Masculinity in the Liturgy
An Irish Catholic friend has told me that his grandfather, who was a coal miner, would rise well before dawn to attend 5:00 am mass with his fellow miners. These men took the faith seriously and they loved the mass. They also weren’t unique. Parishes used to be packed with men who saw the mass as something masculine, inspiring, and something worth sacrificing time for.
A few decades later, most parish masses are dominated by women. The lectors are women, the cantors are women, the extraordinary ministers are predominantly women, and the altar servers are often girls. Other than the priest, there are hardly any men involved in the liturgy.
This is not to denigrate women. The most glorious creature God ever made is a woman. I also do not mean to say there are no men involved in parish life, because this is not the case. I am referring specifically to the liturgy.
Why is this? I am not a liturgical scholar, and I can’t propose to provide a precise diagnosis. Many others, including Pope Benedict, have done a fine job of that. Instead, I will share 7 reasons I think men no longer love the mass.Taking the article as a whole, I'm going to give Mr. Gentleman the benefit of the doubt and assume that it's poor writing and editing rather than intention that makes it sound like he thinks that women are shallow, disorderly, undisciplined, prone to the commonplace, the subjective, and the vaguely ambiguous, sickly sweet, sentimental, weak, trite and haters of everything old. Instead, I'd like to point out that as a former Latin Mass goer, I feel every bit as much of a fish out of water as he does at the Novus Ordo Mass, only in my case I'm not sitting there waiting for church to make me feel like a woman.
I've heard this before. It's not new. And I know a Catholic guy who programs machines in factories in places like Muskogee and eats sandwiches of raw, frozen meat that he hacked into pieces with a screw driver who absolutely flat-out refused to come to the Latin Mass with me, but then again I seem to know a lot of outliers. Claiming that the TLM is masculine is insulting to A) Women who prefer the TLM, B) Men who prefer the NO, and C) Pretty much every other Catholic and probably a few Anglicans as well.
If the Novus Ordo was actually intended to appeal to women, why would Adrian Brody not usher me to my pew with a latte in his hand? Where isn't there Camera Obscura music emanating from the choir and Stations of the Cross purchased at Anthropologie or Pier 1 on the walls? What's this hard bench and where are my throw pillows and blankets? If the Catholic Church really wanted the liturgy to appeal to me as a woman, it would have Mass every Sunday morning in my living room, or possibly my bedroom, if I didn't feel like getting out of bed.
I get what he's trying to do, up to a point. My favorite place to go to Mass is in a tiny chapel in Santa Clara where a tiny Italian priest says low mass (in Latin) with, thank you Jesus, no singing. I'm not a fan of hymns of any kind, but imagine how silly it would be if I came out of church florid because a bunch of dudes had to go on and on and on with their chanting, imposed on everyone, and did you have to sing the litany, too? And then prayers.
Okay, maybe I've done that. But it's wrong. The mass isn't about us or our identity. Plus, it's weird to say "This new liturgy is all about feelings and the people and community, how awful" and then to turn right around and say, "I prefer the old mass because it makes me feel manly and like I belong to a secret club."
Three last thoughts:
The sign of peace is not feminine. It's shaking hands, dude. "It's for men," a Peruvian guy at a party reprimanded me when I teased him about not shaking hands with me, too, when he was leaving. "It's for men," he said, shrugging, as though he couldn't change the laws of the universe.
Latin sounds masculine? You want a manly language? Try ancient Greek. You'll be crying and begging for mercy after half a semester.
One of the nice things about growing up sedevacantist is that nobody made silly comparisons like this, because nobody cared about the Novus Ordo, anyway.