Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Masculine Liturgies

A lot of digital ink has been spilled over Cardinal Burke's interview with the New Emangelization Project. He spoke very little on what he perceives as the feminization of the Church, but he spent a great deal of time outlining how the Church has failed to address the needs of men. If you haven't read the article, then for the sake of all that is holy, read the article before forming an ignorant opinion.

This man gave challenging homilies
So here's my two cents, not exactly about the interview but rather about the whole broad topic. First, bad liturgy is neither masculine nor feminine. It's just bad. Stop doing it. Whether you are clergy or laity, if you contribute to irreverent liturgies that focus on man rather than God, that worship the community rather than the Creator, just stop.
Now, my real two cents, because that last one was an unexpected aside. Women will always participate in Church. Women are smarter than men, they know they need God in their lives, so women will always participate in the life of the Church. I don't say this patronizingly, but sincerely. Men on the other hand, are by and large not as bright. Men are more inclined to think they can go it alone, without God. Numbers in the pews seem to reflect this. And I think we all know families where mom takes the kids to church while dad stays home. Of course, anecdotal evidence doesn't carry the argument, but it points in a direction.

My point is this: Women are smart enough to always come to Church unless you do something egregious to drive them away. Men need to be "sold" on Church, or "lured in" if you will. This happens largely through music and preaching. For all of our high and lofty theology about the one Sacrifice of Christ made present again on the altar, for Christ being really and substantially present in the appearance of bread and wine, people's perception of Mass largely comes down to music and preaching. If the music and preaching are good, then people tend to walk away saying it was a good Mass, if those two elements are poor, people tend to have a negative experience of the Mass. So, if people's perception of the Mass is largely based on those two elements, those are two key areas where we need to make sure we are reaching men. Fluffy homilies, homilies that only comfort, or overly emotive homilies don't reach men. Men need to be challenged. Same thing applies to music: if it only exalts the community instead of drawing the attention of the community towards God, men aren't interested. As a man I totally understand the mindset, though perhaps it'd be expressed a little differently: "At church I'm only told that I'm a good person and that I'm the pinnacle of everything. I can tell myself that just fine at home, so why not sleep in on Sunday morning?"

Women have been carrying the Church for centuries, I don't think they'll stop showing up anytime soon. Men are a different matter. Men need to be convinced of the importance of Church, of a community, a brotherhood of faith. Challenging homilies and elevated music are easy ways to do that.

No comments:

Post a Comment