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Monday, 3 December 2012

Manners...the Lost Christian Legacy... and a Sign of Virtue in a Man

The sign of a protector male is that he is willing to suffer for another. Being mannerly can be a type of suffering as it is dying to self. Rudeness is egotism and narcissism. Predator men are rude-perhaps not at first-but the rudeness will reveal itself.

There are too many predator men and not enough protectors. Protectors have manners. One of the most delightful aspect of a truly Catholic man, who has given his life to God, is that he becomes more and more a protector. Hopefully, even if he has not learned manners at home, he acquires these. The old man, the Adam in him becomes the New Man, the Christ. Christ is the model for the protector. So is St. Joseph. Protectors are usually made so in families, but one can learn and change and become the kind of man God desires for His Kingdom. A protector wants to make a woman happy and peaceful. He wants to keep that woman happy and safe. That is a protector's goal.

I cannot imagine St. Francis or St. Francis de Sales being rude to a woman. I cannot imagine St. Edmund Campion or St. Maximilian Kolbe being rude to a woman. I cannot imagine Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati being rude to anyone.

Such behaviour as respect and manners, which may be called chivalry, is achieved and must be sought after. It is not necessarily natural to some men. If one is raised as a wolf cub in a cave, one must learn and achieve gentility. 

Sadly, some priests are very rude. I find this disconcerting and odd that a man who is set aside by God to be another Christ is rude and sometimes, specifically to women. I have witnessed this behaviour from priests towards people many times since being here in Eire. One of the most gentlemanly clerics I know has the last name of Knight. Do you think this is an accident?

OK, I am from a generation which learned manners. One learned to listen to others and share in conversations. As a woman, I expect men to help me with heavy packages and doors, as well as not walking 20 feet ahead of me on the street. Boys and girls in the 1960s in Catholics schools learned manners from the nuns. Even in high school, we had guidelines on dating manners, and in college, we had a course on "finishing". This sounds like the Jurassic Age to most, but I am concerned. I think the lack of manners is causing a barbarism among the younger ones. Women who are traditional Catholics should be able to expect a higher degree of respect from their male counterparts.

Young women, do not settle for less. Do not go out, or date, rude men. They will only get worse. They are predators who only think of their own needs.

The cell phone is part of the problem. When I am talking with someone, it is very rude to me that the texting and messaging interrupts good conversation. Thankfully, some young people have been taught this is rude, but for the vast majority, this is not the case.

I text maybe ten times a week and mostly on skype, rather than my phone number. I realize this is unthinkable for most teens and university students who talk on the phone hours by texting. To text while in a conversation with another is just plain rude.

I cannot be bothered and nothing is THAT important. Plus, if I want to talk with a friend, I try and meet up with them for coffee. That is called relating in the real world.

Texting is anti-social. Thankfully, when I was teaching, the colleges had rules about turning off cell-phones in the classrooms and if not, we instructors were allowed to put it in our syllabi, which I did . (My last teaching job ended in December of 2010).

But the lack of manners is serious. Catholic girls should not even think of dating a young man with bad manners. This is a serious problem reflecting a disrespect. Such small things as coughing and yawning without covering one's mouth, or talking with a mouth full of food, or not waiting for all to sit down to start eating form some of these criticisms. Fast food has ruined manners. Cursing is rude behavior, as well as sinful. In fact, if a man is living a virtuous life, he will not exhibit rudeness.

Not dressing for an occasion is rude as well. Jeans do not belong at Sunday Mass, and I notice even men older than myself wearing designer jeans at the TLM. I find this very odd. Do they not care how they look? They look like old hippies, even at the TLM. They are being rude to God, the Trinity.

I have noticed in Europe that there are certain groups of men whose manners are worse than others. Sadly, the Irish young men have horrible manners, but so do many older Irish men, even of my generation or older. The typical situation is a complete absence of the awareness of a real need of any woman. And, the roughness of speaking, which I have noticed, indicates a lack of gentility and respect. Some young Irish women have told me they would never marry an Irish man for some of these reasons. What has happened cannot be blamed on these girls and women from good families, which are used to manners.

I witness the lack of manners daily. Smoking in front of people without asking is a huge problem here. Where I come from, and in England, a person asks if it is fine to smoke in front of others. Not here. Also, men do not put a woman first in lines, or open doors, or allow a woman to walk on the pavement rather than the street. Even traditional Irish Catholic men lack manners. Coming from a background and class where manners are the rule of the day, I notice these things.

Some of the problems are ethnic. American men from the Mid-West are some of the most polite men in the world. So too are English men.

Some of the worst examples of a lack of manners are found in men from the Middle-East and Asia-except for the Japanese men I have met, who are very mannerly. I am sorry, but I have much experience in the world and this is a truism. Where there is not Christianity, there is more rudeness.

There are many old people walking on the streets and in Church. It pains me to see them struggle without help. Even ancient women who are alone are no longer helped with doors, or even noticed. I try to help when I can. I see these old women and old men, as well, standing in buses. I give them my seat. It is a sign of decadence that the old are not honoured. The old are invisible to the young. This is not Christianity.

My concern is the growing brutality towards women which goes unnoticed. The attacks in Cairo and others places during the recent demonstrations indicate a growing hatred of women. The experiences of some students regarding their ex-boyfriends is another. There are too many violent men. Violence can be demonstrated in body language and words as well. Rudeness is a type of violence. Listen to how people speak to one another. It makes me sad.

I believe the age of chivalry is long gone, and I believe that unless a man is dedicated to honour and love Mary, a Catholic young woman should not give him the time of day, as we say in the States.

The Blessed Mother conquered Europe, and civilized men through their devotion to her. Most men who have this devotion are mannerly, polite and respectful. Without a love of the Queen of Heaven and Earth in his heart, a man is not an entire man.

I praise those men who love Mary.The difference is obvious. What I do not understand are the Irish men who pray the rosary and are very rude. I just do not understand. Three men were rude yesterday while praying the rosary, or in line at church. Amazing, rudeness in church. Men have slipped into selfish preoccupation with the man's own comfort. Men have lost the ability to be uncomfortable and suffer for the sake of another.

Accepting and absorbing suffering is a sign of a mature man, a gentleman and a protector.

Piety and devotion mean nothing if the inner person is not changed. Such things become superstitions if not connected to the daily examination of conscience.

Chivalry crossed national boundaries at one time. Ethnicity made no difference. There was a nobility of mind and heart which changed the course of history. Europe has lost this awareness and desire for gentility. We are becoming, and are alerady in some areas, barbarians.

I shall quote Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman again on this subject. Mothers, teach your children. Fathers, honor the wife and mother of your children. This is how they learn.

A Definition of a Gentleman

It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say he is one who never inflicts pain. This description is both refined and, as far as it goes, accurate. He is mainly occupied in merely removing the obstacles which hinder the free and unembarrassed action of those about him; and he concurs with their movements rather than takes the initiative himself. His benefits may be considered as parallel to what are called comforts or conveniences in arrangements of a personal nature: like an easy chair or a good fire, which do their part in dispelling cold and fatigue, though nature provides both means of rest and animal heat without them. The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast; — all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make every one at their ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; he can recollect to whom he is speaking; he guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome. He makes light of favours while he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring. He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort, he has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets every thing for the best. He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out. From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend. He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults, he is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles; he submits to pain, because it is inevitable, to bereavement, because it is irreparable, and to death, because it is his destiny. If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blunder. From The Idea of a University, 1852


Jon said...


Great post, and very perceptive.

We belong to an FSSP parish. My two sons, 18 and 15, have served the Mass, at least in my older son's case, for seven years. That service, combined with the example of the TFP, whose North American HQ is nearby, and whose members attend our parish, has been invaluable to impressing the "code" and use of manners on them. They see being mannerly as "manly" and even "fun" as a rugby game, and I'm not kidding. The image of knighthood proved very appealing. In fact, the altar boys in our parish have resurrected an old server confraternity called "Knights of the Altar." The boys graduate through it at various degrees, beginning with squire.

Now, apart from this, Mom and I have always emphasized the importance of manners at home. I'm fifty. My parents emphasized manners. But I can even remember attending public school of all places in the early seventies and being taught to stand up when the principal entered the room. I remember being taught to bow, and I remember little girls being taught to curtsey. All this was before I even moved to Catholic school in 7th grade. That said, in explaining manners to my boys, I've had a somewhat different take than you, and even, it seems, Bl Cardinal Newman, although at heart we're saying the same thing.

It occurred to me long ago, that good manners is simply the Christian moral code translated to social behavior. When you "put on" good manners like a garment, you "put on" the Golden Rule, so to speak, and in so doing, you "put on" Christ.

I taught my boys that if you have good manners, they eventually become habit. Even if charity is difficult within, even if you're tempted to do something wrong, the habit of good manners compels you to do otherwise. Christian manners - Catholic manners - were worked out long ago as a system to conform to Christ. He must increase, I must decrease. Manners allow you to lose yourself in Him, to push down concupiscence and make doing right the easy thing. They're by far the best gift a Catholic parent can give their child.

You've hit on one of my favorite topics, sorry for hijacking the combox!

Emily said...

That is one of the huge few gentlemen. I live in Ohio, so I know about the polite midwest boys...sadly they're all married, or if they're not, they aren't Catholic.
I also know quite a few priests who are rude to everyone--men and women, kids--and dismissive. It really bothers me.
I'm single, and I don't want to be, but I haven't yet found a good Catholic gentlemen. Sigh.

Lynda said...

A major factor in this rude and callous behaviour is the pervasive evil of pornography. It is even publicly on view o the streets and in shops. This phenomenon began in Ireland about 15 years ago, when for some strange reason there was a sudden, tacit decision made to stop enforcing the law on indecency and obscenity. The results are glaring. And of course, it is child abuse of a most serious kind, to expose children to pornography - which they are on a daily basis, even when they go with their parents for the groceries. Blessed Michael, Archangel, defend us!

Supertradmum said...

Jon, hog away; great comment

Supertradmum said...

Emily, I shall add you to my single women who want to get married list...for prayer

Supertradmum said...

Lynda, I did not know this. How very sad. I am sure you are correct. God help us all here in Eire and elsewhere.

Elizabeth said...

Great article! The absence of what would seem to be innate behavior (good manners) is a pet peeve of mine. And you brought a smile to my face when you mentioned the men of the Midwest....being an Illinois girl, I'd have to agree with you. However, I've had some pretty shocking instances of the lack of manners in my area, but I tend to chalk that up to the Chicago culture.

Supertradmum said...

Elizabeth, when in doubt, blame Chicago. I usually blame Madison.

Anita Moore said...

I'll tell you something else that contributes greatly to the decline of chivalry: fatherless families. I'm talking here primarily about "families" based on concubinage. We now have a couple of generations of adults who were raised in concubinage, and it's only going to get worse. Children who grow up in this kind of household never learn to be responsible, as the adults in their lives are irresponsible by definition; and since concubinage is self-centered in its essence, the kids never learn not to be self-centered. Without fathers, boys never learn how to be a man, or how to reverence women (starting with their mothers); girls never have a protector, and never learn to distinguish between protectors and predators. Also, people in concubinage tend to be imbued with the entitlement mentality, which is inimical to chivalry and manners, and so they pass it on to their kids. I think the decline in manners and chivalry is only going to get worse.

By the way, here are two good tests of a man's character:

1. How does he treat his mother?

2. How does he treat people he doesn't need anything from (e.g., waiters, bell boys, ticket-takers, etc.)?

Run screaming into the night from a man who treats the foregoing poorly.

Supertradmum said...

love the comment, Anita

My grandmother always asked when I was dating "How does he treat his mom?"

Bill Meyer said...

My mother, who was raised in the old tradition in which a girl learned to walk without jostling the book which was on her head, and who always attended Mass in a mantilla or scarf, raised her sons to be courteous.

One of my favorite SF authors said: Women whould never settle for mere equality; they are special. Or words to that effect.

I do not text, nor do I receive text. I also do not bring my cell phone into the church at Mass, so never have to remember to turn it off or silence it.

I also dress for Mass, and cennot but be appalled at the way some people turn up for Mass, week after week, looking as though they were going to a picnic or a football game.

New Sister said...


what a fabulous post - thanks!!

So much to dicuss here. You left off one group that is notoriously rude to women - Arab men.

Devotion to Our Lady is the key to a civility. And, in Natural Law, devotion to our earthly mothers.

Modern-day feminism has sought to destroy men and motherhood. Sheer evil.

Supertradmum said...

Bill, nice to get this type of feedback from a man. Thanks so much. Very good.

Bill Meyer said...

My pleasure. Typos and all. ;)

Matthew Roth said...

IMO, I don't think texting and instant messaging are the problem. It is easier to text for someone like myself, b/c then my friend can get back to me at her convenience, and the priorities of home and school can come first. Now, controlling how much and when you text, and giving the person enough time face-to-face creates a whole different story.
I agree, manners are lacking, my own included. But, I'm what I like to call a 'work in progress,' and I would be very different if not for Boy Scouting and my family life.
I also find that teenagers like myself are a poor barometer for manners sometimes. My friends and I are knuckleheads, and we like to tease our female friends to (almost) no end. But, we'll always protect them b/c they are our sisters to a very literal degree. Also the teasing is exactly how we treat our blood sisters...we just like having fun. Apologies are always in order if we truly cause offense.
The treatment of others by girls is probably a better measure of society b/c if girls aren't civilized, then how can they set an example for their men? Now, I speak for my good Catholic friends only. That's a small circle, though reflective of a much bigger one. My friends at school for the most part are pretty bad, but I try to set the example for them as best I can (again, the whole work in progress thing comes into play).

Supertradmum said...

Matthew, the problem is not just with high school students but college and university students and adults who are working. By the way, I would never date a man who texts and reads his e-mai. when I am in his presence over dinner or even at a movie-so rude,

Bill Meyer said...

This seems a good article after which to comment on a worthy website which includes, among other things, blog entries on chivalry.

Fr. Heilman's "Church Militant Field Manual" contains instruction, and is also a compact collection of many useful prayers.

Highly recommended.

Supertradmum said...

Bill, thanks for this comment and link. I hope some men will check it out. Looks very interesting and worthwhile.

theo from Michigan said...

Thank you for this insightful article. As a single man in Michigan, I have been spending the break between Chritmas and New Years's jotting down kind of a practical list of things I can implement in the new year. This article opened my eyes to see how far I have fallen, and has given me a ton of manners to work on.