Yesterday, for reasons still not quite clear to me, the celebrant for our Mass was the Bishop of the diocese of Gallop, New Mexico. As an aside, he told us that his diocese is the poorest Catholic diocese in the nation. Apparently the entire diocese consists of several Indian reservations, thereby reminding us once again just how badly we screwed the Indians several hundred years ago.
Anyhoo, because he is a bishop, he wore his mitre as he processed up to the altar, taking it off when he said the Mass, replacing it with his little red beanie (which undoubtedly has another name besides beanie). The mitre, of course, is the fancy hat bishops and cardinals wear that is pointed at the top and has two streamers down the back. All of that is probably symbolic of something, but I must have missed that lesson in Catholic school, concentrating instead on the stories of the horrific deaths of the martyrs as told to us by Sister Palaudia.
The sad news is that instead of concentrating on the words the bishop spoke, (if I had, I might know why he was the one celebrating our Mass) I was thinking about the hats I wore to church when I was a little girl. It was the bishop’s streamers that set my recollecting in motion.
Prior to Vatican II, of course, women (and little girls) had to have their heads covered when entering the church. Your head covering could range anywhere from a fancy hat to a Kleenex tissue held fast by a bobby pin. Most often, we wore what were called chapel veils. These were circles of lace that you bobby pinned to your hair, thereby saving you from the fires of hell. (By the way, your grandkids wouldn’t even know what you mean by “bobby pin.”)
But every Easter, my sisters and I, along with every single solitary girl that attended St. Bonaventure Church in Columbus, got a new Easter bonnet. With all the frills upon it. I’m not sure where my mother bought our hats. Maybe Schweiser’s (the one and only department store in Columbus). Maybe we took one of our infrequent trips to Omaha which was 65 miles from Columbus, but might as well have been three states away considering how infrequently we drove there. The hat was part of an entire ensemble. We always, always got new duds for Easter.
Up until about the fourth grade, my mother had my hair cut in what was called a pixie. The person who cut my hair (her name was Fay, and I’m pretty sure she hated kids) would use a dull razor to cut my hair, pulling it until my eyes filled with tears. She would then cut my bangs so that they were about an inch long, making sure that they weren’t straight. I’m serious. You couldn’t accidentally cut crooked bangs Every Single Time.
My best friend had long hair, and oh, how I wanted long hair. I would plead with my mother all the way to Fay’s salon (where she was preparing for the appointment by banging the razor against a rock, ensuring the necessary dullness). Please let me grow my hair long. Please. Please. Please.
It was, of course, futile to argue with my mother.
Why did my hat need streamers? So that when I was wearing it, I could toss my head back and forth, letting the streamers fall over my shoulder, creating the illusion of having a ponytail.
That, my friends is a true story.
I wonder if the bishop of the diocese of Gallop, New Mexico, tosses his head while wearing his mitre.
This post linked to the GRAND Social