by Fr Richard Heilman | March 14, 2015 12:16 PM
An article from Gregory Watson at Serviam, once again points a finger at the man-crisis we are facing as the catalyst for overall declines in the Church today:
This notion that religion is for “women and children” is rampant in our culture today, too.
This poses a rather serious problem, since research shows just how much of an impact the father has on the religious beliefs of his children. According to the linked study, a child’s religious involvement—continuing into his or her adult years—is almost exclusively shaped by the religious conviction of his or her father. Surprisingly, the religious practice of the child’s mother is negligible! If the father is devout, even if the mother isn’t, the odds are extremely high that his children will be, too.
So the question again, is, where are the men? It seems we have allowed this stereotype, that religion is a womanly thing, to become more than a sneer and grow into a norm. As I write this, ironically, the day after “International Women’s Day”, I think we must acknowledge that as a radical, egalitarian feminist ethic has been allowed to infiltrate Christianity, the Church has itself been unduly feminised. Men very often simply feel that there is nothing for them.
The research Watson referred to showed:
If a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.
A non-practicing mother with a regular father will see a minimum of two-thirds of her children ending up at church. In contrast, a non-practicing father with a regular mother will see two-thirds of his children never darken the church door. If his wife is similarly negligent that figure rises to 80 percent!
In the original Serviam article, Gregory Watson serves up a striking image for us to contemplate: “The Apostles, those burly fishermen and militaristic Zealots, all fled and hid, while it was the women who followed Jesus on His way of the Cross. Only John the Apostle had the courage to stick it out.”
Why John? Because he really “knew” Jesus! He was the one who rested on His heart at the Last Supper. John was ALL IN!!
It seems there have been a variety of strategies and approaches to evangelization over the years. However, the dominant “Catholic Lite” strategy for the past 50 years has been to “weaken” and “tone down” our Catholic faith, so it is (they say) more accessible to the “average Joe” and “plain Jane” who may be too intimidated by Catholics who are totally dedicated, truths that are clearly taught, liturgies that are truly reverent, and churches adorned in such a way as to point to spiritual realities. The theory contained within this strategy is that the “lost” are not ready for anything perceived as “challenging.” It calls to mind that classic line from the movie, A Few Good Men … “You can’t handle the truth!” This is the soft bigotry of low expectations that is so prevalent inside and outside of our Church today, and it is a demeaning view of the human spirit.
This was not the strategy Jesus modeled for us. No, whenever he got in front of a large crowd, he would unleash a “hard teaching.” It almost seemed as though he was trying to thin out the herd: “Enter through the narrow gate,” “This is a wicked generation,” “Anyone who does not carry his cross,” “many are called, few are chosen.” etc., etc.
Why was Jesus so candid, and even blunt at times? Because he had a high regard for the human spirit, and he was confident that brutal honesty and tough challenge are the ways to awaken the “best” in each of us. Jesus wasn’t calling people to be merely squishy members of an organization, he was asking his followers to BE ALL IN; to be “tough men” who put everything on the line and strive to be “Champions for Christ!” Men respond to this kind of challenge!!!
The legendary Coach Vince Lombardi put it best:
“And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat. I don’t say these things because I believe in the ‘brute’ nature of men or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour — his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear — is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle — victorious.”
Nobody is saying, “Now is the time for us to be mean and nasty.” No, but let’s be resolved and confident and emphatic! And, now is the time for us to celebrate every amazing treasure of our Catholic faith. No more “fear of offending,” if we pray a little Latin or chant a little hymn or twiddle a few rosary beads. Men are voting with their feet, and they are flocking (especially the young men) to those places that acknowledge the transcendence and reverence and mystery of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Men, very simply put, want the REAL DEAL.
Do the “John the Beloved thing” … join the Holy League!
Are you a man?!?! Can you handle the truth?!?!
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