by Fr Richard Heilman | June 18, 2017 7:08 AM
“When a child is given to his parents, a crown is made for that child in Heaven, and woe to the parents who raise a child without consciousness of that eternal crown!” – Fulton J. Sheen, Life Is Worth Living
Not too long ago, Cardinal Burke gave a very candid interview to Matthew Christoff of “The New Emangelization Project.” In this interview, the Cardinal “courageously” bemoaned the influence of feminism on Catholicism.
Tim Stanley of the Catholic Herald has a fascinating take on the interview, as well as insights into the “man problem” in the Church today (you can read the entire article here) …
Are men disengaging from the Church? Matthew James Christoff, who runs the New Emangelisation Project, designed to re-evangelise Catholic men, and who conducted the interview with Cardinal Burke, says that male Catholics “have been ignored [by the Church] to some large degree and many have drifted away”. He cites surveys showing that “only a quarter to a third of regular Mass-goers are men and 70 to 90 per cent of roles in parishes are dominated by women”. The fall in male participation obviously translates into a fall in the numbers pursuing life in the priesthood.
The relative absence of men also has an impact upon the continuation of the faith from one generation to another. A Swiss study by Werner Haug and Phillipe Warner, published in 2000, found that adults take their religious cues far more from the way their fathers behaved during their childhood than the way their mothers did. If a father and mother attend church regularly, 33 per cent of their children will attend church regularly later in life. If a mother attends church regularly and the father irregularly, only two per cent grow up to be regular attendees. But if a father is regular and the mother is irregular, the likelihood of church fidelity actually increases: 38 per cent of their children will become regular churchgoers themselves. If faith in childhood is seen as “something mother likes us to do”, then it doesn’t have nearly as much of an impact as if it is “something father insists that we do”.
If Cardinal Burke’s assertion that Catholicism has “a man problem” is indisputable, what about his analysis of the causes? When talking casually to friends and priests about the idea that the liturgy had become feminised, I was surprised to find near-universal agreement based on casual observation. Many men admitted that they felt “self-conscious” in a Mass that is all about talking and shaking hands, and celebrating the life of the community. “Note how many men stand with their arms folded, obviously uncomfortable,” one friend confided. “And a lot of them turn up late because they’re frightened that if they turn up early they’ll be asked to do something inane” …
(For Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society), the post-1960s transformation of the Mass is at the heart of the problem – regardless of its entirely orthodox language. “The kind of liturgy that appeals to men,” he argues, “is one with grandeur.” The Old Rite emphasised the cosmic mystery of Christ, while the new is a celebration of community.
He says: “If you asked the question: ‘Would women enjoy a Mass more that is a celebration of community?’ most would answer: ‘That sounds marvellous!’ But this ignores the counter-proposition that men might enjoy it much less.”
In other words, everything that attracted women to the New Rite is precisely what alienates the men. And, ironically, one of those changes is the emergence of a greater emphasis upon the personality of the priest – what Cardinal Burke calls the “priest show”. “In many places the Mass became very priest‑centered,” the cardinal explained. “This type of abuse leads to a loss of the sense of the sacred, taking the essential mystery out of the Mass. The reality of Christ Himself coming down on the altar to make present His sacrifice on Cavalry gets lost.”
Yes, a dad’s faith does matter to the children. And, if the Mass has become effeminate and touchy-feely, many dads will disengage.
So, it all boils down to logic (something men stand on quite a bit), “Save the liturgy, save the dads … save the dads, save the sons … save the sons, save the priesthood … save the priesthood, save the world.”
When it comes to the liturgy, most lay people believe it is out of their hands. That can be true, in many instances. But, you’d be surprised how many priests “do” want to move the liturgy to one that is more sacred and transcendent, but simply feel the backlash would be too severe. Contact your priest, and let him know you are behind him 100% in any effort he wants to make to move in this direction. Rally others to help support the priest. Be entirely respectful. And, if you find the priest is unwilling to move in this direction, save your family and find a parish that does.
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