My take on Masculine Spirituality

My take on Masculine Spirituality





Ok, so I have been using the term Masculine Spirituality rather freely (both in a qualitative and quantitative sense), as in this thread.

It was prudently suggested that I explain it, so here we go.

The role of all people is passive in relation to Christ and in that sense “feminine” (if femininity is reduced to passivity.) Thus the Church is and described as female, and male religious take on a “feminine” role. “Masculine spirituality” would seem to deny that, and I don’t see how you can without also denying at least some orthodox theology.

It sounds more like you want to re-examine the physical roles of men in the church. For example, you say “By promoting MS, I intend  […] to rediscover what made men (viri) resonate with the Word for over a century” and “we must reclaim traditional masculine roles and spaces.” Which, frankly, sounds a bit ominous. What male “traditional roles” in the Church have been lost? And if what you’re proposing isn’t anything “even exclusively masculine” then why masculine spirituality?

Just some thoughts.

Snipped original article for length sanity.  Boy that guy is long winded. -.-

I’m challenging the assertion, first made by Origen (who had some issues in the sexual department), that we are individually feminine in relation to Christ.  It is often repeated, supported using Platonic categories, but I do no believe that it is in anyway defined doctrine.  (I could be wrong..)

While it is the reaction I expected, it is truly strange and saddening that reclaiming the place for men in religion is ominous.  Considering the problems plaguing the Church, is it not an essentially homosexual masculine spirituality that we ought to find disturbing?

The physical roles are the most recently compromised, in particular: 1994 (altar girls), 1983 (lay substitutes for instituted ministers not reserved to men), 1972 (suppression of the minor orders), 1970 (new Missal replaced restrictions on who was in the sanctuary, allowed for the previous changes).  They are also the easiest restored (any priest can immediately use only altar boys, restriction of the sanctuary could be permitted by any bishop).  They are also the entry point to establishing the critical mass necessary to actually explore the re-integration of liturgy and hierarchy into spirituality. 

It is the fundamental aspects that were once identified with spirituality (asceticism, hierarchy, theology, liturgy) that are not essentially masculine, but they appeal to men in a way the affective spirituality does not.

I have a sense that there is more in this ‘masculine spirituality’ than I can see (rather I see a fuzzy outline, but not the details).  I can only propose a general framework and see what develops.  In particular, I would expect a new devotionalism to arise among men, that would be rather different in character than the current devotionalism (the boldness of the Lorica, the combativeness of the Psalms).

One thing I probably have been insufficiently clear on is that I am proposing a complement to the prevailing feminine spirituality, not a replacement for it.

I don’t know for certain if it’s defined doctrine, either, but the “unarguableness” of the idea was definitely implied when the idea was presented to me by an orthodox theologian.

“It is truly strange and saddening that reclaiming the place for men in religion is ominous.” When you talk about “masculine” spirituality and “reclaiming lost roles,” whether you like it or not you’r’e setting up a conflict between the place of men and women in the Church. As a woman, as a devoted Catholic, as a Feminist, yes, that sounds ominous. Especially when you couch it in terms not of merely renewing or revitalizing the spiritual lives of men in the faith, but over and against the spiritual lives and role of women. Men are still and will remain the only legitimate priests and authority in the Church. Fundamentally, it doesn’t look like anything has been “compromised.”

While I have a great respect for the Tridentine mass, one of the things I love about the Novus Ordo is that there can be altar girls. I was one myself for many years. I’ve never delved into serious theological arguments for or against it, but it seems like unless we want to those who claim Vatican II was a load of bull, we must accept the practice as valid.

Further, I take issue with the seemingly narrowly divided list of traits you ascribe men and women in the name of “masculine spirituality.” Are women not “allowed” or “supposed” to be bold, warriors in the faith, fighting the good fight, assertive, strong? Don’t get me wrong: I’m not overlooking sexual differentiation or the necessary and fundamental differences between men and women. But based on what you’ve said so far, I don’t see how any of that legitimately plays into the idea of a specifically “masculine” spirituality. And as long as “passivity” is understood as it generally is in terms of the sexes, I don’t think it ever will. The crude idea of passivity as a peculiarly female trait, and in fact the foremost, almost to the point of exclusivity, female trait, and therefore men who are passive being “female,” can only be correct in that it highlights the fundamental paradigm of the God-human relationship: God acts, human beings receive. (In all other respects that concept is something I would gladly kill with fire.)

I’m also not sure it’s just Origen you’re going to be arguing against. I’m sure you know a great deal more about the history of the idea than I do, but as Catholics we are “spiritual Semites” and God always told Israel, collectively, that she was His Bride, too. I’m pretty sure Paul, in the same vein, describes the Church as the Bride of Christ. How can men get away from assuming a passive (note I did not say female) relationship to Christ? The whole history of the faith is described as God’s activity towards us, our reception of it (and failure to receive.) I don’t think this is any way implies “homosexual masculine spirituality.” God has no gender, and while the body of Jesus was male, as God, still, no gender. If that was a problem or a danger, it seems like somebody would have said something long before modern times. (Again, I haven’t researched this—if I’m missing a big piece of the puzzle, please fill me in.)

You said: “It is the fundamental aspects that were once identified with spirituality (asceticism, hierarchy, theology, liturgy) that are not essentially masculine, but they appeal to men in a way the affective spirituality does not.” I think I see what you mean about asceticism, hierarchy, theology, and liturgy being divorced from spirituality (although if you have any resources on that concept, feel free to send links or book names my way.) But I’m not entirely clear on what you mean by “affective spirituality.”

In a few respects, if I’m understanding you correctly, I can sympathize with your intent. To draw men back into the Church, for them to relate to the faith as men, to counter certain flawed tendencies in the practice of faith that developed after Vatican II: those all sound great. But overall, without some major detailing and clarification, I’m not seeing the need for or legitimacy of “masculine spirituality” as you’ve described it. 


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