“Do you remember a time when…”

At The Catholic Thing, Anthony Esolen has again posted a clear-eyed piece about effeminacy in the Church.  Here’s a foray into his piece:

Vesting in Lavender

Do you remember a time, readers, when you could spend a whole day, actually a whole month, occasionally even a year, and not give one passing thought to the issue of sexual perversions?

Do you remember a time when not one liberal in a thousand would have thought it a good idea to have drag queens do story-hour for children in a public library? […]

Do you remember a time when not one liberal in a thousand would have thought that a man who said he was a woman or a woman who said she was a man was in touch with reality and not prey to a destructive fantasy or delusion?  [Tell that to Fishwrap.]

Do you remember a time when liberals, precisely because they were liberals, held men and women up to high standards of sexual decency, and (wrongly) believed that they were capable of maintaining those standards without the ministrations of the Church?

Do you remember a time when it would not have occurred to you in a hundred years that your priest was anything other than an ordinary man, a real man, following the special call of the Lord? A man who in another life, with a different call, would have been married with a passel of children, a pillar of his community?

Do you remember a time when a priest could march alongside miners and auto workers and look like one of them, not like a breathless female reporter in the locker room of a football team? Do you remember when nobody, absolutely nobody, would have considered that a female reporter should even be in that locker room?  [Tell that to Amerika.]

Do you remember a time when divorce was a scandal?


Heu, tempus fugit. There are a lot of you reading this who don’t, in fact, remember those times. Let’s continue. Esolen goes on with the ghastly topic of Card. McCarrick. He’s but an example, alas. And then, moving towards his peroration…

The Mass itself is made soft and effeminate – neither masculine nor feminine. I have often noted that every single hymn in vast repertory of Christian hymnody that has anything to do with fighting for Christ, hymns going back all the way to Prudentius and Venantius Fortunatus, has been banished from the hymnals, except for For All the Saints.

That one exception we may attribute to the need to have something or other for All Saints’ Day, and even then, in many hymnals I have seen, the lyrics are made squishy, or the stanzas with the most fight in them are simply dropped.? These leaders are simply not interested in taking on the world.

But that is the raison d’être of the brotherhood. Men who are friends, soldiers in the field, do not gaze into each other’s eyes, melting. Your drill sergeant does not call himself Uncle Ted. He does not write lovey letters to you, after he has snuggled you into a compromise. He does not engage in spiritual bribery and blackmail.

Men who stand shoulder to shoulder – you can picture them in your mind’s eye, leaning against a fence or a car or a tank – look out in the same direction, towards the world to conquer. That has been the orientation, the direction to take, of every true leader of men the Church has known, from Peter and Paul to Benedict, from Francis and Dominic to Ignatius, from John Bosco to Jose Maria Escriva.

We have the Lord’s own choice to follow, ordaining men to form that band of brothers. Men, not just anatomical males. They might get something done.

Do I hear an “Amen!”?

Interesting point about being side by side, facing the same direction….

It often happens that when men talk to each other about important things, they sit side by side to do so.  Women tend to face each other.   Men and women relate differently.   While equal in dignity, they have different roles.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, Turn Towards The Lord and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Sandy says:

    Short answer, yes, I certainly do remember all of that! I still remember good Msgr. Nolan, the Irish pastor from my childhood, and even through college, and one of the priests who taught threology at what was then a Catholic college. Because I do remember all of this and more, reverent Masses, etc., that makes these times all the more tragic to watch and live through. The Lord has been warning us since Fatima, through His Mother, and in other ways, and we have not listened. At least we know who has the victory, but it’s going to be painful until that time.

  2. jaykay says:

    “Interesting point about being side by side, facing the same direction….”

    And facing the same direction as the (manly) Priest at the Altar ;-]

  3. Sawyer says:

    Yes, I remember. It seems like that was Eden compared with the situation today.

  4. jaykay says:

    Apologies, I meant to add: yes, I do remember those times, very clearly, in the 60s/70s at my all-boys’ school where we still had mostly Priests as teachers, whose default dress was the cassock (how practical, as it saved their clericals from all that chalk dust). The cassocks also had an extra deep pocket for the leather, which was about a foot long with a shaped handle, the mere threat of which was as effective as the actual use. In fact, very often it was just taken out at the beginning of class and laid on the table, where it lay – mute but powerful. Discipline was rigid, as it was a day/boarding school and at the beginning of the 70s general behavioural standards were beginning to slip anyway, everywhere.

    All classes began with a prayer, in French if it was the French class, in Irish if it was the Irish class, in Latin if it was… (Latin was still compulsory for the first 2 years, starting from age 11). The Priests were “men’s men”, many pipe-smoking as they patrolled the recreation yard, and took us for sports as well, age/health permitting. So we did respect them, even if we didn’t necessarily like them – but then, they never made the mistake of crossing the line into trying to be buddy-buddy either, so it was a healthy relationship.

    Rose-tinted selective nostalgia? No, definitely not. Even if could I wouldn’t “go back” for all the tea in China (or in my case, all the Guinness in St. James’s Gate). But that is exactly the way it was. I have a very accurate memory. And now it’s all gone. The Priests are no longer in education and the school is practically secular, as far as I can make out. It’s also co-ed. and the majority of teachers are women, and I hear they have huge problems with discipline. Quelle surprise.

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    As Sandy said, it is actually pretty hard to observe these times, for those of us who remember better days. Young people only have this world to reference. I’m extremely grateful to have grown up during the time I did. What we take for granted as good and decent, they often don’t know. This is especially true for young people in high school and younger. Many of these children have no male role model, or a poor to very poor one. It has also become more common to have Mom have removed herself, leaving children to a dad to raise, where back in the day that was unheard of, if you had nobody, you had at least Mom. I know a number of children whose Mom has left them and is not involved in their lives. Mom’s have better things to do, more important things to do, or so feminism has told them. So these children grow up not knowing things like how to relate or communicate, with others. In our media age, those skills are getting weaker and weaker, I can’t imagine what their society is going to be like. And in this hyper culture, even babies are not allowed to learn how to play and relate, but only learn their numbers and letters, kindergartners now have tons of pressure on them! One thing I would really like to do, when I don’t work for a living anymore, is volunteer my time working with kids, young people. What a difference we can make! When you work with children, you realize how vulnerable they are, for good and for ill, and they are all looking to be important to somebody, and many are not. We don’t have to just help our own children and grandchildren, we can and ought to reach out to other children not ours, and teach them as many life skills as we can.

  6. Benedict Joseph says:

    As always, Esolen is right on target.
    I would however wish to see more of a raking light brought to the issue of Cardinal Ticona and his alleged transgressions. McCarrick is very old news. Where McCarrick and Ticona intersect is where the meat is. How, why, do such men advance in the hierarchy when their reputations are highly questionable. McCarrick’s reputation had been known for years before he became a Cardinal (and I dare say before he advanced to the episcopate). Ticona’s behavior has been under question for decades. Simple hysterical denials from him, and deafening silence from the Vatican are insufficient.
    Public figures require public scrutiny. Continually.

  7. John Grammaticus says:

    Sadly I’m young enough that those days are just a story told by other’s. It is sad that these days the only normal reference to ‘the madness’ is in a popular but probably blasphemous movie (the one featuring lessons in Latin Grammar).

  8. APX says:

    I remember a time in grade 9 when our teacher told us that homosexuals were required to remain chaste and not commit sins contrary to chastity, and I was so innocent that I didn’t even know they could do otherwise.

  9. yatzer says:

    I do remember–a whole other universe. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as SSA until high school, and even then it seemed like something sort of imaginary. And we were so free. There were only student hall monitors in my huge high school. The doors were unlocked, windows open, no need to check in at the office, no violence in the hall. It wasn’t a saintly group, just an ordinary suburban government high school at the time. The students may have been mean or cruel sometimes, but there was never a fear for our safety. That same school now has even teachers afraid for their safety although there are security checks all over the place.

  10. ChrisP says:

    I am not old, but I remember a time when priests indicated, and people expected, homosexuals to remain chaste……just like couples who had experienced the ravage of divorce; couples who were not married.

    And when a trans was something that only came in two forms – automatic or manual.

  11. LarryW2LJ says:

    I remember all this and more:

    I remember when Mom stayed at home and raised the kids, because Dad made enough to support the family on his income alone.

    I remember when the Priest would slap upside the head, those of us Altar Boys who sometimes got out of line. You NEVER questioned his masculinity, and you NEVER questioned his authority to do it. If you told your parents about it – you got double when you got home.

    I remember when the word “divorced” was spoken in quiet, hushed tones, because it was never discussed among children.

    Although I don’t listen to him as much, anymore – Rush Limbaugh would call these “new norms” the “Chickification of America”.

  12. Malta says:

    In the jobs I’ve had (FBI Agent, Firefighter/EMT) being effeminate was just not accepted. But now being gay, metrosexual (now there are even “lumbersexuals” e.g. wearing lumberjack clothes, but appearing somewhat effeminate) is cool. Our Lady at Akita warned if mankind didn’t better their ways fire would fall from the skies and it would be worse than the deluge-where the living would envy the dead; humanity has not bettered; buckle-up for the ride ahead. You know homosexuality was considered a mental illness by the American Medical Association until the 1970’s. Well, that’s what it is. God would not create a person with the divine spark contrary to the explicit infallible teaching of St. Paul on the issue of homosexuality.

  13. tho says:

    There was a time when the church fought against worldliness, and our clergy were bulwarks against an impious society. Sadly, some of our clergy now embrace the decadence that surrounds us. With Ireland surrendering to the unthinkable, and with Cardinals like McCarrick and Archbishops like Weakland, our church is being engulfed by perversion. Who in their wildest imagination would think that homosexuals could march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade carrying banners proclaiming their vice? Yes, I do remember a different time, and as a veteran I took pride in the sacrifices made by our Catholic chaplains. And now, I take a great deal of pride in the truly holy bishops and priests that we have. Despair is a sin and I will not succumb to it, Our Blessed Mother and Jesus Himself will lead us to a better time.

  14. Semper Gumby says:

    Well, I guess it was bound to happen. Anthony Esolen finally went too far with his toxic masculinity.

    *I back away from the keyboard, open a desk drawer, retrieve a bag of kale chips and a CD of relaxing whale songs, then settle with my laptop into a lotus position on the floor in the corner*

    When Anthony Esolen wrote “Your drill sergeant does not call himself Uncle Ted” I was triggered. You see, I have fond memories of a pleasant summer with Sgt. Emil “Friendly” Foley USMC at Officer’s Candidate School in the back woods of Quantico.

    From the morning “wakey-wakey” to the evening Sing-A-Long the day was filled with the sweet, sweet ministrations of Sgt. Friendly.

    Every day before lunch Sgt. Friendly would line up us candidates and recite a selection of classic poetry- usually something colorfully detailed about our animal ancestry. After supper Sgt. Friendly inquired if our dining experience was sufficient in both quality and quantity. One evening, when I suggested the chipped beef could marinate in a zesty sauce, Sgt. Friendly took a particularly close interest in what I, er, Candidate Gumby, had to say.

    One hot afternoon after a nature hike Candidate HighLife complained of a blister. Sgt. Friendly promised Candidate HighLife that during the platoon’s next hike he could relax on lawn chairs with the Base Commander and tell the General all about it.

    Then there was the afternoon when Candidate TaterTot dropped his rifle. Sgt. Friendly really got emotional, he really cares. He made sure Candidate TaterTot pressed his face to the mud and apologize to every little critter individually for disturbing their Ecosystem.

    Sgt. Friendly was always eager to provide a rewarding and enriching experience to us candidates. One night an hour after Taps he woke us up and marched us in full pack until dawn so that we wouldn’t miss the heavenly sight of a meteor shower. Then we performed various problem-solving tasks until sunset, Sgt. Friendly keeping a keen eye on our wakefulness so that we wouldn’t miss a thing amongst the bounty of nature. Sgt. Friendly, Renaissance Man.

    On Graduation Day we discovered his wife did not resemble a Soviet weightlifter, and his children were not malnourished and covered with scars.

    So, who is this Anthony Esolen guy anyway? A scholar, or a beast filled with toxic masculinity? How dare he.

    [“Sgt. Friendly, Renaissance Man.”…. ‘rah.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  15. Gaetano says:

    Amazingly, I go through the rest of my life not knowing the sexual activity or inclination of my co-workers. I have to get to church before I have to deal with people talking about their attractions.

    I remember a time when I didn’t have to hear about which people were attracted to other people in Church. It is the Church itself that is the hyper-sexualized environment.

  16. Jenson71 says:

    Imagine that; so many of us remember our grade school years as simpler, better times.

    Unless you were the kid who was molested, or whose dad was an abusive drunk, or you were a minority, or were gay and driven to self-loathing.

    What percent of this blog is focused on matters of homosexuality? I remember a time when the people who spent a significant portion of their time talking about matters of homosexuality were homosexuals. Now it’s conservative Catholics on the internet who have little better things to concern themselves with.

  17. Shonkin says:

    You want to hear an amen?

  18. CanukFrank says:

    Oh my, do I ever remember those days! Growing up in the UK, I recall 1965 to 1970; wearing a sash for my first Holy Communion in 1966, the May procession around the working class streets of our south London borough singing ‘Ave Maria’ with gusto, getting taught by nuns in ‘severe’ full habits (not the Hillary-Clinton-Pant-Suit versions of later years), fighting with the kids from the local Church of England school, the honour of serving as an alter boy, the endless practicing (& laughs; has anyone ever tried making full incense rings with the Thurible before mass while lining up in the sacristy?) for Christmas, getting rapped across the head with Father’s huge old-school sacristy key for being cheeky, serving at wedding masses (the groom always gave the alter servers a ‘1/2 Crown’). Things changed in the early 1970’s when the beautiful High Alter was overnight (it seemed) replaced with a shiny, modern marble alter that now faced us, where we had to give the awkward “Sign-Of Peace” and “Folk Masses” we’re introduced. I DISTINCTLY recall a mass in our Secondary School (“High School”) just prior to Lent of 1972 when Fr. told us that he didn’t expect us to say a daily rosary as “I certainly won’t be”. I was struck by how Fr., just like that, “lowered the bar” in an attempt to appeal to ‘The Youth’ (I said a rosary every day throughout Lent just to be stubborn)!. Throughout the rest of the ‘70’s things just got “hipper”, more trendy and diluted. I lost my Faith for some time only “returning” in the last 3 years.

  19. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z: ‘rah! God bless Anthony Esolen and Sgt. Friendly.

  20. PTK_70 says:

    In response to Jenson71, while I don’t pretend to speak for anyone in particular other than myself, I have a notion that the obsession with matters homosexual is at root an obsession with the normalization of homosexuality. That something so obviously unnatural has become du jour points to a deep sickness in society. But the people, by and large, didn’t ask for the normalization of homosexuality. Were there any big rallies of average citizens clamoring for “marriage equality”? No, I’d much rather say that this perverse agenda has been imposed on (American) society by the powerful and the ridiculously rich. But why? Perhaps they recognize that divorce, fornication, adultery, masturbation, etc are rendered legitimate when homosexuality is given free expression in society. Then we can all live like bonobo apes.

    That said I feel that the sheen of “coming out” has worn off. In other words there’s nothing really new or radical or cool about coming out as homosexual anymore. It’s not the attention-grabber it once might have been. So we may be seeing the high water mark of the LGBTQIA+ agenda. Plus, the opinions of girls and young women on homosexuality should become decidedly more negative upon realizing that the pool of eligible bachelors shrinks as the number of homosexual males increases.

  21. hwriggles4 says:

    I am a single man. When I get together with a group of buddies, we are usually careful about what we plan. If we go out to eat, it’s usually a place like Chili’s for a burger or a pizza place. If we go to a movie, we will pick something like 13 Hours, Hacksaw Ridge, Star Wars, Justice League, or some type of film that is not “girly”. Going to a basketball or baseball game, a camping trip, fishing or hunting trip, or a day at the lake – that’s still seen as “normal” for guys to do together, and I do like to do some of those things with a group of buddies, and it’s healthy for men to have good Male friendship.

    It’s sad today when restaurant patrons see two guys eating together and jump to conclusions. A female friend shared with me one day that she was having a dinner out with her dad, and the waitress thought that her dad was her boyfriend (it’s gotten more acceptable to see a 65 year old man with a 35 year old girlfriend). Us single straight males are now being seen as an endangered species today.

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