Monday, August 27, 2012

mixed doubles tennis team = 1 man + 1 woman

An Olympic-inspired insight into the right to marry:

In mixed doubles tennis, each team consists of one man and one woman. By definition, neither two men nor two women may play together in this sport.

Now that's about as far as the analogy goes, but since a tennis match is largely free of the heavier baggage of human relationships, one aspect of the equal rights argument becomes clear.

Everyone has the right to play on a mixed doubles team, but no one has the right to a partner of the same sex. The basic right to play applies to the individual player, not the team.

It is likewise with marriage: An individual person has the right to marry, by definition, a person of the opposite sex. The right to marry belongs to the individual, not to the couple.

This is not to be confused with the fact that certain rights or privileges may accrue to a married couple (since for society, marriage is found to be very good). But the more fundamental right to even enter into a marriage pertains at the level of the individual.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Regarding questions on posture during Mass

Reading the newspaper can get my dander up:

With all due respect to Fr. Kenneth Doyle, I believe there is more to be said in response to the question about the posture of kneeling in “Rules for worship?”, Catholic Review, August 23, 2012, page A13 of the print edition (which is not on the Catholic Review website but the same column is posted here).  He quotes from that “we are not free to change these postures to suit our own individual piety, for the Church makes it clear that our unity of posture and gesture is an expression of our participation in the one Body formed by the baptized with Christ, our head.” 

If the USCCB is here trying to suppress relatively new gestures such as holding hands or using the priest’s orans position during the Lord’s Prayer, terrific.  But when this demand for uniformity would prevent kneeling during parts of the Mass where kneeling is traditional, it directly contradicts what Cardinal Francis Arinze had to say on the subject when he was the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (Prot. N. 855/03/L):  “The mens [reasoning] is that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, [General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM)] no. 43, is intended, on the one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit [after communion] would no longer be free.”

Fr. Doyle and the USCCB (on the same webpage) should also update their statements of the norm for reception of Holy Communion in the U.S., in which they only mention standing and a bow of reverence.  The norm stated in the new translation of GIRM 160 for the U.S. “is that Holy Communion is to be received standing, unless an individual member of the faithful wishes to receive Communion while kneeling.”  It’s worth noting too that there is no longer any mention of addressing “pastorally” instances of kneeling or of providing “proper catechesis” regarding the norm of standing.

What the USCCB webpage does get right is that God created each of us as composite of body and soul, and this fusion forms the basis of our postures and gestures at Mass.  But while it's true that the significance and use of certain postures has changed organically and very slowly over the centuries, there is no accounting for the abrupt break in postures used in the Mass in the post-conciliar years.

Fr. Doyle closes in thanks that given that only 22 percent of American Catholics now attend Mass weekly, the worshipper with his own posture preferences is in church at all.  Better that we should follow the example set by Pope Benedict and receive Holy Communion on the tongue while kneeling.  Then our bodies, duly postured for that solemn moment, would surely guide our embodied souls back to belief in, and profound reverence for the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, which in turn would draw many back to the pews.  And if even voluntary kneeling were accommodated, perhaps for starters by use of a prie dieux, there would not be the rare tripping hazard cited by Fr. Doyle.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Obligatory Post on Veiling

As I want to encourage Catholics to learn and embrace some of our neglected traditions, I may as well start this blog off with the discipline of wearing a veil, a subject that often rouses curiosity.  It’s going on two years since I again (as a grown woman) started wearing a veil in Church.  Here I put into a list format some writing I have done in the past -- most of these points are my own but a handful I picked up here and there in the Catholic blogosphere.  They range from lighthearted to serious, practical to introspective, but are listed here in no particular order.

Why I Wear a Veil

  1. I just have to.  Ever since I started, I can no longer bear to be in the presence of our incarnate Lord, present in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church, with my head uncovered.
  2. St. Paul admonishes us in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.  Notice the context: St. Paul is speaking about the Mass.  And notice that St. Paul does not mince his words.  (However, I do accept the Church’s teaching that the requirement to cover is no longer in effect due to cultural differences.)
  3. During the time that I was wearing a veil to the Extraordinary Form Mass but was not yet wearing one to the Ordinary Form Mass, I felt that I was showing disrespect at the latter.  You could also say that I was feeling rather dis-integrated.
  4. It was very much a calling that I put off and put off and put off until the Lord made it abundantly clear to me that this was something He wanted me to do.  After much discernment and then eventually discussing it with my pastor and having my husband’s support, I finally decided to start veiling at the Ordinary Form Mass.  The deep peace I then felt let me know it was the right thing to do.
  5. I ran out of reasons and excuses not to.
  6. When my now 12-y.o. received his First Holy Communion, at the beginning of the homily, the priest complimented the boys and girls on how beautifully they were dressed and told them that the Eucharist is so special that it would be appropriate to get so dressed up every time they receive communion.
  7. It reminds me in a very substantial way that when I’m entering a Church, I’m setting foot on holy ground.
  8. The sight of my veil in my peripheral vision, while not a distraction, is a gentle reminder to me that I’m in the Lord’s presence.
  9. The sight of my veil in my peripheral vision blocks out distractions.
  10. I may appear to be in the minority, but inasmuch as there is but one Mass – taking place in Heaven – and we are taking part in it alongside the angels and the millennia of saints that have come before us, I realize I am actually one of a vast, vast majority of women veiling.
  11. Even so, it can be lonely to be the only woman in a Church wearing a veil.  As I put it on while I’m walking in, I’m sometimes saying, “I’m only doing this for you, Lord.”  Yet this does provide me with much-needed doses of humility.
  12. I learned more and more about the Mass through books I read and discussed with a study group and then through regular attendance at the Extraordinary Form Mass.  As St. Pio of Pietrelcina’s famous quote about the Mass ("It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without the Holy Mass.") began to make sense to me, I was driven to dress appropriately and eventually to veil.
  13. What finally got to me was hearing the priest chant more parts of the Mass:  I recall particularly being struck by the chanting of the dialog before the Preface.  I was beside myself with the chanting, then seeing the chalice veil used by certain priests at every Mass they celebrated.  These seemingly minor changes raised the solemnity of the Mass up a few notches.  How could I keep from veiling any longer? 
  14. We were starting to learn about the then-upcoming new translation of the Roman Missal, and how the ordinary language of the old dynamic equivalent translation was not as appropriate for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the elevated language of the new literal translation, language you wouldn't use on the street.  It dawned on me that likewise, dressing in an ordinary way for Mass is not quite as appropriate as dressing in this extraordinary way, i.e., wearing a veil, something you wouldn't wear walking down the street.
  15. It gives the priest or EMHC a visual cue not to be surprised as I'm about to plop down on my knees to receive Communion.
  16. With 20/20 hindsight, it’s now clear that moving the tabernacle off to the side of the Church, not ringing bells during the consecration, and receiving Holy Communion in the hand while standing have all resulted in a drastic loss of faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and consequently the loss of enormous numbers of people from the pews.  The lost discipline of veiling, which had been a very clear visual indication of being in the presence of Christ’s flesh, without a doubt, also contributed to that loss of faith and of the faithful.
  17. A good track record from 33 A.D. to 1970 A.D. as compared to post-1970 A.D. can in itself be good enough reason to return to the status quo ante.  Given the turmoil of the period, any post-1970 changes are automatically suspect.
  18. This G.K. Chesterton quote: “In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, 'I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away.' To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: 'If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.'"
  19. When women stopped wearing veils in the 1970s, it was an act of defiance (at least by those who promulgated the change) as the requirement to cover one’s head was not removed from Canon Law until 1983.  Any changes in discipline initiated in a spirit of rebellion ought to be re-examined.
  20. Having said that, there is a silver lining to the requirement’s having been abrogated from Canon Law.  When we wore veils back when it was required, it showed that we were being obedient.  Now that it’s not required, it provides us with an opportunity to show our reverence and submissiveness and our desire for holiness and humility before the Lord.
  21. When I was a little girl, I always wore a doily-type chapel cap and couldn’t wait until I could wear a “grown-up” mantilla like my mom’s.
  22. As my mom had long since passed, I look to my heavenly mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, for guidance.  I want to be like her.
  23. Each of us is a composite of body and soul.  What we do with our bodies, including the way we dress, is an outward expression of the internal soul.
  24. Each of us is a composite of body and soul.  What we do with our bodies, including the way we dress, can direct and guide the soul and set it aright.  These interior changes are subtle and take time, but are very real.
  25. I don’t have to worry about a bad hair day.
  26. Mantillas are beautiful and quintessentially feminine.  Besides, I'm not a hat person.
  27. It's unmistakeably Catholic.
  28. As Mantilla Amontillado, the famous ecclesiastical fashionista, put it (hilariously), “Another reason: I wear it because it annoys liberal Catholics, and that is always fun, you know?”  Okay – this is not normally one of my reasons.  But there was the time when we were walking up the steps of the Basilica to go to the opening Mass of the Fortnight for Freedom while the pro-contraception protestors were across the street displaying their signs while singing sappy hymns.  I have to admit I was a bit showy putting on my veil that one time, as if in doing so I was proclaiming, "As for me and my [/our] household, we will serve the Lord."
  29. After I started to veil, I began to experience a profound sense of daughterliness.  I’m not even sure that daughterliness is a word, but you ladies can get what I mean:  the feelings that come from the most wonderful father-daughter relationship you can imagine or your most cherished memories of your relationship with your own dad, multiplied a thousandfold.
  30. Since I don’t judge other women for not wearing a veil, I realized that I could give them the benefit of the doubt that they wouldn’t be judging me either.
  31. Dig deeper into the passage in 1 Corinthians 11:  From man’s direct relation to Christ, his head should not be covered.  But woman, not related directly to Christ on the hierarchical scale of sociosexual relations, but to her husband, requires a covering as a sign of that relationship (from the notes in my NAB).  How fitting that this symbolism of marriage between man and woman should be visible at the celebration of the wedding feast of the Lamb, i.e., that it help manifest the marriage between Christ and His Church, which human marriage reflects.
  32. Although I do accept the Church’s teaching that the requirement to cover is no longer in effect, I personally don’t like to brush it off as “cultural differences” when at the same time St. Paul’s dictates against homosexual acts are now often brushed off as “cultural differences”.
  33. I don’t veil because I’m holy.  I veil because I want to be holy.  Really I do.
 Well, I guess that should just about cover it.  (No pun intended.)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tossing my hat into the bloggers ring

Greetings, fellow pilgrims!

I don't really have time to be doing this, but sometimes there are just too many thoughts brewing in my head that I just have to get down in writing.  So I suspect posts here may come in fits and starts.

Like the Second Vatican Council, I too am coming up on my 50th.  I have only a child's memory of the changes that happened in the Catholic Church around the time I was approaching the age of reason:  I remember being very confused about how different the contents were of each of two small white hardbound-cover children's missals that I received as first Communion gifts.

It has only been in the past two years (thanks to Pope Benedict's Summorum Pontificum and a very fortunate set of circumstances) that I have been able to discover and embrace the heritage and traditions that we all were robbed of in the aftermath of and in the pseudo-Spirit of Vatican II.  The reform of and return of sacredness to the ordinary form of the liturgy can't come soon enough -- and not just for me, not just for our family, but for our country and our world. 

Lex orandi, lex credendi: the law of prayer is the law of belief.  As the twentieth century rolled into the twenty-first, it became more and more evident that in forgetting how God wants to be worshipped, all but a faithful remnant have no notion of sin, no notion of evil, no notion that they are in the cross hairs of the Evil One.

Cardinal Raymond Burke recently stated in an interview:
 The Holy Father rightly has put his focus on the sarcred liturgy because this is the highest and most perfect expression of our life in Christ. And if we can reestablish in the celebration of the sacred liturgy a strong sense of the worship of God as God wants it, not my creation, but the gift of God, that sacred worship has been handed down to us in the Church through the centuries, we’ll get a lot of other things straightened out at the same time. It has to start with the sacred liturgy.
Save the liturgy, save the world!

As for the blog's title, Momma magistra, and my signature line, Mater et Magistra, which is Latin for "Mother and Teacher", I'm a homeschooling mom of our two boys.  (No reference intended to Bl. John XXIII's encyclical by the same name).  As such, my husband and I take very seriously our duty to be the primary educators of our children, especially in the faith, morals, and matters regarding the transmission of life.  It's an overwhelmingly tough job in 2012 to raise our children in the world and yet guard them from the world -- thanks be to God that in addition to our friends in the Church Militant, we also have friends in the Church Triumphant and Church Suffering we can count on for help!

Off we go!