For those of you who see me on a regular basis, or at least read my blog, you know that (at least, after my horrible Islam stint) that I went back to being an orthodox catholic. My family was never orthodox, but after adhering to the rules of Islam, which wasn’t difficult when you truly want to do well, it felt lazy for me to NOT follow the rules of the Catholic Church. How can I go from one religion, which asks you to pray five times a day, dress a certain way, and keep a certain diet (not to mention the other rules), to another where I just follow it half-heartedly? It doesn’t make any sense.
I was born Catholic, and it makes sense that I should take it seriously. My eternal soul is very serious business, and if I can do a little extra, or even find out more about my faith and make it a part of my everyday life, the better I will be. So, I do have a point in all of this, trust me.
While standing up on the risers in the front of the church a few Sundays ago (where I can see everyone’s faces in the pews… even if they’re sleeping or whathaveyou), I saw a new family in the back. They were orthodox catholics, and I know this because the women covered their heads with little triangles of lace, called mantillas. How pious these women were, dressed as women ‘should be dressed’ (in skirts and blouses), and their heads covered, kneeling in the back, whispering prayers to themselves. I felt a pang in my heart, a kinship of sorts. When I was a muslim, I dressed in hijab everyday, and it was an outward show of my faith. Anyone who looked at me knew I was muslim. These women looked Catholic (pre Vatican II). Whatever happened to covering your head in the presence of Christ?
I myself wouldn’t wear a mantilla to mass, and it’s because I never wore one growing up. I used to dress up for mass, and I sometimes still do, but the norm for me is jeans, a sweater, and an overcoat, with maybe a scarf and gloves if it’s below freezing outside. I think I’d also feel like a fraud. Even though I’m closer to Christ than I ever have been in my entire life, and I finally feel like a real Catholic, I would never be able to reach into the recesses of Vatican I and pull out my own way of worshiping Him. I think it’s not so much the outward appearance, but the inward devotion. There is a bible verse that comes to mind: Matthew 6:5-6
“5When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
I never remember bible quotes, so I’m surprised this jumped to mind. So yeah, I guess my interpretation is that it doesn’t really matter what you look like, but that you’re there, and of course that you pray the rosary, when you get up and go to sleep, and have an inward dialogue with the Holy Spirit throughout the day. Recently, after I returned from Fragua (which I’ll write about separately), I’ve started to visit Jesus in the chapel at the Newman Center. They have a tabernacle in the chapel that anyone can go visit as long as the chapel is unlocked, and if it isn’t, I can always go visit Him at the Adoration Chapel, which is open 24/7 at St. Marys. It’s so awesome to be able to go pray in the presence of Christ, and be able to thank Him in the middle of the day, or ask Him for help.
I sort of got off topic, didn’t I? Mantillas, right. Well, it was amazing to see so many women in mass that morning who were wearing them. I’ve not seen them since, but I always scan the crowd for them. Hopefully they’ll be back!