“No one likes us – we don’t care” – Fr. Finigan on the New Evangelization and men

My friend the mighty Dean of Bexley, His Hermeneuticalness, Fr. Tim Finigan has a great post at his place.

He places his observations in the context of men in his parish hall watching Millwal defeat Leeds.  I am mindful of the fact that when a couple years back gangs of yobs were busting up shops in streets of London, the young dopes didn’t get very far in the neighborhoods dominated by Millwall fans.  I think I shall have to start rooting for Millwall.  But I digress.

Thus, Fr. Finigan (read the whole thing there):

A useful point to make is that if people think that religion is not for men, why not take a walk in the vicinity of your local mosque after Friday prayers. A parishioner who did this by accident said that she thought that there must have been a football match nearby, and then realised that the young men were on their way home from the mosque.

[NB]If we don’t think in terms of these men, then the New Evangelisation will be nothing much more than a superficial makeover – the spiritual equivalent of a new kitchen and some expensive paint in tuscan truffle ochre or whatever from one of those posh shops. Christ did not hide from the hoi polloi, after all. [Nor from men.  Don’t let feminists divert attention to all the women the Lord spoke with in His earthly life.]

Perhaps “No one likes us – we don’t care” [The chant of Millwall fans.] would be a starting-point on the virtue of fortitude and dying to self in witness to the truth. (I also use this as an example when trying to convince boys that they are quite capable of chanting responses.)

Su. Perb.

Nemini iuvamus – Non curamus!

What would Millwall’s Latin name be?  F.C. Pistrimurensis? Molamurensis?

I know an anecdote about Cardinal Heenan, late of Westminster, at the time of the post-Conciliar liturgical changes.

It is said -and I beg you readers, if you know, to send me a reference from any article or book wherein this anecdote might be more firmly substantiated – that when Card. Heenan saw the Novus Ordo for the first time he quipped to the effect that “No man will go to this.”

No effort for a New Evangelization will be effective without we also revitalize our liturgical worship of God.

Fr. Finigan mentioned the virtue of Fortitude.  I will mention the virtue of Religion.

The virtue of Religion obliges us to give God what is His due.  This consists, first, in worshiping Him properly as individuals and as a Church.  The essence of worship of God is focus on God, not on ourselves.  The Extraordinary Form will help renew our focus on God also in the Ordinary Form.  I think also that the Extraordinary Form draws men more powerfully than Ordinary Form.

Meanwhile, in honor of Fr. Finigan, I am thinking about making a car magnet for his parishioners and neighbors… er um neighbours, more than likely Lions fans to the man.


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  1. Supertradmum says:

    A Reluctant Sinner had this on his blog in August. He would know the source.

    After observing the proposed Novus Ordo Mass, celebrated before a handful of cardinals and bishops in the Sistine Chapel during the 1967 Synod of Bishops, Hennan famously commented: “I do not know the names of the members of the Consilium or, even more important, the names of their consultors. But after studying the so called Normative Mass it was clear to me that few of them can have been parish priests… At home it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday in the Sistine Chapel … we would soon be left with a congregation mostly of women and children.” It was in part thanks to this intervention by Heenan that some of the crazier liturgical acts of vandalism were avoided when the Missal of Pope Paul VI was finally promulgated in 1969.

    Fr. Z Gold Star Award

  2. UncleBlobb says:

    “No one likes us – we don’t care”

    I’m struck by how wonderful this would be as an episcopal motto, or perhaps appropriate as something to remember as an affirmation while working for the New Evangelization in some places.

  3. AvantiBev says:

    Supertradmum: They WERE left with a church full of WEAK women and children. We strong gals don’t like the effeminate stuff and effeminate clergy any more than strong men do. I didn’t like the soft, mushy Jesus with Breck Girl hair they were selling anymore than I liked such creatures in my dating life. You don’t want to follow a guy like that nor a GOD like that.

    Which brings us back to what all those young men are hearing in their mosques round the world.

  4. Vecchio di Londra says:

    The whole of Cardinal Heenan’s comments (quoted from Michael Davies: ‘Pope Paul’s New Mass’) can be found at this useful blog post
    and there is a further commentary at

    His Eminence was obviously a prophet in the four points he then made:
    “1. The rule of prayer is the rule of faith. If there is to be more emphasis in the Mass on Bible readings than on Eucharistic prayer the faith of both clergy and people will be weakened.

    2. There is more need than ever today to stress the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. No change in the Mass should he made which might seem to throw doubt on this doctrine.

    3. Many bishops in this Synod have spoken of the need of coming to the rescue of the faithful grown restless and disturbed on account of too frequent changes in the Mass. I must therefore ask what attitude the Consilium will take to these warnings from the pastors of the Church? I confess in all seriousness that I am uneasy lest the liturgists say: “These bishops know nothing about liturgy.” It would be tragic if after the bishops have gone home, no notice were to be taken of their opinions.

    4. In my diocese of Westminster – and in several other English dioceses – the rule is that at least one Mass each Sunday must be celebrated in Latin. It would be a great help if the Consilium were to tell the whole Church how the Latin tongue can be preserved. If the Church is to remain truly the Catholic Church it is essential to keep a universal tongue.”

  5. JohnE says:

    If the priest could turn around and worship God with us, it would do much to improve the novus ordo. I find it especially annoying during the singing of the Gloria. The priest is supposed to lead us in prayer, but if he’s looking out at us, then it takes a lot more conscious effort to prevent this act of worship from getting turned into a sing-a-long.

  6. KristinLA says:

    Re article and above comments: Couldn’t agree more; couldn’t have said it better.

  7. Johnno says:

    How about some righteous anger from the pulpit about some serious stuff every once in awhile?

    No more of that precocious ‘things are falling apart, but let’s all remember to love & get along’…

    It’d be nice to have a priest tell us like a real military leader, “Get Up! Follow Him! Confront the Foe!” and state so in our prayers of the Faithful rather than some grotesque vagueries that avoid all the spiritual and moral conflicts of our time!

    Seriously… it feels as if every time any man gets the courage and burning in the bosom to go out there and do something, there’s a wife or a mother “tsk tsk”-ing him and telling him “Calm down Dear, mind your manners, be nice, that’s no way to behave in polite society.” Or the attitude that “just leave things be, they’ll get better somehow on their own.” No they won’t!

    Boys leave to go to sports matches, violent videogames, comic book superhero movies and other activities that require some form of Confrontation that requires solving a problem, winning or improving oneself! Take all of that out fo the faith and out of the Church and there’s really no appeal whatsoever left to go except out of obligation. And when they are constantly challenged by the world as to their faith, that obligation soon becomes entirely meaningless.

    Men need rational reasons to believe. We don’t need touchy feely good feelings to get to know Christ… That’s why men and women are at natural odds with each other many times as many stand up comedians will tell you. We don’t get it. This is why we need more logic, history, apologetics and science, and yes, even confrontation and politics in our religion. Young boys need more stories about the manly Saints, the Inquisitors, the Crusaders, heroes! And the dark times they lived in and the people they confronted, and the supernatural powers they did battle with and overcame! You want men back? Then start there!

    I can tell you that I myself wouldn’t be here today, were it not for those things. I can also tell you that it sure as heck wasn’t the Mass or the Community events either! An atheist can enjoy Christmas Mass and the festivities and singing the Gloria, feeling good, wanting peace and donating to the poor as much as anybody else without really caring one wit about any of that actual God or Salvation stuff. It’s all meaningless without the realities behind them!

  8. Jerry says:

    > It was in part thanks to this intervention by Heenan that some of the crazier liturgical acts of vandalism were avoided when the Missal of Pope Paul VI was finally promulgated in 1969.

    Dare I ask what these crazier acts were?

  9. Shane says:

    Cardinal Heenan’s Intervention at the 1967 Synod of Bishops (including that quoted by Supertradmum) can be read in full in A Bitter Trial (pp. 102-104) published by Ignatius Press.

  10. JacobWall says:

    Cardinal Heenan’s words are more than just a commentary on the nature of the new Mass. I think they accurately describe what has really happened. I’ve been to many places where you walk into a church and you see mostly women – many old, some young and a handful of children. (I feel that many children follow their fathers away from church attendance. If mom goes and dad doesn’t, it means they’re left to choose between them – at least in “modern” families. Most kids will choose playing, shopping or whatever else. Even if they like Mass, the simple option to go do something “fun” will lure them away. I’ve never seen a child motivated by the idea of children’s Mass or a protestant children’s service. A man’s leadership in the household tends to set a very strong pattern.)

    I personally know a handful of men around the 60 mark who made a clear decision to stop attending Mass when specific practices were introduced. My father-in-law was pretty unhappy with the Novus Ordo, but made a clear break with with the Catholic Church when he was expected to receive Communion from someone who not only wasn’t a priest, but a woman at that.

  11. asperges says:

    Many football clubs, especially in London, are known by a nickname. “Hammers” for West Ham: “Gunners” for Arsenal. Millwall’s is “Lions” is so “Leones” is the right answer.

    Cardinal Heenan was quite right. The rite has been feminised. It is toe-curlingly awful, touchy-feely sentimental approach has failed. Management went through a similar process. Decision-making became vague and fuzzy. Away days, holding hands. Nothing was addressed flat on. Endless committees who paw over “social issues” and miss the point.

    Before I am called a misogynist, I admit that the verb “feminise” is not really accurate, though we all understand it. There is nothing more steadfast in the Faith than a good Catholic mother and it is often she who will get the children off to Church and the sacraments rather than the man. A lapsed father in a family is tragic of course, but a lapsed mother in a family a disaster. The problem lies in mixing the roles and coming up with the wrong answer: neither fish nor fowl, nor good red herring.

    The old rite has a solidity about it, but abounds in clarity and beauty. Courtly manners came from the liturgy: most of European civilisation indeed. Directness and clarity are not bywords for antipathy and stubbornness.

    @Jerry: ‘crazier acts’ included, I believe, the intention to use a different formula for the Consecration for each of the new canons.

  12. catholicmidwest says:

    The New Evangelization MUST start inside the Catholic Church. St. Benedict said that you cannot be a channel until you are a reservoir. He was correct. You cannot give what you do not possess.

  13. PA mom says:

    Feminized, but like feminine habits that everyone finds annoying. Like everything being written to be understood by a 7 year old, or only nice, or wearing dresses for vestments. Not really my kind of feminine either.

  14. Vecchio di Londra says:

    To expand on the first of Cardinal Heenan’s four ‘points’: “If there is to be more emphasis in the Mass on Bible readings than on Eucharistic prayer the faith of both clergy and people will be weakened.”
    If ’emphasis’ is qualified by relative duration, there is certainly a case for claiming that this distortion has happened. How often do we hear the readings seeming endless: bafflingly unclear, weakly voiced, read without understanding, amateurishly mispronounced and wrongly stressed. The tiresomely banal petitions, and a collection during which Mass is brought to a halt. And then the Canon, often shockingly brief, rapid, truncated, over in a flash.

    This alteration of formal proportions didn’t happen by accident.

  15. acardnal says:

    Vecchio di Londra, you are correct. The way some NO Masses are celebrated often remind me of the times I have had occasion to attend a service at a Lutheran or Methodist church as an observer.
    Liturgists turned the Mass into a Protestant worship service.

  16. Imrahil says:

    Horrido – yoho!
    Horrido – yoho!
    Horrido – yoho!
    Armoured infantrymen – at’em! on’em! over’em!

    I’ve been thinking for some time that the anti-militarist background of much post-WWII modernity (which, as a proven fact, has had much organized support by Soviet Communism) has been of the reasons of the, well, femininization in the bad sense.

    The pacifists of the 1920s were wise men: they said, in lines to be quoted (which I won’t here), “we must give to peace a moral significance alike in amount compared to the moral significance warriors attach to warrioring”. This is a thing to be done, it is not achieved at present, and the mere evading-the-question femininizing certainly does not achieve it. [All that independent of the incorrectness of mere pacifism.]

  17. Michelle F says:

    I agree that the Catholic Church has become too feminized in its thinking and practices, and I agree with AvantiBev that the women with whom the Church has been left are WEAK women.

    One of Benedicta Ward’s books, The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks, includes quotes from the Desert Mothers as well as the Fathers. One of them, Amma Sarah, was annoyed when people thought she had a womanly spirit just because she had a woman’s body. One day she told two monks who tried to humiliate her, “I am a woman in sex, but not in spirit” (p.106).

    Women need to see manly examples of Christianity just as much as do boys and young men. St. Paul warns us that the effeminate are among those who will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, and I do not think that he is limiting himself to homosexual men when he says that, if he even had them in mind. Bishops and priests need to start behaving like manly Christian men, and stop behaving in a womanly manner, and stop catering to women in their congregations. No more touchy-feely, namby-pamby tripe!

    For the sake of clarity, by “manly Christian men” I mean men like the Desert Fathers, St. Nicholas (who punched Arius), St. Augustine, St. John Vianney, and Padre St. Pio for starters. All of them were no nonsense kind of guys, men who didn’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings if that person’s salvation was at stake.

  18. pmullane says:

    Men like challenges, things to live up to. The modern Parish where nothing is asked of Men, either liturgically, spititually, morally or physically, is a dry place for a young man looking for a role in life. Men need to be challenged to ‘be someone’. The Church needs to challenge them to be Saints. Acceptance of the mediocre will turn men away, because they will find nothing of value there. Men will not immediately like being challenged on their behaviour, but they will find value in it because a) someone values them enough to speak the truth to them and b) because they are challenged to live up to something better than their own base misery. Young men who wallow in their hedonistic lifestyles, envy hard working virtuous men. As a young man takes a wife despite the fact that it will curtail the ‘fun’ of his lifestyle, so should he will take the Church even though it will curtail his ‘fun’, because at a deeper level men are interested in something more than ‘fun’.

    Men need role models. Fathers beget fathers. Priests must be spiritual fathers to their spiritual sons. They need to take an interest in them, nurture them ,and be a manly example to them. A hen pecked, effeminate, slightly strange man who likes to hang around with the gossipy old women and is led by the nose by the alpha female of the parish is of no value to a young man. Also the older men in the parish have a role to play in the formation of young men. These are the spiritual ‘big brothers’ of these young men. They need to befriend them, give example, straighten them out when they go wrong and show them how to behave. They need to be the men that there young men want to be. A responsible layman is a better role model than a philandering footballer or the local drug dealer, Parishes should facilitate young men being exposed to these old men.

    Men are less social than women. If you badger young men to do things they will stop coming. If you force them to talk to you they will stop coming. If you force them to shake hands with you they will stop coming. If you force them to sing a syrupy love song they will stop coming. If you force them (when young) to hang about with girls they’ll stop coming. Give them a bit of space, allow them to come and go unnoticed. Make them welcomed but dont force it. Low Mass in the EF is a gazillion times more appealing to men than Fr Daves Happy Clappy introduce yourself to the person next to you Mass.

    Men are sentimental, but not gooey. And they are not children. If they feel insulted they wont come back. Men are not children and dont like being treated like children, its pretty much as bad an insult you can give a man to treat him like a boy.

    Men like big gestures, they make them for women and they will make them for God. But they have to think that the big gestures will mean something and that they will be appreciated. They will respond, but someone needs to ask the question.

    We need to stop trying to do things that people ‘like’, and do things that they value. Confession is like this. Noone likes going to confession, but they feel better for having gone.

  19. Imrahil says:

    If you want to get a man to do something, then

    – if he is under an obligation to do it, you must tell him he must do it*,
    – if he is not, you must under all circumstances take away any impression that he must do it, yet tell him at appropriate opportunity that it would be good if.

    If he doesn’t know whether he must or only should, he will not at all. Sounds strange, but that’s how it is.

    Hence: we need, among other things, to revive good old casuistry. Which has a bad name for ecumenical reasons, hony soit qui mal y pense…

    [*If you have an argument for it, tell it if it is proving (such as “the Church says so”). For all sakes leave it out if it is only persuasive, except if you are treating an academic case without relation to an actual person’s life. In any case do not repeat it. Do not beg. Do not whine.]

  20. Imrahil says:

    However, liking and valuing are not contraries. They are conceptually the same thing.

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    Not always, Imhrahil……unless you are a behaviorist.

  22. LisaP. says:

    AvantiBev, Breck Girl hair — Hah!

  23. q7swallows says:

    My journey from the NO to the EF was thru the Byzantine–wherein I experienced–for the first time in my then 30-something-year-old life–the awesome and captivating phenomenon of being surrounded (drowned out?!) by men’s voices doing most of the robust singing.

    Weak woman discovers strong, fearless men and becomes stronger herself but is relieved of the burden of having to become SuperWoman. Actually seeks supporting role because she sees she doesn’t HAVE to lead anymore.

    Ditto for children.

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