Airsoft Altar Boys

From a reader:

Howdy from the heart of Texas Fr. Z! We decided to get our Altar Boy group together to play airsoft (military simulation that fires plastic pellets) at a local airsoft field. This is why we’re referred to as Altar BOYS. Picture is attached here. I’m the guy in the middle with the Austrian Bullpup rifle.

Oorah!

I hope these extraordinary guys are also learning and serving the Extraordinary Form.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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57 Responses to Airsoft Altar Boys

  1. benedetta says:

    Very cool! What an awesome idea for our altar boys!

  2. off2 says:

    Outstanding!

  3. inara says:

    Excellent! On that note, here’s a great article addressing how we no longer form our boys into Men…and how one priest is trying to change that by starting a “fraternity” for high school young men at his parish. http://thosecatholicmen.com/the-bull-in-bullying/

    I am so thankful for the EF Mass at our parish & the all-male Altar Server Squad that has resulted (yes, they came up with that acronym themselves…they are teenage boys after all! LOL).

  4. ClavesCoelorum says:

    I feel awkward about this, but that’s probably because I’m European.

  5. KevinSymonds says:

    I might be mistaken, but isn’t that the gun range behind Axtel BBQ?

    The restaurant is run by a Romanian family, and if you want a GOOD burger, Axtel BBQ is the place to go.

  6. APX says:

    I don’t understand what playing airsoft has to do with being boys.

  7. Liz says:

    APX…everything.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    APX-learning to be a protector is one of the most important formations a boy can get. Also, logical and clear thinking as well as learning to control the emotions would be part of airsoft.

    Too many boys do not have the chance to learn manly skills.

    The Greatest Generation, those men who fought in WWII. came from some families which still hunted for food, which knew how to shoot, and be responsible with guns. They were close enough to the prairie experience to understand what it means to protect a family. We are being brainwashed to think it is unmanly to learn how to defend one’s self, one’s family and one’s property, when the opposites are true.

  9. Rose in NE says:

    Our altar boys (EF) have gotten together to play airsoft, too! They had so much fun, and it helped build camaraderie among them.

  10. Nicholas Shaler says:

    It’s not uncommon at my parish to have a paint balling trip with Youth Ministry, and occasionally there will be paint balling on retreat.

    We will also do archery on retreat.

  11. Deacon Bill says:

    1) Camaraderie? Great! Simulated weapons, not so much.

    2) Becoming a real man? Great! Violence as a marker of manly growth, not so much. Skill with firearms and military tactics should not be a marker of growth, but a reluctant surrender to necessity, such as we saw in WWII. And I write as 22-year active duty veteran who served and fought in a variety of theaters during his career; no stranger to the world of real men, real violence, real peace.

    3) Ministers at the altar who are enthused and inspired by their ministry? Great! There are many fine ways to have fun together, bond in healthy ways, and model the best masculinity has to offer. This isn’t one of them; there are better options.

    For example, one might read, reflect and pray on Pope Paul VI’s 1965 address to the United Nations General Assembly. . . . [LOL! Thanks for the laugh.]

    God bless,
    Deacon Bill
    Commander, United States Navy (ret.)

  12. ASPM Sem says:

    At the seminary we enjoy a good imprumptu Nerf gun war.

  13. OrthodoxChick says:

    I don’t have a problem with boys playing with guns. Kids have been playing “cowboys and indians” and “cops and robbers” since before t.v. was invented. We don’t seem to have airsoft in my area yet. Up here, laser tag is all the rage. It’s the same principle at play though. Form teams and use those strategic thinking skills to go after your opponent before he comes after you first. I don’t see how it differs in theory from any other form of sport. It seems much more healthy and far more benign than playing some of the more adult and violent video games that most kids of that age play. I almost fell over when I found my 11 year old nephew picking up hookers and throwing them on the side of the road during a game of GTA; this while we were visiting at his house (on Christmas Eve day, no less)!

  14. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. Of course there’s nothing wrong with playing with simulated weaponry. There’s nothing wrong with playing ballgames, even though a baseball once knocked my tooth out; and there’s nothing wrong with running games, even though running means you’re bound to fall and hurt something; and there’s nothing wrong with skating, even if it means you’re bound to bust your butt and your knees and your ankles. There’s nothing sinister about plastic pellet guns, even if they have the gun equivalent of “realistic kung fu action.”

    If you’re going to have PTSD about everything playful in life, what the heck do you expect kids to do? Invent new means of potential sporting mayhem about which nobody knows the dangers yet, I suppose… yeah, that won’t have any problems.

    And I say this as the most un-athletic, un-sportsminded person in Creation.

    2. If you don’t let boys (and men) play hard and often, they’ll never know the proper uses of their own strength and energy. Also, their bodies will take revenge on the world by making them a pure pain in the butt to deal with. I say this as the daughter, sister, cousin, coworker, and neighbor of lots and lots of male persons.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Deacon Bill, from a woman’s point of view, I want to see priests and deacons who know what it means to be a protector. Being a protector means knowing how to defend the defenseless. Being a real man means knowing what it means to be a protector.

    I like to think that St. Joseph would have used his staff if Mary and Jesus needed protecting on the way to and from Egypt. Of course, he had angelic warnings, but not all men are so blessed and have to be ready.

    And the skills learned, only some of which I listed above, are useful as well. I am so glad you made Fr. Z’s “laugh of the day.”

  16. Deacon Bill says:

    Supertradmum,

    To be mocked by someone who has never worn the uniform or faced actual combat is not something I find all that unusual or significant. I will sleep well tonight.

    Thanks for letting me post. [She does not let you post. I, Fr. Z, let you post. Lest there be any confusion on this point. o{]:¬) ]
    God bless,

    Deacon Bill

  17. pannw says:

    @Deacon Bill, I don’t see that Supertradmum was mocking you, so much as your apparently passivist attitude, which I do find odd since you are former military.

    You say, A reluctant surrender to necessity…

    Does this mean you want our men to wait until the hordes are stampeding across the open plains before they figure out how to load, aim and fire a weapon? If Charles Martel had thought that way, Europe and likely the whole world would be Muslim already and we might not be having all the discussions on Father’s blog about all the problems in the Church, because there would be no Church as we now know it, only sparse pockets of the remnant Church Christ promised the gates of Hell would not prevail against it.

    Were you drafted into the Navy?

    As to the Airsoft battle. I think it’s wonderful and am sure it was fun for them, and this might get even my 13 year old son to consider serving. I know it is the wrong reason to do so, but he’s being very stubborn about it. Pray for him. I don’t really want to force him, but Father needs some more serves, having only one regular.

  18. Kerry says:

    Real men know who to shoot, who not to shoot, and the difference between the two. If one cannot distinguish protective violence from predatory violence, or airsoft from airhead, well…

  19. whitewings says:

    notes that the altar servers from her church also do airsoft as an occasional day out. Including the two girls – who were actually significantly better shots than the boys, the last time they all went. :)

  20. Shane says:

    Airsoft is pretty much a slightly more active (and profoundly more expensive) version of playing Call of Duty. This made me laugh.

    What also made me laugh was someone lecturing a retired veteran about “defending the defenseless” and how real men are protectors. Chutzpah you have, supertradmum.

    It will be far more effective to teach our young men to stand up for kids being bullied at school, or to engage in public defense of the Faith, or to treat women with respect and defend them, than running around in the woods with expensive plastic guns.

    [And so a man belittles a woman for expressing her desire that men, according to their vocations, provide an environment for women to fulfill theirs.]

  21. pannw says:

    @Shane

    Because if they spend a day of fun in the fresh air once in a while, they would not be taught or do any of those other things. Good grief.

  22. Shane says:

    @pannw

    True. But if it’s just a day of fun in the fresh air once and a while, why are we having this complex discussion about manhood, masculinity, and the like?

    I just took issue with the idea that this is this great symbol of said things, and that if we are truly talking about being a real men, then their are far bigger things to be teaching.

    [Like… getting those young guys together to reflect on Paul VI's speech to the UN.]

  23. Supertradmum says:

    Deacon Bill, I was not mocking you. I was addressing an objective standard, not one applying to you.

  24. Michael_Thoma says:

    I’m an altar server at my Eastern parish, since I work near the Latin Cathedral, I sent an email asking if they’d be interested in an additional server during daily Mass. I met with the priest, very cordial and friendly, but was told that they don’t really need servers during the week unless it’s a special Mass, and was asked to be an EMHC, which I reluctantly agreed to but am not sure if I want to do. Actually I’m pretty sure I don’t want to do, since it contradicts Eastern sensibilities (yes, I know you can find them somewhere). Any advice?

  25. Cordelio says:

    “Playing guns,” as I recall it being called in my youth, is a pretty harmless activity – and seems to me a completely suitable outing for boys of that age. Since we’re all reading too much into this, though, it is no more a paradigmatic example of masculine recreation than, for example, playing football – nor can it seriously be considered any type of “training” for young men to become good protectors.

    Supertradmum, I am not sure that Deacon Bill was indicating that you mocked him. I assumed he was referring to Father Z’s parenthetical comments on his mention of Paul VI’s address to the UN. I don’t think those rose quite to the level of mockery, either, but perhaps Deacon Bill is a bit prickly. Either way, while I have “worn the uniform,” I generally like to avoid dismissing moral judgments made by the clergy or women on the basis that they never did.

    Also Supertradmum, while present generations may well not be able to handle the sacrifice and hardship faced by the World War II generation(s), I am not sure I will follow Tom Brokaw for my sweeping judgments about the character of an age. If you consider that the baby boomers were the most direct and tangible fruits of the of the “Greatest Generation,” it removes some of their luster.

  26. Nan says:

    @Michael_Thoma, in the Latin Rite, it’s licit. If you’re at the Cathedral, there are likely more daily Mass people than at some other parishes, since it’s in a population center so the need may be to ensure Mass gets through in the allotted amount of time so that depending on time of day, people may a) get to work on time; b) get back from lunch on time, or c) get home when expected. Your assistance would help with that and with having fewer women in the sanctuary…

  27. Kathleen10 says:

    @Shane, Supertradmum was not demonstrating chutzpah, she was responding to a comment, and shared her opinion on men as protectors. I agree with her completely.
    This thread is partly about guns, and partly about traditional male roles, and the mixing of the two.
    As an American woman, I feel a sense of pride looking at that photo. In America, guns are our heritage, and protecting one’s family has always been the male’s responsibility. People today want to pretend they have a better idea, they want to neutralize the sexes, but all I see is confusion, masculine girls and women, and increasingly feminized boys and men. Children do not profit from confused parents who are dueling over their roles and contributions to the family unit. They profit when everyone knows their part and does it, working together for the good of the family and the children.
    Looking at that photo I see boys who are serving God and learning the necessary skills it takes to be the men of our country’s future. They are likely to have something manly and positive to contribute to society and a family. It is encouraging to see them! More men need to get involved in influencing our young boys to become real men and not neutered males. I see alot of boys who’s fathers have walked away completely and left them influenced by only females in the house, and it is a disaster for young boys and for our society. I don’t think most men realize how badly they are needed today by young boys who really and truly have no male at all in their lives to help them realize at all what it is to be a male. I have two nephews who’s Dad was not a good influence and ignored them. I took them on outings, supported them in school, and did everything possible to help them get what they needed. But I had to sadly acknowledge that the thing they needed the most I couldn’t ever give them, the male model and encouragement of how to be a man. I could tell them, but not show them.
    Many men might think no boy would be interested in spending time with them, or that today’s kids would have no interest, but that is wrong. You would probably be the highlight of that boy’s week, and what a privilege, to positively influence a boy who has no one to show him how a good man should think and act. If people have boys in their family who have absent dads, that’s a place to start, but if not, Big Brothers is a good organization. You can really change a boy’s life, and it adds so much to your own!

  28. Just a few thoughts on the concept in play here:

    More and more lately I’m realizing that masculinity is a fraternity, a brotherhood, something that you’re called out of the context of the feminine to participate in. Having certain historically masculine activities (e.g. firearms, hunting, fishing, beers around a fire and conversation for those of age, cards, whatever) that one inherits from one’s culture be a unifying factor for men, whether younger like these teens and youngsters, is not only a good thing, it’s thoroughly necessary. Men and especially boys need to have specific activities that are masculine in nature that they participate in with other men and boys, things that instill in them the idea of masculinity as a vocation of consecration of self to God, an out-calling from the feminine to self-sacrifice, protection, and service to God in a unique way. In that line of thought, I love what they did with the altar boys there. Good stuff.

    Regarding warfare, firearms, violence, and peace, I could go on forever about that. Suffice it to say, while peace is an evangelical necessity that we ought to pursue for the world and bring to it in our actions, the dogmatic certainty that the devil has a certain amount of power over the world due to human sin and an equally certain realization of the corrupting power of sin in the human soul should make us realize that the world is far from the peaceful ideal. The world crucified its Creator, it martyred His followers, and in terms of societies of men, the world wars among itself. This can play out on the personal level in the form of defending oneself or one’s family from evil acting on you in other people’s actions, or it can occur in as large a theater as national conflicts. No matter what, the question is not whether violence is a reality due to sin and the diabolical, but whether participation in violence is just or unjust. If just, it behooves us as men to be willing to answer the call and lay down our lives if necessary. If unjust, we have no business participating and ought to act as peacemakers. In spite of a preference for peace, it can be an obligation to engage in violence in order to protect what we love in justice.

    “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”- G.K. Chesterton

  29. Uxixu says:

    Airsoft is decent since it’s tools are more pseudo-realistic but paintball always had a bigger “oomph” getting hit. Simunitions with real weapons might be preferred but that’s obviously a far more… limited training avenue.

    In any case, a citizenry skilled in firearms makes a tyranny from their own government, to say nothing of a foreign one decidedly unlikely and is a basic prerequisite of a free people, as proclaimed by numerous American statesmen from the Founders through TR through the paragon of modern liberalism (ironically enough), JFK. Small unit tactics and weapons safety are a great idea for espirit de corps and team spirit. If it matters, I am a USMC combat vet, though I don’t think it should.

  30. av8er says:

    I smiled at this picture because as someone who interacts on a daily basis with young adults, I am concerned with the future of men in this country. That young Catholic males do some male bonding, blow off steam, get some good excercise, and possibly learn a skill is great to see. I doubt that they plan their serving at Mass around this. I’m sure they volunteer and do other things that are not as militant.
    On that note, a good lesson here that they may apply to this excercise is that we are the Church Militant and they are training for the spiritual battle that awaits them as adults.
    Lastly, as a father of three girls, I might agree to arranged marriages with boys like these. (That’s a joke…)

    God Bless
    Naval Av8er
    Commander U.S. Navy, active

  31. av8er says:

    Uxixu, I have a small scar on my elbow from a simunition round. Those things hurt.

  32. Rachel Pineda says:

    My boys would love that.

  33. incredulous says:

    @claves,

    You must not be French, Swiss or German.

  34. Dienekes says:

    Back in the day (1950s–NOT 1850s!) my Catholic boys’ boarding school has a rifle team as did many other schools. It was in the study hall that I saw my first 1911 (“Cool! I gotta get one of those!”). Many of the monks that taught us were WWII vets, and they grew up around “tools”.

    I’m not necessarily an Airsoft fan. Pointing that sort of thing at others, no matter how “safe”, makes this old instructor slightly ill. I do, however, see their point; I just think there are other ways.

    Although I have no first hand experience with this outfit, I have heard nothing but good of them.
    http://www.appleseedinfo.org

  35. dominic1955 says:

    Why do some folks have to go into breathless hysterics or self-righteous harumpfing when the subject of guns (real or airsoft or whatever) comes up in this blog?

    We (Catholics) aren’t pacifists, guns are not immoral and boys do (and should) have martial interests. Calm down.

  36. Therese says:

    What a handsome group of young men. Please, God, let there be many vocations here.

    (On that note, I recently read Brother Justin Hannegan’s excellent essay, “Sacrificing Religious Life on the Altar of Egalitarianism.” Link: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/sacrificing-religious-life-on-the-altar-of-egalitarianism)

  37. TXKathi says:

    Well what a surprise to see a pic of some of the altar servers of my (FSSP) parish on this blog!

    Yes, they do serve the EF form of the Mass exclusively. We are blessed to have over 50 altar boys at our parish ranging in age from 7-21. A good number of high school boys & even a few college. A great group of kids – who are trained extremely well by the older boys, dads & our priests.

    Yes, they do more things together than running around and shooting plastic guns at each other. Several of the older boys actually use real guns and shoot things like ducks & deer.
    Yes, we do like our guns in TX. Both real and plastic.

    We also like real men; In my estimation, stuff like this helps build real men.
    As a mom of 3 boys (not pictured due to skiing injuries), big thumbs up.

  38. Andy Lucy says:

    Hooah from ex-Army… and watch that trigger discipline! Keep your booger hook off the bang switch!! ;)

  39. New Sister says:

    I appreciate the contrast of this and its previous post! The REAL femininity of those St Cecelia singers, formed by their Catholic identity, and masculinity, formed by the Catholic faith (e.g., protector males; all-male servers — Deo gratias!!!)

    @ Supertradmum – I agree with your position that airsoft is a positive exercise for young men who, in this age, should be encouraged to be physically fit, hone competency with weapons (and land navigation), to defend and protect — on both corporal and spiritual levels.
    @ Deacon Bill’s position seems effeminate to me (especially from an ordained minister…), and yes, I wear the uniform/served in combat zones, though I don’t see how that is relevant to her point.

  40. Deacon Bill says:

    Not to prolong anything, but there were several questions referred to me which I want to respond to:

    1) I am a “cradle Catholic” who spent high school and college (1963-1971) in seminary preparing for possible ordination to the priesthood. Perhaps this might explain why I was rather stunned to discover that Fr. Z. apparently found my suggestion that teenaged boys might benefit — among many other things, of course! — from a reading of Pope Paul’s 1965 address to the UN General Assembly. Apparently, although I don’t know what this means, I earned a “Fr. Z. laugh of the day” or something. See, I myself was 15 when the Pope made that speech, in French, to the UN, and my seminary classmates and I followed it, in real-time, with great excitement. Some of us had already studied French and followed it fairly easily, and the English translation was available soon after. This did not seem laughable to us; it was dramatic, it was inspiring, and it tied directly to what was being discussed at that moment in the Council. As young men, we found it particularly compelling. Not sure why this should raise a laugh. [Okay. I'll take you at your word: You don't know why this should raise a laugh.]

    2) All of my seminary classmates and I had been serving Mass for many years before going off to the seminary; I happened to start serving in the 3rd Grade. It was what drew many of us to the seminary. On the other hand, probably half of the seminarians had not served Mass before arriving at the seminary. But they got plenty of chances to do so there!

    3) Concerning my military career, someone asked about that. After graduating from college seminary with a BA in Philosophy, I enlisted in the Navy (not drafted) and served as a Hebrew linguist for several years, including a tour on the island of Cyprus during the Yom Kippur War. I the accepted a commission, returned to language school in Russian, and served as an officer in a variety of ships and aircraft, as well as shore stations and missions around the world. When I retired I was running an overseas base. In fact, I was ordained deacon for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC while I was still on active duty.

    For whatever those responses may be worth, there you have it!

    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

    [The readers should also know that you promote the ordination of women to the diaconate. HERE]

  41. Deacon Bill says:

    PS to my last. Clearly a mistype above: Not “all of my classmates” had served Mass before coming to the seminary. My fingers got ahead of me on that. Sorry about that.

  42. Supertradmum says:

    FR. Z and New Sister, thanks. I have noticed something in my now longer life, that the Duck Dynasty type guys with the Ford trucks and gun boxes, who, if I asked them if they knew who God’s Rottweiler was, would think it is a kind of chewing tobacco, are mostly in these parts Methodists, Lutherans or Church of Bob types. But, they are Protectors

    While the Catholics, Anglicans and atheists, the ones one could actually talk to about altar boys and liturgy, are the Peter Pans. Something happened in the Catholic world to create (now going into three generations) men squeamish about guns and not believing they should be protectors. I think it has to do with Marxism and socialism which break down the core family and leaves all so-called protection to the government. What a laugh that is, as all the women and children who were killed in pogroms, holocausts and contrived famines know.

    When I was incarcerated for nine hours unfairly by customs in a country I still love, despite being treated unfairly for being poor and female, my son was not allowed to see me, nor was he allowed to talk to the bureaucrats. I was not allowed out of the airport precinct for three days. But, I could talk to my son, and did I hear a Protector, thank God. He even used a bad word. If I was a woman with a husband (or wealthy), that situation would never have happened. Women are still the weak ones in the world. There are Predators out there in various disguises and many work for governments, do not kid yourselves on this one.

    Women are not protected anymore and some Catholic men do not see this as their duty. Playing with guns, as noted here, teaches so many practical skills and thinking skills, I cannot see how this can be at all construed as “bad”.

    I myself was taught how to shoot and use a bow and arrow by my dad, a veteran of WWII. Maybe his war experiences and the old machismo attitudes which have disappeared in our culture caused him to teach me these skills. But, as a “senior citizen” and out of practice for so many years, I would need refresher courses. I need a Protector these days, and all women should be so protected, as it is our vocation to mind the homestead and to bear and raise the next generation of babies. Adam did not protect Eve, by the way, and gave in. He allowed generations of men to be weak, but we have the Truth, the sacraments, and natural law to teach us who we really are in the eyes of God. Men and women are different and women need men to be men.

    Sadly, too many Peter Pans mean fewer marriages, fewer children and fewer vocations. The Catholic culture has moved away from these ideals as well, being infected by secularism.

    I would put a fiver down that there will be vocations from the group of Gun Boys in the photo.

  43. Supertradmum says:

    Jonathan Catholic, bravo. Some dioceses are purposefully creating “priestly frat” groups in order to teach and encourage guy things among the priests. This is really good. I hope it catches on.

  44. Deacon Bill says:

    Dear Father Z.,

    Not quite accurate: If you read my chapter in that book, you will see that what I promote is the discussion of the question, fully in keeping with what then-Cardinal Ratzinger and later as Pope Benedict encouraged theologians to do. Each of us who contributed to that text did so under our own name for each of our chapters, not as a collective. The three of us have different views on the question.

    So, again, to be accurate, I promote the discussion of the question. According to Pope Benedict, there is not only nothing wrong with that, and it follows exactly what he did both as Prefect and as Pope on this issue.

    Has this distinction been lost on some people? Yes.

    God bless,

    Deacon Bill

    [I seeeeee... you are just promoting discussion. Riiiight. But we are getting a off the topic.]

  45. The Masked Chicken says:

    Supertradmum wrote:

    “Deacon Bill, from a woman’s point of view, I want to see priests and deacons who know what it means to be a protector. Being a protector means knowing how to defend the defenseless. Being a real man means knowing what it means to be a protector.

    I like to think that St. Joseph would have used his staff if Mary and Jesus needed protecting on the way to and from Egypt. Of course, he had angelic warnings, but not all men are so blessed and have to be ready.”

    Not meaning to get too deep into the fray, but St. Joseph protected Jesus and Mary after the Birth of Jesus not by taking up arms against Herod’s men, but by engaging in strategic retreat (fleeing). Not all men know how to shoot guns nor does that define the character of manhood. There are many ways to protect. The single greatest means of protection during WWII was not by the development of better machine guns, but the development of radar. The best means of protection is useless without the intel to guide strategy. St. Joseph was a good protector not because he was willing to fight and die when the slaughtering men would show up, because he responded properly to the advanced intel provided by the angel.

    At the Last Day, when swords will be beaten into plowshares, does that, logically, mean that men will also vanish?

    In terms of protectors, the maternal instinct to protect their young is, I think, much fiercer than the paternal instinct. Men and women are both called to be protectors, but with different tools. As a game suited for males, Airsoft, engaging the visual cortex and spatial recognition is highly suited; as a bonding mechanism, it is fine, if limited; as a means of teaching protective skills, it has some benefit, since many military colleges use similar role-playing games (although they know and exercise advanced tactical thinking through the game, which is vastly more important than the game, itself). As a means of defining manhood, it is pretty one-dimensional.

    I, once, had a conversation with a friend who teaches tactics at the (Army?) Command-and-Staff college in Virginia and I mentioned that if someone attached my spouse (in an alternate universe), I would throw myself in front of them and take the bullet, whereupon, he asked me, “What then?” He said that I would be dead and they would just keep coming. A lot more goes into protecting someone than just taking up arms. Shooting guns is not a, “guy thing.” Every female in Israel is required to learn to shoot a gun. It is what you do with the gun, how you use it and how you think about it that defines the differentiation between how men and women use guns.

    So, while I think this is a cool activity for boys, let’s not go overboard and draw conclusions which require a much deeper thinking about what it means to be male and female, to protect and to engage. That would be a fascinating and lively discussion, to be sure, but this situation should not be the entree to that discussion.

    The Chicken

  46. New Sister says:

    @ Masked Chicken – “the maternal instinct to protect their young is, I think, much fiercer than the paternal instinct”
    I think about the men who threw their bodies upon their girlfriends as shields in that horrific cinema shooting in CO last year. 1. I don’t know that women would have done so for other adults (not their children) and 2., as I recall, a common denominator amongst those heroic men who did was military service.
    As a lady, I feel assured and hopeful about our future seeing young men – especially altar-boys/potential priests – formed by such activity. [my worry and prayer is that they NEVER do so without wearing eye protection!]

  47. Supertradmum says:

    Masked Chicken, there are many ways to protect. But, the point is the creating of manly virtues. God did not want Joseph to “engage”, so He sent the dream and the angels in the dreams as warnings. However, short of warnings, whether angelic or electronic or radio waves, I am suggesting that the interior disposition and the exterior skills are necessary. I am sure Joseph knew how to wield a staff or maybe even use a slingshot, as his ancestor did so well.

  48. Supertradmum says:

    BTW, a general comment. During the Viet Nam war, I know from my theology classes that a real movement to Catholic pacifism was being taught. This was also taught at Notre Dame. Interesting that this happened at the same time Deacon Bill was in college.

  49. chantgirl says:

    Supertradmum- I am seeing some signs of a rebirth of Catholic manliness. Here in STL, a military dad started the American rangers, a Catholic alternative to the Boy Scouts focusing on rugged, outdoor skills and Catholic virtue. http://www.americanrangers.org/index.html

    Also, I’ve seen some articles from http://catholicgentleman.net/ that have renewed my hope that a new generation of Catholic gentlemen is possible.

  50. Supertradmum says:

    chantgirl, cool. I had heard about the Rangers on twitter. I wonder if Father Z could give them a retreat! My mom and her family are from STL, by the way. Go Cards!

  51. New Sister says:

    @ Masked Chicken — Fire arms training is totally consistent with Saint Joseph’s actions – NRA certified trainers teach gun owners to first retreat/flee if possible and to use lesser means than a fire arm if appropriate (such as pepper spray) before pulling a gun. I certainly want a man capable of doing so if it comes to that, and he will not be without practice, practice, practice. (without practice, gun owners can be more of a danger than a help)
    Had he needed to, I am certain that Saint Joseph would have used lethal force to protect Jesus and Mary.

  52. Andrew says:

    Deacon Bill:

    Not quite accurate: … what I promote is the discussion of the question.

    So if I was promoting a discussion with my friends about breaking into your house I would not be promoting breaking into your house?

    Sophos!

  53. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Had he needed to, I am certain that Saint Joseph would have used lethal force to protect Jesus and Mary.”

    There is a subtle point that seems be missed. Let me ask the same question my tactics friend asked: what, then? St. Joseph gets into a fight with five men on horseback and manages to take out three before he is killed. Then what? The answer is that Mary picks up the weapon and goes after the other two. Who was the protector: Joseph or Mary? It does no good to align protection with manhood. It, simply, is not the way things work. Both men and women are protectors, but let’s be more specific because that will clarify the situation. Men, as men, are, primarily concerned about, “without,” while women are concerned about, “within.” When the danger is at a distance or impersonal, it is the man’s natural responsibility to offer a defense. When the danger comes too close or is personal, it is the woman’s natural responsibility to offer a defense. When the five men first show up, St. Joseph is the natural defender within the normal order of the nature of men and women, but if he should be killed, Mary becomes the natural defender because they are within her maternal range. No matter how long they live, all children are, to a mother, considered, “within.”

    This explains how both Joseph and Mary can each be protectors within their own natural spheres, but it goes beyond that. Men are the natural protectors from dangers without and, naturally, should have defended against the attacks on the liturgy after Vatican II. That they did not shows an abdication of the their proper roles, especially the bishops, in the protection of the Church. The feminization of the priesthood, if I may use that term, is, largely, responsible for the Mass mess as it exists, today. Make no mistake, the TLM is a masculine Mass protected by manly clergy for 400 years. Likewise, women, after the rise of feminism, have become more mascularized and have abandoned their natural role as protectors of culture. The result is rampant hedonism and the loss of the family. We have sappy music at Masses because we have sappy men – literally, men whose manhood has been sapped out of them. Likewise, we have loud, unruly Masses because we have loud, unruly women who have lost their natural pull towards contemplation.

    It does no good to say men = protectors because that is a half-truth. It depends on what one is protecting as to who is granted that responsibility by nature. These boys are playing at protecting against danger for without and, as such, are behaving in a natural way for males, although there are many dangers from without beyond scary monsters and rampaging men, so, as I say, the game is merely one-dimensional.

    Is there not, also, a corresponding ritual or game for girls in their natural role as protector? I would argue that there is. The old-fashion sewing circle is every bit as much a protective ritual for girls growing into women as men hunting bears. It is a cultural preservative that fights tooth-and-nail against alien incursion to society from within. This is why women sacristans make much more sense than women altar servers. Sewing and maintaining alter cloths is an intimate activity while serving is more of a task beyond oneself.

    While one cannot over-generalize, there are natural roles for men and women within the Church, but protector is not something that is reserved to either sex. All are called to defend the Faith, but most are naturally gifted towards certain ends.

    The Chicken

  54. New Sister says:

    “Both [men/women] are protectors in their own natural spheres” – yes.
    “It does no good to align protection with manhood.” – disagree.

    Disregarding (or more accurately, disparaging, by feminists) the protective and necessary role of men over women is destroying institutions that are essentially masculine: the priesthood; Church authority; fatherhood; and the military. The last one I’m most familiar with – this administration promoting sodomites and women serving in the combat arms. They do this (partially, not totally) by denying the reality that 1. warriors must be full-on masculine, and 2. men are, in large part, rendered masculine by their instinct to protect women. It’s a downward spiral – masculine women weaken men, weak men masculinize women – on and on and on. That’s why I’m quick to encourage all efforts that restore masculinity in young men, and femininity in young ladies. NB: Ladies do not and will not feel safe to be feminine until the shelter of protective males is in place again! (but admitantly I ask, will men protect without feminine, holy women elevating them to the task?)

    But until the liturgy is “saved” (Fr Z), you’re right – these efforts alone, as good as they are, won’t be strong enough reverse the spiral. Liturgy first – nothing will be right until that saving foundation of the world, the Holy Mass, resumes Its masculine nature.

    “The old-fashion sewing circle is every bit as much a protective ritual for girls growing into women as men hunting bears.” – YES! How weak my generation of women has become by not knowing how to sew! (like men practicing chivalry, many of us were discouraged from learning)

  55. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Disregarding (or more accurately, disparaging, by feminists) the protective and necessary role of men over women is destroying institutions that are essentially masculine: the priesthood; Church authority; fatherhood; and the military.”

    New Sister,

    I don’t think we disagree in spirit. Men have a natural protective role over women outside the womb and have had this since the time of Adam, but women have a natural protective role over men (and women) in the womb. Adam was the original protector of the human race (no womb was involved when Eve was the only other member of the human race), but Mary was the original protector of the new human race of Christians, since she was the original protector of Christ in her womb. Men are the natural protectors of women, but women are the natural protectors of the womb (and culture is a type of womb).

    Have we reached an agreement?

    The Chicken

  56. The Cobbler says:

    If you think they learn skills from chasing each other with almost-toy guns, you should try changing things up by introducing and rotating imbalances in teams’ armaments (up to and including unarmed teams), equipment (especially basic camo), number, and locations, items or information to secure.

    “You use different moves… when fighting… half a dozen people… than when you only need to be worried… about… one…”
    ~Fezzik in “The Princess Bride”

    “There are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous men.”
    ~Robert Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers”

  57. maria1125 says:

    SOOOO COOOOOOL!!!!!!!! I wish all parishes had a altar boy outings like this.