Watching the Pope’s Last Audience

It was very sad for me, but the atmosphere in St. Peter’s Square was obviously one of more joy and encouragement and love than sorrow.  You just can’t help cheering on a pope who decides to head into the arena of intense prayer, especially in times like these when people really feel the need of intense intercession. As he said today, he’s not going back to private life. A life of prayer for others is a public life. And he was serious in asking all of us for our prayers.

I miss him already.

Also, the tie-in between Colossians and the Pope talking about his relationship with all of us was very telling. Seldom does an intellectual, introverted guy like Benedict speak solely in the language of personal experience and feeling. He was so full of joy and yet obviously so worn.

But the greatest joy was to hear him talk about his closeness with the Lord during his pontificate (and yeah, I think we should interpret his words about feeling the Lord’s presence every day as being not a platitude, but precise reporting, because he’s not the theologian who would handwave this stuff) and about his faith that the Church is the Lord’s fishing boat, and the Lord is always the one looking after it.

That doesn’t mean that we’re guaranteed that the next pope will be wonderful and perfect; but it does mean that the boat will keep on going, doing the Lord’s work, whether or not the next pope is great, mediocre, or bad. (Though obviously it’s good for the cardinals to try to get a good or great pope.) We have supernatural backup. Wind and waves will come, but the Lord will come also. We may worry that He’s asleep, but He’s still the Master of wind and wave.



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2 responses to “Watching the Pope’s Last Audience

  1. I wrote the item below in the comments section for the most recent head-coverings entry on Fr. Z’s blog. I grew up in the pre-Vatican II church myself, and I can assure readers that no one except nuns “veiled”–except for the occasional Latina lady in a mantilla. Hats or, more informally, scarves were the norm. “Veiling,” as I argue below, is entirely new phenomenon embarked upon by traditionalist women in the wake of the post-Vatican II liturgical changes and carried on by young women who have no memory of the old days. Some women even “veil” when praying privately at home–a practice that would have surprised their pious great-grandmothers. Before Vatican II there was no precept that you were supposed to cover every strand of hair, or even most of your hair when in church. The “veiling” thing–along with the unkind looks that women who don’t “veil” receive–is one reason why I hesitate to attend the Old Mass, even though I much prefer that Mass liturgically. At any rate, here’s what I wrote for Fr. Z:

    “I grew up in the pre-Vatican II church. Veils were not traditional, except in Spanish-speaking countries. Hats were traditional. They had been so since the 17th century, when a hat (or bonnet), not a veil, became the common out-of-doors head covering for Western women except in traditionally rural areas. The only 20th-century alternative was the silk scarf, usually folded into a triangle and tied under the chin. The school uniform for girls in my parish included a blue cotton beanie with a white tassel on top that matched our blue cotton jumpers and was worn whenever we were in church. Girls with pony tails folded their beanie in half and perched in on their head with the help of bobby pins. If you forgot your beanie, the nuns would hand out kleenexes for your head. As fashions changed, large and small hats went in and out of style. When “My Fair Lady” became a Broadway hit in 1956, huge decorated hats suddenly replaced the simpler and more modestly sized hats of 1955. A couple of years later smaller hats came back.

    “It was de rigeur for women never in general to venture outside their homes bareheaded, but as time went on the rule relaxed. By the early 1960s church, luncheons, teas, and a few other ceremonial events were the only occasions on which wearing a hat was definitely required. When beehives and other teased hairstyles became the fashion during that era, a wide headband with a bow on top counted as a “hat” in Catholic churches, as did Jackie Kennedy’s reduced-size pillbox. It was around then that the lace mantilla and the doily-size lace “chapel veil” came into vogue for church–because women simply weren’t wearing hats on any other occasion as the ’60s progressed. They simply stopped buying hats, except as sunwear or winter wear. If you look at the photos of Sharon Tate’s Catholic funeral in 1969, you will see hordes of female mourners attired in minidresses and mantillas. Around the same time the rules seemed to relax, whether spontaneously or not I can’t remember, and it was suddenly fine for a woman to go to Mass bareheaded.

    “In short, the ‘tradition’ of women veiling themselves for Mass dates only from the 1960s. I have no idea where the idea of black vs. white veils came from–perhaps from Hispanic culture. My theory is that the Catholic veiling ‘tradition’ that many of Fr. Z’s other readers have invoke actually dates from about the late ’60s, when many tradition-minded Catholics who were horrified at the various ghastly liturgical practices that crept into churches after Vatican II began to consciously define themselves as different and somewhat separate. Some affiliated themselves with the SSPX, while others started attending rogue Latin Masses in out-of-the-way chapels, and still others tried to keep older practices, such as receiving Communion on the tongue, alive in their Novus Ordo parishes. The mantilla–the last vestige of the female head-covering during the last days of the pre-Vatican II church–lingered on for the women who tried to preserve in their own liturgical lives their own personal memories of the pre-Vatican church. When the traditional Latin Mass came back under indult in 1984, those women in their mantillas became the backbone of the female attendees. They have been so ever since, which is why younger Catholic traditionalist women, who have never known the hat for non-recreational wear, have the idea that they are supposed to ‘veil’ themselves in church, completely hide their hair, or whatever. They have lost 400 years of actual Western tradition.

    “That said, I’m all for bringing back the mandatory female head-covering, although I love hats, and I’d vote for hats, not veils. I must say that I don’t cover my own head in church, except when it’s cold outdoors and I keep my beret on. That’s because I don’t want to be a complete weirdo in my parish, where I’m already lobbying for more Latin and older music in contrast to my fellow-parishioners who want a “contemporary choir” at every Mass. I already stand out because I wear a skirt and heels to Mass every Sunday–which in my parish is regarded as being stuck-up. It’s that kind of parish–sigh.”
    – See more at:

  2. Oops–sorry, I meant this comment for a different entry. I’ll re-post it over there, and please feel free to delete it here.

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