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Male spirituality features in St Theresa’s ‘Tuesday Talks’

Every man must commit to the quest to discover true masculinity and heal his wounded adolescent masculinity.

“We have to find the inner strength…and make that unwavering decision to go about the quest,” said Matthew Hall of the Companions of the Transfigured Christ and member of the National Catholic Men’s Ministry.

Hall was giving a presentation on ‘A SWOT Analysis of Men featuring Saints Peter and Paul’ at the St Theresa’s RC Parish, Woodbrook Tuesday Talks ministry held online June 29.

He used the 12th century myth of Parsifal and the Grail to delve into and give an understanding of the inner workings of men.

Parsifal, the “good knight or innocent fool” yearns for wholeness and to feel complete again. His search is about finding his way and re-entering the castle of the king again. It is a search for consciousness and Parsifal must do “outer and inner work” over a period of more than 20 years to prove his manhood.

Hall said, “very often modern men start off into the forest hoping to find something that will make them feel good again to heal their masculinity”.

They seek “red knight experiences”— in the myth, Parsifal defeated the red knight and won his shiny, red armour. Hall said Parsifal wanted the armour to bolster his ego and for other people to see him as a brave knight.

Hall explained that facing the knight was representative of standing up to father images or authority figures. In the mid-teens, boys “tend to get into confrontations with principals, male teachers, coaches, their own father, a father figure in their life…they are trying to imprint or stamp their own emerging sense of masculinity into the world.”

Adult men will seek out “red knight experiences” in things such as a sports car or taking on a brave persona or trying “to find the fair maiden who will bring wholeness to self again”.

Hall, however, said in the pursuit of shiny objects and materialistic things, they may feel better temporarily, but after a while boredom, restlessness and emptiness sets in.

“The wounded nature returns, and they have to come to the understanding that our inner life, that is the part that we are seeking to ultimately heal,” he added.

Hall said when Parsifal began his journey, he wanted the Grail to serve him. In the end, he discovered all served the Grail and there was a divine purpose. “Parsifal in serving the Holy Grail learned to listen and honour his own conscience and to uphold it with his true masculinity.”

Providing a few insights into how the modern man can heal his adolescent masculinity, Hall identified strength and fidelity of heart to himself, sexual fidelity to his partner, fidelity in his actions in his working life and business affairs.

Hall suggested that men must find their inner strength to show fidelity and make the unwavering decision to go on the quest. “In the myth, each day is a quest, each day the knights took an oath to serve the Grail king and the Grail…today’s men have to make a commitment to doing the inner work,” he said.

Touching on what this would entail, Hall said when a man did something wrong, he did not seek to make trivial excuses or hide in trickery to prove himself right.

“Instead, he had to make a noble hearted effort to resolve the faults within himself and to clear up and make reparations with other people as well in the exterior world. When we are able to make that shift, is when we will be able to enter what is considered true masculinity.”

Tuesday Talks is an online formation initiative for adults developed by the core planning team of the youth ministry of St Theresa’s Parish, Woodbrook. The series in its current format began August 2020. It is held every other month, on all Tuesdays.

Each talk is designed to meet specific pastoral or faith formation needs. As 2021 is the Year of St Joseph and the Amoris Laetitia Family Year, the presentations will focus on male spirituality and understanding the male, with a view to healing and improving family relationships.

By Lara Pickford-Gordon