Boys To Men

In these times of rapid change and global transformation, many in our culture are grasping for a spirituality that is both relevant to our new ways of living and powerful in a world geared for materialism. While many women have learned the value of connection and support of other women through this quest, many men find themselves wrestling with questions of identity, morality, and power—difficulties which, if not resolved in healthy ways, can cause profound damage to individual men, their loved ones, and others around them.

In this article, Franciscan priest Richard Rohr, who has been leading men’s retreats around the world for many years, offers his thoughts on how the church’s rediscovery of rites of passage and initiation could provide a process that helps the boys in our culture grow into spiritually mature men. Rohr’s reflections show that men’s need for such a process may return them—and all of us—to the heart and root of our faith. —The Editors

I have been reading and inquiring in different cultures for the last five years about the process of "growing up" boys. It seems that it is only the recent West that has deemed it unnecessary to "initiate" young men. Otherwise, culture after culture felt that if the young man were not introduced to "the mysteries," he would not know what to do with his pain and would almost always abuse his power. It looks like they were right.

Contemporary phenomena such as the Million Man March, Promise Keepers, and the secular men’s movement are in their own way trying to address this vacuum. Of all the topics I speak on, the subject of masculine spirituality, the male journey, and men’s rites of passage are the most responded to and the most requested. Our churches have their revivals and their sacraments of initiation, but one recent study revealed that 80 percent of active church members are women.

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 1998
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