Friday, February 28, 2014

Checkout Encounter: Be Prepared to Make a Defense for the Hope That Is in You

Ok, ok, I must of course address the glaring fact that I've missed two days of my sacred commitment to write seven posts in seven days.  I've been working on my quilt, I promise!  I will be writing a reveal post before these seven days are up.  I didn't have to rush it quite so much because we are here awaiting the umpteeth Snowmageddon of the winter rather than driving back from a weekend traveling and visiting friends and family.  I did take a break and visited an antique mall with a dear friend here today.  Although we live in the same city it's been over a month since we've seen each other.  I have way too many friends like that.  I also had apple pie for breakfast.  Gotta get these things in before Lent starts!

What I want to write about tonight is what happened at checkout.  Sociologists take note: the checkout of doom exists in antique malls, too!  No, not really.  Sometimes Checkout Encounters are excellent.  Lisa and I are clearly Catholic nerds.  I bought salt and pepper shakers and a small statue of Our Lady holding Jesus.  Lisa got a long black mantilla and a sick call set.  If you don't know what a sick call set is, it's a crucifix that slides open to reveal a compartment with blessed beeswax candles and holy water, used when the priest visits an ill or dying person in the family.  I'm sure a priest would be prepared when making such a visit, but I like them in the home as an excellent momento mori.

The man ringing up Lisa's purchases was about sixty, balding but with a wisp of curly gray ponytail.  He wore cool black glasses and one diamond earring in his left ear.  He asked Lisa about the sick call set, saying he vaguely remembered seeing them as a child.  Then the mantilla.  I think he asked whether she planned to actually use it.  He remembered the nuns pulling out handkerchiefs and Kleenex for the girls if they didn't have a chapel veil.  He said, "None of us knew why but we just did it."

I finished uneventfully paying for my things, and joined Lisa in time for him to ask, "How do you two feel--I'm interested in young people's perspective--about women doing more in the liturgy?  Like female priests? Because my wife--she's about the same age as me--really gets mad that that hasn't happened yet."

I have to give tons of credit to Lisa, because she answered beautifully.  She explained how it wouldn't be possible for a woman to be a priest, because the priest is in the person of Christ, of God.  Christ is the bridegroom and the Church His bride.  God is Father to His children.  A woman could not fill the role of husband and father because it is contrary to her feminine nature.  The Church will never "get with the times" because the times have completely confused what it means to be masculine or feminine.  Women have been given their own unique gifts to be Christ to others, but not ordained ministry.

She didn't say all this in one fell swoop, by the way, but she was prepared for sure.  She also got in a mention about how veiling is actually a way of honoring femininity.  The man listened and we would have talked more.  But the place was closing, so we thanked him and said goodnight.

This reminded me of something that happened when I was in kindergarten.  My memory of this incident is very clear.  The bishop came to visit our school.  After Mass there was a Q&A session with the bishop.  Students were asking his things like, "What's your favorite football team?" It was very informal and the general vibe was, "Gee, bishops are regular guys too."  At age five, I wasn't too interested in football.  Or age ever, really.  So I raised my hand and asked, "Why can't girls be priests?"  The bishop turned absolutely red in the face with anger.  That was the abrupt end of the cute little Q&A.  He believed that some adult had told me to ask that question and he was furious.

Now, I can see why he would have thought that.  Most kindergarteners aren't spontaneously asking such politically charged, deeply theological questions.  Most kindergarteners would ask what color vestments he likes best.  However, he wasted a golden opportunity.  Here was a wonderful chance to exercise his teaching authority as a Bishop of the Church.  He had hundreds of people ripe to hear the beautiful and inspiring truth Lisa gave to her audience of one, and he completely blew it.  Probably many people who witnessed that were ready to believe that the Church has no real reason for keeping women from Holy Orders.  Since the Bishop couldn't answer why not, well, why not?  Maybe the Church really was just misogynist, since they didn't hear any argument to convince them otherwise.

Same with those nuns that slapped Kleenex on embarrassed little girls' heads.  If only one sister had explained to them the beauty of what the veil, they would never fall into the trap that they're just a symbol of oppression.  I won't get into the veil now, because this post is already getting long, but read about it here when you get the time.  Much has been written lamenting the sad lack of cathechesis that essentially lost us the generation of Baby Boomers on down.  They didn't know their faith so they were easy pickings when the cultural revolution took hold.

The past is obviously past.  But it means that it's more important that ever to know your faith and "be prepared to make a defense for the hope that is in you" with "gentleness and reverence".  (1 Peter 3:15)  We have authority over our own children and of course the greatest responsibility to evangelize to them, but we are also our brothers' keepers.  You never know when those opportunities will appear!  The verse that often appears in contrast with 1 Peter 3:15 is Luke 12:12, that the Holy Spirit will give you the words.  Of course both are true.  If we have the Truth in our heads and the Holy Spirit in our hearts we are ready to go out and make disciples of all nations.  Or go shopping for antiques on a Friday night.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh - you two made some good finds :-) Also, kudos for your friend for clear thinking, and the ability to articulate it all so well. I would certainly have made a mess of it.