Tuesday, May 1, 2018


In reference to the closing of so many churches in Pittsburgh and other dioceses, it is true that there is a shift in population that must be addressed and if the Catholic population moves from the downtown areas to the suburbs, downtown churches need to consolidate or be closed. It is sad, but a reality that must be addressed.

But there is a shift that even the Pittsburgh diocese admits, not as many Catholics go the Mass any more. They have become unchurched. They don't pray although they might say they are spiritual but without a need for the Mass and other sacraments. Many no longer opt to baptize their children, get married in the church and if they are the decision makers for the funerals of Catholic loved ones, they forgo a Catholic funeral or any funeral, cremation and disposal is preferred.

Richmond Hill, Georgia where I live is a community that is benefiting from population shifts and growing in leaps and bounds. Many moving into Richmond Hill are Catholic and the previous pastor built a new church building for our growing parish that can seat almost 1,200 people. We had standing room only at our Easter Sunday Masses. We only have two Sunday morning Masses because of the size of the parish--but the days are coming when an additional Mass might be needed and perhaps a Spanish Mass since we have balkinsnized the Church and her liturgy according to language which would not be the case if the Latin Mass had not become optional (in the EF or OF).

Thus in a booming area, the loss of the discipline of being Catholic, that of at least going to Mass each Sunday, getting baptized, confirmed and making First Holy Communion, marriage in the Church and burial form the church, has created a situation where a new parish is not needed and thus not opened.

I truly believe that if every Catholic in Richmond Hill actually attended Mass and did the minimum, we could open two or three new parishes.

Of course, the loss of Catholic identity and commitmement means fewer priests coming from Catholic families with fewer children. Thus even if everyone in Richmond Hill attended Mass, we couldn't open more parishes for a lack of priests.

Finally, and changing the subject kind of, is the EF Mass masculine or feminine or both?

I say both. The style, regimintation, discipline, exactness, marchlike stiffness of the EF Mass appeals to real men. Yet when you watch the magnificent Pontifical Mass from Washington with Archbishop Samples, there is a lot of lace, a lot of floral colors and a lot of things that appeal to the feminine side of men and of course women like some manly things, but love lace and floral patterns themselves.

Let's face it, liturgical and clerical wear is feminine.

But isn't the Church feminine? Holy Mother, she, her, etc?  And yes, isn't every soul in a man or a woman female? Yes!

The OF Mass is feminine in an unmanly way thus causing us to lose so many men from our liturgical life and thus from the priesthood.

The EF Mass is manly and prescribed to be from the point of view of who can be in the sanctuary during Mass--but is is quite feminine too but in a manly way. 


Anonymous said...

Sample, not Samples

TJM said...


Why don't you produce your studies, evidence, etc., instead of engaging in puerile dilatory tactics?

Gene said...

Anon @6:29, What you wrote above is a sentence fragment. The comma is unnecessary because the phrase is meaningless in itself, the comma adding nothing in the way of clarification or meaning. The capitalization of "samples" is also meaningless because there is no sentence structure for context. "F" You must now write on the blackboard one-hundred times: "I will refrain from using sentence fragments and other incorrect grammar in my snide and impertinent attempts to belittle Fr. MacDonald and others on this blog."

Anonymous said...

It wasn't meant to be a sentence, therefore no sentence should have been expected.

The phrase it not "meaningless." It conveys perfectly, the correction needed.

"Samples" is capitalized because it was capitalized in Fr. McDonald's post.

The errors are yours, not mine.

TJM said...


Didn't you detect the "Eau de Kavanaugh?" It's skunk-like in aroma and lingers for a long time!

rcg said...

Yeah, Gene. It's "Shot Discounters" not "Cheap Shots R Us". These people take their quibbling seriously...

John Nolan said...

Floral patterns and lace are not in themselves feminine, and were part of 18th century male attire. Only in the 19th century did men adopt the blacks and greys of the new industrial age, even to the extent of adopting headgear that resembled the chimneys of steam locomotives.

ByzRC said...

I cannot improve on the following:

The OF Mass is feminine in an unmanly way thus causing us to lose so many men from our liturgical life and thus from the priesthood.

The EF Mass is manly and prescribed to be from the point of view of who can be in the sanctuary during Mass--but is is quite feminine too but in a manly way.

I agree totally with both assessments.

The Byzantine Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox on the other hand are, at least to me, manly in a manly way. Despite the embroidery and jewels, would you ever question how manly these guys are?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Amiably yet vigorously I contest the suggestion that "liturgical and clerical wear is feminine."

The problem with such an assertion is that it falls prey to what might be called "presentism": that is, the notion that this present moment crystalizes reality and what is normal. At best, our genial host can claim that in this present moment specific clerical and liturgical items seem more feminine than masculine. I am not even conceding that; but if there is any validity to the claim, it arises only right now -- i.e., say in the past few decades.

But so what? The irony is that this present moment is rightly defined as almost nothing being viewed as fixed and unchanging. What is true, real and good is all up for grabs every day. A woman is a man is whatever the h*** she/he/ze wants to be and all are commanded to applaud, vigorously and if you betray any hint of insincerity, off to re-education you shall go!

So I can hardly think of a worse moment to let social norms guide how we view how the Church's liturgy and symbols speak to the world. Society is going insane; it's norms are as solid as quicksand.

Liturgical and clerical attire is and will continue to be masculine, insofar as men who are themselves firmly masculine are associated with them. Yes, they are unusual. Odd, even. But there's no getting around that; not even with the please-don't-laugh-at-me, I'm-trying-to-fit-in clerical shirt. It's odd. But then, the priesthood is odd. there's no getting around that, either.

ByzRC said...

Fr. Fox -

You make an excellent point. The priesthood is both eternal and countercultural. Lace, strange modern vestments etc. are of their era. Perhaps their usage over time will fade. You are correct, men who are confident in their manliness will look....manly even if offering a votive mass in honor of Mother Mary that, reasonably speaking, has decorations and motifs that are more feminine in nature. I was thinking more from the perspective of which form is more emasculated. The OF was softened and some roles changed such that one could consider it as being a more feminine expression. I welcome any thoughts you might have here.

Henry said...

A material thing such as lace or floral patterns is not inherently either feminine of masculine. It depends upon their usage. In traditional EF liturgy, they are used in a decidedly masculine way, and hence are masculine there. Whereas if used in feminized OF liturgy, they might well be perceived there as feminine.

TJM said...


I recall a priest who had been a fullback in college. When he wore his lace surplice no one would have dared make a crack about him appearing feminine. On the other hand, I've seen a number of priests who NEVER wear a cassock or surplice who scream feminine. It's all in how you carry yourself.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Other than the brassiere, I can't think of any garment or style of garment that is inherently feminine. (Yes, we have all encountered older gentlemen at the beach who, due to the effects of age and gravity, might benefit from such "pectoral support garments," but I digress.)

Kilts on men are not, of themselves "manly." The traditional thawb (resembles an alb) worn by many Arabic and middle eastern men is also known as a kanzu in Swahili. A similar tunic-like garment, the khaleeji, is worn by Palestinian women.

Lace is used as a decorative or ornamental style, not much else. Napkins, handkerchiefs, antimacassars, and wedding gowns are common examples of its current use.

One of our seminary professors, Fr. Michael Roach, who has taught at Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland for close to 40 years, was famous for his lacy alb. When anyone made a comment, he always responded, "Yes, but it is manly lace, gentlemen, manly lace!"

Michael was that rare seminary prof who was also a full-time pastor. He was at Old St. Peter's Church in Baltimore while we were in seminary and has served now at St Bartholomew Parish in Manchester, Maryland, for, I think, about 20 years.

Gene said...

"...can't think of any garment or style of garment that is inherently feminine..."

Lace panties, panty hose, garters and stockings, Kotex belt, high heels, wedding gowns, maternity dresses, teddys, crinolines, hoop skirts, knickers, slips, half-slips, dresses of any kind (unless you are a cross dresser or some kind of homo, neither of which is normal). I'm sure there are others I have missed. But, NORMAL people do not think of any of these things as gender neutral. Now, Kavanaugh and his ilk probably disagree but, then, what else would we expect?

TJM said...


This explains Kavanaugh's training, a quote from a former St. Mary's Seminary student:

"For in my day, back in the mid 1980s the Mount was in terrible shape, if you ask me, when it came to the faith. The most grievous problems in those days, centered on student life which was bacchanalian and pagan to say the least."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

TJM, Fr. Kavanaugh did not go to St. Mary's Seminary, from which you quote a St. Mary's student, he went to Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

The seminary that is quoted above is in Baltimore where I attended 1976 to 80 and while I wouldn't say it was pagan, it certainly had its major problems.

Mt. St. Mary's, Fr. Kavanaugh's seminary, not mine, was then and is now a bastion of conservatism and traditionalism and was thriving then, compared to my seminary, as it is now compared to my seminary.

Gene said...

Well, Kavanaugh did a fine job of not paying attention.

Henry said...

"Mt. St. Mary's, Fr. Kavanaugh's seminary, not mine, was then and is now a bastion of conservatism and traditionalism"

So even the best of teaching does not take root in all students. (As I as a mathematics professor know full well.)

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene - I you look with minimal attention, variants of most of the clothing you mention have been worn by men at various times through the ages.

You never saw a picture of a man in a leotard with the necessary codpiece? Panty hose. See also: Breeches.

You never saw a picture of a man in high heels? You might consider: "On May 8, the Bata Shoe Museum, the curious footwear museum in downtown Toronto, will unveil its latest coup: “Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels.” According to the museum’s curator Elizabeth Semmelhack, the practice of men wearing heels dates back to 9th century Persia, with horseback warriors utilizing the heels as functional stirrup holders. Fast forward to the height of French aristocracy and heels were very much a part of 17th century status. Louis XIV of France, a noted shoe collector and fashion cognoscenti, wore red (a difficult to come by and expensive hue) shoes often with stacked leather “polony” heels as the ultimate sign of political puissance and nobility above all. “When heels were introduced into fashion at the turn of the 17th century, men were the first to adopt them,” explains Semmelhack. “And they continued wearing heels as expressions of power and prestige for over 130 years.”

As for maternity wear, next time you're in a man's clothing shop, see if they have a suit jacket in the size 50 portly/long. It is made to fit around an extended belly.

As for dresses - tunics and kilts (really a skirt).

Mt. St. Mary's was, theologically, as middle of the road as seminaries in the 1970's and 1980's got. There were progressives and conservatives, and a teeny-weeny group of traditionalists. It was not then, and isn't now I think, a "bastion" of conservatism and traditionalism. It was then and is now a good, solid school. As far as I know, it continues to be favored by numerous bishops and is thriving to this very day.

Gene said...

Kavanaugh, I am talking about our culture and its norms and mores, not about the 17th century or other cultures today. I am very aware of the history of dress and adornment. It simply does not apply today to us here in the US. Oh, and a big, fat male belly is not pregnancy.

Anonymous said...

Gene - No style of clothing, save the brassiere, is inherently feminine.

People worry about men wearing lace because it is "effeminate." That's silly.

People worried about Tallulah Bankhead and Kate Hepburn wearing pants. That's silly.

40 years ago a man worn a diamond stud earring and he HAD to be gay! That's silly.

Diane Keaton wore pants, a vest, and a necktie and the Annie Hall look for women took off. More silliness.

You're not talking about "our culture and its norms and mores," you're talking about your own preferences and prejudices.

Gene said...

In this country today, among the average citizens, the things I listed above are considered inherently feminine.