This evening, I attended a talk by the House Vicar and one of my favorite friars here at St. Conrad's Friary. He spoke at a parish outside of Milwaukee about something I'd never heard before: "Masculine Spirituality."
While the name sounds somewhat exclusive and possibly even a little off-putting to some, Fr. Martin Pable O.F.M. Cap. actually discusses the sense of spirituality for men as a direct reaction to many of the spiritual needs of guys today. Marty is always aware of the concerns some have about the patriarchal view that some have of the Catholic Church, so when he invited me to his talk, I knew it would be masculine, not chauvinistic.
As a 33 year old guy who used to live and breathe in the society of competition and expectations, much of what Marty spoke about really hit home. He talked about the drive the we have (either by our own thinking or the sociological definitions) to acquire things to fill our void. We discussed the ever present fallacy that "hard work leads to success," when in fact many men who work hard find themselves climbing the ladder to success with only an empty reward. And last but not least, the level of stress the we build for ourselves, leading to far more self-destructive behavior such as health problems, higher capacity for addictions, relationship problems with family or spouse, and removing God from the center of our focus.
It was interesting to talk with the group of 30-35 other men who showed up to listen to Marty speak; the admiration and the undivided attention he received was proof enough that Marty knew what he was talking about. We broke off into groups and shared different aspects of our life and how we've tried to find ways to include faith as a bigger factor in our daily lives. Whether they were fathers, real estate brokers, mechanics, or retired, it was a wonderful experience to watch these men bond and share similar stories in life.
In a few weeks, I'll attend a week-long seminar regarding the male spirituality. For those interested, I'll be sure to save my notes and share what I've learned. In the meantime, I'd highly suggest buying Marty's book: The Quest for the Male Soul. It's only $10 new, and I think it gives a wonderful insight into the topic of male spirituality and perhaps may even move you to rethink your relationship with God, family, work, and hopefully yourself.
Let us no longer judge one another, but rather resolve never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. Romans 14:13