Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog

I was asked recently to be a contributor to the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog. I accepted (in spite of my time constraints) because--I have to admit--I really enjoy writing. I will try really hard not to allow it to reduce my writing here at Beware Yon Dragons (please pray for me). Anyways, here is a link to my first post over there: Awe

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Do Manfully (5)

I have written before about the fact that feminism does not actually appear to hate men, rather, it hates women, and therefore its attacks on men are only as a consequence of its true hatred. What feminists really hate is true womanhood, which was perfectly exemplified by the Blessed Virgin Mary. Hence, feminism--for want of any other explanation--hates Mother Mary. This is a simple point, and easily understood. Yet many men, somehow do not get it. They have been duped by all the "victimized" yelling and screaming of feminists into thinking that it actually has some merit.

The men who are drawn in by the feminist arguments are usually already emasculated. They have been beaten down or spiritually abused so much that the only thing left is a mere shadow of a real man. Masculinity has been attacked so much that some men even think that it really is the cause of all the world's problems. Hence, they not only turn away from true masculinity (and often fall into various forms of sodomy), but they also begin defending the feminist agenda (which appears to be: make all men into weak servants, make all women into dominant leaders).

An emasculated man can fall into this line of thinking quite easily (because he has been told not to use his mind anyways!). A faithful Catholic man, however, would know that he is supposed to think about things (and often do so critically). In doing so, he will realize that feminism eschews anything about the Catholic concept of femininity; most specifically because it is embodied in Mother Mary (the quintessential anti-feminist). In addition, a feminist will naturally say that anything that is a threat to the rise of feminist ideals must also be attacked.

A man who is seeking to "do manfully" will see this attack for what it is: hatred of the Mother of God. Furthermore, a man who is truly a man, will love his Spiritual Mother, the Blessed Virgin. To follow the path of feminism while affirming the Catholic faith is a deeply self-contradictory behavior. It would be comparable to a man coming to Mass in a suit while wearing flip-flops. To support something which attacks the Blessed Virgin, while at the same time supporting something that defends the Blessed Virgin clearly shows that one has not really thought through his loyalties.

Masculine men will accept their responsibilities and work to protect and defend true womanhood. They will devote themselves to the Blessed Virgin, and seek to learn from her example what God's idea of womanhood really is. When the world tries to take this away from them, they will accept the challenges and refuse to give in to peer pressure or the ridiculing attacks of those at war with God. True masculinity does not mean overbearing abuse or domineering control of one's family; it means saying "no" to lies that will corrupt (both men and women) and doing so with love and wisdom. Men, will you accept this and "do manfully"?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Do Manfully (4)

What is easier, to do something you do not want to do, or to do something you do want to? It is fairly obvious that the second is easier; to do something you already want to do. When you already have the desire to perform an action, then you do not have to overcome any resistance that is inside of you. If the action is difficult, and you also have an aversion to it, then that means you have to overcome the difficulty of the action itself, as well as the difficulty of your own personal distaste for the action.

Men and women, both, at times, need to do things that they do not like. I am not, right now, speaking about the specific calling that God has put on women. As this series of posts is speaking about masculinity, let us ask the question: is it more masculine to do what you are told, or to go against the rules? Modern society will tell you that a "real man" makes his own decisions and does not let anyone tell him what to do. It is the majority opinion today that masculinity equals rebellion and aggression. This is why so many people (including some confused Catholics) resist "masculinity". What they are resisting, however, is not a genuine masculinity.

This mistaken notion of what is truly masculine is based more on the idea of "machismo" than on anything found in the traditional, biblical, and godly view of masculinity. Look up definitions of "machismo" in the dictionary and it will reveal much about why the world does not "get it". The modern view of "masculinity" is closer to the behavior of a mountain gorilla than to the portrayal of masculinity that we receive in the Scriptures (which is not surprising when you consider how many people still think evolutionary biology is a valid theory). This view of masculinity as rebellion runs completely contrary to our calling as Catholic men. It pushes away from God rather than toward Him.

Masculinity is not, however, just a matter of aggression and physical strength. Masculinity is more an issue of bravery. Bravery is what helps a man to go into a fierce battle for the sake of a higher good. Bravery is also what enables a man to swallow his pride and obey a rule that he does not want to. Furthermore, when a man realizes that there is possibly a rule that he is failing to obey out of ignorance, then bravery is what will enable him to seek to learn more about the rules. I recall once being told, "don't ask what the right way is to do that, then you'll have to do it whether you like it or not". That is the childish response; not the "manful" one.

Men, are you a rule breaker? a rebel? Or, rather, are you a real man? A man who can be mature enough to obey the rules. Whether we are speaking about the rules that God has revealed to us, the rules that the Church has given, the rules of our workplace (specifically, those which do not contradict God's rules), or the rules of the road (which many "men" completely ignore); how do you think about those rules? Are they annoyances that keep you from your own desires? Are they "nitpicky" requirements that "don't apply" to you? Or, are they instead, a challenge; a means of growing in your true spiritual strength that God has given you?

Seeking to justify ignoring the rules is never the manly thing to do. That is how little children seek to avoid responsibility. Grown men take responsibility for their actions, and do not seek to hide from the consequences of their choices. So then, real men obey the rules, even when it is hard to do. Masculinity is not rebellion, or mere selfish aggression. Masculinity is, rather, bravery; bravery which enables a man to do what is right (whether he personally wants to do it or not). That is the bold behavior; that is the mature behavior; that is the behavior of a real man. So, men, once again: do manfully.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Do Manfully (3)

I always liked the "Lone Ranger" when I was a kid. I listened to the old radio shows, and watched the black and white serial on t.v. The thing that I never got as a kid was the fact that he was not really "alone", because he always had Tonto with him. True, he was the only Ranger who survived that attack that led to his taking up the mask and fighting crime; yet, that did not fit the common terminology. Everyone back then used the term "long ranger" (as in "he just wants to be a lone ranger") to refer to someone who does things without anyone else helping him. When I grew older and heard the term "no man is an island" I started to get it a bit more, but I still thought it was an odd (mis)usage of the term "lone ranger".

So then, let me say it again: no man can be a "Lone Ranger". Guys need guys to strengthen them. There is something about men being able to help each other and "sharpen" one another that cannot be explained by common words. Even the Scriptures acknowledge that as "iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" (Prov 27:17, Douay). Men can encourage each other in ways that women (even their wives) are unable to do for them. This is why children (and especially boys) need their father in the home when they are growing up (as well as a good masculine priest in their parish). This assumes, however, that the men are behaving like men, and not trying to encourage each other in ways that women do with each other (which is definitely not the same).

As I assume that you all know, I am one of the few married Catholic priests in America. I love my wife; we have been married for 27 happy years, and I can honestly say that we love each other more today than we did when we got married, and it is continually getting better between us. Yet, having said that (and she will understand this completely), I must also say that I need the companionship of other men in order for the "iron to sharpen iron". I have a very close friend right now that helps me to fulfill that in a special way; a fellow priest whom I have only known for about a year but it feels like its been 10 years. We can speak to each other "as men" and boldly help one another.

All men need this, and yet few men are brave enough to admit it. Yes, they will often say that avoiding it means that they are strong enough without it, but the opposite is true. It takes guts to admit that we need each other. I am not denying that men have other men as friends; yet few of them have male friends who will talk to them about more than their favorite sports team and brand of beer. This is not to say that it is wrong to talk about sports and beer; but if that is the deepest subject that men speak about--they are not really helping each other as Catholic men. G.K. Chesterton once said that one of the best things about Christendom is, "a tavern for men to talk with men." He meant that Christianity encourages men to help each other, as brothers, and as men. That means that they are helping each other with the acknowledgement that they have the same Lord, and in the manner that men need.

What is often referred to as "male bonding" is usually a small slice of what I am calling "iron sharpening iron". Yes, men bond by slugging each other in the shoulder, teasingly insulting one another, and (occasionally) belching (and I am exaggerating only a small bit). It is this strength, boldness, and directness that men need in order to help each other. Ignoring each other's problems, or beating around bush--but never getting to the subject--is not a help. When men "bond" but do not actually encourage each other in greater faithfulness, it is comparable to smelling dinner but not eating. It is an enjoyable experience, but without any real nutrition or satisfaction.

This is what I would like to see happen more at St. George Church (my Ordinariate community). We are too small to do much in the way of an organized men's group (yet). For the time, however, this is part of what it means to be under the patronage of St. George, who was a true "soldier for Christ" that slayed dragons, and stood up for his faith (even unto his own death). I have often said that the Catholic faith is "not for sissies"; that is especially true for men. It is possible for a man to hide and avoid his responsibilities before God, but when he does so, he is only showing just how completely emasculated he has been. So, men, let us admit we need each other, and then seek to help each other, as men, to be strong, faithful, leaders in our homes, glorifying Christ in all we do. Let us "do manfully".

Friday, May 12, 2017

Do Manfully (2)

"That's a good dog!" He spoke those words like they were irrefutable. He knew it for sure, and wanted the rest of us to be aware of it also. The qualities of a "good dog" were obedience, intelligence, and loyalty; and knowing that dog, I would have to agree with his assessment. What are the qualities that we would look for and say "that's a good man"? In order to answer this question rightly, let us ask what the world's answer would be first.

Much of the world today has been trying to blur the differences between masculinity and femininity for a while now. I still recall the college professor that tried to encourage everyone to be "androgynous" (a fairly new word to me at the time) because that was (according to her) true to our evolutionary progress (every word after that was fairly suspect to me). So now, some 30 years later, what would she and others of her philosophical persuasion say was a "good man"? Of course, I cannot be completely sure (after all, a barbarian society is quite hard to interpret), but I will fathom a guess.

A "good man" (according to modern American culture) is one who satisfies his passions, and yet does not assert himself on anyone else (especially women and minorities), except those who have "antiquated" and "medieval" opinions (who should be screamed at). To put it in other words, the world wants men to be slaves to their own lusts, but only in so far as it promotes the superiority of females and the utter stupidity and uselessness of males. Men who have been formed like this have been emotionally and spiritually castrated. They have rejected the very heart of what it means to be male.

Following on what I have said in the past couple of posts, what would be a good list of the qualities that define godly masculinity? Unfortunately the list is longer than I plan on this post being in its entirety (and spending the time to define each of those qualities would encompass a book in itself!). I could summarize it, though, with the following statement. The necessary qualities of a godly man are those things that require a bold and humble strength to accomplish. This might, at first read, seem too simplistic and non-specific. In truth, however, it foundational and crucial.

A godly man is one who seeks to know what his calling is (for it is not exactly the same for every man), and then seeks to perform it with greater faithfulness every day of his life. For example, the godly man would say, "how does King Jesus want to me to teach my wife and children to love Him?" (which is a married man's duty before God; whether he likes it or not!). Then, he will go out and find the answer to that question (which may involve research, or even [oh, no!] asking someone else, like his priest). Once that is accomplished he will sit down and find the best way to implement that in his own home. Finally, he will spend time in prayer and seek the wisdom of God so that he can present this important truths to his wife and children.

A unmarried godly man will not be much different. He may not be asking about teaching his wife and children (unless he is planning for his future marriage), but he will, at the least, be asking how God would have him to establish holiness in his life and home. Then he will follow through with the subsequent steps as listed above, according to his own situation.

In other words, a godly man is one who is brave enough to ask the hard questions; the questions that ask for correction from God (the prayer "God show me my faults" is possibly the most humble and godly prayer anyone can pray). A godly man is one is bold enough to get up off his rear end and make sure that his family goes to Mass (and does not allow any excuses to stop him). A godly man is the one who is honest enough with himself to admit his faults and accept his responsibility to correct them. A godly man will never be mistaken for Homer Simpson. A godly man seeks to hear God say that he is a "good man". That is masculinity, and that is what every man is called to by virtue of being born male. Will you accept your calling and "do manfully"?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Do Manfully (1)

What does it mean to be "emasculated"? We usually think of it as the same as being made "feminine"--as in one's mannerisms and tastes. Yet, that is only one possible aspect of emasculation, and not the entirety of it. When a man is losing his masculinity, he is not necessarily becoming more "feminine", but rather, he is becoming less of a man. What, therefore, does it mean to be a "man"? The definition here is fairly simple; a "man" is that which God designed it to be (contrary to the "gender identity" foolishness that is being touted by many today).

Let me explain. God designed men to be the protectors, the fighters, the guardians. This is why He generally gave them more physical strength, more muscle mass, deeper voices, etc. This does not mean that women cannot protect, fight or guard, but that they are not particularly suited to this by design. Being a man, means behaving in accord with what God has designed men to be. When a man refuses to do his duty as protector, he is abdicating his role assigned to him by God. When a man accepts his role given him by God, then he is behaving in a masculine manner. In the same way, women are "feminine" when they behave in the way that God designed them to behave (although it is not the subject of this post, the Blessed Virgin is the example of femininity).

Men can abdicate their role as men in various ways, but they basically narrow down to two categories: those men who do so by applying their inner strength to aggression and anger, and those men who apply their strength to softness and cowardice. The first we would call the bully, the second we would call the sissy. Every man has an "inner strength", and we are each responsible to apply it to the right areas in life. When we fail to apply our strength properly, we are only increasing our weaknesses, and every man will have a weakness in one of these two areas (usually depending on factors like upbringing, environment, etc.).

Generally speaking, most men today have been brought up hearing that "masculinity" is a bad thing because it is usually equated with aggressive and violent behavior (although sometimes aggression and violence are necessary, they are not the same thing as abuse). This aggressive violence that we see so often in the world today, is not masculinity. It is, rather, just testosterone without godly restraint. When men are fed a diet of this lie, then it is not surprising that many of them will gravitate toward the other form of emasculation, and often end up being tempted to behave in an effeminate manner and then often fall into sodomy.

There are also a few men who have been fed the lie that any form of tenderness or gentleness are to be equated with weakness and therefore they are to be avoided. These are the men who, if there is no godly restraint to their behavior, will end up as rapists and (genuine) misogynists. They actually believe that having an abusive personality is the proper way to be "a man". In truth, this hateful behavior is very "un-manly" because it is merely a childish form of a temper tantrum exerted in an adult. Being a man means avoiding childishness just as much as it means avoiding femininity.

Clearly, neither of these extremes can be equated with genuine godly masculinity. Yet, it would be foolhardy for us to imagine that a man is doing fine if he has not fallen into one of these extremes. There are many points on the scale that are between those extremes and the godly center that all men are to have as their goal. Each of us men needs to look at our own heart and determine (with the Holy Spirit's guidance) where we are at on the scale so that we can work on it; both for our good and for the good of our friends and family.

It is often said that admitting one's guilt is the most significant first step. What we cannot miss in this context is that admitting guilt is a very masculine thing to do. It shows bravery and a willingness to grow in holiness. The "bully" refuses to do so because he has been taught to believe that it is a sign of weakness (though nothing could be further from the truth). The "sissy" refuses to admit his guilt because his selfish fear causes him to want to hide in a shell and protect his sensitive feelings.

My brothers in Christ, I appeal to you to seek to "do manfully" and ask yourself these important questions. Where are your weaknesses? Where do you stand on the scale? Are you moving toward masculine holiness or away from it? It is not a manly thing to avoid that introspection that is so necessary for growth in the Lord. God is willing to help you if you will but call out to Him. Let us stand firm together; let us show what it means to be brave. Let us "do manfully".

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Beware Yon Dragon of Emasculation!

After an extended time where I do not post anything on this blog, I find it helpful to begin my return to writing by thinking about the things that kept me away. Those are not always bad things, sometimes they are just a matter of having to prioritize. No, I am not necessarily busier than a celibate priest because I have family to attend to, but I do have that on my list of responsibilities in life. Being busy was not, however, what really kept me away this time.

Sometimes we can get caught up in the numerous activities that are so common in modern society and those pull us away from "normalcy", yes, but that was not what held my attention. It was more of a time of "study". Not theological study; but studying the world around. I have been watching things from a somewhat different perspective lately. I have thought for a long time that there has been a steady emasculation of men, and I have seen it even more lately. I am not about to give a list (it would be long) of the things I have been noticing, but I have come to believe that it is even more pernicious than I thought before.

Picture the Church like a city on a hill. It has precious land and there are many enemies who wish to take it by force. If the enemies believe that the city is well defended, then what are they going to do to overcome the defenses? Although there are many ways an enemy can attack, the most effective will certainly be if they can convince the men of the city not to fight in her defense. If the army willingly lays down her weapons of defense, then the enemy can march right in and take what she wants without firing a single shot. I think that is what we are going through right now. Rather than being attacked directly, Catholic men are being convinced by this sinful world (usually in a very subtle manner), not to defend themselves or their families and churches.

I have always been moved by the words of Psalm 149. It is recited regularly in the Ordinariate lectionary for the Daily Office and it seems to hit me more deeply every time I read it. Let me quote it here:
Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful! Let Israel be glad in his Maker, let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with timbrel and lyre! For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory. Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches. Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to wreak vengeance on the nations and chastisement on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written! This is glory for all his faithful ones. Praise the LORD!
Particularly I am thinking of the last few verses (even though many people would rather skip those verses). No, I am not advocating war (but self defense is a godly behavior). That combination of "let high praise be in our throats" with the idea of keeping "two-edged swords in our hands" should make every man realize that he is called to a battle. Not a battle with guns, tanks, and bombs (those weapons are too petty and weak for this battle that I am speaking of). We are called to do battle with the devil, the world, and our own flesh. We are told that "this is glory for all God's faithful ones". Tough words, yes, but they are something of a battle cry that speaks to us as men.

Time to get ready for the battle. Time to accept what it means to be a Catholic man. Time to recognize that every one of us has been tempted by cowardice and foolishness. I am reminded of the verse in 1 Corinthians that says essentially the same thing. The Apostle speaks boldly about this very subject, and yet I know of few men who are aware of this verse. Unfortunately, some translations water the idea down with a phrase like "be courageous". That is not, however, all that the Apostle is saying. A more literal rendering of the original Greek is found in the good old Douay Bible.
"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, do manfully, and be strengthened" (1 Cor 16:13, Douay Rheims).
Sounds to me like a rally cry. "Do manfully." This is needed, and I wish to encourage other men (and especially young men) to accept what God has made them to be, and let us help one another to take the stand we need to take. Let us have "high praise" for God as well as the "sword of the Spirit" in our hands. This blog is supposed to be about slaying dragons, and the emasculation of men is a dragon that needs to be slain. Pray for me as I continue to write on this subject.