So much has been misunderstood and misconstrued about genuine masculinity in our culture and society so much so that when a man acts as a true natural man he is said to be a tyrant or a savage. So how do we as men strike a balance between appearing to be beastly and becoming feminine, because so often we hear that women would like men to be more communicative or conversational or expressive of feelings? Well, those just so happen to be female-dominant characteristics. So the feminist culture denigrates men by saying that women are so “articulate” but men just grunt and bark. So it makes us wonder why women would even want to get involved with men anyway. Why not just commune with other women and be intellectually stimulated and talk-talk-talk ‘til the cows come home?
Regardless of the feminist spin on things, normal women really are “interested,” that is attracted to and aroused naturally by real, normal men. Yes, women really do LOVE tough, rugged, bold, muscular, hairy men. Realistically though and understandably, in a marriage setting anyway, women would want us to be somewhat civilized. Of course we do have the capacity to do this without being emasculated or feminine. The classic word for this is being a “gentleman” which it seems modern man has drifted away from in the weak, juvenile direction.
This is an ideal thing to take note of during Advent, because it is a Season of penance and self-examination. One thing that has stuck in my mind from motivator Mike Litman is “Successful people do the things they don’t want to do.” I like to use motivational material and principles and apply them to ALL dimensions of life, including the family and the spiritual life. Self-denial is going to take on different approaches and practices for men and for women, as masculinity and femininity have some opposites that attract and make us complementary. GC Dilsaver talks about the “Scepter of Self-Discipline” (self-denial being a type of self-discipline) in his book The Three Marks of Manhood. He says “In general, self-discipline is a more prominent and intense dynamic in manly formation than it is in womanly development. For though women must discipline themselves, their particular charism is not evoked by the willed hard discipline mandated by cognitive ideals, but rather of a sacrificial love that is evoked by an intuitive receptivity…Therefore it is unlikely that a young man will be able to depend on a constant and correct heartfelt intuition; as such, he often must coerce himself into taking the high road.” (p.61) “Often it will be uncomfortable…The end goal of the young man’s self-discipline is the formation of virtues. The word virtue itself comes from the Latin virus, which means ‘manliness’…Of the four cardinal moral virtues—prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance—temperance is the most crucial to the young man. Temperance is the ability to govern one’s sensual appetites; in short, it is the acquisition of self-control.” (p.62)
So, let’s apply this principle of self-denial/self-discipline/self-control to our commitment to our wives is holy matrimony and thereby to our families in general. Of course we should be 100% completely committed to our wives. Naturally we are visually and physically attracted to the feminine. So we may be tempted to lust with the temptations so closely placed around us in the way of immodestly, provocatively dressed women and the ease of access to pornography. We need to take the high road and resist these temptations. Because of the commitment we have made to our wives such things would be unthinkable to commit as even the severely blatant offense of physical adultery, but Christ even calls us higher to remain committed in our hearts by what we do with our eyes (Matt 5:28). Flowing closely from the fidelity to our wives in marriage to our families, we need to pay attention to our other appetites that may draw us away from them. We get drawn into our businesses and work, or into sports, or into hunting or cars, or whatever mechanical or wild things naturally capture our attention. We must discipline these desires and entertainments so that we are present to our families to be able to lead them. Our wives will be more naturally drawn to our families and our children because of their interpersonal and “receptive” nature. We have to rise above our nature and plug ourselves into our families and be there to do the job we need to do. This is not a strictly feminine characteristic or virtue at all, but one that women generally more naturally possess.
I would be remiss today if I were to neglect the mention of the Blessed Virgin Mary on this celebration of her Immaculate Conception. We men cannot make the mistake of relegating devotion to the Blessed Mother as a devotion only for women. We are all called to have some devotion to the Mother of God. We should have a devotion of prayer because prayer is battle. “Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The "spiritual battle" of the Christian's new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer.”(CCC2725) Remember the Blessed Mother will crush the head of Satan (Gen 3:15). “The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.” The Rosary is a weapon; don’t be afraid to use it.God bless you+