It is Ash Wednesday. I am getting ready to attend morning mass at our church. I keep thinking about wearing the veil…probably too much. I am trying to decide what to wear. While I usually wear something dressier for Sunday mass, I often wear jeans to daily mass, or something else fairly casual, and was about to do the same for this morning’s Ash Wednesday mass. But somehow jeans and a veil just don’t seem to go together, so I decide to wear a skirt. ( While I decide to ponder this some more later, I can see right away that, for me anyway, wearing a veil is bringing out a certain appropriateness and femininity in me.)
Now I am at church, and despite telling myself (and others) that I didn’t care much what other people think, and that I have done much harder things, I find myself feeling a little nervous. I think it is because I often go to daily mass at this time during the week, and I am used to the “usual crowd”, so for some reason I have in my mind that I would know most of the people who would be there, and it would be an easy way to ease into wearing a veil to mass. Right?
Well, I forgot to take into account that, of course, it is Ash Wednesday, and there are a lot more people there, including a number of people I’ve never seen before! So, I am feeling a little more self-conscious as I pin my veil on in the narthex. Finding my place in the pew, I am still feeling uneasy, and now I am even a little annoyed with myself that this is even bothering and distracting me. Maybe people aren’t even noticing me, but I feel like they are, and part of my problem, I realize, is that I really, really, really hate being the center of attention. I would so much rather be that person that no one ever notices, but as He has done before, the Lord is taking me right out of my comfort zone. I say something to Jesus about this,(is accuse too strong a word?) and I can almost see Him smiling. I also realize that I am much too focused on myself, more than I would have guessed, and have such a long way to go on this spiritual journey. Then I am smiling a little as I think about how He knows me, of course, with all my deficiencies, and it doesn’t matter. It is the effort, even a feeble and deficient one that He takes as a gift. I say in my prayer, “This isn’t about me Lord. This is something I want to do for You because I love you.” Then to my Blessed Mother, “Mother please help me to see past myself, and show me how to turn all my attention to Jesus as you would.”
I feel a hand on my shoulder, and turn to see my friend, Cheryle, who has also decided to wear a veil to mass. We smile at each other, and it feels good not to be alone.
Relaxing a little more, with mass not having started yet, I try to think about Mary and imagine what she would be doing at mass, entering into the representation of her Son’s sacrifice at Calvary, and adoring her Son when He would become really and truly present in the Eucharist. I am still having a hard time focusing, when suddenly and with clarity, I am aware that I am sitting in a pew in the back, my usual spot at daily mass. It dawns on me that if Mary was here at mass, with her Son present on the altar, she certainly wouldn’t be sitting in the second to the back row now would she!?
After mass, I reflect on my first time wearing a veil, and while the spiritual insights and revelations may seem few, paltry, obvious even, because of my own faults to be sure, I am deeply humbled by them. I decide that anything I can take from this that helps me to grow is good enough, and Mothers don’t fault their children who are trying and doing their best out of love now do they?
So, with this first time wearing the veil behind me, I feel fortified and determined to wear this veil in love and reverence for Jesus until I am really doing it all for Him with my whole heart, mind and soul, and there is no thought of me left in it. And again, I implore my Blessed Mother to help me.
May the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.