Hey, if you consider yourself a man, then you need to be there - no ifs or buts!!! This is for men of all ages, including older teenagers. It is the start of something new in Ireland where men come together to get down to the business of manhood and masculinity, and how that relates to the great gift and challenge that... living Catholic Faith is. Starts at 9am, ends with mass, speakers include Mickey Harte and Bishop McAreavey. €20 waged/ €10 unwaged... come on lads, time to drop a gear and round up a carload of men, I guarantee you wont regret it!!
A little while back, I saw on Facebook the announcement reproduced above. It's for a worthy venture called the Meant4More conference. The man who posted it is someone I know and respect but I couldn't help feeling that something was a bit amiss about the whole business. The intention was to get men to come along to be edified as men and as Christians. That's laudable. Some of the language used was a bit over-bearing; if someone actually spoke to me face-to-face using those words, I'd probably be a bit terse in responding to him. However, I'll give a lot of leeway to someone who has stopped cursing the darkness and has instead begun to set flint to tinder. I think, however, that the thing that turned me off most was the fact that it was a conference. The fact that most of the re-posts and "likes" for the event on Facebook were from women wasn't lost on me either. I suppose that I've always considered that while women talk about things, men simply do them. I've learnt more about being a man from being with men who do things than from men who talk. The business of being manly is one which needs to be learned by observing and imitating good example. (That's knowledge by connaturality for the Thomists among you.) A conference, however laudable, can't really plug that gap.
I think what I am really trying to say is that if you consider that you want to be a man - in the full moral sense of embodying virtus or manly physical and moral excellence then go to a conference if you like but perhaps the RDF might be a better start. Or go and get trained to run into burning buildings when everyone else is going the other way. Alternatively we're always looking for new recruits - when, despite your best efforts, you've failed to save a life, you tend to discover what you're really made of.
For an example of manliness I'd suggest a good friend of mine, serving with the old FCA, who was guarding the back gate of a military facility. He was wrapped up against the cold but had a machine gun and some sandbags for company. The warning had come down from the camp O/C that "subversives" might attempt to infiltrate the area - they had been intercepted doing exactly that the previous week. He heard noises at 02.30 hrs, flashed his searchlight on the intruders and challenged them; they replied irately and drunkenly that they were regular soldiers and expected to be let pass unhampered. He challenged them again, this time with a 3 round burst from his weapon, deliberately high & wide of their position. They stopped in their tracks but what, I asked if they had not? He replied that he would have fired on them and killed them. He knew that he would have regretted it and lamented those deaths but his duty was clear, as was the harm that could be done if criminals were allowed to seize a government armory. That is what real men do, though, "their duty even if it breaks their hearts."
Of course, while manliness is a natural good, we are meant for a supernatural end. Where do we find the manly virtues redeemed and raised to supernatural goodness? Funny that you should ask ...