If there is no battle, there is no Christianity. ~Pope Benedict XVI

A few years ago, I had a conversation with a nice priest in which he commented on the lack of interest today in the priesthood among young men. Just recently, while attending Mass at Saint Robert’s in Shorewood, I ran into him again and, during our brief, friendly chat, he noted the paucity of young men at the parish youth group, Cor Jesu. Now to fill you in, the music at this parish’s liturgies, and at the youth group, is the standard fare: hyper-sentimental, soft, praise and worship stuff. Bewildered as he was over this issue, I was not the least bit surprised. Just ask yourself: Is the average alpha male inspired by, or interested in marinating in emasculating, maudlin melodies? Of course not.

The drive to fight, to protect, and the battle are instinctive, primal masculine qualities. The secular, feminist-driven zeitgeist driving society today undermined this truth long ago, calling it misogynistic, obsolete and dangerous. The reality is that this poisonous, anti-masculine fever has taken root, not just in society at large, but also within the Church. Authentic manhood, which includes the instinct to fight and defend, has been smeared and suppressed in an era of group-hug conflict resolution, accommodation and feckless dialogue.

The truth is that men have to fight, and there is a spiritual battle going on. Denying this won’t make it go away. Turning up the volume of the soft-sofa, smooth jazz elevator music at Mass won’t make this go away. And men are not inspired to sign onto something, or commit their lives to something that ignores, denies or (even worse) mocks their primordial instinct.

Think of old battle songs that inspired soldiers and ordinary men to give their lives for something greater than themselves. And then listen to the modern, schmaltzy music that’s cranked out at almost every Mass on Sundays. Ask yourself: Are men really going to be inspired by such meaningless fluff and the weak, effeminate culture that sustains it? Or, perhaps the better question, what kind of men will be inspired by it? Is this the tune and culture that gives rise to the warrior and martyr?

The decades-long assault on masculinity has coincided with a precipitous drop in priests. Coincidence? Priests traditionally oversaw the entire life of a parish, inspiring boys and young men to take a serious look at the priesthood. Today, in the absence of men, parish life is overwhelmingly dominated by women. And we’re surprised that men in the pews have checked out?