Interestingly, it is the Irish Catholicism, I think, that is most like
this.  French Catholicism, from the knowledge of French Catholic
friends, seems far more easy and human.

Carrol my RC experience confirms everything you say. Catholic theology
exists in a different dimension from catholic praxis. As children in
parochial school we girls had for role models veiled nuns who shaved
their heads and dressed in medieval habits. (We often peeked under our
nun's veil as she strolled the aisles of our classroom to see her shaved
head. There is a trick with a pencil I'm sure all catholic school kids
know that will lift the veil as she passes by.)

Here's another gem: when a girl was seen wearing patent-leather shoes a
nun would tell her to watch out for boys who could see up her skirt by
looking at reflections in her shiny shoes. And another: we were warned
not to jump over puddles because boys could see under our skirts. I
could go on and on! We all fasted during Lent and before communion
(apparently food in the stomach would contaminate the holy wafer), and
self-denial of every sort was encouraged and praised. Enjoyment was a
no-no. Reading fashion magazines or going to the movies was seen as a
first step to perdition. If I heard the word modesty once I heard it a
million times. I know Eliot would have approved of encouraging shame
among young ladies simply for being females.

Judging by some of James Joyce's writings on the subject it's the same
in Ireland (many of our nuns were Irish). The church's grip on Irish
mores as I'm sure you know was a motivating force for his emigrating.

>>> Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> 08/13/07 3:09 PM >>>