November 20, 2006

And All his Empty Promises

KJN had a great post yesterday about her decision to start wearing a chapel veil. Apparently she has done so in the past, but was shamed out of it by some helpful and progressive souls.

For me it's not about whether or not a woman ought to wear a chapel veil. Nobody wears such thing where I serve. Not even the religious sisters I know and work with wear veils!

For me the story spoke to how we use our labels and factions in the catholic church to tear each other down. When we see someone praying in a certain way we put a label on him or her. And we have a host of labels: liberal, conservative, progressive, neo-con, restorationist, radical, traditionalist. And by these labels we are tricked into ignoring the simple fact that the person we are labeling is praying at all and struggling to express some devotion to God.

What would I say in my heart if I saw a woman wearing a chapel veil? Would I think, "Oh my, this one is a traditionalist!" or, "Well, here's someone who has internalized the patriarchal culture of oppressing women!"

Or perhaps would I see someone who was trying, in her own way, to express her reverence and devotion for our Lord? Even if it isn't what I would do, do I take up the challenge of seeing the grace of God in her devotion, or do I dismiss her with a label?

The devil uses these handy labels to help us to dismiss each other, so that we might not see the grace of God, especially if it's a grace that we don't understand or wouldn't want for ourselves.

Just for the record, people make fun of me for wearing a zucchetto.


Crescentius said...

My dear Brother:

yeah, sure, ok, its your zucchetto...


StephB said...

There is a lady at our church who wears a veil. It looks like a black version of the ones we wore for first communion. I always thought she was just very serious.

Brother Charles said...

I like your style, Steph; I've always thought that "serious" was one of the greatest of compliments.

Pilgrim Padre said...

I had a dream one time about people of all different "factions" in the church around an altar, glorifying the tridentine liturgy, feminism, etc. In the dream I picked up an unconsecrated host and began singing "Give me the bread of life. Come Holy Spirit... Give me the bread of life" (I still remember the melody too). One by one as I approached them with the unconsecrated host, they disappeared. I took this as a sign that they couldn't give me Jesus because they were too busy focusing on one point or another. I think you're right that label can be divisive and that we should focus on what matters... Jesus and people's relationship with Him.