This age calls for a renaissance of Catholic masculinity. Modern culture asserts that masculinity is ‘toxic,’ that it needs to be softened, even feminized.
But the cultural nabobs who demand an end to authentic masculinity are the same voices that denigrate creation and the ‘feminine genius,’ a term used by Saint John Paul the Great. The “feminine genius” has an emphasis on the person, empathy, protection of life, sanctity and modesty, among others.
So why has masculinity, and even traditional femininity, come into the crosshairs of the cultural elite? Abortion.
Human abortion has been raised to the level of a sacrament by these cultural leaders, modern feminists, and half of American politicians. Traditional notions of masculinity and femininity stand squarely athwart the anti-life religion promoted by these elites.
The times call for a surge in Catholic masculinity to counter a culture that asserts with shrill voices that life has zero intrinsic value in the womb unless she is desired.
So what is authentic Catholic masculinity?
It has eight key elements:
Courage. Catholic masculinity is fearless in the face of immoral opposition. It won’t back down, even if it puts one’s status at risk. It will boldly support the Truth of Church teachings, regardless of the cost.
Action oriented. Catholic masculinity taps into the courage modeled by Christ and two-thousand years of saints to stand up in the public square on behalf of society’s most vulnerable: our unborn brothers and sisters. Authentic Catholic men march, pray, write, educate, cajole, and proclaim the beauty of God’ creation using all of the gifts God gave them.
Tenacity. Catholic masculinity doesn’t give up on a just cause. Ever. No worthy cause is ever lost, for as G.K. Chesterton said,
“The lost cause are exactly those which might have saved the world.”
That’s why a masculine Catholic group like the Knights of Columbus helps victims of religious persecution and abortion and natural disasters and even the coronavirus. Catholic masculinity is steadfast no matter how dire the cause or crisis.
Honesty. Catholic masculinity recognizes that Truth, with a capital T, is eternal because God revealed it to us through the life of Jesus Christ and all of sacred scripture. Catholic men recognize that honesty honors our Christ.
Obedience. Catholic masculinity submits to the magisterial authority of our Church. This key character trait separates Catholic men from our Protestant and secular friends. Catholic masculinity recognizes that the Holy Spirit has revealed the Truth through this teaching authority for two-thousand years. Catholic men accept, respect, and honor this authority.
Loyalty. God remained faithful to us even when we didn’t deserve it. This loyalty, as modeled by our crucified Savior, defines Catholic masculinity. This loyalty calls on Catholic men to honor their relationships with their familes, faith, and friends as a starting point. But it demands they go even further, and be loyal to their community, strangers, and even enemies. Chesterton explains why:
“We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty.”
After all, we are all God’s creation, all brothers and sisters.
Incorruptibility. Every man is tainted by concupiscence, an inclination towards sin and evil. Catholic masculinity fights these inclinations through regular Mass attendance and confession. Even more, Catholic masculinity doesn’t allow Catholic men to sell-out their church by privately, and especially publicly, promoting practices contrary to church teachings, such as abortion or so-called same-sex marriage. Sometimes Catholic men pay a price for this incorruptibility, such as the Catholic Congressional representative in Illinois who lost a primary election because he refused to compromise his positions on Life issues. Sadly, there are plenty of Catholic politicians who have caved on this issue in exchange for votes, power, and prestige. There is nothing Catholic or masculine with such tragic compromise.
Character counts. Catholic masculinity means men do what they say they’ll do. It means they’re self-reliant and practice self-control. It means they take responsibility for their actions. It means they’re humble, compassionate, and respectful to others, and especially to women. It means they don’t give up when the going gets tough.
C.S. Lewis describes character in terms of knighthood:
“The knight is a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and ragged stumps of lopped-off limbs; he is also a demure, almost a maidenlike, guest in hall, a gentle, modest, unobtrusive man. He is not a compromise or happy mean between ferocity and meekness; he is fierce to the nth and meek to the nth…”
“Knightly character is art not nature – something that needs to be achieved , not something that can be relied upon to happen.” C.S. LEWIS
One-hundred babies were aborted around the world while you read this essay. Now you understand our call for a renaissance in Catholic masculinity. What are you going to do about it?