Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Because Life's Too Short

Okay, I'm not real sure where this post is going to go, but I'm just going to start writing and see.  Jen Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary recently did an excellent, but simple piece on her first time wearing a veil to Mass.  I subscribed to the comments via email, and I have to say, it's been interesting following them.

What strikes me is the number of women who would like to wear a veil--or perhaps a stylish hat--but they don't.  Why not?  Because no one else does, or not enough others do, and they are afraid of sticking out.  And I at once completely understand this and am completely baffled by it.  If there is something you feel you should do (and the call to veil is backed up by Holy Scripture and the better part of Holy Tradition, so it's not some random, new-agey, feelings thing) to give honor and glory to God, why should it stop you that you are in the minority?  If you understand the devotion and would like to practice it, why would you feel it necessary that everybody (or indeed anybody) else do it first?  As Christians, particularly as Catholic Christians, we are routinely called to do what is right over what is popular.  Just because something falls out of fashion does not mean it ceases to be right.  And judging from the stream of comments I'm reading, how many other women in your parish do you suppose might just be waiting for "someone else" to do it first? What's wrong with being the first?

So the Church does not require a headcovering for a woman attending Mass anymore.  (Though this point is debated in some circles, I think it's safe to say that even if it's true that the requirement still technically remains, it isn't being enforced.)  So what?  The Church compels no Catholic to ever touch a rosary, yet I'd venture a guess that the vast majority of us own at least one, and most of us make use of it at least occasionally.  What the Church requires of us is the least we are to give, not the most.  A beautiful devotion should not be rejected because it is not required; neither should it be rejected because it is not fashionable.

Don't misunderstand me.  A great many of the women I attend Mass with do not chose to veil.  They are devout Catholic ladies, and without their faith and their devotion to the Faith, I would probably not yet be Catholic (though I'm certain I would have been eventually).  I do not think they are less holy, less righteous, or less devoted to Christ because they do not do so.  Their choices and their reasons are their own, and I fully accept that God grows His children in the ways and times He sees fit.  Perhaps some may choose one day to try on a veil and find they like it.  If the fact that I wore one first emboldens them to do so, should they feel led, then I am happy for that.  But I don't think any of us should feel as though we must wait for someone else to go first.  Life is too short to agonize over what other people will think of you.  Most will, I assure you, react positively or not at all.

Of course, there's always One in Every Crowd.  I got one of those sorts of comments through my email, though I notice it's no longer on the blog's comment thread.  Perhaps the commentor thought better of his response and removed it; I don't know.  But let me explain what I mean by One in Every Crowd.  This is the sort of person who believes that veiling is about modesty, and since veiling is no longer fashionable, no one should do it, because to wear a veil when no one else around you is doing so makes you stand out, and that is the exact opposite of modesty.  This person (as a general character sketch, mind; I don't know the guy personally) believes it is a sin against the spirit of Christian modesty to not follow the crowd and just be like Everybody Else.  If everyone else is doing (or wearing, or not wearing) something, good or bad, you should too, or risk calling undue attention to yourself and therefore being immodest.

Ugh.

The lack of logic and blatant misunderstanding (or ignorance of) Scripture displayed in this attitude is astounding.  Are we not called to be salt and light?  Are we not called to be in the world, but not of the world?  Did the holy saints of old follow the crowd right off a cliff, or did they stand up and proclaim (and live) the Truth, sometimes to their martyrdom?  Christian modesty is about submission to God and the Church, not to the secular culture.  This line of thinking would, by logic, suppose that if every woman on the beach is wearing a string bikini, one who arrives in shorts and a t-shirt is being immodest.


Um. . . yeah, okay.  Really?  That's the best you've got?

I once knew an elderly lady who wore delightful hats (her Easter bonnets were not to be missed) and, often, the most amazing pair of leopard-print stiletto heels.  What was incredible was her complete and utter class.  How many women do you know who can pull off animal-print heels and make it look classy?  Seriously.  But she did.  Because that's who she was.  She was completely and unapologetically herself.  Life was too short to be anything else.  She was probably the sweetest person I've ever known.  She was herself.  She was loved.  And she was unforgettable.  Not because she blended in with the crowd, but because she was unafraid to stand out.

Never tell yourself you can't do something that you want to do (if that something is not a bad thing, of course, lol) just because you're afraid to be different.  Life's too short!

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