Occasionally at the parish, I will preach a homily about masculine spirituality, or about the role of the husband as the servant-leader of the home, or about how the priesthood is a calling for young men to consider…
Without exception, I will receive a small handful of emails from a small handful of older BabyBoomer (Those born between 1945-1964) women upset that I have touched on the subject. Amidst the content will be a line about how women do most of the volunteer work around the parish; “just look at who serves as readers, EMHCs, catechists, and hospitality ministers.” After I tell them I’m willing to sit down with them to discuss any wounds they’ve received from men in their lives, I go on to say that the fact that women do nearly every ministry in the parish is a problem because it has made men passive, and absent in the Church. This creates a vicious cycle as the boys in the parish see nearly no male examples of Christian service save the priest, and thus do not take interest in serving the Church, or even remaining faithful to her.
Typically, I don’t get any response from those who were complaining about those points whatsoever.
Many Baby Boomer Catholics (male and female) that lament about how women are not “represented enough,” fail to see the demographic makeup of nearly every parish committee, liturgical service team, and the general congregation at Sunday Mass.
Heck, even altar girls are far outnumbering altar boys now in many places, and many seem to rejoice in it. Nevertheless, they continue to complain about how women are not represented enough while the faith dies among boys, young men, and downstream from that, young women.
At the campus ministry, however, I hear the young women lament about a lack of representation as well, but not about themselves. They lament that young men are not represented enough. While the school I chaplain is 60-65% female to begin with, the makeup of our ministry exceeds that percentage. In the spring of 2017 when new officers of our ministry were elected I sat down with the four young faithful ladies and told them that my big emphasis in the fall would be in building up the fraternity of the men in the group which would hopefully lead to more men attending our events overall. I told them that this would include expanding how many altar servers we used (formerly just one server in street clothes) to many in high-quality albs, and that I was going to make that ministry exclusively male. I would also begin a men’s night at a local sports bar after our Sunday Masses.
Their reaction was not visceral, or disappointment, or even confusion. Rather, they thanked me. They breathed a sigh of relief, and told me that they would support these decisions, if folks were to complain about them. I’ve heard of no complaints over a year later.
When I speak with women my age (mid-30s) and younger they are not concerned about women’s ordinations, or having a voice in the Church. They are concerned with the lack of men in the Church, and if they will find a husband who shares their faith, and will lead them and their children in that faith. They have rejected the infiltration of secular feminism into Catholicism, and long for strong men to step up. They don’t long for a voice in the Church, they long to hear masculine voices singing at Mass, and praying the rosary aloud.
When it comes to the married women in the Church from the younger half of GenX and down they are mostly concerned if their daughters will find Catholic men to marry, or if their boys will find a place to serve the Church. Boys want to do boy things, and when we don’t have any gender specialization they tend to check out as the activities are “girly.” We can try to chastise them for this as the latest Star Wars movie did, but all that does is push them more and more away, and solidify in their minds that Church is something girls do.
Folks, we need to seriously look at how few men are involved in Church, especially the young men. We need to really re-examine if dropping all-male ministries was a good thing. Younger women have few options for male Catholic role-models, male Catholic friends and Catholic husbands these days.
Part of that is how we have lost the art of courtship (which is another article altogether), but part is that the BabyBoomer politics of female empowerment has been our operating method in the parishes for generations now. Every study has shown that the largest factor in whether or not a child, male or female, will continue to practice the faith into adulthood is if the father of the home practices the faith. If we continue to try to “empower” women with time-worn leftist tactics, we will only continue to push men out of the Church, and the women will follow too.
What can be done about this? Well, young men: start devotional groups among yourselves, and ask the priests to be a part of it. Look into processions with the Eucharist and/or images of saints, and volunteer to do the literal heavy lifting in those processions, and around the parish grounds. Then invite your sons and nephews to be a part of these events in a special way. Buy them a suit and tie for devotionals, and work gloves for labor. Let them know they are partaking in the life of the Church using the gifts of masculinity God gave them. If it is a mix of male and female servers, at least try to get server teams segregated by gender at the Masses like some parishes have done (i.e. Saturday Evening Mass is all female, and Sunday Morning Mass is all male).
Young ladies, support these endeavors and stand up the ladies in the parish who gawk at it. Tell them that the lack of men in the Church is a problem for women too, and something is finally being done about it. Talk to your priests, and talk to the commissions at the parish about the need to bring back male exclusive ministries at liturgies. Tell them how Catholic men are sparse, and how it is hurting Catholic women. Tell them you want your daughters and nieces to have strong boys of faith as friends, and someday as husbands. Tell them their attitudes are hurtful.
Do not allow yourself to be bullied because of your youth as Jeremiah was commanded not to be (Jer. 1:7). Your youth is powerful, so use that power for the salvation of souls. Men in our culture are hungry for tradition, meaning, direction, and healthy relationships. So let us not lose them because we were too afraid to confront a weak ideology from the 70s.