Spiritually speaking

Some offerings for men seeking a closer relationship with God

By Connie Berry
Sun editor

Father Dan Mulhauser, SJ, describes spirituality as “Our participation every day of our lives in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which we are brought into by our baptism.” He will offer his thoughts at a special retreat for men at Christ the King Retreat and Conference Center in a few weeks. A group of professionals and businessmen have met at Christ the King for years for a retreat during the Lenten season, Father Mulhauser said. This year’s retreat is April 8 – 10.

He thinks when it comes to segregating spirituality into womens’ or mens’ categories, it can be tricky. Any type of spirituality, Father Mulhauser said, should be holistic.

“The retreat is really an opportunity for the men to think about their relationship — it is  transcendental — with God. We’re Christian and Roman Catholic so also within that context,” Father Mulhauser said.

The presentation of spiritual examples might be a little different for men and women. Father Mulhauser said he uses two movies to sometimes demonstrate a good/bad idea of spirituality. “The Terminator” series and the old classic, “High Noon” are two he sometimes utilizes if he’s speaking to a group of men. “I’m not really sure there is such a thing as a definable masculine spirituality,” Father Mulhauser said.

Stella Maris Retreat and Renewal Center in Skaneateles will offer a retreat for men in recovery the weekend of Feb. 18. The retreat will be specific to those in recovery and it will focus on 12-step spirituality.

Father Thomas McGrath is administrator and chaplain at Stella Maris and he said the staff there hopes to include more retreat and spirituality offerings for men in the future. He said “in the old days” men’s retreats were very popular and nearly every parish offered a retreat for men.

“We’re working on revamping our schedule right now,” Father McGrath said, “and one of the things we’ve talked about is adding more events for men.”

Anne Richter, program director at Christ the King Retreat Center, said she looks forward to the annual retreat for businessmen and professionals every year.

“Men come to this weekend from all walks of life,” Richter explained. “What they have in common is an awareness of what is really important in life. They are men who see their Catholic faith as being the center of everything they do. These busy men realize it is important to take time to pray and to grow closer to God. The busier they are, the more they need a weekend of quiet reflection — free from phones, faxes and meetings.”

Gary Smith spent a decade in parish ministry before working at the faith-based community organizing group, MICAH (Moving In Congregations, Acting In Hope). He has studied masculine spirituality using the concepts of the Franciscan priest, Father Richard Rohr. Smith said the major difference between female and male spirituality is that women naturally learn that life “is not just about them” and that men have to learn this life lesson.

“We have young men today who have not grown up with positive male role models. They don’t understand how to be men,” Smith said. “Whether through death, divorce or having a father who was not present emotionally or spiritually, these men struggle with the pain they feel.”

Smith quoted Father Rohr saying, “If you don’t allow your pain to transform you, you will transmit it onto others or yourself.”

Men tend to strive for power through more money or better jobs, Smith said, and that they get frustrated when they can’t always gain that power, they pass their pain onto others in their lives. “Then there are men who did have positive role models with their own fathers, which reminds them to be positive not just in their own family but out in the world. They could meet someone one day, male or female, who really needs that positive male model in their life,” Smith said.

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