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Now Reading: Mastering Manhood Through Mary

Mastering Manhood Through Mary

Some years back, I heard a priest say something shocking during a homily. It was before I was Catholic, and I was present at the Mass on a holy day of obligation as a way of keeping a faux peace in my marriage. My wife converted to Catholicism in 2004, a year before we met, and, even after we wed in 2006 and after I agreed to raise our kids in the Faith, I still had no intention of becoming Catholic.

 “Mary is a gift to all men,” the priest said rather plainly. I recall we gathered together to celebrate the feast of the Assumption. At first, I thought he meant Mary was a gift to all humanity. Many priests emphasize how our Lord presented his mother, the Woman, to the beloved disciple at the foot of his cross, and how we are all called beloved disciples who must also dutifully take Mary into our own homes. However for me, this argument had no real impact. I resigned ready for this priest to make the same argument. Instead, he took a different approach, even intensifying his tone.

“Mary offers men, in particular, a way out of a difficult problem. For women, loving Jesus comes easily and naturally. But it does not feel so easy or natural for a man to love another man as intimately as we ought to love our Lord. Mary presents men with a solution to this difficult challenge.”

What on earth was he saying? I recall thinking. I sat up straight in the pew and leaned in close. The priest continued to make other good points, but mentally I lagged behind and lingered on his penetrating statement. Mary is a gift to men.

For many years, his words simmered on the back burner of my mind. Eventually, in 2014, I would fully enter the Church on the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. However, I never forgot the priest’s words. It was not until years later, after encountering Saint John Paul II’s teaching on Theology of the Body, that the priest’s wisdom finally led to great insight into what it means to be a man.

The New Eve

Mary’s role in the Church is always to reflect and advance the glory of her son. In fact, Mary never ceases to defend and protect Jesus. For example, the Church’s teaching on Mary’s title as Theotokos—Mother of God—merely reflects the truth of her son’s divinity, and is not exclusively a praise of Mary alone. In the Church’s teaching on Mary’s perpetual virginity, the Church protects the miraculous nature of Jesus’ earthly birth, which early church fathers describe as “light [passing] through glass without harming the glass” (Miravalle 2012). This analogy has bears greater meaning as we profess in the Nicene Creed belief in Jesus Christ, who is consubstantial with the Father, as being “God from God, Light from Light.”

Jesus Christ is the divine Light, “the life of the light of the human race” (Jn 1:3b), that passed through the precious womb of the blessed Virgin. As such, we can imagine Mary as a sort of prism for that Light. In view of her singularly unique qualities illuminated by the divine Light, we can see certain mysteries concerning God’s plan for humanity come to life.

In an Apostolic Exhortation titled Marialis Cultus (1974), his Holiness Paul VI writes, “Mary, the New Woman, stands at the side of Christ, the New Man, within whose mystery the mystery of the human being alone finds true light; she is given to us as a pledge and guarantee that God’s plan in Christ for the salvation of the whole human person has already achieved realization in a creature: in her.”

God designed humanity in His image, “in the image of God He created them, male and female, He created them” (Gn 1:27). This incredible passage from Genesis signifies not merely that God created each individual alone to bear the imago dei, but also He imprinted His image upon the communal life of man with woman. In a homily delivered on June 14, 2015, Pope Francis explains, “…not only is man taken in himself the image of God, not only is woman taken in herself the image of God, but also man and woman, as a couple, are the image of God.” Moreover, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Man and woman were made “for each other” – not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be “helpmate” to the other, for they are equal as persons (“bone of my bones…”) and complementary as masculine and feminine” (CCC 372).

This of course makes perfect sense in view of God’s divine nature. Through Sacred Revelation, we know that God is not merely one Being, but also a trinity of Three Divine Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Himself, He brings to perfection both singularity and plurality. This is a rather abstract idea, but what it means for us concretely is that man bears Gods image singularly, as does woman, but then so does the complementarity of the sexes.

We further know from Theology of the Body that the complementarity of the sexes is given a particular grace in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. From the very origins of the human race, man and woman were made “to be a communion of persons, in which each can be “helpmate” to the other” (CCC 372).

The Mother of Men

Here is where the Priest’s words from earlier comes into perfect focus. Mary is the Immaculate Conception, the New Eve, perfectly complementary to every human male. As the New Eve, Mary is our helper, perfectly compatible with every human male and yearning to help us master manhood to become who God called us to be in our families, in our marriages, and in society.

With her aid and graces, we can secure the victory delivered for us by the pure sacrifice of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As men, consecration to her is not merely a spiritual act of faith, but an essential act of manhood. She completes us, which is not to say God left us half-made and incomplete. Instead, God created us to be in communion with perfect femininity, which, we find in her. Like the priest said, Mary is a gift to men.

Matthew D. Pride is an U.S. Army active duty officer assigned to Fort Knox, Kentucky. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth Kansas, where he earn a Masters of Military Arts and Science in Strategic Studies. His thesis work was on Just War Theory. In 2012, he earned a Masters of Science from the University of Missouri Science & Technology in Engineering Management. In 2006, Matt graduated from the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York. He is married to his wife of 11 years, Christina, and together that have four children.

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14 People Replies to “Mastering Manhood Through Mary”

  1. Wonderful article and insight, Matthew Pride!

    I would very much like to share this with the men in my Knights of Columbus council. I was wondering if you would grant permission for me to include it in our Council’s e-mail newsletter, which is sent to all of our members. I would, of course, include full credits just as they appear here – and would also mention the Catholic Gentleman website and encourage members to visit that as well. Please let me know if this would be OK.

    1. Matthew Pride

      Thank you Vincent. You are too generous in your feedback, but it is all for the Glory of God.

      You do not need my permission to reproduce, but you have it nonetheless. May the Holy Spirit unleash a fire of passion and desire in the hearts of the faithful through the New Evangelism!

      God bless,
      MP

      1. Thank you, Matthew! This is very much appreciated!

        God Bless!

        – Vincent

  2. Peter Serrano

    Great article and very informative and I appreciate your extrapolations and expounding on your points in the comments Matthew.

    1. Matthew Pride

      Thank you Peter!

  3. Benton Foster

    Nope. Sorry. Mary is not some kind of substitute for the Jesus that you cannot love because of some kind of weird sexual hangup with men. If you cannot love Jesus, you need to hit your knees and beg that He fix that pronto. There is no substitute for Jesus. There is no end run around His blessed Face. Mary is going to point you back to her Son, anyway. Nope, Nope, Nope.

    1. Benton Foster

      You say, “She completes us, which is not to say God left us half-made and incomplete. Instead, God created us to be in communion with perfect femininity, which, we find in her. Like the priest said, Mary is a gift to men.” No, sir. God made us to be in perfect communion with HIM, not with perfect femininity. And while Mary is a gift, Jesus is THE GIFT. Mary does not complete us. Jesus completes us. You have literally put Mary in the place of Our Lord.

      1. Matthew Pride

        Thanks for your comments Benton. I empathize with your criticism because I once shared your same instinct. In particular your closing point about being made to be in communion with God versus femininity. It should be clear I attempted to speak to the Christian within a Christian context, and therefore took certain presuppositions for granted. For instance, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (not I), “Man and woman were made “for each other” – not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be “helpmate” to the other…” I merely meant to mirror the language from the CCC.

        Of course you are correct – we were made ultimately for God. But I am also right, in that God made man and woman to be in communion with one another. Why do you insist on a dichotomy that is no a dilemma? You present your opposition as an “either, or,” while I argue it is “both, and.”

        But to a much larger point, and we live in an overly sexualized culture, to which your comments above allude. One cannot escape the way our society reduces masculinity and femininity as being social constructs intended to control others or to advance some granulized notion of self-fulfillment. What is worse is since the ‘60s and 70s, femininity has been subverted and is being gradually replaced by a militant feminism that is also devouring masculinity through gender politics and a rampant, unchecked anti-religious activism. Our secular society is on a path to annihilate gender, specifically what God created as man and woman. Normalized transgenderism is just one more step on this dangerous path.

        Years ago, when I heard the priest say the words I described in the article, I was not equipped with a way to understand him as I am today. I thought, like you, that he was making some subversive sexualized point, or, as you put it, “some kind of weird sexual hang up.” However, I dismissed that idea instantly from my mind, seeing that the context of his remarks removed all possibility of that being true. But what did he mean!? Well, I answered that question in my article.

        Your criticism is fair if the only terms I used to explain the difference between masculinity and femininity were sexual in nature. However, this is not the case. Masculinity and femininity are wholly understandable apart from procreation, particularly since the faith is safeguarded by clergy, men and women, who take a vow of celibacy and yet, are fully themselves in the divine life of Christ. Again, my point in writing the argument is to highlight both the distinction and unity of the sexes within the context of the Trinitarian life of God. As I said above, God designed masculinity and femininity complete, distinct, and unto themselves, but also to form a whole. With the sin of our first parents, masculinity and femininity became distorted. Through the humanity of Christ as the New Adam, and his mother, the New Eve, masculinity and femininity are restored.

        Exploring what it means to be human in the context of Jesus and Mary is good, so long as its properly ordered toward the true, good, and beautiful, which ultimately is in God. So a woman can and ought to unite herself to the New Adam for the sake of her femininity, just as a man should unite himself to the New Eve for sake of his masculinity, so long as we know and believe our ultimate end and fulfillment is in God alone.

        I hope that helps.

        1. Hi Matthew, I’m wonder whether you’ve read St. Louis de Montfort’s ‘True Devotion to Mary’? He supports your position in its entirety as his point is that Mary brings us TO Jesus in the same way we would call on our friend’s mother to ask whether he might be able to come to the park with us. In fact, it is a sign of humility, so argues de Montfort, to approach God via Mary because such is God’s unspeakable splendour and glory we need an intercessor to soften our wretchedness.

          Mary has irrevocably changed my life. A rosary a day for a year or so has given me great graces. It just feels natural, particularly as I am devoted to my own mother. The fact that this should be sexualised, as Benton says, is really more a sign of his mind which is understandably corrupted by the culture in which we inhabit. Devotion to Mary is a true gift and every man knows in his heart how much we want the love of a woman and this does not have to be sexual. Mary is the perfect example of femininity so to experience her gentleness and love is truly something to be celebrated and brings us closer to God. It is a treasure. A gorgeous treasure. Through Mary we experience Jesus. That’s why she is there.

          Starting today I am beginning the process of consecration to Mary which will culminate on the Annunciation. I am extremely excited but also very nervous as I don’t know what she will ask of me. Perhaps the priesthood, perhaps the married life – only God truly knows. I really enjoyed your article and think every Catholic man should be devoted to Mary and I think a devotion to Mary will only make a man a better father and husband as he will grow in understanding of the female mind.

          I often imagine myself standing at the door to Mary’s room with a sword ready to fight anyone who wants to hurt her. True femininity only makes men better. We step up because it is written on our hearts. Mary can only make you a better man and a more faithful servant of the Lord.

          I wish you all the best and thank you again for your article. St. Louis de Montfort said he knows a holy person when they love Mary so we are doing well! God bless my friend all the way from the UK.

          1. Matthew Pride

            fshiner: What a beautiful reply!

            I am very familiar with St. Louis de Montfort’s work, though I have not undergone his consecration, which, from what I gather from others, is an intense spiritual exercise (and, I might add, much needed). I did participate in Fr. Michael Gaitley’s “33 days to Morning Glory,” consecrating myself on the feast of the Immaculate Conception in 2014, the same day I was confirmed Catholic. I would like to renew my consecration, having a renewed devotion after some time of study, prayer, and reflection.

            You may so many excellent points and observations above; I just loved reading your post. I admit there are areas where I could have improved upon my points in the article above, but it generally draws upon my experience as an Army officer and seeks to catechize men upon the essential truth that being a man, inasmuch as God designed from the very beginning, necessarily involves a woman as “helpmate,” exactly how the Catechism reads in paragraph 372. Moreover, “The Woman,” namely Mary, Mother of God and New Eve, draws us into a deeper understanding of ourselves as men in relation to her, the perfect woman, which in turn (and with her help), allows us to grow spiritually mature in our own personal relationships, whether chaste and single, or married.

            What’s more is if Catholic men arm themselves often with Rosary meditations, then the power of Our Lady as the Ark of the New Covenant will deliver the victory secured for us by the pure sacrifice of her Son, Jesus Christ. The article above is intended to take a very familiar narrative and very comfortable (maybe even domesticated) assumption concerning Our Lady and to turn it on its head. It intends to arm men with the right tools and a right understanding of why Marian consecration is more than a simple act of faith; it is an essential act of manhood!

            God bless you with your discernment for the Priesthood!

        2. Matthew Pride

          Again Benton: My argument is that in the beginning, God created “Man” and “Woman.” Manhood is something real and objective, just as womanhood is real and objective as well. He created Man to be masculine and woman to be feminine. Adam distorted masculinity by committing sin, and Eve distorted femininity by committing sin. We now bear that distortion image in a fallen human nature that at birth manifests as original sin, but, when cleansed through baptism, remains as concupiscence. Nevertheless, Jesus restored masculinity to its proper essence in that he himself is fully and truly human, the perfect man. Mary restored femininity in that she herself is the immaculate conception and the New Eve, created as the perfect woman.

          “Man and woman were ‘made for each other” – not that God left them half-made or incomplete: He created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be a helpmate to the other…” (CCC 372).

          All I hoped to do is show how consecration to Mary is more than an act of faith, but is an essential act of manhood (for the sake of uniting our broken masculinity to her perfected femininity).

          The priest who I quoted in my article may not have used the best arrangement of words (by your judgment), but I never would have arrived at the conclusion presented in my article above had he not said what he did, and we would not be having this conversation if he did say those things. God works in mysterious ways…

  4. John Sposato

    Well, I would like to read the rest of this article, but it…

  5. Good article. Thanks for sharing it with us. I write about Mama Mary every week on my website/blog.


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