Without seeking to cause a firestorm of opinions, one of the critiques of modern liturgy is that it has tipped the balance decidedly toward a more feminine expression, especially in the area of music and preaching. Much modern music is emotive, relational and generally thematic of social concord and harmony. Many sermons too are more of the “can all we all get along and be a litter nicer” variety.
None of these themes are wrong. But too often the balancing themes (e.g. the cross, embracing difficult duties, enduring hardship for the kingdom, and being soldiers in a great battle against the kingdom of darkness) are notably absent.
Here again, let me be clear, this observation is not about right or wrong approaches, (both are needed) but the observation is about balance.
Most men seek to be challenged more than consoled. Learning to get along is a good thing, but there is also something to be said for finding a good fight and getting in it, for going forth to battle for souls and to snatch them from the kingdom of darkness and win them for the Kingdom of Light, to fight for what is just and true and to insist that compromise is too easily a form of betrayal.
Many women seem more comfortable with the call to tender love, deep relationship with Jesus, and forgiveness. Some seem downright alarmed with more masculine themes.
Again, as I presuppose, we both need each other, for truth without charity can be used to bludgeon and as such is not really truth at all. And Charity without truth too easily becomes a mere sentimentality. Pope Emeritus Benedict once said,
Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the “economy” of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practiced in the light of truth…Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love. It falls prey to contingent subjective emotions and opinions, the word “love” is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite. Truth frees charity from the constraints of an emotionalism (Cartitas in Veritate, 2,3)
And while this is all getting a bit heavy for a Friday night post, I somehow thought of the masculine and feminine genius when I saw the ad below. The men and the women have a very different preference displayed. But both have something to teach.
The women, for their part fulfill the texts which speak of us being clothed in righteousness, symbolized by the clothing.
1. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Col 3:12)
2. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But rather be clothed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Rom 13:14)
3. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. (Rev 3:3)
4. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Rev 21:2)
5. For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” The Fine linen is the righteousness of God’s holy people. (Rev 19:7,-9)
6. Adore the Lord in Holy Attire (Ps 96:9)
On the other hand the men demonstrate the need to be filled with the Spirit and to seek spiritual gifts, symbolized by the spirited drinks.
1. On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. (John 7:37-39)
2. For this is My Blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt 26:28-29)
3. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them….Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?….Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”…Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd…These people are not drunk, as you suppose….No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people (Acts 2)
4. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit… (Eph 5:18)
Yes, here are two testimonies. Both are different, but both are needed and necessary. Vive la différence!