The Catholic Church has arguably six basic requirements to be considered a practicing Catholic, or “Catholic in good standing,” if you will. The precepts of the Catholic Church can be found at the Vatican’s website – and, while they specifically state five precepts, there is a sixth one at the end of the paragraph discussing supporting the Church to our individual abilities.
Then, after the basic tenets of Catholicism (the precepts, the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the recommended Works of Mercy) come devotions for the Catholic Church.
As I wrote for an article at Catholic Sistas this past fall,
Devotions aren’t required at all, and some people are drawn to one devotion, while another person is drawn to a completely different devotion.
Pope Pius XII is credited with explaining the purpose of devotional practices is,
to attract and direct our souls to God, purifying them from their sins, encouraging them to practice virtue and, finally, stimulating them to advance along the path of sincere piety by accustoming them to meditate on the eternal truths and disposing them better to contemplate the mysteries of the human and divine natures of Christ.
Devotions are certainly not requirements to be a Catholic – or, a “practicing Catholic.” Instead, they serve to lead us closer to Christ.
One person may decide they love reciting the Rosary, and pray it daily. Another person, like myself, may feel drawn to the messages promoted through the teaching of Divine Mercy, and how God, in His infinite goodness and love for us, is ready to embrace us and bestow upon us His grace and mercy – we only have to seek it. Others, like my blogging friend Sara, over at To Jesus, Sincerely, may have a strong devotion to the Brown Scapular – or, the green scapular, blue scapular, or a myriad of other scapular colors, each with their own reason for special prayers and devotions.
And, others, through deep prayer and contemplation, find themselves drawn to a devotion I began using a year and a half ago – veiling.
My reasons were explained in my previous article on this blog, but as the year and a half progressed, I have found the purpose of veiling to take on a deeper meaning. I recently asked my Facebook followers what devotions they love and have, and as I contemplated my own answer, I realized it was time to update the reason I continue to veil.
When I began veiling, I would only veil for the Consecration of the Eucharist and receiving Communion. I found it the easiest with a little baby in my arms. However, about this time last year, my family’s military chaplain and I discussed the devotion, and he recommended I try to veil, “In accordance with the Vatican standards,” which means any time I am near the Blessed Sacrament. And, while I still fail at doing so when I pop in and out of the chapel, I have become more intentional at placing the veil over my head as I enter the Sanctuary, and most times when I am sitting in front of Jesus.
To be honest, I’m still not comfortable veiling through the entirety of Mass, simply because my daughter still enjoys playing with my veil – a favorite game of hers is peekaboo, or, “I’m a ghost, ooooooooooo!” Every time she pushes the spare/”play” veil away, and reaches for my veil, and I find myself straightening the one on my head, I feel awkward and uncomfortable. Some Masses, depending on my daughter’s feisty moods, I’ve been known to remove the veil until the Consecration, simply so the veil ceases being a distraction to not only my daughter, but also to myself.
However, there is a distinct reason I continue to practice this particular devotion.
As I previously wrote,
I firmly believe when I go up for Communion, I am truly receiving the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I am, in that moment, receiving Him the way the apostles received Him during the Last Supper centuries before.
I am entering Christ’s Passion and Death, and His ultimate Resurrection, and fully bringing Him to dwell in me. I fully believe through reception of His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, He changes the woman I am, into a fervent disciple and follower of His.
But, I didn’t always believe that! I used to think of the Eucharist as a symbol of Jesus’ Body and Blood. It wasn’t until I came home to the Church that I fully began allowing Christ to transform my heart and head to fully grasp the weight and enormity of the gift of Communion – where He gives Himself, literally, to us through the prayers of our priests, every. single. Mass.
Followers of my blog know I have long written about my ups and downs of taking my small children to Mass. I encourage all parents to take their small children; I also encourage others to have compassion for the single mom or dad in the pew, trying to get their child to quiet down and stay attentive for Mass.
What I have found with the veil in the past year and a half, is that the devotion centers and grounds me during Mass.
More specifically, veiling centers me for the source and summit of the Catholic Mass – the Eucharist.
No matter how hectic or chaotic Mass can be, or how many times my daughter and I play, “Leave Mommy’s veil alone,” the devotion actually allows me to focus on receiving Jesus’ Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.
As I straighten my veil during the Consecration, and as I walk up the aisle to receive Communion, my veil helps remind me that I am not receiving a mere symbol of Christ’s love for us.
Instead, I am receiving Christ’s Body and Blood, His Soul and Divinity.
Whatever happened in the beginning of Mass washes away. The readings I didn’t get to hear, the homily (or sermon) I didn’t get to pay attention to, the prayers I walked through as I tried to encourage my five year old to join us in the prayers, the (sometimes futile) attempts to keep the two year old quiet enough for others to hear the priest? All of those issues leading up to receiving Jesus wash away.
As I approach the altar,
I am focused.
I am reminded of Christ’s love for us.
I am changed.
Lent is usually a typical time in which Catholics assess adding to their prayer life, or giving something up (fasting), or doing some act of love to another (almsgiving). Perhaps somebody out there is considering veiling as a devotion – but, are too worried about standing out, or their kids not being old enough to leave the veil alone, or just still deeply praying about this particular devotion. It is for that woman that I wrote and updated my reasons for veiling. I wanted to give another perspective of this still-misunderstood devotion.
As I previously stated in my article, “A Recipe for Catholicism,”
Just like our generational recipes for cooking and baking, things will still turn out okay if we just stick to the black and white print… if we just stick to the basics. However, without the devotions, we may miss out on that extra sweetness, fuller depth, richer relationship with God!
Do you have a special devotion?
Have you been considering picking up another devotion for Lent?
How do you find the deeper relationship with Christ that all His followers are called to deepen?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!