Wednesday, January 19, 2011


The measure of a man

What does it mean to be a man? basically, from the little that we’ve had, we could come up with the reality that that which especially distinguishes man from woman is the fact that he can he can be husband and father. A woman is a person, and everything predicated of a person could be said of her, but she could never be thought of as a father and a husband. The measure of manliness therefore, is that the male person is capable of assuming this responsibility in society. Basically, this points to his capacity in assuming responsibility, in his being able to be committed, in the capacity to give his word and to stand by it, which in other words is fidelity. His manhood is also seen in his capacity for paternity, to be a father.

I may seem to make it sound so easy here, but another added point for consideration that I wish to make is the fact that assuming the manly responsibility of becoming a husband and a father requires a strong set of moral shoulder and grit. Suffice it to say that it takes a man to be a husband and a father.

This is to be said of any man. These two realities are profoundly related to each other. What’s more, these roles –spouse and father—are descriptive of the roles for which men—males—were created. God made men to be fathers. He called men to be fathers, and our hearts are restless till we rest in the role for which we were created, body and soul, and for which we were called by God and His Church.[1]

Masculinity and priestly character

            As the man, so the priest. A man like any other, even the priest has this calling to be both spouse and father, but in accordance with the plan of the God in manifested in his life, this is fulfilled in a real, albeit different way. For his espousal to the Church which he serves is real, as real as his configuration to the person of Christ, in whose image he acts and in whose name and authority he speaks. There are other kinds of paternity, and biological paternity is just one of them. The priest is a real father; he begets real children, though of course this paternity is of a spiritual nature(it would have been scandalous were to be otherwise). Genuit filios et filias was how St. Josemaria Escriva would have it when he began to think of what to place on his tombstone when his time came; in the end his children in Opus Dei decided to place a more fitting (and concise) epitaph: El Padre (The Father). This wasn’t due to any sentimentality people may have had for the founder of Opus Dei: it was because precisely of what and who he was. 

In the seminary aspirants to the priesthood are being formed to prepare for this priestly life, this life of both spouse and father. A basis for this formation is that he is male and normally so. This may sound strange and contradictory (but then life is full of paradox and contradictions, ain’t it?), but one sure sign of priestly vocation is not an aversion to marriage and fatherhood (one who manifests that should be sent out immediately), but quite the opposite: that he appreciate it and even be attracted to it, but that in the long run, he be able to realize that he is called to fulfill it in a more special way, according to the priestly nature of his calling. If a seminarian does not have a deep desire to get married and have children, he might need to rethink his vocation, for these are the natural and healthy manly desires of the heart. He needs to recognize that; in actuality, the priest truly is a married man and a father[2].

As the priest stands "in persona Christi," he is called to embrace the Bride of Christ, the Church, as his own spouse. A great danger is for the priest to fall into a “bachelor mentality,” which can become a selfish, disembodied and non-relational life.

Instead, if he sees himself in a permanent commitment to the people of God, his life of sacrifice will have great meaning as he lives the nuptial imagery of Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and laid down his life for her.”

[1] Hahn, 23.
[2] Toups

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful reflection ON THE FEMINIZATION OF THE HOLY MASS which would compliment this article of yours, Father.