I have recently crossed over to the dark side, so to speak. I have become one of those strange ladies who wear a veil in Mass. To be specific, I wear an old-fashioned lace mantilla in a modern Novus Ordo Mass. I have become the odd duck, I guess. If I were a parishioner at the Traditional Latin Mass chapel in town, headwear would be required, at our parish coiffed hair is the order of the day.
I began veiling in Church at Easter. Not because of outside influences, or for Scriptural reasons, although both of those certainly exist. It was not tradition or rank sentimentality which brought me to this point either. It was a deeply personal decision, as many of the best ones are. It was through the process of examining my conscience that I became aware of my own weakest points, which is the whole point of a regular examination. I am prideful. I am weak. I am easily distracted. I worry overmuch about the opinions of other people as they pertain to the way I present myself to the world.
I prayed about these flaws for a long time. They became ever more noticeable to me, especially within the safe and sacred walls of our church. While surrounded by holiness, my own mind would freely wander, and not to places it needed to go. I would look at the woman across the sanctuary and admire her new haircut and wonder if it was as easy to fix as it appeared. I would watch the toddler squirming out of his mother's arms and wonder what she was going to do about that. I watched in horror as a small boy colored in the new hymnals and his parents said nothing, and harshly judged them for the lack of control they had over their little darling. Every movement, every fidget, everything that happened caught my attention and would distract me from my reason for being there in the first place. I was at a loss for a solution, and began to wonder if I wasn't just being a bit too hard on myself.
Then I found them, my stash of my sweet grandmother's mantillas, in a box in my closet. A trace of her perfume still stubbornly clung to them despite her having died 13 years ago. I'm not sure what possessed my father to send them to me, a fallen away Catholic on the fast-track to becoming Lutheran, but he had. I pulled out the pink one I had admired as a girl and gleefully draped it over my head. I spun around and admired my suddenly pious-looking reflection in the bathroom mirror. I decided to wear one on Easter in honor of my grandmother, and offered one to my eldest. My sweet #1 readily accepted. She is no stranger to veiling, having a close friend who attends the Latin Mass regularly. She veils on those occasions when she sleeps over at their house, and to her it is simply a facet of Catholicism.
Easter morning I stood in my pew with this triangle of lace draped over my head and worried that I looked ridiculous. Then it slipped off of my head. I replaced it and bowed my head in an effort to keep it in place, not looking at the pews across the way, but at the empty space in front of my shoes. It was a posture of complete humility and was foreign and uncomfortable. The lacy sides draped enough in my peripheral vision that I couldn't see any further down the pew than my own husband and children. It became, for me, my family alone with God. All that I was responsible for was all that I could see.
I have chosen to continue to wear my triangle of lace every Sunday. I find that being forced to assume a stance of humility actually humbles me. My demeanor and attitude are completely changed simply by carrying my body in a different way. Not seeing the other people in the church allows me the freedom to pray without distraction. I have become one of "that kind" of Catholic. One of the crazy ladies with the big family and the out-dated wardrobe, the kind who stands beside her husband in humility and a prayerful peace. Who knew that the answer to my prayers, the help that I needed, was to be found in a dust-covered box filled with old lace?