The Case for a Mass Conversion of Men

April 21, 2015

Despite the fact the New Evangelization has been an ongoing emphasis by the Catholic Church for over forty years, it has failed to stem the disastrous losses of the faithful in the U.S. Since 2000, 14 million Catholics have left the faith, parish religious education participation of children has dropped by 24%, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19%, baptisms of infants has dropped by 28%, baptism of adults has dropped by 31% and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41%. Something is desperately wrong with the Church’s approach to the New Evangelization.

Of Mass and Men

One reason the New Evangelization is faltering is because it is missing men. The New Emangelization Project has documented the serious Catholic “man-crisis” in the United States. 1 in 3 baptized Catholic men have left the faith and of those who remain, 50-60% of them are “Casual Catholics”, men who don’t know and don’t practice the faith. Of those who practice the faith, many are lukewarm, not converted to the point of conviction, a conviction in which they are prepared to make disciples for Christ and His Catholic Church. The New Evangelization has largely ignored men, with no substantial or sustained efforts to directly confront the Catholic “man-crisis”.

The Catholic “man-crisis” matters. The souls of men matter and many are being lost; for example, two thirds of Christian men are looking at porn at least monthly and the numbers are much higher for younger men. The faith of the children matter and huge numbers of young people are leaving the faith because they have followed their fathers out of the Church. Without a New Emangelization in which millions of Catholic men become newly committed to Christ and His Church, there can be no New Evangelization.

While a complex set of forces have driven the Catholic “man-crisis”, including both massive cultural changes outside the Church and serious missteps within the Church, the lack of engagement of men in the Mass is a major contributing factor: men don’t understand the Mass and well-meaning, but misinformed priests in many parishes have de-sacralized the Mass causing many men to simply “drift away.”

Why is the Mass a key driver of the Catholic “man-crisis”? Research shows that almost 9 out of 10 Catholic men don’t participate in a Catholic activity outside of attending Mass; if men aren’t being reached in the Mass, they aren’t being reached. Only about 1/3 of Catholic men are attending Mass on a weekly basis. Only 1 in 50 Catholic men have a monthly practice of Confession, underscoring the fact that many are attending Mass without a proper preparation to receive the Eucharist. 48% of Catholic men are “bored” in the Mass and 55% of Catholic men don’t feel they “get anything out of the Mass.” These statistics confirm what dozens of the New Emangelization Project interviews with top Catholic men’s evangelists know: men don’t understand the Mass. No man can truly understand the Mass and be bored.

A Mass Conversion of Men is Needed

The word “conversion” comes from the Latin convertere, meaning to “turn around” and is related to the Greek word, metanoia, meaning “change of mind” (translated as “repentance” in the New Testament). Catholic men are in serious need of conversion.

A Mass Conversion of Men is needed. Millions of men (masses of men) need to have a conversion (change of mind/repentance) about the Sacrament of the Eucharist (the Mass). When there is a Mass Conversion of Men, a dramatic regeneration of the Church will occur. Men will approach the Mass with a new Grace-hungry mindset that recognizes Christ’s miraculous gift of the Eucharist and their desperate need for it. Men will begin to experience a conversion of heart and sacramentally prepare themselves for meeting Christ by going first to Confession. Men will have a deep understanding of the parts of the Mass and the profound significance of the words and gestures that are made during the Mass. Men will begin to accept a growing fullness of Grace available in the Eucharist and they will increasingly aspire to sainthood. Men will pass along their newfound reverence for Eucharist to their children through their awe, regular acceptance of the Eucharist and fervor to catechize their children.

A man-specific approach is needed. Rather than a gender-neutral catechetical approach, men will be renewed when men are gathered together by their priests and the Mass is presented to them in a masculine way. For example, the Church has a long history of speaking of the Church Militant and spiritual combat; if men have a renewed sense of the life and death spiritual battle, they will see their desperate need for the Mass. Men need to be challenged to fulfill their duty to lead their wives and children to Christ in the Mass. Rather than approaching the Mass as entertainment or self-gratification, men can be convinced about leaving the battlefield to gather with other men to give thanks and get guidance from the Eternal King. Men can recall the powerful men whose words are spoken in the Mass (e.g. John the Baptist, the Centurion, etc.). Men can reconnect with the powerful and manly history in the Liturgy of the Word. Men can be re-taught about the heroic and bloody sacrifice of Christ and the fearsome power of the miraculous transubstantiation of the bread and wine. The Mass is full of powerful elements that can resonate within a man’s heart.

Cardinal Burke and others have spoken about the de-sacralization of the Mass that has occurred in many places; this includes Masses which are priest-focused and not Christ-focused, the horizontal nature of “community” is over-emphasized while the vertical nature of the Divine Presence is de-emphasized, music which is syrupy and sentimental, a general lack of awe for the Eucharist by the priest and lay helpers, parish cultures which accept “going to the grocery store” attire and grabbing the Eucharist like a potato chip, a feminization of the Mass due to an over-representation of women and altar girls in the sanctuary, etc.

Priests are men and large numbers of priests need to have a “conversion” about the Mass. When the Mass becomes “casual”, men become casual about the Mass. The recent New Emangelization Project Helping Priests Become More Effective in Evangelizing Men Survey demonstrates that men hunger and are moved by the Mass when priests offer the Mass with reverence. Many priests need to be re-evangelized about how to infuse the Mass with greater awe and reverence and about the need to specifically evangelize and catechize men about the Mass.

Bishops and Priests need to lead the Mass Conversion of Men

The Mass Conversion of Men will require a sustained large-scale evangelization and catechesis of men about the Mass and a great movement of the Holy Spirit.   This will be a major effort, but not a complex one. The Sacrament of the Eucharist is the “source and summit of Christian life” in which the Savior gives men the bread of life. The Mass has transformed the lives of men since the Last Supper and will always transform the lives of men.   The Mass is the central focus of daily life in every parish and not an extraneous “evangelization program.” There is no greater diocese or parish priority than to ensure men can engage in the Mass. Now is the time for bishops and priests to ensure that every single man can access the eternal graces of the Eucharist.

After forty years, the New Evangelization has so far failed to reverse the growing losses of Catholics in the West. Rather than a continued parade of programs and events, the Church needs to get back to the basics; the Mass and men. When there is a Mass Conversion of Men in which millions of men and priests are evangelized and catechized to the point of conversion in the Mass, the Church will be renewed and the promise of the New Evangelization will be fulfilled.

Matthew James Christoff is a Catholic convert. He is the founder of The New Emangelization Project which is committed to confront the Catholic “man-crisis” and to develop new ardor, methods and expressions for the re-evangelization of Catholic men. Matthew is also a co-founder of CatholicManNight, a parish-based men’s evangelization effort that has drawn thousands of Catholic men into Eucharistic Adoration, Confession, fellowship and lively discussion. Matthew lives in Minnesota with his beautiful bride (and childhood sweetheart); they have 4 adult children, 3 “in-law” children and two grandchildren. 

Matthew James Christoff


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Reader Interactions


  1. john spizziri says

    we always identify a problem, agree on a solution, and then tell others what they need to do to fix it– we have to find a way to do it ourselves, if we think its broke. waiting for others to fix our problem never works. I don’t know what to do, other than what I try and it is not working- so I will try something else…. perhaps the diaconate, if they will take me.

  2. Michael Gladius says

    “Western men stopped going to Mass because heterosexual men naturally and rightly find faggotry to be utterly repulsive and repellant, and want nothing to do with it, and the priesthood was consciously infiltrated and populated with sodomite men and men who were conditioned to act like sodomites, after WWII.” -Ann Barnhardt

    The majority of Feminists are men, not women. They are men who are embarrassed by their masculinity, because it requires strength, logic, courage, and decisiveness. They are timid, passive, prefer emotions to truth, and afraid of risk. Not all of them are gay, but many are, and the others prefer to watch passively rather than stand for truth and risk all for the kingdom.

    We are a nation of feminist men. The only way out is to reject everything about feminism, modernism, relativism, and pacifism. We must fight, and not compromise between spiritual food and poison. If we’re lucky, it’ll be only with words, but we should not be surprised if force is required.

      • Bill Guentner says

        I cannot agree with your premise. I see none of what you write in my parish or others I have attended. I do agree that certain elements of the Mass, such as the music generally played, is far to feminine. Second, lets get rid of the girl altar servers, lectors and EMHC–in fact in small parishes like my own [500] get rid of all EMHC unless the blood of Christ is given.

    • tbrec63387 says

      I will agree that we have feminized the church but it was primarily influenced by the feminist movement. Take a look at some of the scripture that’s read in mass. A lot of modern revisions included the removal of the male gender. How many scriptures to you hear these days that start with “Brothers?” YOu’ll see a lot of the PC changes in the Psalms.

      Interesting quote. I wish I could agree with you regarding feminists being a majority of men. What we have is worse, we have a society of apathetic men who have allowed feminism to rule. But in their rule, they have pulled some men in their direction. I would say that we are a nation of men who are blind to what’s happen in the last 40 years. We can compound the problem with the fact that many, almost a majority of men are/were raised by women.

  3. oldirish says

    People in general and men in particular leave the Catholic Church because it is no longer the Catholic Church and is now basically a protestant version of the catholic faith. I have personally been to so many “masses” that have been so horribly irreverent that it is an insult to GOD, and I have walked out on multiple occassions. Plastic Kool-Aid jugs to hold the wine, women on the alter in a wiccan circle singing who knows what, “Eucharistic” ministers in mini-dresses, drum sets on the alter and the list goes on and on. And yet “popes” and bishops do not defend the true faith, oh wait…that’s right. New Mass = new faith. Luther said “Take away the Mass, destroy the Church.”

    Make the church Catholic again, and people will come back.

    • Jean says

      In the end are are followers of churchianity? or Christianity? We follow Christ..yet Christ was not liturgy oriented or was he? He walked with the sinner, ate with them…and yes did go to the temple but only to remind people it was His father’s house. If I am going to imitate someone…I rather imitate the first Eucharist..not some bizarre ritual which people have to look at a book to translate.

      • Danus says

        “Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” -St. Ignatius of Antioch, c. 120 AD. Furthermore, the Church is the Body of Christ, and there is no salvation outside the Church.

        How do you know what the first Eucharist looked like? None of the Gospel accounts describe every detail about the exact manner in which the Apostles received Holy Communion.

        In a certain sense, Christ was not liturgy-centered during His earthly life because the liturgy (if by liturgy we specifically mean the Mass) is a way for Him to still be present to His people AFTER His earthly life (which would explain why He introduced it shortly before His death on the Cross); for in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus Christ becomes truly and fully present in the Eucharist, body and blood, soul and divinity, under the mere appearance of bread and wine. When Christ says “I will be with you until the end of time” or “where two or more are gathered in my name I am there,” many of the Saints throughout the history of the Church have understood these phrases as referring to His Real Presence in the Eucharist.

        In another sense, Christ actually was liturgy-centered. He was very well aware throughout His life that the Father’s Will was for Him to sacrifice Himself on the Cross; and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is an unbloody participation in Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.

        The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not just some historical reenactment of the Last Supper; it is a chance to worship and receive Christ, literally present in our midst. If you truly love Jesus, why would ever miss out on the opportunity to be united with Him in Holy Communion?

        Lastly, your argument implies that it was somehow wrong for liturgical customs to develop over the centuries according to the spiritual needs of the people. The fact of the matter is that many of the liturgical customs that were maintained in the Latin Rite until the mid-20th century actually had very deep historical roots. Some customs, such as the priest facing AD ORIENTEM, date back to the days of the Apostles. Other customs, such as Mass being said in Latin, were introduced later on and only in the West (and not the East), but continued being practiced for many centuries, largely on account of their spiritual benefits.

      • R.C. says

        It’s a shame that so many people read the Bible and so thoroughly misunderstand it, because they read it as 21st century post-Christian Western Gentiles instead of as 1st century Jews in Judea.

        You say He “did go to the temple but only to remind people it was His father’s house?”

        Respectfully, it sounds as if you’ve forgotten that Jesus was a Jew! Don’t you know what that was like in the 1st century? The Temple was still standing! “Liturgical” doesn’t begin to cover Jesus’ religious practice and lifestyle. By modern American standards, one would want to say that his lifestyle was Ultra-Liturgical, Uber-Liturgical, Hyper-Liturgical.

        We’re talking about a place where, when the blood sacrifices were conducted, blood ran down in trenches like little rivers from the altar. On Passover the thousands upon thousands of slaughtered lambs would produce a blood-smell detectable for miles.

        We’re talking about 1st century Judaism, where any faithful Jew living in the land would make pilgrimages to Jerusalem multiple times per year for the obligatory feasts. By the time of the Triumphal Entry, Jesus had been in Jerusalem for some Holy Feast a minimum of 96 times. Jesus had been there to see the blood of the sacrifices. He had been there to see the Passover Lambs elevated for roasting, “crucified” on a cross-shaped spit. He had been there smelling the burning of the incense and the animals at the daily offerings. He had been there when the High Priest brought out the Bread of the Presence from within the Holy Place to show it to the people, to “glory in the Name,” saying the name of God publicly, and shouting “Behold the depth of God’s love for you!” Jesus counted His way through the prayers using the tzitzit on His tallit. He was in the Synagogue on the Sabbath when not in Jerusalem at the Temple.

        Today, we are so accustomed to American Jewry, especially the secularized “Reform” variety, that we have little or no notion of what it was like to be a faithful Jew, in Judea, in the 1st century. Today, for 80% of American Jews, it is more about remembering the Holocaust and liking bagels and Woody Allen films and practicing one of the professions associated with high levels of education and income, and remaining separate from persons of lower class or education. It is about being Culturally Episcopalian With A Twist.

        But the Orthodox Jews know better…and yet even they, for lack of a temple, are not as liturgical as a 1st century Jew. Combine modern Orthodox Judaism with some of the glittering and ornate trappings of a Eastern Rite Catholic or Eastern Orthodox divine liturgy, and you’ll begin to grasp the flavor of the religious life of Jesus Christ.

        By the way, are you aware that in the 1st century, Jews mostly weren’t fluent in Hebrew but Aramaic? And yet…all their liturgies and liturgical prayers were in…Hebrew. The readings of the Passover would go on and on in what was, for children and the non-devout, a language difficult to understand except by grasping at cognates.

        Had you been there at the Institution of the Eucharist, would you have said, “If I am going to imitate someone, I rather imitate the first Passover…not some bizarre ritual which people have to look at a book to translate?”

        If so, perhaps Our Lord would have talked some sense into you, but if you were stubborn, He might have let you have your way and go out into the night, to make the trek to Egypt, while He and His disciples continued that tradition-encrusted liturgy in an obscure liturgical language, which He transformed miraculously into the perpetual and unbloody Todah of the New Covenant.

  4. Jeri-Lynn Woods says

    Excellent post! Just looking at the rampant evils in the world today, it seems to me to be impossible to miss the fact that we are in a spiritual battle. And as a woman, I’m very aware of the fact that I’m not really warrior material – not the same way a man is. We need our Catholic men!

    By the way, I have to disagree with Michael G. on one point From my own experience, I’d have to say that the vast majority of feminists are women. I do think there are a lot of men who go along with the feminist agenda – not out of genuine agreement, but out of a dislike of being targeted by the the bile that is poured out on anyone who opposes the feminist manifesto.

    I know there are parishes that have succumbed to the kind of travesties of Mass described by oldirish. I also know, from personal experience, that there are many parishes that have fully Catholic, reverent Masses where one encounters (and expresses) the true faith.

    “Make the church Catholic again, and people will come back.” To which I must add: BE Catholic yourself – because we are the Church, the Body of Christ. If you are not part of the solution, you become, by default, part of the problem.

    The Lord is calling each of us, right now. No excuses.

  5. Anita ugarte says

    I totally agree. We need a mass conversion of men, women and children and men are the leaders of the family. There are so many lukewarm Catholics. Many Catholics don’t even know what they believe in. I was one of them until I decided to teach catechism and went to review classes so I could teach. That was when I realized how rich and beautiful our catholic faith is. I was also able to answer questions that my children had regarding their faith. I am starting with my children and hoping that my husband will follow. He goes to church but hasn’t gone to confession in a long time. We pray the rosary as a family and I pray and fast for my husband’s conversion. I’m praying that the Blessed mother will bring us all back to her son.

  6. Nathaniel says

    I’ve been coming to this site for a while now, and I really like the content. That said–and I think this is especially clear with this article–I feel like there is way too high a level of vitriol, unnecessary aggression and scapegoating, and general misunderstanding in people’s comments. Terms like “feminists” and “liberals” get bandied about as bywords for everything people see as wrong with the Church. That said, I am not here to lecture about the merits of feminism (let alone its actual definition, as a belief in equality for men and women, which I firmly agree with). I just wanted to say that I am saddened reading the comments on these articles. These comments should reflect the joy, hope, and love we have as Catholics, not be a springboard for nasty rants against our neighbors. Why are we so bitter? I liked this article, and I feel like there should be a special emphasis on the conversion (and reconversion) of men, but I am saddened by the degree of ignorance and hate I see in the comments. It is fundamentally disappointing and disheartening, especially as a recently reconverted Catholic man myself. Please brothers and sisters, please think before you spew hate. Remember that Jesus preached love and understanding.

    • R.C. says


      I’m so with you…and yet, I dunno, I’m not with you.

      “Woe to he who preaches ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace!”

      Yes, we need to be salt and light and not gall and bitter herbs. We ought to be winsome saints with a smile.

      But it remains a fact that the Devil intended to destroy the Church in the 20th century and seems to have come close to doing so. It remains a fact that there are “Clown Masses” and Marty Haugen hymns with treacly lyrics and Major-7 chords derived from bathetic 70’s easy-listening music. It remains a fact that when you say that a man is Very Catholic, you’re more apt to imagine him resembling the wispy feminine Jesus The Good Shepherd figures of Victorian-era religious art, and not as resembling a rugged carpenter’s apprentice glorified as a Pantocrator.

      So let’s not be nasty about it! (For what would be the evangelical usefulness of being nasty?) …but we must soberly acknowledge that the problem exists.

      And while it is not our place as Catholic men to spend time on Catholic blogs saying nasty things about political liberals in general, it is our place to identify as hostile acts both the liturgical and doctrinal innovations of theological “liberals.”

      It is likewise our duty to participate in the public square on matters of import. And on matters of import, while there are evils perpetrated by political conservatives (who can doubt that?), political “progressivism” is the more objectively fascist of the two ideologies. It is anti-Catholic, it is anti-familial, it is anti-marriage. Left-progressivism is that ideology through which Cardinal George’s prediction is likely to be realized: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

  7. Michael Gladius says

    Quite the discussion!

    A few points:
    1) I speak of classic liberalism, which is wrong because it rends the natural social bonds within a community. See Donoso Cortes’ “Cassandra of the Age” where he predicts every problem we’ve seen since his time: revival of paganism in the Renaissance (along with a snubbing of everything medieval, while slavishly copying the Classical era), the reformation de-forming an entire civilization, and a self-declared “Enlightenment” which gave us the French Revolution (and every communist revolution after).

    2) Feminism is not about equality. It never was. Men and women cannot be truly equal because we are complementary. During the Middle ages, the Church oversaw the rise of Feudalism, modeled after the Rule of St. Benedict, which was based on relationships, and the role of women in society and church matured. As a result, we have many famous medieval women saints like St. Rita and Joan of Arc.
    Feminism is nothing less than an attempt to redefine gender. Most feminists are men because most abortion doctors are men. Most feminists are men because most of the clergy working against Christian masculinity are men. Most feminists are men because for every woman pressuring the military to put women into combat roles, there are ten men pressuring as well. Most feminists are men because rather than speak and act to defy evil, They. Just. Sit. And. Watch.

    The feminists’ bile would have no effect against men who speak the truth boldly. In the face of determined good, it doesn’t take long before evil shirks away. But there is only silence, broken by the occasional apology. Where is the masculinity in that? Rather, it is the timid majority of effeminate men who give feminism its strength. Votes, silence, and loyalty in order to ‘go along, get along’ and not risk being unpopular are not manly. Jesus rejected popularity numerous times, and 11 of his disciples were martyred. Many saints followed this model. Men especially can risk their lives because we are inherently more expendable than women.

    That is why we must reject feminism in its entirety. If they fight, we must fight back.

    3) The Old Mass had the Cult of the Eucharist at its center. We should adore the Eucharist more than others adore celebrities and actors. The Real Presence means that it literally is Christ present, and unlike celebrities, he has no flaws. He is truly perfect, and deserves all our affection, love, and it is very appropriate to truly adore him. Martin Luther tried to remove what he called “bread-worship” for this reason. Without the priest, there is no Eucharist. Without the Eucharist, the laity are distanced from the Sacrifice on Calvary, and therefore from Christ himself.

    We cannot compromise with error. Let us tell the truth boldly, and without fear or shame. We have nothing to fear, for Christ has already conquered the world.

  8. Hank says

    This is all well and good, but I find it hard to believe that this group, your organization is even authorized by the Church. I am 60 years old, having been an altar boy, educated from K- college at Catholic schools in my hometown. Married in the Church to a Catholic girl, and raised two kids K-12 in Catholic Schools. But I have had enough with my Archdiocese, the scandals, the Vatican, especially this Pope but I just chucked it with Benedict. the gayness, the liberalism, the socialism, the Anti-Americanism that runs rampant. The hippie culture still left over from the 1960’s. I have had it. If I ever have a one on one conversation with a priest, I might just lose control and let him have it. I don’t ever want to hear the words ‘social justice’ ever again.

    The Church made a deal with Obama over Obamacare and when it came back to bite them in the rectory, I just shook my head and laughed. I live in Miami and see Francis all over this Cuba-Obama deal. I see our borders overrun with refugees from supposedly Catholic countries run by oligarchs who come from a system supported by the Church and the Spanish speaking world.
    and all the while Islam is killing Christians and the Church turns the other cheek. I now understand what the Crusades were all about.

    And you want to know what else? I will never go to another church, but I won’t go to a Catholic Mass on my own.

    Chew on that.

  9. Bill Guentner says

    Hank, it sounds that all you need is to find a parish that is orthodox in its liturgy and teaching. Find one and you will be satisfied.

  10. Mary Fran says

    Our parish is starting a mission this evening on the new evangelization. I don’t have much hope for any good results. You can’t give away what you don’t have. And our parish doesn’t have it. We would do better to have a mission on Catholicism 101. I’ll go, nevertheless, if for no other reason than to support our pastor.


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