"Oh, Catholics hate sex"
"You can't really believe that?!"
"You Catholics are such prudes.
"Just look at her being forced to wear that veil"
No we don't, yes we do, we most certainly are not and nobody is forcing her to wear that veil.
I hear these things all the time. And they are so ridiculous to my Catholic convert mind. Just look at the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Look at the scenes of Judgement and biblical history. See the human body in its sublime beauty as portrayed by the Catholic genius of the Renaissance, Michelangelo.
Men and women were each made in the image and likeness of God. Our bodies are his handiwork as much as our souls were crafted by His love.
We don't hate the physical. We don't dislike nakedness or sex. We understand its most serious importance.
Let me explain. Or better yet, let us have St. Pope John Paul II explain.
He described in his Theology of the Body, the sexual love between a husband and wife within marriage as "an icon of the interior life of God himself."
Sex, as an expression of marital love, is sacramental in a way. the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and within matrimony, sex, unite us with our fellows on earth and with God above.
We take it so seriously, with such a deep, serious joy, we are labeled prudes. That is the exact opposite of what we are.
We are a people of laughter, song and dancing. But paradoxically, we are also a people of sack clothes and ashes, of solemnity.
Which is a decent segue into the next stage: Veils and solemnity. Recently, I saw a post blaming a culture of oppression for why Melania and Ivanka Trump wore veils to meet His Holiness Pope Francis.
Disclaimer: I love veils. If called to marriage and children, my daughters are receiving veils as gifts.
Now back to it. Okay so first of all, there is no culture of oppression around Catholic veiling. It is a perfectly reasonable choice. Many women who do veil have described it to me as a tool to focus, as humility and as a reminder.
It's a reminder not of oppression or of history but of the solemn beauty that belongs solely to women alone. Men and women are both made in the image of God, which means there is something sacred there. And what have we done with things view as holy. Aka, The Jewish Temple and all of our altars at Mass...
We veil them. We cover them in silk, lace and cotton. Not in some mean and cruel way to shuffle these holy places aside but to showcase and shout to the world, "THIS IS IMPORTANT."
There is a solemness in that idea of veiled importance, but also a joy.
Our bodies, men and women, are physical signs of the invisible. Human bodies are icons, markers leading us to God. The veils draw your eye towards the sacred. But just like the veil she wears before you kiss her at your wedding Mass, beneath it we have the sacredness God designed and placed in each of us.
"The body, in fact, and only the body, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine."- St. Pope John Paul II.
So to wrap up, we're not prudes. We celebrate, within the sacrament of marriage, the utter wonder that is the human body. We are bond in the Spirit and made "one flesh."
We are a people not of sullen sorrow, but of serious joy. And every day let us imagine in our own minds, the Sistine Chapel and look out on the world the same way Michelangelo did. In that "peculiar light" of God.