St. Joseph: Model of Catholic Manhood

Written By Kennedy Hall

What is a real man? Can you define it? If you saw a real man walking down the street, would you notice?

In a world of androgynous fashion, fluid ‘gender’ and rampant feminism, the truth about who or what a man is, is as ambiguous as information that comes out of Public Health.

We are told that a man who is too manly – i.e., masculine – is ‘toxic.’ He is disordered if he clings to antiquated distinctions that separate the sexes into male and female. Everything is a social construct, everything is a psychological phenomenon, everything is relative to the era – everything is everything.

But, contrary to what the modern irreligious culture thinks – actually the culture isn’t irreligious, it just follows false religion – there is a real difference between men and women, and God created both male and female for wonderful purposes that are distinctly different.

Now, other writers write about women, but in this instance, I will focus on men. If you spoke to my wife, she might say it is a wise decision for me to not write about a topic I am not really an expert on.

At any rate, the truth of what a man is can be found in the word that is used to signify man in Latin. In Latin, man is vir, which is also the root word for the word virtu, which means strength. This is where we get the word ‘virtue’ in English. In essence, to be a vir is to be the embodiment of strength itself. And, to be virtuous is to be manly.

This is why when you read English literature from an older and saner time, authors will use words like ‘manfully’ to describe a heroic and virtuous effort on someone’s behalf. “The young man acted manfully as he withstood the criticism from his superior after his first day on the job,” for example.

Effeminacy is the Problem

The opposite of manliness is effeminacy. Before your politically correct sensibilities are agitated at the site of a word that bears some passing resemblance to ‘femininity’, please do not confuse the two terms. Effeminacy is a defect in virtue, whereas femininity is a perfection of the female.

According to ancient usage, the word ‘effeminacy’ essentially means ‘soft’ or something that ‘yielded easily to blows.’ You could, for example say that a door was an effeminate door if it was rotting and not structurally sound.

This is how Saint Thomas Aquinas and the great spiritual and theological masters have always understood it. In our day, no one really knows what it means, in fact I have found that most people believe the word means someone who suffers from same sex attraction. It is of course possible for any man to be effeminate, but it is not by nature a sexual term.

In any case, we live in very effeminate age. Most men, for a variety of reasons – and I include myself! – have been raised in softer circumstances than our ancestors. I don’t know about you, but I don’t ride horses or brave insane weather conditions – Canadian winters notwithstanding – or suffer in my daily life like my forefathers.

I have a cushy existence compared to most of human history, as most of us do.

This has made us soft, it has made us effeminate.

Why is it so hard for men today to operate on few hours of sleep? Or kick bad habits like consuming evil images? Why can’t we just put down the smartphone and pick up a book so we can actually be smart?

Why are men so afraid of having large families, or standing up for their rights under medical tyranny?

Goodness, my nation was forged out of snow and ice by brave men who risked their lives to procure beaver pelts, yet today most men here don’t dare refuse an abortion-tainted and experimental jab just because it might mean they can’t access their creature comforts. It is a problem.

Saint Joseph is the Solution

Listen, you do not have to be a caricature of a man to be a real man. No one is required to bench-press a certain amount of weight or drink raw eggs and hit a heavy bad – as awesome as a Rocky training montage is. No, in order to be a real man, you have to be a man of sacrifice.

Saint Joseph, the Foster Father of the Son of God the Father, is the perfect model for us. We know that Christ had two natures, one Human and one Divine, and in that mysterious union, Christ the Man was raised and grew under the influence of Mary and Joseph.

Is it any mystery that Christ was raised by a carpenter and died while He hung from a massive plank of wood?

Saint Joseph must have been a man’s man, a real hero – who else would God Himself choose to be his earthly dad?

This means that Joseph was a man of sacrifice, a servant of the Humble Servant. When Christ said, “the last will be first and the first will be last,” it is quite possible that he was describing the influence that Saint Joseph showed him.

In addition, think of the responsibility that Joseph had to bear on his manly shoulders by not only raising the Son of God, but being the Chaste Spouse of his Heavenly Mother! Is there a more high-pressure situation possible? I think not!

But somehow, he did it, because – along with his great holiness – he was the furthest thing from effeminate.

Developing Saint Joseph’s Habits

The scope of this article is not long enough to provide a sufficient answer to all that is needed to cultivate habits of virtue like Saint Joseph. The fullest answer can be found in my new book published by TAN, Terror of Demons.

However, I can tell you that it is simpler than you think. In essence, to become like Joseph you need to take on a life of penance and mortification and willfully do hard things. There is no secret to virtue, it is cultivated through blood, sweat, and tears – and Rosaries of course.

Each day we must accept a new cross, or newly accept an old one. Whether it be a physical challenge, an intellectual challenge, or a spiritual challenge, we must be challenged in order to live up to the name vir.

Otherwise, we run the risk of continuing to go soft, of becoming effeminate, which means we will fail our wives and children and our Church.

There is so much more that could be said, and I hope you will enjoy my book, because I know that together, we can all become men fashioned after Saint Joseph and repopulate the Church and the culture with real men who can take care of business.

Kennedy is a Catholic father and author from Canada.  He writes on important themes that include Catholic manhood and St. Joseph.  His recent book Terror of Demons: Reclaiming Traditional Catholic Masculinity is available from TAN Books.