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For the Men… a 10-min video on the genius of masculinity and the call to holiness in a man’s life

I do a lot of talking and writing about the feminine genius. Here’s some strong talk and holy vision from the Diocese of Phoenix regarding the gift of men, or the masculine genius, in God’s plan.

There’s a relatively new website devoted to calling men forward and deeper with the Lord. It’s called Into The Breach. In it Bishop Olmsted offers an apostolic exhortation to the men of his diocese and beyond. If you like this, please share it with others.

The F.U.N. Quotient… viva la differénce

Just in time for the holiday shopping season…

Men of virtue — or thoughts on ‘what is a gentleman?’

Men of virtue — or thoughts on ‘what is a gentleman?’

gentleman |ˈjentlmən|

noun ( pl. gentlemen )
a chivalrous, courteous, or honorable man: he behaved like a perfect gentleman.

-New Oxford American Dictionary-

The other day on the phone my son told me he sent flowers to his girlfriend who having an extremely busy week in the run-up to an international event her firm is hosting. Good move.

The next day I saw Facebook photos of my other son wearing a suit before a college homecoming dance, complete with a purple tie to flatter his girlfriend’s dress. Nice touch.

My husband and I recently went out to a pretty upscale French restaurant to mark our anniversary. And he brought a card, complete with a note inside from him. Words are big on my love-language list. This man never misses on this count. He is big on hand holding and door holding too. He’ll even hold my purse for me when asked.

This is the same man who helps me run a large bible study every week. He leads a discussion group. He helps set up and put away the supplies. He locks up and make sure everything is safe and secure when its over. His generous courtesies actions allow me to take final personal questions and visit with the participants who’d like to spend a little extra time. I’m grateful for it all.

For women, a man being a gentleman is not just about courtesy and gallant gestures… it’s more about the virtues that motivate them. It makes women ask: who is the man within?

In the last week my news feeds keep sending me gentlemanly posts and I thought I’d share a few with you.

In 4 Signs of a True Gentleman, Dale Partridge, now father to a daughter, is in a kind of quest to really be the first gentleman in his daughter’s life. He offers this as numero uno:

1. He Puts All Women Before Himself
Being a gentlemen has no bounds of an intimate relationship. It is a badge a man should carry with him at all times. A true gentlemen treats his mother, sisters, female friends and all feminine acquaintances with admiration and regard. He is in constant search of ways to honor and uphold the value of his female counterpart. Whether through listening, defending or affirming, a true gentlemen is a source of strength to all women, not just the one he desires.

See the other 3 items.  

That’s a pretty tall order. Yet it is another way of saying, love your neighbor. Or extend respect to all women. For respect precedes love. I always told my daughter, back in her dating days… pay attention to how a man treats his mother and his sister. It will tell you much.

Over at CatholicMom.com, Ginny Moyer writes “What it Means to Be a “Gentleman” (And Why a Mom Should Care)“. In it she describes the gift of courtesy, too, and she also talks about a man’s inbred notion of the dignity of the human person — his treatment of the other — as a necessary core value.

A gentleman sees the innate human dignity of others, all others.  Remember in Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth goes to Darcy’s home and hears from the housekeeper about how well he treats all the workers on his estate?  Previously, she had accused him of not being a gentleman, but a testimony like that goes a long way towards altering her initial opinion.  You can be fairly certain you’re on a date with a gentleman when he is genuinely and unostentatiously kind to the guy who refills the water glasses.

Read the rest.

I came across a fairly young blog for men called, The Catholic Gentlemen, written by Sam Guzman, the communications director for Pro-Life Wisconsin. He is pretty direct in calling men not only to gentlemanly behavior, but to holiness. He writes that there is a “man crisis” in the Church today and his call to radical faith in the teachings of Christ and his Church. You’ll get a taste of that from this recent post post on “12 Ways to be a Committed Catholic Man. ” Besides calling men to a deep faith in Jesus Christ… his #5 on his list of 12 is all about the Eucharist.

Discover the majestic manliness of the Mass – The Mass is the “source and summit” of the Catholic faith, and yet, the majority of men claim to “be bored by the Mass” and to “not get anything out of the Mass”. This is because they don’t know what is occurring in the Mass: they have little understanding of the manly symbolism of the Mass, a Sacrament that has been devoutly passed down for 2000 years. They don’t realize that during the Mass they are witnesses to the actual Bloody Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. If a man doesn’t actively participate in the Mass because of ignorance and boredom, he can’t receive the Graces that flow from the Eucharist. Learn the Mass to such a degree that you can explain it to others with the reverence and devotion that Christ’s Sacrifice deserves.

Read all 12 of Guzman’s list.

BONUS from Guzman: Chesterton’s Rule of Drinking.

The holiness factor — men with virtue — this is what we women are seeking.

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On the heels of my post “The Art of the Love Letter”, let’s hear it for acts of kindness in Marriage!

On the heels of my post “The Art of the Love Letter”, let’s hear it for acts of kindness in Marriage!

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I wrote “The Art of the Love Letter” last week to give men —  who think they’d rather show their love instead of talk about it — an insight into the heart of many women for whom the words of love are important. Yes, even long past the “honeymoon” stage of the relationship, there’s nothing like receiving a handwritten testament of the love of one’s mate. I made the case that in Catholic life both words and deeds are important because they reflect the sacramentality of our lives. We are both body and soul, and marriages are both physical and spiritual. Of course, a woman wants her man to demonstrate his love with the things he does, and while some men may balk, I continue to stand by the notion a love letter is a physical demonstration of their love for their wives.

By the same token, there’s no reason a woman shouldn’t compose a love letter to her husband or husband-to-be. So, of course, good women, write away! Just because I wrote my piece from a woman’s point of view, does not mean that woman could not return the favor in kind.

In fact, the point of this whole post, is that marriages need acts of kindness to support the relationships between husbands and wives. I’m happy to report that Frank Weathers at Why I Am a Catholic gives an excellent reply to the invitation to write a love letter for his wife by issuing his own Valentine’s Day challenge to the women…

As Pat Gohn shames us men into drafting epic love letters for our sweeties this year, will us men be rewarded in kind? Here’s an idea, ladies. We’re pretty easy to please… Bacon_Roses

…Think STOMACH! Just give him Bacon Roses.

Do read the rest!

Just today, the Wall Street Journal has an excellent article by Elizabeth Bernstein: Small Acts, Big Love” that describes that a recent study finds that “small acts of kindness boost marital satisfaction.”  The husband of the first couple cited in the article, Mr. Kline, mentions that he’s not one of those tell-her-I-love-her kind of guys…

Chris Kline doesn’t like to tell his wife of 17 years, Tara, that he loves her. He prefers to show her—by loading her favorite songs on her phone and warming up her car on cold mornings. While she was away on business recently, he surprised her by painting her home office in her favorite colors, Mardi Gras purple and gold.

“Saying ‘I love you’ is just words,” says Mr. Kline, a 42-year-old engineer from Shoemakersville, Pa. “I like to do things that require effort, planning and a little bit of sacrifice. It shows you are putting the other person first.”

Researchers call this “compassionate love”—recognizing a partner’s needs and concerns and putting them ahead of your own. “It’s not just making people feel good,” says Harry T. Reis, a University of Rochester professor of psychology. “It’s a way of communicating to the other person that you understand what they are all about and that you appreciate and care for them.”

Illustrations by Kyle T. Webster

Since 2009, Dr. Reis has been studying 175 newlywed couples from around the U.S., asking how they show their spouses compassion. His findings, not yet published, indicate that people who discover ways to regularly show their spouses this kind of love are happier in their marriages.

Small selfless acts between spouses aren’t just nice—they also are necessary, experts say. When acts of kindness and caregiving disappear, it is an indication the relationship needs help.

You’ll have to read to the end to see if Mr. Kline changes his perspective on using words of love to his wife… but I stand by my advice when it comes to love letters from husbands to wives. There’s a separate side bar that includes “10 Marriage Sweeteners” such as:

“Put your partner’s goals first. Giving your husband the last cupcake is easy. Spending your vacation—again—with his family is hard.

“Go out of your way to ‘be there.’ Pay attention when your partner seems particularly stressed and try to help.”

“Show respect and admiration. Celebrate successes, even little ones. Did your spouse handle a touchy situation well, or make you laugh? Point it out.”

Finally, here’s a video with tips from the article.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

The Art of the Love Letter: Tips for husbands and husbands-to-be as Valentine’s Day Approaches

The Art of the Love Letter: Tips for husbands and husbands-to-be as Valentine’s Day Approaches

In which I kind of get to brag on my husband a little as I encourage men to commit their love to paper in honor of St Valentine…

In the rush to go green and paperless, and in the never ending screen-related communication that we face daily, the love letter will never lose its power. Sure, there’s flowers, and candy, and dates, and tokens of affection that warm the heart. But a letter… an offering of thought and emotion and whimsy and truth — surely I hope a few men will look to try their hand at it, especially if they’re shy about it. Here’s an except from my latest column at Patheos:

We are looking for words that endure, that are authentic, and worthy of being committed to paper in a moment that cannot shut off or erased. (And yes, you can buy that awesomely tender card in the store and sign your name, and really, she will love your thoughtfulness. But stick with me here, guys, go for something a bit more customized, and permanent.)

Remember: If you’ve found a woman who loves you, then you’ve found a treasure.

Do you see all those empty and counterfeit “loves” out there? Do you see the heartaches and the pain that exists between women and men today? So does she. It grieves her soul. Do what you can to sure up the foundations of love in your life. Make sure she knows what she’s won, when she has won your heart.

For Valentine’s Day, or really, for any special occasion — her birthday, your anniversary, you name it — you want to do the uncommon thing, the heroic thing, the thing that sets you apart from anyone else in the world, the thing that she will carry in her heart, or in her top dresser drawer, or purse, until next Valentine’s Day and beyond.

She wants to hear and know the words that only you can give her: words from you that describe how you cherish her and value your love together.

How does a guy accomplish this love letter thing? I give him a few tips in this article — writing prompts for writing for a woman’s heart.

You can thank me later, ladies and gents.

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Men Not Behaving Badly

Lately, as I’ve come through the past few years producing Among Women, and the last few months preparing the manuscript for Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, I’ve done a lot of thinking, writing, and speaking, about women and their inherent dignity, gifts, and mission… call it a job hazard. The flip side is that while I’ve thought so much about the gifts and virtues of womanhood, I’ve really come to appreciate the men in my life all the more. And I’ve been on the look out for those moments when I see men doing good things, even great things for others, and for God.

I know a lot of men miss the mark, as do women, in living out the call to holiness. I agree with the Pope’s and Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s assessment, on the eve of the Year of Faith, that we’ve got to turn the tide on the “tsunami of secularism” that has flooded into our western world, and send out the life boats in terms of the new evangelization. I expect this blog to be busy with its own observation of the Year of Faith, too, but I digress.

Lately, I’ve taken to noticing little glimmers of the greatness of masculinity, in some of the music that is popular at the moment. Songs about men stepping up, taking a stand, especially for women and families and friends. I’m not commenting or making judgments on the lives of these singer-songwriters or trying to lift them up as role models. I can’t speak to that as I don’t follow the lives of these stars or the tabloids. I’m just saying these songs — their lyrics — are resonating at the moment with many people, including myself. Let’s look for the good, the true, and the beautiful where we can find it, and let’s use it as a starting point for sharing our faith with others.

The new album from Mumford and Sons is making a lot of noise with the twenty-somethings I know. Some are saying this song “I Will Wait” is a call to chastity before marriage, (and I would add, within marriage when you get right down to it, though in a different form in terms of self-mastery and fidelity)… but you can decide. Here are some of the lyrics:

Now I’ll be bold
As well as strong
And use my head alongside my heart
So tame my flesh
And fix my eyes
A tethered mind freed from the lies

And I’ll kneel down
Wait for now
I’ll kneel down
Know my ground

Raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
And bow my head
Keep my heart slow

‘Cause I will wait I will wait for you
And I will wait I will wait for you
And I will wait I will wait for you
And I will wait I will wait for you

 

Here’s a song that really speaks to that line of scripture from John’s gospel (Jn 15:13) … Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. The singer, Keith Urban contemplates if he could really do that, and concludes that for the love of his life, he  thinks he could but he has’t been tested yet. The song lyrics of “For You” are very powerful in any setting, but this video is filmed in a military setting… in a war zone where lives are at stake every day… as it was one of the songs from the film, Act of Valor. That may not be to your taste, but the life of our military is certainly one of those situations that brings that scripture to light. Here are some of the lyrics:

All I saw was smoke and fire
I didn’t feel a thing
But suddenly I was rising higher
And I felt like I just made
The biggest mistake
When I thought about my unborn child
When I thought about my wife
And the answer rang out clear
From somewhere up above
No greater gift has man
Than to lay down his life for love

And I wonder, would I give my life
Could I make that sacrifice
If it came down to it
Could I take the bullet, I would
Yes I would, for you

I’m a music lover. I pay attention to song lyrics that move people toward doing the good and the right things, even if the content of the songs does not directly speak to the cause of Christ. Hats off to what these men are singing about. I pray they will live it and inspire other men to seek the higher things for the greater good.

I’d love to know what songs speak well of men, and call them to greatness, that you could name.