Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Summer Reminder

One of the reasons that my writing has been more sporadic during my tenure at Blessed Sacrament has been the fact that I have been writing for the cover of the bulletin every few weeks.  As a way of preserving those covers for future use, I think I will publish the better ones here.


In the Church, there exists a long and venerable tradition of hiding from view what is most sacred and mysterious.  The tradition has Biblical roots.  Moses covered his face when encountering the Lord, and later, after his own face was transformed and radiant after another encounter with God, he veiled it when speaking to the people.  Likewise, when God delivered his commandments to Moses, he wreathed the mountain in smoke.  Similarly, when addressing his people through Moses, he appears only within the tent erected to house the Ark of the Covenant.

Many older Catholics will also recall a time when the tabernacle in the Church, in which any remaining consecrated hosts are reserved, was covered with a veil.  They will also likely remember a time when the chalice and patten (the vessels in which the bread and wine are consecrated to become the body and blood of Christ) were covered with a veil from the beginning of Mass until the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer.  These customs are still practiced in some places.

In each of these cases, such covering existed not to suggest that the eyes of common people are profane, or that “normal people” are unworthy to gaze upon beautiful and holy things, but rather, to remind us of the sacredness of that which was covered.  To veil a tabernacle or a chalice reminds us that the objects upon which we look are not ordinary and destined for pedestrian uses.  Rather, they are integral elements of something altogether otherworldly, but which God, in his profound generosity, has given us permission to approach.  To cover or veil something reminds us that the thing that has been covered is holy and must be approached and handled with the great respect and reverence due to it.

 It is for this same reason that we should all strive to practice the virtue of modesty in our dress.  The human body, created in God’s image and likeness, is endowed with dignity and is profoundly sacred.  It is in the body that one lives one’s life and progresses toward holiness.  It is in the body that one receives God’s grace through the sacraments.  It is with the body that husbands and wives, in imitation of Christ’s self-gift on the Cross, give themselves completely, freely, faithfully, and fruitfully to one another.  It is in the body, that these same husbands and wives demonstrate the mystery of the union of the three persons of the Holy Trinity, and it is in the body that they becomes signs of the love that Christ has for his Church.  The human body is sacred and mysterious.  It is not meant to be shown and flaunted to all who care to look.  As with a chalice or tabernacle, it should only be uncovered at the right time, by the right person, and under the right circumstances.

The consequence of this fact should lead us to a rather obvious conclusion.  We, men and women alike, should not attire our bodies in such a way so as to draw unseemly glances from others.  We should not clothe ourselves so as to suggest that our bodies exist as an object to be used for the pleasure of others.  We should not dress so as to lead anyone to believe that our bodies are anything less than the most sacred gift God has deigned to give us.  Likewise, we should be vigilant in assuring that our children, especially teens, do none of these things.

To be modest, does not require that one have no taste.  Modesty and class are complimentary.  Modesty does demand, however, that we acknowledge that the human form is beautiful, sacred, and mysterious.  We should never allow anyone, ourselves included, to approach it with anything less than the absolute reverence it deserves.



  1. Great reminders, Fr! If I am not mistaken, this same reason was given to me on why women used to wear veils at Holy Mass.


  2. very good read and points I had never heard explained in such a precise way. Thankyou and I will pass the knowledge along. lol


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