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    Dear Edith

    Dear Edith Response #1 – Amanda

    Read the original question here.

    Dear Carey,

    Thank you for your question! To start, I think you are correct in that St. Paul’s teaching was related to the culture at that time. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a declaration in 1976 called Inter Insigniores, in which they state about the teachings of St. Paul regarding women,

     “. . .it must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed upon women to wear a veil on their head (1 Cor 11:2-16); such requirements no longer have a normative value.”

    Since the 1970s, women are not expected to wear head coverings while in church (though the expectation remains for Mass in the Extraordinary Form), leaving it up to a woman’s personal choice. As it is a choice, I can only share why I choose to do so. There are variety of reasons, but they are all part of a desire to recognize my femininity before God by wearing a veil in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

    One such reason is that, when I put on my veil upon entering a church, it is a concrete reminder that I am in the presence of God. This fosters a disposition that helps me pray and focus (helpful for someone who is as easily distracted as I am).

    I also wear a veil as a sign of submission to the will of God; however, for me, this is far more of an accountability measure than it is a sign of holiness. I continually struggle with surrendering my will to God’s, and wearing a veil helps me remember that I still have much growing to do in this area.

    Finally, the veil reminds me that it is a great blessing to be a woman, as our bodies are sacred vessels capable of carrying life (think of how the chalice which holds the Precious Blood is veiled before the consecration). This is one attribute that distinguishes us from men. As a woman, I have a special vocation to receive life and nourish it, whether that be through loving my friends, in my work with college students, or one day as a mother. All of that being said, the veil is certainly not necessary for women to focus at Mass, surrender their will to God’s, or embrace the gift of their femininity. There are plenty of holy women in my life who inspire me and happen to not wear veils. In the end, I wear a veil because I like wearing one for the reasons I mentioned, and I hope that any woman would feel free to wear one or not, as she chooses.


    Amanda is a Coloradan who recently relocated to the south. She works at a Catholic college and could talk for days about her love of Catholic education. She can usually be found at a local coffee shop or getting lost while exploring her new city.

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    Mary

    The Genius of Mary

    Do we really get Mary?

    We know God made her perfectly sinless. She needed to be perfect because Jesus would take His human nature from her. That’s why she was humble, meek, and so, so good.

    And that is where we get stuck.

    Everybody focuses on Mary’s goodness. Some see her as a model disciple and try to be like her. Some seek refuge in her caring maternal arms and ask for her help. Some even dismiss her all together as out of their league, preferring saints who were sinners first.

    Holy pictures feature a serene, dutiful Mary – definitely not a troublemaker here. In movies, she comes off as someone who’d make a great babysitter. You get the idea that filmmakers have way more fun with Peter or Judas than with the predictably good, frankly boring character of Mary.

    Hello? Perfect goodness Mary had. But perfect goodness was not ALL she had.

    Let us look at the only other perfect human beings God every created – Adam and Eve – and we will find out just what Mary had going for her.

    Adam and Eve were created smart. If tests had been invented, they wouldn’t have had to cram for them. They would remember everything they had learned. Nothing was hard for them. We get a glimpse of what this must have been like everytime a genius comes alone. Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Shakespeare – all possessed a trickle of the run-off from our original state of perfection. They show us how talented man was originally created to be.

    That was Mary. Unlike Adam and Eve, she didn’t blow it. Beyond not being ignorant, she also did not have a weak will or the tendency to do stupid things called sins. This made her beyond smart; it made her wise.

    This means that if God had so willed to give her the job of Ruler of the Roman Empire, she would have done a bang up job. And we wouldn’t be forced to settle for Cleopatra or Hetsheptsut as examples of powerful women excelling in a man’s world.

    But God didn’t want that job for her. He gave her the job of bearing and raising a Child, and wiping the crumbs from the table and feeding the pigeons and making lots and lots of matza. We think of that job as pretty mediocre and so we portray Mary as mediocre. This only goes to show how mediocre WE are.

    Then there’s the fact that she doesn’t have a lot to say. And when she does talk, she seems confused. “Where have you been? We’ve been looking all over for you!” Nobody seems to notice the fact that she came up with the Magnificat right on the spot. God inspired it but did He write it? It is said that Mozart was inspired to write the Ave Verum while on a procession. Then he went home and sweated out the details. Mary didn’t have to bother with all of that.

    Or perhaps we think she was simple minded because of the question she asked the Angel Gabriel: “How can this be for I do not know man?” So let’s go there. In the first place she had no doubt about it. We know this because Zachariah asked a slightly different question of the same angel and was struck dumb for doubting. Was Mary simply bewildered and naïve so the angel didn’t hold it against her? There is a third possibility. Mary knew clearly that the Conception of Jesus would NOT happen in the usual way. She obviously had a solid grasp of what the usual way entailed – despite being very young and living in a very sheltered community, which just adds to my point about her not having to puzzle stuff out like the rest of us. She simply wanted to know how God was going to do it. The question starts with the word “How” not “Wait, this makes no sense!” So the angel explains it: “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you.” Mary then submits to the total awesomeness of what is about to happen.

    Back to films. I can think of one notable exception to Babysitter Mary, and that is the Mary of the film, The Passion of the Christ. THAT Mary is a Mary who indeed has all the usual qualities we associate with her – serenity, approachability, and not a lot of lines. But she is an intelligent Mary, a woman par excellence. She is the Mother of the Perfect Man and let me tell you, the apple does not fall far from the tree. You can take her seriously. You can respect her. She is someone you would go to for advice and she would never steer you wrong.

    This is the Mary people need to know. Or at least it’s a good start. Learn more about this fascinating and complex person by meditating on the Litany of Loretto, which lists some of her better known titles. Mother Most Banal is not one of them. Mother of Good Counsel is. So is Virgin Most Prudent and Seat of Wisdom. While it’s right that we appreciate the goodness of Mary, let’s not stop there. She was the smartest woman the world has ever known. Mother most Brilliant, pray for us.


    Susie Lloyd is the author of Bless Me, Father, for I Have Kids. Find more articles and books on susielloyd.com

    This article was first published in Catholic Digest.

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    Dear Edith

    Dear Edith: Veiling in Church

    Dear Edith,

    Reading the Bible as a Catholic and a Feminist, I have long been confused by St. Paul’s straightforward command that women should wear head coverings in church. I would think that this teaching perhaps had relevance to the culture at the time and is now obsolete, but I know millions of Catholic women still wear head coverings. I don’t understand the purpose and it troubles me that women and girls cover themselves when there is no expectation that men and boys do so. I would never do this myself or ask it of my future daughters, but I would love to understand more about the application of this teaching in the modern church. Thank you!
    – Carey Helmick

    Carey Helmick joined the church last Easter. She’s a brand new blogger at raisinghelmicks.com where she writes about parenting and making the world better for babies. She and her husband Kyle have a 4.5 month old named Rory. 

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    Books, Mary, Resources

    Book Recommendation: Walking with Mary

    “I used to think Mary was totally unrelatable (she’s perfect, after all…) and this was one of the first books I read that really made her seem human to me.” – Samantha Povlock

    This Lent, why not walk alongside the woman who knew Jesus best? 

    Find Walking with Mary by Dr. Edward Sri here:

    Already read this book? Tell us what you thought in the comments below!

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