Veiling in a Pornographic Culture

Reposted from my blog Fourteen White Lilies

We live in a pornographic culture that reduces human beings to their sexuality, to their physical body, to their potential for pleasure.  The porn industry generates $13 billion each year within the United States, according to statistics cited by Covenant Eyes.  Huffington post even goes as far as to say “The Internet is for porn.  We all know that.”  This info graphic goes as far as using porn’s widespread use to promote pornography as a natural part of human nature.  Pornography often depicts violent fantasies as normal sexual experiences and causes changes in the brain’s wiring in both how the brain views the opposite gender and sex.

Yet pornography isn’t just on our computer screens.  Pornography is on our billboards, our tv screens, our magazines, our books.  Pornography and the “sexual revolution” spurned on by birth control has changed not only the way we view sex, but other people.  Our culture is obsessed with labels—heterosexual, homosexual, slut, prude, player—and too often we fail to recognize that these labels and insults reduce a person to their sexual traits.  Pornography has created a culture in which everything is viewed through the lens of pleasure, a culture stripped of humanity and desperate for love, a culture which lives in darkness and drags and mugs unsuspecting victims to draw them into the darkness.  How often do we ourselves fail to recognize the sacredness of another?  Each time we sin, we drive nails into Our Lord’s hands and feet, not only because we have hurt His Heart, but because we have hurt the hearts of His Beloved Children by failing to recognize the inherent sacredness given to each of them by God.

When we objectify others, when we reduce them to their sexuality, to their flaws, to their mistakes, when we see others as anything other than a beautiful child of God made to reflect a unique, previously unknown aspect of God’s love, we participate in this culture of darkness.  We participate in this pornographic culture, this culture that breeds death.  Through participating in this culture of death, we not only fail to recognize the sacredness of others, but we fail to recognize the sacredness of ourselves.

Full participation in the New Evangelization requires a call to recognize the sacred.  We cannot evangelize without becoming a witness to Light in a great culture of darkness, without becoming Love that casts out fear, without calling others to recognize the sacredness of humanity.  Our Blessed Mother became such light, such love, such a call to recognizing the sacred through bearing our Lord Jesus.  Through becoming the Mother of the Source of Life, she shared in Christ’s mission to bring all to Life through Mercy and Love.  Our Lady’s vocation is a vocation of life, a vocation in which she calls out to lost souls as a Mother, sees their brokenness, and as a loving Mother heals them while holding them in her arms, giving life to them through her Son.  Our Mother challenges us to draw others toward herself, to love others so that they may recognize the sacred within themselves and others.

Over a year ago, I felt the Blessed Mother challenging me to further recognize my sacredness in a particular way—wearing the veil at Mass and Adoration.  I was hesitant, but once when I began wearing the veil, I knew in my heart that through wearing the veil I was drawn closer to Mary’s Heart and humbled before the Lord.  I knew the theology behind the veil—it was a sign of humility before the Lord, it serves as a sign of women’s vocations as brides of Christ, it signifies the ability to carry life.  I never thought about the veil’s role as a powerful response to the pornographic culture—until today.

While talking to one of my devout, Catholic guy friends, the topic of veiling came up.  He told me that veiling is absolutely beautiful, and I decided to ask “Why?”  I never expected that in addition to talking about how veiling allows a woman to imitate Mary, demonstrates her humility before the Lord, and demonstrates the woman’s recognition that she is “fertile and sacred and beloved” that he would say, “I feel like pictures of women veiling in the presence of the Lord is like an antidote for pornography.”  Having experienced the degrading turmoil of pornography, he spoke to how while pornography called him to view women as objects, when seeing a woman veiling, he recognized a call to see her dignity, to view her as a beloved daughter of Christ.  I had never thought fully about veiling’s potential effects on others around me—I always veiled out of recognition of my own beauty and out of humility before the Lord.  I veiled to show my recognition of Jesus’ True Presence in the Eucharist.  Never had I thought of the veil’s potential effects in correcting our pornographic culture.

Where pornography degrades both men and women and reduces them to their utility for pleasure, veiling goes beyond oneself and says to others, “I recognize that I am a beautiful creation of God.  I recognize that I am in the presence of the Almighty Creator, who has created me in Love, for Love, and to Love.  By Jesus’ Passion, I am worthy of Love.”  Through veiling, we can begin to restore this broken culture and call others into the light.  Veiling recognizes the sacredness of the human person and the awe of God’s Presence and invites others to do the same.  Where pornography takes a man and woman and objectifies them  vehicles for pleasure, a woman veiling demands dignity.  She recognizes how she is sacred and captivating; she calls men to humility and respect before the creator and before herself, through the act of veiling.  She draws attention to her inherent dignity and sacredness.  She makes men aware of the fact that she is sacred, and not an object, and thus begins to heal their brokenness through drawing them to the realization that women are sacred images of love, created to mirror the beauty of the Creator.

We veil the sacred.  We veil the tabernacle, we veil the Blessed Mother, we veil brides on their wedding day, and girls on the day of their first communion.  The Blessed Mother and the tabernacle are veiled because they are the vessels that receive life and carry life to others.  Through veiling, a woman recognizes her unique call to receive life through Christ and call others into life out of darkness.  Christopher West, in “The Love that Satisfies” writes that “behind every false god, we find our desire for the One True God gone astray.”  Pornography becomes a false god in which our desire for human love is twisted in on itself to serve ourselves rather than others.  Veiling seeks to correct that self-serving love and direct it towards the Divine Love of Jesus on the Cross.  Veiling responds to the culture of pornography not only by pointing others to the dignity and sacredness of the human person, but to the greatest love story ever told.

In seeing our brokenness, Christ humbled Himself and gave Himself up for us that we might have life.  We beat Him, whipped Him, humiliated Him, and crucified Him.  He reaches out to us with open arms, and more often than not, we turn away.  Rather than giving up though, Jesus continues to pursue our hearts, and humbled Himself even further, taking on the appearance of bread that He might be with us always.  He poured out His Mercy for us as Blood and Water which gushed forth from His side that we might have life and be drawn out of the darkness into light.  That we might begin to share in His Mission of Life, His Thirst for Souls, His Fount of Mercy, through entering into His Heart and sharing in His Passion.  A woman that veils seeks to forget herself and draw close to the Lord through the Blessed Mother.  In veiling, she imitates the Blessed Mother and begins to share in her mission of life, of love, of mercy.  Through veiling, we seek to lead a pornographic culture out of the darkness into the Light of Love, to point to the sacredness of human life, to show a world that is broken, bruised, and beaten a Savior that is broken, bruised, and beaten, all for love of them, to share in Christ’s Thirst in order to draw souls to Him, to draw attention to what appears to be a humble piece of bread but is in fact the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and thus bring souls out of the darkness and into the Love of Christ.

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