Manning up is life’s real workout
Masculinity has gotten A twisted, faulty rap lately, as if it is an unfortunate leftover of days gone by.
But true masculinity aligns with the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude), upon which all other virtues hinge. Jesus Christ is the icon for true masculinity – He abided by His role under His Father’s plan, come what would, and plenty did.
As kids we admired guys who played tough sports, got in fights defending siblings or girlfriends, or who had strength to chop wood stumps with an ax. They walked on the outside of a sidewalk to protect the girl, held doors, pursued her but didn’t expect it in return, and didn’t strive to be noticed. They endured injuries, ran miles in bad weather to strength-train, and didn’t expect anyone to sustain them. They didn’t wear makeup, shop excessively, sunbathe, or dawdle in day spas. They didn’t avoid work. Those in military service were proud to serve. They didn’t bad-mouth parents, or ignore requests for help.
And as girls, we worked toward goals with the resources and talents we had, not expecting what wasn’t ours, or which we didn’t earn. We didn’t use our femininity for victim status, and didn’t see males as the enemy line.
When these guys and gals married, many rejoiced in their young families and went the extra mile to provide for them. If it meant holding multiple jobs, they did. Most knew their place before God.
That was then.
Many of today’s youth have eschewed this, for pleasures and distractions of mediocrity and modernity. And this has bred a pervasive effeminacy.
Too often they cannot face graduation, work, marriage, parenthood, or rigor… despite their ‘life is good’ mantra. St. Thomas Aquinas defines effeminacy as “a sorrow and unwillingness to be separated from pleasure in order to pursue what is arduous and difficult.” Practice of solid virtue – in choosing the good and demanding, over the soft and easy – is life-training for success, and for eternity.
And yet a manly man – or woman – doesn’t necessarily present as a bruiser. Whether young or older, they simply are masters of their passions – at work, in families, in marriage, and before God. They are circumspect and have command of themselves. Manly men and women aren’t afraid of their roles as family leaders and mentors, maintain rightful boundaries, and manage expectations. They don’t lose sight of the broader picture, now or later.
Simply, manliness is putting God first…. in everything. It’s key to ordered families, workplaces, and society.
Manliness is not just attractive to others, but attractive to God. It means overcoming fear of the unknown, to attain an ultimate good. It means following legitimate laws – including those of the Church – no matter the difficulty or unpopularity. It means conquering temptation with urgency and effort, for purity of soul. And finally, it means praying, studying, and living the Catholic faith – regardless of what others say – because that ultimately leads us toward the precious and narrow gate of The Father’s House.
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.