Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How the Sacraments Make Men

After the London Male Fashion week where models were wearing dresses...well... I think this post is germane:


The world needs courageous Christian men with a passion for God, a passion for holiness; masculine men, who initiate; who are responsible and steadfast men, strong and faithful, disciplined and add to that a dash of kind.

What our culture is growing are boys of ease who want to be men of ease. It is a culture of Wikipedia, the microwave and the bell curve. Survivor Man, a fishing channel, and Sunday football televise recreation. Now men are so passive that when they get hungry watching other men be active, all they have to do is tear upon a bag of chips. Their testosterone chooses to stay-at-home and become a hero in a video game or pursue anime women instead of getting out and initiating a conversation with an actual woman. And Christian guys often choose the comfort of a stay-at-home church or a church so casual that the strain of tucking their t-shirt into their old jeans isn’t required. 

Ever since Adam blamed Eve, God seems to spend a lot of His time making cowards into men. God violently confronted Moses and Jacob getting into a physical fight before making them His leaders. He knew they needed to be able to take a punch to be heroes and saints.

Interestingly, one of the great side effects of being a Catholic is that if you start your boys out young being faithful to the sacraments, they will do a lot to infuse masculine traits. For, not only will they receive passive, imputed grace making them like Christ, but the personal initiation and struggle of the will to do the sacrament is an active grace. The sacraments are heavenly discipline, spiritual bootcamp.

Think about it.

If a man is baptized and confirmed as an adult, it requires a lifelong commitment--that in an act of the will that moves into an act of the body. He must go through RCIA. That’s one step in the right direction. Even if baptized as a newborn, the child will then go through the steps to confirmation. The sacrament of baptism and confirmation requires commitment.

The sacrament of reconciliation teaches a boy to be a man through self-examination. It requires him to regularly think about what he had done wrong, why, and then have the humble courage and emotional strength to admit it, out loud, to another man. All that analysis can cause you to realize that not only are you not so good, so you better not judge others, but you are not so bad and all that learning of self-forgiveness can bleed into forgiving others and learning some sense of humor. So the sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation develops: courage, humility, faithfulness, commitment, kindness, humor, discipline and wisdom. That sacrament alone, if you teach your sons what it means and take him to it from an early age will do a great deal to make him a man.

When you go to the sacrament of the Eucharist daily or weekly, we teach an active grace of faithfulness, self-denial and steadfastness. 

Then if your son’s vocation is marriage or holy orders, these sacraments can take them to another step of active, manly grace. For whether they make a life-long commitment to a woman or the church, they will develop courage, faithfulness, kindness, discipline, and even physical strength being a good husband or priest. As the years go by and they have to make decisions that may cause suffering for them or their families or parishes, they learn wisdom and humility.

Even the sacrament of Anointing the Sick can make a man more humble and give him the courage to face serious illness or death.

God gave us a type of Divine GPS to help boys find their way into manhood and once there continue honing his masculinity until he becomes the ultimate hero--a saint--and that is through the sacraments.