Recently, here at St. Catherine, we have started the re-introducing the tradition of men and boys sitting on St. Joseph’s side of the Church and women and girls on Our Lady’s side. If you are observant, you have observe that the statue of St. Joseph was always on the right side and Our Lady on the left side of the altar. It is still that way in many churches, (if they have not been destroyed by the “reckavations” that followed Vatican II and the subsequent documents that came out from the United States Catholic Converence of Bishops (USCCB).
As a child, I remember that in the churches of Mexico, the men sat on one side and the women on the other. Many men and women still do that today, but it is also mixed now. My friends from India say that it is still a divided congregation there today where they go.
In the 1917 Canon Law, separation of men and women was strongly advocated.
Canon 1262, § 1. “It is desirable that, in harmony with ancient Church order, the women in church be separated from the men.”
Many people say it was not Catholic tradition. But they simply have selective memory or total ignorance to Catholic tradition from the past.
When the 1917 Canon Law is invoked or quoted in favor or tradition, it is dismissed as a long dead and buried dinosaur of the dark ages or a archeological specimen from the caveman time of the Catholic Church. This outdated Canon Law has now been supplanted by the “enlightened” “modern” Canon Law of 1983 that is in conformity with the beliefs of “sophisticated” modern man.
I have yet to see the world, the United States or the Catholic Church improving. But what I do daily see everywhere in the world and in the Church, is scientific evidence of violence, dysfunctional families and emotionally destroyed and aborted children.
So I, and many other wise people, have learned to trust Catholic tradition found in the Church’s 2000 year history. I no longer trust the progressive, evolutional and modernistic ideology. It is only leading us to our own self destruction as it has eventually produce everywhere it is enforced, like in Russia.
We Catholics are Judeo-Christians. Our roots are jewish. We believe in both the New Testament and the Old Testament. Yes, Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament, but He did not condemn it. Jesus was constantly quoting passages from the Old Testament to re-enforce what He taught. So it is an error to throw out the God given traditions that the Jews. Jesus came to correct and fulfill, not to destroy.
In that light we look at the separation of men and boys from women and girls in the Jewish religion.
In the Jewish Temple, there was the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could enter. Then there was the “Court of the Israelites” for Jewish men; the “Court of the Women” was for Jewish women; (Women were to observe the ceremonies but never to participate in them and they were levitically unclean for several days every month during their menstrual cycle), and the “Court of the Gentiles” was for those who were not Jews.
There is a rather recent book that explains Jewish religious practices called; “Judaism: Practice & Belief 63 BCE – 66 CE” by E. P. Sanders.
Even today, in traditional Jewish Synagogs, men and women sit separately at traditional. In some of these Synagogs there is actually a low wall that is called the mechitza מחיצה, (partition or division, particularly one that is used to separate men and women). In the Jewish Chabad blog is this explanation of why the men are separate from the women:
“One obvious benefit of separate seating in a synagogue is that it helps ensure that the main focus is on the prayers and not on the opposite gender. There is no question that we don’t act the same in a mixed crowd as we do in a same-gender one. There is nothing wrong with that. It is good and healthy that we are attracted to each other, but during prayers we shouldn’t be trying to impress anyone other than G-d.
But it goes deeper than that. Women and men are very different beings. Not only are we physically different; our thought processes, emotional states and psychology are all different. This is because our souls are different – they come from complementary but opposite sources. The prayer experience is supposed to be an opportunity to be with your true self, to communicate with your soul. Men and women need space from each other to help them become intuned to their higher selves.” Chabad.org
As Catholics, why is this Canon Law and tradition a blessing.
1) Men can identify with St. Joseph and try to be holy like him.
2) I contend that it is good so that we men are not distracted by the women around them and are not sexually tempted by their sexy clothing in church. (You have no idea how many times men confess sexaul temptations in church by how the women are dressed). One friend of me told me he no longer went to church because he was always distracted by the women in front of him, especially their beautify hair.
3) Boys can identify with their dads and learn how to be a man who prays.
4) Women can identify with Our Lady and be holy like she is.
5) It helps women to be themselves and to not have to show off to get men’s attention. They can pray in peace.
6) Girls can identify with their mothers and how women pray.
There is much more to be investigated when we study where Catholic tradition came from and how God is the source of them. Yes there are man made traditions. Some are good and some are bad and some are neutral. But what is important is we not abandon Catholic traditions that are holy and come from God.
We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and to thank God for Catholic tradition.