Friday, June 26, 2015

Male Guilt

A friend of mine reports this conversation:
"Father, my boyfriend is depressed; I want you to talk to him".
"Okay, can you tell me a bit more?"
"Yes, he left his wife and children to move in with me and now he feels guilty"
"So, what are you asking?"

This not so unusual a request. It is significant that it is a young man. I invariably get depressed young men, sometimes suicidal young men who want to speak to me about some spiritual problem, 'I can't pray' or 'I want to return to the sacraments' or even sometimes, 'I think I want to be a priest but...' and then when one gets below the surface there is a whole series of broken relationships, sometimes even of children from discarded relationships. I suspect if you heard their confession none of this would figure, maybe simply, 'Bless me for I have sinned, it has been X years since my last Confession in that time I have missed Mass over a number of years, I have been dishonest and I have been unkind at times', maybe even I have wasted food or some other eco-sin.

What is often neglected, is any mention of sins against the 6th and 9th Commandment, that could be because of embarrassment, or simply as I suspect just sheer ignorance that these are totally contrary to the teaching of Jesus. In fact I have rarely married a couple which is not co-habiting, nor experienced embarrassment when they give a shared address. Admittedly a few couples are living together simply because it is impossible to buy a flat without two incomes, and some, a tiny number are trying to live chastely.

We believe in the Natural Law: sex and procreation outside of marriage, aberrant sexual behaviour, pornography, sexual fantasy, coupled with drug and alcohol use and hedonism, in general are chickens which must come home to roost. Again as the Holy Father has been saying recently the misery that so many children experience, because their parents are continually rowing or because of an absent father and in the case of boys the absence of an effective male role model, only add to feelings of guilt many young men live with. Brighton has a very high rate of male suicide, someone suggested to me recently one of the problems is those who might give help are feminised, which only adds to problem.

I get a bit concerned when priests of a certain age (which they are mostly) say, 'we must be merciful'. The problem is that for the last 60 years we have done nothing else but be so 'merciful' that we have failed to be truly merciful and proclaim Jesus' teaching, which is the ultimate and only real mercy, or as Pope Francis says, 'God's final word is called Jesus'. For many young people, men especially, it is that they simply don't know how to live.

Maybe someone needs to sit down and write a simple 'Rule of Life', I suspect such a document will not come out of the Synod!


Unknown said...

"The problem is that for the last 60 years we have done nothing else but be so 'merciful' that we have failed to be truly merciful and proclaim Jesus' teaching, which is the ultimate and only real mercy"

Yes. Only the truth will set you free - and all that.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

"The soul, then, being in extreme need of finding wherewith to satisfy itself and quiet its cravings, and not discovering the wherewithal in itelf, resembles a man tortured by hunger and thirst. This is the image employed by Divine Wisdom. The hunger and thirst set in activity those three powers by which it directs itself toward God, in order to nourish itself on the divine food of His grace and His justice. These three powers are faith, hope and charity. The triple tendency towards God of the faculties of the soul (memory, intellect and will) operating through the divine virtues of faith, hope and charity, is called in scriptural language, to hunger and thirst after justice. All those who have the grace to tend in this way toward God receive His communications and so find their happiness. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill." Fr Edward Leen, "Why the Cross".

It seems the current advice is that 'real' mercy is to be found by tending towards our cravings rather than tending towards God. Also the image used by Divine Wisdom of the 'poor' who 'hunger and thirst' is given a flatly material interpretation, so the the poor thirsting hungry soul is ignored.

August said...

I think it is helpful to view this as what happens when we forgot (this past 60 years) that God was the God of the living. If the Church doesn't fit the living (the culture certainly doesn't) then the living sprout up in the cracks. In many cases, you can't take the living out of the cracks and transplant it- and let's face it, the soil where we would transplant it to is weak.
The boyfriend feels guilty- why doesn't the girl? I suspect she's absorbed the modern message of how we all need to be happy- a message too often related in churches.

Paul Hellyer said...

Knowing How to Live is a serious problem for many young men. Who is to teach them? Due to the breakdown of traditional family life, divorce, absent fathers, step fathers, second step fathers (referred to as 'uncle'), disinterested clergy. They have no one.
Only the Church has all the answers but she seems to keep them hidden while concentrating all attention on peripheral matters like those of Cardinal Kasper. We need to bring back the Catechism in school to give our young people a fighting chance in this disintegrating society. We should also forbid mixed marriages as we did in the past.

Cosmos said...

I think the general abandonment of the Church's perennial teaching for a new more optimistic, open, and merciful presentation was an excellent, forward-thinking idea when it was first embraced. The men who had the foresight to give up all that patrimony were obviously extremely corageous. I can only imagine how much worse things would have been had we not dutifully followed.

But now that we are dealing with empty Churches and a large majority of Catholics who no longer have any rational understanding or tangible attachment to their faith--obviously a phenomemon unrelated to the changes--we clearly need an even newer way. What does that look like? How should I know, that is above my pay grade; I will defer to my betters in the hierarchy. But if there is one thing I am sure of it is this: ALWAYS FORWARD. The spirit is all about progress, hope, movement. Wherever there are braves soles moving forward, there is the spirit. Where there is fear of the unknown, a holding on to the past, an idealizing of the narrow truths that we thought we knew, there is the devil. Our lord, is the lord of surprises. I wonder what he has in store for the sheep? I am particularly excited about the solutions to moral problems that the upcoming Synod will formulate.

David O'Neill said...

Surely the misreading of the documents of Vatican 2 has led to the watered down version of the Faith for our children. When dealing with young people who are disturbed by the many versions of the Faith put out in our schools (yes the CATHOLIC schools) it would, perhaps, be wise to revert back to the Penny Catechism which (even at my advanced age) can answer many quandaries. We are told that our schools follow the educational rules of the Bishops' Conference but, if that is true, then our bishops will have much to answer for.

gemoftheocean said...

beautifully said, Father.

August said...

I do hope Cosmos is an extremely sarcastic human being.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe someone needs to sit down and write a simple 'Rule of Life' ..."

Aren't you someone, Father?

Jeremiah Methuselah said...

Thank you Father Blake, again.

Countless souls are in grave danger, without realising the fact. So many reasons/explanations can be found for the dreadful malaise affecting the Catholic Church so terribly, everywhere.

Maybe one of them is because so many priests (and, of course, bishops) have not been even teaching the True Faith ?*** Maybe these same clerics were not even taught it themselves ? If you can’t get the truth from a priest or a bishop, where you going to get it from ?

Here is a passing thought, offered for discussion : Why not develop a sort of “information” or teaching scheme or education programme ?

My idea is that one of the social media apps might be the easiest way to attract attention. It would take a while, but a framework might be one way of starting, with, say, “What does the Catholic Church say about living together without being married” as one of the first themes. IOW, using contemporary media to discuss topical events, practicesand questions. When a person is presented with ancient tried and trusted, fact-based situation, they would normally respond favourably.

“Why I shouldn’t make love with my boyfriend before we marry”; “What are Catholic churches for anyway ?”; “Why all children are a wonderful gift from God”.

It would need a lot of work, of course, but it might be a start.

My line of thought is that so many young people spend an inordinate amount of time on these machines, so why not let’s join them ?

** Should it be necessary, I am DEFO NOT including the wise and utterly good Catholic priest who generously writes this blog for us in that category.

Unknown said...

I don't understand how a priest can possibly marry cohabiting couples, without first requiring them to separate and then their confessing and receing absolution? I have always understand that to be the requirement, but it is evidently overlooked by many priests, just as the remain conveniently "mum" on the mortal sin of contraception, as most of their sexually active parishioners do it. Many don't even believe in the Church's teaching. I have never forgotten how one priest nudge-nudge, wink-wink, suggested in confession that I get the "snip". Disgusting excuse for a priest. Now that the chastisements are drawing closer, maybe priests will man up and call sin, sin...even if people walk away because fornication/contraception/name-the-sin is more important to them that salvation.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Most of us are extremely uncomfortable about it, but we can only work within the context of a culture. We simply don't have a history of clear teaching from our Bishops, often the opposite and our Catholic schools fail to teach.
For me, at least, I regard the sacrament of Marriage as restoring individuals to grace. There are few enough marriages in my diocese, or the English speaking world for that matter, there will be practically none if we followed only what we should do.
It is hardly a good situation.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I think some may not realise Cosmos is being ironic. However a must read is Professor Thomas Stark's article in the National Catholic Report to be found at:

Essentially he accuses Kasper of adopting the spirit of the age or zeitgeist a la Hegel. I recently heard a lecture by Dr James Hanvey S.J. of Heythrop College which seemed to be sailing a bit close to that wind.

Jacobi said...

Father, please don't consider this off-topic. I always try to look at things from a different angle rather than just agree/disagree with what others are saying.

There has been much talk recently about predictive science, utterly unreliable in my view and deduced science from past confirmed data, the only reliable science, although even that is suspect,

What we now know, is that looking back over the last 60 years of the Church, Vat II and it's aftermath, have been a shambles with the graphs heading for the floor, but stop there since we mustn't get into unreliable predictive religion.

Now coming back to the “depressed” boyfriend, (a slap on the ear from mother was the accepted treatment when I was a boy, and it usually worked), I wonder if his “bidie-in” ever considers if the abandoned wife and children are “depressed”, thanks to her action, and in any case as an adulteress why is she not asking for Confession?

As for the simple rule of life, just had an idea. What about the Ten Commandments?

Unknown said...

Sample Rule [within a traditional Catholic mind]:
4-eat & repeat

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...