Monday, December 16, 2013

A Veiled Offering

Veiling Reflection

Last week I had this moment of clarity in which I looked at my life from the outside. It's really hard to explain exactly what I mean, but I'll give it a try. It was a little bit of a step back. I could see myself and imagine a life without religion. Chucking everything. Just surrender the simmering contraception argument. Stop going to Mass. Throw everything away and live for my own pleasure, seeking after the goods of the world. What scared me most about this thought was just how easy it would be to do such a thing; how much easier my life would be if I would just revert to the secular version of me. I could see and totally understand how someone who had once been faithful to the Church could throw in the towel and stop fighting against sinful desires, throw away the notion of sin altogether. I was tempted to do it myself for a moment before the memory of Jesus, grace, Eucharist, answered prayers, my sisters the saints, and Mary. This Scripture bubbled to the surface of my mind after I reluctantly rejected that temptation:
"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" John 6:68-69
To whom would I go? Back to myself? That foundation is too shaky. I had this little exchange in my mind Thursday and was still mulling it over on Friday when I felt very lonely and sorrowful indeed.

Saturday I prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary and was struck this time by the Presentation. What I love about the rosary is that different aspects of the mysteries jump out at me exactly when I need them. I was thinking about the way Mary re-affirms her dedication to doing the will of God even though she must know the sadness that she will have to endure and the brutal treatment that her son will receive. She knows the difficult road ahead, but she moves forward in faith to present her child as an offering to God. She is warned, "and a sword will pierce through your own soul also" (Luke 2:35) but she continues forward in a courageous example of faith and steadfastness. After the rosary I continued my novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe and found this prayer, just what I needed:

O Mary, whose Immaculate Heart was pierced by seven swords of grief, help me to walk valiantly amid the sharp thorns strewn across my pathway. Obtain for me the strength to be a true imitator of you. This I ask you, my dear Mother. 

I was wearing my new veil as I prayed the rosary and it reminded me that one meaning of the veil has been a physical affirmation that I'm putting my life in God's hands. My prayer for the Lord's will to be done cannot be conditional based on whether or not it produces hardship in my life. I must remain faithful throughout just as Mary was faithful throughout, finding peace not (only) in the pleasures of life but in the knowledge that I have been a good servant. This isn't to say that finding joy and happiness is wrong, but that seeking those things cannot be my primary motivation. I don't write this because it's anything new, but I write it because it's something that I seem to forget from time to time.

Journal

Shameless obvious selfie.
With these things in mind, I donned a very obvious veil Sunday morning, fighting the very strong urge to take it off and blend in. As I walked toward the church I just kept repeating in my mind, "I'm doing this for you, Jesus. For you. I'm doing this for you, Jesus..." I wore it as a deliberate re-dedication of my life to Christ. I meant it as an offering to Him. A deliberate attempt to show Him reverence. I wore the veil around my neck as I walked into the church and pulled it up around my head once I sat down. At that time I was just relieved; my little nagging fears drifted away. Melodramatic, I know. I'm a big chicken.

I enjoyed wearing it at Mass though, once I got over the suspicion that people were looking at me. I don't know if anyone was or not, but no one asked me about it. A practical concern was that it kept wanting to slide backward off my head. I'll probably sew in a comb or at least invest in some black bobby pins. Despite the slippage, it really didn't seem to be a distraction to me in Mass (as long as you don't ask about the moment during the Our Father when Lillian took the opportunity to pull on it when my hands were otherwise occupied!). It really helped me re-focus my attention at crucial moments because I kept seeing glimpses of it hanging down around me. I thought I would save this veil for Christmas Eve, but I'm glad I wore it sooner. I felt peaceful and joyful at Mass, and I did make an effort to be friendlier to people!

After Mass I was driving home listening to Advent at Ephesus and was struck by "Maria Walks Amid the Thorn". I needed to pay more attention to that song, for sure.

I'm hoping to get another veil at some point perhaps in a shade of brown, or blue. I'm entering the Veils By Lily veil giveaway. You should, too!

2 comments:

  1. Rachel...this is a very beautiful, reflective post and I am glad you shared it. I look forward to more posts from you. Your veil looks lovely and I have the same in brown from Veils by Lily although I am still leaning toward *scarfing it* most of the time LOL! I hope we continue to be an encouragement to one another after Advent!

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    1. Thanks, Theresa! You totally rock a scarf :)

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