Fit For A Princess
Here again is Cinderella's iconic glass slipper. It is presented in the ornament as it appears when the Prince is driving around his kingdom, offering it to every maiden on a royal pillow. I recently read a comment from an exasperated blogger, who said "Why does the Prince need to try the shoe onto EVERY girl in the kingdom? I mean, he just saw her 6 hours earlier. Doesn't he RECOGNIZE her?" That's about what most of us modern readers think as well. But the story of Cinderella is not really a "story" at all - at least not in the way we 2017 readers think of story. In fact, the novel as we know it today, with character developments, themes, sub themes and plot twists and turns, wasn't even invented until the 1700's and the tale of Cinderella has been told in the oral tradition for longer than that.
This fairy tale served as an allegory - a tale of morality, and the shoe can be summed up in Proverbs 1:15-16, 19 - the way of Lady Wisdom.
"do not walk in their way,
hold back your foot from their path!
For their feet run to evil
they hasten to shed blood ...
This is the way of everyone greedy for loot:
it takes away their lives."
Do you recall anyone "greedy for loot" who lives with Cinderella? Of course! Her entire stepfamily is portrayed as those whose feet are constantly running down the path of greed. But Cinderella never follows that path, which is why she alone of all the girls in the kingdom, is able to wear the glass slipper. Because since the shoe fit, she could wear it.
A Magical Transformation
by Katrina Bricker
This ornament features one of the iconic symbols in the Cinderella story - the glass slipper. The slipper itself is shaped to fit only Cinderella. It's custom made for her, and a gift from her fairy godmother. Despite the attempts of other maidens, the shoe will only fit her. Why? What does this mean?
This particular symbol is easily understood by remembering the words of Peter to Jesus at the Last Supper. John 13:7 relates that Jesus "came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter." 8Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." 9Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." The glass slipper is another way of showing that, due to her loving acts of service, Cinderella has merited entrance to the heavenly kingdom. She has followed in the footsteps of Christ, in spite of the injustice and poor treatment she received. This gift is not transferrable, it is a unique gift bestowed on those who are worthy.
I always like to point out that after Jesus spoke with Peter, Peter understood this. More than just a call to service, Jesus' act of washing his disciples' feet specifically shows them that they are to serve others in such a way that those they serve may also follow in the footsteps of Christ. We are not called to be simply social workers, creating an earthly utopia. We are called to go out into the world, baptizing and making disciples of all the nations. That's why Peter asked for Jesus to also clean his hands (to bless and purify his work) and his head (to anoint him and give him wisdom for his tasks). So when Jesus says "if I don't wash you, you have no part with Me" he is referring to baptism, to being cleansed from original sin, but he's also referring to the continual cleansing that is required to follow in his footsteps all the way to the end. That's the life that Cinderella lived, that's what the glass slipper represents, and that's what Peter understood, and also lived out himself.
A Dress for Cinderelly
by Katrina Bricker
The pink dress is the symbol for natural, or human virtue. This is what Cinderella and her nature friends - the birds and the mice- can achieve on their own. Virtue is "an interior disposition, a positive habit, a passion that has been placed at the service of the good." (YOUCAT 299) But as humans, we can only act virtuously, placing our passions at the service of the common good in "fits and starts. With his grace, God supports the human virtues and gives us, above and beyond that, the supernatural virtues which help us to come closer to God and live more securely in his light."
Put more simply, how are you doing on your New Year's Resolution? It is just about impossible for us to live according to the best in human nature. Saying we can do it in "fits and starts" is certainly true! St Paul says this "For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing." (Romans 7:19)
Cinderella got a lot further than most of us can, in forming herself into a lovely person, who truly displayed positive habits and an orderly interior disposition. But even this was not enough. Her two stepsisters, Malice and Jealousy, robbed her of it and tore it to shreds. It had to be replaced by the supernatural virtue, represented by the glittering blue dress, that will take her to the ball.
(Side note: On a completely different but related topic, the pink and blue colors have nothing to do with male or female. In fact, although today blue is associated with boys and pink with girls, the exact opposite was true before the 1940s. Blue is generally associated with mysticism, with the sea and the heavens. Pink generally connotes health, as in "pink cheeks." The pink dress reveals Cinderella's inner health, while the blue dress points to a life and experience beyond her.)
Ready For the Ball
by Katrina Bricker
Here, Cinderella is shown on the other side of eternity. She is dressed in her gown of supernatural virtue (see the 2013 ornament for more on that), and is gazing into the face of her confidant, Gus. This ornament shows the promise fulfilled - the restoration of human nature through the merging into the divine nature. Although Cinderella has always enjoyed a unique relationship with creation, much like St. Francis of Assisi, here we see that her own transformation does not mean she leaves her humanness behind. She brings all those good relationships and actions with her. This is what St. Paul is referring to in his letter to the Romans, when he writes "creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God." (Romans 8:22) Not just humans, but all of creation will be transformed. St. Paul looks forward to this in the first letter to the Corinthians, "When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all." ( 1 Corinthians 15:28)
Now, Cinderella does not stay dressed like this, not yet. She still has more work to do on her earthly journey before being properly clothed for good. Yet, this ornament also points out the principle at work in the sacraments, where earthly, ordinary objects like water, bread and wine become what they represent. Through the words and actions of the priest, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, these objects change from being only symbols to becoming actual vessels of the divine. Bread becomes the Body of Christ. Wine becomes his blood.
And like the movie shows, this unity of divine with human is a participation in the divine life, but it needs to be repeated while we are on earth (with the exception of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders). Hence, Mass at least once a week and frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
It also reminds us that even the most dramatic experience of God does not remove us from ordinary life. Instead, like Cinderella, we have to come down off the mountain, and share the light and life we have seen.
Dreams Do Come True
by Katrina Bricker
This ornament is also quite simple in its message. It reveals the inner life, the life of the spirit. The scene on Cinderella's skirt shows what is in her heart, what she truly treasures, ie a life transformed by the Holy Spirit, so that her journey ultimately takes her to the Heavenly Kingdom. This is a common theme in many fairy tales.
The interior life of the spirit is the life that Jesus was talking about in the story of Martha and Mary. The Bible states that 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary,who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
Like Jesus and his disciples, Cinderella is "on the way." In fact, early followers of Jesus referred to themselves as people of "the way," meaning that not only are we journeying in time through this life as pilgrims, but we ourselves are also "on the way" to becoming more formed into Jesus. The story of Martha and Mary doesn't negate the outside life so much as tell us how to live it. The Catholic Church has a long history of this notion - called being a "contemplative in action." We don't engage in the outside life as though it is separate from the interior life. On the contrary, it is the interior life, the life of sitting at the Lord's feet and listening to him, that enables us to go through the business of normal daily life - cooking, cleaning, hosting, working, welcoming - all of the spectrum of normal human activity, so that it form us, so that our daily actions can take on an offering and a meaning beyond just what they appear to be.