Sunday, July 20, 2014

Judgment Police verses Modesty Police

Modesty. It is a 'hot-button' topic with both sides claiming moral superiority, but the worldly opinion is securely behind the immodest. Recently, an article titled 'Three Immodestly Dressed Women Walked into a Church' (http://www.kimberleysuchta.com/2014/07/14/three-immodestly-dressed-women-walk-into-a-church/) raised the issue by giving each woman's reasoning for how she was dressed. Each woman's story was suitably heart-wrenching and demonstrated the bravery of these women for coming to church 'as they were'. It continued on the theme that we (the presumably judgmental 'modesty police') should understand where each and every person is coming from and acknowledge that they are 'broken'. In other words, modesty is relative and immodestly dressed people are already morally superior.

The only thing broken from my point of view is the record of 'immodest' protectors verses the 'modesty police'. What struck me most in this post was that each woman that was dressed immodestly knew and and was already feeling guilty for it. In general, the message we always hear is that we (the 'modesty police') shouldn't judge others. However, it's just as possible for these immodestly dressed ladies to be guilty of harshly judging themselves as well as others they deem 'holier than thou' or 'modesty police'. In modesty article after modesty article it is demanded the we (the presumed 'modesty police') give those dressed immodestly the benefit of the doubt and 'meet them where they are'. We, the presumed 'modesty police', are chastised for covering ourselves modestly. Our thoughts are assumed to be negative towards those dressed unlike ourselves. Author after author jumps to the defense of the immodestly church going while heaping accusations toward the modestly church going. 


Rare (and poorly received) is the article that explains how a modestly dressed woman feels towards her own modesty or someone else's. It is assumed that the modestly dressed woman vilifies the immodest and judges them harshly. Accused members of the modesty police are criticized for looking at as well as for not looking at the immodest among them. A glance at an immodestly dressed woman from a modestly dressed woman is assumed to be condemning, judgmental, and disdainful. Keeping modest eyes focused on Christ on the Cross instead of the immodestly dressed is also assumed to be condemning, judgmental, and disdainful. The rationale behind dressing modestly, how a modest woman feels about herself, and how she sees the world is seldom, if ever, explained.

As a modest woman I am often immediately labeled as judgmental, holier-than-thou, and 'perfect' (in a sarcastic sort of way). The secular world assumes that since I'm not flaunting my body for all to ogle I am ashamed of my body. Immodestly dressed women assume I think I'm better than them whether I say anything to them or not. Even the clergy sometimes assumes that if a woman dresses modestly (it's even worse if that woman wears a veil) she is holier-than-thou. Heaven forbid I have insecurities about myself, that I worry about how others see me, that I feel as 'broken' as anyone out there, and/or that I feel judged. My modesty has nothing to do with others-modest or immodest. I happen to think that the most flattering way to dress is modest. Wearing modest clothing (and a veil in the True Presence) is not a sign of my superiority, it is my sign of respect to the One superior to us all. Modesty presents an image to the world that is often not appreciated or acknowledged.

Our insecurities tend to make us defensive where no offense was meant. Maybe the 'disdainful' stare the immodestly dressed woman felt was really another woman thinking (and staring) at something in her memory. Maybe the disdainful look was actual focused on how the modest lady wishes she could fit into something similar. Maybe the 'cold shoulder' was really the 'modesty police' feeling uncomfortable - not because of the immodesty - because she felt her clothes or her body lacked style/flare/fit/etc and she wanted to be considered beautiful like the immodestly dressed woman. Maybe the kindly words of modesty were phrased poorly due to our anxiety stemming from the frequent backlash we receive. Maybe all the assuming has done more to divide us that the truth in our hearts. We ALL have our own hang-ups physically, mentally, and spiritually. Sometimes the ones who look like they have it all together are the ones hurting the most. There are times we all feel judged, but we aren't all justified in blaming others for judging us. We are often our harshest critic.

So instead of accusing others of being judgmental, perhaps we should all--modest, immodest, church-going, fallen-away, promiscuous, virginal, etc--look only be the best we can be without assuming anything of others. We should all pray for each other to be Holy as God calls us to be.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I'm Just Human...

You know how sometimes you read a comment on FaceBook or a blog post (or listen to the homily at Mass) and think whoever is 'speaking' is looking directly at you. Well, I just recently had that feeling reading a blog post. I've spent a large portion of my life being judged by others to be too 'judgemental' or 'holier-than-thou' or a 'goody two shoes'. So when I happen across something that paints my position on a subject as 'judge mental' my first thought is that I'm the one being judged and found wanting. Even people who theoretically 'know' me well see me as fitting the mold of the terms previously mentioned. Even people who know how I agonize over practically every word to avoid insulting or hurting someone think I'm at least a stick-in-the-mud. I have a friend on a social game that thinks I can't or won't curse/cuss because I am too conservative and/or holy to do so. 

It's true that I try to show myself in the best light possible as far as morals go. However, I never think I'm perfect or incapable of wrong. I just try to listen to the soft silent voice of my conscience. I try to look on the bright side of people, their actions, their words, and the world in general. I am passionate about my beliefs and morals, but I don't expect everyone to agree with me. When I say, "I'll pray for you." I really mean it and not in a sarcastic way. To this day I can vividly recall instances where I was maligned and 'judged' but in truth the person that was maligned and 'judged' was not the true me. I still cry at times when I think of the way my work-life was terminated and the lies and exaggerations that are written in black-and-white. I still wonder if there was anything else I could have done to prevent such a sad end to my career. 

I sometimes look back on friendships I had in the past that ended poorly and wonder if things could have turned out differently. I replay conversations in my head constantly trying to figure out the sticking point and point of disagreement that caused the discussion to go awry. I truly strive to present myself in the best light as possible, but also to view others in the best light possible as well. 

I'm sure some people are tired of hearing about how my cancer changed my life (and not necessarily for the better). I'm sure there are people who think that is all I think about and that I just constantly need pity or sympathy in order to function. I'm sure some people think my cries for modesty, conservative values, and traditional mindset stems from my desire to judge, control, and inhibit others. Some people have painted a very negative picture of me in their mind that nothing I do can erase. 

The truth is that I have been irrevocably changed by my cancer experience. I strive to live a Godly life inwardly and outwardly. My concern for others is based on a true desire for them to see Heaven. None of this means I don't fail sometimes. It would be ridiculous to say or think otherwise. I'm human just like everyone else. Sometimes my opinions, like armpits, stink. Often I am insecure enough to need someone to say they understand me or sympathize with me. Occasionally I need to be reminded of the blessings in my life. We all do. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

St. Himelin - March 10

Today for religion class, the kiddos learned about one of today's saints, St.Himelin. 

He was a holy priest on a pilgrimage to Rome in huge year 750. He got to a town in Belgium and fell ill (bubonic plague was widespread in the area). A passing maid was carrying a water pitcher to the local priest's rectory. St. Himelin asked her for a drink, but initially she refused. Finally, she had pity upon him and gave him a drink. After drinking, St. Himelin said the priest would be well-pleased with the water. When the priest sampled the water, he found it had been turned to fine wine. At that point, the maid told the priest about St. Himelin. Immediately they retrieved St. Himelin to care for him in his sickness. However, St. Himelin refused a bed and asked only for a pile of straw. Three days later, at the hour of his death, the bells at the local church rang of their own accord. 

This saint doesn't appear to be very well-known or studied. However, 2 miracles were performed by/for him in the only three days we know of his life. That's pretty amazing! I was unimpressed with the pictures I saw of this saint, so I drew my own. In my drawing I included the bed of straw, the water pitcher, and the church bell tower since those, to me, are important parts of the story. I wasn't sure what he looked like, exactly what attire he'd wear, or how old he was, so I just did a generic man in a robe. Pardon the bad photo, but my scanner doesn't work with my iPad. 


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

41st Annual March for Life 2014

The sorrowful news about abortion, beyond the death of an unborn child, is the harm it causes women. As many as 45% of some Suicide Hotlines are women in deep grief for the disposal of their babies. Their grief, guilt, and regret can lead to 'less' severe consequences like depression, low self esteem, PTSD, anxiety, and perhaps worst of all, distance from God. God can and will forgive these women of their sin, if they only ask. However, society lies to them - saying there is no need for forgiveness or any negative feelings regarding their abortion. 


Abortion advocates do a much deeper damage to women than physically harming them during the actual abortion. The lies promoted by abortion advocates belittle the negative feelings many women have later about their abortions. Without proper support or recognition, these walking wounded women become bitter, disillusioned, and forced to support abortion or else feel they are condemning themselves. Many times these women publicly say they feel no negative feelings about their abortion. Yet, if they were truly to examine their conscience, mind, heart, and soul - the deep wound of their abortion colors their whole lives. 


As pro-lifers we must not only express our concern for the millions of babies destroyed, but also express concern for the mothers (and families) that 'chose' that option. Even if the woman denies any negative feelings, it is quite likely that she just can't or won't acknowledge it. Abortion is murder and baldly stating that truth can be unimaginably painful for post-abortive women (whether they admit it or not). The abortionists are the ones that commit this murder, while the mother is complicit and a co-conspirator. However, once she asks God for His forgiveness (if Catholic in the Sacrament of Reconciliation), in His infinite mercy, He forgives her. 


It is our job as pro-lifers to pray for these women's hearts to change, encourage women to seek this forgiveness, and offer support for their continued healing. On this evening of the 41st March for Life, let us join in prayer for those who marched, those who prayed, those who participated in huge Twitter-fest, and all of those who's hearts and minds were on the subject. 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent Veiling Project 2013: What I've Learned

Together with my mother and my young daughter, I have been veiling for over a year and a half. Our debut veil-day was Mother's Day. My daughter was two, but oh, so adorable in her veil attached to a headband. My mother and I were far enough removed from our 'forced' head covering due to chemo that we decided to embrace this lovely tradition. Over the years, in various bulletin boards and message boards I've argued against veiling and no-pants allowed (skirts only). 


One of my objections to veiling was usually along the lines of distraction. Since 99% of people in most parishes don't veil wearing one could likely to draw attention. In addition, trying to keep something else straight - especially as a mother with young children - could distract the wearer from the beauty and sacredness of Holy Sacrament of the Mass. 

Another of my objects was vanity. I mean, veils are so fru-fru, girly, and, well, lacy they obviously became more about matching your outfit than about fitting yourself for the Mass. Even discounting all of the above, veils come in so many colors, weights, sizes, shapes, and styles. How could anyone argue that having a closet full of beautiful church clothing with matching/coordinating veils wouldn't become more of a fashion show than a show of submission?

As someone who has always, even in my college years, had a definite set of clothing for church verses clothing for dates, school, work, lounging, etc, I didn't buy into the premise of dressing nicely (and expecting others to do the same) as being 'holier-than-thou'. So when I saw people who agreed with my objections citing this as a reason, I had to step back. I read stories of women who found their Faith, peace, happiness, and submission to God increase through veiling. I began to read the history and tradition of the practice of veiling. I read about the new law 'getting rid of' the practice, but found that to be false. 

I'm a scientist by training, so I looked at the logic and parsimony of veiling. What I found lead me to discuss veiling with my mother. Not uncommonly, she and I were on the same wave-length without effort. We challenged each other and encouraged each other. Since my young daughter is a continuation of my mother and I, it was only natural to have her veil too. Not only was she absolutely adorable in her veil (I'd have to go to Confession if I denied that;-), she was also moved with the simplicity of a child to recognize this as another sign of church being different and more special than other things we did. 

Yes, our veils are pretty. Of course, being quite a bit obsessive compulsive, we do have to at least have color coordination with our clothing. Honestly (again, if I deny this I'd have to go to Confession post-haste ;-), the colors, styles, and patterns are beautiful and make me feel beautiful. However, during Mass, my focus isn't on whether my veil compliments my outfit, or if it's making me look more beautiful. During Mass, my veil serves as a reminder to move a little more carefully, focus on the altar, not my pew-mates (well, except the kiddos that belong to me), and overall bring more reverence to my participation in Mass. I do get a little thrill when I see another veiler visiting another parish or having a visiting our parish. My biggest thrills were at the March for Life in January 2013. During the opening Mass at the Bascillica in Washington, DC as well as during the Youth Mass right before the March, I saw others, some younger than me and others older than me, veiling. I just felt an extra unity with these women who covered their heads to show God the attitude from us He so richly deserves. 

So I've made a 180 degree switch in position about veiling because God lifted the veil over my eyes to let me see His glory reflected in my submissive action. Even if I do sometimes want a new veil because it's pretty, I know that the beauty of my veil does not negate the submission in my heart that leads me to veil. I can get a thrill seeing others veil without feeling holier than those who don't. Because the veil isn't about *me*; veiling is about God present in the Eucharist!

*** I created this post to join in the Advent Veiling Project 2013. Please visit http://lifeofacatholiclibrarian.blogspot.com/2013/12/advent-veiling-project-2013-linkup.html for more information, giveaways, & stories! There are at least 4 veil giveaways -- one is Veils By Lily (http://www.veilsbylily.com/). 

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Smiling already at 2 weeks
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And two shall become one...

And two shall become one...
In 2006, Andrew & I became one before God and family! Shortly thereafter we became 3 with the birth of Simon in 2008... Then 4 with the addition of Rachel in 2009!

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