Sunday, March 04, 2007
Men for Christ & Family
In my daily interaction with young people in a Catholic school setting, I see how permeable are its walls to the pop culture of North America. Graham Greene once said that faith had been replaced in England and America with "ugly indifference," and North American culture "wasn't evil, it wasn't anything at all, it was just the drugstore and the Coca Cola, the hamburger, the sinless graceless chromium world" [Lawless Roads, 14-15]. That is a pretty big problem to try to bring down, and, not having an elephant gun of sufficiently large calibre, I won't try.
But I do think, however, that the Three Massketeers, being male and living, moving, and having our being in the lenten lands of postmodernism, we have something to say about being Catholic men of faith and raising boys and sons to become Catholic men of faith.
I see rootless boys in my school's setting who have no father to model for them what it means to be a faithful, Catholic father in the "domestic church" or in a society that belittles manhood. I see how the Church and, under her eucharistic wings, the Catholic school, tries to help boys take up the responsibilities of becoming a faithful Catholic man. It is, at best, remedial. To be a trustworthy mentor-figure for such boys is an honor for me. But they are bombarded day in and day out with the values of pop culture; the classroom for many such boys -- and girls too -- is seen by them as a necessary evil on the way to the rest of their lives at best and anachronistic, bothersome, and a scandal at worst.
In my opinion, this is because of fatherlessness. They have no father to whom they can turn as a living, breathing bearer of the promises of the Church's teachings, Catholic fatherhood in the flesh. Even if dad is on-site in the family, quality time spent in his presence is minimal, haphazard, and fleeting. Moments when father is truly present to a son are precious and few. How can sons learn from fathers in such a skewed and decidedly unfamily-friendly milieu?
Dr. Philip Mango, Catholic psychotherapist, analyzes the disease and possible solutions here. He sees four "archetypes" placed in men by God that help pass the holy tradition of manhood and fatherhood from one generation to another: the king, creator of order in family, Church, and society, the warrior, who defends and protects the weaker and fights for the honor of God without fear or hatred, the lover, who is not sentimental but quick to forgive, is uncontrolling, and faithful, and the wise guide, who able to convey spiritual knowledge and forsakes false advice, half-truths, and evil.
Dr. Mango encourages men to reject a "hectic, driven, agitated existence" and practice servant-leadership and self-sacrificial love, in loving God and serving family above all else.
Interested readers can visit his website at www.saintmichael.net.