Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show aired the other night on CBS. It has caused several articles to be written, about the bad qualities and outlooks on women that the show and the store in general display. The show has caught major attention in the media, not only because there were scantily clad women walking around a run-way, but country music star Taylor Swift was part of the opening act. The idea of having women wearing barely nothing, walking around a stage and having pictures taken of them would have horrified older generations. What has happened in our culture that has turned something scandalous, into something watched by 10.3 million in 2012?
Our culture has many problems that have led to the degradation of society and a devaluing of morality. Stores like Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria’s Secret, and more feed the fires in our society in ways, that are proving detrimental. So many things could be said of this topic: modesty, values, purity, pornography, or other topics. I am choosing to take this post in a different way, one with a little history. Let’s talk about veils!
Bridal veils, tabernacle veils, temple veil, chalice veil, habit veil, chapel veil, bed veils, veils are everywhere, both in the church and the world. Why is it that veils seem to have fallen into disuse though? In weddings, the bride usually no longer wears a veil, sisters have abandoned their habits and veils, churches no longer veil their statues during Passion Week and continuing through the Easter vigil, tabernacles and chalices are unveiled, and more. I propose that this “un-veiling” in the sacred realm has a direct correlation to the unveiling in society.
The human body is constantly being shown more and more. Sure, the body is a type of art. Look at Michaelangelo’s David! But, there comes a point wherein a beautiful nude, becomes a pornographic. The human body is something that has always held fascination with our minds, and rightly so, who wouldn’t want to know more about what they are? In years of late, though the fascination has slipped from how it works, or how to care for it, to how can I get the most pleasure out of it? How can I use his/her body for my satisfaction? How can I show off the most, without being completely nude?
Ever since the 60’s, even including years prior to that, the swimsuit has been an object of controversial discussion. Women’s one-pieces have turned into tankinis, bikinis, and everything in between. From women, showing very little of their legs or arms, we now have suits that show everything except the most intimate parts of the body, even failing in some aspects with that! This “de-veiling” of the female body has led to a rise of production in the porn industry, the swimsuit industry, and the all too commonly heard sin in the confessional: lustful thoughts. A quote comes to my mind in considering all of this in light of the other night’s tv special: “Victoria’s Secret isn’t very secret any more…”
Men and women have very different things that attract us. Men, tend to dwell on the outside, the body, the future hopes of child-bearing, looks, physical senses, while women focus on the internal. Thus, men are more attracted to what a woman looks like, than the vice-versa. The problem that we encounter with this, is that, there is too much shown to be attracted to. In fact, it is a turn-off! Scantily-clad women are not attractive to men in the sense of why we were created, “To bear fruit and multiply…” rather, they focus our attention on the external features, the pleasure we can gain, and the temporal good of the pleasure of sex. Most men no longer look at a woman for who she is, but what she can do for him, how she will affect his senses.
The church in her wisdom has realized how the male mind works. Going back to our Jewish roots we see how God commanded the use of a veil to show his presence in the tabernacle of the temple. God showed his presence by the use of a veil, so too the church uses a veil over the tabernacle as another sign of the presence of God.
The holy things, were always hidden from those who were not anointed or ordained to touch or see them. Men are attracted to that which they cannot see. Look at young boys as they grow up. Somewhere along the line, a parent would notice that they might take a broken alarm clark apart in order to see how it works. Or that broken Xbox, phone, computer, watch, etc. Men are attracted to discover the things which they do not know. The church’s liturgy, in praise of Christ is a very masculine thing. We use smoke, fire, incense, sounds, light and darkness, beautiful vestments, chant, organ, etc. It is something that is very hands on and apparent to the sense. Now, I am not saying that the Liturgy does not have femininity in it either. Look at the canopy over the Altar, the statue of Mary in each Catholic church, the reason that the ambo is located on the same side as the Mary statue. (From Mary, came forth the Word made flesh.)
The church in the Second Vatican Council affirmed that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian Vocation. We regard the Sacred Species as being the “Holy of Holies.” Thus, we veil it, we enclose it away under lock and key, to keep it for VENERATION, communion for the sick, and PROTECT IT FROM IRREVERENCE OR PROFANATION. We recognize that it is our duty to protect Jesus, our society though, does not seem to remember that it’s job is to protect the welfare, modesty, and dignity of each human person.
The church then is left to proclaim the dignity and demand the respect of every human. John Paul II entrusted EVERY MAN with the duty to PROTECT the DIGNITY of EVERY WOMAN. Instead, of fighting for the respect of the female body, for that which God created as the “crowning jewel” of creation, we let her body be used for lustful thoughts, selfish, immoral actions.
Most Catholic Churches do not usually veil the tabernacle, or chalice any more. It is becoming less likely to see a bride with a veil, religious men and women have abandoned their habits, we don’t veil statues during Holy Week anymore, and priests stop wearing clerics. Sure, some of these things have good things that have come from them, but they also have the negative, things which have changed the face of the church, in fact the very face of the world. I’m not saying that we need to go back to everything I have mentioned, but certainly we should acknowledge that something is different, and we need to find ways to combat it.
I had a friend tell me this evening that sex and morals are not related and that it is lucky to find a virgin to marry anymore in today’s world. It pained me to listen to him tell me this. But, it described his generation’s poor catechesis, and lack of leadership/morality in the church and world. This has extended into our time. Sadly too, my friend was dead wrong. Having sex and morals are explicitly related. You can still find both men and women who are saving themselves until marriage. Sure, it may be a struggle to stay pure and chaste in our world, but it IS POSSIBLE!!!
We need a LOT of help in our country in the area of morality, dignity, and respect for every human life. We can be a part of that change! Don’t go and eat at Hooters, Show-Me’s, or other such establishments. Don’t let your son or daughter buy revealing clothes at the store. Choose the one-piece over two-piece swimming suit. Don’t watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, or frequent their store. Don’t visit Hollister or Abercombie & Fitch. Protect and guard the dignity of every person! Bring back the sanctity of veiling sacred things. The body is sacred. It deserves to be reverenced, and treated with love.
Remember man, that you are charged with protecting the dignity of EVERY woman! Fight the good fight, stay pure, avoid objects of temptation and live for Christ! Love can change the world, if we only let the love of Christ enter every part of our lives. Be brave, and strive to live a life pleasing to God, so that one day we may be with each other in Heaven, where the dignity of each person is respected and treasured forever.
St. Maria Goretti, pray for us!