Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Glamour,Baggy Pants and Feminist Pride

I remember a Priest once giving a sermon in which he described the idea of "glamour" as being harmful to our society. I was rather taken aback by this, having strived (most unsuccessfully) to be glamorous, for most of my art-school days. I was very much influenced by one of my fellow studentesses, a Glasweigian glamour queen named Susan; though, when I looked through the eyes of reality, I could see that two rather dumpy females below the height of 5'2", would never have made the grade! Yet, after mulling over this sermon, I began to realise that the Priest was right, in as much as so many young people waste so much time over vain things such as their looks, or rather someone else's look, and how to achieve it. It was a sad indictment of the Catholic schooling system in the 60's and 70's, that when Susan and I were in the first year of our Fine Art course, and were seated before the wonderful set of Poussin paintings of the Seven Sacraments, in the Art Gallery in Edinburgh, neither of us were able, after having acknowledged to the Art History tutor that we were the only Catholic representatives of the youthful gathering at his feet, to list what all the seven Sacraments were! But we certainly knew how to try and look 'cool' . I was brought up a Catholic, but I didn't really know my faith. I never missed Mass, but I didn't really know why. I distinctly remember loving the sermons of the Dominican priests at the Chaplaincy in Edinburgh, they appealed to my intellect, or maybe to my intellectual pride. I only had a few qualms when one of them decided to make me a "Eucharistic Minister" minutes before the Mass one day (before these things were generally allowed)- letting me know that it was only an accident of history, and our culture, that had stopped women being ordained, but it wouldn't be long now, before the Church changed.... I drank in the feminist gobbledegook that was spouted at the time.... I was able to believe what I wanted, form the opinions I chose to hold, but, I must have a wonderful Guardian Angel, and very prayerful parents, because somehow I never went too far astray. I was always interested in my Faith, and wanted to know what the Truth was, and because of that, I've never liked to rest until I am convinced one way or another about something. It is obvious that different Priests will give different opinions on what is right or wrong, and if we are intelligent, or even just bothered about where the Truth lies, we lay people sometimes have to research beyond what a certain Priest has said, and look to what the Church teaches. By the Grace of God, and the intercession of His Blessed Mother, and my Guardian Angel, I believe I was able to get rid of most of my "feminist" notions - and I have found this incredibly liberating! I eventually realised it was wrong for women to be considering that it was their "right" to stand at the altar alongside the Priest. It is the same with modesty - there are many different opinions out there about what constitutes modest dress.
Those Catholic women who love to show off their bottoms in trousers (or pants, as our American friends would call them) - and there's no denying that trousers show off bottoms, except perhaps for the ones I used to wear in my "arty" days, which my Father described as looking like an "elephant's arse hanging down" - they were otherwise known as 'harem pants' - love also to justify it along the lines of "if the men want to ogle, then it's their problem", and, "I have 24 daughters, so I know a thing or two about modesty, and it's all in their hearts, and God doesn't mind one iota whether they flaunt what they've got, coz He gave it to them". But is this really Catholic teaching, I would like to ask? Or is it just the opinion of some women (or men)? Why, may I ask, is their opinion more true than that of say, Pope Pius XII, where he says,

" With regard to clothing, modesty requires especially two things: first, care that one does not make purity difficult for oneself, or for others, by one's own mode of dress; and, second, a prudent but firm and courageous resistance to the styles and customs, no matter how popular or widespread, or adopted by others, which are a danger to purity ."

I think I would really have appreciated my mother teaching me that when I was a young woman. I might not have gone along with it, but I would definitely have kept coming back to it, because it is so True.
And I do think it so sad that so few of these women actually consider the purity of their sons, husbands, Priests, and fellow Christian men, who could be led to sin by their immodesty - surely their souls are as important to save as those of their glamorous daughters?
I suspect a lot of it is to do with residual feminist pride... Yet as a searcher for the Truth, I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, but not from unauthoritative opinions, please!

Monday, 21 July 2008

Transient Beauty

I was looking at other people's blogs, and admiring their garden pictures, especially their roses. I love roses, but wouldn't choose to grow them, simply because I don't have the knowledge or time to take care of them and get the best out of them; mine always seem to end up covered in some sort of dreadful aphid or black spot disease. Despite all this, though, the few rose bushes I inherited with the garden (and my principle is, if it's a nice plant, then keep it till it dies of its own accord, or too much vigorous pruning on my behalf) have produced some lovely flowers, and I thought I should rush out and take some photos before they all get ruined by the rain and wind that is a constant feature of our summer weather this year!

One very large rose bush which is well established, and surviving nicely by my kitchen window had roses in various stages of loveliness, and it got me to thinking about our perceptions of beauty.

We start out like this rose bud,

Then life causes a bit of wear and tear, but we still look blousy and attractive,

Even when we get storm - damaged we can retain touches of glory,

But, eventually, we must wither and die.

However, the wonder of it is, that God sees us like this all the time ...

And if we let Him, He will transform us into this,

So that we can join all the Saints in glory, to Praise Him eternally.

Of Knights and Fair Maidens

I recently received a lovely medal in the post, from a dear homeschooling mum friend who has six boys. The envelope was rather large for the medal, which she had told me she was sending, so I was intrigued as to what else there might be in it. To my surprise, out dropped a relic from the dim distant past..

A pair of chainmail Knight's trousers, which were somewhat past their "sell-by" date, along with a plea for something to be done about them!!! The fabric had not been easy to sew the first time round, but was now ripped apart at the seams, along with a few other damages caused by hearty warfare...

You see, when they were first made, it was to dress one little Knight of Our Lady, who, being an only child, and not having a great deal of contact with many other Knights, did not have a lot of opportunities for jousting, and armed combat, and the like; so I knew that despite the rather delicate nature of the chainmail, they would hold out for a while, long enough for him to grow out of them.

They even survived the occasional lending to a sweet little maiden who needed to dress up as Joan of Arc for an All Saints party...

So I hoiked out the old sewing machine, and got to work on repairing them, with the following rather good result (even if I do say so myself). Whether they will survive the onslaught of battle for long is another question, but since they will now probably only fit the youngest son of the six, and since the family's latest addition, to the shock, surprise, and delight of all, is a little girl, the trews probably don't need to survive much longer - (unless of course she decides she must be Joan of Arc)!

Whilst the sewing machine was out, and since the household must be rather lacking in bonnets and bows with all those male siblings to the new baby, I thought I would turn these...

into these.

Note the distinct lack of pink - it will take a while for mum to be weaned off blue...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Of Mantillas and Meatless Fridays..

Here is an interesting post (with its comments), written by Rita at Tigerish waters, - it makes me feel like I'm not quite alone! I used to attend Mass in a parish where we once lived. I gradually became aware of the way young girls particularly, were beginning to dress in what can only be called an extremely immodest fashion. I distinctly remember hinting to one young lady, (a lovely girl) at the parish barbequeue, that she ought to pull her trousers up, since her underwear was showing. Later on, as I was chatting to a couple of other mums, they informed me that it was "the fashion", and quite intentional! I became increasingly uncomfortable with seeing these young girls waltzing through the Church to the sacristy prior to robing up for Mass, in their low cut jeans, showing off belly and bottom, and sometimes almost their nether regions, and other ladies, young and old, going onto the sanctuary to read, or be Extraordinary Ministers, clad in skin tight clothing, with arms and shoulders bare. I discussed this with my husband, and he said that it was a big distraction for a lot of men, since they are easily attracted by the shape and form of a woman. I began to realise how difficult it must be for some men, including Priests, who struggle with purity, to be constantly bombarded with such visual stimulation from scantily clad women - and how wrong it was for this to be going on in Church. I read more and more about modesty, and veiling, and became more and more convinced that though it may be uncomfortable and embarrassing for me, God wanted me to wear a head covering; I initially did so, as an act of reparation for all the immodesty I was witnessing. When I first went up to read, wearing my "mantilla", my husband said he thought it looked beautiful, and chaste, and modest. Other people in the parish weren't too happy, and thought that I had changed, even though I came and chatted to them after Mass in the same old way. But in some ways, I suppose, I had. I began to feel much less distracted at Mass, I could focus on the Mass, and I felt much more submissive before God. I was beginning at that time, to become aware of the Mass as the Sacrifice of Calvary in a much more "real" way, and being veiled, as Mary would have been, at the foot of the Cross, seemed so much more appropriate. I now feel very bare if I forget to bring a head covering, and I keep an emergency scarf in the car, just in case. When we moved to a new parish, I had to go through the embarrassment of being the "odd one out" again. But, I think decent people just get used to it, and don't worry about it after a while. If it bothers anyone, then that's their problem, not mine. If they want to know whether or not I'm a hard-line dyed in the wool Traditionalist, then they can come and talk to me to find out- if they choose not to, then that's up to them, and I don't mind what opinion they form of me, it's only their opinion, after all. The One who needs to know what I'm like, does so already!
I did have one chap ask me (having never spoken to me about anything whatsoever before) whether I still didn't eat meat on Fridays, as though it were some kind of a big joke. I mumbled something about 'not if I can help it', but really felt like saying 'I can't afford to eat meat most days of the week, you big fat geezer!' - he did look rather well-fed -(See what a
Saint I am!).
I have moved in a different direction, to some degree; I no longer read at Mass, I don't see the need for me to do so, even though I was an excellent reader; my thoughts on lay reading have changed. My ego has improved since then too (in a spiritual way, ie, it's getting smaller!!)
I tend to go to Mass where I feel at home, and that usually means the old Latin Mass, Extraordinary, Gregorian, Tridentine, call it what you will.
And I don't always wear a mantilla - in fact, mine is not really a mantilla at all, just a huge length of black cotton lace I'd kept in a cupboard for years, Iwould never manage to keep one of those nylon lacey mantilla thingies on my bonce; I'm sure it would cause much fidgeting! I've got a brightly coloured stripey 'veil' too, which I wear
Pashmina fashion.

And then there's the Martin Luther bonnet I made myself, which is great in winter,although I do look a bit prettier than him in it... and I wear it with more aplomb, (even if I do say so myself!).
It can be seen onthe corner of the chair bedecked in my "veil" collection. The little heart-shaped picture is of Saint Maria Goretti, another of my favourite saints - a good lassie to pray to, to intercede for all these silly young folk who have lost the sense of modesty, and their parents who seem unable to do anything about it.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Liturgical Feasts!

We were privileged to attend a lovely Mass on Friday evening, celebrating the anniversary of Fr Anton Guziel's ordination.

He was assisted by several Priests, including some from the Birmingham Oratory.

It was a splendid, occasion, but tinged with sadness, from a selfish point of view, since Father will be leaving his Parish later in the summer, to join the Oratorians.

He has always been so good with the altar boys. My son learned how to serve the Mass with him. We pray for every blessing upon him, and that the Good Lord will send us another Priest with as much enthusiasm for the Latin Mass.

Then, today, we had a lovely pilgrimage to Holywell, to the Shrine of Saint Winefride, where another beautiful Mass was celebrated, for the Latin Mass Society.

The singing was lovely.
And to think that none of us felt great this morning, and we almost decided not to go, but our son swayed us, since he said he really wanted to be an acolite.
We are glad that he feels at home with such reverent, and beautifully celebrated Masses.
We also thank God for our Priests who want to carry on the traditions of our Holy Mother Church.