Pray Brethren

Pray Brethren

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Mass: Not Just a Family Affair

Plato and Aristotle both reasoned that the size of the polis – the Greek city-state – should be roughly 5,000 men in number. They came to this conclusion because 5,000 is the number of men who can gather together to hear another man speak to them (they of course did not have microphones and video projectors in the 4th century BC). St. Paul knew that “faith comes from what is heard” (Romans 10:17) and when he went to the Greek cities of his day, he went to speak to the very places the Greeks established for the men of the city to gather and listen, man to man. In this sense, we see God preparing the way of the Gospel among the Greeks centuries before the birth of Christ.

Most importantly, however, the very notion that men speak to men in a way that is different from how men speak to women or how women speak to women is being lost in our present culture and in aspects of the liturgy. The new translation of the Mass protects the sacred speech – so long as priests simply read the black and do the red – but often times the impromptu announcements, greetings, conclusions, and many homilies break up the flow and sacredness of the liturgy because many see the Mass as, at best, for families. Consequently many single men are not attracted to the Mass and many married men are dragged to the Mass. Add to this the growing effeminacy of the priesthood and our bishops’ preference to speak to the press or write theological articles and books, we have a large number of Catholic men who think that church is for women, children, and the aged.

Heart may speak to heart, but men must speak to men. This means more than shaping the minds of Catholic seminarians into erudite theologians or sharpening their tongues with the words of conflict resolution. It means shaping the personalities of Catholic men and helping them to see that the common, authoritative male personality, aided by grace and virtue, would be far more beneficial – and more properly ordered to – the priesthood than the scholarly, effeminate, timid, social problem solvers who were so common in the priesthood during the past forty years. It also means that priests today should not refrain from addressing men from the ambo or addressing topics which are not “family-oriented”.

When Jesus looked for Apostles, he did not call families. When the Apostles looked for believers, they did not preach to families. As the Greeks and the first Christians understood that men speak to men, so too must we remember that men will listen to men. The Mass is not merely the gathering of the feminine bride of Christ – it is also the gathering of the masculine body of Christ. If we really want to see vocations rise and the priesthood truly elevated, men must once more speak to men.