One sometimes puzzles over why there seems to be less of a masculine presence in the Church today. Yesterday, I had something of a glimpse of the reason.
Every year on Mother's day, the church I attend goes out of its way to have literally thousands of roses all over the altar area. This year there was something on the order of twelve-thousand roses decorating the Church. On mother's day a long blessing and much of the homily was dedicated to the role of mothers in our lives. Don't get me wrong--so long as the liturgy is not warped and the theme can be worked into a reasonable homily, I don't have any real problem with this--it is right a proper to give all due respect and dignity to mothers. However, when we got to Father's day, on the Feast of the Holy Trinity--certainly a day in which one could easily talk about the image of Father that men are all called to emulate--not a word. Not so much as a recognition that it was Father's day. Certainly no blessing, no special recognition , no flowers. (Not that I'd care for roses anyway--Dendrobium orchids seems appropriate--in fact, orchids of any sort, given the etymology of the name). I find this dismaying--dismaying and yet entirely predictable. When we view the Holy Family, although we pay a moment of lip-service to Blessed St. Joseph, the model of all fathers, we quickly pass over him to Jesus and His Mother.. All well and good--but utterly damaging in service to the family. A Marian emphasis is wonderful, uplifting thing--but a Church that does not recognize fathers for their contribution to the family is not a church that invites men in. This is only one of many ways that the Church, perhaps in an attempt to undo a perceived wrong in a completely male hierarchy, actually overlooks men and chooses not to invite them equally if they are not part of the clergy.
I'd like to think that what I observed was an anomaly, but I have noted it in nearly every parish I've been to. Mother's Day is made much of, Father's day, if it is mentioned at all, is usually some sort of joke. This may reflect societal influence, but the point of the Church in culture is not to reflect society but to direct it. If you want to invite men into the Church, then the day that celebrates the vocation of the vast majority of men should have the same or similar degree of celebration as that which celebrates the greatness of Motherhood. At a minimum, it seems appropriate to read a special blessing for fathers or to say a single prayer for strengthening fathers in their vocations. So long as the Church continues to slight this important vocation, we will have failed families--divorce, child abuse, and adultery. All vocations take great strength and perserverence. To expect once a year a blessing to help strengthen that vocation does not seem to be asking overmuch.
(Oh, and then I should probably say something about the way the Church treats those who are childless through no fault of their own--or in many cases even worse, those who are single either temporarily or by vows, and yet not part of the Religious. These are imperfections of the practice, not of the institution, and they can and should be addressed and remedied.)