Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Getting Back That Ole Fashioned Catholic Male Spirituality

Spanish Catholic Matador.

When one thinks of Catholicism in history one is struck has various images that would seem to collide really don't. That has always struck me with the images of Catholic practice and masculinity. The most glaring example is of course Marian devotions. How many stories are there of rough Catholic Sailors and military folks in history that have the most tender devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Saints. Look at what Priests and clergy wear( or used to wear more). Some might call them "dresses" but to be honest the traditional priest wear if worn right and with the proper attitude just screams Manhood. I think that is very important for a Priest and especially as his role as an Alter Christi in performing the Sacraments.

Now I know there is some debate on this. There are "traditionalist" that spend way too much time on how to wear a biretta. Then there are those that say "this doesn't matter one bit Jesus wants us to be more concerned about the Poor". As usual there is no balance which tends to lead to the status quo we have which I find a tad lacking. It is funny but I am amazed how people who proclaim themselves to have a Catholic vision often fall into the old Protestant "either/or trap. For example Spirit is good matter bad therefore Sacraments are bad etc etc. Catholics should break away from this "either/or" line of thought

Hallowed Ground ( no doubt a Traditionalist) has a post with a lot of great photos at “A Girl Thing” I find those pictures so compelling and symbolized something we need to recover.

Now I am not buying into all that his argument in his opening paragraph alludes too. However he is on to something. Let me quote:
During the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 1967, after seeing a demonstration of the proposed new Mass, Cardinal Heenan told the Synod: “At home it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday in the Sistine Chapel we would soon be left with a congregation mostly of women and children”. His words of warning went unheeded.
The above is unfortunately true. The only place I have seen a large male presence in church was at the Latin Mass. Something about the Old Ritual speaks to men, whether it’s the Hierarchal/Sacerdotal nature of the ceremony, or the rigidness of the Rubrics, or whatever. The quickest, easiest way to drive men out of anyplace (church or otherwise) is overt emotionalism (holding hands, talk of love, basically anything too saccharine). The objective nature, quietness, and use of Latin in the Old Mass provides a “blacket” to express yourself while not feeling like a sappy extroverted buffoon. The expression is kept internal, God can see it, my neighbors should be focusing on Him.

Well as I say I disagree a tad. I have seen a large male presence at Masses that were not the extraordinary form. However again he is on to something. It also went far past the liturgy of Mass. You saw men at devotions back in the "olden days " that too outside eyes might appear "sappy" but were not. But there was a order to them and a touch of the mysterious. I do think that is why so many men are not only attracted to the patrimony of Catholicism but also to Eastern Orthodoxy where it is displayed 1000 squared . There is something we need to recover.

Speaking as a guy here let me give you my thoughts. When I go to a "Latin Mass" or visit a Orthodox service I can detect that little boy in me. Boys love to be awed and to steep themselves in the mysterious. Just look what young boys do when they play "pretend". Boys can get pretty elaborate on pretend and it often involves great ceremony and tradition. It was not uncommon at one time for Catholic boys to "play" priest with mock altars. That was not a bad thing. The mysterious and Ceremony combined with the Real fact and presence of God is a combination that cannot be beat.

Hopefully wider use of the extraordinary form of the Mass will affect the ordinary form that I and most Catholics will always attend. Hopefully how we express male Spirituality in the liturgy and the million Catholic devotions we have access too will be recovered also.

No comments: