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.


Rita said...

Great post! I think I'm going to have to do a trawl of the internet for further examples of suitable headcoverings.

Regarding reading at Mass, apparently I'm one of the better ones and I often get picked on to read when I enter church. I'm not sure I could say no. However, I'll not read St Paul, somehow (IMHO)his words never sound quite right when uttered by a female voice in church.

Matt Doyle said...

Awesome. In the judeo-christian religion, we veil anything that is sacred. Usually this refers to the Blessed Sacrament. But it also refers to women - because they share in the divine creation of life. They are like mini-tabernacles for the life God entrusts to us. I find that is a beautiful way of seeing the traditional practice of women veiling, rather than just as a modesty issue.

Mrs Pea said...

I found your story very interesting. What we wear has such an impact, doesn't it? I try so hard not to notice, but I do! I'm not a fan of girls serving at the altar but I am always amazed if I go to wait for confession and see the girls come back out of the sacristry - they look so different in their 21st century teen wear. I wish they'd stay in their robes - then they look beautiful and youthful.

We don't eat meat on FRiday - unless we forget as we have a few times! I thought you either have to abstain from meat or do some other penitential act - and for me, avoiding meat is the simplest way I can do it. Which is maybe not the point, actually...What do you do if you do eat meat? How else do you do penance?

MaggieClitheroe said...

Thankyou, Rita.
I think you've hit the nail right on the head with your comment about women not reading St Paul - somehow it seems to just go against centuries of tradition. Has there ever been a custom, or tradition within the Catholic Church of lay people proclaiming the Word during Mass? Obviously not. So, although it is now permitted, I for one, am not comfortable with it, just as Communion in the hand is permitted, yet I can't agree with that either.
This chap (I've no idea who he is) has some interesting links regarding veiling here

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

I wonder if the problem of fashion varies with the culture of the parish. Quite a lot of young people attend Mass at my parish and I have to say they dress modestly and as far as they can afford, smartly. Occasionally there's a pair of less well cared for trainers sticking out under an alb-but this really is occasional.
The only time I have seen people dressed badly-bra's and so on showing or lads in those horrible satanic (that is the right word) printed t-shirts is when we get visiters for baptisms or some other reason.
We have quite a mixed congregation; Asian, African, East European as well as Irish and a lot of converts-so maybe that helps.
We avoid meat on Friday. I really want to preserve in our home a true Catholic culture. But-and this is something I struggle with-I do not want a Spiritual pride to set in. Fine line to walk and teach the children.

Roses and Jessamine said...

A couple of Sundays ago, inspired by cute little girls receiving their First Holy Communion, I almost drew up my white pashmina over my head just before going up for Communion. But I chickened out at the last minute (sigh)... it's that ongoing struggle between ego and surrender.

Thanks for your encouragement.