Sir John and the Knights of the Long Table

Eleven of us live here at beautiful Schamelot, and we have a small 20 acre farm of chickens, emus, two dogs, 13 or so cats and a cockateil named Sassafrass.

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Year With The Saints

"All that we do receives its value from conformity to the will of God. When I take food or recreation, if I do it because it is the will of God, I merit more than if I went to suffer death without that intention. Plant this principle firmly in your mind, and then at every action fix your eyes upon it, in imitation of the carpenter, who brings every board under the square. Thus, you will do your work with perfection."--St. Francis de Sales

A Year With The Saints

"It is a great error of certain souls otherwise good and pious that they believe they cannot retain interior repose in the midst of business and perplexities. Surely there is no commotion greater than that of a vessel in the midst of the sea; yet those on board do not give up the thought of resting and sleeping, and the compass remains always in its place, turning towards the pole. Here is the point: we must be careful to keep the compass of our will in order, that it may never turn elsewhere than to the pole of the divine pleasure. This is the third means of performing our actions well."--St. Francis de Sales

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Year With The Saints

"Another good method is to consider only the present day. One of the arts which the devil employs to ruin souls and to retard many in the service of God is to represent to them that it is a very difficult and insupportable thing to live for many years with so much exactness, circumspection and regularity. Now, to consider today only closes the path to this temptation, and at the same time lends much support to human weakness. For who is there that cannot for one day make a strong effort to do all he can, that his actions may be well performed? Let one say to himself in the morning, "This day I mean to perform my ordinary actions well." So, that becomes easy and tolerable, which might appear very difficult if it were taken in a general way, and with the thought that this effort was to be made for a lifetime. Meanwhile, by proceeding every day in this manner, little by little a good habit is formed, and no further difficulty is experiences."--St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

The Birthday Rosary

I decided this year that it would be nice to establish the custom of praying a whole Rosary (just 5 decades--I'm not a saint!) for each family member on his birthday. We pray each decade for a different intention as follows:

1st decade: purity of heart
2nd decade: success in all endeavors
3rd decade: discernment of a vocation
4th decade: a long and holy life
5th decade: a happy and holy death

The last birthday we celebrated was my oldest son's and when one of his siblings accidentally started to announce the third decade when we were supposed to be on the second, my son piped up, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, you skipped one!" anxious not to get jipped out of the full benefits of this budding family tradition.

Not sure how much it had to do with the second decade being for "success in all his endeavors"...

I love raising kids!

Justin and the Rich Man

The other day I was running errands with my two younger boys and the youngest said, "When I grow up I want to be Bill Gates." I quickly admonished him that he should not want to be Bill Gates because Bill Gates is not a good man. He revised his statement, "No, no, I want to be Bill Gates but I won't like 'avortions.' I meeaan I want to have as much money as Bill Gates!" I then proceeded to tell both of them the story about it being easier for a camel to fit through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter into Heaven. I told them that Jesus said if you want to go to Heaven then you have to sell all that you have, giving the money to the poor, and follow Him.

The older of the two, the one who hopes and prayers he's going to be a priest when he grows up, got a very serious expression on his face and asked, "We're not rich, are we? We're poor right?" I think his prayer might be answered as he hopes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Measure of a Mass?

In the following article, Father Peter J. Daly (ordained in 1986) offers his humble opinion on celebrating the Tridentine Mass. He is a columnist for Catholic News Service and a shining example of another victory for the revolution. (Ever possible ounce of sacrasm is intended on my part.)

Will anyone come?

By Rev. Peter J. Daly

The parish just to the west of mine has been celebrating the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass for more than 15 years. The pastor has special permission granted years ago by the former Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal James Hickey. He is also one of the few priests around who remembers the pre-1962 ritual.

Almost nobody comes.

He gets about 30 people per Sunday, even though his is the only Latin Mass for at least 40 miles around in an area that encompasses more than 20 parishes.

Most of the people who come are elderly. They like this Mass because it is quiet and short. It reminds them of the olds days. A few young people come once in a while out of curiosity. They do not come back often.

My neighboring pastor is a bit exasperated with the whole thing. It means a lot of work for him. Under the old liturgy the priest did just about everything. The people who come to the Latin Mass like that part of the tradition just fine. They don't think they should have to do anything but show up. After all, it is the priest who says Mass. They are just spectators.

Before Vatican II's reforms, there were no lectors or eucharistic ministers. The servers said most of the responses. A lot of the prayers were said "sotto voce," i.e., inaudibly.

For my neighbor, the extra liturgy means that he has had to move the altar used for the Mass facing the people. (He has recently stopped doing this because nobody showed up to help him.) Then he has to set out different books and change into different vestments.

Most inconvenient of all, he has to prepare and preach a different homily.

Why a different homily? Because there are different readings. In the pre-1962 liturgy there was a one-year cycle of readings. We read only an Epistle and a Gospel. There were no readings from the Old Testament. We didn't hear much of the Bible and it was heard in Latin.

Since the reforms of Vatican II our book of readings for Sundays (Lectionary) has a three-year cycle, which includes readings from the Hebrew Scriptures. So my neighbor can't even preach the same homily for the Latin and English Masses on most Sundays.

A few folks from my parish go over to my neighbor's parish for the Latin Mass. Mostly they are quite elderly. They don't like all the singing at my parish. They don't like shaking hands. They don't like Communion in both forms. They don't like having three readings.

They tell me what they like most about the Latin Mass is that they can get in and get out in less than 45 minutes. They put a high premium on speed. A good liturgy is a short liturgy.

For them a good liturgy also is one where they don't have to speak to anyone or do anything. Their whole attitude says "I want no commitment and I want no communication." Hardly the "full and active participation" that Vatican II called for.

So now that Pope Benedict XVI has issued his "motu proprio" permitting the celebration of the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, will there be big crowds at the Latin Mass? Will more parishes start to offer it? I doubt it.

Apart from the schismatic followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and a few young people who are nostalgic for a church they never knew, almost nobody is pressing for it. Nobody under the age of 55 even remembers the old Latin ritual.

I think my neighbor's experience will be the experience of the church. We can offer it. But almost nobody will come.


It would be a grave mistake to think that low attendance at the Traditional Masses is a reflection on the Mass itself, rather than on the shepherds--the priests and bishop--of the diocese, who have, in reality, simply been very successful in destroying Sacred Tradition, and therefore the faith in general, in the minds and hearts of their flocks. These priests should be ashamed to admit these things about their parishioners, which reflect directly on them as the spiritual leaders in their parishes. May God have mercy on their souls.

A Birthday!

Yesterday was our oldest son's fifteenth birthday. He's growing up to be such a good young man. We're very proud of him. To show him how proud of him we are my husband gave him a special gift...

This was just a warm up gift, a power tie by Ralph Lauren. He even knows how to tie it all by himself!

We're earth friendly here at Schamelot, so we rarely wrap presents (we're really just lazy!). He had to sit with his eyes closed for some time while his Dad layed out the whole spread.

His younger brothers were quite impressed with the gift and heightened his anticipation with comments like "Holy Cow!" and "No way! I am so jealous!"

His eyes are still closed and the loot just keeps piling up.

Finally, the moment we were all waiting for. The reaction. At first speechless, then the smile slowly creeping across his face, afraid to touch anything let it should all vanish--a black powder rifle with all the fixin's! What more could a 15 year old boy want?

Happy Birthday to our precious son of whom we are so proud. May he live a long and holy life in the bosom of his loving family!

A Year With The Saints

"Among the many means of performing our actions well, one is to do each of them as if it were to be the last of our lives. At every action, then, say to yourself: 'If you knew that you were to die immediately after this action, would you do it? and would you do it in this way?'"--St. Vincent de Paul

Monday, August 27, 2007

Recipe of the Week

We spent yesterday in Alexandria with friends from St. Mary's. Karen is an awesome entertainer and introduced me to the simple elegance of the Barefoot Contessa. For dessert Karen made Contessa's Summer Pudding, which I've never tried because there's not a picture in the cookbook. It was incredibly delicious! I'm sure it would be O.K. to substitute the framboise with water or wine, and the rum could be left out altogether if you prefer. The best part about this recipe is that you don't have to bake it--so even Ruth, whose oven is STILL broken, could make it!

Summer Pudding With Rum Whipped Cream

Serves 8

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 half-pints fresh raspberries, divided

2 half-pints fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons framboise (raspberry brandy)

1 loaf brioche or egg bread (1 to 1 1/2 pounds)

Combine the strawberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup of water in a medium saucepan and cook uncovered over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add 2 half-pints of raspberries and all the blueberries and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a simmer. Cook for one minute. Off the heat, stir in the remaining raspberries and the framboise.

Slice the bread in 1/2-inch-thick slices and remove the crusts. In the bottom of a 7 1/2-inch round by 3-inch high souffle or baking dish, ladle about 1/2 cup of the cooked berry mixture. Arrange slices of bread in a pattern (this will become the top when it's unmolded) and then add more berry mixture to saturate. Continue adding bread, cutting it to fit the mold, and berries. Finish with bread and cooked berries, using all of the fruit and syrup.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap loosely over the pudding. Find a plate approximately the same diameter as the inside of the mold and place it on top. Weight the mold with a heavy can and refrigerate. Remove the weight after 6 to 8 hours. Cover the pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving, run a knife around the outside of the pudding and unmold it upside down onto a serving plate. Serve in wedges with rum whipped cream.

Rum Whipped Cream:

Serves 8

1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon dark rum

Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar, vanilla, and rum. Continue to whip until it forms stiff peaks. Serve cold.

A Year With The Saints

"The fourth hindrance is a desire to do too much. There is no need of wearing ourselves comletely out in the exercises of virtue, but we should practice them freely, naturally, simply, as the ancient Fathers did, with good will and without scrupulosity. In this consists the liberty of the children of God: that is, in doing gladly, faithfully, and heartily, what they are obliged to do."--St. Francis de Sales

A Year With The Saints

"It is a characteristic of the spirit of GOd to work with gentleness and love; and ths surest way of succeeding in whatever we undertake is to imitate Him."--St. Vincent de Paul

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Multi-dimensional Learning Activity

No! These are not dinosaur bones!

Today my husband's sister brought over another archeological find--a mid-nineteenth century bed pan, broken into about 15 pieces, which was found at a Union Civil War camp. Although one cannot say for sure it was probably requisitioned from a local home since it's pretty unlikely that a Yankee soldier would have carried it down here with him.

First we had to try to piece together the puzzel. We used the variations in the color, the irregularities in the glaze (those round splotches) as clues to where each piece went.

It took a little inspecting of each of the pieces but once we got going it was pretty easy.

We used glue very much like Elmer's School glue (this is so that mistakes can be easily undone with a gentle bath of water) to affix the pieces to one another. Then we set them in a bucket of sand to hold them up as they dried.

The tapered front piece proved a bit of a challenge and had to be held together by hand while it dried.

D.P at White Oak Museum photocopied this page from a book that shows several different kinds of bedpans in use during the mid-nineteenth century. The one on the right at the top of the left-hand column is the one we were working on.

We used a soft paint brush to dust the sand off the dried pieces.

This is the finished product. As you can see not all the pieces were there, but how very cool to put back together something that's been buried for more than a century. We did history, archeology and arts and crafts all in one sitting! Amateur archeologists really "dig" homeschooling!

Application For Permission To Date My Daughter

A friend sent this to me today. It's supposed to be funny, but I think it's a great idea!


NOTE: This application will be incomplete and rejected unless accompanied by a complete financial statement, job history, lineage, and current medical report from your doctor.


DATE OF BIRTH__________


IQ__________ GPA___________


BOY SCOUT RANK AND BADGES___________________________

HOME ADDRESS_________ CITY/STATE___________ ZIP______

Do you have parents? ___Yes ___No

Is one male and the other female? ___Yes ___No

If No, explain:______________________________________________

Number of years they have been married ___________________

If less than your age, explain__________________________________________________


A. Do you own or have access to a van? __Yes __No

B. A truck with oversized tires? __Yes __No

C. A waterbed? __Yes __No

D. A pickup with a mattress in the back? __Yes __No

E. A tattoo? __Yes __No

F. Do you have an earring, nose ring, __Yes __Nopierced tongue, pierced cheek or a belly button ring?



In 50 words or less, what does "LATE" mean to you?

In 50 words or less, what does "DON'T TOUCH MY DAUGHTER" mean to you?

In 50 words or less, what does "ABSTINENCE" mean to you?


Church you attend ___________________________________________________

How often you attend _______________________________

When would be the best time to interview your:

father? _____________
mother? _____________
pastor? _____________


Answer by filling in the blank. Please answer freely, all answersare confidential.

A: If I were shot, the last place I would want shot would be:

B: If I were beaten, the last bone I would want broken is my:

C: A woman's place is in the:

D: The one thing I hope this application does not ask me about is:

E. What do you want to do IF you grow up? ___________________________

F. When I meet a girl, the thing I always notice about her first is:

F. What is the current going rate of a hotel room? __________________


Applicant's Signature (that means sign your name, moron!)
Father's Signature
Mother's Signature
_______________________________ ________________________________
Priest's Signature (if you don't know a priest, or you only know priests from the dioceses or archdioceses of Boston, Milwaukee, Rochester, or Los Angeles, tear up this application now. If your priest is from the SSPX, FSSP or Institute of Christ the King the application process may be expedited.)

Thank you for your interest, and it had better be genuine and virtuous. Please allow four to six years for processing.

You will be contacted in writing if you are approved. Please do not try to call or write (since you probably can't, and it would cause you injury). If your application is rejected, you will benotified by two gentleman wearing white ties carrying violin cases (you might watch your back).
To prepare yourself, start studying Daddy's Rules for Dating. (coming soon)
by dir. Sir Major John

A Year With The Saints

"The third hindrance is anxiety and solicitude. Be diligent and accurate in all the affairs of which you have charge; but, if possible, do not let them cause you anxiety and vexation; that is, do not manage them with disquiet, solicitude, and eagerness. Do not worry in attending to them, for worry disturbs the reason, and hinders us from diong well even what does not trouble us. But great affairs do not disturb us so much as a great number of little ones; therefore, receive these also with calmness, and try to attend to them in order, one after another, without perturbation. Thus, you will gain great merit by them, for the time spenc peacefully is doubtless most usefully employed."--St. Francis de Sales

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Necessity For Ordered Prayer

The Necessity of an Ordered Prayer Life for Every Catholic Soul

"Prayer…is so useful and necessary that without it we could not come to any good,seeing that by means of prayer we are shown how to perform all our actions well."(St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

The Necessity of an Ordered Prayer Life for Every Catholic Soul

[Note: the following *piece was written by a young woman in October 2005 A.D., who prefers to remain anonymous.]

*In this treacherous and Godless world we live in, we may well wonder how it is possible to maintain a prayer life and to seek to live in unity with Christ, while corruption and immorality run rampant in all corners. We see pictures and hear stories of long ago when priests were recognizable in their cassocks, nuns in full habit were aiding souls in hospitals and schools, confession lines were long and satisfied by the presence of good, holy priests thirsting to bring countless souls to God.

It seems now, though, that we are left alone to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. We can search far and wide for spiritual direction, yet scarcely find one priest who still holds the true Faith. Rather, the world is saturated with liberalism and modernism. The only thing that seems to be intolerable in this world is traditional Catholicism. It seems, also, that we are left to books and a sort of “do it yourself” program to developing a prayer life.

Be of good cheer, though, my friends! Did not our precious Lord and Savior Himself promise that He would be with us until the end of the world? Our faith will be tried and tested over and over again, but we must always remember that Our Lord, Jesus Christ is always with us. The more we are able to empty ourselves of the world and its vanities and false securities, the more room we have leave in our souls to be occupied by this Divine Guest. We must equip ourselves, then, for combat. This we are able to do by prayer. As Our Lord bade Peter, James and John in the Garden of Gethsemane, we must watch and pray, lest we become prey to the enemy.

Though prayer can sometimes be difficult and extremely trying, truly nothing is simpler than prayer itself. God, who is all knowing, is well aware of the struggles a soul undergoes in striving towards union with Him. He knows the soul’s disposition, and He knows the frailty of human nature. He does not require that our prayer be perfect and that we never have distractions; rather, it is our will that He asks be turned over to Him, and this is where a true life of prayer begins. “The principal petition which we ought to make to God is that of union of our wills with His, and the final cause of prayer lies in desiring only God. Union with God consists in conforming our will to His.” (St. Francis de Sales)

St. Francis de Sales tells us that there are three things necessary to praying well: to be little by humility, to have great hope, and to be conformed to Jesus Christ crucified. First, in order to pray well, we must acknowledge that we are very poor, and we must humble ourselves greatly, becoming fully aware of our nothingness. David admonishes us that the lower we plunge ourselves into the contemplation of our nothingness, the more easily will our prayer rise up to heaven. (Cf. Ps. 130:1-2, Sir. 35:21)

Hope is also a necessary condition to praying well. Hope is pleasant, since it promises that we shall one day possess what we long for. It is also bitter, because we are not now enjoying what we love. It is necessary, then, that hope be placed upon charity, lest it become no longer hope but, rather, presumption. If we want our prayer to reach heaven, it must be founded upon love.
Finally, in order to pray well, we must conform ourselves to Christ crucified. While hanging from the Cross, our Savior offered His prayers to the Father for us. We must, then, remain at the foot of the Cross and never depart from there, so that we may be saturated with the Blood which flows from it. We should, at the very minimum, be bathed in this Blood at our first prayer in the morning, placing ourselves at the foot of the Cross and offering our every thought, word, and action to our crucified Savior. We must ask Him to aid us in keeping before our minds the awareness of His Passion, and that we carry our Cross each day next to Him, that we may be conformed to His likeness.

St. Frances De Sales Teaches there are Three Types of Prayer:1. Vital Prayer 2. Vocal Prayer 3. Mental Prayer

Having satisfied these necessary conditions, there are three types of prayer which St. Francis de Sales teaches: vital prayer, vocal prayer, and mental prayer. Each and every action performed by those who live in the holy fear of God is a continual prayer. This is called vital prayer. Vital prayer comes simply in the form of performing the daily duties of our state in life for the greater honor and glory of God. He is pleased to accept them all, even our shortcomings and infirmities. We need only offer them up to Him when first we wake in the morning, and then throughout the day. Those who perform the corporal works of mercy such as visiting the sick, giving to the poor, and praying for the conversion of sinners and the souls in purgatory, are praying, and these actions do not go unnoticed by our Heavenly Father.

Vocal prayer is, simply put, speaking to God. We ought to have a daily routine of vocal prayer consisting of, at minimum, morning prayers and evening prayers said kneeling before the Crucifix. Ought we not on bended knee to make Our Lord the object of both our first and our last thoughts of the day? In the morning, we should offer all we are to do and to endure in the day to Him. Likewise, at night, we ought to thank Him for the graces given to us throughout the day, recite the Confiteor for our failings, and ask His refuge and protection through the night.
Each day, as we begin anew in His service, we must remember to ask for the graces never to offend him and to accept whatever crosses may be sent our way. Our Lord’s first thoughts in the stable at Bethlehem were of His love for mankind whom He desired to redeem, and His final thoughts on Calvary were also of His great love for us. His life was a continual offering of Love for us. Should we not offer love for Love?

We can also approach our Lord through mental prayer. Although sometimes difficult and filled with distractions, we are all quite capable of it. Once we have offered our distractions to God and have resolved to persevere through even the worst of distractions, we can be assured that our prayers will be accepted by Him with even more value than if they had come quite easily with no distractions at all!

St. Ignatius of Loyola has provided a great method of meditation that even beginners may successfully implement into their spiritual lives. We need only take a mystery, for example Our Lord’s Agony. Having pictured Our Lord thus, we then consider His virtues such as His total resignation to the will of God, His concern for His Holy Mother and for His Apostles, His gentleness, His humility, His patience, etc. Having considered all of this, it should follow that our sentiments are moved to a desire to imitate Him and to ask our Heavenly Father to conform us to His likeness. This same exercise can be performed with a spiritual book, a holy picture, or any other means which may serve to keep the desired image in our mind.

Finally, when we find ourselves unsuccessful in vocal or mental prayer, or the duties of our state in life limit our time for prayer, we can proceed to another type of mental prayer, which is made by way of ejaculations. There is not a person in the world who can be excused from this, as it can be made simultaneously with performing any of our daily duties, regardless of time and place. All we must do is recommend ourselves to God the first thing in the morning, tell Him that we desire never to offend Him, and then go about our daily duties resolved to continuously raise our spirits to God mentally, even amidst others. No one or nothing can prevent us from making these simple aspirations within our hearts, with the exception of ourselves.

Finally, it is important to note that all of this is of little use if we are not trying to live virtuous lives and to avoid the occasions of sin. We must do more than simply pray for those virtues necessary to our salvation. If we are to expect God to provide us with graces we ask and need, we must do our own part. If we have bad companions, we must rid ourselves of them. While it is true that we must love the sinner and hate the sin, St. Teresa of Avila admonishes us that there are few things more dangerous to a soul than bad companions. It is quite presumptuous and tempting God to remain in the company of these companions, thinking that we are strong enough to avoid falling into sin. We must, rather, surround ourselves with virtuous friends and companions. No friends at all are better than sinful ones.

Television and music are great weapons of the enemy, as they are vehicles for the spread of impurity and immorality. Moreover, noise is a great distraction and obstacle to prayer and contemplation. We cannot possibly reach a state of contemplation, nor can we meditate with their noise and distractions. Many will say that they are not tempted by the content from television and radio. How presumptuous this is! It is this very presumption that often causes man to fall. We must keep in mind that Our Lord is with us, and we subject Him to the very things that we watch and listen to! We would do well to rid ourselves completely of these temptations. However, for those who cannot do without them, great caution should be exercised in their use.

We must also continuously struggle against our passions and vices through prayer and mortification. This must not be put off until tomorrow, as we know not the day or the hour when we will be called to judgment. Each day, we must equip ourselves to do combat against ourselves and against the enemy. We must not cease to fight until our pilgrimage in this life is over. Since it is true that the devil preys easily on the passions of those who are idle, we should develop an horarium that will fit with our state in life, and we should hold ourselves accountable for adhering to it as best we can. Remember well that we will be required to make an account for every second of our life when we are called to judgment.

1. Let Nothing Trouble You.
2. Let Nothing Frighten You.
3. All Things Pass Away.
4. God Only Is Immutable.
5. Patience Overcomes All Difficulties.
6. Those Who Possess God Want Nothing.
7. God Alone Suffices.

Seven Momentos of St. Theresa of Avila

Finally, and extremely crucial to the spiritual life, is a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother of God. She is the mediatrix of all graces, a fountain of mercy, and our greatest Advocate before Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Those who have remained close to Our Lady, dating back to the Apostles, have persevered in faith. In the end times, it will be She Who will lead Christ’s army to wage battle against the enemy. We should consecrate ourselves to Her and willingly become Her slaves. She has asked that we recite the Rosary daily and has made great promises to those who do so faithfully. How simple it is to do this very little that She requests! Likewise, there are great promises attached to the five First Saturdays of Our Lady, and this is a great weapon for the spiritual life!

In this treacherous world we live in, the enemy has but one mission and that is the damnation of souls. It seems, when we look around, that there is little hope. However, we need only look at the Crucifix to see that there is great hope for those who love and fear God. We need only to persevere in faith and to carry our Cross next to that of Christ. Our greatest weapon in this battle is prayer. We must never cease to pray, and we must continually place all of our hope and trust in God, that we may one day be united to Him for all eternity.

A Dead Thing Flows With The Current--Only A Living Thing Can Swim Against It

Part of the mystique of homeschooling is how very different it is from the mainstream. For most homeschoolers it is not only a different way of educating our young, but a different way of life entirely. This difference is a definite turn-off to some folks, but a strong lure for others. For Catholics it is a necessity. I'm still reading Kay Toy Fenner's book, American Catholic Etiquette, and she summed up very nicely what I want to say on this matter:

"Many influences in modern living unite to induce the general public to accept a universal standard of morals, behavior, opinion, manners and dress. To some extent this has always been so; our ideas in these areas have ever been heavily influenced by those of our fellows. Universal literacy, the availability of inexpensive books and magazines, and our public school system have encouraged the spread of common standards. To these we add today television, radio, and moving pictures, and, most important of all, the development of certain psychological theories as to how man can best function in a modern world.

"...The educators engaged in teaching children how to 'function in the group,' to accept the 'will of the majority' as the standard of what constitutes right behavior, are, from their own point of view, merely assisting children to live happily with their fellows. All of this would be intensely valuable, if the ideas and standards upheld were the noblest possible. Unfortunately, setting such a universal uniform standard always means levelling down. One can never level 'up.' The standards acceptable to humanity at large will always be inferior to those possible to the brightest and the best. If these inferior standards are held up to the superior members of a society as ideal, such members are robbed of all incentive to struggle to the heights which may be possible to them.

"This results in an incalculable loss to mankind. Our great philosophers, saints, radicals, inventors--those whom A.W.E. O'Shaughnessy called 'the movers and shakers of the world'--have always been 'different' from the common run of man, and have been rightfully proud of their differences. Such people are the yeast which leavens the loaf of mankind; if they fail to rise, the loaf will become a pancake.

"For society at large, the acceptance of a low dead level of conformity, the spread of a common fear to differ from one's fellows, is a tragedy. For Catholics, it is impossible. We are, and will continue to be (for how long only God knows, but He knoweth) a minority group. Socially and governmentally, this is unimportant. In the realm of ideas and moral standards, it is important, and it is just in these realms that we are far more of a minority than we were a hundred years ago...

"This means that present-day Catholics must learn and must teach their children to differ from the majority of their fellows in many basic moral principles, to love and cherish those with whom they differ, while refusing to accept, as their moral guides, standards with which they do not agree. To do this, neither doubting one's own position nor rejecting all who differ from it, one must constantly bear in mind that the number of persons who hold any set of opinions has nothing to do with the rightness of one's position; to differ, and to be in the minority while differing, has no bearing on whether one is right or wrong.

"Granting that it is valuable to dare to be different, how does one go about teaching one's children independence of thought and action? One first examines one's own attitudes and opinions to see whether they are based on independent conclusions, or unconscious acceptance of what one sees and hears..."

In my mind there is a very simple answer to her question that goes beyond examining one's own opinions. I believe that the answer is to look to Tradition, and traditions--of morals, behavior, opinion, manners and dress. And not just the traditions of the first 69 years of the 20th century, but the Tradition of 2,000 years of Catholic saints and scholars, and ordinary folks like us, who, by Christ's example have been held to the highest standards. I've always hated the terms "liberal" and "conservative" because they are comparative terms that use eachother to guage themselves, rather than a transcendent reality. And one can be as liberal as liberals were 50 years ago, but still be considered conservative only because the liberals are more liberal than they were 50 years ago. The only comparison for a Catholic is Christ, and His Blessed Mother. "What would Jesus do?" as cliche as it is, is the only question we need ask ourselves. "Would Mary wear these tight jeans?" or ..."use this kind of language, or watch this movie or read this book?" Catholics, because we follow He Who set the highest standard, are bound to aspire to the highest standard. We must strive to practice the "best" manners, the "best" behavior, hold the "most" virtuous opinions, dress the "most" modestly, and hold ourselves to the "highest" moral code. We cannot allow ourselves or our children to "level down" to what is most prevalent, mediocre, or common. We are followers of Him who was unlike anyone who ever walked the face of the Earth. We must emulate His example, and in so doing will be more like Him, and less like those, interiorly as well as exteriorly, who are not His followers. We may find others who are like us, but let it be because they too strive for the highest standards, and not because we have become lukewarm and settled for mediocrity.

Mrs. Fenner continues:

"Those who have had the advantage of being gently reared or have had more educational opportunities will have higher standards than those who have not. Children who are taught from infancy about morals and ethics will try harder to be good than those who never hear the subject mentioned. Explain that you are trying to teach them what you consider to be the very best behavior: the most honorable, the most courteous, the kindest. Admit that there may be people with higher standards than yours, and many with standards that are lower. But your standards are the ones that you are convinced are best for you and your family. You therefore expect your children to learn to live up to them, even though in so doing their lives will often differ in many ways from those of their friends. They should consider themselves fortunate that they have parents so devoted and so idealistic, and they will so consider themselves when they are older and know enough to evaluate such matters. They should never be afraid to differ from their comrades in doing that which they know, from their home training, is right.

"Caution your children, also, not to criticize the behavior of others. Explain that those fortunate enough to be taught at home to strive for the highest standards have an obligation to be kind and forebearing to those who have not had such advantages. If you are convinced of the truth of all this, your children will sense the weight of your conviction and will abide by your opinions."

She concludes by reminding parents that it is alright for children to be like others on morally neutral matters, but on matters of morals, modesty, and manners, they cannot strive for any less than the highest standards.

I found these insights, written in the 60's, to be very helpful and just as relevant today as they were 45 years ago, if not more so. I hope you find them as helpful as I did! In Sanguine Christi,

A Year With The Saints

"The works of God are performed, for the most part, little by little, and have their beginnings and their progress. We ought not to expect to do everything at once and in a hurry, nor imagine that all is lost, if success does not come in an instant, but we must advance quietly, pray much to God, and make use of the means suggested by His spirit, and never of the false maxims of the world."--St. Vincent de Paul

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why We Homeschool

A Year With The Saints

"The second hindrance is haste. Beware of it, for it is a deadly enemy of true devotion; and anything done with precipitation is never done well. Let us go slowly, for if we do but keep advancing we shall thus go far."--St. Francis de Sales

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

American Catholic Etiquette, 1962

I was reading one of Marian Horvat's articles on the loss of propriety in our modern culture and decided to purchase a book she recommended for teaching children (and adults!) good, traditional Catholic manners. It arrived yesterday and looks to be a real gem! Since so many people are trying to prepare themselves for the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, and the celebration of the Catholic liturgy according to the 1962 Missal, I thought it would be helpful to share what the author, Kay Toy Fenner, had to say about Behavior At Mass in 1962. How far we've come! I've taken the liberty of making a few additions--it seems there are several current practices that Ms. Fenner never imagined would need to be addressed.

In Sanguine Christi,

Behavior At Mass

Remember, O Lord, thy servants...who offer up to Thee this sacrifice of praise. (The Mass)


A few general rules cover proper dress for attendance at Mass, novenas, and other church devotions.

For women:

Women must always dress modestly for any church service. There is no permissible exception to this rule. [Look at the priest, whose head and hands are the only exposed parts of his body]. The preferred costume is a suit, coat, or dress with long sleeves and a modest neckline, [hemline], hat gloves, stockings, and street shoes. Regardless of how warm the weather may be, a low-cut dress [or top] or one without sleeves should not be worn. Any dress must have, at the very least, a cap sleeve or a collar that covers the shoulders.

Shorts may never be worn; neither should slacks, except under the exception noted below.

A head covering, [preferably a veil], is obligatory, but a scarf or a [hat] is permissible.

Exceptions for women: a woman planning to attend services while on the way to or from work or school may wear the costume proper for the activity in which she is about to engage. This means that a women whose work requires her to wear slacks [always modest, not too tight and never jeans] may wear them to Mass; a nurse may wear her uniform; a schoolgirls may wear head scarf, socks, and school uniform. But this permission does not extend to sports clothes such as a gymnasium suit, tennis dress, bathing suit; and it is allowable only when the choice is between attending services in working clothes or failing to attend.

For men:

Laymen never cover their heads in a Catholic church.

The ideal attire is a dark suit, white shirt, and a sober tie. Slacks and a sports jacket are allowable. Some sort of suit coat or jacket is always worn [just like in a fine restaurant—how much finer the company at Holy Mass!]. It is poor taste to come to Mass in a sports shirt or jersey without a coat, regardless of how warm the weather may be. [Jeans are never permissible, except under the exceptions noted below.]

Men do not wear shorts to mass.

Exceptions for men: A man who goes to church while en route to work or school may wear school or work clothes. A laborer returning from work in soiled clothing who wishes to attend an evening Mass may do so, even though he would otherwise wish to appear neat and clean.

For girl children:

Girls and girl babies wear a bonnet or hat in church. If they are under twelve years old they may wear socks. If they are over twelve, they should wear stockings. Snowsuits are permissible in cold weather through the twelfth year. Play suits and shorts are not permissible at any age.

For boy children:

Boys of any age uncover their heads in church. Boys over the age of twelve should not wear shorts to church. Children should not come to church dressed sloppily in denims, jerseys, etc., unless they own no other clothing. Children should learn to bathe and dress carefully for church and to present as neat and attractive an appearance as possible; this training will then carry over into adult life.

All these rules apply to attendance at church services at which others will be present. Anyone wishing to pay a private visit to the Blessed Sacrament may feel free to do so in any costume provided only that it is modest. Women and girls always wear a head covering; men and boys never do.


Proper behavior at Mass and other church services begins outside the church door. If the church has a parking lot, a driver should take care to park properly, to obey all church rules on the subject, and to strive not to inconvenience any other parkers or take up more than his due share of space. If the church has no parking lot, one should not inconvenience the church’s neighbors by parking in front of a driveway or a hydrant. One should never park double or disobey any of the laws of the road.

Other rules to observe are:

Come to Mass on time.

Dip the fingers of the right hand in holy water; make the sign of the cross upon entering and leaving.

Always be seated whenever there is space to permit it. Never stand in the back of the church unless you are sure that all seats are filled.

Genuflect before entering the pew: touch the right knee briefly to the floor as a sign of respect to the Presence on the altar.

Move into the pew as far as space permits; leave the entrance to the pew vacant so that others seeking a seat may easily find one. (The exception to this rule is a wedding; those who have the foresight to come early may stop into the aisle to let others enter the pew, thus retaining their seat on the aisle, where they can better observe the ceremonies.)

Those intending to receive Holy Communion should remember to observe the ordinary social amenities as they do so; they should walk up the aisle at a pace that is fast enough to avoid holding others back and slow enough to keep from brushing past others. One should wait until one’s turn arrives to approach the rail. If the church has adopted a special method of approaching the Communion rail—up the main aisle, down the side, etc.—all communicants should observe these rules exactly as requested. [Communion is received only on the tongue, never in the hand.]

Prepare your contribution before you come to Mass. If your church, like so many others, uses the envelope system for collecting, use the envelope proper to the day; mark on the face of it such information as your church has requested. If you have pledged yourself to contribute a set amount each week, keep your word unless some extraordinary change in your financial situation makes it impossible.

Children under four years of age are apt to become restless at Mass. [It may not be reasonable to expect such young children to behave properly throughout the service; if it is not possible for them to behave, then it is best, whenever circumstances permit, not to bring them.] But of course they may be brought if there is no one to care for them at home. Every effort should be made to keep them from disturbing others. If they become irritable and noisy, they should be taken out.

Children over four can be taught to behave properly. They can understand the simple explanation that they are visiting in God’s house and are in His Presence. Children between the ages of four and eight may bring a picture book “Life of Christ” or some similar book with which to occupy themselves and may be taught how to use their rosaries. Children eight years old and over should have a child’s Mass Book, or simplified Missal in which they may follow the Mass service.

In some parishes the young women of the Children of Mary or a similar church group conduct nurseries in the school at which parents may leave young children during Mass. This is an excellent idea which all parishes should adopt whenever practical.

Mass is not over until the priest has left the altar; the congregation remains until he has done so. When there is an invalid or a baby at home, a man and wife may attend separate Masses. In such a case, one of them may need to leave the church a minute or so before services are ended so that the one waiting at home may be in time for the next Mass. When one has this excuse or some similar valid reason, it is allowable to leave the church before the final prayers have been said. But it is not allowable to leave merely because it is a warm day or in order to escape the crowd.

A Catholic who constantly remembers that his Father and Creator is present on our altars cannot fail to dress and behave properly whenever he is in the Presence and will be eager to go to Mass and loathe to leave. (emphasis added)

Hearing Mass Properly

One fulfills one’s obligation to hear Mass on Sundays and holydays of obligation by one’s presence at the principal parts of the Mass. One does not fulfill it by watching a Mass on television or hearing it on the radio.

But one’s mere physical presence at Mass, although it satisfies one’s obligation, does not otherwise redound to one’s spiritual welfare. One must pray the Mass, in one form or another, with a full awareness of the profound mystery in which one is partaking and a real desire to share in its benefits and to win the spiritual rewards of the great Mass ceremony. This requirement may be fulfilled by: serious interior meditaion and prayer, using a prayer book, or praying one’s rosary [especially the Sorrowful Mysteries of the set of mysteries which corresponds with the day’s feast]. But the ideal method, and the one the Church urges and approves, is to pray the Mass with the priest [as well as one is able] by using a missal.

The Missal is the official prayer book of the Church, in which are given, in Latin and in English translation, the ordinary prayers and the prayers for all the Feasts of the Church liturgical calendar. One who uses a Missal is following exactly all the prayers and actions of the Mass celebrant.

General rules for following the Mass, disregarding slight differences in custom and various localities, are these:

Low Mass

Stand when the priest enters the sanctuary at the beginning of Mass; remain standing until he begins the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, then kneel. Kneel until the Epistle [the reading from the right side of the altar], then sit.

Stand for the reading of the Gospel, both in Latin [from the left side of the altar] and in English [from the pulpit].

If announcements and a sermon follow the reading of the Gospel, sit for these.

Stand for the Creed, genuflecting at the Et Incarnates Est [ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est].

Sit during the offertory; remain seated until the bell is rung three times before the Sanctus;
Kneel for the Sanctus; remain kneeling until all have received Holy Communion. (If one is receiving, one approaches the Communion rail at this time.) This means that one remains kneeling throughout the Sanctus, the prayers before Consecration, the Commemoration of the Living, the Commemoration of the Saints, the Consecration of the Host, the Consecration of the Wine, the Continuation of the Canon, the Commemoration of the Dead, the Communion, and the Thanksgiving.

Sit following the purification of the chalice; remain seated until the Ite Missa Est is said; then kneel for the blessing.

Stand for the Last Gospel; genuflect at the words Et verbun cara factum est.

Kneel for the Prayers after Mass. Respond to the prayers.
Stand until the priest has left the altar.
Genuflect before leaving the pew.

High Mass

If the Asperges [the sprinkling with Holy Water of the congregation] is given before the High Mass (permissible only at the principal Mass on Sundays), stand until the celebrant passes the pew one is occupying; kneel as one receives the Asperges; then stand until the Asperges is concluded.

Stand when priest enters the sanctuary at the beginning of Mass. Remain standing until the priest begins the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. Then kneel.

Remain kneeling until the Gloria. Stand as the celebrant sings the Gloria; sit while the schola sings.

Stand for the singing of the Collects [from the propers for the liturgy of the day].

Sit for the Epistle [read from the right side of the altar].

Stand for the Gospel when it is read in Latin [from the left side of the altar] and when it is read in English [from the pulpit].

Sit during the sermon and any announcements.

Stand while the priest says the Credo; sit for the part sung by the schola except for the Et Incarnatus Est [ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est], which one hears while kneeling.

Then stand when the priest returns to the altar; remain standing until he sings the Oremus.

Sit until the prayer which begins the Preface. Stand for the singing of the Preface.

Kneel through the principal parts of the Mass as outlined for Low Mass [the Sanctus, the prayers before Consecration, the Commemoration of the Living, the Commemoration of the Saints, the Consecration of the Host, the Consecration of the Wine, the Continuation of the Canon, the Commemoration of the Dead, the Communion, and the Thanksgiving]; remain kneeling until the tabernacle door is closed.

Stand for the singing of the Postcommunion.

Kneel for the final blessing.

Stand for the Last Gospel, genuflecting at the words Et verbum cara factum est.

Stand until the priest and acolytes have left the altar.

A Year With The Saints

"Perform faithfully what God requires of you each moment, and leave the thought of everything else to Him. I assure you that to live in this way will bring you great peace."--St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Year With The Saints

"Among the hindrances which prevent us from performing our actions well, the foremost is that while we are doing one thing, we are thinking of another which we have to do or which we have done; so that our accupations interfere with one another, and none is well performed. The way to do them all well is to attend solely to the one we have in hand, taking care to do it as perfectly as possible, and banishing for the time the thought of every other; and when this is finished, not to think of it any more, but to think of what remains to be done."--Father M. d'Avila

A Year With The Saints

"Be careful not to forget God in your occupation, from a belief that in this way you will accomplish more; for if He abandons you, you will not be able to take a stop without falling prostrate on the ground. Rather imitate little children, who with one hand cling to their fathers, while with the other they pluck strawberries and mulberries along the hedges. Attend to what you are doing, yet not without raising a glance from time to time to your Heavenly Father, to see whether He is pleased with your plans and to ask His help. In this manner, you will accomplish even the most difficult business better and more easily. See how the Blessed Virgin quietly employed one hand in work, while she was holding upon the other arm Our Infant Lord."--St. Francis de Sales

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Year With The Saints

"Whoever his not experienced it will not be able to believe how much we gain by being careful not to fail in little things; for the devil, by means of these, makes gaps and breaches through which great things can enter."--St. Teresa

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Year With The Saints

"Much more is accomplished by a single word of the Pater Noster said, now and then, from the heart, than by the whole prayer repeated many times in haste and without attention."--

St. Teresa

A Year With The Saints

"Even little actions are great when they are done well; so that a little action done with desire to please God is more acceptable to Him, and gives Him more glory, than a great work done with less fervor. We must, then, give particular attention to perform well these little works, which are easiest, and are constantly within our reach, if we wish to advance in friendship with God."--St. Francis de Sales

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Approaching the altar where communion has been distributed into the hand...

Did you know that even if you're not receiving Holy Communion in your own hands, where others have received it into their hands, or it has been distributed without patens, you're trampling underfoot Our Lord's Most Precious Body and Blood as you approach the altar and return to your pew?

It took me 36 years to put two and two together but here's the way it goes:

Canon III of Session VIII of The Council of Trent states:

"If anyone denieth that, in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole Christ is contained under each species, and under every part of each species, when separated; let him be anathema."

In other words, the whole Christ is present in every particle of the Eucharist, no matter how small.

Ask any honest priest and he will confirm that when he purifies the sacred vessels, he can see with his naked eye tiny particles of the Eucharist on the patens. It is a scientific fact that when the host touches the hand, tiny particles of the host remain on the hand (it's called "trace evidence" or "transfer" in crime scene investigation) and can fall to the ground as a communicant returns to his pew. This is the reason for patens in the first place. It is the reason that for almost 2000 years special care had to be taken to purify the spot where a host fell (this rubric no longer exists!). This is the reason that the priest keeps his thumb and forefinger pinched tightly closed after he has touched the Sacred Host. It is one of the reasons that for nearly 2000 years, until Pope John Paul II changed it, communion was distributed only on the tongue of the communicant. It is the reason that Mother Teresa said "Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand." It is why Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise of San Luis, Argentina wrote in his book Communion in the Hand: Documents and History:

"With Communion in the hand, a miracle would be required during each distribution of Communion to avoid some Particles from falling to the ground or remaining in the hand of the faithful.... Let us speak clearly: whoever receives Communion in the mouth not only follows exactly the tradition handed down but also the wish expressed by the last Popes and thus avoids placing himself in the occasion of committing a sin by negligently dropping a fragment of the Body of Christ.”

And now that I know...
In Sanguine Christi,

Recipe of the Week IV

Seems I'm just full of recipe ideas this week! Today my Mom reminded me of a recipe she used to make once in a while when we were kids and it's such the perfect summer, exploding garden recipe that I just had to share it. This isn't exactly Mom's recipe and she'll be mad at me if I don't mention that. I added a few optional ingredients that sounded good to me, but of which Mom may not approve.

Pasta Caprese

For 1 lb. of pasta like ziti, pene or rigatoni, start with:

Insalata Caprese

7 or so ripe but firm tomatoes
1 lb. mozzarella cut into about 20 cubes
12 or so basil leaves
3/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Optionally add:

1-2 cloves minced or chopped garlic
1/2 large vidalia onion, finely sliced in slivers
3-4 oz. black or calamata olives, pitted
2-4 tablespoons capers
3-4 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, halved or quartered
3 anchovy filets, chopped
1 cup red-leaf lettuce, finely shredded

Mix the tomato ingredients with any of the optional ingredients and allow to marinate for an hour or so. (If you're including the lettuce don't add it until just before tossing the pasta in with the tomatoes.) Boil the pasta just until al dente. Drain, run under cold water to stop cooking, and toss with the Insalata Caprese. Serve in deep plates and sprinkle with grated parmigiano cheese. A glass of wine, a slice of bread and you're in Heaven!

Buon apetito!

Amateur Archeology

My Husband's sister and brother-in-law are professional archaeologists and they just brought over their latest finds from a dig they're on in a Union encampment in the Rappahannock area. All the artifacts in these pictures are from the Civil War era. My kids, self-professed amateur archaeologists, have learned so much from all the "little bits of junk" they've found, which really isn't junk, of course, but to the uneducated may seem like just a hunk of rusted metal, or broken glass. Here's what they found today:

This is an overview of their nicest finds. A wine bottle is in the top left corner. Underneath that is a piece of an apothecary bottle. Top center is an amo can buckle that has "US" on it. The diagonal piece is a rusted fire poker, and underneath, in the bottom right corner are the pieces in the picture below:
The large piece is stoneware, the elongated piece is a bullet. So it the piece pictured in the very top of the picture. The round, gray piece at center left is a button from a Union uniform.
This a close-up of the amo can buckle.
This is a close-up of the bottles.

My kids have also found prehistoric arrowheads, or "points," for the archaeologically savvy, around our yard. Yep, Virginia is a veritable archaeological goldmine! My kids love it!

To Veil or Not To Veil

I was thinking of writing a post about my reasons for wearing a veil, but after reading this one from Fisheaters I can see no reason to write my own. This one says it all!


"For 2,000 years, Catholic women have veiled themselves before entering a church or any time they are in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (e.g., during sick calls). It was written into the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1262, that women must cover their heads -- "especially when they approach the holy table" ("mulieres autem, capite cooperto et modeste vestitae, maxime cum ad mensam Dominicam accedunt") -- but during the Second Vatican Council, Bugnini (the same Freemason who designed the Novus Ordo Mass) was asked by journalists if women would still have to cover their heads. His reply, perhaps innocently enough, was that the issue was not being discussed. The journalists (as journalists are wont to do with Church teaching) took his answer as a "no," and printed their misinformation in newspapers all over the world. Since then, most Catholic women in the "Novus Ordo world" have lost the tradition.

After so many years of women repudiating the veil, the Vatican (as the post-conciliar Vatican is wont to do), not wanting to be confrontational or upset the feminists, simply pretended the issue didn't exist. When the 1983 Code of Canon Law was produced, veiling was simply not mentioned (not abrogated, mind you, but simply not mentioned). However, Canons 20-21 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law make clear that later Canon Law abrogates earlier Canon Law only when this is made explicit and that, in cases of doubt, the revocation of earlier law is not to be presumed; quite the opposite:

Canon 20 A later law abrogates or derogates from an earlier law, if it expressly so states, or if it is directly contrary to that law, or if it integrally reorders the whole subject matter of the earlier law. A universal law, however, does not derogate from a particular or from a special law, unless the law expressly provides otherwise.

Canon 21 In doubt, the revocation of a previous law is not presumed; rather, later laws are to be related to earlier ones and, as far as possible, harmonized with them.

Canons 27 and 28 add to the argument:

Canon 27 Custom is the best interpreter of laws.

Canon 28 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 5, a custom, whether contrary to or apart from the law, is revoked by a contrary custom or law. But unless the law makes express mention of them, it does not revoke centennial or immemorial customs, nor does a universal law revoke particular customs.

Hence, according to Canon Law and immemorial custom, women are still to veil themselves.

Christian veiling is a very serious matter, and not one that "just" concerns Canon Law, but also two millennia of Church Tradition -- which extends back to Old Testament tradition and to New Testament admonitions. St. Paul wrote.

1 Corinthians 11:1-17: Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that in all things you are mindful of me and keep my ordinances as I have delivered them to you. But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ: and the head of the woman is the man: and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered disgraceth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered disgraceth her head: for it is all one as if she were shaven. For if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn. But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn or made bald, let her cover her head. The man indeed ought not to cover his head: because he is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man [c.f. Genesis 2-3]. For the man was not created for the woman: but the woman for the man. Therefore ought the woman to have a power over her head, because of the angels. But yet neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, so also is the man by the woman: but all things of God. You yourselves judge. Doth it become a woman to pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you that a man indeed, if he nourish his hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman nourish her hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor the Church of God [i.e., if anyone want to complain about this, we have no other way of doing things, this is our practice; all the churches believe the same way]. Now this I ordain: not praising you, that you come together, not for the better, but for the worse.

According to St. Paul, we women veil ourselves as a sign that His glory, not ours, should be the focus at worship, and as a sign of our submission to authority. It is an outward sign of our recognizing headship, both of God and our husbands (or fathers, as the case may be), and a sign of our respecting the presence of the Holy Angels at the Divine Liturgy. In veiling, we reflect the divine invisible order and make it visible. This St. Paul presents clearly as an ordinance, one that is the practice of all the churches.

Some women, influenced by the thoughts of "Christian" feminists, believe that St. Paul was speaking as a man of his time, and that this ordinance no longer applies. They use the same arguments that homosexualists make in trying to prove their case. In this quote, homosexualist Rollan McCleary, who believes that Jesus was "gay," tries to show that Paul's admonitions against homosexuality were culturally conditioned:

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes about "men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due" (Romans 1:27).

Asked about these texts, McCleary said references in the Scriptures to homosexuality were misunderstood or taken out of context.

"In those days they didn't have kind of concept of homosexuality as an identity such as we have it," he argued. "It has much more to do with other factors in society ... homosexuality was associated with idolatrous practices."

In the case of Paul's writings, he continued, "does everybody agree with St. Paul on slavery [or] on women wearing hats? There is such a thing as historical context."

Of course we Catholics agree with St. Paul on slavery (St. Paul wasn't talking about chattel slavery, by the way), and on veiling, and on everything else! Please! But the liberal above makes a point: if Christians want to reject veiling, why not reject the other things St. Paul has to say? The traditional Catholic woman has the snappy comeback to the defiant homosexualist: "we do veil ourselves and don't disagree with St. Paul!" But what leg do the uncovered women have to stand on? And what other Scriptural admonitions can they disregard on a whim -- or because of following the bad example of a generation of foolish or misled Catholic women who disregarded them?

Now, I ask my readers to re-read the Biblical passage about veiling and note well that St. Paul was never intimidated about breaking unnecessary taboos. It was he who emphasized over and over again that circumcision and the entire Mosaic Law were not necessary -- and this as he was speaking to Hebrew Christians! No, the tradition and ordinance of veiling is not a matter of Paul being influenced by his culture; it is a symbol that is as relevant as the priest's cassock and the nun's habit.

Note, too, that Paul is in no way being "misogynist" here. He assures us that, while woman is made for the glory of the man even as man is made for the glory of God, "yet neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, so also is the man by the woman: but all things of God." Men need women, women need men. But we have different roles, each equal in dignity -- and all for the glory of God (and, of course, we are to treat each other absolutely equally in the order of charity!).The veil is a sign of our recognizing these differences in roles.

The veil, too, is a sign of modesty and chastity. In Old Testament times, uncovering a woman's head was seen as a way to humiliate a woman or to punish adultresses and those women who transgressed the Law (e.g.., Numbers 5:12-18, Isaias 3:16-17, Song of Solomon 5:7). A Hebrew woman wouldn't have dreamed of entering the Temple (or later, the synagogue) without covering her head. This practice is simply carried on by the Church (as it is also by Orthodox Christians and even by "Orthodox" women of the post-Temple Jewish religion today).

That which is Veiled is a Holy Vessel

Note what Paul says, "But if a woman nourish her hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering." We don't veil ourselves because of some "primordial" sense of femine shame; we are covering our glory so that He may be glorified instead. We cover ourselves because we are holy -- and because feminine beauty is incredibly powerful. If you don't believe me, consider how the image of "woman" is used to sell everything from shampoo to used cars. We women need to understand the power of the feminine and act accordingly by following the rules of modest attire, including the use of the veil.

By surrendering our glory to the headship of our husbands and to God, we surrender to them in the same way that the Blessed Virgin surrendered herself to the Holy Ghost ("Be it done to me according to Thy will!"); the veil is a sign as powerful -- and beautiful -- as when a man bends on one knee to ask his girl to marry him.

Now, think of what else was veiled in the Old Testament -- the Holy of Holies!

Hebrews 9:1-8The former [Old Covenant] indeed had also justifications of divine service and a sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made the first, wherein were the candlesticks and the table and the setting forth of loaves, which is called the Holy. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies: Having a golden censer and the ark of the testament covered about on every part with gold, in which was a golden pot that had manna and the rod of Aaron that had blossomed and the tables of the testament. And over it were the cherubims of glory overshadowing the propitiatory: of which it is not needful to speak now particularly. Now these things being thus ordered, into the first tabernacle, the priests indeed always entered, accomplishing the offices of sacrifices. But into the second, the high priest alone, once a year: not without blood, which he offereth for his own and the people's ignorance: The Holy Ghost signifying this: That the way into the Holies was not yet made manifest, whilst the former tabernacle was yet standing.

...The Ark of the Old Covenant was kept in the veiled Holy of Holies. And at Mass, what is kept veiled until the Offertory? The Chalice -- the vessel that holds the Precious Blood! And, between Masses, what is veiled? The Ciborium in the Tabernacle, the vessel which holds the very Body of Christ. These vessels of life are veiled because they are holy!

And who is veiled? Who is the All Holy, the Ark of the New Covenant, the Vessel of the True Life? Our Lady -- and by wearing the veil, we imitate her and affirm ourselves as women, as vessels of life.

This one superficially small act is:

so rich with symbolism: of submission to authority; of surrender to God; of the imitation of Our Lady as a woman who uttered her "fiat!"; of covering our glory for His glory; of modesty; of chastity, of our being vessels of life like the Chalice, the Ciborium and, most especially, Our Lady;

an Apostolic ordinance -- with roots deep in the Old Testament -- and, therefore, a matter of intrinsic Tradition;

the way Catholic women have worshipped for two millennia (i.e., even if it weren't a matter of Sacred Tradition in the intrinsic sense, it is, at the least, a matter of ecclesiastical tradition, which also must be upheld). It is our heritage, a part of Catholic culture;

pragmatic: it leaves one free to worry less about "bad hair days";
and for the rebels out there, it is counter-cultural nowadays, you must admit!

The question I'd like answered is, "Why would any Catholic woman not want to veil herself?"

Veiling Options for Women and Girls

There are various options here for women:

the classic Catholic lace mantillas
lace chapel caps (this is for young girls)
oblong gauzy or cotton scarves worn over the head and over one or both shoulders, or tied in various ways (see this page for information on various ways of tying scarf-type headcoverings (offsite, will open in new browser window)
standard-sized square chiffon or cotton scarves folded into a triangle and worn tied under the chin in the Jackie-O style or tied behind the head in the peasant style, etc.
large square scarves worn "babushka" style (fold large 36" square scarf into a triangle and place over head with the "tail" side hanging down in back. Then turn back the pointy ends behind the head and tie into a bow or make a knot over the "tail")
shawls worn over the head
elegant but simple hats (cloches, toques, berets, "Lady Diana" hats, etc.)

Traditionally, single women wear white or ivory headcoverings, and married or widowed women wear black, but this isn't a hard and fast rule, and is often ignored.

Finding or Making Head Coverings

Places to buy headcoverings (links will open in new browser window):

Immaculate Heart Mantillas classic lace mantillas, chapel veils, etc.
Halo Works classic mantillas
Vermont Country Store classic, "retro" solid-color square chiffon scarves
Modest World various types of scarves
Desert Boutique inexpensive, long scarves in many different colors
Headcovers Unlimited scarves and hats
You can also buy very inexpensive -- less than $4.00 each -- undyed 11X60 rayon scarves to dye any color here: Undyed Scarves (will open in new browser window).

For dyeing, I used plain old RIT Dye. Be sure to wash separately; colors can bleed! Idea: embroider edges (all the way around, or just the short edges) for something unique to you.

It might be a good idea to have an extra head covering or two for women guests who might accompany you to the "Tridentine" Mass but who are new to Tradition (men should remember this, too, if they invite a woman to Mass. It could be embarrassing for her if she is the only one who is not veiled, and there is the chance that at some chapels or parishes, she could be refused the Eucharist. The safest bets, I am guessing, are the longer lacy veils or oblong scarves; a lot of women I know believe they look silly in the shorter veils or caps. And, hey, don't forget to tell her how beautiful she looks !).

It's always a good idea, too, to keep a veil or scarf in your purse and/or glovebox so that you can run into a church any time for prayer.

Sisters, veil yourselves, even if you are visiting a Novus Ordo parish and are the only woman to do so. Be true to Tradition, to Scripture, to your own desire to submit to God. Be not afraid... And lovingly encourage other women to do the same, teaching them what veiling means. I've asked Catholics, both male and female, from various Catholic e-mail lists I am on what they think of veiling. Want to read their thoughts?"
I might only add one thing. Concern for distracting others during Mass by wearing the veil is secondary to the Apostolic mandate, and ecclesiastical tradition. It might help to sit in the back of the church the first few times you wear the veil--until you become part of the landscape. After the few gadabouts in the church have gotten used to seeing you, they'll look elsewhere for some other distraction.