Lack of "honest" Catholic dialogue at church

hi everyone –

I don’t really know how to frame this, but I want to express what I’m running into at our Parish. I wonder if others have faced a similar plight and how they have dealt with it.

I am a Catholic Dad with three kids. My wife is not Catholic, so it is my job to ‘carry the torch’ with faith and our family (something I am willing to do). I go to Mass every Sunday, go to confession regularly, and try my best to be a good Catholic. However, I still struggle with many things. I am far from perfect, but I do keep trying. My life is very hectic due to work and other commitments.

My issue is this – whenever I go to an event at our parish, I seem to find a bunch of men that I simply can’t relate to. They are all very nice guys, let me be clear about that… but it just seems like they are either so religious that they can’t joke around about common things, they constantly pressure me to join some new group or weekly commitment (or go on a weekend retreat), or otherwise seem to be very “stern” in their demeanor which makes me less inclined to want to spend much time with them.

To be more blunt about it, I struggle with temptation and a number of things…What I really need is to find a few genuine friendships I can have with other Catholic mean to come at this from a perspective of honesty, not some overly pious or rigid approach. Has anyone else dealt with this? Any advice for me?

Your post is a little confusing. You seem to be saying, “I try to meet men at church to be friends with, but they are too churchy for me.” I mean, what do you want-- men at church who are not serious about their religion?

I don’t know what you mean about men who are “so religious they can’t joke around”… I know a lot of very religious men (including men who are professed religious and priests) who have a very keen sense of humor. What are these “common things” you try to joke about?

And perhaps you are interpreting invitations to join things as coercive when they think they are being nice. And why not go to some of these things? Holy is as holy does, in some respects.

If you are trying to overcome temptations and make friends with strong Catholic men, I think you need to give them a chance. Perhaps those with “stern” demeanors are simply introverts.

Give them a chance, join some of their activities, invite them over for a cook out or something.

I have had the same issue since I became serious about my faith. The men I encounter in our Church are socially inept, awkward, unable to joke around etc. I have come to believe that these folks are not willing to put themselves “out there” and make friendships. It is incredibly frustrating. I know we are not alone in noticing this. Most of my devout female friends have said the same sort of things about the devout men they meet.

The notable exception to this are the priests and brothers I have become friends with. They are great, social, fun folks. I find them easiest to relate to and befriend.

I don’t have any advice for you. I have given up on making good male friendships in my church community.

Well, that is a new one on me. The faithful Catholics that I find in parishes tend to be warm and friendly. I will try not to say anything uncharitable about the others, suffice it to say that I have found unfaithful catholics who are hard to get along with, in pretty much every parish except my current one.

At the risk of sounding like just one of those people you ran into, I would encourage you to seek out a council of Knights of Columbus and consider joining them. Since my initiation four and a half years ago, I have found fellowship, fraternity, and a great opportunity for service among my brother Knights. They have made me a better man and a better Catholic. You say you don’t have much time and find yourself too busy for activities, but won’t you consider at least an hour and a half per month to attend meetings with the Knights? I think you will find that we are doing great things for the community and for the Church. At the very least, reach out to some men who are Knights and get to know them. I have found that Knights tend to be classy people with a strong faith and warm personalities.

You will be in my prayers. I hope that you find a circle of friends to welcome you and strengthen your faith. Fellowship with others is a very important thing in the Christian way of life. You certainly deserve to find others like yourself.

I don’t have the answer.

But I will still say a few things. See if this helps.

  1. If you can’t related to the men at a certain parish, then quit trying. It will never get better. Just go to mass, confession, and forget going to parish activities, and joining stuff. If you can’t relate to the men, then they will just keep sucking you dry of energy, and keep leaving you frustrated. So stop.

  2. If Opus Dei has meetings in your area, contact them and try going to their meetings for me. You might not be able to relate to them either, but they are a different type of men compared to what is found a most parishes.

  3. If you have a stronghold of the Traditional Latin Mass (also known as the Extraordinary Rite) in your area, try going to that mass and trying meeting the men there after mass or at events. Why? Once again, they tend to be a different sort of men compared to what you find at the typical parish.

  4. If none of this works, just buck up and get on with your life, get on with tackling these issues of yours, without the good Catholic male friendships you’d like to have. Life goes on. I believe that a man must do what he must do, and not forever be seeking help. Help might not be there. Ever. God is there. You can connect to God. But God and the Church don’t promise anyone supportive friends. But, I don’t mean to sound so dire.

  5. Focus on making money. Let that focus take you away from temptations, such as sex, alcohol, drugs. If you have a job that does not allow you to make more money by way of cleverness, inventiveness, harder work, etc., then figure out some side business or self-employment you could start with the aim of making lots of money. The prospect of making lots of money is exciting, and can pull you away from more tawdry temptations such as immoral sex.

Well, hope that was of some use, and hope someone else here gives you some really great advice.

Merry Christmas!

Have you checked out the Knights of Columbus? A great mix of faith and social activities in many towns.

Is it possible to try a different parish? About 6 years ago, I lived in a large city and upon moving there ended up first at a wacky liberal church which was literally next door. (soo convenient!). Then attended Mass with the most dour Catholics I’ve ever met, and they were a bit odd in other ways. And at last happily found a wonderful church full of a normal mix of Catholics.

fwiw, I’m quite involved and attend daily Mass and join a few groups and work in Rosary Altar & parish council. There are loads of fun Catholics or should I say Catholics having fun!

So i hope to encourage you to keep trying to be involved. It sounds like you’ve given these guys a chance to warm up to you. The phonyism you describe sounds more like people I’ve run into in Protestant venues … at any rate … Stay away from the weirdos … eeew.

Hang in there until you meet a group you click with. :wink:

thanks, guys. You have given me some interesting things to think about.

I have definitely thought about joining the Knights. I am going to check that out. There are clearly some great guys in there. I am going to do a lot of prayer and reflection on this topic this week.

The approach to finding friends is a delicate one, first I would urge you to consider a possible change of mindset and your approach and beleive this may be a good first step for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart to those around you! Sure, you can always try another parish, however, at least for now you are in THIS parish. Jesus has known from all eternity that you would be here and would be having this struggle. Ask him to open your eyes to the possible friends around you that you may be blind to because they came across as pious or humor-less. The overly pious men you meet might indeed be very nice, God has not blessed everyone with a witty sense of humor, some people are not as relaxed. Also you have been invited to events, that is a wonderful sign! Even if you don’t find friendship at your parish and wind up going elsewhere, at least see the people there through a lens of kindness, it sounds like they have tried to befriend you just that they don’t have the right chemistry for you which is not a “lack of honest Catholic dialogue” as your post suggests but merely how life is sometimes.

With all Christian charity, you seem to be seeking friends for yourself and for other men to help you deal with your problems. Wanting friends is natural but if you are able to open your heart where you are seeking also to be a friend and seeking how you can support others I think many doors will open for you. Forgive me if I am off-base, I only have your post to go by and that is how you came across to me. Clearly you are a good and religious man, but in the area of friendship you are struggling. You may be right in that all the men you meet are not “right” for you, however it is also possible you are sizing them up as you meet them and may be overly critical at times.

I will share my experience to explain why I feel this way. I knew a woman who after she met me wanted to hang out because she was seeking good Catholic female friends, not a bad thing actually but her approach felt funny to me. When we got together a few times she talked a lot about herself and her faith. She asked if she could meet my other friends because “she needed more friends.” I felt very odd around her, I never felt as if she really liked me or was interested in getting to know me. I don’t bear her any ill will, she was not a bad person pe-se but her approach to friendship seemed she was seeking a support group for herself rather then a genuine relationship. I know that still to this day she struggles with friendships and it is unfortunate. I pray for her because she is a lovely soul but in this area she is still struggling, I beleive because she is seeking friends for herself which is not (in my opinion) the best approach. Open your heart, Christ knows exactly what you need.

God bless you on your journey and please be assured of my prayers.

=CatholicDadNH;10058010]hi everyone –

I don’t really know how to frame this, but I want to express what I’m running into at our Parish. I wonder if others have faced a similar plight and how they have dealt with it.

I am a Catholic Dad with three kids. My wife is not Catholic, so it is my job to ‘carry the torch’ with faith and our family (something I am willing to do). I go to Mass every Sunday, go to confession regularly, and try my best to be a good Catholic. However, I still struggle with many things. I am far from perfect, but I do keep trying. My life is very hectic due to work and other commitments.

My issue is this – whenever I go to an event at our parish, I seem to find a bunch of men that I simply can’t relate to. They are all very nice guys, let me be clear about that… but it just seems like they are either so religious that they can’t joke around about common things, they constantly pressure me to join some new group or weekly commitment (or go on a weekend retreat), or otherwise seem to be very “stern” in their demeanor which makes me less inclined to want to spend much time with them.

To be more blunt about it, I struggle with temptation and a number of things…What I really need is to find a few genuine friendships I can have with other Catholic mean to come at this from a perspective of honesty, not some overly pious or rigid approach. Has anyone else dealt with this? Any advice for me?

I KNOW THAT FEELING:)

What you’re experiencing is the NORM for most parishes. [There is at time also a political-protection of turff mentality]

The reason is that so few tend to “get involved.” Those that do typically are the “more religious type,” viewing even Catholic Social activites as God’s Work. And in a manner of speaking; they are correct in doing so.

I found in my own experiece that it is difficult to find fellowship that expands the need to know and share our Faith, and get more personal.

THIS IS a gift that the Holy Spirit can give you. Pray for it.

I’ll keep you in my prayers,

God Bless,

Pat /PJM

I can see where you might get that impression.
If someone walked into our parish they might think the same thing. But it is not really the case.

When I am at Church I am focused on Jesus, my kids, and my wife. And to top it all off I have just been a part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which should be a very serious and somber event. I am quite the jokester and love talking about current events and cultural topics but Mass is not when I run up to someone and start talking about how odd Britney Spears acts on America’s got talent.

The truth is that there are many of us at Church who are friends and we do many things together. And we are quite happy whenever anyone joins us. New people are an awesome addition for flag football games or camping trips. But we are men, we wont hold your hand and make sure you are ok and your feelings are not hurt.

If you are wondering why there isnt some happy welcoming vibe at Mass perhaps it is because of the idea of sacrifice to men who care enough about their faith to actually go to Mass.

If you walked into a business office people would not come up to you and high five you and invite you over for poker night. You need to make the effort in appropriate time.

Organize you own Guy’s event. Heck, do a football tailgate for your Church. talk to your priest about using a room for a screening of Braveheart. :shrug: There are a million things to do but it probably has to start with your own effort.

Hi,
My husband has had the same issue in our parish for years now. There are men he sees living their faith but no one he has felt that “click” or instant sort of freindship with. I think a lot of it has to do with the lack of opportunity to develop such friendships. You can have a wonderful and fulfilling friendship with people you do not click with, but it takes time to devolop (even freindships that click take time to become truly deep, etc. but they take less time if you feel an immediate connection). As a husband and father with a full time job, a part time side business, who helps around the house and helps homeschool, etc. it does not leave much time or opportunity to develop those relationships. Sorry I don’t reallly have an answer for you, but you are not alone in this feeling. If you ever move to Ferndale, WA you and my hubby can hang out. :wink:

Then why are Priests often called “celebrants”? :stuck_out_tongue:

The truth is that there are many of us at Church who are friends and we do many things together. And we are quite happy whenever anyone joins us. New people are an awesome addition for flag football games or camping trips. But we are men, we wont hold your hand and make sure you are ok and your feelings are not hurt.

Are you saying that a male cannot be expected to be welcoming and/or be concerned about the feelings of others?

I don’t know where you live, but “The King’s Men” group has chapters around USA. I’ve known a few of the guys in the Philadelphia area, and they are like you describe you want.

thekingsmen.us/TKMProfile

You’ve never been to Silicon Valley, Moore11.

OP, unwelcoming, unfellowshippimg parishioners is something that comes up here a lot. And the answers usually come down to “We’re not the problem because we blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You’re the one with the problem, so do something about it.”

I’m with the other posters who said find fellowship somewhere else besides your parish. At my parish just about the only people who look even remotely welcoming and happy to be at Mass is the celebrant and the sisters who walk over from the convent. Everyone else looks like they’ve got stones in their shoes, they fought with their spouse or kids the entire car ride over to church, or they just found out their goldfish died. Even the greeter at the door looks like he’s welcoming me to my own death.

During the entrance hymn I watch our priest, who’s positively beaming with happiness, and then I look at the dour-faced stoics around me and think, “I want to to be a part of the religion he’s following.”

Luna

I sincerely hope that I don’t give anyone that impression. I try to cheerfully greet people as I enter and exit. I chat pleasantly with my choir mates before Mass starts - even though it might be more appropriate to maintain sacred silence inside the church. I try to be as reverent as possible throughout the Mass. 99% of the time I am “on duty” in ministry as an altar server or choir member. I try to reflect the joy of the Eucharist in my service and singing. I am not a humorless person, but I am not overly jovial and I don’t smile a whole lot over the course of a Mass. I am also not extremely skilled at conversation, but I hope that those who meet me find me warm and welcoming enough. I don’t wish to be labeled a dour stoic or something, just because I believe in reverence.

I loudly second this suggestion! The Knights of Columbus have a program to purchase 4-D ultrasound machines for crisis pregnancy centers, in order to show pregnant women that their baby IS a real, live, moving and growing little human being! Bravo and thank you, K of C men, for helping us save babies from death by abortion!

:clapping::extrahappy::knight2::knight1::heart:

p.s. There is a program called “That Man is You” which is making the rounds at parishes, growing every year. I have heard that the groups which form around the program are filled with dedicated Catholic men who are solid in their faith. Look for it here. And here.

I find some people seem somewhat stern or churchy for lack of better word. However once you get to know them better they open up more. Its kind of a don’t judge a book by its cover thing.

Indeed. In my experience, the West Coast is far more jovial than the East Coast ceteris paribus.

Even the greeter at the door looks like he’s welcoming me to my own death.

:rotfl: You just made my day!

During the entrance hymn I watch our priest, who’s positively beaming with happiness, and then I look at the dour-faced stoics around me and think, “I want to to be a part of the religion he’s following.”

I agree. In most parishes it seems that people have succumbed to the theology of Jorge from The Name of the Rose. My family so very fun-loving and that does not stop at Mass. Seeing the rest of the dour congregation simply makes me sad.

I agree… this “change” does take place with many men.
They aren’t bad people, by any means! In fact - they’re fabulous people!
But often they do become less “fun” to spend time with… I don’t know why it happens.
It doesn’t have to, though.
I think a lot of men are torn between being that “upright leader and guide for the family” and not wanting to cross that invisible line of “what’s appropriate”… so instead they back so far away from the line that they loose their “fun” side.
It takes someone who is EXTREMELY COMMITTED to their faith to be able to walk up to that precipice - that “line of what’s appropriate” - and to be able to really hang out with the sinners and drunks (like Christ - and maybe why you often find that priests can go there too!) without falling in. And I get that. I get that many men can’t even approach that line without falling in - or not that they even would fall in, but that they’re afraid… so it is best that they stay back and remain as the awesome people that they indeed are!!!

By the way - this totally goes for women too… so don’t assume I’m coming off sexist here. :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s a personality thing… not a “Catholic” thing.

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