Friday, October 31, 2014

The beauty and mystery of the feminine

This morning a post over the The Catholic Gentleman blog, "Your Wife is Wearing What? Men, Veils, and the Mystery of Femininity," caught my attention. Given my ambivalence towards this particular issue, I have to admit that it was the beautiful picture of a black-veiled Spanish dancer that drew me to go to the link. Why? Because I am utterly taken with, moved by, the mysterious beauty of women. I have been from my earliest memories. I can remember when I was about 5 or 6 going to the bank with my Mom once a week. There was the most beautiful woman who worked at the teller window. I remember my Mom commenting to someone how taken I was with the lovely bank teller with dark eyes.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Another point I wish to make before proceeding is that my lovely wife, who I am still taken with after more than twenty of marriage, does not wear a chapel veil. This is not a subject I would ever deign to broach with her, let alone something I would ever ask, expect, or insist she do. Such a decision is hers to make in her freedom as a daughter of God.

Nonetheless, I propose a though-experiment: just for the time it takes to read the The Catholic Gentleman post, set aside your prejudices. Of course, feel free to be critical after you read it. This is not just alright, but necessary, anything less is not human, let alone Christian. I would note that the current polarization in the Church, which has intensified a lot lately, is a dirty lens through which to view the world. Clean it off. This is why I think, more than any previous pope, Benedict XVI was the Pope of Christian unity. After all, he was the pope who insisted that Eucharistic hospitality must be extended to those who desire to receive their Lord kneeling and on the tongue. I would note that this is not something I do.

Sr Cristina Succia

Nobody, least of all me, is insisting that women be required to wear a chapel veil. It also bears noting that the decision to wear one cannot be a way of making someone think herself better, or holier, than someone who chooses, for whatever reason(s), not to do so. It's like abstaining from meat on Fridays, or fasting, especially on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. If observing these things gives you a smug feeling of self-satisfaction, then stop right away, remove the veil, eat a hamburger, for the sake of your soul.
Some signs are cheap and disposable, like the Banana Republic ads that suggest that a briefcase is power, that having a family is a threat to personhood, that you should look as thin and edible as a Slim Jim. But other signs are woven into the very fabric of the universe, inviolate and inviolable, and a woman is such a sign. The Blessed Virgin Mary reminds us that a mother does not 'make' a home. A mother is home. Eve is the height of creation because she is a prophecy of the New Eve, the Mother of the Church, the Virgin Mary—and in all her statues and icons, Mary is wearing a veil
AND, I might add, she is beautiful, like Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in her sari and veil, or Sr. Cristina, as she rocks it.

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