The next edition of Mass of Ages is in the presses, and you can read online one of the articles: a conversation between a number of ladies attached to the Traditional Mass, online, here.
There are interesting discussions about mantillas, trouser-wearing, and stereotypes. (I've recently said a lot about head-coverings in church: see here.)
Regular readers of this blog may remember the bizarre attack on women who attend the Traditional Mass by Professor Tracey Rowland, to which I responded here and on Rorate Caeli. Rowland was talking about a sterotype which really exists only in her mind, but I think it worries a section of Catholic opinion that some women might sacrifice their social conformism, in a visible way, in terms of clothes, as part of their response to the Faith. This makes some people very uncomfortable.
The same can happen when people see a large Catholic family: people whose consciences a little tender on the subject of contraception feel uncomfortable that another person has made a sacrifice they - or their friends - regard as totally unreasonable, in response to the Faith.
Mantilla-wearing ladies, or parents of large families, aren't setting out to make anyone uncomfortable, it is not a display of piety; but nor are they simply adopting a lifestyle choice. They are responding to the demands of the Faith, often at considerable cost, perhaps in a way impossible for this or that other person: they are not judging anyone. What would be nice for for their fellow Catholics to recognise that this response is a valid one, and that those who adopt it should not be tarred and feathered for it.
One thing I'd add to the article in the Mass of Ages is that it is rather misleading to say that women don't have a 'formal role' in the liturgy: the 'role' of assisting, as a member of the congregation, is the 'role' that nearly all lay people have nearly all of the time, even in the Novus Ordo. As for specialised ways of supporting the liturgy, one role has been taken up almost exclusively by ladies, that of creating and maintaining vestments. It's not a necessarily female role, but, like being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion in the Ordinary Form, and rather more appropriately, it has worked out that way. The photo shows a Goldwork Training Day organised by the Guild of St Clare in Oxford: here is another.
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