By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published October 14, 2010
A friend was attending a men’s retreat at our parish, and his wife asked me to write a letter to encourage him. In the letter, I told him something that I’ve always thought about him, but never expressed.
I consider him a manly-man Catholic.
Since that is not a household term, let me start by defining what a manly-man Catholic is not. He is not a bumbling fool as men are so often portrayed in the comics, a la Dagwood Bumstead. Nor is he a hero who is apparently unable to relate in a healthy way to women. Think Fox Mulder in “The X-Files,” the brothers in “Supernatural” and Tony Stark in the “Ironman” movies.
In a society where male-bashing has become all too commonplace, a manly-man Catholic doesn’t get much airtime. Still, he’s the guy who does what needs to be done: goes to work, coaches kids’ sporting events, keeps the car going, walks the dog, burps the baby, mows the lawn—and gets down on his knees at church to thank God for all he’s been given.
You’ll often see a manly-man Catholic in his yard on Saturday afternoon cooking various animal parts over a fire—and producing plenty of smoke. He doesn’t shrink from guy-type activities like playing poker with his friends or heading down to the pub for a beer now and again. But he also doesn’t hesitate to wear a crucifix and have images of the Blessed Mother in his house.
But at our parish, the men are there in vast numbers, not just on Sundays but at daily Mass, too. They take Communion to the sick, they clean up the grounds, they serve on multiple committees, they usher, they greet, they sing Gregorian chants and they brew the coffee after Sunday Mass.
Since this is pro-life month, it is worth stating that a manly-man Catholic has the courage of his convictions. He is a strong supporter of pro-life ministries in his parish. Maybe he can’t always join the rosary chain or pray outside clinics—but he still digs deep in his pocket to help organizations like Birthright, which support women who might otherwise have abortions.
While we’re at it, I would say a manly-man Catholic is proud of his country and doesn’t hesitate to fly the flag, often year-round, but certainly on important days in our nation’s history. In many cases, he has served his country in the military and hopes his kids will follow in his footsteps.
A manly-man Catholic who is also a father disciplines his children firmly and consistently. I still recall my friend Tony who would simply give his kids a look and a snap of the fingers to get them in line. The kids didn’t whine, beg or try to wheedle their way out of what Tony expected.
Manly-man Catholics are from all walks of life. They are black and white, Asian, Hispanic, old and young, and everything in between. They are construction workers, policemen, teachers, lawyers, realtors and computer guys. They drive well-seasoned pick-up trucks, posh cars and vans.
Hollywood, take note! The manly-man Catholic is essential to the family, the country and the Catholic Church. He is not a goofball like Dagwood, nor is he thwarted emotionally like so many stars of the big screen.
Instead, the manly-man Catholic is a prayer warrior, a go-getter, a passionate follower of Christ. He doesn’t hesitate to get down on his knees in the confessional and admit his wrongdoings. He carries rosary beads along with his pocket knife, keys and wallet. He’s a real superhero.
Lorraine’s latest book is “Death of a Liturgist,” a fun-filled mystery set at a fictional church in Decatur. Artwork by Jef Murray. The Murrays are parishioners at St. Thomas More. Readers may e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.