Our family altar on the day of the burial. We each brought a flower for the baby.
It has been five and a half weeks since we found out we lost our baby, almost four weeks since I passed the baby, and almost two weeks since we buried our little John Paul.
The burial was probably one of the sweetest things the Church has ever done for me. Did you know that there is a rite of burial for an unbaptized child? That is what Fr. M prayed with us at the cemetery. The children were quiet and attentive, and Father reminded us of what we have been all too aware of these days: when choosing to be open to having children, we are choosing to be open to suffering. All parents go through suffering and loss to some extent over their children, some more tragically than others, and many before they every thought they would. Suffering comes with loving others.
When M and I broke up after the first time we dated, I had just read The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. This quotation from it was central to my understanding of love at the time:
“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket–safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable…The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
I think sometimes I fear having another child because I fear the suffering that comes with it, even pregnancy itself has its share of discomforts. And while I am still sorrowful from time to time about losing John Paul, I think now about the possibility of another pregnancy. It is hard not to worry about every little detail of possible future pregnancies. My co-writer at Truth and Charity wrote this sweet and realistic article about Choosing Hope while pregnant after losing babies. I know now is not the time to close myself from suffering, but I am being called to be even more generous to new life.
And then there is still the pain of our recent loss. I am pretty sure I need to have a good cry, but it has not happened since before the baby passed. In college I would have found my household sisters and asked them to pray over me until it happened. (Maybe I just need a phone call with my awesome friend C.) Further, I am still waiting for the completion of my post-miscarriage healing. When that occurs I know I will have a lot more peace about everything. I ask for your continued prayers, and am so thankful for the ones you have already offered.
And don’t worry too much about me, I am feeling particularly melancholic lately; just as long as I don’t stay here… 🙂
Last night, on an impulse, opened a scrapbook I had made for my, then, fiance in the nine days between our engagement and Christmas. I made a beautiful record of our relationship starting with our first semester of college through when we became engaged a little over two years after we had met. What struck me about it was that on every page I had put a meaningful passage from scripture; back in college I spent time reading scripture everyday. After we had kids, and since I have been blogging, I have focused my reading on other things. In the short ten minutes of prayer time I set aside, I have been reading spiritual books or lives of the Saints. While, my husband and I have gotten back into praying our breviaries for morning and night prayer, my daily encounter with scripture only happens if we make it to Mass, and that only happens if we get out of bed in time for 7:30am Mass. For past week some child has been running a fever or had a nasty cough, so we have been trying to let the kids sleep. But it is not just the past week, the whole of the Winter, we were always making excuses of one or another not to go to Mass.
I am perfectly aware that daily Mass going is certainly not required of a family with three small children, but I know that when we go to daily Mass, we are a happier and better family.
We have a strong family prayer routine, with morning prayers, meal prayers, and bedtime prayers, but I feel that I have been missing something. I miss going to adoration, which I was able to do daily when I lived in Steubenville. But now we live two minutes from a perpetual adoration chapel, and with the kids going to bed at 7:45pm every night, there is no reason I can’t take time at least once a week to go and pray, to bring my Bible and sit and read and pray and journal.
I am realizing that I need a change, and trying not to be frustrated with myself for not realizing this sooner. I realize now, that the emptiness I have been feeling lately, my desire for more companionship, is a need for growing closer to God. That is what is missing now. I am highly dependent on a life of routine, and when I don’t have a routine, things tend to fall apart mentally. I can’t focus, I can’t plan, and I hang on to the semblance of routine that I do have, spending the rest of my day in aimless activity.
But the great thing about being human is that there is always room for improvement. Now is the time to improve, to pray, to trust, and to seek guidance. I am not sure that I have a conclusion here, and I am going to resist my need to wrap this up in a perfect ending, because I have no more to say. I guess I am in a good spot for the Triduum.
1. This week I have a lot to be thankful for, and the first is that my dad is alive. After his scary emergency surgery for his life threatening ascending aortic dissection it has hit me again and again that he would not be alive now if it were not for so many circumstances. Like he was running by a friend’s house and saw his door open, the doctors figured out right away what was wrong, that modern medicine has advanced enough to solve this problem, that he had enough healthy tissue for the graft, and that he was working part-time as a referee of high school soccer so he had to be in good shape. I am so happy to still have him alive on earth, and I know I will cherish every visit, phone call, and text I have with him.
2. I am thankful for loving friends and family. It is amazing that I was able to share my dad’s situation with hundreds of family and friends at once and to know that we were surrounded by the prayers of all of our loved ones in our time of greatest need. Thank you again.
3. I am thankful for God’s healing power. Maybe Dad would have recovered without prayers, but the rapid recovery of his body and the preservation of his brain and other organs from potential oxygen loss could be miraculous. The nurse even said that she had not seen anything like it, reminding my family of the Gospel readwhen my Dad received the Anointing of the Sick.
–>And when he returned to Caper’na-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, `Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic –“I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12)4. I am thankful that St. Louis is close enough to St. Paul that we can start packing at 8:30 am, leave at 12:30 pm and get there by 9:30 pm. I felt close to my hometown for the first time since we moved here. If M had gotten a job at any other place he interviewed, a drive like that would not have been possible. Further, two days within one week of January hide dry roads, low traffic, and safe driving conditions!
5. I am thankful that we were able to spend three more days with my family this January, including cousin playtime which they all loved. I also got to bring my 37 week pregnant sister the green and yellow baby clothes I have in case she has a boy. I had forgotten to bring them at Christmas. Maybe it is the first grandson?
6. I am thankful for the beautiful day we had in St. Louis when it was 48°F and sunny and we took the the six girls to the park to run/crawl-scoot around. I am not sure I will see a day that nice until May…
7. I am thankful for a wonderful husband who was apart of my family through the whole process, and loved my Mom and Dad like a son and my siblings like a brother. And that his does not start teaching classes again until February so that we had the freedom to travel.
“It is the most catastrophic thing your body can do to itself,” the surgeon said to my mother as he explained to her the surgery that my father was about to undergo.
Dad and F two weeks before his aortic dissection.
The Saturday had started off normal enough. Mom had spent the day with friends at some sort of prayer event and Dad had been getting ready for his composers forum and decided to go for a run up around the park half a mile from their house.
Mom in St. Louis, MO called me around 5:15 pm as I was attempting to get dinner started in St. Paul, MN. She had a question about my tomato sauce recipe, and I was making my mother-in-law’s beef stroganoff. We got off the phone and five minutes later my brother called me. It was strange to get a call from my brother P. He prefers to talk in person, and we had just been in St. Louis ten days before. I answered the phone, “Susanna, Mom just got a call from Dad’s friend Sam. He was running at W park and had some chest pain and is at Sam’s house who lives right by the park. The paramedics are coming. Is M with you?” I got off the phone and started praying. M came into the kitchen and I told him. We hugged and gathered the girls and said a prayer. I then got dinner ready, because the kids still had to be fed. My mom called to tell me that Dad had passed out right when she got there, but woke up for the paramedics. They took him by ambulance to the hospital. My brother called to say that he was driving my mom, and that my sister S was with them. I got dinner in the oven and was about to shower when P called and said that they were doing a CT scan focusing on the area around my dad’s heart. In the shower, alone with my thoughts, it hit me. I was not ready to say goodbye to my dad; I am not sure if anyone ever is ready to do it. I know that one day, one of us will die, but it was not meant to be this week. I longed to talk to him again, to see him play with love his grandchildren. I wanted my children to have him. I prayed that he would live.
I found out later that the ER doctor heard about Dad’s symptoms of the chest pain shooting from his heart to his head, his fainting, and then his intense pain in his right leg, and figured immediately that it was an aortic dissection. They had trouble getting an IV into Dad before his CT scan, because he was writhing in pain from his leg. When the scan was over (about an hour after my brother’s first call), I received another call. Dad was going to have emergency surgery. His aorta had dissected ascending from his heart all the way descending to his right leg. If they did not do the surgery, he would die. The surgeon explained in detail to my mom, my brother, and my sister what was going to happen in surgery. He described all of the risks and that there were certain things that could have happened in Dad’s aorta which would make the repairing surgery impossible.
P later told me that Mom recited her wedding vows to Dad as he was wheeled toward surgery.
At home in St. Paul, M and I tried to eat dinner. The kids felt our level of anxiety and struggled through dinner as well. We asked friends and family for prayers and went through the motions to get our kids to bed. My head was in a fog of anxiety and helplessness. I prayed with all my heart that everything would turn out okay. We finally got the kids to bed, and went through the motions of cleaning up after dinner. I was not sure what to do, if we should go to St. Louis or not even if Dad survived the surgery. We decided to wait to see what happened with the surgery.
Shortly before 11 pm, my brother told me that Dad’s bypass had been complete and that the next step was to repair the aorta. They had to cut away the damaged tissue and replace it with a mesh-like piece of plastic, which would then allow new aortal tissue to grow over it an create a new aorta vessel over the plastic graft. It is an incredible thing that they are able to do. To do the repair, they removed all of my dad’s blood and reduced his body temperature so that he was in a sort of stasis. The repair was achieved in 20 minutes and they raised his temperature and returned his blood to his body.
But at 11 pm that Saturday night, we did not know if there was enough healthy tissue for the graft to be sewn on to. At the hospital my Mom sat with my brother, my sister, and all six of my dad’s siblings and their spouses. That is a lot of people! M and I went to bed for a fitful night of sleep. I could not get my memories of running with my dad around W park out of my head. I was never a runner until college, and so the majority of my runs at that park were with my dad during visits to home.
I was woken up at 3:50 am by a hungry one year old, I stumbled to her room to resettled her. I checked my phone out of habit and saw that I had missed a call from my brother and had this text from him: “He’s out. Now in the ICU. Surgery went well. Now it’s time to recover. He’s not completely out of the woods, but things are looking up.” I told M, and then called to get more details. Then again I could not go back to sleep. It was Sunday morning, and Dad was supposed to be sedated until Monday afternoon. I was not sure if we should go to St. Louis or not. My sister MC was already there with her family; she had driven 3 hours the night before and was 37 weeks pregnant.
The night finally ended, and we got up to go to 7:30 am Mass. I then decided that I really wanted to be in St. Louis; my heart wanted to be there with my family and with Dad. M wanted to go also. Dad would want us to follow our hearts, so we decided to go. I prayed for him through all of Mass, and afterwards our pastor came by our seats and we told him the situation and he said that he would pray. We then drove home, and I called my mom to let her know that we were coming.
We started packing at 8:30 am and were all in the car, having eaten lunch, and leaving at 12:30 pm. The first two hours of the drive were dreadful, we could not think of anything but our anxiety for my dad. There was concern that he would had possibly lost too much oxygen to his organs before his surgery or that the cooling process and blood removal may not have left him fully himself. I tried not to call since I knew that dad was receiving the Anointing of the Sick.
Finally my mom called around 2:30 pm. Dad had woken up! He was not supposed to yet, but at 8:15 am, the nurses were moving him and he started to wake. They let him wake up. One of the nurses said that she had never seen anything like his recovery that first day after his surgery. M and I had lifted spirits after that phone call. Dad was recovering so well so quickly. We made it St. Louis in 9 hours. We only stopped twice, and had what my Grandpa T calls an “uneventful trip”.
My sisters had made our room ready for us, and we quickly got the kids to bed. I then went to see Dad. I arrived and he was glad to see me. He told me a little bit of what he remembered had happened, but he was tired and I did not want him to exert himself. He also told a few silly jokes, and I knew that he was doing better and better.
The rest of our visit was so beautiful. The six cousins spent hours playing together, and my siblings and I supported Mom as best we could and were just together. It was not an easy visit, but it was important. Everytime we saw Dad, he told me how glad he was that we had come, and when we left on Thursday morning, it was the hardest thing. I just wanted to be near my dad, and see him improve with my own eyes.
He is doing so much better now, and should be leaving the ICU today and moving to telemetry. There are so many blessings that will come out of all of this, and the main one is that my dad is still alive on Earth. I pray that we have many more years with him, to grow in holiness and love.
If you get off I-90 in the middle of upstate New York near Auriesville and travel a few miles along a hilly rural road, you may find yourself at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Martyrs. The Shrine is the location of a church dedicated to the North American Martyrs, and it is in this location that the Jesuit priest St. Issac Jogues and his companions the Jesuit brother St. René Goupil and a layman St. John Lalande were martyred. Fifteen years after their death, St. Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656.
Looking out from the bluff, you can see the Mohawk River winding its way through the rolling countryside, and try to imagine the days when it was untamed wilderness and the Jesuit missionaries struggled to bring the Gospel to the people of this “new” land. The lived with great hostility and suffered many physical deprivations, but they did it out of love of God and the truth.
The Shrine also honors the North American martyrs of Canada, one of them being the priest St. Jean de Brebeuf , a missionary Jesuit to the Hurons who was captured by a group of Iroquis, brutally tortured, and martyred. During his time as a missionary he learned the Huron language and wrote this beautiful Huron Carol (translated into English by Jesse Edgar Middleton):
‘Twas in the moon of winter-time When all the birds had fled, That mighty Gitchi Manitou Sent angel choirs instead; Before their light the stars grew dim, And wandering hunter heard the hymn: “Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, In excelsis gloria.”
Within a lodge of broken bark The tender Babe was found, A ragged robe of rabbit skin Enwrapp’d His beauty round; But as the hunter braves drew nigh, The angel song rang loud and high… “Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, In excelsis gloria.”
The earliest moon of wintertime Is not so round and fair As was the ring of glory On the helpless infant there. The chiefs from far before him knelt With gifts of fox and beaver pelt. “Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, In excelsis gloria.”
O children of the forest free, O sons of Manitou, The Holy Child of earth and heaven Is born today for you. Come kneel before the radiant Boy Who brings you beauty, peace and joy. “Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, In excelsis gloria.”
We need the beauty of the Christmas story today as much as ever. The little babe, God become Man, is greater for humanity than anyone could ever have imagined. And that is the message that the missionary priests brought to the first American people. During our modern time, where there are priests are failing to live up to their priestly vocations and so many accused of horrendous things, I think about the Jesuit missionary priests who gave their lives to convert people so hostile to Christianity. While they succeeded in teaching some about the truth, there were others who hated them for it.
The Church has never been a stranger to hatred, and will not be until the second coming. I would like to believe that all our priests are living pure, holy lives, and God knows the truth. As faithful Catholics, we must pray for our priests and for the Church to become more holy. We can turn to the North American martyrs and ask their intercession for all priests that they live out fully their vocation to priesthood and holiness.
And then there is the Infant Jesus, who was adored and wondered at on the first Christmas and who we still adore today. Christmas is a reminder of the simple beauty of an infant who is God, who grew up to establish the Church, who ordained the first priests. There is something about the Child Jesus, the Holy Infant, that can help one remember the first love they had of God, that can rejuvenate a tired priest, who faces the daily hostility of the secular media and the suspicions of people who do not understand the choice to be celibate.
As the Church, we need to stand strong behind our priests and bishops, pray for them, and especially that the truth be made clear. And for those who have sadly done the things of which they are accused, we need to pray for their conversion and repentance. No matter how hostile the world becomes towards the Church and her clergy, it will not change that God came to Earth and that “Jesus your King is born” and that we will have joy in Him.
We must remember those who were persecuted for their faith, have their heavenly reward, and that we are called to it as well. On this Feast of Stephen the first Christian martyr, we pray,
Yesterday was our family’s first trip to the Emergency Room. Little L (2.5) hit her head while playing and she must have hit it hard because she started howling more than her normal dramatic crying. When she still exhibited abnormal symptoms over an hour later I conferred with her doctor and took her to the ER. She changed for the best, and the doctor said she may have had a mild concussion but that we could not know for sure. I started to wonder after the hospital visit, if it might have been a lot worse had I not gotten into the habit of praying to my children’s guardian angels several years ago.
G (4.5) has been really excited about angels since the summer when her Vacation Bible School theme included angels. We started praying the “Angel of God” prayer everyday with the kids at that point. On Saturday, we went to an evening Mass at my grandparent’s parish, St. Raphael’s. They were given permission to celebrate the Feast of the Archangels even though it fell on a Sunday this year. There was a nice homily on St. Raphael and his acts in the book of Tobit.
As we drove from Cleveland to St. Paul on Sunday, I asked M to explain what St. Thomas says about angels. A few things about them stuck with me.
1. There are more angels than the sum of all material beings that have existed or will ever exist: that is a lot of angels!
2. Angels can control the material world. They have a real impact on us.
3. St. Thomas says that angels guard over individual humans, but also all of nature.
Today is the Memorial of the Most Holy Guardian Angels. The Gospel at Mass is from Matthew:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-10)
I was wondering where angels came into that reading, since the theme throughout the readings had been angels. It did not surprise me that the Gospel started off being about little children, because since I have been a parent, angels have always been associated with little children. I think that children are more open to the promptings and protection of their angels. The Baltimore Catechism, in the chapter on sin, says that children are given a special grace to not commit a mortal sin. But then God gives us angels to guide all of us. Here are two excerpts from St. Thomas on the Guardian Angels (P.1, Q.113, A. 1):
By free-will man can avoid evil to a certain degree, but not in any sufficient degree; forasmuch as he is weak in affection towards good on account of the manifold passions of the soul. Likewise universal natural knowledge of the law, which by nature belongs to man, to a certain degree directs man to good, but not in a sufficient degree; because in the application of the universal principles of law to particular actions man happens to be deficient in many ways. Hence it is written (Wisdom 9:14): “The thoughts of mortal men are fearful, and our counsels uncertain.” Thus man needs to be guarded by the angels.
As men depart from the natural instinct of good by reason of a sinful passion, so also do they depart from the instigation of the good angels, which takes place invisibly when they enlighten man that he may do what is right. Hence that men perish is not to be imputed to the negligence of the angels but to the malice of men. That they sometimes appear to men visibly outside the ordinary course of nature comes from a special grace of God, as likewise that miracles occur outside the order of nature.
Our angels are always urging us on to do the good, but since we are weak and deficient we often do not do good. Even so, we are still under the charge of the angels, and today is a good day to remember them and to remember to pray to them to help us be mindful of their urgings. And also to pray for the angels of the humans in our own charge.
I started veiling the year I studied for my Master’s in Theology. I was regularly attending the (newly named) Extraordinary Form of the Mass and immersing myself in studying for classes such as Christian Liturgy, Vatican II, and the Tradition and the Development of Doctrine. When studying the documents of Vatican II, I wanted to know why so many things had changed in the liturgy itself and in the all the practices surrounding the liturgy. Naturally, the question of covering women’s heads came up. My mom hardly remembers the time of her life before the liturgical changes due to Vatican II, but I know that she did wear a head covering at church until these changes. I was never told why women used to cover their heads and believed that it was something old and backwards that “we don’t do anymore”. It was not until I looked at the history of this tradition and the Scripture that backs it up that I realized that this tradition is one that should not have been lost. Here are the two reasons that compelled me to wear the veil:
1. It is in Scripture: In my earliest discussions of why women covered their heads in the liturgy for the whole history of the Church until the late 1960s, I was informed that it is in Scripture. I had no idea. Sure enough, I looked up 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, and there it was:
1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head–it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) 10 That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. 11 (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.) 13 Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.
I then realized that the reason for women to cover their heads was a theological one, it is about the relationship between Christ and His Church, that of a husband to his bride. And it was not a cultural point of St. Paul’s but one specific to the liturgy: “we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.” And here to the Corinthians, St. Paul is making a theological point that men and women are different and that this difference is important in understanding our relationship as a Church to Christ. Only men can be priests and the priest represents Christ in the liturgy. Women then symbolize the Church, Christ’s bride, and are told by St. Paul to veil their heads because they “are the glory of man.”
The Church veils things that are important: the tabernacle is veiled, the chalice is veiled, altars are veiled, Moses veiled his face after he had seen God. A veiled woman shows reverence for God, symbolizing the veiled bride of the Church, but also honors herself as a women before God. Veiling is about men and women as different (think Theology of the Body). It goes against a society that tells us that men and women are the same, that there are many genders, and that gender is not important when people want to marry. Veiling is an outward statement against modernity and its lies. A woman choosing to be submissive as a wife, as woman, to her husband is against all that our society tells us about man and woman, but St. Paul talks about women submitting to their husbands, and the Church submitting to Christ. And Christ loving the Church to the point of his suffering and death, and husbands loving their wives in this same way. This is what veiling is about; it is about submission and about love.
And then St. Paul says this, which goes against his culture’s ideas about men and women: “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.” Christianity has made men and women equal in God, and St. Paul says this right in the middle of the passage where he talks about women covering their heads. It is important to remember that when Jesus and St. Paul talk about women in the Scriptures it is in a new way that was not normal to their cultures. Women veiling is not putting them lower than men, but must be seen in conjunction with men not covering their heads. It emphasizes the difference of men and women, and the symbol they are as the image of God.
2.Women covering their heads in the liturgy has been the continual tradition of the Church, passed down from the Apostles: Truth has never changed, but the Church’s understanding and knowledge of the truth has increased in the last 2000 years. There are certain traditions that have remained the same, and tradition does not develop in a way that changes what truth is. If it is true for the Church of 90 A.D. that women are to veil their heads in Church, true in 875 A.D. and still so in 1954 A.D., then the way the Church develops does not allow for it to be no longer true in 1970 A.D. or 2013 A.D. This was an unbroken tradition.
St. Paul says himself that the Corinthians are to “maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.” The tradition of women covering their heads in Church was from the Apostles and it was maintained until the 1960s when so many liturgical traditions were discarded. I do not know what happened, except that perhaps feminism was infiltrating the Church trying to make men and women the same. The 1917 Code of Canon law required women to cover their heads and forbade men from covering their heads. The 1983 Code of Canon law omitted the passage about women covering their heads, but maintained that men should not. It is unclear why the Code was changed, though it is clear that head covering by women is no longer required by the Church law. What is clear, however, is that this has been a tradition passed down, and as laity there is no reason why we cannot continue that tradition even if it is not in the Code of Canon law.
When I grasped these two reasons for women to cover their heads in Church, I felt compelled to do so myself. I overcame my ignorance of this issue, and my conscience would not allow me to do otherwise. I started veiling immediately, and it was very awkward for me at first. I first wore a veil to a Novus Ordo Mass on campus at my college. I knew by sight most of the people in the chapel, and they could remember that I had never worn a veil before. The number of women who wore veils on campus was minimal, so they stood out. It took about a week to stop feeling awkward, and then I had to face veiling at home with my family and then at Masses with my extended family during our Christmas travels. It has been over five years since my change in head dress, and I still veil or cover my head whenever I enter a Catholic Church, am present at a liturgy, at Eucharistic adoration, or receive any Sacraments. My daughters wear head coverings as soon as they have hair. It has become our habit, and it is my hope that the laity will bring back this tradition, especially in this time when the difference of men and women has become so confused.
Today is the big day; you know the one when I leave you at “school” and trust you to people I trust. Home schooling was supposed to prevent this day from coming so soon, but then our parish announced Vacation Bible School in the bulletin and that there would be a group for four year olds. Are you really old enough already to join the big kids? I have been nervous for a month, and today I said goodbye (for three hours) as a teenager, who I am sure is awesome with kids, whisked you away to color with the other four year olds. It has only been 90 minutes, but I miss you. Thank you for being such a great kid, and one who loves her sisters and has great conversations with me. Thank you for being your sister’s best friend; I am not sure what she is going to do with herself with you not here. Thank you for being so excited to learn about the Bible and Saints with other kids at our parish. I can’t quite pinpoint this feeling I am having about you being on your own at VBS, it is one I have never had before. You are going to be doing all the “firsts” for me as a mother, so I better get used to it. I know you will be your best self, and be kind to all the other children, and I hope you will remember to listen to other adults.
From the moment you were born, our lives have been separating further and further apart. You were inside me, and then you were outside me but always in my arms or next to me, then you sat up and played with toys, then you learned to feed yourself with your own hands, then you started crawling, then walking, then talking, then playing independently. Now you get yourself your own snacks, spend a morning on your tricycle out in back, and can go off with other kids your own age and learn more about the Bible and God which we have taught you about since birth. But you will always come back home and our family is where you will learn to be you and learn to love. And that is what I will remember, that no matter where you go to learn from others, you will always have the foundation we have just barely begun to give you. I love you and am praying for you always!
I keep on asking M if things are really that much worse than they were when we were kids (just a short 10 years ago really), and we look at the state of things and agree, yes they are getting worse.
I read this article the other day “A Boy’s Life with Unisex Scouts” by Anthony Esolen, and several things about it struck me. He talked about the world a boy should grow up in, as he learns about man-hood, and he said that we do not live in a “healthy” world anymore where we can trust other adults to teach our kids the right things or where perfectly normal activities are no longer “allowed.”
It makes me sad to think about my children growing up in a world where women to go topless in public and disrespect a bishop. I think what these women did was evil, but I know there are many that would commend them. And then there is the anti-bullying program at the school in New York. The persecution of the Church is happening now, and it is probably only going to get worse. Those of us who stand for the Truth are going to be outcasts and there are those who are going to seek to limit our freedom to share and live the Truth.
Esolen also spoke beautifully on the “time-transcending, child-making thing”, which is of course in reference to what man and woman do to become mother and father. The contraceptive mentality is so polluting on our society, and I keep on looking for ways that children are welcome and loved, but it seems that the society does not really care for them at all; they just want to train them to think like liberals. The contraceptive mentality has even polluted the Church, for example when people complain about children misbehaving in Mass. Mass is not for my own private prayer or you private prayer it is for the all Catholics to participate in the Sacrifice of the Cross being made present on the altar in your church. Please welcome me and my children in Mass and at the grocery store and wherever we are. I am doing my best to raise virtuous, holy, disciplined children, but kids are in a state of being formed and not always perfect. And this is why I am sad about the world, because it is becoming a place where it will be harder to form my children in accordance with the Truth.
Thanks for listening, and for the record, while I am saddened, I do have hope. I have hope when I read my children the stories of the young martyrs, and see their faith. I have hope when my five month old gets to spend her first warm Spring afternoon giggling in the sunshine. I have hope when my two year old asks to kiss her statue of Our Lady. I have hope when my four year old listens to the priest’s homily. I have hope when my husband leads our family in prayer. I have hope because I know that no mater what happens we will always have the Church.