Guys for God

Do you think religion is not for men? Do you let your wife “take care of the religion” in the family or “go to Mass for both of us”?

Well, think again. The truth is: God is for guys.

Sure, it’s true that there are more women than men at the average parish Mass, and the priest at the altar is often surrounded by female servers, lectors and Eucharistic ministers. A guy may look from the pews and wonder, where do I fit in? The homily sometimes doesn’t help, filled with ideals of love and peace but rarely touching on the everyday issues men face at work and home.

What’s a guy to do? The answer is: get tough and get involved.

1.  Be an example to your children of a strong Christian man. Surveys show that a father’s involvement in religion is key to his children’s moral development and character.

2. Be active. If it looks like women are running the parish, you be the extra man in the pews on Sunday with your family. Connect with the other men at church and share friendship, thoughts and a few laughs. Volunteer, become a lector or a Eucharistic minister. Make a difference by your presence.

3. Get real. If you think religion is all touchy-feely, make it more down to earth and demanding. Listen to the Gospels, and read them for yourself at home. Jesus was a man of deep love and compassion, but he was not ‘sugar and spice’. He stopped storms with one word, made a whip and drove thieves from the temple, cast out demons and went one-on-one with the devil in the desert. Try that after fasting for 40 days.

He suffered unbearable torture while carrying his cross to Calvary, as anyone will know who saw the Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ. Finally, he saved the world. How much more manly can you get? If we don’t get this message about Jesus, perhaps his image has been softened for popular consumption. We can find the truth by reading the Gospels ourselves. Don’t reject the Christian religion before you get to know it as an adult.

4. Become a hero. Maybe you’re not quite ready to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. After all, he was God even while walking the earth as a man. Get to know the male saints. They are fully human role models who lived what the Church calls ‘heroic virtue.’ In other words, they were heroes. Guys for God.

You may not relate to the 6th century monks who walked barefoot across burning coals, but how about a 20th century priest who was arrested by the Nazis, volunteered for solitary confinement in place of a Jewish prisoner, and finally had to be injected with poison because he refused to die from starvation, fever and heat? That was Maximilian Kolbe, the saint of Auschwitz. Before you say religion is for wimps, think of his life and death.

It’s true, most parishes don’t have the “fire and brimstone” sermons and male retreats our fathers or grandfathers told us about. Many don’t have the Corpus Christi processions with men holding the cross and the canopy through the streets. This is a shame and maybe the tide will turn back the other way.

There’s only one way to do your part, though. That is to go to Confession, if you need to, and go to Mass with your family on Sunday. Maybe the whole parish won’t change, but you, your wife and your children will change – for the better and hopefully forever.