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I don’t know if an adult male can be taught how to be a man…… January 20, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in catachesis, Domestic Church, episcopate, family, General Catholic, Interior Life, manhood, Papa, priests, scandals, Society, Tradition, true leadership.

…..if he didn’t learn it as a child. That, and other considerations cause me to largely agree with Louie Verricchio’s assessment of the “Manly Men Movement” in the Church.  First, the video, then I add a few thoughts:

I agree very much with Louie in these respects:

  • rah-rah men’s groups often come off as artificial, a bit desperate, and sometimes quite weird
  • even when trying to carve out a masculine space/lifestyle, these efforts frequently use feminist techniques
  • Like so many areas of the Church today, whatever conservative reaction there tends to be seems to ape earlier protestant efforts.  I don’t want to hear “Can I get an Amen?” from some dude at a conference, I hated that crap as a protestant and I hate it more now.  It’s contrived.  And this is just one small area where the Church has surrendered not just the initiative, but almost the entire effort to protestant sources – “Vacation Bible School,” many adult catechetical programs, the Charismatic movement, Focolare……most conservative oriented initiatives seem to almost always ape protestantism. Is this because the one truly Catholic alternative -the traditional practice of the Faith – is forbidden?
  • I don’t think manhood can be taught to adult males.  You either get it as a kid, or you don’t at all.  That may be really a bummer for those who grew up with much of a male role model, but I’ve watched guys try to learn as adults how to be men or more manly and the results have not been good.

But the main point that I think is dead on is the reason there are so few spiritually committed, masculine men in the Church today, is because the Catholic Church is probably the very last place where (OK, I’ll say it, outside traditional parishes) you will find masculine spiritual fathers.  One of the least masculine cohorts I’ve ever encountered in my narrow existence is the Novus Ordo priesthood.

As Verrecchio adroitly observes, the behavior of the Church today is profoundly feminine.  The Church today seeks consensus, it seeks popularity, it seeks never to offend, all of which has caused the sense of Truth and the importance of it to salvation to be flushed down the proverbial toilet.

How many US bishops today would die to protect the sacred deposit of Faith?  Would any?  How many priests?  Perhaps a handful, overwhelmingly attached to the TLM? Far more damning……how many bishops and priests would even be slightly inconvenienced for the sake of Truth and the true good of souls?  You can’t be a man if you don’t protect your family, and these men, they do not protect their family.  In fact, they’ve pretended to redefine what their family is in order to avoid doing so.

I generally like Louie, but I do think he goes a bit too far at times.  I think he’s pretty much on target in this video, though.  The amazing thing is, Bishop Olmsted is probably one of the top 5 or 6 most orthodox bishops in the country, relatively speaking.  There was a lot of liberal angst when JPII first made him bishop and then assigned him to Phoenix. Shows just quite where we’re at in these days.

Having said all the above, I don’t mean to be relentlessly negative.  I was blessed.  I feel like – I hope, I pray – that my dad taught me how to be a man.  He didn’t have guns or hunt or shoot but he did a lot of other things and he remains a huge influence and a hero of mine to this day. When I said earlier today I don’t think the acorn falls very far from the tree, I was thinking of me and him. We’re a lot alike.  My dad is my best friend, and always has been.  I really mean that.

And I know some men, many men, don’t have that, because of divorce or accident or many other reasons.  And I try to have a great deal of compassion for such men, and I can very much see why they, and others who did have a father in their life growing up, would reach out to other men for inspiration and leadership. It’s a crying shame in the Church today that yet again laymen have to rely on themselves and each other to fill the roles that should rightly be filled by priests in better circumstances.

So, forgive me if it seems like I’m looking down on their efforts.  I’m sure some are better than others and some probably work pretty well. And there are priests out there trying to fill the role of spiritual fathers for men, men like Fr. Michael Rodriguez, Fr. Richard Hielmann, Fr. Romanowski, Fr. Phil Wolfe and the Gordon brothers and others.  If there are men who get some true spiritual benefit and growth in their Catholic faith from these men’s revival meetings, more power to them.  I just think the effort is necessarily limited by the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and may not always be ordered towards the Faith in the best way possible.

That concludes family day on the blog, I guess.

h/t the great Saint Anibale Bugnini


1. Margaret Costello - January 20, 2016

All things are possible with God. I think men can become more masculine and actually become men as adults. Joseph Sciambra had a good post about manhood at his blog recently. He is an example of becoming a man late in life. Took him years, but he now fights against the evil of sodomy and ministers to the lost in the Castro District in San Fran. We serve a God of hope:+) God bless~

Tantumblogo - January 20, 2016

It’s hard to say everything in a given post. But I’d clarify by saying there are degrees of manhood, as in everything. And I think there are ways to definitely improve later in life. I think I’ve improved a lot. But I have also read Sciambra and think a lot of him, and he notes himself that men like him somehow missed something growing up, and getting that “masculine infusion” or whatever is extremely difficult after childhood. And that lust for the masculine they know they lack is the driving factor in the sickening promiscuity of virtually all men inclined to sodomy.

So perhaps I should have been a bit more nuanced. Perhaps what I was trying to emphasize is how important it is for fathers to spend time with their kids and inculcate these precious gifts when they are most efficacious.

2. LaGallina - January 21, 2016

“most conservative oriented initiatives seem to almost always ape protestantism. Is this because the one truly Catholic alternative -the traditional practice of the Faith – is forbidden?”

I ran fast and far from my Protestant upbringing as a youth. I could not stand it — the charismatic movement, the happy clapping, sappy cartoonish religious imagery in church materials etc. etc. I was more than dismayed when I realized that ALL of the devout Catholics that I met were carbon copies of the Evangelical Protestants that I grew up with — only they loved Mary and believed in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I was sooooo confused! Of the ones I know personally, none of them know anything about the Traditional Mass. They think “speaking in tongues” is the sign of a great Catholic!

3. "she" - January 21, 2016

“As Verrecchio adroitly observes, the behavior of the Church today is profoundly feminine. The Church today seeks consensus, it seeks popularity, it seeks never to offend, all of which has caused the sense of Truth and the importance of it to salvation to be flushed down the proverbial toilet.

How many US bishops today would die to protect the sacred deposit of Faith? Would any? How many priests? Perhaps a handful, overwhelmingly attached to the TLM? Far more damning……how many bishops and priests would even be slightly inconvenienced for the sake of Truth and the true good of souls?”

I hope you are not implying that females are without integrity, virtue, and sanctity. There have been women martyrs.

Are you saying that there is a problem with women trying to please people, ex. men ? What would men do if they ceased trying to “make men happy ” and refused to come to consensus with their husbands ?

What are we supposed to do, sit there in Mass like it’s an Old Boys’ Club ? Why is that more acceptable than males sitting in what they consider a “girly” church ? What do you think is women’s place in the Church ? Do we have a place ? Really. I would like to know. If the Church is as masculine as you think it should be, why should we sit there ? As part of our penance to atone for the sins of Eve and our own sins ?

Would men feel better if they quit calling it Holy Mother Church ?

Perhaps they also feel threatened by the fact that the holiest human person is Mary, despite the fact that the only God-Human is a male in His humanity and the Church is the Body of Christ. We go to Church to worship a Deity Who is male in His Humanity. The Church is run by men and has an all-male priesthood. How much more masculine can you get ?

In short, I think you guys need to just suck it up.

skeinster - January 21, 2016

As someone who knows Tantum in real life, I can assure you that he has nothing but respect and admiration for good women,
and he is deeply devoted to Our Lady.

I’m not sure how you gathered the above from his post. The point is that there are males, and then there are real men, just as feminism has given us females, and then there are real women. It doesn’t really have a lot to do with the amount of heirarchical power you have- it’s how you carry out whichever vocation you’ve been given.

So, he’s not implying that women have no integrity- again, it depends on how we each respond to grace.We want men to man up, for the benefit of everyone, not just them.

As you so rightly observe in your first paragraphs, if a priest or bishop is not a real father, with a sacrificial heart for his children, he’s a failure.

Tantumblogo - January 21, 2016

If I freaked out over every person who dramatically misinterpreted a post and twisted my words to say something I plainly did not say, I’d do little but freak out. Many of those comments do not see the light of day, or at least not for very long.

But for the social justice warrior, men and women are interchangeable, plug and play constructions determined entirely by socialization set, saying that there is a distinction between having a Y chromosome and being a man is tantamount to heresy.

Judy - January 22, 2016

I think you are coming at his post with a mighty huge chip on your shoulder and a preconceived idea of what he is saying. Of course women have, and have always had, a place in the Church. But for the last sixty years or so, they and the less-than-masculine priests have done a pretty good job of pushing men out of the Church, just as they have tried to make little boys in schools into little girls. When we create an atmosphere where masculinity is not welcome, what do we expect?
Just as in any family, we need both the nurturing of women and our gifts, as well as the more masculine traits. In men

Tantumblogo - January 22, 2016

Great comment. Thank you.

4. skeinster - January 21, 2016

I think the Evangelical flavor comes from the fact that they’ve been at this- recovering traditional roles- longer than we have, though I agree that we need to develop our own programs with a more Trad leaning.

If I may bring in the ladies, it’s the same for the gals. There are a gazillion Evangelical women’s blogs supporting homekeeping and motherhood and few Catholic ones that we would find useful. Our young moms are having to recover and learn skills they were not taught, for whatever reason. They are sort of making it up as they go along, which is why community (see the post on Trad parishes and homeschooling) is so important.

5. David - January 21, 2016

One thing that really happened in the real world was during the late 60’s, through the 70’s and 80’s, women were entering the workplace in droves, and quite a few women became independent and felt that they had to act like men to do a man’s job. Even today, there’s been a few times where I have been chewed out for opening a door for a lady, and at least once over the years a woman got upset with me because I told her she looked nice. What’s the world coming to?

I like it when women let men be men. Some of us men have learned how to change car tires. I’m sure quite a few women don’t mind when a man connects a car battery at the supermarket so a woman can make it home. I remember a while back I dated a nurse and one thing I liked was when we went out on a date she normally wore a decent dress, particularly out to dinner. It was nice of her to take the time, and I appreciated it.

Judy - January 22, 2016

I grew up in the thick of that mess (the 70’s and 80’s) and was very programmed that I was supposed to do everything that a man could do, even if it meant I had to kill myself trying. Because we could have it all and be even better at it than men. Sure our kids would have to be put into daycare, but it wouldn’t matter, because we would still be raising them those few hours at night and on weekends. And we would be independent and able to take care of ourselves when our husbands eventually left us for another woman.
The best thing I ever did in my life was embrace traditional Catholicism and flush all that nonsense right where it belongs.
What a relief to have a husband who wants to provide, protect and guide. What a relief to be able to embrace femininity and caring for a family.

6. Daniel Brooks - January 21, 2016

When I first was ‘coming back’ (more like coming to, as I had no real decent Catholic formation as a kid anyway) to the Church, my brother and I went to an ACTS retreat. Obviously, I had no idea what to expect.

It was an ecumenical mishmash of Catholics and (mostly) Protestants. There was a lot of Pentecostalism, a lot of high-energy, loud music. I was raised Pentecostal, so I know a bit about being emotionally primed and worked up. A lot of personal stories and “skits” meant to set you up emotionally for a protestant-style conversion ‘experience’. Catechesis was… well, the best we received was pamphlets on different aspects of the Catholic Faith placed on our beds to read at night. Lots of quotes from John Paul the Grrrrrrreat. All optional reading, of course.

The priest, the retreat’s “spiritual director”, explained the Eucharist in his homily but appended it (for non-Catholics) with “but you don’t have to believe”. I got a few dirty looks from some Baptists when I loudly asked my brother if he said what I thought he said.

At the end of the three day retreat, you really did feel close to the guys you got to meet. A couple days after, the emotional high wears off and you come back down to reality and realize that it was all contrived. In retrospect, the whole package is feminine–the candy coated protestant praise and worship thing.

It was a forced “brotherhood.” I would advise anyone to avoid ACTS retreats all together… actually, anything that is ecumenical in nature.

7. Daniel Brooks - January 21, 2016

Akismet must not like me, Tantum.

Tantumblogo - January 22, 2016

Daniel I did get it out. Sorry it took a while.

Daniel Brooks - January 23, 2016

No problem, sir. Thanks!

8. Saying dumb things | A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - January 25, 2016

[…] The other post I felt I did not write well was nothing to give scandal, it was just an opinion I got a bit carried away with.  I wrote a post about manhood and the difficulty of instilling masculinity into adult males.  I asked whether such was even possible.  Upon reconsideration, I went too far.  I’m not entirely certain what prompted me to say that, it seemed to make sense at the time, but as I tried to reconstruct my reasoning later I felt I had gone too far.  What I should have said is that it is very difficult to instill a sense of masculinity of men who do not receive the basic tenets in childhood, not that it is impossible. […]

Eoin Suibhne - January 26, 2016

About “manly men” and the lack thereof…

I once worked for a smallish Catholic apostolate at which mostly men were employed. I’ve never experienced a cattier group of people in my life, including at places at which I’ve worked with 50% or more female employees. These were mostly family men, men who on the outside would seem to be good husbands and fathers. Yet, in the workplace, their backstabbing, rumor-mongering behavior was scandalous and downright disheartening to those of us striving to be actually manly. Terribly sad.

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