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What’s a Manly Man and How Can We Get More of Them?

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Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ - published on 01/15/15 - updated on 06/07/17

bodies, written it upon their consciences, and revealed it to His Church.

I said that we would look at goals, resources and allies. Now let’s look at some resources. Among secular groups addressing legal issues, there is the Men’s Rights Initiative and the Association for International Men’s Rights and Welfare. Concerning academic issues, there is A Voice for Male Students. For cultural and practical matters, ranging from books and tools a man should own, to skills a man should have (from how to jump start a car to how to behave on a date) there is the Art of Manliness. Happily, good Catholic resources are now coming forward. A good place to start is The New Emangelization. Its stated purpose is to draw “men to Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.” A few other Catholic sites I’ve enjoyed include, Those Catholic Men and The Catholic Gentlemen. Turning to books, I can recommend Iron John, by poet Robert Bly, the many books by John Eldredge, and Be a Man! by Father Larry Richards.  Calling God “Father” by John W. Miller is essential reading.

Now let’s turn to what may be the most important element in the battle for the male soul—allies. To be good fathers, men need brothers and leaders. There is no substitute for the experience of knowing that men who are surely your brothers in Christ walk beside you and behind you. I am grateful for the good, Catholic men who have kept faith with me across the miles and the years—Father Steve Voyt, Bishop Michael Olson, Father Casey Jones, Father Tom Kelly, Tony Musingo, Brian Wojciechowski, Bira Rezende, Mark Abramowicz and Nick Laing, to name but a few. I think of my brothers in the Society of Jesus: Jim Conroy, Clarence Martin, Bill Sneck, Jim Shea, Joe Fessio, Don Pantle, Tim Cadigan, Pat Mohr, Guy Consolmagno, Dave Robinson—too many to mention here … And I am daily grateful for the fellowship of the good men who are devoted fathers here in my present home town of Ave Maria—Robb Klucik, Joe Burke, Dan Dix, Scott Schneider, Bill Kirk, Drew Emmans, Steve Long, Scott Stinnet, Michael Timmis—just a sampling of the honor roll of great men in a small town. These are men whom I admire, and trust—noble fathers whom I learn from daily. To all the men who want to be the kind of man God intended, I can tell you with certainty that you must ally yourself with other good men.

I said that good men need brothers and leaders. What about leaders? We can turn to the great saints for good example and indispensable intercession. The universal model for Catholic fathers is Saint Joseph. Of course, Jesus is the model of perfect manhood, and His example of manhood is recorded in the New Testament. We must not allow Jesus as the standard of manhood to be obscured. Recently, I attended the baptism of several infants at a Catholic parish. Part of the Rite of Baptism, you may recall, is the anointing of the infant with sacred chrism, who like Christ was anointed as “priest, prophet and king.” Sadly, the children that day were, according to the officiating priest, anointed like Christ as “priest, prophet and servant-leader.” I doubt that substituting “servant-leader” for “king” was accidental. Such a substitution is not only forbidden, it is also foolish. In Christian iconography, a king is both a warrior and a leader. The king gives order to his kingdom; when the king is wise and just, the people flourish. Why remove a reference to Christ the King, a title of Christ with a long history, and celebrated as a Solemnity on the Church’s calendar? Why expunge from the Rite of Baptism the promise of the wise, fruitful and just sovereign kingship of Christ? I do not know the priest’s intentions, but I do know the result of his actions—an authentically masculine attribute of Christ, an office of Christ, was banished from the initiation of Christians, in the presence of parishioners, including both people who should know better, and people who don’t. Both groups were ill served that day.  

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