“I am therefore very worried, and I call upon all Catholics, laymen, priests, and bishops, to involve themselves, from now up to the upcoming [October, 2015] Synodal assembly, in order to highlight the truth on marriage.”
The words come to us from Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, and were spoken in an interview to Le Figaro’s Jean-Marie Guénois. Intentionally or unintentionally, the good Cardinal has become a rallying point for those desirous of defending Holy Matrimony.
Taking up His Eminence’s call, I will “involve” myself a little by presently highlighting one truth of marriage. It is not a popular truth in the world today. It is not popular, at least in practice, among many “conservative” or “traditional” Catholics. It was not even hinted at by the documents of the October, 2014 Synod on the Family, yet the denial of this truth constitutes, I believe, a mega-heresy against the sacrament of Matrimony.
What is it?
The divinely instituted society of the family is hierarchical, and its head is the father.
When a great truth is denied or obscured, the negative consequences are proportionately great. The denial of this truth — or its mere ignoring — have wrought havoc in the larger societies of Church and State which depend on families as their building blocks. Numerous books have been authored in recent memory on the crisis of fatherhood and on the more fundamental crisis of manhood, books like Fatherless America, The End of Men, Absent Fathers, Lost Sons, Life Without Father, and Fatherless Generation to list but a few that describe or attempt to solve the crisis from a variety of viewpoints (some of them wrongheaded). So clueless have we become about questions of gender that there is even a book that explains in 336 pages that men and women are actually different; it’s called Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences, by Leonard Sax M.D. Ph.D. What our forebears knew from common sense, we have to learn from an “emerging science.”
One book I can recommend with no qualifications is The Three Marks of Manhood by Dr. G.C. Dilsaver.
It is self-evident that there is a massive crisis of manhood and fatherhood today, but it is nothing new. It even predates the sexual revolution, which accelerated it dramatically. In 1948, Ed Willock lamented the effeminization of religion in an insightful Integrity Magazine article entitled “Holiness for Men.” (That article can be read in the collection of Integrity articles, Fatherhood and Family, published by Angelus Press.) Mr. Willock wrote before the effeminizing liturgical revolution, which served to devirilize the Catholic priesthood, rendering priests “facilitators” and “presiders,” suffering a deficit of the uniquely masculine aspects of the Catholic liturgical cult. On par with this is another problem, namely, that the dogmatic, moral, and ascetical dilution of priestly formation has seriously impeded spiritual fatherhood. This, in turn, makes the priests so formed less capable of helping men to be holy in a masculine way.
All this constitutes a problem of epic proportions. Thankfully, there are solutions that are to scale.
It is a matter of conviction for us that all the problems that beset us in Church and family, in State and even geopolitics have the same solution. That solution is the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary — not simply made but actually lived.
By way of defending this thesis, I can give only an outline of my thoughts, which I plan on developing in more detail soon.
Mary is not the end of total consecration. She, by means of this devotion, more perfectly unites us to Jesus. In that vital union with the Man-God — and through Him, with the Trinity — we find holiness. If Mary more perfectly unites us to Jesus by means of this Consecration, she is uniting us to the first cause of all good. It strictly follows that she can thereby produce a sanctified masculinity. She is the “perfect mould of God,” as Saint Louis Marie says, in which the Son of God was made Man. Her womb is the bridal chamber wherein humanity and divinity were wed, as certain Fathers attest, e.g., Saint Augustine: “The nuptial union is between the Word and the flesh, and the bridal chamber of the union is the Virgin’s womb.” When we mystically enter into that womb, the Holy Ghost and Mary reproduce in us their great masterpiece: Jesus Christ, the very Epitome of manhood.
Having just given the essential answer to how Mary makes possible a restored masculinity, I offer three additional considerations of a more ancillary nature:
1.) Saint Louis Marie himself was very masculine. He not only gave us a recipe, but cooked it well.
2.) The cult of chivalry, which made Christian men not only properly manly, but also properly gentle towards women — hence, gentlemen — grew out of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Cf. Gary Potter’s “Chivalry and Our Lady”). To uphold the prerogatives and defend the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary is supremely chivalrous, therefore supremely masculine.
3.) At a very practical level, the thirty-three day preparation for the total Consecration provides two periods of reflection which can specifically help all men, no matter what their state in life, to grow in sanctified masculinity: the period of knowledge of self (the first of the three weeks after the twelve preparatory days) and the period of knowledge of Jesus Christ (third week). Approaching the week of knowledge of self with an examination of conscience specifically for men will enhance the effect, as would focusing of Jesus Christ as the sanctified Man par-excellence, who objectively remedied all our masculine failings in His Passion and wills to apply that cure to each of us here and now.
It may be asked how Total Consecration to Mary can be a means to a restored manhood when it points us men to a woman, who cannot, after all, be an exemplar of specifically masculine virtue. The reply is five paragraphs up, for that whole paragraph was a result of my own wrestling with this very objection.
True Devotion to Mary is not only for men, obviously. It is the key to a restored feminine sanctity as well. Understood properly, within the full milieu of Catholic faith, morals, liturgy, and life, it is the cure for what ails us. As I said above, all the problems that beset us in Church and family, in State and even geopolitics have the same solution. That solution is the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary — not simply made but actually lived.
Our next conference, in October of 2015, will explore this subject: “Total Consecration to Mary: The Remedy for our Ills.” I hope that very many of you join us then.