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.