Tag Archives: manliness

These Men, Our Priests

I don’t often attend the high Mass at my parish. And yet I am truly blessed that my parish offers not one but two of them every Sunday in addition to multiple low Masses. My daughter sings in the girls schola, though, and that means at least twice a month now I’m at a sung (high) Mass.

A year ago I took up the delightful task of reading Adrian Fortescue’s The Roman Mass. Delightful because, well, it’s a great read to a liturgy nerd like me. Task because, well, it’s 500 pages long and replete with footnotes in koine Greek. To me, however, the delight outweighed the task many times over and, not being able to put it down, I was done in a few days. If you have the time and even a slight interest, I highly recommend the book. One of the key takeaways for me while reading about the development of the Roman Mass was the understanding that the low Mass must be viewed in light of the high Mass, and not the other way around. The low Mass only really makes sense this way. In fact, it all makes perfect sense when viewed in light of a papal Mass in Rome in the fourth century; but that’s another story.

The reason I bring this up is because I am enamored of what takes place on the other side of the rail and inspired by the men who carry out the sacred work. This morning, that beauty, ever ancient and ever new, inspired a thread of a thought about good liturgy and authentic manliness that I want to share with you.

I once told a friend that the servers at Latin Mass, in particular, evoke a great sense of both pride and humility in me. Here we have – in some cases – boys as young as seven or eight serving a Latin Mass with the absolute greatest of integrity. They have diligently studied and memorized another language and intricate movements out of love for Our Lord. I well up when I see this. It is plain to me that the moment these lads pull the cassock over their heads and step into the sanctuary, they have at that moment become men. It doesn’t matter what youthful scraps they may find themselves in on the field, what emotional outbursts erupt as they develop physically and for which their hormones have not yet caught up. It doesn’t even matter their stage of physical development. Lacking the muscle mass, voice change, and facial hair that will one day belie their sex to the world; no, these boys could fight battles with the strength of soldiers once they ring the bell and Father hands off his biretta. There’s just something about that role and how seriously they take it. I think we know the reason. It is indeed a grace.

The older among them, too – the teenaged or young men – these guys are ten times more solid than their peers and certainly than I was at that age. The whole company – for we are blessed with many servers at our high Mass – move as a well-trained unit. With military precision, they move in straight lines and turn corners at perfect right angles. They handle sacred vessels with the aplomb of a Marine silent drill corps. I love watching this. I feel drawn into Our Lord’s Calvary. It captivates my attention.

But it is our priests who shine as men among men. There has been a lot of talk in recent decades about manhood and manliness. More so than in other days when men simply lived as men insofar as being a man required one to – as my father always did – shut up and be a man. No boasting, no bravado. No sir, just embrace your existence for it is as plain as the nose on your face. The rise of feminism surely affected the “need” for men to prove their value as men in ways never before imagined. Even still, to me, being a man was what dad did. He got up early every morning, went to Mass, took care of his family, came home, went to bed, and did it all again the next day for 60 years. And he never made a deal of it.

St. Joseph and the Christ Child, statue/altar grouping, St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, Flatonia, TX

Our priests, my priests, do this in spades. Stepping into the sanctuary in ancient vestments, they do what must be done and they seek no fame or glory for it. They modulate their voices as appropriate. From a rich baritone when chanting the Gospel to an inaudible whisper at the Canon, they do what must be done. They posture themselves as the rubrics command and they seek no fame or glory for it. From the dozens of genuflections to the magnificent bows at every mention of the Sacred Name, they do what must be done. And at the consecration, they give their bodies over to Christ who speaks through them to offer the Sacrifice of His Body and Blood to the Father. They elevate Him in their hands – a far better weight than I ever lift in my garage gym. They adore Him – with greater love and devotion than I ever gazed upon my newborns with. They stoop low before Him in greater and more humble submission than I could have mustered in proposing to my wife and they do it because it must be done.

These are the true men among us. These are the men I want my son to emulate. These are the men who have given all, which is the hallmark of manliness. And I see this clearly at the High Mass in my parish church every Sunday. Is it a wonder that so many of the young boys in the parish want to serve and so many more want to be priests? Boys want to be men. It’s hardwired into our DNA. It is how Gos made us. Men want to be more manly. We see other guys who do it better than us and we instinctively and subconsciously imitate them. It’s how God made us.

On the flip side, and here’s the hard truth, is it any wonder why so few young boys or young men really wants to be priests of the New Order these days? I’m serious. There are good priests in that rite, don’t get me wrong. They may even have had a good example to look up to. But consider the absolute dearth of total straight clerics in the rite of Bugnini. For every manly priest in that rite, there are hundreds who insist we hold hands and rock out with the band and who downplay our sins in confession because they don’t want to be fatherly with us. I don’t want my son to be like that. My son doesn’t want to be like that. It’s the rite that feeds the effeminate men seeking to staff it and those men perpetuate the rite. Call it a fag cycle if you will. Again, this isn’t all of them but the exceptions, to me, prove the rule.

Boys want to be men.

Tradition – doing what Our Lord commanded – breeds manliness. If you haven’t ever been to a TLM and you are Catholic and have young sons, bring them one day. Check it out. Sit in silence and watch what a man does. And see if your son isn’t drawn to that like a moth to a flame. And don’t let Satan, the father of lies who tells the world that boys can be girls and girls can be dykes, influence your children.

Mary, Mother of Priest, pray for us!

Livin’ It Up, Friday Night: Coof’s A-comin’ Back Edition!

I love being right and I hate it too.

About two weeks ago I remarked to my wife that several things were both odd and imminent at the same time.

1.) Joe Byron (AKA: Tuesday Pudding) and his minions/handlers need something on the level of Spring 2020 Coof-o-rama Drama to re-emerge on a national level pretty soon in order to implement national mail-in balloting. They need this in order to steal the next set of elections.

2.) Coof-o-rama is totally coming back.

The next day I got a message from my son’s boss. Side note, my 14 year-old son makes me proud every day. He actually wants to work. He found himself a job. It isn’t much and the pay isn’t great but it suits him and, at his age, it’s about the best he’ll get. He has told me that he knows a man’s job is to work hard to provide for his wife and kids or otherwise to work hard as a priest who says mass every day and hears confessions for many hours. Love that young man. Anyway, the boss informed me that my son’s supervisor, a 24 year-old young man, had “tested positive” for the Chinese sniffles.

“That’s odd,” thought I… It’s late June. He didn’t appear sick when I saw him earlier in the day. Also, it’s late June.

Three days later, a friend of mine texted to tell me that she and two of her daughters had all tested positive for Wuhan Wing Wang. Of her two girls, the younger is 14 months-old.

Again, simply odd. A 14 month-old?

This is bullshit as my sister’s yellow lab Bates would say. Of course, he says it under his breath and in dog.

I immediately connected the dots and told my wife. First, why in the world is anyone getting tested for this nonsense at this point? You KNOW the tests are all engineered to report whatever the hell they want to hear. If you’re under the weather, take your viatmins, get some sun (remember it is now JULY), grab your Ivermectin, and get well.

Also, isn’t it funny how, after a lull, this gay virus is roaring back like a drag queen being pushed out of a library by a group of real men with kids? He’ll be thrashing and fur and feathers will fly but in the end, if we hold firm, we can drive him back to the pit of hell.

So today I came across the following news from Texas while I was enjoying sleeping in on my vacation in Florida. By the way, sleeping in doesn’t actually exist since I get up every morning at 6 for the Angelus. Fr. Ripperger mentioned doing that in a video. He said it is particularly powerful at protecting a man’s family from demonic attack. Who am I to argue?

Hide your wife, hide your kids!

So anyway, listen, don’t say you didn’t know. What can we do about it? Well for starters, don’t get one of those ridiculous tests. Here I’ll save you the trouble. It’s positive. There you go. If you’re sick, take your vitamins and get into the sun. I cannot repeat that enough. Don’t you dare wear that Masonic face burqa. Say your prayers. Men, triple your efforts. We’re in this together. 15 decades. Every day. It’s that important if you love your family. Live your life. Pray for the reactivation of your confirmation. in particular ask God to give you strength (physical and spiritual) and wisdom. GO TO MASS. EVERY DAY. THE ROMAN MASS.

The evil ones spell out their plans because it gets them off. Use that knowledge and make your plans.

Remember that the great saints prayed to live in our times. And here we are.

God bless us and the Virgin protect us!

Harvey Millican Is a Complete Idiot: Part I

There, I’ve said it. And you can take that to the bank.

Setting the Goals

Harvey Millican is also a dad who adores his kids. Allow me if you will to drift for a moment to a place in the not-too-distant past. I was in my late 20’s (41 now) when I really began to give up on the hope of ever meeting a woman who shared my faith, got my sense of humor, and was stunningly beautiful. While I figured there were still a few solid Catholic women out there who hadn’t joined the Nashville Dominicans and I was pretty sure there might be a handful of women who would find my absurdist rantings mildly amusing I was not sure that any of the beautiful women of the world would be willing to offer an act of supreme condescension and go out with me.

You see, I wanted a family. I had, just a few years earlier, been studying for the priesthood and had been prepared to make the sacrifice of giving up family life. When I left the seminary I was filled with the fleeting thought that perhaps God’s plan for me was now to follow in the example set by my wonderful parents and raise a family of my own. But whom would I marry; or rather, who would ever marry me? See above paragraph for the genesis of this conundrum. It’s a vicious cycle.

Jacked St. Joseph. Model for MEN, model for ME.

In my final act of desperation I turned in prayer to the patron of impossible causes – St. Rita of Cascia. I began a novena at her shrine in Philadelphia. Nine days later I met a woman with strong faith, a questionable sense of humor, and poor eyesight. Bingo! We got married at that shrine in due time and within the first two and a half years of our married life God had blessed us with a son and a daughter. I have no idea what happened after that. We promised to be open to children and we always have been. But I guess God had other plans for us. We started taking road trips with the kids. I started documenting these trips and a blog was born.

A few years later the ticking time bomb that is my spine exploded and life sort of came to a grinding halt for a bit. I had a second lumbar fusion. I got depressed for a while thinking of how I wasn’t being the kind of dad I wanted to be to my kids. I’ve never been athletic. I’ve never been really strong, agile, quick. Having kids highlighted these deficiencies. I really felt it the first time my kids wanted me to play Twister, ride bikes, and squat 450. They’re pretty demanding kids. But after a few years of doing nothing about it and gaining weight and starting to feel sorry for myself and remorseful for my wife who had to look at me every day I decided to do something. Anything at all.

Figuring It Out

I tried running like a co-worker was doing. He was pretty jacked. That was a disaster. Apparently “You can’t run that extra mile if you’re puffing away on those cigarettes.” I had to choose. I chose tar and nicotine.

I tried Greco-Roman wrestling like my older brothers had done in high school. They were pretty not-jacked but strong as oxen and impressive. Apparently this should not be done with strangers in the produce aisle at Kroger. Also, those singlets are obscene.

I tried that little paddleball thing you buy at the dollar store like my mom. She’s got phenomenal eye-hand coordination. Thanks to genetics, I was good at it but burned negative calories.

In fact I tried anything and everything until I settled on some advice I found from a most reliable source – a meme. Under a picture of a typical 98 lb. weakling listening to Charles Atlas was a caption that read “What’s that? You want to get huge? Pick up a bunch of heavy stuff, put it down, repeat.”

Identifying with the dork in that cartoon I determined that weightlifting would be my thing.

Quests and New Quests

And for the past 14 months I have been lifting weights. It wasn’t until I heard a sermon from an amazing priest, though, that I realized this needed to be a spiritual pursuit in order to be effective. In other words, I should not do this for me alone. I should do this for me AND for my wife and kids. Lifting weights isn’t about gettin’ swole so you can preen in front of a mirror (although that’s kinda’ cool). Lifting weights should be about God’s purpose for manliness and fatherhood. I should do this specifically because it’s hard. Doing hard things is the hallmark of true manliness. And we do hard things to discipline our bodies so we can discipline our souls. And we discipline our bodies and souls so we can give away our lives without thinking to our wives and children; so that the hardest thing in life to do – dying for the sake of another – comes freely, quickly, and with total love.

With that in mind, weightlifting became both a quest and a joy. I’ll admit, it’s fun. I really enjoy it in the same way I hated running. No lungs exploded. I could wear fairly comfortable clothes. I started to get swole. Heh. That last part was particularly gratifying. Again, see above paragraph about why any woman in her sober mind would have given me a second glance. And I say that only half in jest but I’ve certainly never thought very highly of myself and even there more from a desire to tamp down pride through a humility that is sometimes self-effacing but very often false.

Along the way as I was putting on muscle and burning off fat I began to look for more “difficult” things to do. Remember, doing the hard things because they are hard is good for us guys. I had to remind myself not to get too into this. There were nights I could have skipped the gym to spend more time with the family but I always thought I was doing this for them. As for those “gentle” reminders of which I spoke, believe me, on the occasions where I’d be super proud of my accomplishments and post a video or two of me knocking out a dozen pull ups in the gym or attempting some other such thing that I simply couldn’t do yesterday (and that 99.9% of men half my age can’t do today) I’d always get the one or two snide comments insinuating that it was “no big deal” or that the commenter “was able to do three times that many and with better form” and I’d find myself knocked down a few pegs. and it was all good.

But those other things? Well… I picked up a jump rope one day. Not knowing what this strange device was and unable to find a pair of shoes large enough to lace with it, I hit it against a rock. Then I looked up a Youtube clip and discovered a cool trick. Apparently you can swing this thing over your head and jump over it. I got really good at doing that.

I busted out my old trusty kettlebell. Remember that thing? Developed by the Pontifical Swiss Guard in the 17th century to punish heretics, the kettlebell is also good for building strong bodies. Again, thanks to Youtube (and in this case Instagram) I began to incorporate explosive movements into my workouts. I got really good at that as well.

And finally I discovered the thing I just spent 1,069 words to get to. Sorry for that. While scrolling through both Youtube and Instagram I began to notice a whole lot of posts about people doing calisthenics. OK, my first thought on hearing that word was of Jane Fonda in a ridiculously high cut leotard prancing about to Let’s Get Physical. Patently, calisthenics is not that. Not exactly. Calisthenics has to do with using bodyweight movements to build strength, endurance, you know, all that good stuff I was looking for. Remember, the whole point was to do hard things so I could be a better man and in so doing be the best dad I can be to the two saints-in-training God gave me. Hell, He only gave me two of them. He must have felt I needed the time to work on getting this right. Ultimately, though, what calisthenics looks like is not Jane Fonda but badass dudes who are certainly shredded but not in any kind of “Sammy Sosa on roids” way, doing incredibly difficult-looking things. The first time I saw a series of posts on Youtube of one of these guys doing handstand push-ups and planches I was sold. Sure, I didn’t think there was a snowball’s chance in hell of me actually doing these things what with my twice-fused lower spine; but if I’ve learned nothing over the past few years it’s that God’s grace is truly sufficient and for everything else there’s Percocet. So I prayed like the Dickens and had my pills at the ready.

“Father in heaven, I thank you for sharing Your gift of paternity with me, your humble servant. In St. Joseph, you have given me an example of a truly good man who cared for his family, for Your Incarnate Son and His Immaculate Mother. I pray through his intercession for a clean heart, a pure mind, and a chaste body. I ask for the gift of great physical strength that I might protect and provide for my family. Hitting the Powerball would also be nice. Amen.”

My daughter has a gymnastics mat and we have an 18′ diameter trampoline in the yard. I started to think I could tackle this. I watched dozens of videos on the topic. I set a few goals. While continuing to “lift heavy stuff” in the gym and “jump over the flying rope” I would attempt first to master a wall-assisted handstand. After that I would try the same but add in push-ups to the handstand. Then I’d try freestanding handstands. I didn’t know if any of this was remotely possible and I may have been consuming a glass of box wine when I dreamed this up. Lastly, I would try to nail a backflip by year’s end. I reached out to an old friend who informed me that I “probably know more about fitness now than he does” and the he “wouldn’t be much help”. He then said he had to wash his hair or something and take his daughter’s rabbit for a walk. I reached out to a newer friend who’s been part of my Exodus 90 prayer group. This guy was, of late, a gym teacher who specializes in calisthenics and in particular handstands. When asked if he could help me figure out the basic handstand his words to me were “No.” I think he might come round.

See, I even kept my shirt tucked in (and on).

Where on earth is all of this going and how does it involve the Passion of Christ? I never said it did.

But it does.

You’ll have to wait for part II.

*Update: You can now read Part II by clicking here.