Below are some thoughts sent to us from a brother Catholic man here in the Chicago Southland, he gave us permission to share with you. Comment below with your reply or Contact Us privately. The CMCS-Team has agreed to keep the author ID anonymous.
Just some thoughts on men and men’s groups as well as our forum.
I am seventy four years old and thus have a pretty good sample size regarding men, their reaction to religious sharing groups, and what discourages them from attending. The attendance at our forums has grown over the years, but often when I attend I look around and ask where are the rest of the Catholic men in the Chicago Southland. If all the Catholic men in the Southland attended or even a small percentage we would be sold out and the hall would be full. I know you advertise aggressively reaching out to the Southland Catholic parishes so where are they? [My wife] attends many women’s forums like ours and attendance at these gatherings are much larger.
The answer to “Where are the men” is not simple. There is not one root cause but several causes some that link to each to other. Just a few are:
- I am uncomfortable sharing my deep inner feelings with other men and in some cases my wife or other loved ones.
- I don’t want anyone else to see my emotions.
- I don’t know how to speak about my feelings and emotions in front of other men. In fact I hardly talk about them with my wife.
- Men don’t cry.
- I don’t have time.
- My wife wants me to attend in hopes I will change in some way. I’m afraid nothing will come of my attendance
- This kind of meeting is for women not men.
- I go to church on Sunday why do I have to spend time doing this?
So where do all these excuses, if you will, come from? In some cases it may be that they are modeling their father. They have been told men never cry. To express feelings and participate in sharing is a sign of weakness and makes them feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. There are many more reasons I know that come into play.
OK let me get back to my observation of men over the years. I do not do this in any self righteous way, nor hold myself up as some example of good religious behavior which is not correct. Over the years I have known many couples in which the husband or wife dies. In the case of the man dying, after a time of grieving, the wife immediately turns to her network of friends for support and encouragement and it works. She has built up her network over time of personal conversations and that network responds to her with an outpouring of love. She has links and friends within her church. After all church is not just a building but a community. All these networks have been built over decades not just years. Why and how did this happen? By spending time with these friends while her husband was alive and sharing her deepest feelings. In almost all cases I have seen after a time of grieving these widows respond to her friends and move on to their new phase of life as widows
With regard to men, let’s face it, we can be lone wolfs. Most men do not have networks which they have lovingly built over the years. They are completely lost and confounded by what has happened to them. They have no one to turn to. Many times their children are thrown into a situation they do not know how to handle. After all “Dad never shared his feelings with us. I don’t know what to say” The faith of these men is tested to the limit because of the loss of their wife. Sadly to say many of these widowers wither actually die after a few years. In some cases I have seen their purpose in the widower’s life is to wake in the morning and then visit the grave site of their wife and even after death ask her why she left him.
I wish I had a magic bullet that would help. I do not. All I can say is love God and love your neighbor. Have a friend? Let it go and let God. Talk to him about who you really are in terms of your feelings and emotions. Remove that mask of manhood and show him the real you. ALL OF YOU. You need to spend time with that person. Take time away from watching TV cutting the grass, playing golf, or doing household chores and spend time with him.. Let that friendship grow and let your network of friends grow.
God Bless you,