Scandalous and Sacred Fashion

I must admit that I have trouble keeping up with the via mundi, the ways of the world, and have this abiding, if inchoate and impractical, desire to flee to somewhere like la Grande Chartreuse, nestled quietly, and quite aptly, in the Chartreuse mountains, at the foot of the French Alps, praying, working, and never hearing another news report until I meet Christ in that judgement, to which I look forward with an alternating mixture of fear, hope, trembling and desire, not necessarily in that order.

But where was I? Oh, yes, you may have read of and even seen, unfortunate you, the ‘fashion show’ at the Met the other day, with various ‘stars’, singers and models of the fairer sex, all nubile and beautiful (well most, for the ageing and rather pathos-inducing Louise Ciccone, who sadly goes by the stage name ‘Madonna’, was also in attendance), dressed up in sexy outfits as cardinals, popes, priests and prelates. Blasphemous and scandalous? Ponder not with thy mind’s eye, and I will not provide a link to any photos, although it is too late for  my own damaged imagination.  On that note, the theme of this fashion show was ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’. Hmm. Some things just should not be imagined, whether Catholic or not.

What makes this worse, according to reports, is that the vestments were on loan from the sacristy of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

What is even more strange is that some real priests were in attendance, in real garb, including Timothy Cardinal Dolan and Father James Martin, S.J., apparently in full support of what was transpiring before their eyes. And to think that not that long ago it was against canonical law for a woman even to wear pants, which were considered clothing proper to men. Although we may consider that archaic, the principle was sound: That we must protect what is sacred, by ceremony, dress and ritual, we ‘set it aside’ only for such sacred use.

For example, we maintain the God-given distinction between the sexes by custom and manners, by how we dress, act, walk, and interact. Men should stand up when a woman enters a room, and we should preserve chastity by avoiding occasions of sin and temptation.

And while we’re on the sexes, sexual intimacy itself we reserve for the sacrament of matrimony, to signify unity, fidelity and procreation.

And on the liturgical front,  we also don’t drink beer out of a chalice, nor do we consecrate the Precious Blood in a beer steins, for good reason.

And for the same reason, we reserve liturgical dress and the ‘habits’ of priests and religious to signify their sacred character, and to protect such sacredness in our own minds and hearts. To see them put on display in a sexualized ‘fashion’ show, well, what is one to say that one does not already think? We are in strange times here, and one is at a loss for words.

The monastery beckons, even if we must soldier on in the path which one has begun to trod, until God makes very clear another one…

So off to the March we go, hi ho, hi ho; again, a symbol, a sign, of something far greater than itself, that there are still some, hopefully many, who see the truth, however dimly, through all the deceptions and delusions of the anti-Christ, of which Saint John warns in today’s first reading.

Pray that many leave the darkness, and come to the Light, while there light there be.