In an age when many theologians and catechists are taken with “bridal spirituality,” the Franciscans of the Immaculate are unique in helping men join their hearts and minds to Mary’s “yes” – the greatest bridal “I do” – while retaining their essential masculinity. I asked Father Angelo Mary Geiger F.I., who writes extensively about Marian chivalry on his Mary Victrix blog, to explain some of the fine distinctions he makes with regard to what authentic masculinity looks like.
“At the heart of anyone’s standing in the spiritual life is interior union with God,” Father Geiger told me. While the Church sees the bride’s union with the Heavenly Bridegroom as a key analogy for this union, Father Geiger stresses that “men must translate their interior life into a plan of action if they are to maintain their spiritual life.”
Such action is necessary because “men are hardwired to take risks. They must face their fears, confront evil and defend the weak. Otherwise, they either naturally lose interest in the spiritual life or unnaturally consent to be emasculated.”
Father Geiger identifies love and war as what distinguish authentic masculinity – though both of which, he says, are fundamentally human, “because the goal of everyone’s life is the union of love, but in the concrete it is lived out in the midst of conflict.”
The Holy Father’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est (“God Is Love”) sheds light on this distinction, Father Geiger notes.
“Authentic love is a balance between what Pope Benedict has described as eros and agape, or possessive love and oblative love,” he says. “Both Christ and Mary at Calvary exemplify that balance. Our Lord defends the honor of his Bride, and Our Lady suffers with her son in solidarity of love and compassion. They both expose themselves to suffering in the face of conflict, but their mutual self-forgetfulness is formed and consolidated by their union of love."