Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why I Veil; Part Two

As I shared my story of why I veil, I had many ladies contact me with questions and their own personal stories. I decided to continue this " Why I Veil" as a series and invite my readers to join in. If you have any questions about veiling, I would love to answer them as best as I can and with my own convictions.

Welcome to Why I Veil; Part Two

Meet Marie, a beautiful Catholic lady who is sharing her story this week of why she veils.

"I am the oldest grandchild on my Mom's side of the family, and the eldest of 7.   I became aware of church as a wonderful place when I was very young.  I remember the Latin Mass, the incense, the chants, the bells all being as much fun,, as going to Grandma and Grandpa's house. In Spring, 1966, I made my First Holy Communion in the beautiful, old Church in front of the marble railing and High Altar where my parents and grandparents had been married.  It was such a wonderful sense of family history and continuity.  I remember that I felt very grown up, wearing a veil with a comb in it, instead of an itchy hat with a string of elastic under my chin.  

The next year, my brother made his First Holy Communion, but it was in the gym at the high school.   I didn't need to wear a hat, or a veil to go Mass there.  When we moved back to the Church, everything was very different, very plain.  And almost nobody wore hats or veils anymore.  The next veil I wore to Church was when I married, back in the same family Church, at the age of 30: my Grandmother's wedding veil.  

Fast forward 17 years:  With two adolescent sons, my marriage in Canada on the ropes, having grown in my faith, but my husband has not.  My health is failing, and my doctor can't figure out why.  My job is at risk, anxiety and depression are growing, and my body starts forming potentially fatal blood clots.  Within the year, my job is gone, my husband is gone, and a cancer is found.  A very large, very slow growing endometrial cancer has consumed my womb and is poised to invade adjacent systems before it is diagnosed and removed.  Yet... my faith continues to grow!    

Unable to find another job with sufficient income to keep the family together, I put my resume on line.  After much prayer, I moved to Maryland, a move which has made the last 6 years a kaleidoscope of schools, contracts, moves, joy and heartbreak..  I find in each County a church that I like, and I become as much a part of the community as I can.  I continue as an RCIA sponsor for two more women who have become good friends.  I sing in choirs as much as I am able, and begin to remember the Latin of my childhood.

Suddenly, more problems loom.  Paychecks are lost in the mail, and I face another eviction.  In asking for help, my employer decides that I show poor decision making skills and cancels my contract.  Literally heartbroken and without a penny to my name, my mother and my sister pay for my bus ticket to return home to Wisconsin.  In 7 years, I have gone from a wife, mother, homeowner at the top of a promising career, to a homeless,jobless bag lady riding the bus back to my mother.  

Winter in Wisconsin is very much like winter in central Ontario, and a lot colder than winter in Maryland.  My sweaters and winter clothes are all gone to those who scavenge evictions and resale shops.  I can't afford a coat, so I layer up.  Long sleeve shirts, a heavy cardigan, an oversize lined windbreaker work well enough, but my head is still cold when I go out.  The Church of my family and my heritage has changed, almost unrecognizable in some ways.  A Prayer Shawl ministry has been started, a pleasant change. I find a beautiful blue wrap, and curled around my head and shoulders, I am much warmer going home after Mass that day.  

As the cold deepens, I continue to wear the shawl around my neck and shoulders when I go out, mostly to Mass.  As my soul heals, I realize that among the changes in the Church is that I can't see the Tabernacle from where mom and I usually sit in the new wing.  I have started studying Consoling the Heart of Jesus with an online group.  Then, one Sunday, as we go to our regular pews, I feel a sudden pain in my heart, an aching sense of loss.  

The feeling doesn't come from me, though.  It is simple, honest, direct.  "Have you forgotten ME already?"  The accusation is both child-like and ancient.  I looked around, but nobody was looking at me, as though waiting for an answer.  I couldn't see the Tabernacle, or the Altar Lamp which burns to signify that Jesus is present.  I pulled my prayer shawl up over my head again, and I felt such JOY flood my soul!  Tears come to my eyes simply writing these words.  I have never entered the Church, any Church, with my head uncovered again.  

I can't say that there is a happy ending for this, because it hasn't ended yet.  Mom and I argued for a few weeks about my choice to cover my head at Mass.  Her friends have asked her questions about my motives that she can't answer.  I am the only person in this parish to cover my head.  There are "under-covered" nuns who attend the same Masses, but I don't know who they are.  There are lighter moments:  Once Fr. wanted to congratulate Sister Mary Suzanne on the anniversary of her taking permanent orders, and everybody looked at me!  I have found some light weight infinity scarves to wear through the summer, and others are beginning to ask me questions about veiling.  I give them the facts about the changes of Vatican II, and the change in the 1983 Code of Canon Law."

Thank you Marie for sharing your story. Be assured of my prayers as your journey through life and veiling.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Joanne, for believing in me and sharing my story with your readers. I pray with you that they may learn to seek JOY and not settle for contentment or happiness. Amen.