June 16, 2010


Fr. Thomas Loya, June 12, 2010

[Sr. Helena's overabundant, opinionated, intrusive comments in brackets.]

In Theology of the Body, you can't talk about men without talking about you can't talk about women without talking about men.

In the latest issue of "Atlantic Monthly," the cover story is "The End of Men?" According to the article, women are basically taking over everything. Many traditionally male jobs such as manual labor are no longer the way that industry and business are going. Men feel inadequate and so they act immaturely and women just move on without them.

There's an inset to the article that questions: "Are Fathers Necessary?" The conclusion is: there is nothing essential about men (except sperm, which can just be gotten from a donor bank), but we'll let Dad stay because we've gotten used to him. [Insert any sitcom premise here. Since men are socialized by externals as Fr. Loya always says, what message are young men getting about the father of the family through popular media? E.g., "Family Guy," "Two and a Half Men"?] [Define "essential." Just what is Dad's "essence"? Is it only about reproduction? How about raising kids? How about being a husband?]

The article claims that there are no studies that show children are better off in a home with a parent of each gender or in a two-parent home for that matter. [Cow patties! Define "better off." Often, "better off" is measured in functional, rudimentary or market terms: Did the child graduate from school and get a good job? Stay out of jail?] Fr. Loya also says that a comparison can't be made here between "heterosexual marriage" and "gay marriage" because there's no such thing as "gay marriage." [Sr. Helena challenges these so-called "studies." Dale O'Leary does a lot of work/research in the field of gender, and reads all the footnotes and fine-print. She says that these so-called studies are often nothing of the kind, and even the findings they point to—which no one reads—are actually saying something opposite! You can Google her books.][Sr. Helena thinks this article may really coming from a gay activist source, because there are individuals and organizations who do nothing but push acceptance of "alternative lifestyles" from all different innocent-seeming angles. There are groups in Hollywood that make sure there is a sympathetic gay character on every show. Sr. Helena thinks that the recent spate of strange, totally out-of-the-blue, highly-publicized same-sex celebrity kisses are also carefully engineered.]

We hear the statement: "The Church is patriarchal." We don't stop and capture each word (like we should in TOB!) and so we put our head down and start apologizing: "Oh, I know. I'm so sorry. Maybe someday when we have a different pope things will be better," etc., etc. But instead of "running through" words and sentences like our opponents want us to do, we need to not go "across" the words, but "down." Plumb the depths of the words. What do they really mean? Make the person saying them stop and think about them. Question them about what each words means.

PATRIARCHY—comes from "patris" meaning "father." Are fathers bad? If some are, does that mean we say that all fathers are? Are fathers supposed to be bad? What are fathers really supposed to be? [If you hear some music that you don't like, does that mean all music is bad? If you like jazz and you hear some bad jazz bands, does that mean all jazz is bad? Like, why would you identify the ABUSE of something as the THING itself? Unfortunately, some people's experience of father has just been so distorted and sad. It is all they've ever known. BUT, how did they know it was a BAD experience? That the father was BAD? They must have SOME CONCEPT OF WHAT A GOOD FATHER SHOULD BE.] "Father" SHOULD be the warm part of the word.

What should a father be?
guide, provider, protector, model for son, shows daughter whom to marry, shows family what God the Father is like, order, authority [and upholder of his wife's authority, "The Lord…confirms a mother's authority over her sons." Sirach 3:2 ] From physiology, men/fathers are sacrificial, spending themselves for their families, planting the seed.

"-archy" means "overseer," like "overarching." It also means ruler, author, initiator. Are these bad things? This is the colder part of the word.

Fr. Loya has a book written by a dude who was part of a group of Evangelicals who converted to Orthodoxy: "Missing from Action—Vanishing Manhood in America." Excerpt: "When men don't THINK and DO THEOLOGY (and not just do commerce and work), they leave theology up to feminine piety." [Or, rather, simply, women. Sr. Helena could not agree more. She always found Evangelical men more attractive than Catholic men because they actually knew something about their faith and could articulate it. Catholic men seemed always to "celebrate their ignorance" of the Faith, even if they were very faithful to Catholic practices. However, Sr. Helena thinks that TOB is giving Catholic men a voice to their faith; TOB is making theology concrete, interesting, fascinating and do-able to the common layman.]

The book goes on to say that theology is a (manly) man's task (that men need to take up!) [Not that women can't "do" theology, but there is that divine order in creation where the man "initiates," even spiritually. Even her most radical feminist days, Sr. Helena always thought it was stupid that women objected to men (exclusively) preaching to women in church, because Sr. Helena a) basically liked what men had to say and how they said it b) women are perfectly capable of finding their own voice—preaching in church is just ONE locus and form of discourse c) men have no control over how we HEAR what they say and what we do with it, and we can't help but hear/receive/process as the women that we are (even though she had very little clue what it really meant to be a woman at that point). The great Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA, when asked about "women's ordination" said: "I can preach anywhere I want. On the street, in the home, in the school, in the workplace, on the bus. And who are you going to listen to first, anyway? A man in a white dress in a pulpit or yo Momma?"]

The "Atlantic Monthly" article went on to say that since women are outnumbering men in college now (studying), there are campaigns to recruit men for college. (Used to be the opposite.) Many boys/men don't like school because it may not be the way men learn (it may be feminized in its approach, also with more and more female teachers). [Sr. Helena also thinks it has to do with guy's socialization: Do other men value an intellectual man—beyond technological geeks?] Same-sex schools are helpful so that guys can concentrate on academics.

Men were created first [in first account of Creation in the Bible. JP2G says we have to read BOTH accounts of Creation together because they explain each other and are not contradictory]. Why? He was given authority so that the order of love and life could thrive. Even in the Trinity, there is a hierarchy of sorts, a divine order. The Father is the Source! Jesus' whole life was about revealing the Father and doing the will of the Father.

The way men pick up babies is very different from the way women do it! They hold the baby out so the baby feels that he/she is not just cuddled/nurtured by the mother, but also is on his/her own, independent. Then, of course, the Dad THROWS THE BABY UP IN THE AIR. Very instinctively! Whoa! thinks the baby. Life is ALSO scary and exciting, but I can trust that my Dad will catch me. The father tries to prepare the child for life, toughen them up a bit, let the child discover their own strength. Let the child know they can make it on their own. [Sr. Helena commented to the online group attending Fr. Loya's class that she marvels that men never drop their babies! A Dad said: "We actually do worry about that." Ha ha.]

The Church is not patriarchal, it has a patriarchal DIMENSION. If we look at power only, then that's all we care about, that's the only thing we value. But the HEAD is only one part of the body! Where would a head be without a BODY, a HEART? D-E-A-D.
When we only measure the externals-only aspect of a child's development, we are buying into an all-male paradigm! (And yet the article said we don't need men!) When women value only power, they obliterate their own femininity. [And deny that they have a different kind of power! Any which way you slice it, this article is nuts and self-negating, and guess what—womanhood ALWAYS loses when we try to get rid of men, because WE NEED EACH OTHER. Manhood also loses when they try to get rid of women. Or rather, when we either settle for or desire caricatures—of whatever kind--of each other.]

Fr. Loya says: When someone starts with "The Church is patriarchal," a soundbite can be: "Thank God, the Church has a patriarchal dimension to serve womanhood!" Patriarchy manifests the spousal meaning of the body.
Mother and Father bring different essential principles to the child. [Bishop Cordileone—lion-hearted defender of marriage—said that a way to win over the younger crowd who think "gay marriage" is OK, is simply to say: "Children need both a father and a mother." This makes sense to them, especially since many of them have personally experienced the absence of a parent through divorce or something else.]
A way to capture words/phrases: Answer like the Irish do, with a question: "Oh really now?" "Is that so?" so you can slow it down.
[We need to distinguish between what the Church really teaches and the bad practices/behaviors that have cropped up, no matter how ingrained.]
How did Jesus exercise power? [On the Cross, in His vulnerability, doing the will of the Father.] What is the real power of the Church? Monasticism because it is the pulse of the health of the Church. It is all about prayer and being in the closest contact with God. JP2G says this in his encyclical "Light of the East." Monastics also invented hospitals (St. Basil the Great—Eastern Church)
Women in public positions in society humanize and personalize things. One area where men still dominate: custodian [the Garden!] and engineers. [During the Stanley Cup, one woman sportscaster interviewed TROY BROUWER of the Blackhawks. "Now, your Dad was very sick, wasn't he? We tend to think of you guys as machines out there on the ice, but you're human, too." Troy was pleasantly surprised and said in all seriousness: "Yeah, we have feelings, too." And then started to talk about his Dad.]

Feminism had three great movements in history:
1. Property
2. Voting (full participation in civic life)
3. Gender Feminism—anti-male, anti-life, but denying femininity at the same time and trying to become men, and eventually denying the sexual difference all together [Androgyny Feminism]

["The early stages of 20th century feminism drew unfortunate parallels between masculinity and patriarchy, but it is important to keep in mind that they are not the same thing. The masculine, like the feminine, is an inner energy, a form of consciousness. It is what Jung called Logos, and it incorporates judgment, discrimination, reason and a will to action. Since the dawn of patriarchy, we have not culturally or individually experienced a healthy, authentic masculinity. It has been relegated to the same dark underworld as the feminine by the insistence on POWER as the overriding force in patriarchal cultures." –Kathleen A. Brehony "Awakening at Mid-life" I don't totally agree with her assessment here, but this is a completely secular psychology self-help book. It goes on to say that we desperately NEED the presence of fathers in the family!]

Ralph J. Burns, Sr. (12/25/1901--2/6/2003) R. I. P.
Sr. Helena's Pops (who was VERY essential).

[One last thought: fathers/husbands MUST be essential, if God gave St. Joseph to Mary & Jesus. Amen.]


  1. Dear Sister Helena,

    Thanks for the good stuff on theology of the body,on manhood and on what it means to be a man of God.
    It looks like you had a great man for a father.

    I work at Ignatius Press.
    We are going to release in the Fall on DVD the film on Edith Stein starring Maia Morgenstern that the DSP had out many years ago on VHS. (The Seventh Chamber).

    The DSP had a fine companion booklet/study guide with the VHS written by Mary Lea Hill, FSP, with an Intro. by Rose Pacatte, FSP.
    IP would like to see if the DSP would allow us to use it for a companion booklet with our DVD version.

    Can you kindly help me know who to contact at the DSP on this matter? Thanks for any help.

    Love your blog. Always interesting stuff on it.

    Thanks also for the wonderful review you gave our film THE 13TH DAY. It has been a major success.

    God bless.

    Anthony J. Ryan

  2. Dear Anthony,

    Happy recent feastday! Yes, my Pops was an amazing man.

    So glad you're putting the Edith Stein movie out--people have been asking for it!
    Contact our editorial dept. for the study guide: smayer@paulinemedia.com (Sr. Sean)--she may re-direct you to the legal dept.
    God luck and God bless Ignatius Press for all your amazing books & DVDs (you're my favorite Catholic publisher--shhhhhhh). ;]

    Sr. Helena

  3. Thanks for your help, Sister Helena.
    Will contact Sr. Sean.

    If I am reading the dates right, I just noticed that it looks like your "Pops" lived to the ripe young age of 102 years old - is that correct?!

    My dad died a few years ago at almost 97.
    He said he was "shooting for 100" but fell a bit short.

    Thanks for compliments to IP.

  4. Yes, Pops died at 101. And his sister, my aunt, just died this year, also at 101. (But she beat him by a few months which she would have just LOVED--she had dementia for a few yrs.)

    I tell the nuns they're stuck with me for a while. ha ha.

    Both of them had such positive attitudes like your Dad. They loved life and never talked about dying much, but they weren't afraid of it, either.