The Church Militant or Impotent?


I just posted an entry on a tragic Holy Week real estate deal on AirMaria, and that has provoked some further reflection on my part. Holy Monday is a time to reflect humbly upon our own sinful betrayal of Jesus Christ.

The Church Militant is fighting for its identity. Leon Podles argues that our Church has been feminized and emasculated. It has become, in his words, the Church Impotent.

The closing of our Churches has many causes, and I am not here to play the blame game; however, this tragedy is reflective of the loss of our missionary spirit, and the sacrificial spirit of Holy Week. So now we can celebrate Holy Week by buying a closed Church . . . and do what with it? Partition it into an upscale apartment, like the one in the picture above? Or how about a garden show, like the one below?


Or perhaps transform it into the Sanctuary Altar Bar?


Actually, we don’t need pagans to buy our old churches and do this for us. We can do it all by ourselves. How about this one; space station or amusement park? Have fun kiddies:


I have had the unmerited grace and pleasure of directing the building of our chapel in Griswold. May Our Lady be praised, we hope that it is a humbly worthy place for Her Son:


My dream, though, is to build something like one of these Fortress Churches. That would teach the girly boys that want to take the manliness out of Holy Week and out of the faith entirely:





Sometimes, it’s just time to spit into your hands and hoist the battle flag. I would rather see this ruined church at the end of my life:


Than this:


Better to die fighting.

The following is something I wrote as a meditation on the fifth sorrowful mystery. It follows the rhythm, if not the meter, of the Hail Mary. I wrote it to express the Marian and Militant spirit of the Cross. It is the spirit of Holy Week. Not for girly boys, but strong women are welcome (cf. Proverbs 31:10):

Hail Victress, standing fast,
The banner is lifted.
Unfurl the sign of salvation,
And storm with Thy Lord
the lair of the Dragon.

Holy Lily of our knighthood,
Draw us to Thy side
To die with Thee,
con-crucified in Him.


I forgot to post this picture of an awesome fortified Church that I visited in Tomar, Portugal. It is situated within the walls of the castle of the Knights of Christ, who were actually Knights Templar who were reformed under the new title in order to escape suppression in the 14th century.


12 thoughts on “The Church Militant or Impotent?

  1. Wow!! Okay, Father Angelo … you must have been an English major before joining the seminary. If not, well you surely COULD have been and at the top of your class, for that matter. The poem was excellent.

    I have to ask about the comments of feminization of the Church militant. In fact, awhile back (tough cop you-tube) you mentioned how the ACLU ‘encourages a whiny and effeminate culture’ which I also was confused by. Now, please don’t get me wrong. I have MANY issues with the ACLU and find very little use for them, personally. But, I’m not sure why you feel they encourage an effeminate culture. Also, I’m not sure I understand how the Church militant has become feminized.

    I’m not trying to be some liberal feminist … truly I’m not. I’ll admit that I’ve had to fight these tendencies over the years but thought I mostly had by now. I’ve humbly come to accept the comments of women being the weaker sex … it still turns my stomach but when I pray about it, I find peace in it! Down deep, I WANT someone to protect me and I think that’s a natural female need that we’ve been taught to suppress. I remember once saying to my husband that I wanted to carve a cave into his chest wall and just climb in there and be surrounded by his love and protection. He laughed and said that he’s often wanted to take me and draw me in so that he CAN protect me … which is the natural male response, I believe. So … this is my long explanation as to why my questions are not meant to be male-bashing or liberal.

    I realize this has little to do with these beautiful churches becoming a side show, which is tragic. I do like your thoughts for the Friary … Is the bell tower supposed to eventually be attached to the main Church? I wonder if you need me to start needling a few architects that I know to help see where, or if, this bell tower will ever even happen for you!

    Okay … I brought up enough topics for this one post.

  2. Jen,

    Thank you.

    I won’t present here the argument of Podles. I don’t entirely agree with his assessment.

    In my opinion, the Church has been feminized largely because misplaced compassion. Empathy is the virtue of women, but the particular weakness of women is to practice this to excess. Men need action. They need to fight and defend.

    Women connaturally are prayerful. Men have a harder time at it, and generally they don’t want to imitate women in regard to piety. They need their own form of piety. They need to translate prayer into action; hence, the importance of chivalry and the idea of the Church Militant.

    Our kinder, gentler Church, does not appeal to most men. Their fatherhood has been undermined. In business, where the environment is very competitive, if a man does not get his job done, he is fired and someone else replaces him. Unfortunately, in the Church of recent, there are often no consequences. The family is a mess because the men have been emasculated.

    In regard to the ACLU and its role in feminizing culture. More misplaced compassion, and even worse: the encourage people to claim victimhood wherever they can. It is always someone else’s fault. I don’t mean to suggest that women have this particular proclivity. I am saying that this behavior is particularly despicable among men. The ACLU is for girly boys.

    God bless, that admirable man, Archbishop Burke.

    No the bell tower will not be attached to a Church. It is meant to stand alone as a fortified tower. The fortified Church is just a dream.

  3. You brought up very interesting points on male versus female traits that I never thought of before. I can agree about women’s strength, and thus their ultimate weakness, being that of empathy when it gets taken to excess. I never thought of empathy being a female quality before, but I can see your point here. I also can see how men are more of your ‘roll your sleeves up and get to business and stop TALKING about it, for Pete’s sake’. Most men I know are probably FORCED to be more empathetic or sympathetic because of some woman urging them to see it that way.
    I also agree with the fact that families are now a mess due to the emasculation of men.
    But, I was quite shocked about women being more connaturally prayerful than men. I truly never expected that one. What about all the saints and Popes and priests who are far more prayerful than most of us women? I was also confused about the piety being different for men than women. I’ve never thought about this before and would love to understand this better. I know with many women over the years, I’ve heard similar frustrations about not being able to get their husbands to be more prayerful, etc … but maybe we’re expecting them to be something they’re not and are not recognizing their piety for what it is. (These are men that go to Church each week and are committed to their families, etc.)

    As for the ACLU, the only feminization I can understand is when it comes to their involvement with education. I think the schools are more designed for girls than boys … most girls have a far greater ability to sit for extended hours and plug through work without getting into another’s “space” in the process. Most boys I know have far too much of a need for physical outlets that are being denied as of late…. therefore, they cannot complete the paperwork and begin to get into other people’s spaces … i.e., they become obnoxious and find themselves literally sprawled out on the floor like a worm! Girls get GREAT grades for penmanship, playing nicely and controlling themselves … boys tend to do far more miserably here for many years and many mothers feel like total failures because of this unrealistic expectation. This is due, I feel, to expectations not being realistic for boys and this is where I see feminization … I guess the other part of it is still foggy to me!

  4. Jennifer,

    Your points are all very valid and your confusion is exactly as it should be. We are not supposed to really understand each other! We merely have to accept what God has made us and revert to playing the role which is natural to each gender, and which has been ordained by God.

    It is only when we try to subvert what God intended that things become unstuck. And started in the Garden of Eden of course. I am convinced that when Eve ate from the tree if Adam had been the man God intended, he would have told Eve that they both had to admit to God what she had done and he would have begged God to take the punishment upon himself on her behalf! Maybe then we would not have been tarred with the brush of Original Sin! Of course instead he was a wimp, gave in and ate the fruit, and THEN blamed it on her! Sounds like the beginning of the ACLU!!

    But on a certain level the feminists have got it right – we are all equal in dignity before God. And I would argue that Women have a step up on us men, as the most perfect creature is a woman, The Woman! But where they get it wrong is where that dignity originates, and it is NOT in things secular.

    So to become better men and women, we should strive to see God’s plan for us and within the gender, the circumstances, and the body and brain he has given to us, we should look to scripture and tradition for role models to emulate.

    And also of course we can learn from each other. As you say, men are not as easily drawn to prayer and contemplation as women. But we need to have that element in our lives and you can help teach (train???) us in those virtuous pursuits. And Men can help women understand the virtue of prudence when emotions threaten to take over. Also, as you point out there are holy men and women who have taken one of the other traits and shown how to live it, but within their own manner. I am sure that St. John of the Cross expressed his contemplative prayer life in a truly masculine way, while St. Theresa of Avila climbed her series of mansions in a feminine fashion. And St. Joan of Arc was clearly a figure of action and a leader of powerful men, but she was always “the maid” and was able to stay that way throughout her trials.

    Ah yes, these are the things to meditate upon. The hairy chested man of action in the secular world is more a bully than a man. But when tempered by prayer and right formation, he becomes truly a “knight in shining armor”. And the feminine traits valued in the world today appear as either sluttiness or femi-nazi-ism! But when these are tempered with contemplation of Our Lady, they become vehicles for transformation into a life of virtue.

    And yes Father, I enjoyed the poem also. Do you have the other 19 mysteries so rendered?

  5. Knight Errant.

    Yes, I do actually. My plan is to combine the verses with a meditation, a piece of fine art, and a short commentary on the painting. Alas. . . I fear that will never happen.

  6. Jen,

    I think the difference between the piety of men and women is that women can be contemplative and domestic without finding any particular need to translate their interior and personalist orientation into any larger plan.

    I think men thrive in the environment of action. They need it. They need, in a particular way, to translate their faith into a program of action. They need to have an ideal to fight for.

    I think it is perfectly legitimate to make this kind of generalization. Even though it is only generally true, it is still meaningful.

    Men are knights who need to fight for their lady (wife, Church, the Blessed Mother), women are damsels in distress, that is, in need of protection. They need someone to value their domesticity which is oriented toward maternity (physical and/or spiritual) and protect it, and in turn women humanize men and make them better and more noble.

  7. Knight Errant,


    I think your very moderate and carefully worded post reveals that you are finally getting in touch with your feminine side.


  8. Thank you all for your wonderful explanations and Knight Errant really has come a long way, now, hasn’t he? 🙂 Somehow, though, I just see the *lead balloon* image when he’s been told that he’s gotten in touch with his feminine side. Oh, boy. Watch out.

  9. This *girly boy* phrase is way too funny … what are the women called who seem to have too much testerone these days? Tool belts strapped around their waste and what-not … manly chicks?

    But, I will admit that I’ve been found with different tools in my hand to repair things and it’s always fun to try new stuff … granted, my workmanship ain’t always pretty and I’ve been known to permanently strip a few bolts in my day, much to my husband’s disgust.

  10. And I wear a pink shirt now.

    Please excuse me for not writing more, but I feel a need to dialogue with my spouse and children about their feelings. I also remember that I have to write a few thank you cards from Christmas. Perhaps the flowers and clouds theme?

    I think this discussion is really lovely. Goodness what a lot I’ve missed while suppressing my feminine side! When is that sewing class at the Friary?


  11. Knight Errant,

    Okay … I’m thoroughly choking on my cup of coffee here in complete hysterics. How we digress.

    Time to get some work done .. oy.

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