Do Men Hate Church?

Hi Fred,

My parish has something called “Christ Renews His Parish” that is a spiritual renewal process that begins with a weekend long retreat for men and women separately in teams of 19-36 depending on the size of the parish. A “road team” will come from a parish that already has the program to get a new one started. You can do a search on the web and find parishes all across the country that have this program, possibly even in your diocese.

It has that male bonding, team-building type of atmosphere that seems to appeal to men of all ages. It has really helped our men to go deep into their faith and to grow whether they are single, divorced or married. Men of all ages participate together, so you get the benefit of support and input from a variety of guys at different places in their lives and their spiritual growth.

I’ve seen some miraculous changes in men (and women) after participating. It helps people to participate in a deeper way at the liturgy. Many people discern their gifts and talents and then participate in or start new ministries. Lots of people get into things that they have never done before such as Bible study, shared prayer, adoration, apologetics, etc. We have had CRHP for about 10 years and we now have more than 70 ministries in the parish, mainly started/supported by CRHP alumni.

This is a lay supported program since the participants finish their 6 months of formation by giving the next retreat to a new group. Once you have been through formation and become a “team” with your CRHP brothers or sisters, then you have an amazing bond that can last for the rest of your life. Their is a built-in support system within your parish that helps you to feel more connected within the larger church.

As a single Catholic woman, I can relate to feeling alone in the pew while the family activities seem to take much of the energy and focus in the parish. Since CRHP I am super active in the parish and I have a great group of sisters who meet in varying numbers for spiritual and/or just fun activities. I’ve heard people say that it is much better than a secular fraternity or sorority because it starts by feeding your soul.

(BTW, there are lots of fun, energetic Catholic women who are also faithful to church teaching and trying to grow in holiness. No one would mistake me for a quiet mouse, but I also make no secret of my faith. I’ve been known to join the band at a club for a song and to lead the parish in the chicken dance or electric slide. I also dressed as a giant box of Chinese take out food on a teen ministry retreat.)

I feel the same way, I love going to church.

I haven’t read the article (but will now), but it seems to me that men generally (in this culture) are “less likely” to accept the authority of others (than women), and “single” men are even less likely to accept it.

While largely about Protestant and non-denominational Christians, I’ve found it very relevant for me as a Catholic and as a man. I’ve never really enjoyed services, dislike singing in Mass and loathe long homilies. Sometimes I really feel like I’m going through the motions. Murrow’s book is excellent - I just feel I’m not alone in my frustration. And so many men seem to have quit Christianity altogether.

I’m VERY new to being a catholic (Easter '08 will be my first communion, which makes me a “wannabe” more than anything else) but I absolutely love the pre-mass rosary, the readings, the wonderfully insightful homilies which connect the readings with “real-life” that truly touch me deeply, and the eucharist/blessing (as I can’t take communion) which is the most amazing “group activity” (ceremony) that I’ve ever seen.

I go to Mass most every morning. I’m coming to need to do so, much like a child “needs” to jump out of bed as early as possible on Christmas morning.

Perhaps my “newness”, and the overwhelming beauty of Mass to one who has known the dire need of what it has to offer but who was “afraid to get involved”, explains some of the incredible attraction.

I can’t imagine being “underwhelmed” by what digging into the faith has to offer,… but that’s, once again, coming from a “newbie”. :slight_smile:

Perhaps some people need to experience the desolation of being “without the faith” (as I have through not being a part of catholic family and through shear ignorance), which they may or may not “spiritually survive”, to appreciate either coming back or coming to the faith.

Also, on a personal note, as a never-married man who is an army officer, I often feel I’m a stranger and unwelcome in the Church. There are special days for families, couples, children etc but not singles //// occupation-wise, I feel it is almost like I should be a social worker or teacher, not a soldier.

I would be interested to know what other Catholic men feel and if they’ve read the book. I do not know what the way forward is for Catholic men but this book raises some interesting questions for all Christians. I love being Catholic but just feel unloved in return. I’m not attacking the Church - just want to see what other guys feel.

I think the “way forward” for Catholic men is to find that the church shows she loves them in what they find in her, and that that “finding” takes some effort.

A curious thing that may well be unique to the Catholic faith, from the perspective of “men’s relationships to a CHURCH (authority)”, is that the Catholic Church has a SINGLE hierarchy of authority with a massive history, which men (should) feel gives them a very “manly” feeling in drawing authority from it.

**

…can’t help you here…! :smiley:

Good morning Sir,

I have to second Melchior’s statement. Generally, I love going to Mass, I like long homilies, all the ritual and all the ‘smells and bells’ of our Mother Church. I normally attend the standard N.O. with my family, but I’m fortunate to have the traditional latin mass (FSSP) nearby. The Priest there gives no-holes-barred homilies, faithfully adhearing to the Magistarium. Father won’t tolerate chatting inside the Church. You can actually pray, undisturbed before and after Mass. Of course, confession is always available before every Mass. I love it. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the N.O., but I love the dicipline and respect found at the TLM.

Sir, I hope that where ever you are, you might be able to find the TLM, located nearby.

I would urge the OP to get a copy of this book. Published only last year, it’s cleanly written in a light, contemporary style and is good for lifelong Catholics as well as those of us yet to enter into full communion with the Church.

If you rue attending Mass and find yourself bored with the homilies, I would suggest there could be things masking your heart from all the Mass has to offer.

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I’m female, but you said you were interested in women’s opinions. I often do not like going to Church. I feel like there are very limited roles that Catholics are supposed to fit into, and if you don’t, oh well, make yourself fit in. There’s very little room for actual discussion, either. And I rarely hear a sermon that has a concrete practical application for me.

As for the liturgy and priests being “feminized”, I guess that could be more a matter of personal opinion. I am a unfeminine person, an overly feminine church would annoy me, and I have yet to be annoyed by the Church being too “sissy”.

Also, I grew up going to the Latin Mass, and prefer the English mass. It’s much easier to be distracted and get bored with a Mass that is in another language(and I took Latin in high school, was able to understand everything in the Mass for a period of time). The English Mass, for me, has a higher chance of having more impact on me, and being something concrete or solid to help me in following God.

I think this is implying that there is something wrong with the OP as if his experience is purely subjective. In fact this thread has uncovered an objective disorder with the liturgy. —That it has lost it’s impact with men.

I am seeing a consistent trend here both in the replies and in the links regarding the need for homilies that are straight and to the point versus those that are not.

I’m really wary of criticizing the church too much. It is MY church, as well as all of yours. I just think it can’t have always been this way, as my family, parents etc, are all Catholics as well, and they seem not to have had the struggles I have.

Having had a girlfriend who went to an evangelical/pentecostal megachurch, it is no better in other denominations. I got to know a number of men at her megachurch and, for every guy raising his hand ‘alleluia’-like, there were lots like me with hands in their pocket wishing they were somewhere else. In fact, I got to know one guy well and we would talk sports and cars afterwards, while our girlfriends met up with their friends. He was a ‘lapsed Episcopalian’ and only attending for his girlfriend. I think many women like all the emotional bonding stuff that megachurches do. I find it embarrassing and crass - is this what Jesus suffered and died for ?

As I said, it can’t always have been this way and perhaps the Traditional Latin Mass - I’ve been to a few and enjoyed the tradition and order - is the way forward for me.*

Could you or some other poster define or give an example of “straight to the point”? Homilies are so short these days, I’d figure they are all to the point. Or do you mean “straight to a meaningful point”? If so, what are those?

You very well may be right, but that’s not a good excuse for letting yourself become distracted from the presence of the Lord and all He has to offer during Mass.

As a matter of fact, there is a section of the book early on that deals with the very issue you raise.

A poignant excerpt…

“The shortcomings of liturgy are always present if we look hard enough.”

The author goes into more detail to support his position of course, but I think you get the drift.

:blessyou:

Liberal Catholics blame the clergy.

Traditional Catholics blame the liturgy.

Manly Catholics blame themselves!

Become a saint or DIE!!!

My BF gave me the audio version of the Archbishop’s radio talks. There are 20 hours’ worth of talks. I have his 5 CD package of his talks to priests on a retreat. I try to watch his show on EWTN faithfully.

I feel that all of this strongly supplements my weekly Mass attendance. He may not be there for everyone openly, but he is there for me. Just think of the communion of saints, and he can lend you a hand. (I know, he’s not a saint - yet. But I do pray for the cause of his canonization every time I pray.)

Read his books regularly, and you will feel more connected with the Church.

Sorry but some of the female posts here explain the problem men have with Church. They don’t address the problem and don’t offer solutions.

Men in America obviously don’t find church inspiring, interesting, relevant to them. Murrow’s book is right, especially if his statistics are right. If it is any consolation, it isn’t just Catholicism and American men aren’t alone.

So what is the solution?

Please be practical.

Well, this is not about mass, but I have a preference nonetheless. The outside, extra stuff is often a “small group” thing. You know, you all sit in a circle and talk about touchy-feely stuff. Maybe you have discussion questions or something. I don’t respond as well to that as I do other formats. I want it short and informative and on time.

A number of years ago, when I was in the Air Force overseas, the chaplain arranged for a week-long “parish” mission. He brought in an American missionary priest whose normal “parish” was in the northern mountains of Thailand.

His name was Ray Brannon. or Brennan. It was 40 years ago and I still remember his name.

He said it was very unusual to have an all-male congregation and looked forward to tailoring the mission to that group. There were probably 300 men present.

His language, for example, was very explicit and very frank in terms of explaining what is, and what is not, profanity and cursing. He also talked about what the Church permits in terms of sex. He talked about his work and his “chicken co-op”.

One day he did what I can only call a “narrated Mass.” He started off by explaining the vestments and then before each prayer of the Mass, he explained what it was and what the purpose was. He would interrupt himself about every couple of minutes with an explanation.

It was fabulous and for decades I have tried to get parish priests to do something like that. I think that the only way to duplicate what he did would be to get ordained and do it myself.

We get a lot of newsletters in the mail and one day, there was a bulletin from the Liguouri order and they wrote about his life and how he had just died at age 80+.

Father Ray Brennan. RIP.

P.S. About six months after the retreat / parish mission, he was invited back to repeat it. I showed up to experience it for a second tine, but there must have been 1000 men who got there ahead of me; I guess they heard about how fabulous the first mission had been. I couldn’t get within a block of the chapel.

So, I guess … men WILL respond to the Church. They will show up and participate in various functions. Somehow Father Brennan was able to zero in on the right formula that resonated with the men.

Amen.

As much as I love the Mass, I couldn’t agree more with this observation.

I also had trouble going to church before I converted to Catholocism. I was looking for the same thing that you were. I wanted to be challenged at Mass. I found that listening to a couple of speakers and watching a couple dvds really helped. The one that really hit home with me was Fr. John Corapi. This priest doesn’t pull any punches! If you want to be challenged, he’s your guy. His 'Thunder and Lightning series is pretty fantastic. Other authors/speakers that have helped me are Fr. Larry Richards, John Martignoni, and Scott Hahn.
All of these men have websites and you can get some free/inexpensive CDs/mp3s over the internet. These helped me be challenged and brought new meaning for me at Mass. Hope this helps.

CJ

At “Oprah” masses, I have sometimes found consolation by closely focusing my attention on the words of the Eucharistic prayer and consecration. That, along with receiving Communion, makes mass meaningful for me.

I simply endure the weak homily, horribly sappy music, and gender-mutilated scripture readings, waiting for the elevation of the Host.

We did that “touchy-feely” stuff in the 60’s and 70’s, and it led to a great decline in the participation of the faithul, especially among men. It’s time to get over it and regain what we lost.

Strong Catholic men, you will find friends in these forums!

  • Rob in Oregon
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