Thursday, July 03, 2008

Manliness and liturgy

I was listening to the radio on Saturday there was a New Zealand women, a teacher, who had been working with young offenders. Her thesis was boys and girls are different. Boys tend to need respond better to non-verbal communication. Boys tend to hear short commands rather than detailed instructions. She also said that men, if you ask them how they feel will think about it for ages, whereas girls make an immediate response. Other people say girls think in narrative, boys in facts.
Earlier in the week I had been talking to couple. He was saying, "She doesn't stop nagging me!". She said, "He never speaks!".

I wondered how this impacted on the liturgy, it was provoked by Fr Dwight reporting the reaction of some high school boys after Mass celebrated ad orientem. I was trying to figure out this statement.

"I think it feels more, well, manly. Do you know what I mean. Is that dumb?"

John Carmel, Cardinal Heenan apparently said this after attending the first demonstration of the Novus Ordo.

"At home it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday in the Sistine Chapel we would soon be left with a congregation mostly of women and children."

I am sure there is a connection, I am not sure what form of liturgy best serves the strong silent men of an average Catholic congregation. There seem to be more men present at EF celebrations I have attended, certainly abroad, a higher proportion of men seem to attend Exposition.

I'll be interested in your thoughts.


gemoftheocean said...

From my own observations men tend to want to cut to the chase. It's also true that when I was a little one, you could sail right through the Mass in a half hour or under. So maybe men just want to go to that so they can be done and "outta there" in plenty of time for the football games. ;-D

Women do tend to talk more. I did know one guy in high school that could also talk the legs off a chair. But then he had 5 sisters and no brothers!

Think of the scene between Rhett Butler and Scarlett when she went a callin' in the velvet dress. He initially assumed she was there to pay him a sympathy call. Then he noticed the rough hands and told her to "drop the moonlight and magnolia" Then Scarlett was equally blunt: "I need 300 dollars to pay the Taxes on Tara."

Of course this doesn't universally apply and there are plenty of talkative men and taciturn women...but in general women tend to talk more and men just say "give me the baby." They tend to want the bottom line. BOTH want "facts" but men don't seem to need the detail.

Fr Longenecker said...

The Novus Ordo is more human-relational. Men don't care much about this. They can take or leave the kiss of peace when it becomes a hug fest.

Celebrating facing East is more God-relational. It cuts out all the 'me looking at you looking at me' and gets to the point.

Anonymous said...

The quote from Cardinal Heenan is being taken out of context. Heenan's concern was that the liturgy was sung. Heenan's pastoral experience in East London and Liverpool was of men arriving before the Gospel and leaving at Communion at Low Mass. His concern was that a sung service would take more time and put them off completely.

Simon Platt said...

Dear Father,

Cardinal Heenan's prediction has obviously come true. When I used to go to an ordinary parish mass (which I haven't done since last September) I would look around and would usually find that I was the youngest man present bar my sons and, sometimes, a server.

I'm 43. We have three large catholic comprehensive schools in our town.


Augustine said...

We just don't like waffle. I think the difference is most obvious during homilies. We blokes tend to like direct, to the point sermons, that don't pull punches. Nothing touchy-feely.

As for liturgy, my pet hate is girly-hymns. The hymns of the 70s-80s all seem to be high in pitch, with a whiney rythm; compared with older hymns (even good old Protestant hymns!) such as those by the Wesley brothers which are far more masculine. Men tend only to sing when there's a loud choir or a loud organ.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to see the entire context of the quote. While the quote appears prophetic, don’t discount the affect that contraception and pornography have had on men since V2. Society has redefined the definition of what a man is, and given the proper opportunity men will not be hypocrites. So if a guy is out sewing his wild oats and watching Skinamax on a nightly basis you are not going to see him attending daily or Sunday Mass.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I have never been able to find the Heenan quote, does anyone know where it can be located.

Pastor in Monte said...

Michael Davies used to quote it rather a lot: I think I read it in the Liturgical Revolution series (probably in Pope Paul's New Mass. Sorry I'm away from my books right now, but someone else might be able to look it up. I don't think it's in Heenan's autobiography, but another one is there, about the vernacular Canon, something along the lines of 'if we had introduced the changes all at once, you would have been shocked'.

Anonymous said...

From my own observations men tend to want to cut to the chase.

Speaking for myself, I want to know the speaker's point up front, rather than follow an obscure narrative waiting for it to emerge. Once I have a general idea of the speaker's purpose, I can be at lot more at ease if she takes a wandering path to her destination.


GOR said...

Much has been said and written about the ‘feminization’ of the Liturgy since Vat II. Years ago it was rare to see a woman usher. Men invariably took up the collection and found seats for latecomers. Today, EMHCs are predominantly women – scarcely a man to be seen. ‘Altar girls’ often outnumber altar boys. Readers are more often women than men. Where are the men…?

At a parish I sometimes attend, Communion looks more like a picnic preparation. The celebrant stands in the background while a ‘horde’ of women descend upon the altar. A tray of small ‘chalices’ and ciboria is brought to the altar and women busy themselves dividing the Hosts and Precious Blood among them (totally against the rubrics…).

To a guy looking at this, the impression is that this is ‘women’s work’ – a lot of feminine fussing about in the sanctuary – or as an old pastor of mine would put it: ‘foostering around’… The celebrant is seen as a weak man - effeminate even – cowed by the feminine frenzy going on around him. Is it any wonder that guys avoid that kind of ‘participation’…? What man would want to be a part of this…?

Paulinus said...

Apparently it's from Liturgical Shipwreck by Michael Davies(TAN Books; March 1997)

Anagnostis said...

This is an established phenomenon in Orthodoxy, among converts: the blokes "get it" immediately - their wives tend not to. In fact there's a whole literature accumulating on the subject, concerned with male converts bringing their uncomprehending wives around. If Father will permit me, I'll quote the following from an essay by Frederika Mathews Green, which seems to encapsulate the experience:

He was an Episcopal priest, but he was standing in an Orthodox church on this Saturday night and thinking about Truth. At the altar a gold-robed priest strode back and forth swinging incense, moving in and out the doors of the iconostasis according to rubrics that were as yet unfamiliar. Golden bells chimed against the censer, and the light was smoky and dim. Over to the left a small choir was singing in haunting harmony, voices twining in a capella simplicity. The Truth part was this: the ancient words of this Vesperal service had been chanted for more than a millennium. Lex orandi, lex credendi; what people pray shapes what they believe. This was a church that had never, could never, apostatize.

She was his wife, and she was standing next to him thinking about her feet. They hurt. She wondered why they had pews if you had to stand up all the time. The struggling choir was weak and singing in an unintelligible language that may have been English. The few other worshipers weren’t participating in the service in any visible way. Why did they hide the altar behind a wall? It was annoying how the priest kept popping in and out of the doors like a figure on a Swiss clock. The service dragged on following no discernible pattern, and it was interminable. Once the priest said, “Let us conclude our evening prayer to the Lord.” She checked her watch again; that was ten minutes ago, and still no end in sight.

It was a long journey from that evening to my present life as an Orthodox priest’s wife. For many, converting to Christianity, or changing denominational allegiance, is the result of a solitary conviction. As I ponder my pilgrim’s progress to Orthodoxy, however, I realize that I didn’t make the trip alone, but in a two-seater. And I wasn’t the one driving.

This is more relevant than may initially appear. Something about Orthodoxy has immense appeal to men, and it’s something that their wives—especially those used to worshiping in the softer evangelical style—are generally slower to get...

Anagnostis said...


The Heenan quote is, IIRC, in Vol 2 of his autobiography; it's also quoted by Michael Davies in several of his books

Anonymous said...

The femisiation of the liturgy needs further study. It does not mean the involvement of Women in reading for example, or even girl altar servers.

It means the restructuring of the liturgy in a way that focuses more on the last supper, or to be precise the community re-enacting it, than the sacrifice of Good Friday.

In so doing it emphasises more the feminine role in society:

Compare and contrast the Lavabo of old and new:

"Old: I will wash my hands among the innocent, and I will encompass Thine Altar, O Lord. That I may hear the voice of praise, and tell of all Thy wondrous works. I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth. Take not away my soul, O God, with the wicked, nor my life with men of blood. In whose hands are iniquities, their right hand is filled with gifts."

New: Lord, wash away my iniquity; cleanse me from my sin.

Which one of these will resonate more with a baseball cap backwards wearing 16year old youth?

Anonymous said...

In my own experience as a young Altar Boy before the changes, I felt comfortable in a masculine environment. My mother made sure that my surplice was clean and well pressed, I had to take care of collar and studs.

I'm not sure that I'd be so happy in today's 'wedding frock' vestments and changing in front of girls.


Anonymous said...

The quote from Cardinal Heenan can be found in the book 'A Bitter Trial, Evelyn Waugh and John Cardinal Heenan on the liturgical changes, Edited by Scott M.P. Reid' on p.70. The quote comes from Cardinal Heenan's intervention at the Synod of Bishop's, Rome, in October, 1967. Bugnini comments on Heenan's intervention can be found in his own book (pp. 348-350).

Cardinal Heenan's intervention includes these words: "At home it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday in the Sistine Chapel (a demonstration of the Normative Mass) we would soon be left with a congregation of mostly women and children. Our people love the Mass but it is Low Mass without psalm-singing and other musical embellishments to which they are chiefly attached."

If you will permit me another quote it is to do with the way men best offer their devotion to God. It is from a book 'The family that overtook Christ' by M. Raymond. The book is about the family of St Bernard of Clairvaux. The passage in question deals with the formation of men for the Cistercian life. How is it possible to give them right ideas on God, on self and on devotion? One of the characters, Nivard, Bernard's brother and a novice master, has this to say:

"Well, substantially it is this, ... No display. Nothing showy, as little external as possible. ... I'll strive to develop in my novices a deep, strong, virile, quiet, concealed devotedness to God. I'll aim at cultivating devotion and cut to the very minimum ostentations, external, pious practices. I don't like them, for I don't trust them. Too girlish. There is something instinctive in real men that has them paying their deepest devotion and giving their profoundest affection as quietly and in as concealed a manner as possible. My novices' deepest devotion will be a chivalrous service to God. No noise, but something steady, strong, silent, stable and sound. More like the rock on the eternal hills than the waving flower of the spring or the summer's lightning flash (p.294)."

Atlanta said...

Can you tell me what happened in the Sistine Chapel yesterday and what EF means? East Facing? I am Eastern Orthodox, hence my unfamiliarity with the events and terms. My real name is Atlanta.

Fr Ray Blake said...

The "yesterday" was in the 1960s. The occassion was the first celebration of the Novus Order - New Order - of Mass, which is now referred to as the Ordinary Form, OF, what is seen most Catholic parishes.
EF or Extraordinary Form is the predecessor of the OF, it is seen much less often.

Atlanta said...

Ah. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

basically all this stuff sounds like the religious version of the pseudo-science nonsense: 'men are from mars and women are from venus'.

paul from south midlands - what is this feminine role in society that you talk about? and what has it got to do with the liturgy? and don't tell me any over-simplified claptrap about women are caring and touchy-feely whereas men are basically aggressive hunters.

dr dwight longnecker - 'The Novus Ordo is more human-relational. Men don't care much about this'. Men don't care about relating to other humans? Really? I'm a man and i care about relating to other humans and i don't think its that unusual. In fact, I would say it's rather normal. I don't see men in my parish any less enthusiastic at the sign of peace than women. What kind of over-generalisation is that?

Even if any of this stuff is true, why should the needs of men take precedence or be considered more worthy. Would women agree with this perspective (not that all women are a singular collective entity, of course). Surely thats patriachy plain and simple and underscores the sexist assumptions upon which these arguments are based???

Anonymous said...

"paul from south midlands - what is this feminine role in society that you talk about? and what has it got to do with the liturgy? and don't tell me any over-simplified claptrap about women are caring and touchy-feely whereas men are basically aggressive hunters. "

Yes that is EXACTLY what I am saying. Anyone with a large family including both girls and boys will tell you that they are *born* utterly different. The social engineers & cultural marxists have got it totally wrong.

Certain individuals may not always fit this picture but in the majority it is correct.

If thats "sexist" then God who created us is sexist.

Anonymous said...

"I don't see men in my parish any less enthusiastic at the sign of peace than women."

Because the ones who don't like it (ie the majority) stopped going. I don't like it at all, but common courtesy stops me blanking my fellow worshipper.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sexism? You could be right. Patriarchy: I don't know. The radio programme I was listening to which provoked these thought was R4's Woman's Hour, normally associated with matriarchy, it was last Saturday's so you can probably listen to it today, still.
What intrigued me was simply that when applied to liturgy, her remarks would seem to suggest the older form of the Roman Rite favoured men, the newer form, especially as it has developed in practice, favours women.
My arguement, simply: men and women have different needs.

I have always felt it was a grave mistake that the Consillium never had the input of the modern social sciences like psychology or anthropoly, and everything happened so quickly that there was little chance for critical analysis by experts in other fields.

nickbris said...

When I was a lot younger we had a choice of masses at St Mary Mags.10 o,clock which my sister & I wanted to go to was about 30 mins; 11 o,clock dragged on for an hour.Of course we couldn't go without the "plate money" which we had to wait for from Mum;she then cottoned on to the ruse that if we missed mass by being late we would have to go to 11 o,clock and be out of the way till 12.She invariably thought of something she wanted from the shop which made us miss.

In those days the church was packed & children had to stand at the back. It was an ordeal and I still get flashbacks.

It didn't put me off though but I do prefer the shorter version.

Latin Mass contact said...

I dislike touchy feely liturgy because to me the participants seem to look to each other instead of at and to Jesus, Who seems to be regarded as just another guest at their gathering. As a student in Germany in the late 1980s I became acutely aware of this and have seen the same trend develop in this country ever since.
Thanks to Pope B16 the Church is ready to reappraise and act upon the often awful results of its liturgical reforms - gender, sexuality, politics, race, colour, age, disablity, name, rank or number seem not to matter to His Holiness - of obvious vital importance to him, is that among orthodox Christians there be truth and unity in belief and purpose and that all turn towards and face the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Wow this is an incredible statement! We must make the Mass more masculine!?! Who has been preserving our Catholic Tradition but the old Bubbas that come to Church to quietly pray their rosaries. The Mass has not become more femmine. If it had then there would be more emphasis on Mary istead of NO emphasis. The Mass has taken upon itself to worship and celebrate the only thing that Americans holds sacred and that is the Community. We have very specific conditions for what a community should look like and act. This is the church of the middle class not the poor!

Sorry for the rant. The reason that women are there is because no matter what women will be there. What has happened is that the men have disapeared; there have not been a new surge of women because now the Mass is more 'femmine.' Housewives have more time to commit to volunteering and men just cannot be bothered. What men want, especially in today's society with uncertain gender roles, is to be taken seriously. If the Mass is wishy washy then why should men take the religion serious when the religion itself does not take itself seriously? Men give up and leave but women stick with it becaue they know that some religion is better than no religion

Anonymous said...

Fr Ray - I had a listen to the R4 women's hour programme (at first i got 'the myth of the toothed vaginia' but then i realised i had the wrong item).
What struck me was some of the kid's explanations at the beguining of the item eg, 'I don't think it [gender upon discipline style] makes a difference, it's more about age and experience'. The children themselves didnt seem to attribute differing teacher's behaviour on the basis of gender per se.
Thinking about my own education [catholic ex-grammar school for boys], there were male and female teachers who demanded respect or who had discipline difficulties. One of the confounding factors here was that all the senior teachers were male so yes in some ways we were more likely to take notice of the instructions of male teachers but this was also because they were more likely to be in positions of authority [all the senior teachers were male] and therefore had greater power.
In other examples, some female teachers were respected more because they were fairer and less arbitary in their use of power. We respected them for this whereas other male teachers were likely to lash out and use the cane so we were more fearful of them.

The discipline styles described in the item [eg, speaking slowly, calmly in a lower tone and giving single instructions] are more effective but this doesnt divide along the basis of gender. In my old school there were discipline difficulties with particular teachers, notably with a female french teacher [we knew we could play up because she was a student] and a male RE teacher [institutionally this subject wasnt seen to be academically important and so ill-behaviour wasnt punished so severely]. Therefore the whole issue was closely tied to issues of authority and power.

Paul from south midlands - 'Yes that is EXACTLY what I am saying. Anyone with a large family including both girls and boys will tell you that they are *born* utterly different. The social engineers & cultural marxists have got it totally wrong.'
As an academic and clinical psychologist i have to say that there is very little evidence to suggest that gender differences are innate. Girls and boys are not born differently (apart from the obvious biological differences which hormonally do have a moderate effect). However, the biggest factor is socialisation and gender expectations. Yes i'm sure the male and females in your family behaved differently but this is more likely to be because they were assigned different roles and acted accordingly. The first thing said after a baby is born is 'it's a girl/boy' and from that moment we treat them differently (sometimes in not so subtle ways), eg dressing them differently (pink/blue). This includes labelling and responding to behaviours in different ways (eg, playful girls are 'tomboys' whereas more sensitive boys are 'sissys'). Boys are expected and rewarded (or at least tolerated) for being rougher whereas they are told off if they cry ('don't be such a girl') and vice versa. In my family, mum's disciplne method of last resort was 'wait til your father gets home'. Then we knew that we had overstepped the mark and as we were more fearful of him we behaved. We knew he was more likely to lash out and was less interested in finding out who was to blame or what happened. But he was assigned this role by virtue of the authority invested in him as well as many other factors (eg, he was a more remote figure since he was around less because he worked full-time). In fact, as i've grown up and got to know my father's personality better i now know that this isn't his innate personality but he did what was expected of him by my mother (he would be for it if he undermined her authority and they knew they had to show a united front or we would exploit any chink in the armour). However, he was always the one (after a suitable period of time) to show compassion by way of some small act of empathy or kindness and facilitate reconcilliation by softening up my mum (who could remain scornful and express silent disapproval almost indefinately).
Paul, if i was marking your undergraduate essay paper on sex/gender differences you would have failed not because i disagree with your opinion but because of your total regard for the evidence base. And i'm not some social engineer or cultural marxist as you suggest. I would retort that this would be a more likely representation of your views since you appear to be imposing your ideas on how different genders are expected to behave in accordance with your cultural beliefs.

My point is that there is a danger of sterotyping here. Its interesting that the arguments for difference in worship styles are related very quickly to the men and women are born differently argument. Many comments here are from men interpreting what women want or need but what would women themselves say? The objections to the OF are that women are too visible and that they shouldnt conduct ministries in the liturgy. Yet as these ministries (reading, distributing communion etc) are non sacramental, why shouldnt they? The implication is that this is to the detriment of men and prevents them worshipping. I'd dispute this; as a man i don't find i am inhibited by the presence of women. And if i did, would that mean that women are at fault or that i have the problem?

Anonymous said...

Regarding Cardinal Heenan's infamous remarks: I have to admit that he's not my favourite father of the church. He's often described as one of the last princes of the church, to which i'd concur (not positively!).
But i've always thought that the assumptions and conclusions underlying this comment was wrong. His belief that men would not relate to the new liturgy because they prefer an unspoken quick mass (low mass with no congregational singing) always seemed to me to be an argument against retaining the status quo. This model of worship was not the ideal favoured by the church, and therefore not that which the council sought to foster. Indeed, his idea that men would be alienated by greater singing in the liturgy (remember we are taling chanted ordanaries from the mass at this period of time) has also been proved wrong - just go to any LMS organised mass to see that men are quite able and willing to participate so.

bernadette said...

Fr Blake. Could you please stop listening to Woman's Hour.

gemoftheocean said...

Bernadette...give Fr. Blake snaps for being secure enough in his own masculinity to listen to a variety of opinions. It doesn't necessarily mean he agrees with them one way or the other.

In the main I can see BB's points. A lot of things *are* cultural, and I would also argue there is a wide latitude in how a given individual reacts/responds. I tendto hate "little preordained boxes" myself. What DOES fascinate me, however, is those areas where science has shown there to be some real differences that are hardwired. For instance, apparently men, when following physical directions are very "vector" oriented, women not so, they do find a place by other methods.

As for myself, re the Pax...I've never been a fan...if it's short and sweet it doesn't disturb the flow too much...HOWEVER I would dearly love to ring the neck of whomever decided a handshake is necessary. I hate it during flu and cold season. All it takes is one idiot with a bad cold who insists on coming to Mass when they shouldn't who will bring down the whole herd by glad handing everyone. I've been known to jam my hands in my pockets when stuck near a person like that. "Sorry, I say, I'm been getting over a cold,[okay, a white lie but I didn't say how long ago!] I'm sure you don't want to shake my hand."

Frankly, I'd be thrilled to bits if they suspended the "sign of peace" from Oct through April.

My mother HATED it. Especially when she was undergoing chemo and her defenses were down to begin with. [She was a daily Communicant, BTW)

Anonymous said...

Chill, Gem. It was a light hearted piece of banter.

Womans Hour is something of an institution in this country and the joke is that it's listened to by more men than women.

Anonymous said...

There is something instinctive in real men that has them paying their deepest devotion and giving their profoundest affection as quietly and in as concealed a manner as possible

This has pretty much summed me up. I have really felt uncomfortable in prayer groups or in the RCIA where the emphasis was on sharing our feelings. Not that I, as a man, don't have feelings but I felt somewhat violated when asked to share my feelings with people I barely know.

As a convert of two years I have very quickly come to crave Mass in the traditional form in a way that I simply don't for the revised form (although I've been told why I should prefer the "normative Mass" over the "pre-conciliar Mass"). I can't really explain it but I have a hunger for the silence of the Canon. I go to daily Mass in the Ordinary Form but if I had the chance I would go to the Extraordinary Form. Unfortunately, I live in Glasgow where our Archbishop is hostile to the traditional Latin Mass and would seem to rather wish it would go away.

I am not a great fan of the Sign of Peace, personally. But I notice that the older people at daily Mass really like it as it gives them a chance to acknowledge each other's presence, but, then, that might indicate that there is a need for a stronger parish life than it should be the highlight of Mass (which, very often, it does seem to be).

Anonymous said...

This may be purely anecdotal, but I would like to make an observation about a boy in my parish who has begun serving Mass in the E.F. He is shy, generally quite awkward and, most would say, very uncoordinated. I don't know a great deal of his background, but I would concur with the above observation. He once sought to learn how to serve Mass in the O.F. (which, around here, is pretty tight, though we still have a few girls on the schedule, but it is never a hootenanny Mass) Nevertheless, this boy did not do so well with the O.F.

He trained to serve Mass in the E.F. and though training was awkward, he seemed uncoordinated, etc. When all was said and done, and he first served Mass in the E.F. we were all shocked at the transformation. He did as well as any boy has ever done in serving this Mass - he didn't miss a single beat and did a fine job. I don't know what to say about this, but I have heard that boys, young men and, yes, men, are better able to relate to the Mass as offered in the extraordinary form. Is this scientific evidence? No, but it certainly provides us with something to consider.

bernadette said...

Fr Fermoyle - the fact that your altar server "did a fine job" should be ringing alarm bells with you, regardless of form.

It`s the girls who do a fine job, naturally. No boy does a fine job serving. They are clumsy, forgetful, day-dreamy and, unless organised, scruffy. The miracle, is that they want to be up there in the first place.

my son - an average, reasonably lazy (adorable of course) 12 yr old is barely able to tie his shoe laces. He is seriously clumsy - I hang on tenterhooks, thinking "Will this be the day he finally drops the gifts as they are brought to the altar ?" Hasn`t happened yet.. but you know.. it`s always close..

This is the wonder - every Saturday morning, he wakes up with excitement and expectancy: "Mum - am I serving Mass today for Fr ------.?" To me, that is a miracle. And, despite the ghastly 1970s maffia that run our parish, the thing that keeps me focussed, is a priest who is prepared to tolerate a gawky, useless, clumsy, hapless, dreamy 12 yr old boy serving Mass with all his heart and free will.
(I proabbly should add that he is autistic as well... but, to me, it's not relevant.. we all have to compete in the same world, and frankly, he`s streets ahead of me in faith. And he counters my cynicism, remarkably, as well.)

Priests, be glad of your useless male altar servers. They are gold.

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