Wednesday, February 27, 2013

And This Little Piggy Wore A Chapel Veil

I envy all the people who can leave anonymous comments on blogs, whereas I can't blog anonymously. I say this because today I just have to be me and speak my mind, and what I have to say isn't gonna make everyone happy.

A cursory glance of my still very tiny blog role brought me to Erin Manning's blog, with news that Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary is now wearing a chapel veil to mass. UPDATE: Erin wrote a SECOND post about the veiling thing!

LOUD GROAN

So loud you can hear it while reading this.

Chapel veil wars on the Catholic internet are as frequent and almost as hotly debated as the pants/skirts wars. If you've spent any amount of time reading Catholic blogs you already know this, and you already know that it's best to stand back, not participate, and instead enjoy the car wreck.

Supreme laziness: I agree with every single thing Erin Manning has said in her post about chapel veils. So go over there and read what she has to say. But in case you're too lazy yourself, here's my summary: If you want to wear a chapel veil, great, go for it, enjoy yourself. Wearing a chapel veil is part of Catholic tradition that is well-known, and Catholicism is thankfully wide and broad enough to incorporate all kinds of things. There's a lady at my church who always wears a chapel veil and I'm totally fine with it; she's a nice lady and a serious Catholic. My good friend wears a chapel veil whenever she goes to the Latin mass, which is often enough, and I don't have an issue with it.

If you feel God has called you to to wear a chapel veil, I'm fine with that too, and I'll honor your belief. However, I will question why God hasn't instead called you to take the $18 you spent on that chapel veil and instead contribute it to your local crisis pregnancy center or something similar. But I know, how God calls one and not another is none of my business.

With all of that being said, I'd like to add that Jennifer Fulwiler is a great person with a blog that I routinely read and have at times benefited from. I take her to be a sincere person who seems very nice. I really do mean that and would appreciate it if people wouldn't question me on that. So if Jennifer wants to experiment with wearing chapel veils and/or permanently incorporate them as part of her Catholic life, I accept that. I didn't read her blog post explaining it all and don't feel I need to - her reasons and feelings about the subject are hers alone.

So why the big groan from me?

Because legions of Catholic women lap up everything she says, and many many times, they do it in a very unthinking manner.

Remember in my recent post about "Cutsey Catolicism," I observed this about certain kinds of Catholic women:

"Those who followed my first blog know that I was highly critical of  the now defunct "Faith & Family Live" blog for exactly the sort of spirit and experience that I'm questioning here. I'm serious, if I had mentioned in a commbox over there that I was making and marketing a Catholic laundry detergent - basically Tide in a bottle but with a label that said something like "St. Ann's Suds" -  they would have fallen all over themselves to buy it and promote it and talk about how wonderful it was that they could now buy laundry detergent from a good Catholic."

I believe the exact same thing about Jennifer Fulwiler going public about wearing a chapel veil - Catholic women falling over themselves to mimic and copy her, and now a great big fad for wearing chapel veils erupts (as if there wasn't already a sort-of fad going because of the supposed resurgence of the Latin mass). As I commented over on Erin's blog, "Score one for Father Z!" Come to think of it, maybe Father Z put her up to this! Ha!

Here I go again with my broad brush: There's just a certain kind of crowd that follows Jennifer Fulwiler (and I've noted many, many times that it includes a boat-load of Protestants, which I still don't understand.) There's a certain kind of crowd that follows me. There's a certain kind of Catholic that follows whoever's behind Whispers in the Loggia. While we all intersect on the "Catholic" part, there ARE differences. Some people read The New Yorker, some people read People Magazine.

The crowd that follows Jennifer Fulwiler is the kind of crowd that looks to her as an example, a guide or mentor of sorts. I mean, look at the names of the people/blogs who post their links after her weekly "7 Quick Takes" meme and one can quickly surmise her target audience. And she DOES has a target audience - otherwise she wouldn't be doing an online TV reality show and have a soon-to-be published book. In fact, I would go so far as to say Jennifer Fulwiler has literally become a Catholic PRODUCT that we now consume like any other media product we consume.

I have, myself, been through the phase where I took my cues from the Catholic internet as to what did or did not construe an acceptable Catholic life, practice, and existence. I learned the hard way, even if I was suspicious and questioning all along. Let's just say other people are much more trusting than I was, and those people are trusting Jennifer to lead them through the wilderness of how to make sense of modern conservative Catholicism.

I'm just not so sure that wearing a chapel veil is a necessary aspect of modern-day conservative Catholicism. In fact, somewhere a rad-trad is laughing about her doing this, claiming her wearing a chapel veil is like a pig with lipstick in a pew at a Latin mass. There's a point where maybe us neo-cons need to just owe up to being neo-cons (a term I despise), since it's pretty neo-con-ish for someone who gives radio interviews to EWTN and Relevant Radio to be wearing a chapel veil. I say this as someone who has no problem with EWTN and Relevant Radio, which is why the extremists call me a neo-con, instead of someone who goes to mass at an FSSP parish.

But hey, if that's what these women want, have at it. As long as they operate in Christian love and charity, and they're towing the Catholic party line, I'm not supposed to care. Right?

Right. As far as I'm concerned, Jennifer Fulwiler's Catholic testimony is fine and well without an extra scrap of lace.

42 comments:

  1. If I were a woman and felt the need to cover my head, I'd opt for a nice hat or a babushka...

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    1. Erin Manning questions whether chapel veils are even acceptable, since you can still see a woman's hair. So your hat or babushka would be more "correct."

      Delete
    2. So your hat or babushka would be more "correct."

      Including a hat with lots of wax fruit, birds, and fake flowers? Something that would have made Minnie Pearl and/or Carmen Miranda jealous? Or a patchouli -scented babushka with such a pattern that would cause a chameleon to explode if you placed him on it?

      Ah, what fun I could have...I could show up at St. Stan's in drag to try them out...but I don't think that would go over very well, for some strange reason...

      In all seriousness, there is wide latitude in what constitutes a head covering. Personally, I would like to see nice hats make a comeback...I think it ridiculous when I've seen women doff their hats and scarves and put on a mantilla...in the old days, it would have been left on as it was...but I guess the mantilla has been made into a symbol of the "More Catholic than Thou" faction...

      (full disclosure: my wife prefers a mantilla when attending the EF. I just have a beef with those who consider it to be the only appropriate head covering.)

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    3. I should have typed "chapel veil" instead of "mantilla"...there is a difference...

      Case in point: one person mentioned that chapel veils are a recent thing, and cited Suburban Banshee's excellent post on the matter: http://suburbanbanshee.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/in-the-old-days-most-us-catholic-women-wore-hats/#sthash.JvXhcJ2r.dpuf

      To which someone replied:

      ...I do not agree that it equals any other “head covering,” such as a stylish hat.

      My response:

      Subjectively, perhaps. For the Church, a hat or scarf is objectively equal to a chapel veil or mantilla.

      Delete
  2. Yeah. Um.

    Here's what I question...I feel like you can't criticize certain blogs in the Catholic blogosphere EVER. JW is one of those darlings. (Danielle Bean was another one.) I'm sure JW is a wonderful person. However, there is something about her blog (emphasis on her blog, again, I am not criticizing her as a person) that drives me bananas. Everything she writes is like fingers on a chalkboard to me, and the chapel veil post was no exception. Her followers make me even more batty, but that's not her fault.

    Catlady

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    1. Gah fingerNAILS on a chalkboard...

      Catlady

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    2. Catlady,
      I feel the same way about Father Z. I'm generally OK with what HE writes, but the people in his commboxes, UGH!

      The difference is, of course, that as a man, Father Z can be dismissive and rude and ignore his commenters if he wants to, but as women, we're supposed to be all welcoming and cozy to anyone, like we're hosting a luncheon.

      Delete
  3. I think you hit the nail on the head when you refer to JF as a "Catholic Product". What bothers me is the constant P.R. - now she's wearing a chapel veil, really? Do we need to know this about her? Can she restrain from blogging about every aspect of her life? Is that possible or is it just one step closer to the publication of the book, or the interview or the paid blogging assignment. And don't even get me started on the "blog donations" part.

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    1. JMB, you know I totally agree with you. : )

      But to be fair and play devil's advocate, let me ask you this:

      How is Jennifer Fulwiler different from Heather King, who has multiple published book deals?

      Or what if Patheos asked me to write for them, like every other "in" Catholic blogger in the universe?

      Delete
    2. Heather King was a published author prior to the blog. She's also a bona fide bad ass and quite frankly, it's the goody two shoes prissy type of girliness that gets my goat with the JF type of blog. It's like - hey the Holy Spirit told me to wear this veil (or wear only skirts or no makeup or jean jumpers or have a million kids even though I have a delibiltating illness and might die). To me it's just another form of extreme egocentricity.

      Delete
    3. I agree on Heather King. It's not the fact that you are published or get paid to blog that annoys me about some of these gals. It's their holier-than-thou schtick and their adoring followers.

      Catlady

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  4. I read that post the other day and thought - "Oh well, if it works for you". I just now went and read some of the comments and they definitely do point to what you have said about some folks being really influenced by bloggers/media stars in your "cutesy" post. I think alot has to do with uncertainty in how to authentically live the Faith. It's a shortcut to pick out someone to emulate, especially for a convert or a revert. I think, as people grow more comfortable in their faith life (and mature in it) they don't seek out/subscribe to the external signposts of the "good Catholic" as much. They winnow it out and do what speaks to and supports their personality in living out their vocation. It's like going to a living Catholic smorgasboard and trying everything...then, over time, choosing your favorites so you don't overdo and become bloated and sick and never want to return.

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    1. Maureen, like I said, I didn't read Jennifer's post. Or the comments. Tell me I shouldn't go over there and read the comments. That's always what does me in.

      Delete
    2. Many of them are benign...but a few are of the - I never thought of that, but, now that you did it, so will I - type. You'll make yourself nuts if you read them. I think this stuff bugs you so much because you were so hurt by believing you had to buy in all the way with those you first encountered when reverting. It's especially harmful to the soul/psyche when you've wandered far and have done things that would make the "good Catholics" blanche or worse if they only knew. I know I struggle with that when I'm in new situations surrounding Church and faith (like the parish school people).

      Delete
  5. I've worn a veil to a Latin Mass. I spent a good part of Mass comparing the veils of the other ladies. So much for hiding our crowning glory. Also, at this particular parish there were lots of women not wearing veils and women in pants with and without veils (I wore pants and veil myself). The whole thing is really quite ridiculous. I remember seeing some wedding photos from a TLM wedding and all the bridesmaids wore veils along with the bride. It looked stupid. The bridesmaids should have worn hats and left the veil for the bride.
    Angela M.

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    1. Dude! I would kill to see the pictures from the TLM wedding.

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    2. Oh, gosh...thanks for this! This whole "veiling" thing squicks me out big time. Ask women in their 50s, 60s, & 70s of just about any ethnic hertiage about "veiling" and they'll look at you like you're from Mars. This isn't a "thing", never was. Ugh.

      Some of the comments at Conversion Diary are bizarre, especially the one about holy things being "veiled", and that only women can bring forth life, blahblah. Who are these women who are all experiencing virgin birth after virgin birth and why haven't we heard about them in the news? Me, I "brought forth life" the old fashioned way, and it DEFINITELY involved my husband! Women don't have babies on their own, and their bodies aren't any holier than their babies' fathers' bodies. Double ugh.

      I don't like the calculated, manipulative marketing vibe I get from Fulwiler (among others, to be fair). They're very clever with their internet/social media marketing skills, but somehow their blogs and websites end up being all about them. She should probably just cut to the chase and rename her blog "Ad Gloriam Majoram Jennifer" and be done with it.

      I know. Meow. But here it is Lent and I'm just so tired of all this division and Pope stuff and I wish we could go back to pre-internet days where being Catholic wasn't something you did for personal gain or attention, where everyday Catholics, good, decent, normal people who lived good, decent, normal lives were the norm, not these precious little darlings of the internet. Oh well. Sorry for venting, but, as someone said, she seems to be off limits when it comes to criticism, and from a crowd that does more than it's fair share of criticizing plenty of their fellow Catholics.

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    3. Celia - you are awesome!
      Angela M.

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    4. Oh, Celia, yes, yes, yessss. I keep thinking: if it's all about veiling our Very Special Holiness because we can give life, then why the head? What's so special about that body part with regards to giving birth? Shouldn't we really all be wearing lace underpants?!

      Gigi

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    5. Char - here is the super veiled wedding ceremony for your viewing pleasure... http://supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.ca/2012/08/modest-tlm-wedding-dresses.html
      Angela M.

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    6. Could you imagine, "I just felt called to start wearing lace panties." I think a lot of husbands would get on board with that fast.

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    7. Angela, you might have provided fodder for a new blog post.

      By the way, I'm cracking up that the photos come from SupertradMUM. I do believe she used to be SupertradMOM, and I believe she changed her moniker (not by much!) since she wore out her welcome all over the Catholic internet.

      She drives me CRAZY!!!! She is one of the number one reasons to NOT read Father Z's blog, his number one brown-noser, and I mean that in the literal sense. I kind of feel bad saying it, but she is just a piece of work. She needs to get a job. I've always wondered if she had a blog - thanks for letting me know. Ha!

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    8. As soon as I saw the blog name I groaned. I'm shocked she put photos of bare arms on her blog lol! And why weren't those little flower girls in ankle length dresses? Absolutely shocking!!!!
      AM

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  6. Jabberwocky2/27/13, 7:45 PM

    I've run out of irritation for this subject--too many other things to be irritated by. Now I just find it entertaining and slightly amusing to see the internet fights that still break out over this issue.

    If I were to wear a veil nowadays (I did wear one for about 3 years at a much earlier point in my life), I would feel like a sexy goddess in it!! I might have the opportunity to go to the Middle East for work in the next year or two, and I am already trying to figure out what color veil would make my sultry eyes pop the most. My husband will LOVE how I look--but even more importantly, how I feel--in it.

    Modest it would definitely not be. Modest head-covering for a woman like me would probably involve some sort of plain knit beanie, which would have the double anti-vanity whammy of ruining my hair for the rest of the day.

    Jackie O looked totally hot in her veil. What's not to love?

    If a woman wants to wear a veil, I say go for it. Black, red, hot pink for all I care. Just don't expect that everybody around you will interpret it as a sign of holiness or a statement about women's place in the world. And if you start the sultry-eye thing with my husband, I'm liable to yank it right off your head. LOL

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    1. Jabberwocky,
      Some people here have heard me tell this story before:

      I once knew a woman who decided to try doing the chapel veil thing - at the Novus Ordo. She told me she stopped wearing it when she realized she was spending time in front of mirrors admiring herself and internally ooohing and aahing over how pretty the lace looked on her. She would fantasize that it was a wedding veil, is how I remember it. She admitted it had nothing to do with holiness.

      I, for one, LOVE lace. I actually think I was attracted to chapel veils for 5 minutes because of the lace.

      I'll tell you what's gross, though. Going to a TLM parish and having some guy come up to you with a box of leftover, left behind chapel veils and suggesting you put one on. Which happened to me. No thanks.

      Delete
    2. Charlotte writes : "she stopped wearing it when she realized she was spending time in front of mirrors admiring herself and internally ooohing and aahing over how pretty the lace looked on her."

      What?? Wearing a chapel veil because she looks good in one is the best reason to wear one.

      Delete
    3. Love the Girls says:

      "Wearing a chapel veil because she looks good in one is the best reason to wear one."

      Oh that the vast majority of Latin mass women would apply the same logic to the rest of what they wear, as well as their hair, makeup, shoes, etc., etc.

      Delete
  7. Just as an update, Erin Manning wrote a second post about chapel veils today. Go back into my post and you can get the link, if you want it.

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  8. You know what I think? They "feel" called to "veil" because it's just an overly-romanticized emotional reaction to it. They have this image of themselves as a uber-feminine, pseudo-Mary with soft voices and downcast eyes and to me, it's sickening. You really miss the point of emulating the perfection of Our Lady if you think sitting quietly in long, flowing pieces of fabric is part of it. And yeah, that means long skirts, too. There's a part of me that just wants to say: grow the hell up.

    My eyes roll whenever I hear someone say "it was on my heart". I don't even know what that means, besides sentimentality. (So much better to say it was on my mind; you know, the organ you actually think with!) And I think many take that emotion and call it God telling them something specific. Are you sure about that? Or do you just like that particular image of yourself and decide that because you like it so much it MUST be from God?

    Sometimes I can't stand women. And I'm one of them. But then again, my favorite blogger in the entire world is Kathy Shaidle, which explains a lot. Some women I know would burst into tears just reading her.

    Gigi

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    1. Gigi,
      I have struggled for a long, long time with my feeling that I can't stand most women. It bothers me because I feel like a traitor.

      Delete
  9. I have tried, several times, to be a good "traditional Catholic" woman and always failed. And part of that was the veil. Aesthetically, I love the veil. They are beautiful. Also it appears to be true that woman have historically covered their heads in church. So I guess intellectually I am on board with "veiling" (I'm with Erin Manning on the weirdness of turning that into a verb) but there's so much baggage associated with it. I just don't want to be the kind of woman who wears a veil to Mass, KWIM?

    It really cracks me up that this is actually a trend started by Jackie O. Married to a Democrat for goodness' sake. Was Aristotle Onassis divorced too? But who doesn't love the image of the young Kennedy family going off to Mass every sunday morning from the White House with Jack in his suit and Jackie in her veil and those adorable (yet doomed - at least one of them) children? It captured a moment that is really gone.

    And don't even get me started on the "women bring forth life" crap. What about the women who can't "bring forth life?" The assumption is usually that it's our fault, e.g. we used birth control or ate too much soy or whatever.

    There's this whole 'navel gazing' aspect of the "good Catholic" woman blogosphere. The choices that are made about parenting, etc. are the "good Catholic" choices, e.g. "I cloth diaper because I am a Catholic" or "I use green cleaning products because I am a Catholic," etc. Maybe they really cloth diaper because that's just another one of the trends today, especially associated with woman trying to justify their decision to leave the workforce.

    And how many women cover their heads at the average Catholic parish? I think I've seen one woman at the NO with a mantilla in the past six months. But yet on the internet, you'd think everyone did it. It's one of those fake trends, like "the TLM is booming." People think the TLM is booming because certain people keep talking about it again and again but there's no evidence that more Catholics attend the TLM now than before the SP. Just like there's no evidence that women are adopting the "veil."

    I guess for me the veil doesn't make much sense in the NO context. If you want that part of tradition, why not the whole enchilada, the TLM? When I attended the TLM, I always covered my head since that's the custom but it's not the custom at the NO so why import it from another tradition? It just seems so fake to me, so "put on."

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    1. Anna, I completely agree with your observations about the Latin mass, which is why I mentioned in this post the "supposed" rise in attraction to it. Yes, we know there's more places offering it now since the M.P., but I think all that happened is a bunch of people shifted from more conservative N.O. parishes and went somewhere else that had the TLM. As to a surge of young college-aged kids getting into the TLM? I don't pay attention to that, as college-aged kids are always momentarily attracted to what looks cools and/or alternative.

      Your observation about the chapel veil looking stupid at an N.O. mass, I have to agree there too. Again, if people want to do it, fine, I will honor that. But I look at it kind of the way I look at "Christian" rock music: ridiculous, trying to mimic something that doesn't make sense.

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    2. The thing is too, that wearing a veil at a NO Mass is drawing attention to yourself. The exact opposite of what they are supposedly doing by wearing the veil in the first place.

      Catlady

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  10. Yeah, the 'veiling' thing freaks me out (as does the word 'veiling', you can't just 'verb' a word).

    1) Reading the comments on JF's post, it seems the last reason given is always "It just looks so pretty!" I love pretty things, and I would have no problem with women wearing a veil simply because it looks pretty (after all that is why we were lots of articles of clothing, and jewelry) but it seems pointless to say it is out of devotion if the main reason is prettiness.

    2) I feel very suspicious toward anything smacking of women's 'special' place in the world since historically this kind of thinking has lead to abuse and subjection of women. This seems especially prevalent in conservative religious circles. Women are said to be extra special, but then corralled into a very specific life completely under men (I'm thinking specifically of fundamentalist Christianity here, but elements of it seem to be creeping into traditional Catholicism).

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    1. November,
      There are people who won't like that I say this, but hey, just call me broad-brush-Char: I believe that the vast majority (NOT EVERYONE) of women who attend the TLM subscribe to the dowdy, long skirt, uber-modest clothing thing. It usually looks like crap, and as far as I'm concerned, usually far from feminine. Thus, I think that small piece of lace symbolizes something VERY feminine and pretty to them, and is thus cherished. Likewise, I think there are modern "neo-con" N.O. mass attenders who rightly see people just showing up to mass wearing whatever (people like me! Ha!) and a little piece of feminine beauty therefore seems attractive and something to be considered.

      About your very feminist viewpoint on women, I also agree. However, I do think Christianity sets up specific roles for men and women, but I also believe there is a modern, fair application of said roles.

      Delete
    2. This reply is for November who objects to "verb[ing]" a word. . . so how about the verb Googling from the noun Google?

      And for all you who criticize women who veil and who dress in a way that you don't like, I really don't get what you're upset about. It's their choice to veil and to wear what they believe is appropriate clothing to Mass. Who are you . . the self-proclaimed Catholic fashion police? Find something important to get up in arms about. . . poverty, child abuse, the economy, and leave those women alone.

      Delete
  11. New blog post, continued discussion of veil-ing:

    http://suchaprettybubble.blogspot.com/2013/02/veiling-bridesmaids.html

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  12. I wear a veil, um...bc I felt that I should. I don't care what everyone else does really. Except for the tube tops and short skirts where your cheeks (not the ones on your face) hang out. My veil isn't a real fashion statement, it is kinda worn and made with a dense lace. I am thinking about switching to cotton. Hair is not a huge thing to me. I just chopped off 10" on a whim. Well, it was a hair cut sale and I love me some cheap! Since I live in the south, there are many Spanish that wear mantillas so I just kinda picked it up and they are basic, some cotton. I don't feel special or better than others, I like to just sit in the back and enjoy mass! Little kids come see me because of my veil, they think its cool. Glad I look cool to the 4 year olds, lol. I wear my veil because when I receive the Eucharist, I am saying " I do". That's my reason, I don't feel any higher than others in the church, I was actually bullied in the church by elders because someone spread rumors. I just smiled and said I'm sorry. But yeah people doing it to "gain" something are weird. You are receiving His body and blood and word. What more could you want?

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  13. This article and many of the resulting comments are very gossipy, full of complaining, questioning another's prayer intentions......rather catty and lacking in Christian charity.

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    1. Anonymous,
      Thanks for stopping by to do exactly the same thing. Touche!

      Delete
  14. If you look up veil in the dictionary you will see that it can be a verb and it's not a noun that has be "verbed".

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  15. So....I like wearing veils. It helps me keep my mind on what I'm doing and it is one way for me to show my love for the Eucharist. I don't know who this other blogger is that people here don't like... But, anyway, I love being Catholic and one of the things I love about it is the use of all the senses in mass and I like expressing myself in physical ways. It's a physical expression - so even when I am distracted or not thinking about the Eucharist, I still have a physical symbol for my reverence. I actually like that it is not required because it just leaves it up to each person to decide what is meaningful to them. I only get uncomfortable because I think people like you will think I'm judging you somehow or that I think all women should wear it or something - all the while, it's just a personal expression. I don't get why everyone gets all upset about it.

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