Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chapel veils

So here's what's on my mind: chapel veils. We're still looking for a parish to settle at in Pittsburgh, although we're racking up hits to the TLM (Traditional Latin Mass). Most of women at the TLM veil, and every time I approach the church, I have a mini mental debate whether I should as well. I did borrow a veil once from the nice lady who has a box of them in the foyer every Sunday and spent the rest of Mass wondering if the lace doily on top of my head was going to fall off due to my lack of skill with bobby pins.

I haven't wanted to start wearing a veil in Mass without understanding the reasons to veil. Sure I've read 1 Corinthians 11 where St. Paul requires women to cover their heads, but no one else seems to be paying any attention to his words, so I've assumed there must be some scholarly interpretation of this passage that gets women out of following his instructions. According to my admittedly limited research, the answer to that seems to be...well, not so much.

I've come across a few interesting things that are compelling me to veil. One, veiling has nothing to do with men, but everything to do with God. Women are instructed to veil as a sign of respect to God when praying and when before the Eucharist. Two, veiling used to be required according to canon law, meaning that women could be reprimanded for refusing to veil. Canon law was rewritten in 1983 and did not mention veiling, but this did not negate the practice. It was probably not mentioned because it shouldn't have been in canon law in the first place, as wearing the veil is a voluntary act, one that you should want to do. Also, after Vatican II, the press mistakenly reported that women no longer 'had' to wear the veil and never corrected themselves; as a result, many women stopped wearing the veil under the influence of secular society.

For me the heart of the matter comes down to this- if I decide not to veil I think I would be doing so under the influence of misguided Catholics and secular culture, particularly feminists of the 60's-70's who had little respect or understanding for the Church, rather than under the influence of the Lord. I think I'd rather trust Saint Paul as being divinely inspired and take his instructions at face value. I'm Catholic largely because I decided to take Jesus' words 'this is my body, this is my blood' at face value. I don't feel at liberty to say 'oh that's not what Scripture really meant' if something is out of my comfort zone. I say this with the understanding that Scripture is not always easily understood, and some of it is not meant to be taken literally (some of the Bible is just poetry), but I don't think this applies here because the Church has a long standing, Biblically based tradition of encouraging women to cover their heads in worship.

I'm not entirely comfortable with veiling. It definitely goes against the grain of being a modern woman, or what I had thought it meant to be a Christian woman today. But at this point, I don't have a good reason not to veil. And now that I've written this post, I guess I have committed myself to joining the ranks of those women who cover their heads at Mass. Here goes!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Quotable Monday

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple"

-Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), author, cartoonist ( 1904-1991)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

March for Life 2009

I'm blogging about this a little late, but I went to the March For Life in Washington DC! My husband and I decided last minute that it would be a missed opportunity not to go (the kids do well with long car rides at the moment, friends in DC could put us up, and no one had to miss work or class to go). I'm really glad we went and we will go again.

I'm posting a few tips below on doing the march with young kids, which I will post again next January before the march, because I wished that I'd been a little better informed as to how things would run the day of the march. I also had hoped to have a bunch of my own photos to post, but I didn't take very many because I was pretty much sandwiched in a sea of people all afternoon. Here are a few links to some coverage if you'd like to see photos, photos, photos. Unfortunately, the march is pretty consistently under reported in the mainstream media, but I've seen estimates that between 200,000-300,000 people attended. Wow.

Tips for taking kids to the March for Life:
1. Pack a lunch and snacks that you can eat standing up. There is no easily accessible food once you are at the mall!!
2. Bring strollers that your kids will be happy to sleep in
3. Bring something to occupy your kids while they sit in a stroller
4. Consider finding a perch and just watching the march from one of the many buildings on the mall, or joining in at the very end on your own time (unless you want to possibly spend hours waiting to start actually walking)
5. Consider arriving late. Everything we read said the march started at 12, but only the rally (a series of speakers) started at 12. We did not start "marching" until at least 2, and we did not start moving until at least 3:30. We got to the Metro at 5:00.
6. If you're taking the Metro (subway) do not plan on getting on the Metro at the station closest to the end of the march, Capitol South. The line will be insane. Plan on walking to another station.
7. Buy your return Metro tickets on the way TO the march
8. Plan on spending two nights in the DC area, one before and one after, if you have what you consider a "long" drive.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quotable Monday

"There are few things, if anything, so clearly required by social justice than that a society not kill its babies. If we don’t get that right, we’re not likely to get much of anything else right."

-Father Richard John Neuhaus, former Lutheran pastor, author, pro-life advocate (1936-January 8 2009)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thoughts on the Catechism

I'm attempting to read the Catechism from cover to cover, and I came across something in the prologue (yeah I haven't gotten very far) that I keep rolling over in my mind. Let me back up a second by asking this: what comes to mind when you hear the wordCatechesis? (Or Catechism).

When I hear those words, I think of necessary but dull classes, probably taught by a lackluster teacher...I think dry, I think memorization. Which is why I was a little surprised when I read: "Catechesis is intimately bound up with the whole of the Church's life. Not only her geographical extension and numerical increase, but even more her inner growth and correspondence with God's plan depend essentially oncatechesis"(Prologue I 7)

This instantly made sense to me, even though it was surprising. The inner growth of the Church depends upon Catechesis! Of course, Catechesis is simply passing on the faith, wherever that happens--and if a person only receives part of the faith because they aren't Catechised well, then their life of faith is probably going to be lacking. It's much easier to fall into sin if you have not been taught what God requires. Righteous values are not taught by osmosis from the culture at large. And for me, being a person who hasn't been formally Catechised in Catholicism, there's still so much I don't know about living the Catholic faith. It's like having a little toolbox to assist in living the Christian life instead of a big toolbox.

The idea of Catechesis breathing life into faith seems so out-of-the-box to me, and I'm not sure why; the first time I read the Catechism I realized it was chock full of amazing stuff. Maybe it's my Protestant sensibilities; my intuition tells me that as a Protestant I was much more focused on 'personal discovery' rather than looking for guidance from any Church. I've written a little about this before--the sense of being on my own with God rather than being shepherded by the Church. There seems to be an evangelical consensus out there that we should experience God in a fresh way rather than by following tradition. There is a sense that tradition is not life-giving. But becoming Catholic is tied up with embracing the Christian tradition, not exactly the same as it has always been, but with an organic connection to what has been from the beginning. It's pretty sweet to have a book that basically distills the last 2000 years of theological thought-when you look at it that way, reading the Catechism from cover to cover is not that many pages.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Quotable Monday

"Prayer is the oxygen of the soul"

-Saint Padre Pio, Italian Capuchin priest, 1887-1968

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

On letting the fire die

If you are pro-life minded like I am, there has been something heavy hanging in the air ever since Barack Obama became our president elect. It feels like some sort of doomsday on the abortion front is about to occur, and it's hard to go about life with this knowledge. One of the worst discoveries I've made as an adult is that the cliche 'ignorance is bliss' is 100% true. Back in 2001 I went to Calcutta, India for a few weeks on a mission trip, and seriously, I was depressed for an entire year afterward because of what I saw there. After seeing countless families stretched out on the sidewalks to sleep at night and after carrying skeletal patients at Mother Teresa's home for the dying, I felt completely disillusioned with the American lifestyle. I also felt utterly powerless. When tragedy becomes personal--when a real starving child is standing in front of you vs. staring out of a magazine photograph-- there's really two options: try to make peace with the knowledge of despair while working for change, or shove it to the back of the mind and forget about it.

After Obama was elected I felt angry, fed up, and just plain sad for a few weeks before I felt like something had to give. Overwhelmed with the intensity of my disgust for the lack of care with which far too many people treat the abortion issue, I decided to try the 'oh well, what can I do?' approach. Maybe having a rabidly pro-abortion president wouldn't be such a big deal after all. And so, I haven't read anything about Obama by choice for the past few months because it can be so disheartening. But I'm not sure it's working for me. Well, I know it's not working. I've almost stopped praying for an end to abortion and I've barely thought about getting connected to the Pittsburgh pro-lifers who I know are out there. It's tempting to become one of the persons I say I don't understand anymore; someone who is bothered by the fact that abortion is legal in all 50 states up to the moment of birth, but not bothered enough to do something about it. I know that shutting up about abortion would be a major failing because I am certain that God has called me to stand against this particular evil. It just would be so much easier not to.

I don't have many answers at this point as to how to carry on. I'm still at a loss over how to live with the knowledge that the simple task of just staying alive is such a struggle for so many people. I'd like to ask some wise folks who confront serious evil and ugliness every day how they maintain some form of happiness. Is that even possible? I have some vague ideas; massive devotion to prayer and the Eucharist top the list. Maybe that's enough. Another cliche comes to mind, 'no way through it but to do it'...I'm just hoping for a better answer down the line.