Reclaiming Masculinity in the Church

One of the biggest challenges in our world of toxic feminism and identity politics is reclaiming authentic masculinity, particularly in the Church.

Even promoting masculinity as an objective good these days is targeted as somehow bigoted, out-of-touch, <insert invective here>, which is why I was particularly pleased to listen to a new episode of The Catholic Talk Show, called “5 Things All Catholic Men Need to Start Doing Again”.

I’ve listened to several episodes of this podcast before, and while it’s good and orthodox, it generally doesn’t go deep enough for my taste, focusing more on basic Catholic education and information (I was very blessed to have parents who put me through weekly catechesis for the duration of my schooling years).

However, this particular episode struck a chord with me as it hit on something I feel is absolutely crucial in this day and age: re-masculinising the Church and the men in it.

The lack of masculinity in the Church is, I believe, one of the primary reasons there are so few men in it. This, of course, impacts directly on the entire culture of the Church including – yes, the dating scene.

The episode focuses on the Catholic men’s movement “Exodus 90”, an intensive 90-day spiritual exercise which focuses on prayer, fraternity and asceticism (self-denial). I’ve heard of this movement in the past but never really knew much about it until now.

According to executive director James Baxter, 17,000 men have been through the program over the last four years, which sounds pretty extraordinary to me.

Exodus 90 began as an exercise in seminaries to help the men overcome various “idols” – e.g. addictions, bad habits – anything working as a barrier between them and spiritual growth. The movement then expanded to the wider world. As one of the hosts says:

We’ve got it real easy. We can Uber or have any food we want delivered or we can have any sexual deviance we want delivered on our phone, we can have any sort of alcohol, we have divorce on demand, we can choose to abort our children or not support our children, we can not go to church and feel no societal impact.

…there is no structure to our lives right now and anything that appeals to us is available to us so the idea of self-denial is absolutely, incredibly necessary in today’s world because otherwise you are going to be drowned in the amount of things they are force-feeding you in this culture.

The asceticism of Exodus 90 is derived from the early desert fathers, or hermits, who practised a fairly intense form of asceticism in pursuit of spiritual growth.

It’s a really interesting discussion, which touches on another favourite topic of mine – the impact that fathers who regularly go to Mass have on the faith of their children.

I’m not g0ing to lie, Exodus 90 sounds hard, as it’s surely meant to be, but it sounds like an extremely good and encouraging movement that is sorely needed today.

But don’t take it from me, let these guys tell you:

Learn more about Exodus 90.

32 thoughts on “Reclaiming Masculinity in the Church

  1. This post starts off so promising. Giving men positive masculine role models and ideals is a worthy goal, within the church and without.
    Unfortunately, the rest of the post is a bait and switch. That the video here is a real attempt at regaining masculinity is a tenuous position at best. Of all the obstacles to masculine ideals that exist, do you really think that men in the church not living their best Christian male lives is the biggest? What, we just have to make those Christian men that already exist into better Christians and better men to fix this problem? That’d be great if it could work, but it would still be but a small step in the right direction.
    That’s not even addressing the self contradictory nature of trying to reach men in the church who Hitchings told us were practically nonexistent. Perhaps we should consider why there are so few men in churches before we preach even harder to the few males still left in the pews.
    One last note: Are these modern vices of easy laziness and self-gratification specific to men? Do women not face those same situations? If that’s the case, can we start some equivalent to Exodus 90 to teach women the same virtues? Maybe it’s simply much easier to sell a cause based on “reclaiming masculinity”, as if there’s something wrong with men right now, than if we tried the same thing on women?

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    1. I’m not sure if it is any longer true that men attend services less than women, at least among millennials. It is anecdotal, but in my state I’ve attended seven churches in the last eight years: one had 5 or so single young women attending, but the rest would usually have 1 or 2 young single men of marrying age and no young women. I sporadically attend a TLMass and there are usually 5-10 single young men and no single young women. I’ve seen statistics saying that the Orthodox churches men tend to outnumber women in general and I suspect the TLM tracks that closely. I have no experience of Protestant churches. Maybe the question is what the Orthodox are doing right. Serious liturgy and difficult fasting might be part of it.
      If you really did push these five habits on both men and women there would likely be an uptick in Catholic marriages, just because there would be more practicing Catholics and they would be more likely to meet in Parish activities.
      But I agree with you that while there are problems with men there are also problems with women, it is just easier to beat up on men.

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      1. From what I’ve witnessed of the uptick in male interest in Orthodoxy, the main factor seems to be the resistance to liberalism, particularly with respect to the right of the nation to protect itself against the mass migration of hostile elements. Nearly every other denomination I can think of is promoting the Gnostic liberal heresy of open borders and infinite compassion and tolerance, thereby transforming Christianity into a kind of suicide cult for the nation. No red-blooded male with any sense of loyalty to his kin is going to get on board with that trash. Even Ms Hitchings, despite her apparent traditionalism, seems to have a soft spot when it comes to admitting bazillion third-world refugees, while failing to appreciate that it would destroy the sense of community which she treasures.

        You’re right in that a religion is taken more seriously when it makes serious demands on its adherents. I’d also add that the depth of the tradition gives it a kind of ‘anchoring’ feeling which is comforting and also gives men the sense of belonging to something bigger and older than themselves.

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  2. All good advice but it won’t fix the Catholic dating problem.
    1) Go to Mass
    2) Pray the Rosary
    3) Volunteer
    4) Create fraternity
    5) Deny yourself
    6) Search high and low for a serious Catholic girl who is passably attractive and ask her out on a date
    7) Get shot down

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  3. No.
    Masculinity and piety are two separate qualities. I think one of the big reasons that there is a lack of it in the Church at the moment is because these concepts continually get confused. Most guys aren’t “spiritual” and, in fact, find “spirituality” very off putting and find the whole “feelings” and “personal Jesus” thing very uncomfortable. I think that more men would go to Church if it were a matter of duty more than a “dialogue with God” etc.
    Here’s Anthony Esolen talking about the virtue of Pietas from a Roman perspective, pay particular attention to the to his comments about the early Christians. It was a totally different form of piety that we have now or encourage in our men.
    https://youtu.be/NEE7OE8JWoI?t=130
    And here is a scene from Clint Eastwood’s Grand Torino, dealing with the subject of Masculinity. Delicate ears may not want to avert their gaze.
    https://youtu.be/VXD8yOxIPB0

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      1. Correct. Kumbayah Christianity has been toxic to masculinity. I’m not a Trad, and I recognise that the Church needs to engage modernity seriously, but their emphasis on the worship or God is totally different from today’s “Mills and Boon” approach to Christian theology.

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  4. If anything, it seems as if the Church is well on its way to purging what comparatively few men remain. The Pope Francis-led synod currently in session is considering giving women official church ministries. Let’s get real: this is really just the camel’s nose into the tent of ordaining female priests.
    Before you claim reclaim masculinity in the church, it would help if the church leadership realized that a lack of men & masculinity was a real problem that needed to be ameliorated and reversed rather than exacerbated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree dragnet. Our church leaders are showing virtually no leadership in directing the church to where it needs to go, which in my view must involve a dedicated effort at re-masculanising the Church. Sadly though, efforts like Exodus 90 are coming through to fill the vacuum left by the prelates. However, this is a step in the right direction. Perhaps if our Shepherds spent more time looking to what their sheep are craving rather than kowtowing to the demands of the secular world and nominal Catholics we might actually get somewhere.

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      1. I don’t know what goes on in the minds of Church leaders. Maybe too many of them already have converted to the new religion of secularism.

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  5. Firstly to be physically present we need to get the basics right- Men need to lose weight- cut out the carbohydrates, this will create the new lean you( modelled on the crucified figure of Christ) and the truth will bare itself in your now ‘reduced’ (humbled state)( oxymoronic when judged against atomic (reduction)greed)new BMI( Body Mass index). At this point physical exercise incorporated into one’s daily routine will help encourage the production of testosterone, which men need to physically and emotionally function as per their design.
    But the question is how do we get people to embrace the truth of Christianity as something that bring’s worth to life and as such something that translates into putting backsides on seats?

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    1. There’s a certain amusement value in seeing comments like this when the female led “fashion” world is promoting “healthy at any size” and various Dove commercials that have “real” women with BMI values greater than my first grader’s height. And please spare me responses saying “we Catholic girls aren’t like that!”. We’re not blind, but no worries, us clever fathers have our sons in soccer, baseball, karate and biking for fitness. If the “Catholic” girls aren’t up to snap, our sons can look elsewhere and get some outside fit girls to join the congregation…

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      1. Healthy at any size is bull dust, greed destroys the heart spiritually and physically.It doesn’t matter, the same applies for men and women…limit carbohydrate intake to 25g a day. No rice,bread, pasta,pizza, biscuits,chips – basically the whole ‘centre isle’at the supermarket – you will notice that the companies selling this worthless commodity are all large multinational corporations- look after your own health don’t do what corporations want you to do – it really is that simple ,do the opposite .Ps Oops, this course of treatment will make YOU WEALTHIER. Process this, 1 Tim Tam biscuit is the equivalent of the calories/Kilojoules burnt on a 6klm walk. And yes indeed…..

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      2. Happchapy, at least we got you to apply the same standard to BOTH men and women: ” the same applies for men and women…”
        It’s a start. Hopefully the heart doesn’t harden again and we start blaming men only again…

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      3. “We Catholic girls aren’t like that”!. I can only speak for myself not Anna. If I had a hand full of genders what would I have? Male and Female, (and I would be ‘left’ with) the rest are counterfeit ‘s. As they say she’ll be right!

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  6. Ms Hitchings:

    While I don’t disagree with getting men to ‘man up’, and while I’m grateful for having people like you on side, you’re not really adding anything to the discussion. We’ve already got Jordan Peterson, Rollo Tomassi, Jack Donovan, Dalrock and many others. And I don’t really see Exodus90 adding anything other than getting men spinning their wheels even faster while failing to gain any traction.

    Men can quit porn, start working out, pray more and so on, but they still face a massive barrier, which is women’s attitudes themselves. Women constantly complain about the ‘wage gap’ and then don’t want anything to do with a man that earns less than them.

    I’d love to get your thoughts on the following:

    “That data was used to estimate the financial and sociodemographic characteristics of unmarried women’s potential husbands by creating economic profiles that resembled real husbands who had married comparable women. These potential husband estimates were then compared to actual population data on unmarried men across national, state, and local locations.

    Researchers found that these estimated potential “dream” husbands had an average income about 58% higher than the actual unmarried men currently available to unmarried women. These synthetic husbands were also 30% more likely to be employed than real single men and 19% more likely to have a college degree.”

    https://www.studyfinds.org/why-are-marriage-rates-down-study-blames-lack-of-economically-attractive-men/

    All major institutions (including conservative ones) are now constantly pushing female employment and promotion, and yet women (in general) still only want men who earn more than them and have higher status. Similarly, women who have their material needs satisfied by the corporatocracy or the welfare state are free to pursue the more ‘exciting’ men, who typically make very bad husbands.

    So we can keep telling men to ‘man up!’ endlessly like it’s some panacea. But men aren’t really going to have much incentive to ‘man up’ if they’re still going to be shut out of the marriage market regardless.

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    1. Dimitri,it sort of reminds me of the old adage, having your cake and eating it- all these things come at a price. We in the West have lost sight in regards to the specific things that give our lives real worth and meaning. This is slightly off track , but mammon is God in a Godless world. The problem with the World ,is its demands cannot be satiated- these demands don’t bring comfort to Man’s soul. We eat food and exercise to nourish the physical body, we read and and learn and therefore understand, these nourish the brain. The soul is no different in one respect, but it’s food is the act of giving, and this doesn’t accord with basic tenant of capitalism- the self. It’s no wonder we find ourselves where we are.

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      1. “Doesn’t accord with the basic tenant of ‘(capitalism”). This should read “RAW capitalism”. This type of economics is just like Marxist economics, they purely put the focus of Man’s ( that’s women and men) life on the material- if you like ,a life that denies the existence of the real truth and Man’spiritual element- this being their soul.

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    2. A lot of (unfortunate) truth in this comment. Yes, men are leaving the church, turning to porn, dropping out of dating and family life…in an environment where women are increasingly obese, given preference for hiring, purposefully delaying marriage, have horrible attitudes, etc. We can tell men to ‘man up’…but the juice has to be worth the squeeze and it simply isn’t for most men right now.
      Not sure how you solve this, after all men are humans and humans respond to incentives. But it’s a glaring issue with two sides and too many people seem comfortable ignoring the female side of this equation.

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  7. Anna you should query Dimitri about about his comment on his first post , regarding the refugee intake. I’m not exactly sure what his driving at here- the proposition is absurd, but could be thought provoking. You denied the suggestion, this to my mind indicates that maybe there’s another angle at play here. Just say he is putting forward the idea that a dearth of children being produced by several generations of women is now leading to our inability to sustain ourselves which ultimately translates into cultural decline and suicide. Maybe,just maybe we all should share the blame for the disintegration of all that we hold dear ,and again, we should probably put the good of the country ahead of self interest,after all it’s ultimately in our self interest culturally. I do realise that it is more complicated than I have stated and yes men are partly to blame as well.⚓️

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    1. It’s a drum I bang quite a lot, I’ll admit. It tends to come from my experiences evangelizing to other men, men who care deeply about the future of our nation and Western civilisation, and finding that they aren’t receptive since they perceive Christianity as ‘weak’.

      This in turn comes from many (if not most) Protestant and now Catholic churches encouraging mass migration and what basically amounts to open borders. These churches have abandoned any teaching on the importance of being a nation in the true sense; a people with shared ancestral, linguistic, cultural and religious ties inhabiting a certain territory. Most conservative, loyal and virtuous men have a healthy love of their own nation and want to defend it, and it doesn’t square with the Kumbaya Christianity mentioned above. Men want to hear about God and nation, duty, virtue, spiritual warfare and the like, not endless paeans to diversity, inclusion, tolerance and ‘love’ (which now simply means having warm, fuzzy feelings about everyone).

      My shot at Ms Hitchings came from hearing her complain on a podcast about how some more conservative Christians are anti-refugee. Well, yes, we are – because that inevitably means taking large numbers of unassimilable people and settling them, PERMANENTLY, in communities where they are not wanted. They may even be nice people, but this inevitably has a corrosive effect on community ties.

      As Robert Putnam found in 2007, “inhabitants of diverse communities tend to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbours, regardless of the colour of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television. Note that this pattern encompasses attitudes and behavior, bridging and bonding social capital, public and private connections. Diversity, at least in the short run, seems to bring out the turtle in all of us.”

      https://heterodox.economicblogs.org/socialdemocracy21stcentury/2016/keynes-robert-putnam-effects-diversity

      Knowing this, how can the Church, which is meant to hold communities together, continue supporting such madness? Probably because they are no longer interested in opposing worldly forces by building up healthy families and communities, but instead focus on trying to fill the pews with the children of other nations.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For clarification, there is a clear and important distinction between immigrants and refugees. On the podcast you refer to, I was making the point that many Christians and conservatives tend to overcompensate for leftist views by swinging too hard in the opposite direction and effectively throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

        I used refugees simply as an example of this, pointing out that people fleeing genuine and real persecution is something Christians actually need to consider in light of Christian duty to our fellow men, as we would expect if the situation were reversed. Of course these need to be treated on a case by case basis but the response certainly cannot be “all refugees are bad”, and moreover this doesn’t equate to approving mass immigration.

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      2. The Church needs these people. Anglos aren’t showing up at church anymore. Of course many if not most Hispanics aren’t even Catholic anymore. So the Church can’t even hold on to these people. I’ll admit that there are many factors at work here, the most powerful of which are probably beyond the control of the Church. But instead of trying to understand and reverse these trends, we get baloney like this Pachamama synod in Rome.

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      3. Refugees + Asylum seekers = SCAM
        95% of refugees and asylum seekers are still on welfare 5 years after they arrive in Australia = so what do they think of us and our kindness?
        Now that’s what I call a fair dinkum test.

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