Father John McCloskey on Friendship – The Key to the Evangelization of Catholic Men
Father John McCloskey has given a lot of thought about how to evangelize Catholic men.
Father C. John McCloskey, III, STD is a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei. He currently is Research Fellow of the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington DC. From 1985-1990, he was a chaplain at Princeton University. From 1998-2002, he was the Director of the Catholic Information Center for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. He is perhaps best known for guiding into the Church such luminaries as Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Lawrence Kudlow, Robert Novak, Judge Robert Bork, Senator Sam Brownback, Alfred Regnery and General Josiah Bunting.
Here is an article that Father McCloskey wrote about the Evangelization of Catholic men:
Not too long after a glorious liturgical event in St. Peter’s Square, I went out to lunch in the Piazza Navona with several American couples. During our conversation and enjoyment of Italian pasta, I took a close look at the next table. There was a group of seven or eight Italian men who were eating, drinking vino rosso, and engaging in boisterous conversation, clearly enjoying themselves. I got the impression that this was not a singular event but rather one of frequent meetings of long-time close friends. For some reason it seemed strange to me, and at the same time appealing.
Now I am not encouraging the ideal of men whiling away the hours with wine and song while their wives slave away with the cleaning and the cooking. However, upon reflection in the weeks afterward, I realized that the strangeness I felt on witnessing that scene came about because I rarely, if ever, encounter similar scenes in my own country. Virtually the only time I see groups of men meeting together on a regular basis is in front of a television–at home or at a bar or restaurant–watching a sporting event. The drink is there (beer rather than wine); the food is there (stacked sandwiches rather than pasta) but something is missing. More often than not, they are enjoying not each other, but rather the game. Now there is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying sports, together, whether as participants or as spectators. Nor is there anything wrong with most of the other hobbies and social activities that American men enjoy together. Still there often seems to be a deeper dimension of friendship that is missing.
Suddenly, as I reflected on my observations, there came to my mind a suspicion that there is a heretofore-undiagnosed disease common among American men–a disease that could be responsible in part for some of our societal ills, and could even be a grave deterrent to an effective new evangelization in our country. I have named this disease the Friendship Deficit Syndrome (FDS).
The purpose of this essay is twofold. Firsts I mean to describe some of the causes and symptoms of the syndrome, and offer some possible therapy. Second, I hope to offer some background on the importance of friendship, both human and supernatural, as a principal means of spreading the Gospel of Christ. We need to work out a new and better approach to developing friendships in America: an approach that is precisely American and respects the strength of American culture. This article is meant to provoke the reader to offer his own suggestions and solutions, because I believe we Americans are all facing a serious problem.