I was thinking the other day about what it is to be “a real man.” Is it be be big and buff, loud and boisterous, pushy and obnoxious, over-sexed and perpetually turned on. I think these are all contemporary pop-culture misconceptions about masculinity that are primarily influenced by the likes of the WWF, X-rated films, and the hip-hop culture. They have the greatest lasting power with our children. These false ideas have given rise to the epidemic of steroid use among teenagers, homosexuality, the explosion of Internet hard-core porn, rampant promiscuity, broken marriages, the phenomena of domestic violence, and the popularity of Viagra. Then what is genuine masculinity? I look towards the model for all men: St. Joseph.
St. Joseph was a man of few words; in fact, none are recorded in Holy Scripture. But he was a man of action. Not the Rambo type of shoot-em-up rampaging that is sadly the basis of all current so-called “action” movies, but of a subtle and deliberate movement which always was in supplication to the Will of Our Lord. When God spoke, Joseph listened. But Joseph was not dense and robotic, he was incredibly cerebral; he was a dreamer. This was not a lethargic type of self-centered star-gazing, but a conscious openness to every whisper emanating from the mind of the Father. Reminds me of this line from The Bible: “...believing, you shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22) Joseph had this constant receptivity to the Lord. And to be always this vulnerable, as well as silent, requires much humility and strength.
Modern examples of this type of man I seen in Blessed Andre Bessette, in Jeffrey Hunter's restrained performance as Jesus Christ in King of Kings, the character of Billy Roberts in Jack London's novel The Valley of the Moon, in both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who need no swagger to prove they are strong, and in Blessed John Paul II, who had an incredibly manly and vigorous persona that he always tempered with the greatest fragility mirrored in his love for Our Lady.