Level Up is a LIVE webcast powered by FOCUS Equip. Each month we bring you great Catholic speakers, interesting topics, and plenty of time for live Q&A. In March, Father Scott Bailey will be joining us to talk about the masculine genius. Join us for Level Up: Masculine Genius on Tuesday, March 4, at 8pm Eastern for the live webcast. I recently sat down with Father Scott and asked him some questions to introduce him to you and pique your interest for Tuesday night’s Level Up.
May 18, 2013
St. Frances Cabrini Parish – Littleton, CO
Mint chocolate chip ice cream
% of clothes that are black:
Favorite part of being a priest:
Confession. For as much as I love preaching, it involves reaching a large group of people at the same time, while they’re all in different places. But with Confession, I know exactly what’s going on in a person’s life and where they need Jesus’ grace. Being able to speak directly into a person’s situation, right where they are, that’s the most beautiful part.
And lifting burdens off of people. I’ve been surprised at how often I hear confessions of people who have been away for decades. It comes up, once a week, or once every couple of weeks. It’s really incredible to see where people’s hearts are when they finally bring those things to confession. To speak the words of absolution and know I’m lifting a burden off them–that it’s not just nice words, but it’s actually changing their life. It’s powerful.
If you weren’t a priest, what might you be doing right now?
I’d be a high school teacher. I was going to college to be a High School English and Drama teacher. I loved literature, and I loved theater. It’s funny—when I went to seminary, I had to be content with the fact that I’d never do theater again, but when I got there, I was asked if I would direct a play at the seminary. So I ended up directing five years in a row at the seminary. I acted in one. I wrote one. When I became a priest, I had that same moment of “Well, guess I’ll never do theater again.” Then, I got here to Cabrini parish, and they asked me to direct the play this year. It seems God wants me doing theater.
It’s interesting to see how God has brought in my interests into my studies in seminary and my priesthood. I wanted to be an English teacher because I really liked teaching, and I’ve been surprised at how much of my ministry now involves teaching. Even though God had different plans than I had for myself, he still incorporated the things I love.
What is one incredible, hidden talent?
I can draw quite well. That’s probably the one talent I have that not a lot of people know. I donate my stuff to parish auctions and that kind of thing.
Three saints you can’t wait to meet in heaven:
John the Apostle
I’ve always felt a certain spiritual affinity to John the Apostle. This is partly because of my youth–I’m the youngest priest in the state, I think, and he was the youngest of the Apostles. It’s also due to a number of other reasons, especially his closeness with the Blessed Mother.
I wrote my thesis on Chrysostom, and I admire him. He received the name Chrysostom, “the Golden Mouthed,” because he was such an incredible preacher, and one of my desires is to be a better preacher, so I would love to meet him.
Damien of Molokai
I just love his story. While he’s not American-born, he is an American saint. His absolute love for the lepers in Hawaii—to not be afraid of getting into the mess of their lives and exposing himself to the disease—I find it very powerful.
If elected pope tomorrow, what name would you choose?
Pope John Francis. Because I like John, and I like Pope Francis.
What is NOT the Masculine Genius?
It is not power or domination. It’s not football. It might include football, but it’s not football, or sports in general. The Masculine Genius has to include some concept of leadership. However, a perverted sense of leadership turns into domination—makes it about power. Christ shows us that the teacher is the one who serves, and flips leadership on its head. Give us a sneak peek, a preview: what is the Masculine Genius?
I think the Masculine Genius is selfless leadership. It’s interesting, JPII never told us what it is. He gave us the Feminine Genius, but he never told us what the Masculine Genius is. Still, if we consider the ideas he puts forth in the Theology of the Body, if you look at the Scriptures and the Church Fathers, especially John Chrysostom, we see that selfless Christian leadership. This leadership of virtue, more than anything, is to be the model of the Christian man: someone who is ready to give himself for the sake of his bride and for the sake of his family.
You wrote your master’s thesis on the masculine genius. How did you research it?
I wanted to research masculinity. JPII was big on discussing the complementarity of men and women, but he talked more about women than he did about men, so I had to fish through a lot of his writings in order to figure out what his concept of the husband’s role was.
I was mostly looking at the marriage relationship. I chose JPII and Chrysostom because one of them is a Church Father, the other a contemporary, one of them is from the East, one is from the West. And both of them were the most prolific writers or speakers on the topic of marriage of their time.
Also, both of them had a lot of pastoral experience counseling married couples. For me, that says a lot about their personalities and validates their credibility. They’re not just speaking from a dogmatic or Scriptural point of view, but they’re blending what the Scriptures say about marriage with the reality of what they see happening in people’s marriages.
Why is it important for men and women to understand the Masculine Genius?
We are experiencing a crisis of masculine identity. Marriages are falling apart. We see women being used as objects, right and left. I think we are losing a sense of the dignity of women partly because the man doesn’t understand who he is and his role in protecting her dignity.
It also gives us a sense of mission. We must understand God’s plan for us, as men—that our desires to lead and to be chivalrous are desires that God has planted in our hearts, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of them.
I don’t want to discredit all that the feminist movement has done, because there have been a lot of good things in the midst of that. But sometimes, in an attempt to make sure women are treated with equality, men are seen as equal but not as having their own gifts and identity. The culture has confused making everyone “equal” with making everyone “the same.” This is not what the Catholic Church teaches. We are equal and complementary, but the world doesn’t understand this complementary idea.
From what I can tell, and granted my pastoral ministry has been pretty short lived so far, is that in marriages where husbands and wives understand themselves to be complementary, where the man understands the genius of women as being a genius of relationships, and the woman understands the man to have some role when it comes to leadership, they seem to be successful marriages and successful families.
Why haven’t we heard much about the Masculine Genius before?
It’s interesting. It feels like it’s time to start talking about it. Walk into any Catholic bookstore now, and there’s all these books on masculinity. Most of them are new, from what I can tell. It’s not just in the Catholic world. When I started research for my thesis, I wanted to talk about masculinity in general, and almost all my resources were written by Protestants in the last 10 or 15 years. There seems to be a growing interest in “what is the masculine identity?” and maybe it’s because in an effort to talk about the equality of women, we’ve lost the identity of man.
Men are afraid to be men. We are afraid to be bold and courageous, for fear of seeming dominating or sexist or something like that.
I think we’re finally getting ahold of the meaning of femininity, so it seems like it’s the right time to start talking about the Masculine Genius. Maybe we needed to talk about the dignity of woman before we started looking at men.
What’s the best “how to be a man” advice you’ve ever received?
The thing that touches me the most is what Jesus says in, the Gospel of John, “You have called me Lord and Teacher and that I am, …but I have called you friends.” Then, he washes their feet. He doesn’t overlook the fact that he is still Lord and Teacher, but he gets down on his knees and shows what the Teacher does, what the Lord does, and I think that right there is the model for what leadership is–it’s a leadership of service. So I guess the best advice I’ve ever received is from Jesus.