toolbox is “Admonish the sinner”, then guess what – everyone looks like a sinner (and yes, I know – we are all sinners). Bearing wrongs patiently? Sure – as soon as I’m done admonishing you, you sinner. Fraternal correction done privately, and not broadcast across the Innerwebz? Pfft – where’s the fun in that? Corporal Works of Mercy? Who has time to feed the hungry or clothe the naked when there’s admonishing that needs doing? Dickscipleship commands that all offenses be pointed out as publicly as possible – how else will people know how holy you are?
4) Drop the H-bomb every chance you get.
There are heretics, and then there are heretics. For dicksciples, heretics also include anyone who may have at one point in time written, said, or done something that they disagreed with, and deserve no benefit of the doubt, and must be told that they’re heretics. For example:
Me: I just read a very interesting piece by Fr Robert Barron and…
Dicksciple: Whoa whoa whoa! He agrees with Urs von Balthasar, that Hell might be empty! He’s a heretic! They both are!
Me: What? Aren’t you interested in hearing what he…
Discksciple: From a heretic?
Me: Gee, I really doubt he’s a heretic, but regarding what Barron wrote…
Dicksciple: I don’t read him, he’s a heretic. And if you read his stuff, that makes you a heretic too. Be gone with thee!
5) Conflating preference with hatred when it comes to the Latin Mass v Novus Ordo
If you write comments like this, you might be a dicksciple: “You know when the novus ordo becomes the butt of jokes you know it is time for it to be put out to pasture. The TLM is the Mass of the ages that has been celebrated for 2000 years. it’s the liberal modernists the sodomites, the liberal modernists those even political agendas that hate the Catholic Church such as communists and Freemasons that want to obliterate the TLM.” (actual comment left on Google+ on one of my posts)
Denigrating the Novus Ordo might attract other dicksciples, but it does nothing to strengthen the body of Christ. Pointing out legitimate liturgical abuses and working to get them corrected is one thing – blasting the entire rite is something entirely different, and leads to infighting. You prefer the Extraordinary Form over the Ordinary Form? Great, awesome. Just don’t be a dicksciple about it. You prefer the Novus Ordo? That’s great, too. You don’t be a dicksciple either. We’re all members of the body of Christ, partaking in the same Eucharist. We ought to act like it.
6) Sucking the joy out of the simple things of life.
Y’all have seen this video of Fr Roderick watching the Star Wars trailer, right?
It’s not hard to believe that some were offended by Fr Roderick’s reaction – calling it “proof that the Neo-Catholic establishment has become an entity whose absurdities simply defy expansion or exaggeration.” I dunno – seems to me he’s enjoying the trailer and is excited about the movie’s upcoming release. But sucking joy out of the simple things in life – a mark of the dicksciple. There’s nothing sinful going on here (cf # 3), and I’m sure Fr Roderick isn’t a heretic (cf #4) – so just chillax.
If the goal is to engage with men and encourage them to strengthen their faith – to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, to truly believe and live the commandments of a) loving God, and b) loving one’s neighbor as oneself – then one excellent way of doing that is through intentional discipleship. But not dickscipleship – that leads to infighting, separating, and splintering. Which is exactly the place we’re in right now.
It’s also why we find ourselves in this very place right now.
Photo credit: Protoplasmakid [Creative Commons] via Wikimedia