Modest Dress for Catholics

When I go to mass, I get distracted, and it’s not because the homily is boring, or because I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. From where I sit with the choir, I can see the entire congregation, and it doesn’t look good. Save for a few select families, we all look like a bunch of bums. I remember how we would dress up in the 80s and 90s to go to mass. What happened?! Why don’t women wear something, oh, feminine and modest, and why don’t the men at least put on a button up shirt and slacks? Is it THAT difficult to look nice for God?

I realize that with the changes of Vatican II, people seemed to think they didn’t have to look nice, or cover their heads to pray, or anything like that. The Vatican never, ever said that we were allowed to nix mantillas at mass. We’re a very liberal state, and I understand that, but that doesn’t excuse wearing daisy duke shorts and a boobie shirt for 90 whole minutes on a Sunday morning.

I am very, VERY disappointed in all of you. Yes, especially you, right there, the one in the pajamas. That is NOT OKAY. …rant over.

Orthodox Catholics

For those of you who see me on a regular basis, or at least read my blog, you know that (at least, after my horrible Islam stint) that I went back to being an orthodox catholic.  My family was never orthodox, but after adhering to the rules of Islam, which wasn’t difficult when you truly want to do well, it felt lazy for me to NOT follow the rules of the Catholic Church.  How can I go from one religion, which asks you to pray five times a day, dress a certain way, and keep a certain diet (not to mention the other rules), to another where I just follow it half-heartedly?  It doesn’t make any sense.

I was born Catholic, and it makes sense that I should take it seriously.  My eternal soul is very serious business, and if I can do a little extra, or even find out more about my faith and make it a part of my everyday life, the better I will be.  So, I do have a point in all of this, trust me.

While standing up on the risers in the front of the church a few Sundays ago (where I can see everyone’s faces in the pews… even if they’re sleeping or whathaveyou), I saw a new family in the back.  They were orthodox catholics, and I know this because the women covered their heads with little triangles of lace, called mantillas.  How pious these women were, dressed as women ‘should be dressed’ (in skirts and blouses), and their heads covered, kneeling in the back, whispering prayers to themselves.  I felt a pang in my heart, a kinship of sorts.  When I was a muslim, I dressed in hijab everyday, and it was an outward show of my faith.  Anyone who looked at me knew I was muslim.  These women looked Catholic (pre Vatican II).  Whatever happened to covering your head in the presence of Christ?

I myself wouldn’t wear a mantilla to mass, and it’s because I never wore one growing up.  I used to dress up for mass, and I sometimes still do, but the norm for me is jeans, a sweater, and an overcoat, with maybe a scarf and gloves if it’s below freezing outside.  I think I’d also feel like a fraud.  Even though I’m closer to Christ than I ever have been in my entire life, and I finally feel like a real Catholic, I would never be able to reach into the recesses of Vatican I and pull out my own way of worshiping Him.  I think it’s not so much the outward appearance, but the inward devotion.  There is a bible verse that comes to mind: Matthew 6:5-6

“5When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

I never remember bible quotes, so I’m surprised this jumped to mind.  So yeah, I guess my interpretation is that it doesn’t really matter what you look like, but that you’re there, and of course that you pray the rosary, when you get up and go to sleep, and have an inward dialogue with the Holy Spirit throughout the day.  Recently, after I returned from Fragua (which I’ll write about separately), I’ve started to visit Jesus in the chapel at the Newman Center.  They have a tabernacle in the chapel that anyone can go visit as long as the chapel is unlocked, and if it isn’t, I can always go visit Him at the Adoration Chapel, which is open 24/7 at St. Marys.  It’s so awesome to be able to go pray in the presence of Christ, and be able to thank Him in the middle of the day, or ask Him for help.

I sort of got off topic, didn’t I?  Mantillas, right.  Well, it was amazing to see so many women in mass that morning who were wearing them.  I’ve not seen them since, but I always scan the crowd for them.  Hopefully they’ll be back!

The Eucharist… from behind the Altar

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Corvallis, OR is nearly done with their remodeling! Those of you who know me know that I’m in the 9 AM choir on Sunday mornings (despite the fact that it’s been hard to make that mass lately… it’s just so early!) So yeah, our choir space is finally done. If you imagine a fairly austere church, with a large single piece of marble in the front for the altar, and the two reading thingies on either side, the choir area is now to the right. They put in really nice light maple wood risers, with chairs for us to sit on during the Homily (if we want to… we don’t have to), and we’re kind of right behind the altar. Not *behind*, but you know what I mean. We’re behind it on the horizontal. So, I got to watch the Eucharist this morning from the perspective Fr. John sees it every weekend. It was amazing. When the bells rang when the host and wine were transubstantiated, it had a totally different feeling than when I’m kneeling in the pews.

Not many people who read this blog are Catholic (which is a shame, since being Catholic is awesome and full of Tradition [with a capital ‘T’]), so you really don’t know what goes on during the Eucharist. If you ever get the chance, go to mass with a Catholic, or visit your local Catholic church, so you can experience it just once. It may not feel the same to you, and you won’t be able to have the Host (since you aren’t Catholic), but the mass is a beautiful part of the Church. It’s great because, wherever you are, the mass is (theoretically) celebrated in the same way.

Advent is a beautiful time of year. We have Advent wreaths, we get to celebrate Mary’s virgin birth (which is my favorite), and Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is the best. I mean, granted, it’s at midnight (which is when I like to watch TV and play my Xbox) but we sing xmas carols and it’s all lit by candles, and it’s the best.

Ok, I’m getting off topic. I’ve not slept in two days, so I’m going to go try to lay down again (sigh).

Final email about kneeling

Well, I received an email from Fr. Ligot in San Jose regarding kneeling during the Eucharist.  Apparently douchebag McGrath got permission from the Pope or some such nonsense.  I’m still incised, but whatever. Here’s the email.  It honestly makes very little sense when you come down to it. Oh well. I wish it came to more than this, or that he would have said, “Yes, Kristin, you’re absolutely right!” But alas, nothing of that sort.  I still want to email the Vatican, if anyone has an email address.  This isn’t totally over.

Dear Kristin,

Thank you for your e-mail that was forwarded to me by Fr. C. Michael Padazinski, JCD, Judicial Vicar of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. I am Fr. Andres C. Ligot, JCD, from the Diocese of San Jose. 

As you have read in the communication sent to you by Fr. Padazinski, your e-mail was forwarded to me since your place of domicile or quasi-domicile and the Church in question are within the territorial jurisdiction of the Diocese of San Jose. 

I would like to reply to the points that you have raised in your e-mail. I wish to assure you that no Canon Law was broken by reason of Canon 835,§1 and Redemptionis Sacramentum, # 21, the Instruction on the Holy Eucharist approved by Pope John Paul II on March 9, 2004 that stated that the diocesan Bishop within the limits of his competence can set forth liturgical norms in his diocese by which all are faithful are bound.

The intent of the Bishop in issuing the directive was to address unifying the posture of the assembly at Mass since a unified posture not only helps is to be mindful of our unity in faith, but also communicates a message of unity and solidarity to the world. The Bishop in the same communiqué has stated that standing during the entire period of Communion would be normative in the Diocese of San Jose the reasons of which he has stated in his message. 

In the January 12, 2004 letter stating the norms to be used, Bishop directed that “the posture during the Prayer of Consecration would be determined by each parish and would be the normative posture for that parish.” Hence, the pastor of St. William in compliance with Bishop’s letter directed that standing during the Prayer of Consecration would be the normative posture for that parish.

Reverence, whether standing kneeling, can still be present and evidenced in one’s posture.  What is important is how we pray the Eucharistic Prayer together. That we as the assembly by our words and posture do so together giving thanks to God, joining our voices in praise (whether recited or sung).  

With sentiments of esteem, 

Rev. Andres C. Ligot, JCD
Judicial Vicar
Diocese of San Jose

…Every knee should bend…

Sean and I started to go to mass together (regularly) at the beginning of June.  I liked to go to the Sunday 9 am mass and sing in choir, and he hated to get up that early, so he usually attended Sunday night college mass at 8 pm (it was too late for me, since I used my Sunday nights to do homework).  So, we agreed on Saturday evening.  I noticed that after we sang the Agnus Dei (or Lamb of God), he would kneel.  I gave him a questioning glance, and he forcefully whispered back, “I’m kneeling in defiance of the Bishop.” I shrugged my shoulders and dropped to the kneeler beside him, enjoying my bit of rebellion.  So, every week, we groan, go to reconciliation (usually every-other week), and then Saturday evening vigil at 5 pm.  I’ve given up on choir for now – cancer kind of takes early mornings out of you.  Regardless of what mass we attend, the Eucharist is a special time for me.

There IS a point to this story, I promise.  The point is, our parish kneels at the Consecration of the gifts, like any other Catholic Church.  Strange?  No.  Expected?  Yes.  Back home in California, this is NOT the case.  They don’t kneel at all during the mass.  You’re expected to stand through the Consecration, and after receiving Communion, until the Priest sits.  What the hell?  When I was at home during Christmas in 2005, I distinctly remember being told before the midnight mass by the new Father at St. William’s, “In this diocese, we stand throughout the Eucharist.”  What? We do? Since when?  Since Bishop McGrath said so in this letter.  I had thought St. William’s was just being hokey at the time, since St. Simon’s down the road did kneel, as did St. Nicholas and St. Joseph.  This bothered me whenever I went home and went to mass, but I thought, “Hey, it must be okay, since the Bishop said so, and no one’s complaining.”  It did take some of the magic and mystery out of the mass, unfortunately, and it made me feel distanced from the Host, and almost like Jesus wasn’t there.

Back to Sean, he quoted me Philippians 2:6-9, about how every knee should bend at the name of Jesus.  That was a good reason to kneel after the Agnus Dei, and during the Consecration.  Because He’s there, and yeah, if you saw Jesus, you’d kneel too.  I found an article explaining how kneeling after the Agnus Dei is optional, and how it’s okay to do it either way.  It also said how kneeling during the Consecration is mandatory, and if a diocese illegally decides not to kneel at that time, well, bad times for them (I’m paraphrasing).  Authority in the Liturgy says that Bishops can’t change the liturgy without the body of the Church behind them (ie: the Pope and the Vatican), and I doubt Bishop McGrath really got permission.

I was a bit incised.  Granted, it’s not really my place to say anything since I’ve moved away and belong to a new parish (which I love).  But, my parents still live there, and they never said a word.  Not one word!  So, to make a very long story a bit shorter, I had to find who was in charge of Bishop McGrath, who turns out to be the Archdiocese of San Francisco and Most Rev. George H. Niederauer.  Hooray!  Seriously, it took me 2 days to find that out.  Catholic hierarchy is hard.  Well, you can’t email their Archbishop, unlike the Portland Archdioceses‘ Archbishop (I totally emailed him asking him something… and I know I won’t hear a response, but it’s nice to be able to do that).  But, they have a general email, and a list of offices within the Archdioceses.  I found the Metropolitan Tribunal and Department of Canonical Affairs to be promising, so I sent them an email a few hours ago, and maybe I’ll hear back sometime tonight.  Actually, I won’t, since it’s the Feast of the Assumption (Holy day of Obligation!), but maybe next week.

I feel better after emailing because I’ve done my part to point out an error.  If he says, “Oh, well, we think it’s okay and don’t tell anyone,” I’m calling the Vatican.  I don’t care how long distance it is, or that I don’t speak an ounce of Italian.  I just wouldn’t know who else to tell, because it doesn’t seem right.  

After this VERY long-winded entry, I’m headed to bed.  It’s 3:55 am, my tummy hurts, and it’s about 75-80 degrees right now.  Ouch.

Saturday Mass

I love going to mass on a Saturday. It’s seriously my favourite time for mass. It didn’t take much convincing, but Sean came with me. He had already gone that morning because it was his little brother’s First Communion. Man, I wish I had a picture from mine, because I looked like a 7 year old mail-order bride, complete with lacy gloves, veil, and beautiful white, lacy dress.

Right, so, Saturday mass. I dressed nicely to match how Sean usually looks (which is ridiculously nice – he dresses to impress 100% of the time) in a black and white flowy dress-top, jeans, and those cute kitten-heeled pink shoes. I usually meet Katrina at mass, so it was nice to have them both there. I wouldn’t say mass is more ‘meaningful’ when you have family or friends with you, but it’s more enjoyable. Depending on who I’m with, I get a running commentary about Fr. John’s homily (usually from Sean, sometimes from Ashley), and if I’m with Katrina, we’ll share a Missal, sing the songs together, and smile a lot. But, having them both there made me experience both things at once, and it was a special experience. I feel bad for not kneeling in defiance of the Bishop like Sean does during communion, but I don’t usually… and I had very little reason to do so. I’ll just go about my business like I usually do 🙂  Oh, if you’re not Catholic and don’t know the order of mass, here’s a link to explain everything to you.

Saying the Lord’s Prayer with both of them, though, was kind of special. Katrina grips my hand like a lifeline, and Sean just holds it gingerly. You know, I’ve gone to mass at the same time as Sean, but I’ve never gone *with* him. But, having them both there felt right, like I had been doing it for months or years. It was comforting.

I miss going to mass with my family. I miss my brothers not sitting still, and my parents telling us to shuttup and pay attention. But the one thing I miss the most was saying that prayer and holding their hands, then hugging at the sign of peace. We went at Easter, but it was just my mum, dad and I. Stevie didn’t come with us. It just wasn’t the same without him.

Well, this post has gotten out of hand, so I’m going to stop while I’m still ahead. *waves*

Self-imposed isolation is kind of nice.

Yeah, you heard me. I don’t have to entertain, or put the kettle on, or dress “nicely” (like what I wore to church yesterday… gorgeous, french striped boatneck 3/4 tee, denim trousers, grey cable-knit 3/4 sleeve sweater, green patent-leather ballet flats, with a red patent-leather skinny belt… oh yeah, it was sexy), or put the snake away. I have a pet snake. No, it’s not a lewd term for masturbation, even though I could totally do that as well, if I did. (eew).

I can take ninety-thousand baths a day. I can wear my doggy jammies. (Idea totally stolen from someone else’s blog because they sounded comfy… and they are). I can even listen to Journey, loudly, on my computer, while singing along into a brush in my boxers and a wife-beater, with a David Bowie wig. Not that I’ve done that, but I could. (Ashley visualizes everything I tell her, no matter how retardedly disgusting.)

I need to make a list and go shopping. Like, shaving cream. Believe it or not, I’ve not lost ALL my hair – they aren’t doing blast radiation, thank you. My leg and arm hair are still going strong. Oooh, and bar soap. I don’t use it, but you never know when you might get that Irish Spring feeling, and you just NEED to use bar soap. Usually I buy fancy Suisun Bay Handmade Soap (see picture) from back home in California, but I was recommended Slab Soap Company by Sean, up in Salem. Suisun is really nice if you like olive oil soap, and I usually purchase the Wine Bath scent. Oh, heavenly GOD does it smell good. The quote from the website says:

The Wine Bath Soap from Suisun Bay Soap Co. is an olive oil based soap that has a variety of skin-soothing ingredients including jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, glycerin, and apricot seed oil. However, the thing that makes this product a real stand out is the completely delicious, elusive scent: a blend of white wine, port wine, bergamot, rose, geranium, vanilla, and ylang-ylang.

See? Genius. All of my favourite things in a soap. And, it’s one of the few they make without almond oil, which I’m allergic to. Yeah, that was a surprise when almond lotion was rubbed on my face one day during a facial. I mean, I knew I was allergic to them when ingested (marzipan is a no no), but I had the WORST hives on my face. I wanted to put a bag over my head for a few days. I think I ended up not going to school one day because my face hurt so bad.

Back the train up. What does any of this have to do with self-imposed isolation? Absolutely nothing – I just like to ramble. My cold has petered down to an annoying cough, and my sore throat is 80% gone. I just need to kick the cold this week, stay away from sick people, sleep a lot, and get ready for chemo NEXT week. Yeah, I’m a month off of my schedule. I’m still taking my prednisone and neosar tablets, and whatever else they’ve given me (anti-get sick pills, anti-pain pills, anti-everything pills… but only when I need them). They suggested I do some shot for red cells, but they gave me shots for white-cell and red-cell growth when I was at the hospital last time… and they make my hips hurt for some reason. Did you know cyclophosphamide is a nitrogen mustard alkylating agent… meaning, mustard gas/chemical warfare? Sweet. At least, I don’t think they mean the stuff you put on sandwiches… or sausage, in my case. I made sausage the other night, and I ran out of mustard halfway through, so I had to walk ALL the way to Safeway to get more. Safeway is about 800 feet away, because it’s 350 feet from my door to the end of the street (says Google Maps), and it’s about twice that distance from the corner to the doors of the store.

Hey, I have LOTS of time on my hands. So, I’m allowed to talk about things like sausage and soap. And don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy that 🙂