Sunday, March 12, 2017

Cicero uses the word “virility” to express character and vigor of soul... some thoughts about virility.

How can a man combat effeminacy in a genderless culture?  

"St Augustine, with extraordinary perceptiveness, described the nature of sin as follows: 'self-love to the point of contempt for God'. It was self love which drove our first parents toward the initial rebellion and then gave rise to the spread of sin throughout human history. The book of Genesis speaks of this: 'You will be like God, knowing good and evil', in other words, you yourselves will decide what is good and evil.
The only way to overcome this dimension of original sin is through a corresponding 'love for God to the point of contempt for self'. This brings us face to face with the mystery of man's redemption, and here the Holy Spirit is our guide. It is he who allows us to penetrate deeply into the 'mystery of the Cross' and at the same time to plumb the depths of evil perpetrated by man and suffered from the very beginning of history. That is what the expression 'convince the world about sin' means, and the purpose of this 'convincing' is not to condemn the world. 
If the Church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can call evil by its name, it does so only in order to demonstrate that evil can be overcome if we open ourselves to 'love for God to the point of contempt for self. This is the fruit of Divine Mercy..." - John Paul II, Memory and Identity

And so this makes you sad, you say?

Sadness, or self-pity, is the twin sister of acedia. They are similar in some respects, but not identical. The sad person finds relief more easily, whereas the one besieged by acedia is trapped. Sadness is a temporary, part-time experience, but acedia is global and permanent. In this sense it is opposed to human nature. 
The chief symptoms of this devilish “scourge that lays waste at noon” are inner instability and the need for change (with wandering fantasies of a better place), excessive care of one’s own health (with special emphasis on one’s food), escape from manual work (with laziness and inactivity), uncontrolled activism (under the appearance of charity), neglect of the monastic practices (reducing observance to a minimum), indiscreet zeal in a few ascetic exercises (with extreme criticism of one’s neighbor), generalized discouragement (with the beginnings of a depression). - Dom Bernardo Olivera, OCSO


St. Thomas includes effeminacy under the vices opposed to perseverance. It is from the Latin mollities*, which literally means “softness.” Mollities is the verb used in 1 Corinthians 6:9 which deals with the sexual sin of sodomy. It involves being inordinately passive or receptive. What St. Thomas means by persevering is when “a man does not forsake a good on account of long endurance or difficulties and toils.” An “effeminate man is one who withdraws from good on account of sorrows caused by lack of pleasures, yielding as it were to a weak motion.” Thomas states that this effeminacy is caused in two ways. First, by custom, where a man is accustomed to enjoy pleasures and it is, therefore, more difficult for him to endure the lack of them. Second, by natural disposition, less persevering through frailty of temperament, and this is where Thomas compares men with women, and also mentions the homosexual act of sodomy, and the receiver in this act as being effeminate or like a woman. 
The vice of delicacy for Thomas considers those who cannot endure toils, or anything that diminishes pleasure, and thus delicacy is a kind of effeminacy. Thomas quotes from Deuteronomy 28:56, “The tender and delicate woman, that could not go upon the ground, nor set down her foot for softness.” It may be true that some cultural prejudices are being revealed here with this comparison because a vice is a vice, whether it is found in a man or a woman, but it is also true that some vices are more perverse or disordered when found specifically in men or women. Effeminacy is more pronounced in a man than a woman because women are more susceptible to this vice. Just as the vice of drunkenness is more pronounced or perverse when found in a woman than a man. - Homiletic and Pastoral Review 

*A bit of trivia on mollities ...

18th-19th century male brothels were known as 'Molly-houses' - molly derives from mollities. Curiously, Miss Molly referred to an effeminate or homosexual male.  Which begs the question, what did Little Richard know and when did he know it?  What?

(Friends of St. Therese
will remember Leo Taxil 
as the fraud who deceived
the Carmel of Lisieux.)

Reassessing recent posts and thinking out loud ... 
So anyway.  Recently I received a link to an article on Camille Paglia's assertion that androgyny signals the demise, and/or collapse of Western civilization - or at least that was the impression I received from the Rod Dreher article.  Interestingly enough, I came across a comment on the post which reminded readers of a sort of history of effeminacy throughout European culture, citing tights and powdered wigs, and so on.  I'm making a gloss on the whole conversation to save time, but it certainly is not a new vice - the problem in our day is convincing the amoral that it is indeed a vice - even for the 'genderless' if you will.  
The game changer in our day is that gender theory-ideology has become pervasive and widespread, and the 'prophets of doom' are correct in recognizing the threat to culture.  As the Polish Bishop Pieronek noted a few years ago, “The ideology of gender presents a threat worse than Nazism and Communism combined.”  Even Camille Paglia is right when she asserts that "androgyny becomes prevalent 'as a civilization is starting to unravel. You find it again and again and again in history.'”  It's not the apocalypse however.  We do not need to panic or run for the hills, as it were.
It seems these reports, lectures, blog posts, and so on, excite fear and dread in many people, creating a sort of 'the sky is falling' mentality - leading to despair, or at least discouragement - and a whole lot of mistrust and confusion.  People freak out.
What is lacking is faith, conversion, repentance, prayer, and confidence.  The world revolves and the cross remains the same.  The Church stands and has lived through tremendous persecutions, cultural changes, era changes, societal revolutions and evolutions, and so on. God is in charge.  Today in the Gospel, after the Transfiguration, Jesus tell the disciples, "Rise and do not be afraid."  What lay before them after that miraculous event was the Passion of Christ.  His disciples will not be cheated out of their participation in it.  That must be our attitude I think.  We need to cultivate virility and virtue in ourselves.  We need to believe God, to trust Him, to listen to Him, to follow Him.
I came across something this morning from Jeremiah.  It seemed to me a warning against fear and cowardice in the face of change, in times of upheaval, and in that fear of alienation and annihilation:   "... but of you I will not make an end.  I will chastise you as you deserve, I will not let you go unpunished.  [...]  I will restore you to health; of your wounds I will heal you, says the Lord." - Jeremiah 30: 11-17  For me at least, that passage is helpful in these days of misunderstanding and discouragement, when so many clamor and protest the evils they perceive without recognizing that even in chastisement, the Lord is full of mercy and love.   
I may not have expressed that very well, so pay no attention to me and my personal meditations and thinking out loud.


  1. God help us. I'll have to read this one twice. And I have to read Camille's latest article.

  2. I noticed you quoted the article by Fr. James Mason in Homiletics and Pastoral Review. Did you know he's the Rector of the Seminary in St. Louis now? He's done a great (or terrible - depending on how you view things) of tearing down the masculine life of order and traditional spirituality promoted by Cardinal Burke when he was Archbishop there in favor of a "lumberjack" spirituality promoted by the Institute for Priestly Formation (which coddles homosexual seminarians, by the way). Fr. Mason is convinced that cassocks are "gay" and that bearded, hairy men in plaid shirts are not. As you and I both know, sexuality is much deeper than cassocks and facial hair.

    1. I didn't know that - I posted Fr. Mason's article quite awhile ago, but wasn't aware that he was in St. Louis.

    2. I should add - priests in my diocese wear cassocks and are not at all gay. In fact, I'm always amazed at how many fine priests we have - young and not so young. Some wear cassocks, some maybe not, but they always wear clericals and are devout, faithful priests. I just went to confession this weekend - to one of the younger priests, who I am convinced is a saint - he reminds me of your patron, St. Aloysius. He's definitely not gay or even ssa.


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