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/). 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mislabeling Catholics as Misogynists

Recently, a couple of small blurbs in the Our Sunday Visitor (June 16, 2013 issue) caught my attention. One described the Archdioecese of Cincinnati receiving a verdict awarding money to a fired employee. Another summarized a study released at the World Health Assembly about abortion's negative impact on various women's health issues. Still another was an entire article about modesty using a New Jersey school's contentious method as a lesson. On the surface these stories are very different, however, at their core they reflect a similar theme: the misogyny of the Catholic Church.

An unmarried woman was dismissed from her teaching position in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati after using artificial insemination to get pregnant.  Opponents decry this termination as yet another sign that the Catholic Church is misogynic. At the root of the court case, the woman in question had signed a contact to comply with the Church's teachings prior to employment. Well catechised and educated individuals know that conception outside of 'normal' intercourse is against the moral norms of the Church. Period However, poorly catechized and anti-Catholic individuals often use the established moral norms of the Church as examples of the archaic and unrealistic attitudes that pit the Church against women.

A study released during the World Health Assemby in Switzerland revealed that abortion has negative effects on women's health.  On one level, everyone knows the Church vigorously opposes abortion--even 'Catholics' that defend the "right" to abortion. Abortion is wrong. Period Knowledge of the Church's unwavering teaching on abortion doesn't prevent many from disagreeing and again pointing the finger at the Church's so-called misogynic ways. When the Church's position is backed by numerous scientific studies as well as ancedotal evidence, the Church and Her faithful followers are accused of "exaggerating" and even perpetuating a "war on women".

In New Jersey, a junior high school implemented a ban on strapless dresses for eigth-grade prom. Yet again, opponents to this ban paint the administration as misogynists. Regardless of this school's affiliation with Catholicism, it shares a similarity with many Catholic schools that implement a similar ban. Modesty is a hot-button issue even among faithful Catholics. The controversy among Catholics isn't about whether modesty is a virtue. It is. Period. Instead the controversy revolves around the definition and implementation of modesty. Again, opponents of the Church, and even some faithful members, label the Church as misogynic.

Supporters of the Church know Mother Church is anything but misogynic. While oppenents are accusing the Church of misogyny, they also claim Catholics worship Mary, a woman; both patently false accusations. The Church's position on these controversial issues actually protects women and maintains an inherent God-given dignity and value. Most women strongly desire children at one point in their life. Catholic teaching welcomes that. By establishing laws defining the sacrament of marriage and the marital embrace, the Church ensures women aren't used simply for satisfaction of sexual desire and offspring. Children are highly valued by the Church and are a natural product blessing upon a marriage. Stripping these children from women's wombs opens these women for countless physical, emotional, and spiritual harms. Banning abortion again protects women from this desecration. Modesty is not about protecting men from women's 'evil' charms. Instead, the Church's position on modesty reflects God's beauty shown through His creation and safeguards against perverting it. Contrary to forcing women to submit to harmful edicts, the Church's laws protect women and recognize God's dignity and beauty in women.

Mary's role in the Church exemplifies the Church's position on these three divergent, but complementary issues. As a faithful Jew, Mary said "Yes" to God's call and His laws, even when they brought her strife. Pregnancy prior to marriage could have led to death for Mary, yet she never considered her pregnancy anything but God's blessing. Through her adherance to God's laws and discipleship to Jesus, Mary maintained her modesty in appearance and action throughout her life. God so loved the world that He gave us His Son (John 3:16). His Son so loved the world that before He died, He gave us Mary as our Mother (John 19:27) and role-model.  Once again, the cacophonus accusations of anti-Catholics and poorly catechized Catholics silence the truth of the Catholic Church's stance on the universal beauty and dignity of mankind. How could a Church with beliefs like this possibly be misogynic?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What Do You Mean By Choice

For the first time ever, I'm going to Washington DC for the annual March for Life! I'm so very excited to join in this heroic event aimed at protecting the most vulnerable of those among us: the unborn! I plan on being bundled up, but still wearing my Catholic Pink ribbon wear. It is disheartening that the scourge of abortion has been promulgated and protected by legislation for 40 years. However, I will be a part of the historic crowd witnessing the ever-present protest of this ghastly "choice". 

Because of the scourge of abortion, for me the word "choice" has become taboo. Every time I hear it as part of an ad on television or radio, I'm cringe. Sometimes I wonder if there's a reason the word "choice" is featured so prominently in the ads I hear--especially those aimed at any healthcare product or service. Obviously, the word choice is not really taboo. However, it is also not a good descriptor for those willing to slaughter innocent babies for any reason. 

Of course, now, even the most pro-choice group of all, Planned Parenthood, is stepping away from their use of the word "choice". Their new ad campaign features cartoonish feet marching hither and yon while asking us (the viewers) to not "box her in" and to "step into her shoes". I wonder if our blog questions of "What do you mean by choice?" Had any effect on the discarding of their oft-used word "choice". Although, I think the real reason probably lies in the fact that the pro-abortion magnates are simply trying to tug our heart-strings by making us walk in their figurative woman's shoes. 

Of course, by doing so, they're ignoring the fact that many many many women (and men) who are adamantly pro-life have been in their poster-woman's shoes and either made the choice for life and realized the merit or had an abortion and now regrets their "choice". I know many women in both situations and even count myself among them. That's why the pro-abortion crowd uses misleading or even down-right untrue propaganda to cloud the true issue. The true issue isn't about informed and empowered "choice"; their goal is to snag vulnerable women with their "support" and "choice" of abortion without presenting all the facts. If presenting true "choices" were the pro-abortion people's intended goal, they would not fight so hard against parental notification, waiting periods, viewing ultrasounds, face-to-face consultations prior to the procedure, and other neutral bills aimed at educating women about their pregnancy. Once again, the rhetoric spouted against these neutral (and often common standard of care protocols: parental notification, ultrasounds, and face-to-face consultations) pluck at naive heartstrings and outright lie about the truth. 

At every turn, the pro-abortion people obfuscate, disassemble, and flagrantly omit women's real "choices" when in a "crisis" pregnancy. Having been pregnant 6 times in 3 years, I know that when that positive indicator appears on that test-stick, thousands of insecurities, fears, and confusions overwhelm the system. Throughout the 9 months, sometimes irrational thoughts and behaviors manifest themselves. Popular culture, particularly from parties involved--even indirectly--with abortion or contraception, encourages these negative aspects of the blessing of new life to make it seem like more of a curse. How can presenting only the negatives of an option be empowering or even fair? In other words, the only "choice" favored by pro-abortion people is abortion. That's why we ask each year, "What do you mean by choice?"

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