Saturday, July 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Humanae Vitae

Celebrate by reading or rereading this very short document and then follow up with an excellent article by Mary Eberstadt in First Things.

Four decades later, not only have the document’s signature predictions been ratified in empirical force, but they have been ratified as few predictions ever are: in ways its authors could not possibly have foreseen, including by information that did not exist when the document was written, by scholars and others with no interest whatever in its teaching, and indeed even inadvertently, and in more ways than one, by many proud public adversaries of the Church.

As with the other ironies, it helps here to have a soft spot for absurdity. In their simultaneous desire to jettison the distasteful parts of Catholicism and keep the more palatable ones, American Catholics have done something novel and truly amusing: They have created a specific catalogue of complaints that resembles nothing so much as a Catholic version of the orphan with chutzpah.

Thus many Catholics complain about the dearth of priests, all the while ignoring their own responsibility for that outcome—the fact that few have children in numbers large enough to send one son to the priesthood while the others marry and carry on the family name. They mourn the closing of Catholic churches and schools—never mind that whole parishes, claiming the rights of individual conscience, have contracepted themselves out of existence. They point to the priest sex scandals as proof positive that chastity is too much to ask of people—completely ignoring that it was the randy absence of chastity that created the scandals in the first place.

And finally, some of you will find yourselves referenced in this article:
As Naomi Schaefer Riley noted in the Wall Street Journal about events this year at Notre Dame: “About thirty students walked out of The Vagina Monologues in protest after the first scene. And people familiar with the university are not surprised that it was the kids, not the grownups, who registered the strongest objections. The students are probably the most religious part of the Notre Dame. . . . . Younger Catholics tend to be among the more conservative ones.”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

When Church Ladies Go Bad

Over at Mulier Fortis:

Having seen these photos on the Curt Jester's excellent blog, I have been inspired. I feel sure that I am called and chosen... I have a vocation to the ordained priesthood. YES ! I want to become a womynpriest.

BUT... not just any old womynpriest. I like Latin, and snazzy vestments, and I believe in Tradition, and so I am totally convinced that I am called to be a Traddy womynpriest.

Well, now that she's discerned this call, I don't suppose there's anything anyone can do except go over to her post and help puzzle some conundra (is it possible to knit while attending in choir?).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Über Church Ladies

A friend of the Church Ladies sent along this 1915 New York Times piece a while back, but I was so taken, at the time, by the difference between the architectural renderings and what actually came to be (this particular CL is a bit of a Gothicist) that I failed to notice that the entire project was started by a group of Church Ladies. Now, your Hostesses have tended to sacristies; sewed, embrodered and ironed altar linens; and organized many Masses, but we have yet to actually take on the project of a whole new church, much less a National Shrine! And so, Church Ladies of the Past, we salute you!

The group is also mentioned in this short 1913 society column.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Protochristian church ladies

Virgins in the temple
(from the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James)
Our Lady of Victories, Boston

Think global, act local

Some inspiration for church ladies, should they start running in higher ecclesiastical circles and save some poor cardinal from terrible millinery. All pictures from the Bicentennial of the Archdiocese of Boston exhibit at the BPL.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

You have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ.

Church Ladies love being Godmothers for so many reasons!
Someone has observed our spiritual life and found some little piece of inspiration.
Someone thinks highly enough of us to entrust their precious child to our care.
We have a reason to re-examine our lives and make improvements.
Graces are poured out to make all of this happen.

For the seventh time, I will become a Godmother next weekend and like many Church Ladies have chosen to give a handmade gift. Instead of the standard-issue white baptismal garment provided by our parish, my last three Godchildren have received a customized one as a loving reminder of this most important day.

I start out by doing the text and graphic layout on my computer. Here I used MS Publisher to experiment with different fonts and to automatically center the layout. Lay the fabric (batiste, broadcloth, or real linen if you can find it) over the printed page and use a washable fabric pen to trace the design.

(Yes, happily, this child's name is Anselm Augustine!)

Next attach some lightweight interfacing to the back to stabilize your work and do the embroidery. I've done some of this by hand, and some by machine. To do the machine portions, I used a buttonhole stitch and basically free-handed it. An inverted embroidery hoop helps keep the fabric taut to avoid puckers. As you'd expect, the straighter lines were pretty easy, and the curvy ones (like e and s) took more patience and perhaps more than one try.

Voila! The finished project!

Gianna and I were discussing variations on this project and decided that embroidering some longer piece (perhaps from the Rites) around the hem of a handmade christening gown would be a worthy use of any Church Lady's nine months of waiting.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Your Edifying Picture of the Day

And, for a little Church Lady trivia: Did you know that Princess Grace was an outspoken advocate of the La Leche League? Or that her first child was born 9 months and 4 days after her wedding? In other words, clearly a Kindred Spirit of the Church Ladies.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Utterly Adorable C.L.O.C.H.E.s

While my search was originally intended for purposes of an Hat Tip, I couldn't let this particular find languish as a mere footnote to my previous post. This is because it is, indeed, possibly the Perfect Church Lady Hat.

"Why this hat?" you may ask. Besides the obvious Classiness and Fabulousness of it, the colors display a devotion to the Foremost of All Church Ladies, and, perhaps more obviously, to Her Football Team (your hostesses are all Quite Devoted to Our Lady's football team).

This, though, leads to the question, "Why hats at all?"

While the Church Ladies have nothing against a mantillas (au contraire, many of them are quite fond of a little Womanly Lace), there is an undeniable something about a hat that makes it the perfect accessory. As well as the various utilitarian aspects, a hat can pick up one's mood, complete an outfit, and keep one from taking oneself Too Seriously. A hat can eliminate the phenomenon of the Bad Hair Day and lend a visible air of the mystery that is an intrinsic characteristic of femininity. Moreover, there is something that can be modest about hat-wearing. Not in the sense so much of a covering-up, or that not wearing a hat would be immodest, but it does convey a certain guardedness in one's approach to the world.

I shall be posting more about these and other aspects of hat-wearing in the near future, as well as more Utterly Adorable Pictures, of course.

Oh, "What's the acronym?" you ask? (You certainly are asking a lot of questions today.) That would, be the Church Lady Ongoing Campaign for Hat Enthusiasm (or perhaps élan; we haven't decided yet). If you wish to join the Campaign, simply wear a stylish hat out and about once in a while when you normally would not. I promise you'll get only compliments.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Art of Manliness

While we always welcome the Pious Men among us to visit our home in the Blogosphere, another site has recently come to our attention that we think may prove a bit more useful to their everyday.

The Art of Manliness is a blog dedicated to rediscovering the lost art of being a man. It features articles on helping men be better husbands, better fathers, and better men. In our search to uncover the lost art of manliness, we’ll look to the past to find examples of manliness in action. We’ll analyze the lives of great men who knew what it meant to "man up" and hopefully learn from them.

We do think that all of our readers, Church Ladies and Pious Men alike, will enjoy the site immensely.

(Utterly Adorable cloche tip to Mike.)

Ever Wonder What it Takes to Get Church Ladies Excited?

Well, Gianna emailed it. Then, Mary Liz posted it over at her place. But, as I have yet to see it come up here, I shall give you the sneak preview of:

Angelus Press's "Helpful Handbook to Laundering Liturgical Linens"

Now, aside from the alliterative title (Church Ladies do love alliteration), the content is enough to keep a Church Lady up at night double-checking the publisher's site to see if it hasn't come out yet.

Have a look at Fr. Z's entry for the scoop on what exactly is going to be featured in this useful volume, and see Mary Liz's post for some humorous thoughts on Schismatic Laundry, as well Dire Warnings as to What Can Happen if you fail to call a Church Lady for your linen laundering needs...