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Saturday, February 17, 2007

C'est tres chaud, mais...

We are currently experiencing very warm weather. It is so warm that it's hot. That is not the point of this post.

The point of today's post is centred upon my thought that the comment 'you must be so hot in that' is, at most times, quite rude. Particularly when it is directed at a lady.

Firstly, the female body is a cross. It is good, beautiful, life-bearing, and mysterious, but while all these things, and a great gift from God, ask any woman in any state of life, and I'm sure she will concur with a truth that has existed since the Fall. Only our Blessed Mother is in full and perfect possession of the glorified female body (and soul). It's a wonderful mystery. I suppose that this is simply a tale from the ensuing exile written by one experiencing acute symptoms of Original Sin. And a little too much sun.

In the Liturgy, the Church clothes herself in the finery of her wedding garments, and goes forth to meet the Lord. She is finely detailed in her prayer, lavish in her gestures, joyful in her song, expectant in her silence, and modest in her mystery. She looks beautiful, sounds beautiful, smells beautiful, and protects her most sacred treasures with a certain pleasing and holy aloofness. In the order of grace, she communicates herself, and affects and transforms her members according to the Holy Will of God. No one is left untouched, or unchanged. The Master makes all things new, and beautiful.

The Liturgy transforms one's sensibility. It begins to heal the disorders wrought by both Original Sin, and one's actual sins. It is most wonderful, miraculous, and painful, all at the same time. This is particularly pertinent in the case of those underlying maladies, specific to each indivdual, that one would rather not admit. Especially if we think that we have already conquered them by our own efforts.

Our culture is undergoing the crisis of a lack of true masculinity - what it means for a man to be a man, and a man of God. From the feminine perspective, it is a horrible crisis, because without real and right-ordered men, a lady doesn't know how to be a real and right-ordered woman. I think it works both ways.

The Liturgy transforms one's sensibility. I am blessed to know the most beautiful, feminine, and God-fearing women. The are entrely decent, intelligent, modest in dress and decorum, and importantly, each rightly according to her temperament. In this way, by her temperament, each lady is different, but her end is one and the same. The sanguine and the melancholic may appear a little differently, have a different interior life, and way of relating in the world, but they share in the same life of grace infused by the one Lord, as daughters of the one Church. Sometimes it can be difficult for them to appreciate one another. Particularly for the self-pitying melancholic.

Modesty is one of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord was perfectly modest. In Philippians, St Paul admonishes the faithful 'Gaudete in Domino semper, iterum dico, gaudete! Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus.' We are to be joyful - and our joy is to be true and sensible, and well-ordered. So we can see indeed that the Lord is worthy of every joy and every praise. This right-ordering of things seems to be at the very heart of modesty. Since the Lord has created us to live in the visible order as fleshy human beings, we must let our 'modesty be known' as befits the created order. Angels need not think about culture or clothing, but men do. Nonetheless, as the hymn 'Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence', reminds us, both angels and men are similarly subject "to the Presence." The Liturgy transforms one's sensibility, and one becomes mindful that all things, according to their nature, are to be rightly ordered toward God.

Each of the angels appears before the Lord in right fashion, carrying out his duties as befits his state. Thus men so do as the Lord has ordained according to His wishes. Men are not angels, and it takes time for them to discern the ways of the Lord. He helps them along quietly. Sometimes it is painful, but there is always joy at the end.

Let your modesty be known before all men. Do this in the world. Be ordered to the Good. It's really rather beautiful. It's results are beautiful. But it was never going to be an easy task. Here the treatise turns to narrative.

I am a plain melancholic. I would be more than content to pass the rest of my days in a formless smock. It's a case of those things which I have already spoken, and it is awfully difficult for me to find clothing. I refuse to buy three pieces of clothing when one would be sufficient (a top for under a top and something over that top), and can't seem to solve the mystery of lovely blouses having their two top buttons removed in the manufacturing process. Lack of sleeves is also a problem. Today's city expedition was a failure.

The irony of the story is that I found something close to home, just as I knew I would. I think I bought a man's shirt for a blouse. I can only tell by the buttons - which are covered - and this one has all its buttons. And sleeves. Oh the irony of having recourse to male clothing - which isn't at all masculine! The disorder of it all! At least you now have the story.

The Very Rev Father John Berg FSSP, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, is visiting us. We are having a picnic after tomorrow's Mass. The forecast is for 38C. If it is the Lord's Will, it will snow.

Really, it comes down to this: if it is hot tomorrow, please don't ask me if I am hot. In aestu, temperies. And if it snows, I'll bring my jacket.

Fine. 1st Vespers follows...