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: