So I frequent a particular Catholic forum that, recently, has gone over the deep end in some parts. Pants vs. skirts were the topic of several threads. The conclusion of some women: women MUST dress in skirts/dresses or they are being MEN and that MEN are ANIMALS who can’t control themselves. The thing is the Catholic Church has never taken particular position on clothing except that it must be MODEST. Modesty and fashion are two different things that unfortunately, overlap. I had a bigger problem with women dictating how other women to dress, so much so that they were practically condemning those women to HELL for wearing pants and not wearing skits/dresses. There were several FEMALE posters that I had to put on my ignore list because of their behavior and attitude towards women who didn’t agree with them. It’s women who oppress women. I also had a major problem with painting men with a broad brush and calling them animals who can’t control themselves. While I know there are men who have to deal with sins against purity and sins against chastity, to BLAME WOMEN for their sins in extremely uncharitable and even ridiculous. It is an individual’s decision to look at someone with lust, not the fault of the individual who dressed in pants and was looked. And men and women can commit lust, sins against purity even if the individual they look at is dressed modestly. So I take issue with people who condemn a group of people for other people’s sins even though they had nothing to do with the first group’s sins. It it up to the individual to determine what they want to wear as long as it it modest. Pants on women are modest though there are several styles that are not. The same is true for pants on men. I guess I don’t understand the issue in that even the Vatican in it’s dress code allows pants as long as they cover past the knee.
I just can’t stand it when the skirts/dresses only crowd demand and dictate that women must wear what they wear and that if the as-long-as-it-is-modest crowd disagree, the skirts/dress crowd crow they are right but the as-long-as-it-is-modest are idiots and need to convert to the skirt/dresses only crowd. This is particularly true when Colleen Hammond, a lay writer who’s published HER OWN opinion on dress, gets brought up. While anybody can write and she may have something relevant to say, she puts forth her OWN OPINION and extremely poor scholarship. She thinks women are damning men to hell for NOT wearing skirts/dresses all the time, even when home alone with family. As you can tell, I don’t like her view. She’s allowed her opinion but that’s it, it’s just an opinion. It is NOT Church teaching which is what many of the skirt/dressed only crowd hold it up to be. Church teaching only focuses on modesty not fashion and personal taste in clothing. I won’t dictate another person’s wardrobe choices but I will encourage modesty. That’s it because that is all I can do.
By the way, I don’t think men are pigs. Many know how to control themselves and to avoid sins against purity and chastity. I refuse to paint them with a broad brush let alone excuse them on their own sins or the encouragement of other people’s sins. Meaning, if a man sins, he’s responsible for his sins but only if he sins. Other people’s sins are not his sins.
My mention of pride comes from my reading the skirts or pants threads, the threads on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and the Ordinary Form of the Mass, and traditionalists vs. Catholics who are just doing their best to live their faith. These posters (traditionalists though not all to differentiate) believe their opinion and world view is the only acceptable view of the Catholic faith and that anyone who attends/like the OF, dresses in pants, etc. is a heretic and is trying to destroy the Church. And no, I’m not kidding about that. There are many who believe that anyone who doesn’t believe as they do and spew their vitriol is damned to hell. And they are pretty willing and wanting to send them there.
Now I grew up with the Ordinary Form of the Mass (OF). I have never known the Mass in Latin (Extraordinary Form (EF)) though I do support those that want it and celebrate it. However, I will no beat someone over the head if they do not like the OF nor will I say they are less than Catholic let alone a heretic for worshiping God as best they can in a way they want. I however will take issue with those that want to impose their opinion on others and demand that others take the same view and attitude as they do. I take issue with those that say because I don’t pray in Latin that my prayers aren’t heard by God. I take issue that people who can only attend the OF are les Catholic or Catholic not at all because they don’t attend the EF. I take issue that praying the Mass in the vernaculer is destroying the Church and watering down the faith. I take issue that women must be dressed only in skirts/pants, a headcovering and married because that is the only acceptable role for women when Jesus and the Church herself say otherwise. I take issue that there are people who will not see me and other Catholics as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ because we worship God as best we can with what we have, because we don’t agitate for everything to be in Latin, that everyone must be obedient to the traditionalists and not to Christ, that are parishs were not build in the 15th century, that we don’t read only the lives of the saints and have a million devotions to them, that we talk to Protestants and not condemn them to hell just for not being Catholic instead of loving them and teaching them the fullness of truth the Catholic Church holds. I take issue that the traditionalists believe they speak for God and the Church when they don’t speak for anyone but themselves.
Okay, salvation by knowledge. I didn’t come up with this one though I agree with the phrase. I read a non-Catholic blog to get a feel for what some non-Catholic Christians believe and what they will put out on the Web. Salvation by knowledge, my working definition, is that the more one reads and writes about Christ and the Bible and living the Christina life then they will be saved by this knowledge. Guess what. That’s an old heresy called: Gnosticism. Gnosticism was the belief that there was secret knowledge about Jesus and that those who possesed this secret knowledge (and not everyone could) would be saved and get to Heaven. Actually, there might be more than that but that will do for now.
Salvation by knowledge/gnosticism is particularly trendy in some circles and for the most part isn’t confined to a particular denomintion. People believe that by studying more, reading more, writing more that they will know more about God and that this knowledge will make them better, more holy, more Christ-like, more saved. It won’t. Seeking after knowledge for knowledge’s sake is sinful. That’s what salvation by knowledge does. It seeks knowlege thinking, believing that this knowledge will themselves be a better Christian. It doesn’t. It becomes a twisted desire to seek after something to the exclusion of all else. Now, learning in itself is neutral. It’s what you do with it that matters. If you place more importance on reading every book by your favorite Catholic writer, memorizing all four of the Gospels, and choose not to go to work or take care of your family, then you are sinning and have a severely distorted notion of knowledge. We need to know enough to function, to do our jobs, to take care of ourselves and others. Anything above that is unnecesary unless one is a philosopher but then that’s their job. It becomes about us and not Jesus. We commit idolatry.
We are human BEINGS not human DOINGS. While we must keep Christ’s commandments, they don’t require that we spend every moment in study. That will only overload you brain. We are required to love and love is an ACT of WILL. We must act not sit passive. We must cooperate with the grace that God grants us, not wait, sitting passively for God to come along and scoop us up and save us. He does not reward those who sit idly by, who spend all their time in study and no time in loving Him and their neighbor.
Remember the Sermon on the Mount or the parable of the Wedding Feast where the guest doesn’t even dress in wedding clothes? That’s how we will be judged when we stand before Christ at Judgement. Not by what we know but by what we did, how we loved God and others.