Home' Aurora : Aurora December 2012 Contents 14
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
By PETER HOLMES
By LAURA RAE
Peter Holmes is a Lecturer in Theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia. He has held counselling, consulting and teaching roles within
the Catholic Archdioceses of Melbourne and Sydney. Since 2007, Peter has lectured in Scripture, Theology and biblical languages. Peter s
research interests include the relationship between the Old and New Testaments and the relationship between faith and reason. His present
doctoral research focuses on the theology of masculinity. Peter is married to Susan and they have seven children.
THE TROUBLE WITH asking 'What do men
really want?' is that the bad stereotypes
just roll off the tongue. I have heard the
phrase "Men are only interested in one thing"
too many times to count. "Boys and their toys"
is another favourite. If we believe the popular
romance novels, sitcoms, soaps and movies,
we believe that men have a very limited
attention span, except when it comes to sport,
sex and fast cars. We could all probably name
a number of TV shows which present strong,
wise and loving mother figures, but try naming
a sitcom or soap which features a strong, wise
and loving father figure produced in the last 20
years. It is not so easy.
Television advertising, in which companies
have invested billions of dollars of research
and production, making it the most powerful
propaganda tool on the planet, follows the
same pattern. Compared with women, who
are commonly portrayed as smart, sassy, wise,
mature and complex beings, men are almost
always portrayed as stupid, one dimensional,
childish beings driven by our sex drive, beer,
sport and cars. Part of the reason is that
advertisers want to sell us these things, but
they also reveal a deep problem at the heart of
our society. Our society has developed a deep
antagonism towards genuine masculinity.
On the one hand, women became frustrated
with previous generations of men who
abandoned the home and left the women
literally 'holding the baby' in order to pursue
their own selfish gratification. Instead of
the self sacrificial love of a real husband
and father, men have too often chosen to
abandon the needs of their spouses, mothers,
daughters and friends in selfish pursuit of
personal gratification, often at great cost to
the women in their lives. While women have
rightly rebelled against this false economy of
love, unfortunately the modern world seems to
think that women too should also abandon the
self sacrificial love they are also called to and
seek their own gratification at the expense of
others. While many good and proper reforms
have come about through women's liberation,
one of the bad fruits is the false idea that, for a
woman to be fulfilled, free or 'find herself', she
must abandon her sacrificial love for others
and be just as self seeking as the men who
caused this mess in the first place.
I frequently hear men complaining that women
won't let them be gentlemen any more. I have
personally been slapped for offering my seat to
a lady, and scolded more than a few times for
holding a door. I still hold doors and give up my
seat where appropriate. Men should stop the
complaining and get on with fixing the problem!
Men, after so many years, generations even,
of males allowing themselves to be portrayed
as self seeking sex maniacs (and often living
up to that image), we can't expect women to
suddenly believe we are knights in shining
armour come to save the day. If we want
respect from women we need to earn it by
acting respectably. If we want women to trust
us, we need to be trustworthy. If we want to
be loved as gentlemen, then we need to be
gentlemen all the time, not just when the pretty
girl walks in. If we long for a time when women
loved their husbands and made a wonderful
home, then we should first be worthy of that
love, consistently self sacrificial in our love and
capable of being part of a team that makes a
Most of us have close experience with the
pain of broken homes, shattered dreams and
betrayed trust. It is a great tragedy that we
expect people in these situations to simply
'get on with it' after a short period of sadness.
But these genuine tragedies will never be
overcome by resentment, anger, depression
or resignation. It is true that society needs
men in the public sphere, in politics, in
business, in all walks of life who dedicate
their strength and skill to the good of those
they are called to serve. But first and foremost
our society desperately needs men who will
give themselves selflessly as husbands and
fathers; men who are not seeking their own
gratification but dedicating all their strength
and skill to building that basic community
of love, the family, on which all of society is
founded. We desperately need men who are
prepared to live down the stereotype of the self
seeking selfish male. We need men who will
summon all their strength and skill and place it
at the service of their family. We need heroes.
Not just in times of danger and excitement. We
need this kind of hero every day.
If you are a man reading this, this may seem
like a huge task, because it is! Being a real
man will take you all your life. Luckily, you
have exactly one life to give! So, gentlemen,
grab your super-suit and head for the nearest
telephone box. The time for heroes is now!
THE SPIRIT OF Taizé in Newcastle has
been revived after a fleeting but informative
visit by Brother Ghislain from the
community situated in rural France.
Known primarily for its gentle chants, Taizé has
long had a place in the Newcastle community
with a monthly prayer gathering in Mayfield.
Br Ghislain refreshed and encouraged the
University of Newcastle's chaplains with his
gentle words and prayer.
For over seventy years, the 'pilgrimage of
trust on earth' initiated by Br Roger and the
Taizé community, has given rise to a stream of
gatherings, large and small, in countries across
When Pope John Paul II visited Taizé in 1986
he spoke to a gathering of seven thousand
young adults. "One passes through Taizé as
one passes close to a spring of water," he said.
"The traveller stops, quenches his thirst and
continues on his way."
Br Ghislain's visit was simply to plant the seeds
of hope which may encourage Australians to
share the kind of 'pilgrimage of trust' in Christ
which the Taizé community lives out daily in
action and prayer.
"When we try to live together, we experience
hope," he told the gathering. As Br Ghislain
indicated, hope is the seed from which
With a specific focus on young people, Taizé
is a symbol for all those who, throughout the
world, try to leap over walls of separation in
order to spread the message of trust. Young
people across the world are encouraged to
mobilise their energies, gather together their
experiences and expectations, and create a
world of which we can be proud.
"Often we feel we can do very little...but the
little we can do, we must do. Reconciliation is
the heart of our lives."
The ecumenical nature of Taizé embraces every
individual and his or her religion. To go towards
others with open hearts and minds, and try to
understand the man or woman who does not
think as we do, is an imperative that can bring
believers and non-believers together.
As Br Ghislain says with a smile, "The miracle
is that it works!"
You might like to delve into Taizé further by
visiting www.taize.fr/en To learn about a local
ecumenical prayer service in the spirit of Taizé,
see page 21.
Chaplain Kate Bar tlett, student Will Johnson
and Br Ghislain.
Susan and Peter Holmes.
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