Too Poor to Be Pure – Easter 2013

Mom and I were talking about giving away her old clothes and she happened to mention her wedding dress.

“Where is it?”  I asked.

 “In my closet, of course,” she replied nonchalantly.

“You still have it?!” I exclaimed.

“Oh yes.  It’s been sitting in the back of the closet ever since we moved here.  Would you like to see it?”

Of course, I’d wanted to see it for years but for some reason I thought she had sold it.  Mom was a beautiful bride.  My parents’ wedding photos were in black and white, and so the dress showed up in the picture white.  But it was actually a very pale blue, something I’d always known.  One didn’t dare ask Mom the question:  why didn’t you, of all people, wear white, Mom?  The suggestion was too radical to even utter.

I did ask her once (when she was in a particularly good mood).  All she said, though, was that she liked the color blue.

When she brought the dress out of the closet, I saw it was a bit worse for the wear.  The satin lining is badly faded, there’s a stain or two on the bodice, and the outer netting is torn in a few places.  Even so, it’s still a very beautiful dress.

“I bought it off the rack at Lane Bryant’s (a famous department store in 1949, when she purchased it) for $29.  I couldn’t afford a white dress; the white dresses were too expensive and my father wouldn’t pay for anything.  Not the reception and not the dress.”

My father’s family disapproved of her dress, as they disapproved of everything else about my mother, particularly that she wasn’t Catholic.  Her future sister-in-law referred as the WH— word.  And they disapproved of her dress because “it wasn’t elegant enough,” according to my mother.

It’s true.  Mom’s wedding dress was absolutely beautiful, and a size 5 at that.  At 26, she was fairly tall and slim.  However, as beautiful as the lace trimming was, it had not a single bit of ornamentation on it.  No jewelry.  No pearls or rhinestones or whatever jewels with which the typical bridal gown is adorned.  In short, my mother met her future husband with complete modesty at the altar.

I still have to wangle the headdress from her.  I’m going to purchase one of those wedding gown preservation bags for the dress so it doesn’t deteriorate any further.  Ironically, she gave me the dress on Good Friday.

Jesus said he came for the poor.  People often interpret his declaration to mean that he was preaching charity to the poor and even redistribution of wealth.  “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle [I’ve often wondered whether something was lost in the translation and He meant a camel’s hair, which would have pretty thick and rough] than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

There was more to His ministry than just taking care of the poor.  In the time of Jesus, the poor, the sick and certain classes of people, such as shepherds (because they dealt in the blood of animals), and sinners were concerned too unclean, too impure, and too poor to enter the Temple at Jerusalem.   Those who wished to enter the Temple had to sacrifice a lamb out of their herd, or purchase one, before they could be admitted.  That is why the Herald Angels appeared first to the shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem.

No unclean, sinning persons could gain the blessings of God unless a sacrifice was made for them.  Jesus went about the Holy Lands preaching to the poor and healing the sick so that they could enter Heaven.   As for the sacrifice, He made it himself; the Lamb without blemish whose blood would satisfy God’s demand for a sacrifice before someone could enter Heaven.

The shepherds of the field, the sick, the lame, the lepers, the sinners, the tax collector and the adultress were all “purified” in the ancient sense of the word, thanks to Jesus.

A millennium and more has passed since religious sacrifices have been required.  Those that explorers of the New World found among its tribal peoples – including human sacrifices – were soon disbanded.  The Christians have received great criticism for interfering with other cultures.  This “interference” in other cultures has always met with violence.  According to the miniseries, The Bible, every one of Jesus’ disciples except John was executed for preaching the Gospel.

Who is the purer bride who walks up the aisle to be married?  The bride adorned in brilliant, white satin and glimmering jewels, with a 24-foot train behind her, her head crowned with a bejeweled tiara?  Or the poor bride who couldn’t afford the price of a white gown?

Today’s bridal gowns are requiring less and less material.  It’s very difficult to find a modest bridal gown – or the bride willing to wear one.  Strapless gowns have been the fashion for over a decade now.  Thanks to Princess Kate, some brides are beginning to return to modesty.  A year ago, there was only one internet site for modest bridal gowns.  Now, designers are including a few modest gowns and tea length dresses in their collections.  The Mormon Church has a website completely devoted to modest, but stunningly beautiful modest gowns, as well temple gowns befitting their more modest ideas about the wedding ceremony.

Sixty-three years ago, my mother was able to buy a modestly-priced, albeit pale blue, gown for her wedding, right off the rack.  Modern brides must pay a good deal of money for a virginal white gown with most, if not all, of its virtue stripped away.  They must wait months while the gown is carefully sewn and then must go for fittings, as their weight and their waist size fluctuate.

As our respect for holy matrimony diminishes, those pearly white, nearly topless gowns reflect that disdain for modesty.  Although they appear white, some bear a ghastly red blood stain, the blood of He who died for their sake to make them pure again.  For those brides who believe in Him, their gowns are stainless white (even if they’re ivory, champagne, shell pink, or pale blue).

Their gowns are white because He is risen.

 

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Published in: on April 1, 2013 at 4:56 pm  Comments (1)  

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