The Wimpification of Catholicism

Wednesday, December 4, AD 2013

 

And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,  
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.

GK Chesterton, Lepanto

 

Father Z has an on target post on the transformation of the Church Militant into the Church Mushy:

There is a good post at Cream City Catholic, which originates in Milwaukee, WI.  He tackles the question of why fewer men go to Mass than women.

This article, appearing in The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, discusses various efforts being made by Milwaukee-area churches (Catholic and non-Catholic) to attract men back to the pews. [Reason #12 for SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM!!] The concern is that men are, for some mysterious reason, [Not mysterious to me.] checking out from liturgy or other Christian services.

[…]

According to a statistic presented in the article, the male/female discrepancy is especially felt in the Catholic Church, where 64% of parish life is comprised of women.

So why are the guys MIA?

This is another one of those instances within our local Church where you have a lot of people who subscribe to the conventional wisdom scratching their heads and asking “Why? Why? Why?” when the answer is not particularly elusive. This really isn’t a surprise to me, or to many others. I recall attending Mass in Rome at a local parish and, unbeknownst to me when I entered, it was a “Children’s Mass”. Start to finish, the liturgy was replete with childish, Sesame Street-styled songs and embarrassing hand motions. As I scanned the pews, only two groups of people were participating: the small children, and the women, especially the older women. The men, from young to old, were standing there, stone-faced, arms crossed, totally disengaged. It was painful. The music and everything else was thoroughly emasculating. No self-respecting man would participate in that. And they didn’t. If this is what is meant by “active participation” on the part of the laity, I and lots of guys, want nothing to do with it. Run for the hills.

This phenomenon has been replicated ad nauseam in the United States as well.

Authentic masculinity has been knee-capped in our Church. [OORAH!] This trend is conspicuously apparent in our liturgical life, as any manifestation of authentic masculinity is attacked as boorish male chauvinism, old manifestations of discrimination and oppression from a Church that is “unfairly” dominated by an all-male hierarchy. (The article cites an example of a parish in the Diocese of Madison where the pastor insisted on only boys serving as acolytes. Predictably, he received tons of criticism as a result. Fortunately, Bishop Morlino backed up his priest.) [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] What’s more, many of the “liturgical planning committees” have been taken over by women. The embellishments of many church buildings often look like a Jo-Ann Fabric was detonated inside. Pastel ribbons, crafts, baskets, streamers, quilts…BOOM!

What I’ve often referred to as the “Oprahfication” of our Church has had a direct effect on the number of men who opt out of liturgy. Much of our Church culture has imbibed a pandering, touchy-feely, soft sofa approach to dealing with real challenges, and guys don’t dig that. Coupled with a de-emphasis on the Sacramental life, the Eucharist in particular, many men simply see no point in attending Mass if all they’re “getting” is meaningless psychobabble and Stuart Smalley motivational talks.

[…]

Dead on.

Vast swathes of the Church have been wussified.   Part of this is internal to the Church.  Part of this comes from the decades long war on boys and men.

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58 Responses to The Wimpification of Catholicism

  • This is dead on. Cream City Catholic hit it right on the head!

  • Very good.

    Our Arch-diocese in Wellington has been taken over by the feminazis. They have banned deacons from being ordained for Wellington. They have “Lay Pastoral Leaders”- mostly women -because they are running out of priests – they haven’t had an ordination to the priesthood for about 7 years, and of the 50 odd priests in the diocese, about 35 are over 65 and due for retirement in the next 5 – 10 years. We have a couple of deacons in our diocese -migrants, one from South Africa and one from UK – who have moved to Hamilton because of the ban on deacons in Wellington.

    My last homily a few weeks ago, I had a couple of complaints, all women. One of them was the same one (of three) who complained about my homily a few months ago. The Truth is the Truth – irrespective of what anyone thinks. I love getting the complaints; it shows that you are getting the message through, and the ones who complain are the ones the message is for. And besides, I have always loved a scrap. 🙂

  • “And besides, I have always loved a scrap.”

    Same for me Don! I rather suspect my Irish ancestors, not to mention my Cherokee forebears, would disown me en masse if it were otherwise! 🙂

  • My brothers and I have been saying this for years. However, real men need to fight back and not exit – even when it likely means you will be looked upon and treated as diseased.

  • Amen. They’re right it’s across the USA as I know plenty of protestant churches dealing with the same.

    I suspect infection from the wider culture which has twisted the “original sin” concept into what is now known as “privilege”. Thus males have it, females don’t.

  • There was a time when the Pope called men to battle against things like the Islamic incursion into Europe. Today we are told to be conciliatory, to have dialog, to maintain an open mind to diversity, and to be inclusive. Not me. Not ever.

  • I love this. As a woman, even before becoming a Christian and then converting to the Catholic faith, I struggled with finding a real man. It made me squirm to get a fish handshake. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be brought to tears by an overly “gotta break the bones’ type of handshake, but what attracted me to my husband was he treated me like a lady. When introduced he firmly shook my hand and opened doors for me. When I was wrong he gently but firmly corrected me, most especially since I was a new Christian and he wanted to make sure my foundation was strong. We raised our 5 children to do same. Don’t back down when you’re right. Our parish has an ALL BOY altar. No girls are allowed. Before finding this tiny, beautifully masculine church, we attended the church in our neighborhood. They were taught that only boys should be on the altar (by me, in this my husband did not have an opinion, at that time) so when girls were being pushed onto the altar, my boys stepped down. Also, in a children’s Mass where the priest called the children to the altar for hand holding lalalala singing children to come up during Consecration, my boys, under the age of 12 (we were in the front pews) stood up, walked to the door, knelt down towards the altar and prayed for God’s forgiveness for leaving. I followed and took them to a different Mass explaining that although I was proud of them for standing up for what is obviously wrong, leaving at the time of Consecration was probably not the best thing to do. 🙂 All of this is to say, MEN… don’t give up. Stand strong and proud. There are still good women out there that need REAL MEN. Our little parish in the projects (we lovingly nicknamed it “Our Lady of the Hood”) is turning out priests because the men are standing up with gentle and loving corrections without backing down. Yes, we have had ladies leave for being told to cover their bodies and yes, we have had several complaints. But the men, beginning with our spiritual father on down to the committees stand fast to being men and don’t back down. Stand fast. I beg you. Stand fast.

  • This is absolutely a problem. A major part of the issue lies in the last half century of the 20th century in which the West went through a vast cultural and therefore civilization revolution. A major aspect of this cultural revolution was the rise not simply of feminism, but militant feminism, which actually was/is just as much a fundamentalist movement as the Islamicist version-just different ‘doctrines’. Coupled with this was the rising of the Gay Liberation movement beginning in the late 60’s in Greenwich Village. These revolutionary social movements, coupled with the sexual revolution and then sprinkled with all sorts of leftist and even marxist ideologies was a potent mix for the West in general and America in particular.

    Vatican II did not arise from this potent brew, and while calling for the equality of women and the dignity of the person, was in no way part of that revolution. Of course, sadly, there were Catholics who saw it as part of that revolution, both what we now might call the so called “progressives” and now the ‘traditionalists’-both of whom see VII as a radical break in the Tradition of the Church.

    Catholics in America cannot underestimate the sociological implications of the election of the first Catholic President in 1960. That along with Vatican II reforms led to a certain ‘inculturation perspective’ which in the words of Father Robert Barron left the Church ‘beige’, an mild, non-offensive color that speaks of blending in, of not standing out, but definitely an absence of striking color-always a real Catholic aesthete.

    We have entered the age, not of gender equality (something to be valued) but gender neutrality. Forgetting the idiotic moves to make single sex public rest rooms and the like, we see it in women breaking through all ‘glass ceilings’ [again this can be a value] but understood as breaking through all limitations [which in other words marks them specifically as ‘women’: all gender identity limits:all!]. The other is the move of society away from the sense of identity one has and receives in one’s own body: gender: as a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’, and moving to the real inner person an one’s own sexual attraction identification. We have gone from the incarnate objective sense of marriage between man and woman, to the same gender unions [I refuse to call them ‘marriage’] We have gone from the incarnate and objective sense of self to the fluid sense of self based on ‘feelings’ and ‘attractions’

    What we have is the rise of the ancient, resilient and virulent heresy called ‘Gnosticism’. Creation is bad, the body is bad, the inner person is what counts; salvation is found in the enlightenment that comes with real knowledge of who we are in the cosmos. Gnosticism arose about the same time as the Church (we see it [its refutation] in some of the ‘later’ New Testament Letters). Saint Irenaeus led the charge in the third century to undo the damage it was doing in the Church at that time. Gnosticism later arose in the new heresy of Manicheanism, which had trapped the young academic Augustine. Its virulent form portrayed itself as ‘the new Christianity’ [are forms of Christianity today following suit?] , nonetheless it preached the same old dualisms, most especially against creation and sex. Saint Augustine was able to respond and to defeat its forces, after his conversion. It arose again in the Cathars, the Pure Ones in southern France in the 12th and 13th century. While ‘crusades’ were called to extirpate the insidious heresy, it was Saint Dominic, his band of Preachers and the rosary that really defeated the Cathars. I would hold that Gnosticism arose again within the more radical elements of the Enlightenment. Descartes dualism of mind and body, his distaste for and desire to rid the world of all traditions, his call for a ‘reformation’ based on ‘reason alone’ all centered on his rather simple yet profoundly dangerous: Cogito ergo sum. “I think, therefore I am” [or as it is found today: I think, therefore it is=ideology] This new form of Gnosticism has been at work well over two centuries, and we are witnessing its fruits.

    We need to rediscover ‘male spirituality’. There is one, although people suspect it as being a front for male ego. I am not speaking about going off to find one’s primal rage etc. I am speaking of a very simple, embodied spirituality: man desires to DO. There are other aspects which I would like to put on the table as well. Man in his innards ‘challenges’, draws one out of oneself [He both needs that as well as to do it for others]. He seeks to ‘guard and protect’. These are just a few that come to mind at this moment.

    The Church in the 21st century needs to rediscover in the saints our real ‘archetypes’. Knights, soldiers-how many saints began as knights or soldiers! Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, Camillus de Lillis, John of God. While they didn’t begin as soldiers who could ever question the male spirituality of a Francis Xavier or Isaac Jogues? Or how about Francis De Sales in his Introduction to the Devout Life? or the ‘tough’ spirituality of Saint John of the Cross [his name alone could make some shudder]. There is certainly nothing squishy or beige about Thomas More, layman, married man and father, lawyer, politician, chancellor of England, “The King’s servant but God’s first’.

    Let’s forget the beige and put some color back into the Church and the world

  • You’re talking too much Truth, Botolph!

    😀

    Sadly, people like Marcus Tallius Cicero and John the Baptist lost their heads for speaking Truth.

    🙁

    Do keep yours on. We need it.

  • Well said Botolph. I think it ultimately goes back to original sin and the delusion that we are gods or evolving into gods and of our own making. Like with God there is no flesh to limit us, no matter to bound us, no deign imparted to direct us. It is my will that I determine who and what I am, not anyone else’s will that has limited me to what I really am. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be whatever you want to be! Your possibilities are limitless!” But as GK Chesterton pointed out the paradox, in limitation we find freedom.

  • Anecdotal: Of a Saturday afternoon a few years back, I went to the parish Church to make a Confession.

    As you may understand, these days the lines are short; even with one priest hearing. I went behind an elderly woman, and thought, “I’ll be in in no time.”

    ‘Twasn’t so.

    The saintly-looking woman was with Father McCarthy for a half an hour. I could not imagine what Father heard from this octogenarian.

  • Hey guys,

    What’s more, many of the “liturgical planning committees” have been taken over by women. The embellishments of many church buildings often look like a Jo-Ann Fabric was detonated inside. Pastel ribbons, crafts, baskets, streamers, quilts…BOOM!

    Let’s just remember that some of us girls don’t like the Jo-Ann detonation, either. Post-traumatic stress disorder. When I go to church I want to get away from all that. And the maneuverings of female-dominated liturgical planning committees.

  • Even the quilt-like avatars generated by WordPress for these comments make me anxious. I need to look into getting an avatar for myself.

  • At Tamsin: lol! I thought it was just me! lol… The Crucifix, stained glass windows, flowers (in humble moderation), altar candles… that is enough for me. My heart swells with joy at the simplicity of an under-decorated church. 🙂

  • Even the quilt-like avatars generated by WordPress for these comments make me anxious. I need to look into getting an avatar for myself.

    Don’t you wish you were manly like me? lol

    My heart swells with joy at the simplicity of an under-decorated church.

    You should see some of the church buildings of my protestant denomination. “Dry wall? That’s just the first step in decoration and distraction!”

    Seriously though, while I will praise Catholic churches for so often being very beautiful and breathtaking, it’s not for every believer. Maybe unity could be achieved (or get closer) if a little more variation was allowed. Like why can’t there be some buildings designed for those of us preferring an ascetic worship room?

  • As a convert, I remember that all too well. 🙂 After my first Mass I remember thinking that God touched all my senses with His beauty – my eyes with the stained glass windows, my nose with incense of prayer raising up to God, my ears with the angelic choir, and the touch of a warm handshake as we greeted one another as a sign of peace. I didn’t need anything else… until my first Communion. Ahhh… now there… the taste sense – even though there is no flavor in the Eucharist, the thought of Jesus entering my body was overwhelming. No need for anything else.

  • You, (dare I say it?) “ladies” are inspirational~

  • I always had the impression that elaborate ritual, dress and decoration was a “girly” thing and men want to keep things simple and uncluttered. (How many men, for example, really care about the color scheme and decorations for their wedding, or on the length of the curtains in the living room, etc.?) If that were the case I would think the “new” Mass and newer-style churches devoid of all the smells and bells would be MORE appealing to men, not the other way around. Why is this, apparently, not the case?

  • Elaine, I’m not sure I understand your question.

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  • First let me say I admire the mastery of seamstresses and tailors. The more so because of my own failed, albeit necessary, attempts at sewing by hand and by machine. I can appreciate the competence of others.
    .
    To my mind, Jo-Ann fabric decor is temporal. It fixes me in the here-and-now, rather than in the eternal. Much the same can be said of OCP music and Marty Haugen.
    .
    Even if lace surplice designs were at one time temporal, they now seem eternal. Chant is other-worldly too, now. I think that’s why I like jazz music. Though very recent, certain varieties can slip the surly bonds of earth, so to speak. The rhythm dares to be irregular, like chant.

  • Elaine: I would imagine that men don’t much care about the wedding decorations and dress, etc, because they aren’t allowed to. The Bride, and certainly her mother, will quickly overrule anything the poor groom has to say. So he wisely keeps his mouth shut.

    My son used to be long to the Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts Honor society. His particular chapter had some very nice (and expensive!) “Native American” garb and drum, flute set for the Cub Scout/Webelos cross over ceremonies. And then of course there is the entire induction into the Order ceremony and all that. Lots of pomp. Give men a chance (and no women to quibble about their choices), and, yes, they care just as much as the women.

  • Nate Winchester….
    “Like why can’t there be some buildings designed for those of us preferring an ascetic worship room? –

    Ummm, that would be the confessional. Can’t get more ascetic than a dark box…very restful too. When you’re all done giving over your sins to God, you leave feeling like a million pounds have been lifted off your shoulders. Highly recommend it on all accounts….saves on therapist bills too. : )

  • Botolph

    The great Catholic philosopher (and my former tutor), Miss Anscombe, explained the illusion of “the self” very well.

    “The first explanation of self-consciousness that may occur to someone, and what the form of the expression suggests, is this: it is consciousness of a self. A self will be something that some things either have or are. If a thing has it, it is something connected with the thing, in virtue of which the thing that has it is able to say, and mean, “I.” It is what he calls “I.” Being able to mean “I” is thus explained as having the right sort of thing to call “I.” The fanciful use of the word, if someone should put a placard “I am only a waxwork” on a wax policeman, or in the label on the bottle in Alice in Wonderland “Drink me,” is a pretence that the objects in question have (or are) selves. The self is not a Cartesian idea, but it may be tacked on to Cartesian Ego theory and is a more consequent development of it than Descartes’s identification of ‘this I’ with his soul. If things are, rather than having, selves, then a self is something, for example a human being, in a special aspect, an aspect which he has as soon as he becomes a ‘person’. “I” will then be the name used by each one only for himself (this is a direct reflexive) and precisely in that aspect.

    On these views one would explain “self” in “self-consciousness” either by explaining what sort of object that accompanying self was, or by explaining what the aspect was. Given such explanation, one might have that special ‘way of being given’ of an object which is associated with the name one uses in speaking of it.

    Now all this is strictly nonsensical. It is blown up out of a misconstrue of the reflexive pronoun. That it is nonsense comes out also in the following fact: it would be a question what guaranteed that one got hold of the right self, that is, that the self a man called “I” was always connected with him, or was always the man himself. Alternatively, if one said that “the self connected with a man” meant just the one he meant by “I” at any time, whatever self that was, it would be by a mere favour of fate that it had anything else to do with him.” [The First Person 1975]

  • Kimberly, what I mean is that men like my own father had little if any use for formalities of any kind. He disliked wearing suits and ties — he called them “monkey suits” — and preferred blue-collar work. Although he was a longtime Knight of Columbus, he never had any interest in becoming Fourth Degree because he didn’t want to have to wear the fancy “getup”. He preferred paper plates to china and would eat just about anything set before him as long as it was edible. He owned only used cars and didn’t care what they looked like as long as they got you from Point A to Point B. Not the kind of guy who would fuss over anything.

    He was a faithful Mass-goer all his life, until he became too infirm to continue. I never had the chance to ask him what he personally thought of the switch from the Tridentine Mass to the Novus Ordo, but I suspect that he either didn’t care or actually preferred the switch to English and the simpler, more prosaic prayers. He, and many other guys of his generation, simply were not into aesthetics, and I can’t imagine why they would, either consciously or unconsciously, think that moving away from Latin and all the “smells and bells” made attending Mass less manly.

    As for the notion that men aren’t “allowed” to participate in wedding planning, well, isn’t that kind of a chicken and egg question — men are left out because (generally, not in every instance) if they had their druthers they would just as soon reduce the wedding ceremony to 5 minutes, replace the reception with a hot dog roast and be done with it? The stereotype, at least, is that they merely endure all the planning and ritual for the sake of making the bride happy.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour,

    First, it is good to see you back commenting! Secondly, you were indeed blessed to have had Miss Anscombe as your tutor, although I confess my knowledge of Wittgenstein is not what it should be.

    Although Descartes was attempting to find philosophical “terra firma” in an age of great skepticism due to the vast social changes arising in the early Modern Era, he inverted the traditional metaphysics ( being, reality) and epistemology ( knowing) so that epistemology (what I Know, what I think) reigned supreme over metaphysics (being, reality, what can be known). Idea, not Being, Reality, reigned/reigns supreme

  • Sadly, over the past half century, we have witnessed the degeneration of the Church
    Militant into the Church Milquetoast. Even Vatican documents have stated that we are to merely propose the Gospel to the world, not proclaim the Gospel as the eternal and saving truth of God.

  • Thomas Collins,

    The Church’s statement is: “The Church proposes not imposes”. There is no backing away from the proclamation of the Gospel and the fullness of the Catholic Faith. In fact, this is what the New Evangelization is all about. What the statement, ” the Church proposes not imposes” means is that the Church proclaims and teaches without socio-political power imposing herself or her teachings on others overwhelming their freedom. God doesn’t do this an neither can/should the Church.

  • Ahh yes, Elaine. I understand what you are saying. I’m sorry I didn’t before and appreciate your explanation. First, let me say… you have a beautiful father. How wonderful it must have been to be raised by such a Godly and humble man and I’m sure the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I agree that there is a good portion of men that won’t notice because their focus is on their relationship with God not the ruffles decoration the church.

    Wow. To the incredible gentlemen of philosophy. I envy your ability to understand. My husband is amazing like that too but I cannot even come close to philosophical discussion that deep without getting dizzy… 🙂 It’s always a prayer of mine that God will bless me with the ability to become a deeper thinker… until then, I’m always impressed with those who have that strength.

    I do want to say, I love the dark Confessional… I always tell my Confirmation students that it will save their parents loads of therapy bills! So when I read you comment, Nate, I cracked up.

    When I married, my dad gave my husband marital advice that went like this: “Son, if your wife wants pink lacy curtains in your dining room, trust me on this…. just smile sweetly and say, ‘yes, dear’…” this all in a very pink, lacy dining room. The funny thing about it is that my husband actually has a better eye for decorating than I do so I always give him a choice and go with that. It does make him feel like he had a part in it and I still get my way because I always bring my 2 favorite choices to him to choose from. Win win. But in the end he always says he could live very well with crates and white walls. 🙂

  • [I]f they had their druthers they would just as soon reduce the wedding ceremony to 5 minutes, replace the reception with a hot dog roast and be done with it? The stereotype, at least, is that they merely endure all the planning and ritual for the sake of making the bride happy.

    In my case, it was the opposite–I wanted to elope (or a least a much smaller wedding) and have pizza at the park for the rehearsal dinner. I got overruled by the groom’s father–and given a huge list of invites; many people I didn’t know. My own father would’ve let us go to Lake Tahoe, but he might have been a bit hurt if we did. As it was, the suit he wore was way more expensive then the suit the groom wore.
    .
    Our former priest (from Russia) wanted one altar boy (and certainly no girls!). The new priest wants as many boys/men up with him as possible to carry candles and incense and engage in processions. The Novus Ordo and the new style parishes buildings themselves may appeal to men, but I think they are turned off by the felt banners and emotionalism of it all. My boys much prefer the Byzantine Rite.

  • The 17th century was indeed an age of great scepticism, the principle cause of which was the stalemate in which the Wars of Religion in France ((Nine of them between 1562–98) and the Thirty Years’ War in Germany (1618–1648) ended.

    Montaigne’s life from 1533 to 1592 spans the Wars of Religion and Descartes’s from 1596 to 1650 runs from their conclusion to the end of the Thirty Years’ War.

    The deadlock between Catholic and Protestant with neither able to gain ground against the other, in controversy or in arms, led many to believe that traditional metaphysics had been completely discredited. That they coincided with great advances in mathematics (not least the analytical geometry of Descartes) and in the physical sciences inspired the hope for a Copernican Revolution in philosophy.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    The unity of the Catholic vision (not always well presented) underlying Western Civilization which saw communion between faith and reason, truth and beauty, the male and feminine, Scripture and Tradition, the one and the many, had been shattered by the Reformation’s “faith alone/Scripture alone/grace alone, led by Luther. The unity of the West was shattered (and we are still attempting to regain it). As you related: the Wars of Religion in both France and Germany left the West in deep skepticism and thus open to the secularizing force of the next revolution, the Enlightenment led by Descartes who’s revolutionary cry was ‘Reason alone!” Both the Reformation and the Enlightenment scorned tradition. Both saw themselves as beginning a brand new era.

    You mention Montaigne. I took a double major in college: Philosophy and French. The French was less on the spoken language and far more on the great literature. Among others I read Montaigne in the original 🙂 I basically had a double major in Philosophy 🙂

  • Botolphe wrote…”…Both the Reformation and the Enlightenment scorned tradition. Both saw themselves as beginning a brand new era….”

    You have just expressed a thought which some Catholics embrace regarding whether the Second Vatican Council wasn’t merely a continuation of this secular liberalizing trend which was willfully imbued and incorporated into the Church by some of her own bishops under the guise of “pastoral considerations”.

  • The church is the foundation of our civilization and our order. As such, it will always provoke resentment among the male of our species, who generally prefers to watch things blow up and burn down. Oftentimes, the only reason men bothered to come to church at all was because the women worth marrying, or else the pestering mothers that they became, insisted they do so — echoing the role of Mary instructing the crowds to do whatever Jesus says. That is at least part of the reason why men like Clovis and Constantine and Augustine eventually gave up the struggle. Then as now, if you want to know the best way to get men to do something, cherchez la femme.

  • “As such, it will always provoke resentment among the male of our species….”

    I am a man – a male of our species. I love Holy Mother Church with all my heart.

    “…who generally prefers to watch things blow up and burn down.”

    I as a man prefer to build things – like giant 1000 megawatt nuclear reactors to supply low cost, pollution-free energy.

    “Oftentimes, the only reason men bothered to come to church at all was because the women worth marrying…”

    Yes, the woman whom I am to marry is a very beautiful Filipino Roman Catholic. That’s not why I go to Church, and in fact, we never met at Church since she goes to one Parish and I to another. I actually go to Church to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. So does she. Sometimes we even worship together.

    “…else the pestering mothers that they became, insisted they do so….”

    Yes, my pestering mother – a devout Assemblies of God Pentecostal – wouldn’t give up on my conversion, which took a turn that she never expected. Thank God for pestering mothers.

    “Then as now, if you want to know the best way to get men to do something, cherchez la femme.”

    I do what I do not because of my mother or my fiancée. I do what I do – go to Church, attend Confession, go to Adoration, etc. – because I am a sick human being and I know that left to my own devices I shall surely drink and drug again, and then die. I prefer to avoid that fate, so in a fit of selfishness (I really want to live) I do all those things because I know that one day at a time they will keep me sane and sober (in spite of my best efforts to the contrary) so that I can love my pestering mother and adore my beautiful Filipino financee.

  • Slainte,

    Your comment is interesting. Indeed there are two groupings of Catholics who ‘see’ Vatican II as a rupture of tradition. Neither can stand the other but they actually end up in the same category. They are so called ‘progressives’ and “ultra traditionalists’ [I use this term so as not to confuse with those who simply love and deserve the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

    Vatican II is very much in continuity with the tradition of the Church when we understand tradition as the essentials. It is those who rejoice and those who lament that Vatican II is the beginning of a brand new era who are the ‘children of the Enlightenment’

  • I am a man – a male of our species. I love Holy Mother Church with all my heart.

     

    I do not doubt that, and good on you. But while there are exceptions to every generalization, they do not make those generalizations useless. I am not saying every little boy loves playing in the mud and staying dirty, but in general, washing up is not something they come to without some prodding. Even in your case, it is apparently a mother’s persuasion that churched you up, even if it was not in the way she might have expected. And I suspect if you were able to trace the details of how Christianity came to be a presence in your family to begin with, displacing the blood sacrifices or warrior gods or mystery cults or whatever else might have appealed more to the boy in you, you would find numerous other examples of what I am talking about.

  • “And I suspect if you were able to trace the details of how Christianity came to be a presence in your family to begin with, displacing the blood sacrifices or warrior gods or mystery cults or whatever else might have appealed more to the boy in you, you would find numerous other examples of what I am talking about.”

    HA, are you a Christian?

    Blood sacrifices – the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

    Warrior God – Jesus Christ when He returns on that great white horse with the Sword of Truth coming out of His mouth – Revelation 19:11-16

    Mystery Cult – the ultimate mystery: the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist.

    Everything that a boy may want is all here in authentic Christianity. Neither blood sacrifice, nor warrior God, nor mystery has been displaced. Rather, it is paganism which displaced the authentic truth of God’s plan of salvation for mankind that began in Genesis 1:1. We have the prelude and foretelling of all these things in the Jewish Scriptures – our Christian Old Testament. The Egyptian, Greek and Roman pantheons were but a pale and crude replacement for what is Truth.

  • Botolphe,

    Some initial thoughts in response to your statement.

    i. In 1960, would any reasonable Catholic layperson, or a priest, suggest that there were three categories of Roman Catholics?

    ii. You suggest that the council maintained “essentials” which implies that some categories of sacred tradition were deemed “non-essentials” and removed or altered. What were the “essentials” and the non-essentials and by what authority may a Council of bishops or a sitting pope change, remove, or alter any part of the deposit of faith which the pope is called to safeguard?

    iii. Councils were traditionally utilized to define and clarify points of doctrine and dogma…why was a Council used to address “pastoral” issues?

    iv. Some of the same bishops and periti who participated in the VII Council were also participants in the Canadian Winnipeg Statement where they publicly undermined Pope Paul’s authority by affirmatively rejecting Humanae Vitae and its teachings.

  • Again, you keep offering your own opinions as a counter to general observations. It is fine for you to say that the Church supplants all that pagan religions offered, or to say that a priest breaking a wafer is just as profound as watching an animal’s blod spilling out on a sacrifical altar, etc., but that is your opinion. I suspect that those who initially resisted Christianity found it to be a pale and wimpified substitute for what came before, your own experience notwithstanding.

     

    There is a reason why Islam swept across a continent-sized swath of land in the span of a century, whereas Christianity took centuries to spread throughout Europe. I submit that has something to do with the fact that Islam asked relatively little from those who ran things in the Arab world. They could go on raping and pillaging (and I mean that literally) and still be fine Muslims. Christianity demands a more extreme change of behavior, one that take centuries to spread across a culture. That is all I am saying. If you find that Christianity is just perfect for you, that’s wonderful, but really, that is only because of centuries of efforts of those who came before you

  • Slainte,

    Sacred Tradition is the essentials, the essentials are Sacred Tradition

    However, I now see you really are not here to dialogue but ‘debate’ for whatever purpose. While debates occasionally arise on this list due to the nature of the particular dialogue, I can smell a debater-for whatever reason you want one-when I encounter one. You will no longer have the pleasure of dialoging with me.

  • Botolph,

    I interact in good faith and am a cradle Catholic. The issues I raise are ones that have perplexed me for some time. My understanding of Vatican II (as someone who grew up post Vatican II) is primarily from reading Catholic magazines, some of which are SSPX which describe what are presented as deficiencies of the Council. I also have read Saint Augustine, and am proceeding through Saint Thomas’ Summa Theologiae. My ultimate goal is to gain a better understanding of why the Church is so fragmented today, and why so many are uncatechized and confused. I have observed authors and commenters qualify “types” of Catholics as you did within the pages of “First Things” and find it very troubling as it suggests a break in the unity of Catholic laypeople.

    I am a lawyer by profession and I tend to reflexively communicate in a very straightfordward fashion, or as you interpret, a debate style. I am not sure how else to approach this other than through a series of questions. I appreciate your responses to date, especially as they relate to your clarification of Ecumenism. I would like to dialogue with you if you are receptive to doing so. If you can suggest an alternative method, I am receptive. Pax

  • Slainte,

    Ok you got my attention and you have really explained yourself and where you are coming from. I will now know that you are a youngish lawyer (raised in post- Vatican II Church) and that this simply is your professional style. Got it.

    Let me tell you a bit about myself. I am in my early 60’s which means I was in the 7th grade when Vatican II began [first week of Vatican II was the Cuban Missile Crisis] I not only attended {word we used back then for going to Mass) the Tridetine Mass but served it-I had all the Latin down by heart (but honestly never knew why the people could not be taught the same responses) I was in the 8th grade when President Kennedy was assasinated, and only a few days later the first two documents of Vatican II were promulgated [Liturgy and Social Communications] I was a sophomore in HS when the Council came to an end. I graduated from HS tin 68: social and cultural revolution was taking place Dr King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated just before I graduated. Race riots broke out after Dr King’s murder.in July of that year Pope Paul VI published Humanae Vitae. [All this before I even entered college]

    Humanae Vitae was the first shoe to drop. What I mean is this. You are talking with someone who fully accepts its teaching, but I also recognize that with its publication the first group I mentioned in the post above, the so called Progressives not only dissented from that encyclical [and I am speaking about some priest theologians from around the world as well some religious and well known laity. The dissent did not stop there. More central teachings to the Church’s teaching came under fire, criticism and eventual dissent. At another time in history this probably would have resulted in a full Reformation type break up, but I think the Church wisely chose the patience and yes mercy path. Truth always wins out even if it takes time, and this was but one generation who like us all will age, retire and die. It gives one pause to wonder if we could have handled the Reformers in the same way. However that is Monday morning quaterbacking.

    The second shoe to drop was the promulgation of the Roman Missal of Paul VI in 1970 (actually Advent 1969). The reformed Roman Rite was introduced almost universally with very little if any catechesis, no explanations, nothing. It was just done under the name of authority [Aquinas says that is the poorest way of getting something done] At the same time, and here I disagreed with “Rome” on this ‘pastoral decision: the Tridentine Mass was for all practical reasons banned. Everyone was to celebrate (priests) or participate (rest of the Faithful) in the Roman Mass promulgated by Pope Paul VI. The Mass my ancestors and I myself had attended and served was with the snap of a finger, ‘disappeared’ over night. Many did not like that at all. They believed what the Church taught (unlike the progressives) but this simply was too much. Many simply wanted the “Latin Mass” back-and now, thank God, they have it. However, before that happened, the damage was done. Some began to radically question the Second Vatican Council itself. Archbishop Lefevre and others criticized these liturgical changes strongly but they also began to believe there were other, even deeper problems with Vatican II and that the post Vatican II Church was no longer in line with the Tradition of the Church [FYI there is Tradition=received from the Apostles; it is the essentials etc; there are also many many traditions, beautiful, helpful etc but not essential. One of the biggest issues for Catholics is which is which. The other big issue is who gets to decide which is Tradition and can’t change and what is tradition which can change. Easiest answer: pope and bishops in union with the pope]

    Here is an example of Big T and little t that hit Catholics in the 60’s and threw them for a loop. Before 1965, using birth control and eating meat on Fridays were both mortal sins (for two very different reasons) The problem was everybody wanted the bottom line, keep it easy-and there it was-both are mortal sins. Well Pope Paul VI comes along and changes the penitential discipline of the Church on meat on Fridays (except in Lent) Literally, one week if you ate meat it was a mortal sin and the next week it was not. Ahhhhh said Catholics this is great, I always loved a hamburger on Friday [sadly completely missing the real teaching the pope had made concerning the need to do penance on Fridays [look it up it is in the new code of canon law] just not a mortal sin to eat that hamburger. People were confused. We were so used to easy ‘rules and regulation’ style communication. Along came `1968, the Pope upholds the Tradition on the meaning of conjugal (marital) charity and opposes the use of contraception. Who wait a minute, the pope can change meat on Fridays why can’t he change the teaching on birth control, or (later) abortion, (or later) women priests, (or later) gay marriage? After all aren’t they all mortal sins? (yes but…….) To be honest Sainte people are still not through all of this.

    Bringing this to a close, progressives believe VII (Vatican II) was the greatest thing since sliced bread. For many (most?) they think it was the total reboot of the Catholic Church. Put in more theological terms, thanks to Pope Benedict, they hold to a hermeneutic of rupture {they do not believe) that Vatican II was, while different in the way it presented the Church’s teaching [more exhortatory, something like the Acts of the Apostles is) it nonetheless continued the Tradition of the Church, presenting the Gospel (Church’s teaching) in a positive manner ( with none of the anathema sits etc you see in other Councils)

    The UltraTraditionalists (not just lovers of the Extraordinary Form) actually believe the exact same thing as the Progressives: that VII was a complete or almost complete break with the Tradition of the Church. unlike the Progressives however thy lament, mourn grieve not simply the crazy stuff that went on in the 60’s and 70’s (and it did and there was some crazy stuff we all didn’t like back then) but that “Rome” has lost its way and needs to return to the true Catholic Faith by abrogating or radically reducing the authority of VII (basically putting it under the Church’s bed and be forgotten). FYI there are even among the ultratraditionalists, two groupings. One you are familiar with, the Society of Pius X. They are not that radicalized and with Pope Benedict I pray that they are fully reconciled with the Church. The other group however, I am sorry to say,is totally radicalized. They are the Society of Pope Pius V (Pope at the time of Trent) They do not only believe Vatican II was ‘bad’ but not a Council at all. Because in order to have a Council it needs to be ‘ratified’ by the pope (which it was). Thus they do not believe that there has been a real pope since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958 ;-(

    It is a lot to take in, I know, especially for a younger member of the Church trying to figure some of this out. On one level I agree with your assessment, who would ever believe in 1960 that the Church would have three distinct groupings -if not totally schismatic [Pius V group]. But remember what I said. Everything was done with authority and rules and regulations (I am not antinomian I believe in law in society and in the Church, but the Church is built on Christ and Peter in faith, hope and love, not rules and regulations (think of the no meat on Friday-mentality and confusion; FYI I really work at keeping Fridays meatless as a form of penance :-))

    Evangelization, Catechesis, evangelization, catechesis, evangelization, catechesis are what we need, big time.

    Hope this helped (sorry it went long but it is no small matter)

  • Botolph,

    Thanks for telling me about your background and for the summary review of pertinent points in recent church history. You have clarified some ambiguities for me.

    I am not so youngish; I am a little more than a decade behind you. I attended Catholic grammar, high school, and university, but a non Catholic law school, all in NYC.

    I have spent most of my career as a commercial litigator and only seriously started delving into the faith about five years ago. I developed a very strong interest in theology…something that did not hold much interest for me when I was younger. My faith has always been important in my life although mass attendance was treated casually. That is no longer the case as I attend mass regularly…both the Novus Ordo and the Latin Tridentine Masses. I much prefer the latter which I find deeply prayerful and just awesomely beautiful. Latin is not an issue as I learned it very well in school thanks to a wonderful Sister who imparted to her students her love of Cicero and Julius Caesar, and required us to dutifully translate their orations. I understand and am able to meaningfully participate in the Latin Mass.

    As I read theology…especially St. Thomas, I found it necessary to venture into Philosophy for greater clarity; in particular Aristotle. I note that you were a Philosophy major…so you likely understand its complexities, especially for the self taught. I just keep at it…I am confident that God will open my mind further if I remain diligent in my efforts.

    As a child, I recall my father testing me on points of the Faith from the catechism; he was perplexed that I could not name the seven deadly sins or the virtues, or recite the Nicene creed, or the Rosary, or explain devotions to saints. He was able to recite many of these things by rote from his Catholic schooling; he was appalled that not only did I not know these things but I wasn’t being taught from the Catechism. In the 1970s grammar schools, we were taught general concepts of the Faith…ie., love your neighbor; Jesus is love; be merciful to your neighbor; general bible stories; donate to the missions, etc. The schools I attended were excellent; but I surmise a sea change had occurred in religious education post VII. I think perhaps doctrine and dogma became viewed as legalisms which gave way to teaching the perceived “bigger” lessons of pastoral love and mercy. This shift in focus made its way into the form of the new liturgy, and then the physical alterations of the churches from the placement of the altars, to the priest facing the people instead of ad orientum and the removal of Statues, the use of empty crosses instead of crucifixes. These changes no doubt have influenced Catholics by virtue of “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi” (the Law of Prayer, the Law of Belief)…Whether the changes proximately caused or contributed to the fragmentation within the Church today I do not know. But what I do question is why the changes were made so quickly with so little respect for the sensibilities of the faithful. You touched on this point in your discussion.

    I have learned a great deal in the last few years about theology and some philosophy, also History as it relates to the Reformation, the Enlightenment. the religious issues underlying the French Revolution and the American revolution, etc. I understand the distinctions you discuss when you reference faith and truth, and the ordering of one to the other. I also understand the Enlightenment assertion of the primacy of reason over faith; of subjective truth and secular humanism vs. objective truth and God’s primacy over His creatures.

    I have read many papal encyclicals; I am, however, concerned that many contemporary bishops do not reference back to any papal encyclicals of pre-VII popes. I am very impressed with Pope Leo XIII and his courageous battle against freemasonry and his devotion to Archangel Michael….also, his social teachings with respect to justice, fair wage, and private property concerns.

    I have many pieces of a scattered puzzle that collectively constitute my understanding of the Faith. If you would be so inclined to assist me to put these pieces together in a logical and Faith filled way, I would be very grateful. Hopefully this exhortation has not sounded too much like legal-ease…but when I slip into it, please excuse me. Thank you.

    Pax tecum.

  • Botolph, in his response to Slainté, mentions the controversy over Humanae Vitae

    Am I alone in finding an eerie similarity between the “Truce of 1968,” as George Weigal calls it, when the Congregation for the Clergy decreed that Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington should lift canonical penalties against those priests whom he had disciplined for their public dissent from Humanae Vitæ and the “Peace of Clement IX” during the Jansenist controversy?

    In both cases, after the Church had been riven by a decade-long dispute, a papal document was issued that was intended to be definitive.

    In both cases, the original quarrel was immediately forgotten and argument raged over the scope of papal authority to decide the question. In the Jansenist case, peace, of a sort, was achieved, when Pope Clement IX brokered an agreement that neither side would argue the question, at least, from the pulpit.

    The “Peace of Clement IX” lasted for about 35 years and ended in 1705 when Clement XI declared the clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence.” Eventually, in 1713, he issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was enormous resistance, with bishops and priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

    Will the “Truce of 1968” end in a similar fashion?

  • Slainte,

    I am willing to continue our dialogue although I am not sure how to proceed: i.e. what woulld be most helpful for you

    Vatican II canonized actually a very old movement within the Church: Return to the Sources. As Pope Benedict has shown, we need to begin with the Word of God, the Revelation of God [The Second Person in the Blessed Trinity who became flesh in Jesus Christ] To return to Him means ongoing conversion and ever deepening faith, hope and love. This will take place as we turn to the revelation of God found in the Apostolic Tradition (notice this is one Source) that is found in two forms: Sacred Scripture and the Tradition (big T) of the Church (If one takes a step back this teaching of Vatican II is modeled after the Oneness of the Person of Christ [Council of Ephesus: Mary is the Mother of God] and His two Natures [Divine and human: true God and true man]). This Apostolic Tradition is passed on (traditio), maintained, protected and authoritatively interpreted by the Magisterium [Pope and bishops in communion with him]. Not sure if it is clear, but in the passing on (traditio) of the Apostolic Tradition we have a ‘trinity’: Apostolic Tradition is found in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and passed on and interpreted by the Magisterium.

    How is that for starters?

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour,

    When I read your post this morning I suddenly felt like Pope Francis. I made a side comment and opened up a proverbial can of worms lol 😉

    However I will begin a response anyways. FYI I was not referring to the particular intervention in what is now the famous Cardinal O’ Boyle intervention, which George Weigel has interestingly (and not inaccurately) called ‘The truce of 1968’ George Weigel has pointed out in other commentaries that he did not believe for one minute that ‘the truce’ was thee cause of the vast dissent in the Church against Humanae Vitae, and I would have to agree. If that decision which in fact only effected the local church in Washington, we would not have had such incident as the ‘famous’ European nun who strummed the song to St Dominic in “Dominique” and got on the record charts, also sing a song in praise of the pill. Good grief, those were indeed wild days. No the dissent was already going on, was far deeper and far ranging than perhaps what the hierarchy realized. The public dissent in 1968 was orchestrated by certain Moral Theologians, one in particular in Rome, who posted copies of the Encylical to all his students throughout the world, who then, en masse, went public on the very day of the publication of the Encyclical making their dissent and protests. Those professors understood the power of the media far more than Rome or the bishops did, just as Luther understood the power of the printing press long before the Church did.

    That would be my first comment. 1968 marked a new culture in social communications-a revolution which has not stopped. Just as in the 1400-1500’s there was a transformation of the culture from auricular to literary [the whole translation of the Bible in the hands of the people, as well as the pamphlets and ‘little catechisms’ of both Luther and Calvin were all part of that revolution] so too we are in the midst of a revolution still developing in social communications. The first two documents of Vatican II were promulgated December 4, 1963 [just fifty years ago] They were on the Liturgy and Social Communications While there is controversy about the one on the Liturgy, there is none about the one on Social Communications-it was too weak and bland. Yet, intuitively, the Council got it right-the Liturgy and social communications are the way the Church is most known.

    My second comment concerns ecclesiology [who/what is the Catholic Church]. In the pre-Vatican II Church, using a authority/juridical institutional model of the Church [this is not a criticism, merely a hopefully accurate description] things were very clear, defined. You either were a Catholic or a non-Catholic [of course non-Catholic Christians were not considered non-Christian etc, but the primary identification was Catholic/non-Catholic]. Within that identity, you had practicing and non-practicing Catholics (yes these existed back then). with this model you adhered to the teachings on doctrine and morality and kept the disciplines (laws) of the Church are you didn’t. If anyone even desired to go public with dissent they would be termed ‘Protestant’, and it would be over. Very clear, very neat. The fact was that this particular form of the Church favored a conformist (obedience) culture and a cultural Catholicism that definitely had its strengths but also its weaknesses. Generations knew their Catechism answers, but were never asked if they really believed (of course many many did as we know-thank God, but not all by a long shot). Generations knew their prayers but were never asked etc whether they really prayed. In fact it is not another ‘either/or’ it is a ‘both/and’, We need both the ability to know the Faith and to believe it; to know the Prayers and to pray them, etc

    Vatican II came and taught a distinctly different but actually more ancient, traditional form of the Church: communio. By “commuunio”, considered to be the very essence of the Church, as the ‘image of the Blessed Trinity’, one entered into the Church of Jesus Christ which subsides in the Catholic Church through faith and baptism. Baptism was both the foundational sacrament and common sacrament among all Christians. By baptism one becomes a member of the Church of Christ which subsides in the Catholic Church. Someone baptized into the Orthodox Church or into a Protestant ecclesial body were indeed baptized and already sharing in a profound identity with Catholics-however they were not yet in full communion with the Church. A baptized Catholic needed the Sacrament of Confirmation, and the ongoing sacrament of the Eucharist to be in full communion with the Church (non-confirmed, and ‘non-practicing’ Catholics are not in full communion with the Church-granted in the case of children, not by their own volition). The Church further explained that there are FOUR ‘aspects’ to being in full communion with the Church: 1) faith in the full teachings of the Catholic Church (questions are one thing, but any real dissent: not in full communion) 2) participation in full sacramental life (here it means one is fully initiated: baptism, confirmation, ongoing Eucharist, participating in the sacrament of penance on an ongoing level, and acceptance of the reality, truth of the other sacraments [here we would have to state that someone in full communion would accept all seven sacraments as sacraments of Christ and now: only men are ordained bishops and priests-I will leave diaconate aside for the time being; and that marriage is between one man and one woman for life 3) full acceptance and union with Governance of the Church: Pope, bishops in union with pope, and priests ordained and fully delegated by those bishops in union with pope 4) ongoing life of charity [to be honest this is very hard to discern, even for the individual about their own lives. Certainly it is not obvious to others. However, having said that-there is so much anger among Catholics, with the Church in general and among themselves-that one has to take a step back and begin to ‘question’ your/my own self–am I really being charitable here, living in charity, etc

    My point on this long reflection on ecclesiology Michael is that while on the surface it might seem that the Truce of 1968 was simply a ‘tactic’ to prevent a ‘schism’ on the part of the so called Progressives, I believe it was actually a manifestation of the ecclesiology of communion in which the truth of the faith is proclaimed, faults pointed out [for example some theologians have had their ability to be called Catholic theologians taken away; same with universities and colleges], but the communion while not full, is nevertheless maintained. It is not as neat and clear as the older model of the Church. That model communicated teaching through authoritative decisions to which obedience was expected. In the Communio model, very much like that of the Fathers of the Church, the model was teaching by persuading leading not to obedience but conversion and faith. I am sure there are many who would like the ‘older’ way, sometimes I do lol, but “Wisdom is proved right by all her children” [Luke 7.35]

    As to the actual issue of contraception, Humanae Vitae, etc. All the teachings that the Church has put forward in and since 1968 on sexual issues are true. Period. But notice something? True as they are, they have not convinced and led to conversion and faith. The Cultural/sexual revolution was just getting steam up when Vatican II closed. The “Modern World” which we face today is not really the same one the Church faced during the Council. Among other things, we are now living in what pretty much everyone realizes: the post-modern world. What that means is a whole other issue. But bottom line, the Church has never really been able to tackle the sexual revolution. The truths won’t be changing but will be expressed in a way in which the culture that has gone through the sexual revolution can at least understand. They do not; they cannot not, right now. Our languages are too different. Here, I believe is where the Extraordinary Synod of 2014 which in turn is preparing for the Synod of 2015 will finally deal with this very important issue. Sexual issues, in the Catholic vision, cannot be separated from issues of the Family. I believe we are about to see the Catholic Church tackle the whole sexual revolution en masse, maintaining the truths of the Faith yet really answering the questions, crisis and issues of the age.

    I apologize that this was long.

  • Great for starters. If I may out forth some statements to determine whether we agree on fundamentals.

    St. Thomas in his embrace of Aristotelian truths focuses on the proposition that all things are purposeful. My understanding of the purpose of the Catholic faith, and the Church, is that they exist, by the grace and mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of souls by leading all men away from sin and toward God.

    We become most like Him in our recognition that we are made Imago Dei to seek our perfect end by conforming ourself to HIs will. He has graced us with intellect to know Him and He has made our movement toward sainthood possible be accessing, through the Church and the clergy,

    i. His Divine Law comprised of the Old and New Testament which we call Revelation;

    ii. His Eternal Law made known to us through unaided Reason; we ridentify this as
    Natural Law

  • Apologies please disregard earlier printing which should not have posted.

    Great for starters; if I may set forth some statements to determine whether we agree on fundamentals.

    St. Thomas in his embrace of Aristotelian truths focuses on the proposition that all things are purposeful. My understanding of the purpose of the Catholic faith, and the Church, is that they exist, by the grace and mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of souls by leading all men away from sin and toward God. We become most like Him in our recognition that we are made Imago Dei to seek our perfect end by conforming ourselves to His will. He has graced us with intellect to know Him and He has made our movement toward sainthood possible by accessing, through the Church and the clergy,

    i. His Divine Law comprised of the Old and New Testament which we call Revelation;

    ii. His Eternal Law made known to us through unaided Reason which we call Natural Law;

    iii. Magisterial Teaching of the Bishops in union with the Pope;

    iv. Sacred Tradition in an unbroken line of succession from the Apostles through and including today.

    We understand God’s Revelation as provided in Holy Scripture, through the Apostles, to be complete. How then does the Church view Private Revelation (ie., Our Lady of Fatima and her teachings) and our obligations, if any, to conform ourselves to their truths?

    Father Robert Barron in connection with the New Evangelization has spoken about a return to the sources; this theology is also referred to as “Ressourcement Theology” or “Nouvelle Theology”. One of its proponents Henri De Lubac, I believe, questioned our ability to know the Eternal Law by unaided reason alone. If this is accurate, where does this leave Natural Law? If not through reason, how else might we know the God who has written His law on our hearts?

    Why did the Ressourcement theologians conclude that it was necessary to return to the sources rather than just continuing forward and building upon age old teachings and beliefs?

  • Slainte,

    Yes, I agree on all of these [why shouldn’t I lol?] with a few minor nuances and corrections.

    1. All things (indeed) are purposeful. They have a ‘teleos’, an end, purpose, also the word used in Scripture for ‘perfection’

    2.The Church indeed exists by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ…: Vatican II going back to the Fathers speaks of the Church being the New Eve (Woman) coming forth from the pierced side of Christ (the New Adam) when water (baptism) and Blood (Eucharist) flowed from Christ as He slept, the sleep of death

    3.(the Church exists) for the salvation of souls by leading all men away from sin and toward God….: The Extraordinary Synod of 1985 synthesized the whole of Vatican II into this one sentence: “The Church as communion is the sacrament of salvation for the world”

    4. “We become most like Him in our recognition that we are made Imago Dei to seek our perfect end (teleos) by conforming our self to His will: Yes, as the Fathers put it: we are created in His image to participate (or become) in His likeness. Based on the teachings of the Council of Trent, Saint Francis De Sales certainly taught this in his Introduction to the Devout Life by which he said, ‘perfection’ (teleos), holiness was not just for the ordained or consecrated religious but for every baptized person. Vatican II continued this in its fundamental chapter on the Mystery of the Church: you cannot understand the Church without this: the Universal Call to Holiness

    5. He has graced us with intellect to know Him and… : what happened to Thomas’s teaching on the ‘will’ [love] and affections? Thomas’ anthropology is based on “intellect and will==knowledge and love. [not criticism really but these are extremely important. In fact Thomas was way ahead of his time in giving positive teachings on the role of affections in attaining our ‘end’ (teleos) thus giving Catholics a sound foundation for affective conversion and the affective life.

    [Slainte, these are not corrections etc. I am simply showing the continuity between Thomas and Vatican II] Now I will offer a slight correction:

    Eternal Law came forth from the “Mind of God” according to Thomas. In some senses it is a manifestation of the Mind of God [since Thomas emphasized the Mind of God—-Realist philosophy/theology while Bonaventure emphasized Will/Love. Bonaventure’s disciple Duns Scotus then took this one step further focusing on the Will of God being Transcendent and free leading to Occam’s Nominalist school, unfortunately because we are still living with it ;-()

    For Thomas Eternal Law comes from the Mind of God

    Eternal Law is manifested (incarnated?) in two forms: Natural Law and Divine Law

    Divine Law has two expressions, The Law of the Old Testament (commandments) and
    The New Law of the New Testament
    Here is the real shock. Most people would identify the New Law as the law to love one another. Not untrue, but not what Thomas was getting at. The New Law according to Thomas was ‘the Law of the Holy Spirit’, the New Life, the Grace of the Spirit that comes to us through the Sacraments [you can check this out. Obviously correct me if you find me wrong]
    But see, here is the great synthesis of Thomas. The Law expressing the Eternal Law is found in Natural Law and in the Scriptures [commandments, Sermon on the Mount etc] but left just with that-and ‘just’ with the Teaching of the Church by bishops and priests, we are ‘left’ buried and condemned by the Law—after all who has not broken even one of the ‘least’ commandments? However, the Eternal Law is expressed in the New Law of the Spirit which is the ‘law of grace’ coming to us through the sacraments which both cleanse us from sin, make us new creatures (justify and sanctify us) but also empower us to live the life of holiness, our teleos.

    Make sense?

  • Slainte,

    LOL Ok I just sent a response to your first editio lol I am busy but I promise to go over and respond to your second editio by tomorrow evening deal?

  • Thanks for what you wrote so far..it makes a great deal of sense.

    Fair warning my thinking is choppy in connection with Ressourcement and other issues; it will show through in my writings…what I promise you is that all questions and comments I make will be made in good faith and respectful both to you and the Church.

    There is no rush to respond..not even by tomorrow night. Have a great weekend; thank you for what you do.

  • Slainte,

    You are doing fine. I know you are hungry and thirsty. However time and prudence tell me that it is better we go slow, at first anyway, and also in small bits at a time. After all, Rome was not built in a day lol

    You have a great weekend too

  • Slainté wrote “My understanding of the purpose of the Catholic faith, and the Church, is that they exist, by the grace and mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of souls by leading all men away from sin and toward God.”

    You may want to consider what Cardinal Henri de Lubac says, “The church is not instrumental to God’s purpose of redeeming the world; rather the world is instrumental to God’s purpose of fashioning a body and bride for his Son.” The difference in perspective is central to the Nouvelle Théologie. What they denied in their controversy with Neo-Scholasticism was the claim that the natural and the supernatural have utterly separate ends, in and of themselves.

    Thus, Maurice Blondel, insisted that we must never forget “that one cannot think or act anywhere as if we do not all have a supernatural destiny. Because, since it concerns the human being such as he is, in concreto, in his living and total reality, not in a simple state of hypothetical nature, nothing is truly complete [« boucle » in the French], even in the sheerly natural order”
    Jacques Maritain, too, declared that “the knowledge of human actions and of the good conduct of the human State in particular can exist as an integral science, as a complete body of doctrine, only if related to the ultimate end of the human being . . . the rule of conduct governing individual and social life cannot therefore leave the supernatural order out of account” That is why they reject the idea of a “natural order,” governed by Natural Law, consisting of truths accessible to unaided human reason, as something that can be kept separate from the supernatural truths revealed in the Gospel. As Maritain reminds us, “Man is not in a state of pure nature; he is fallen and redeemed.”

  • MPS, Because I was so impressed with your writings in other venues, even though I was confused by some of their content, I googled your name and found this site several months ago. I have observed and tried to learn through the many posters here, most particularly Botolph and yourself. Hence my outreach for clarity on so many issues.

    I am grateful for the exchanges by which you have shared valuable insites and thought provoking ideas with me and others. I listened well to your discussions on Cardinal de Lubac and Natural Law and Grace. For additional clarity, I have ordered from the booksellers a tome entitled, “Ressourcement, A Movement for Renewal in Twentieth-Century Catholic Theology”, (Edited by Gabriel Flynn and Paul D. Murray, Oxford University Press).

    I look forward to reading it upon receipt and understanding the fullness of the Ressourcement’s teachings including their vision of the Church.

    Thank you again for imparting your wisdom on the issue of the Church in the world today. Your intellect is beyond brilliant.

    Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd duibh.

  • Slainte,

    As promised I will take up the second editio of your questions.

    When I wrote about Eternal Law manifested in Natural Law and Divine Law, I was speaking.of Thomas’ actual teaching in his teaching On the Law. I gave what I believe to be an accurate account of what Thomas actually teaches/taught. I did not, at least consciously get into various schools of Thomistic theology- and there are several. MPS rightly points out one of those major schools, one of which I have great admiration- but it is a schoo of interpretation. FYI in your reading you will find a name associated with Thomas Aquinas: Suarez. He interpreted Aquinas after the Council of Trent and greatly influenced an interpretation off Aquinas called Neo-Thomistic school. I believe MPS will agree w/ me in saying, stay away from that interpretation. Suarez interpreted Aquinas by means of Nominalism. He created a chasm between nature and grace- one so great that I would state that he greatly misinterpreted Thomas. Fr Barron is a good interpreter, another name is Leverring, or the older giants such as DeLubac, Maritain.

    You asked a bout ” revelations” of such phenomenon as Fatima, etc. Revelation came to a close at the end of the Apostolic Age. There is and cannot be further revelation. What Fatima represents ( and in transparency I will tell you I do believe Mary appeared at such major apparitions as Guadalupe, Lourdes and Fatima-and Knock- I see your name and am also of Irish heritage and descent :-)) However any message is. Considered a private revelation. No one has to believe Mary ever appeared let alone believe what she is reported to have said. Given this, with approved and non-approved(which are many) apparitions there are some people who go off the rails on the things, with all sorts of conspiracy theories, the real truth behind x or t he plot of the Vatican…. To be honest there just are so many other important issues to talk out I simply don’t want to go down this road- at least at this point.

    Let ‘s stop here for now. Ressourcement is a big as well as important topic. Perhaps that can be the next topic

  • Thank you for responding Botolph…I am glad that you are Irish too; the Faith is so important to our tribe notwithstanding where we reside on this planet. I have been to the Shrine of Our Blessed Mother at Knock in County Mayo many times as a child and as an adult. Its location is beautiful….with an ever present mist in the air that makes for long, soft days and the fragrance of burning turf always in the air. Many of Knock’s attending priests are now from Africa. The Irish missions in years past brought the faith to Africa and now Africa’s priests are returning the favor. : )

    I believe that MPS, in an exchange with another poster in a different forum, mentioned that Suarez was part of the Salamanca School. I will heed your advice and nix Suarex for the time being.

    I will also review all that you have written and revert. I think it makes sense that you should lead the discussion and I will respond as we progress. Set whatever schedule works for you and I will align my schedule with yours.

    Thanks again for all your help.

  • Botolph, I have re-read your comments and have meditated upon them. I am inclined to proceed as you discuss relevent points vis a vis the Ressourcement. I will withhold questions until later.

When Masculine Virtues Go Out of Fashion

Monday, May 31, AD 2010

The following is a column written by Tom Hoffman of the American Thinker.

The culture war begun in the sixties has, in large part, been won by the left. Nowhere is this clearer than in the feminization of men. The virtues of manhood which had been extolled and celebrated throughout the middle ages right up to the 1950s have been completely expunged from academia and pop culture. The baby boom generation was the last to be taught the values of rugged individualism, risk-taking, courage, bravery, loyalty, and reverence for tradition. John Wayne epitomized the rugged individual who was committed to fighting “the bad guy,” but he was only one of a whole host of competing figures cut out of the same cloth. What happened?

Today, the Boy Scouts are fighting the last battle in a lost cause. Any man who stands up to the “women’s movement” is completely marginalized as a sexist and homophobe. These names have become just as stigmatizing as “racist” used to be. It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

Edward Gibbon chronicles the increasing femininity of the Roman Empire in his six-volume work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He catalogues the progressive decadence that rendered the once-proud republic into spoils for barbarian hordes. The consuls in the early republic, who were warrior-generals adhering to a strict code of honor, gradually gave way to the backroom emperors who were no more than brazen criminals and thugs. It is the same script in all noble human enterprise: The fabric which bred success is torn apart by the complacency of the successful. When warfare is demonized as violence and negotiation is raised to an art, the end is near. Today, we are there.

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96 Responses to When Masculine Virtues Go Out of Fashion

  • Today, the Boy Scouts are fighting the last battle in a lost cause.

    I wish that fellow would leave this sort of talk to the likes of Rod Dreher.

    The irony is that an antidote was offered by (of all people) Eleanor Roosevelt when she said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Masculine virtues retreat when people refuse to defend them.

  • Mr, Hoffman hasn’t met my three sons; or any of our MEN serving (multiple battlefield deployments) in the armed forces.

    But, point taken. We must actively promote manhood.

  • Maybe Mr. Hoffman hasn’t discovered the Catholic faith. Understanding the excellent example of Jesus and the Communion of Saints!

    That and he probably watches too much t.v.

  • I think that “rugged individualism” is the opposite of traditional manly virtue. Traditional manly virtue had a sense of corporate mission.

  • Why is there a photo of someone next to my post?

  • Daniel,

    I don’t know.

    My best guess is that you filled out a gravatar-type profile in the past and WordPress recognized your cookie and attached said picture from that previous gravatar-type profile.

  • “When warfare is demonized as violence and negotiation is raised to an art, the end is near. Today, we are there.”

    I don’t mean to be rude, but you’d have to be a bit of an idiot to believe that. Not just because the U.S. is currently fighting two wars, but because warfare is always very popular in the U.S.

  • Patrick you beat me to it.

  • War, even when it is legitimate, is always a defeat for humanity.

  • I’d extent Patrick’s comment to the entire Hoffman article. Dumb.

    Eric Brown, JP2 wasn’t a real man. We must remember the examples of Jesus and the early martyrs who drew their swords against their oppressors instead of cowering defenselessly like women.

  • I’d extent Patrick’s comment to the entire Hoffman article. Dumb.

    It is not, and don’t tempt me to say what is. For in excess of forty years, we have all been choked by a kultursmog which has had some consistent messages: in favor of exhibitionism, dependency, and manipulation over reticence, stoicism, self-reliance, competition, and rules with consequences.

  • First of all, I like the picture from Big Jake.
    War is not always a defeat. It is unfortunate and sad (I have personally experienced it), but it is on occasion necessary. As we try to establish justice in our fallen world among imperfect people, we must sometimes resort to imperfect means (i.e. war). Unjust wars are a defeat, but just wars can bring about justice (freeing slaves, ending genocide, etc.) As MLK once said “All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” War should not just be written off as “a defeat to humanity.”
    That is not to say that war is the core of masculinity, but struggle definitely is. Whether that struggle is against Communism like JPII or against yourself or in battle.
    A great book on Christian masculinity is “Wild at Heart”.

  • You should rename your website Catholic Chest Thumpers and Gun Barrel Strokers Anonymous dot com.

    You all are an embarrassment to the church.

  • Pace Gibbon, Augustine was far more accurate in his depiction of the decline of Rome. His description of the Parade honoring the “god” Priapus in which an honorable Roman matron crowned you can imagine what, sounds much like the “Gay Pride” parades of today. Satan and his cohorts are just so repetitious and unimaginative.

    Many women [feminists] do not give up their girlish unfairness. They do not openly express what most concerns them – their appearance. If you do not believe me, try telling one woman that another woman is good looking. Then duck.

  • R.F.W.,

    Why does testosterone make you feel insecure?

  • Oddly enough, at exactly the same time this feminization of men has been taking place, popular culture has become increasingly loud, violent and aggressive. You can see it clearly if you compare an old John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart movie to one of Sly Stallone’s or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action flix. The latter have bigger and louder guns and a much higher body count than The Duke or Bogie ever imagined. In addition, street crime and violence have risen exponentially.

    Why is this happening if boys are being removed from all those awful patriarchal influences and being discouraged from any kind of aggressive play? For the same reason wild elephants who are raised without older males around become violent and aggressive — they not only never learn “how” to fight, they never learn WHEN to fight, or why to fight. So they either become completely passive and never fight at all, or they fight all the time over every little thing. Learning to be a man means learning to control and channel aggression appropriately, and boys are not learning this.

  • Hoffman’s virtue theory is strange–disordered, even. He seems to be saying that what he calls the womanly virtues (negotiation, caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding) are bad for society when extolled and practiced by men. Virtues, however, are habitual dispositions to do the good. Practing one doesn’t prohibit practicing another. One can be both magnanimous and humble, courageous and prudent, etc. We’re all in our own way meant to practice and develop all the virtues as best we can. The more virtuous we are, the more human we are, the closer we are to being what we ought to be.

  • Also, when men are discouraged from displaying masculine virtues, women are forced to fill the void, which can be pretty difficult.

  • Ouais. See Rebel without a Cause.

  • “Also, when men are discouraged from displaying masculine virtues, women are forced to fill the void, which can be pretty difficult.”

    From the mini-series I Claudius:

    Tiberius to his mother Livia: “Why can’t you act like a normal woman!”

    Livia: “In order to act like a normal woman you need normal men around you!”

    How very, very true.

  • “Why is this happening if boys are being removed from all those awful patriarchal influences and being discouraged from any kind of aggressive play? For the same reason wild elephants who are raised without older males around become violent and aggressive — they not only never learn “how” to fight, they never learn WHEN to fight, or why to fight. So they either become completely passive and never fight at all, or they fight all the time over every little thing. Learning to be a man means learning to control and channel aggression appropriately, and boys are not learning this.”

    Bravo Elaine! A boy growing up without a father will have a difficult time escaping the fate of being a wimp or a savage unless some worthy male steps into the breach. The sexes are not fungible, and you have placed your finger on one of the prime functions of good fathers throughout the ages: teaching a boy that being a man doesn’t simply mean being a large boy.

  • Pingback: Are Some Virtues Bad for Society? « Vox Nova
  • Wow. Until I read this article I never realized how contemptible women are.

  • “Wow. Until I read this article I never realized how contemptible women are.”

    Still trying to sharpen up those reading comprehension skills phosphorious? The point of the post is that men and women have different sets of virtues that play important roles in society. This of course is merely stating the obvious, and it is a tribute to the force of political ideology that so many people attempt to deny it.

  • “The point of the post is that men and women have different sets of virtues that play important roles in society.”

    I didn’t realize that so much of the scriptures were written only to women. Good to know that the stuff Jesus said about the peacemakers being blessed, turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, forgiving 77 times, and all that stuff Paul wrote about love being patient, kind, not storing up grievances and being the greatest of virtues are primarily things women need to cultivate. Makes them much easier for me as a man to ignore.

  • “I didn’t realize that so much of the scriptures were written only to women.”

    Glad to enlighten you Ryan that there is more to the scriptures than Christ giving a peace sign. If you get to heaven you and Pope Urban II should have some interesting conversations. G.K. Chesterton, who celebrated the martial virtues, can give the color commentary.

  • “The point of the post is that men and women have different sets of virtues that play important roles in society.”

    Not so. Hoffman is very clear that the “womanly” virtues are bad for society: “Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to ‘do the right thing.'”

  • Not so Kyle. The whole passage makes clear that Hoffman was talking about the distortion of these values in contemporary culture:

    “Academia, with the help of the media, has labeled all reference to manly virtue as patriarchal, sexist, and homophobic. Womanly virtue, on the other hand, is extolled. Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to “do the right thing.” Like a mother who refuses to see the evil in her son, the feminist professors cast all moral standards as relative and subjective.”

    Hoffman is right on target. Every society needs balance and our society has become extremely unbalanced in this area.

  • Thank you Donald. I do enjoy engaging with different perspectives and am always willing to be instructed. I’m sure your conversations with Pope John Paul II and Dorothy Day will be equally enlightening.

  • “I’m sure your conversations with Pope John Paul II and Dorothy Day will be equally enlightening.”

    No doubt Ryan, although I would insist on Don Juan of Austria giving the color commentary!

  • Where does Hoffman say the “womanly” virtues have been distorted? He characterizes the extolling of “womanly” virtue itself as a bad thing!

  • It sounds like he is criticizing extolling the feminine at the expense of the masculine. That’s my read.

  • That is exactly how it is read.

    Kyle is deploying the usual liberal strategy of confusion in order to muddy the message.

  • I don’t think that Hoffman expresses himself with precision here, and I’m not sure that I’m in full agreement with him, but what he’s driving at seems to be a basically Aristotelian concept that true virtue is found in moderation. Thus, to take a single polarity, mercy with no justice, and justice with no mercy would both be disordered, non-virtuous states.

    He’s not saying that mercy is bad while justice is good, but rather that if one makes mercy a virtue but justice a vice, excluding justice from society, we end up with an unbalanced society which in fact reflects neither.

    Now, I think that it’s rather broad brush to take it that certain virtues are strictly masculine, while others are strictly feminine, but I don’t think it’s particularly off base to insist that remove one side of the balance scale results in disorder.

  • I think you would be hard pressed finding any writings in the New Testament, or in the first 300 years of the Church that extol war in any way. Since St. Aquinas put forth the just war theory, there has not been a war that lived up to it. This is because the world would not accept the teaching of the early church that we should not commit violence to each other, so St. Aquinas came up with a theory he knew no war could meet.

    You may be able to argue that “manly” values are what made America great, or that war and violence have their place. But you can not argue that doing violence to others has any place in Christian teaching. Pope Urban may have thought he was doing the right thing in freeing the Holy Lands through the Crusades, but even the Pope can make an error. O do you feel that Pope John the XII who the Catholic Encyclopedia describes as a coarse, immoral man, also made no errors. Or the many other Popes of the middle ages who sought more to enrich themselves and their families. We believe the magisterium, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, accurately passed on the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, not that they were right and justified in all they did.

  • It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    Men being the only ones who were educated = The earthly paradise

    Women outnumbering men in colleges = sissified socialist hell.

    Wow. Until I read this essay, I never realized how contemptible women were.

  • Although this theory does explain a lot about recent history.

    After 9/11, Bush let Osama Bin Laden get away, and focussed his attention on Iraq. . . thus backing down from the bully who actually hurt us, and fighting a country that did nothing to us. Exactly the behavior predicted by this exciting new theory of He-Manliness. . . or lack thereof.

    I always suspected that Bush was a little. . . (and here I’m making that gesture where you hold your hand palm down, fingers spread and then twist it back an forth)

    You know what I mean. . .

  • Wow, the Vox Nova pansies are out in full splendor today.

  • He’s not saying that mercy is bad while justice is good, but rather that if one makes mercy a virtue but justice a vice, excluding justice from society, we end up with an unbalanced society which in fact reflects neither.

    I’m sorry. . . isn’t he saying exactly that:

    All reference to the service of a higher calling — to God and country — has been replaced by the call to community service with the emphasis on care and compassion for the downtrodden.

    A society dedicated to care and compassion of the downtrodden? The horror. . . the horror. . .

  • j. christian,

    Are you saying the apostles who went to their death not allowing their followers to fight were panzies? Maybe St. Ignatius was a panzy when he was marched across Europe to Rome and asked those who came out to great him to not fight for his relief.

    If you wish to discuss Catholic teaching on virtue and the “manly” virtues, please do. If you wish to call those who are willing to suffer non violently in the name of Christ (or who believe christians are called to be non violent in all causes) panzies, then please count me with the martyrs who did just that.

  • The Apostles were contributors to Vox Nova? Who knew?

  • I doubt if Saint Augustine would make the cut for Vox Nova however:

    “Do not think that it is impossible for any one to please God while engaged in active military service. Among such persons was the holy David, to whom God gave so great a testimony; among them also were many righteous men of that time; among them was also that centurion who said to the Lord: I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed: for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it; and concerning whom the Lord said: Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Matthew 8:8-10 Among them was that Cornelius to whom an angel said: Cornelius, your alms are accepted, and your prayers are heard, Acts 10:4 when he directed him to send to the blessed Apostle Peter, and to hear from him what he ought to do, to which apostle he sent a devout soldier, requesting him to come to him. Among them were also the soldiers who, when they had come to be baptized by John,— the sacred forerunner of the Lord, and the friend of the Bridegroom, of whom the Lord says: Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, Matthew 11:11 — and had inquired of him what they should do, received the answer, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. Luke 3:14 Certainly he did not prohibit them to serve as soldiers when he commanded them to be content with their pay for the service.

    5. They occupy indeed a higher place before God who, abandoning all these secular employments, serve Him with the strictest chastity; but every one, as the apostle says, has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 1 Corinthians 7:7 Some, then, in praying for you, fight against your invisible enemies; you, in fighting for them, contend against the barbarians, their visible enemies. Would that one faith existed in all, for then there would be less weary struggling, and the devil with his angels would be more easily conquered; but since it is necessary in this life that the citizens of the kingdom of heaven should be subjected to temptations among erring and impious men, that they may be exercised, and tried as gold in the furnace, Wisdom 3:6 we ought not before the appointed time to desire to live with those alone who are holy and righteous, so that, by patience, we may deserve to receive this blessedness in its proper time.

    6. Think, then, of this first of all, when you are arming for the battle, that even your bodily strength is a gift of God; for, considering this, you will not employ the gift of God against God. For, when faith is pledged, it is to be kept even with the enemy against whom the war is waged, how much more with the friend for whom the battle is fought! Peace should be the object of your desire; war should be waged only as a necessity, and waged only that God may by it deliver men from the necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained. Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of a peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace; for our Lord says: Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 If, however, peace among men be so sweet as procuring temporal safety, how much sweeter is that peace with God which procures for men the eternal felicity of the angels! Let necessity, therefore, and not your will, slay the enemy who fights against you. As violence is used towards him who rebels and resists, so mercy is due to the vanquished or the captive, especially in the case in which future troubling of the peace is not to be feared.”

  • I think Kyle’s reading (and that of some others here) of Hoffman’s post is flawed, and I have taken issue with it in his blog

    Click Here to seek Kyle’s post

    I will re-post my comment here, and add one point at the end:

    Kyle, with due repect to your philosophical acumen, which I respect not a whit less than my own, I must take issue with your reading of Hoffman’s piece. To me, it seemed unlikely that you would read a blog piece like that in an unfair way and interpret it wrongly, but it seemed no more likely that someone would take the very odd position you described. In order to relieve the dissonance of two equally absurd possibilities, I read it for myself. I speculated that the quote you lifted might possibly be redeemed by its context, and my suspicion seems to be confirmed by the actual blog post. I did not think it very plausible that someone would argue that caring, compassion, sensitivity and understanding are in and of themselves, deficient and incorrigibly prone to blur the moral conscience. I did not find it very likely that Hoffman was advocating manly virtues to the exclusion of the ones that he deems unmanly. The way I read the piece, he is pointing out a problem with the way academia and the media promote one set of virtues to the exclusion of another set which they reject, but he is not necessarily doing the same from the opposite direction (promoting what they reject, rejecting what they promote).

    Here is the quote you gave in its context (disregarding the further quote, which only serves to emphasize whatever point he is actually making):

    ” … Academia, with the help of the media, has labeled all reference to manly virtue as patriarchal, sexist, and homophobic. Womanly virtue, on the other hand, is extolled. Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to ?do the right thing.? Like a mother who refuses to see the evil in her son, the feminist professors cast all moral standards as relative and subjective.”

    I think the key to understanding what Hoffman is saying is the verb “meant”, which I have italicized above for emphasis, along with what I take to be the subjects of that verb, the doers of the action: “Academia…the feminist professors…with the help of the media”. It is a critique of what they are trying to do with those virtues, not of the virtues themselves.

    I doubt he would disagree with your point, that all the virtues must be practiced. He is simply correctigng an unbalanced excess in one direction by promoting an emphasis on those virtues which he judges to be marginalized. There is no good reason to insist on a reading of Hoffman as denying a legitimate place for compassion, sensitivity and understanding. I will seek his opinion on our different interpretations of his piece. He, of course, would know what intended.

    My final point is simply this – the root of the word virtue, vir is an accurate rendering of the classical Greek ????? (aret?), which is literally about manliness, and referrs to general excellence of character. It encompasses morality, but is not limited to it, but signifies excellence on all attributes.

  • What I suspect J Christian is pointing out, Paul, is that some people seem to be working themselves up into a tizzy of worry over misinterpreting a piece which really isn’t saying anything all that shocking (or exciting).

    Kyle says that he’s worried by the philosophy of virtue expressed in Hoffman’s piece — that hardly strikes me as surprising as Hoffman is writing a (not terribly deep) piece of social criticism, not laying out a philosophy of virtue. That the result is not a coherent philosophy is not surprising. (Kyle doesn’t even seem to totally disagree with the piece, as in his facebook posting publicizing his post he notes that he does see a problem with “manly virtues” being given short change in our society — pointing to the reworking of Aragorn’s character in the film version of LotR versus his character in the book.)

    Then, within the first four comments over there, we have one commenter saying Jesus would have wept, one saying this is a prime example of American fascist tendencies, and a third claiming that the TAC author “fetishizes violence” and wants to “give the government unchecked power to exterminate the threatening Other”.

    All about a fairly fluffy piece asking why it is that we don’t have better male role models in media and society.

    Much ado about nothing? Methinks so.

  • Though I think it fair to say that men and women express different aspects of human nature. That this different expression of human nature results in different expressions of the virtues I think can only be contradicted by those that live in a 70’s era understanding of human psychology.

    This is not to say that men do not express compassion nor women defense. However, frequently one can see distinctions in expression. Thus the reason why the good Lord made men and women to marry and raise children.

  • Uh oh. . . hold on to your codpieces, gentlemen:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2253645

    Is the Tea Party a women’s movement? More women than men belong—55 percent, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll.

    Women. . . in public life!

  • According to phosphorious and those that drink his kool-ade, all us “masculine men”, ie, conservatives, are misogynists.

    We are so misogynistic that we hated Sarah Palin to the national stage where liberals have rallied around her in droves.

    Yeah, the logic fits…

    …if you’re a kool-ade drinking liberal.

  • I think it was Lewis or Chesterton who described the modern age as virtues run amok. (Probably Chesterton, because that sounds a lot like Orthodoxy.) I agree with DC and Elaine that, without the idea of virtue as the golden mean, we get a society with crazy excesses. The modern “urban” culture, which dominates the suburban middle schools, distorts masculine virtues into violence and promiscuity. On the other side of the coin you have the emasculation that Hoffman writes about.

    I don’t agree with everything Hoffman says – I don’t think he understands the idea of moderation – but he is accurately describing part of the problem.

  • I don’t agree with everything Hoffman says – I don’t think he understands the idea of moderation – but he is accurately describing part of the problem.

    Bingo.

  • Yeah, the logic fits…

    …if you’re a kool-ade drinking liberal.

    Or Tom Hoffman.

    Pinky hit the nail on the head.

  • Yeah Phosphorious, you got me. I obviously have a great problem with women in roles of political leadership.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2008/10/06/reagan-in-a-skirt/

  • I don’t agree with everything Hoffman says – I don’t think he understands the idea of moderation – but he is accurately describing part of the problem.</i."

    But that’s the problem. . . that he only deals with part of it.

    He has convinced himself that we live in a “feminized gae” (shudder!) and that the only cure is to “take back our masculinity” or something.

    While sneering at thew idea of “compassion for the downtrodden.”

    Lewis warned, in The Screwtape Letters i think, that one of the devil’s favorite tricks is to put us on guard against a vice that we don’t have, so that we avoid a virtue we desperately need.

    Looking around America today, I don’t see a country that is too reluctant to go to war, or use violence to further its goals. And Hoffman blames the sissified “libs.”

  • Yeah Phosphorious, you got me. I obviously have a great problem with women in roles of political leadership.

    Still it must worry you on some level that the Tea Party is being feminized, right? Otherwise why all the fuss.

    No one. . . except the evil feminists. . . complained when academia were exclusively male dominions. THAT was the natural order apparently.

    Once women have a slight majority in academia, and the world falls apart.

  • Sarah Palin is of course an interesting case. The claim is that Hoffman doesn;t despise women. . . e just wants women to act like women and men to act like men.

    And yet Sarah Palin displays all the manly virtues, doesn’t she? She shoots wolves from helicopters, for Pete’s sake.

    A woman who acts like a man is praised and lionized by the modern conservative. A man who acts like a woman is despised and ridiculed.

    This is properly called misogyny, no matter how much you don’t like the label.

  • This is properly called rubbish phosphorious no matter how much you may dislike the label. Palin is the mother of four kids and happily married. You don’t get much more feminine than that.

    I have never had a problem with conservative women in positions of political power. I of course oppose liberal women holding positions of political power just as I oppose liberal men holding those positions.

    Your problem phosphorious is that you find it much easier to debate the conservative strawmen you construct in your mind than actual conservatives.

  • Phospho,

    A woman who acts like a man is praised and lionized by the modern conservative. A man who acts like a woman is despised and ridiculed.

    So according to your theory, there must be some women who act like women whom these conservatives despise. Could you please provide some examples of those women?

    Frankly, I think all we’re learning from this conversation is that some people hate conservatives a lot more than they love reading comprehension…

  • phosphorious,

    Besides physical differences, do you think there are any distinctions between men and women?

  • It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    I have been accused of having poor reading comprehension several times now. And conservatives have lined up to say how HAPPY they are that women are taking a larger role in GOP politics. . . because of course you have nothing against women.

    Then you all must flatly disagree with the passage quoted above, right?

  • So according to your theory, there must be some women who act like women whom these conservatives despise. Could you please provide some examples of those women?

    How does this follow? Here’s the argument as I understand it so far:

    Hoffman decries the lack of manly virtues and the overabundance of womanly virtues. he doesn’t explicitly say,as far as I can tell, that men should act like men and women like women, althought hat is how he’s being interpreted by everyone here. It seems to me that he simply dislikes “compassion for the down trodden” and the womanly emotions that nurture it. It seems to me that he simply doesn’t like women. But perhaps I’m wrong.

    But we can test this! It’s simple: Are the conservatives who defend Hoffman equally disgusted by men who act like women (those compassionate pansies!) and women who act like men?

    I claim that the answer is no, with Sarah Palin as exhibit A. A man who cries is beneath contempt, a woman who hunts is a presidential prospect.

    Conservatives don;t mind women who act like women. . . they can;t help it, and they provide much needed child rearing services (although they could stop mollycoddling the boys, couldn’t they!). . . but they respect women who act like men. They DO NOT respect men who act like women

    What have I failed to grasp about conservatism?

  • phosphorious,

    Besides physical differences, do you think there are any distinctions between men and women?

    Good question! There’s a lot of half baked ev-psych and hokum surrounding this issue.

    If pressed for an answer, I would say that the difference does not lie in the two sexes having different virtues, but in the expression of those virtues. Does anybody really think that women aren;t brave or that men aren’t compassionate? Or that both sexes shouldn’t be both? Did women not face Nero’s lions bravely, did Jesus not weep for Lazarus.

    Men and women may express the virtues differently, but to suggest that there are different virtues is damn nonsense.

  • Does anybody really think that women aren’t brave?

    I do not think physical courage is common among women.

  • It may be that Hoffman meant to correct an imbalance and not to disparage what he calls the “womanly” virtues, but he doesn’t make that intention clear in the text. He doesn’t praise “womanly” virtues when practiced rightly or distinguish between those virtues when they are meant to blur the distinction between right and wrong and when they are not. The way he tells it, the “womanly” virtues are meant to blur the distinction between right and wrong. He doesn’t clarify that the virtues themselves don’t have this effect. I suppose one might ask him if the “feminist professors” promote these virtues because they blur and lead to relativism or if it’s merely the particular use of said professors that makes these virtues do this. How he answers would help us understand what he meant, but for now I’m just going on what he said.

    Darwin is correct that I share a concern that certain virtues are not celebrated as they once were. If I were to put my complaint with Peter Jackson’s LOTR films in a nutshell, it would be that Jackson and his writers stripped several characters of their defining virtues. Aragorn loses his magnanimity, for example. Hoffman’s post doesn’t worry me such much as it leaves me shaking my head. If his point was to ask why we don’t have better male role models in media and society, then he could have made that point in a number of effective ways without seeming to say that it’s bad when “womanly” virtues are extolled.

  • Aragorn was the most poorly portrayed character in the trilogy of films. Other than his speech before the final battle, I thought Viggo Mortensen completely failed to convey why anyone would follow Aragorn to dinner, let alone a battle. This failed portrayal stood out to me, since I believed the other portrayals were dead on accurate.

  • …equally disgusted by men who act like women (those compassionate pansies!)…

    Hey, you’re the one reading “pansy” pejoratively. I threw that out there as an experiment. Why should one care about being called a “pansy” unless there’s something unique about his masculinity that he wishes to defend?

    Gotcha. 🙂

  • When Hoffman writes the following, what does he mean? Is he correct?

    It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    What for Hoffman would be a healthy tread?

  • Most women and men have different types of physical courage. My wife will always look to me to take the lead in any sort of confrontational situation with third parties, and I am happy to oblige. On the other hand she is the veteran of two difficult pregnancies, one involving twins, which she faced with stoicism and grace, and which I suspect would have eluded me.

  • Donald,

    I don’t blame Viggo as much as others. Having seen him in other films, I think he could have portrayed Aragorn well, but the writers and producers felt the character needed to be more pusillanimous, I guess. Sure the character in the book had moments of self-doubt, but the filmmakers took those brief moments and constructed the whole character out of them. Arwen has to tell him to toughen-up, Elrond has to do the same. Even when he gets the crown, he looks unsure of himself. As Aragorn is my favorite literary character [really, how liberal can I be? ;-)], I left the theaters very disappointed.

  • I rather suspect that he would view a healthy trend as one in which men were earning college degrees in at least the same percentage as their proportion of the population. I rather suspect that most college educated women, as they search for a prospective husband, would wish for the same.

    In regard to the military, I share his concern that the combat arms should remain a male preserve, since I think that is an area where sex differences clearly matter. I say that as the father of a daughter, who, with my encouragement, is considering a career as an officer in the Air Force.

  • It seems that Hoffman’s (not very deep) essay is something of a palimpsest that everyone is trying to write over. One side merely sees it as “we’ve devalued some of the manly virtues too much,” and the other reads it as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen.”

  • You might be right in regard to Viggo Kyle, I am not familiar enough with his other work to make a judgment. What surprised me was that the other characters seemed to me to be accurately portrayed. “Strider’s” protrayal just left me very cold. On the other hand I liked Boromir portrayed by Sean Bean, a character I had no use for in reading the books.

  • It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    What for Hoffman would be a healthy tread?

    He seems to be saying that the college-education/professional world is being shaped in such a way that it is much more amenable to women than to men, and thus that same portion of men are being in some sense excluded.

    I can’t speak for Hoffman, nor would I count on he and I agreeing on everything, but I would personally tend to think that a balanced academic culture would result in equal numbers of men and women thriving in college — given that men and women make up equal percentages of the population.

    In professional life, I tend to think that natural human thriving would result in men predominating somewhat, since I think it is greatly to the benefit of children to receive the full time care of a parent, and I think that in the vast majority of cases women are better suited to this than men.

    This failed portrayal stood out to me, since I believed the other portrayals were dead on accurate.

    Just to extend the digression: I’d have to add Legolas, Gimli, Faramir, Denethore, Arwen and Galadrial to that list.

  • As Aragorn is my favorite literary character [really, how liberal can I be? 😉 ], I left the theaters very disappointed.

    Indeed, you’re going to have to watch out Kyle. When word gets out that you idolize an admitted torturer, you’re going to be voted off the island and find yourself out in the water with us sharks…

  • Jump on in Kyle. Its fun being a Calvinist, Enlightenment individualist who seeks to oppress the poor and overturn Catholic Social Teaching and impale all who seek its pure realization in the political domain.

  • Hey, you’re the one reading “pansy” pejoratively. I threw that out there as an experiment. Why should one care about being called a “pansy” unless there’s something unique about his masculinity that he wishes to defend?

    Gotcha. 🙂

    Very good! Hoist by my own petard!

    But of course you’re quite wrong, overlooking the difference between connotation and denotation.

    For example, the phrase “mackeral snapper” denotes a certain set of individuals, namely Catholics. Might I not object to being called such, without being at all ashamed of being catholic?

    Or shall the name of this blog be changed to “The American Mackeral Snapper”?

    🙂

  • Donald,

    I agree: Sean Bean did wonders for Boromir. I liked Ian McKellan’s Gandalf as well.

    Darwin,

    I remember our having that debate over Aragorn, Gandalf and torture. Good debate. Anyhow, just because Aragorn’s my favorite character doesn’t mean I agree with everything he did. Some of my favorite characters are villains, after all.

  • j. christian,

    It seems that Hoffman’s (not very deep) essay is something of a palimpsest that everyone is trying to write over. One side merely sees it as “we’ve devalued some of the manly virtues too much,” and the other reads it as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen.”

    I think you’ve nailed it.

    Kyle,

    I remember our having that debate over Aragorn, Gandalf and torture. Good debate. Anyhow, just because Aragorn’s my favorite character doesn’t mean I agree with everything he did. Some of my favorite characters are villains, after all.

    No, no, you can’t get out of it that easily. Reason and distinction are simply not allowed in these debates. You’re just going to have to be a “textbook fascist” with the rest of us. 🙂

  • The LOTR movies are among my favorites, but what Peter Jackson did to Faramir’s character is unforgiveable. The Faramir of the movies bore absolutely no resemblance to, arguably, the noblest character in Tolkien’s books.

  • I hope that Hoffman will follow up and clear up any misinterpretion of his piece whether I am guilty of it or Kyle et al are. The piece is vague and open to either interpretion, and on that score I can agree that those criticizing this post have a point, for even if they are not reading hm right, that need notbe entirely their fault. The author can own up to some blame for that.

    I offer only one more argument for my intepretation of Hoffman’s intent in writing this piece, which I omitted because my last comment was already too long: At the end of his pot, Hoffman offers Jesus Christ as a model of what he takes to be the ultimate in manly virtue (he also offers a link to a fairly inoccuous web site). Our Lord is not generally believed to have displayed, during His earthly life and ministry, a notable lack in compassion, sensitivity or understanding.

  • “At the end of his pot”! 🙂 LOL

    There should be an “s” in there somewhere!

  • I would charitably interpret Hoffman’s article as simply a plea for more balance between “masculine” and “feminine” virtues, rather than as a misogynistic rant. He emphasizes the good side of the masculine virtues and the downside of the feminine ones, true, but he does so precisely in order to BALANCE the way society denigrates masculine virtues.

    As for the notion that conservatives love women who display masculine virtue… well, I think that’s true but only under certain conditions.

    Ask yourself this question: if Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter were 20 years older, had gray hair and wrinkles, and/or weighed at least 50 pounds more than they do now, but had exactly the same ideas, character, and experience they currently have, would they still be regarded as conservative icons… or would they be written off as a couple of old, loudmouthed, emasculating broads (or worse)? If that were the case, I rather suspect that they would be criticized rather than praised for displaying “masculine” virtues.

  • I think that’s a really good point, Elaine. For both men and women, a certain element of sex appeal is the familiar. Thus, the appeal to women of the “sensitive guy”, and the appeal to men of the woman who actually enjoys sports, hunting, etc. At the root of attraction is often a bit of the image in the mirror.

  • Okay, I reread Hoffman’s post in the most charitable light possible. Nobody here disagrees with the idea that manly virtues are good and should be taught and that many areas of our society neglect it. But Hoffman exaggerates to the point of absurdity. Nobody here should agree with his post in its entirety. I cannot believe that even Hoffman himself believes everything he wrote. He probably thought that writing to a conservative audience he could get away with some cheap shots against libs without actually being fair or accurate. Those who criticize the post are absolutely justified and those who defend it are really glossing over it because they agree with the central message.

  • I’m not sure how highly correlated effeminacy and loss of manly virtue are. Today’s manly men use facial products and get body waxes even though the cowardly men of yesterday would’ve thought that too effeminate. I remember an episode of All in the Family where Archie is disgusted by the fact that his male neighbor cooks. Today, cooking is fast becoming a man’s activity.

  • “Today’s manly men use facial products and get body waxes”

    Speak for yourself on that score restrained radical! No body waxes for me, and only shaving cream and alcohol, for external use, touch my face!

    Cooking has always been a partially male activity. My late father-in-law was a Navy cook, and you would not have wanted to have seen him come lumbering towards you in a dark alley! My late father would sometimes cook, in addition to operating the steel shears at the truck body plant where he worked. Of course summer barbecues have usually involved male cooking, although I have been teaching my steak secrets to my daughter.

  • Of course any thread on the masculine virtues is not complete without this film clip:

    The three surviving flag raisers from the battle, Ira Hayes, John Bradley and Rene Gagnon, raised the actual flag from the battle in this final scene.

  • Ask yourself this question: if Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter were 20 years older, had gray hair and wrinkles, and/or weighed at least 50 pounds more than they do now, but had exactly the same ideas, character, and experience they currently have, would they still be regarded as conservative icons… or would they be written off as a couple of old, loudmouthed, emasculating broads (or worse)?

    Two words: Margaret Thatcher. Not hot, yet a conservative icon on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • I still relish her “handbagging” “wet” male ministers!

  • “Older, with gray hair and wrinkles” – you mean Phyllis Schlafly?

  • Speak for yourself on that score restrained radical! No body waxes for me, and only shaving cream and alcohol, for external use, touch my face!

    I think we can also allow Old Spice or Clubman — after shaves are okay so long as the formula goes back at least 100 years.

    On cooking, I’m reminded of the scene in Donnie Brasco where the gangster explains that while women may cook, men are chefs.

  • Don, now that I think about it, you’re right about the cooking. But I stand by my other example. Many of today’s new veterans probably use facial products. The meathead firefighters down at the gym go to tanning salons and wear lip gloss.

  • O tempora, O mores. A note to all our female readers. Do not even think of marrying a man who takes more time primping than you do. You will regret it! 🙂

  • Restrained – The American Thinker site is not a place of subtle distinctions. Hoffman’s article is good by their standards. I read their articles sometimes. Then again, I also eat at Wendy’s sometimes, and I don’t brag about it or expect much from it.

  • I usually just despise the AC/VN rivalry, but I had to compare their thread with this one. We’ve definitely got better commenters here. AC covered more topics, better, and more civilly, with some really interesting writing. I think we got closer to the right answer, as well. Nice going.

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