You Are Worldly,
Catholic Life and Culture Should be Simpler
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I really like your website. I find just one thing wrong with it, but rebuke me if I am wrong. I find it a bit too worldly like the movie reviews and playing with dolls and all that grandeur that is supposed to be in restaurants.
As one may know, it is good to dress well, but he should also dress simply and with, you know poverty. Our Sweet Lady Herself would dress in a brown tunic, a grey cloak and a yellowish white veil as seen in books like the Mystical City of God by Mary d'Agreda.
Also, foods should be simple with not too big a variety. I am not saying that one should not take pleasure in eating food but it should be nice and simple. In the already mentioned (good) book, Our Lady would eat only fruit, vegetables and fish. No meat would she take although, she would cook it for the (very) Glorious Saint Joseph.
Sauces are unacceptable! This adding salt and pepper to food should stop. Gravies are improper. Spices, forget them! Food should NOT be that enjoyable.
But bad manners are acceptable! Good manners, who cares about them! (just kidding!)
After that crude little joke I made, what other entertainment should one have other than praying the Rosary?
I don't mean to criticize you or anything but I find that unworldliness is very important. And, seeing that you have a family, I think, forgive me for being rude. In fact, is it real being rude if I am doing this? ...
And another thing: don't forget the milk bottles! You know I am only kidding though.
You have many objections to our position on Catholic culture. For example, you disagree with our recommendations to readers regarding dress, table manners and the formation of children. You pretend that it is holy to disregard these things, and it is worldly to take them into due consideration.
We note that you present your objection in a joking atmosphere, imagining that this makes the objections lighter. We thank you for this effort, which simultaneously shows some consideration for us and opens an easy way for you to get off the hook. This being said, we go on to refute your position.
God wants man to perfect Creation
When God made Adam from the dust of the earth, He gave him the mission to reign over all creation. This mission implies that man should use his capacities and skills to make Creation more perfect. Dante, the famous Italian poet, used to say that works of art are grandchildren of God. He meant that since God made Creation in a somewhat rude stage and gave man the mission to complete it through art, man should do so. Since works of art are the children of man, who is in turn a child of God, his saying becomes clear: the works of art are the grandchildren of God. It is implicitly understood that if man does not execute those works of art, God is deprived of the glory He wants to receive from them.
What applies to art, which is one branch of culture, also applies to the whole tree. Man should strive to perfect culture. So, we defend that man should constantly aim to improve his way of dressing, behaving, eating, etc. with the goal of making them achieve the perfection they should have according to God’s plan. Therefore, we should care about these things very much.
Cleanness, propriety and clarity: fruits of civilization
You say: Since to dress well leads to worldliness, we should avoid dressing well.
You could make the same objection regarding a man's thinking. To expound in a clear and coherent way leads to vanity and the quest for worldly glory; therefore, we should avoid being clear and objective when transmitting our ideas.
You could also pretend the same thing regarding cleanliness and propriety. To shower, brush one’s teeth, comb one’s hair and present oneself properly lead to vanity; therefore, one should avoid all these conquests man made over himself in Catholic Civilization.
If one takes from your reasoning its natural consequences, it would follow that for you the height of virtue is to dress poorly, have poor hygiene, and express yourself poorly and with confusion. These consequences are quite absurd. The exact opposite is proper to a Catholic Civilization.
Non-objective historic example
Your generalization that Our Lady only wore poor clothing also does not seem accurate to us. Catherine Emmerick tells us that before she was dedicated to the Temple, where she lived until her marriage, she used to dress like a young Princess. St. Joachim and St. Anne, who were wealthy, had great pride to see that their only daughter dressed very well. The famous seer also explains that when Our Lady entered the Temple, she made the three vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, becoming the founder of the religious life of the New Covenant. After pronouncing those vows she wore much simpler apparel to suit her purpose. When she was given in marriage to St. Joseph, however, she again changed her way of dressing, and wore very dignified clothes that followed the good customs of her time, as traditional iconography represents her.
Your objection seems particularly baseless when we contemplate the picture of Our Lady whose painting is attributed to the Apostle St. Luke. In it she appears in a quite solemn and dignified apparel, different from the tunic you described.
So, you simplify the picture quite a bit when you present Our Lady as a model for all society in the one phase of her life where she chose to be a model only for those with religious vocations. If you were objective, you would present the three phases of her life, and then ask which one we should take as a model depending on our state of life.
Banquets and refined food
You also indirectly accuse anyone who has a well-prepared and refined meal of being worldly. You go so far as to propose your own flavorless menu as a model for all in order to prevent any supposed imbalances in eating.
Perhaps it would be useful to add to your repertoire of examples from sacred sources two events that are described in the Gospels. First, we find the Wedding Supper at Canaan, where Our Lord and Our Lady attended a very refined banquet and shared with the other guests the fine food and drinks offered.
Our Lady was so pleased with that feast that, to avoid an embarrassment for the bride’s father who was running out of wine, she asked Our Lord to begin to work His miracles. This is why the transformation of the water into wine He worked there became the first miracle of His public life. That wine - pay attention please, because now it is the Holy Ghost who opines about the taste of wines - was so exquisite that the host rejoiced upon tasting it. Perhaps you recall the teaching of the Church that it was at that elegant banquet that Our Lord instituted the Sacrament of Marriage.
Second, you should also consider that the Last Supper was a very well- prepared banquet. The cooking of the paschal lamb served for that meal was an elaborate process, following a traditional recipe coming from the time of Moses. Our Lord wanted that banquet to take place in the Cenacle, which was a quite royal room constructed - if memory serves well - by King David. It was in that solemn place during that refined meal that Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist. To this day the Holy Mass is a celebration based on the ritual of that Last Supper.
So, when we consider your opposition to “all that grandeur that is supposed to be in restaurants,” we imagine that you would be also horrified with that “worldly” and solemn meal ordered by Our Lord. If this is so, it behooves you to change your thinking. Your position is not Catholic.
We could continue to refute your objections, but we won’t do so. Since the principal ones are so baseless, the others can be left for another occasion.
Calvinist influence in American Catholicism
Most of your message reflects a tendency that is common in American Catholics. It is to believe that everything that has quality, refinement, pomp or ceremony should be avoided as worldly. Assuming such attitude, Catholics often think they are taking a "holy" position. Actually, they are just adopting and disseminating the stern, stark habits of Calvinism, which, notwithstanding, they theoretically reject.
Perhaps you should be a bit more vigilant in applying your “holiness" criteria, because nothing could be more ironic than having Catholics promoting Calvinism in their efforts to be saints.
TIA correspondence desk.
Related Topics of Interest
The Lutheran and Calvinist Mentalities
Dressing Well - Vanity or Virtue?
Table Manners Reveal a Man's Culture
Other Essential Table Manners
Nourishing an Appetite for the Marvelous
Courtesy: Essential for the Catholic Home
Training the Palate in France
Related Works of Interest
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