Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Call to Veil...

Well, I almost forgot to post a link to my guest post on Catholic Sistas about veiling! Here it is...

A Call to Veil: The Mysterious Unfolds

If you have any encouraging words for women who are considering wearing a veil to church, please don't forget to post a comment at the bottom of the article.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Heaven Rejoicing

This past Saturday, I had the amazing opportunity to witness a dear friend of mine return to the sacraments after more than 30 years away. I asked her today if I could share her story and she agreed, so here it is!

Diane started working at the Veils by Lily office in May at the same time we initially rented out the space. My husband knew her from his second job during tax season, and when I started looking for someone to help me sew veils, he said he was pretty sure she had apparently been sewing for a very long time.

When I asked him to tell me more about her, he said he didn't really know much, other than that the managers at the tax office had been very impressed with her work ethic. As one of the "wavers" who would stand outside in the bitter cold trying to get people to go into the office to get their taxes done, she would stay outside for the entire length of her shift, only coming inside for brief bathroom breaks. My husband compared her to the other wavers, who would be outside for a while, come inside and chat for another while, go back out, come back in, and so on. The managers said she was the only waver would had ever lasted the entire tax season. Needless to say, I was very impressed, and without having even met her, I knew she was the right person to help me. 

All this happened at the same time that God led us to our little office in Liguori, a beautiful Catholic setting for our Catholic apostolate. It was just so fitting--we were even just down the hall from a chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved, the whole reason for our existence, and the reason for our veils. It was then that I knew... I just knew that Diane was here for a reason.

She even said so herself a few months ago. We were working away, talking about some Catholic issue she might have asked me about, when she said to me, "Lily, I just know that God put me here for a reason. I'm supposed to be here."

I remember sharing with her my love for the Church and most especially, the Eucharist, one Saturday morning over breakfast at the St. Louis Bread Co. We had just been to Mass together at St. Francis de Sales Oratory--I had wanted to show her a church where many other women wore veils to Mass. As we sat eating breakfast and making small talk, she took the conversation a bit deeper when she asked me if I'd been Catholic all my life. Poor Diane, she had no idea she would set me off talking for at least 15 minutes, barely stopping to take a breath! At one point, I remember distinctly thinking that I knew nothing about her faith background, which promptly made stop talking and asked her about herself. It was then that I discovered that she had received the sacraments as a child but had drifted away once she had reached adulthood.

On another occasion, we were working together at home when she asked me how Mass had been that day. I replied that it had been particularly touching, as it was the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. As I explained more about it at her request, she looked at me and asked me if I was kidding. I said no, it really was, but she had an incredulous look on her face.

"You won't believe what I did today," she said. I thought she was changing the subject.

"What did you do?"

"I had the urge to go into this Christian store, which is totally unlike me... and look what I bought." She pulled out from under her shirt a small cross hanging around her neck.

"And you know what's even funnier? Last night I had a dream that I went to confession."  

Now I couldn't believe it... and yet, I could, because I knew what kind of business God is in.

This past Friday, we were working together again and somehow the conversation turned to offering Holy Communion for our loved ones.

"I know you've mentioned going to confession in the past," I said, "and you know, you could go to confession today. Then you could receive Holy Communion and offer it for whoever you want."

"Okay... so what do I do? Where do I go? Who do I call?"

I gave her the phone number for one of our parish priests, whom I go to for confession often. Later that evening, her best friend, who also now helps me with veils, stopped by. When she heard she was planning to go to confession, she was ecstatic for her and asked her if she would go to Mass with her at 5 o'clock on Saturday evening. I remembered then that my midwife was supposed to come over in the morning, so my only chance to go to Mass on Saturday would be at 5 o'clock. "Well, what a coincidence!"

We all met at the church on Saturday evening, Diane having gone to confession (with my special group of Catholic mama friends eagerly praying for her, hundreds of miles away) and me running in just before Mass started. I whispered "Congratulations!" in her ear and gave her a kiss and a warm hug before I scattered to find a seat.

Right after the Holy, Holy, I had the most bizarre yet awesome feeling. Somehow, I had a flashback to my First Holy Communion, and I felt exactly like I did on July 5, 1995 at that precise moment in the Mass. It was like an acknowledgement that something transcendent was about to happen in receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ within my very being for the first time, something I had longed for for so long. Except it wasn't my First Holy Communion. In a sense, it was a "first" of Diane's, after so many years.

I received my Lord first, returning to my pew and kneeling just moments before it was Diane's turn. She tells me now that, right at that moment, about two people before it was her turn to receive, it hit her--this was it, and she just wanted to burst into tears. She says she felt a sudden rush of something, but she maintained composure, and the moment I saw Father raise the Host before her very eyes and then carefully give her Holy Communion, I cried. I couldn't stop crying.

I thought of all the times I had longed with such a burning intensity to receive the Eucharist, such that even walking up the aisle was a torturous wait... and I thought of how much more Christ himself did long to reach deep into Diane's soul and give her rest. I thought of the transcendence of the moment when earth is lifted up to heaven and we get to enter into real--not symbolic or imagined--communion with the very God of the universe, who draws us to Himself and longs to transform us from the inside out. I cried even harder.

When Mass was over, Diane came over to where I was sitting. We looked at each other's eyes, both filled with tears of joy, and hugged. We decided to celebrate by having dinner with the rest of the parish at the spaghetti dinner. I called my husband and told him to bring the kids, and we all (including Diane's best friend) celebrated.

It was a wonderful night.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Day at the Office

My amazing husband is home with the kids this beautiful Saturday morning, and I get to work here:

Okay, so the Veils by Lily office is not outdoors, but this is the beautiful road that leads to it. The colors were even more striking a couple of days ago, but I didn't think to stop and take a picture until just now.

God is reflected in the beauty of His creation, and I can't help but thank Him over and over again for all the blessings He just keeps pouring out on our family. On my way to the office this morning, I was particularly grateful for the chance to give Him glory through beautiful veils. A friend once said to me, "Do you realize that almost all the veils you make get to be worn by women the moment they receive Christ in the Eucharist? It's like your veils are always in the Real Presence of Christ!"

That's pretty amazing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Expecting again... for good this time?

Life with three little ones is wonderful... looking into each of their faces every day is like looking into the face of Christ. Naturally, I can't wait until we get to meet this new life growing within me. The children are thrilled that a new brother or sister is on the way. My son, of course, wants it to be a boy. My oldest daughter, of course, wants it to be a girl. But, wisely, my son has declared that we should think of both boy and girl names, just to be sure.

I'm having the oh-so-"wonderful" early pregnancy nausea and fatigue, made worse by the fact that I've been put on both oral progesterone and progesterone injections (two injections, twice a week... aye). But I'm comforted by the fact that I never had a chance to get to the early pregnancy symptoms with all three previous miscarriages. And given that I made it to at least 7 weeks without realizing I was pregnant and therefore without the extra progesterone, I'm thinking that maybe God wants this little one to stay.

I was in adoration last night and the tears just kept coming down my face. They were tears of joy, to be sure--at nothing in particular and yet at everything in particular. Or maybe it was just the fact that God was right before my eyes. Either way, it hit me that I haven't experienced the intensity of my pregnant moods in over two years, and it's time to walk this walk all over again. This is probably my most challenging pregnancy symptom, over the debilitating fatigue and the just plain yucky nausea. I would appreciate your prayers.

You know what's really amazing, though? That never before have I been late to finding out I was pregnant. I usually know at three and a half weeks. Well, not that, but the fact that God waited just enough time to let us know until we were settled in the new office, having my friends helping me with the veils. I think God probably knew that, had I found out before that, I would have freaked out and given it all up, a la "I can't do it--I'm done!" So He waited. And now, I have more time to devote to my kids and more time to get much-needed rest, thanks to putting it all in His hands and letting Him lead us to getting the business out of the house and into the perfect office... with help from others.

God's plans are perfect, and He shows us so, over and over again. Boy, am I looking forward to seeing Him face to face.

Longing for God,

The Catholic Wife

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fearfully, Wonderfully Made

God's love is so personal...

I've always heard that God loves "us"... as in, "us in general." But God's love is so much more than that. It's infinite, of course, and we can't begin to wrap our finite minds around this concept, but it's also so personal... so intimate. How beautiful it is when God begins to inflame our hearts with the knowledge of this love.

Danielle Rose sings beautifully of the intimacy of God's love in her song Psalm 139 (Wonderfully Made):

Lord, you search me and you know me, when I sit and when I stand. You understand my thoughts from afar. Behind me and before me your hand is there to guide me. Too wonderful for me, this knowledge is beyond my reach. Before a word is on my tongue you know it all before it has begun.

I praise you, God, that I am fearfully, wonderfully made.

Where can I hide from your presence? Where can I flee from your face? If I climb to the heavens you are there, if I lie in the grave you are there. If I take the wings of the dawn or dwell at the sea's furthest end, even there your had would guide me, your right hand hold me fast. For you night is as the day, for you light and darkness are the same.

I praise you God, that I am fearfully, wonderfully made.

In secret, as in the depths of the earth, you formed my inmost being. My very self you knew, my bones were not hidden from you knit me in my mother's womb.

How beautiful.

Longing for God,

The Catholic Wife

Monday, February 14, 2011

On Our Knees Before the Lord

This past weekend, I was blessed to attend Mass at St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis. The homily given by Canon Michael Wiener spoke to me immensely.

Remember me going on about wanting to kneel for Holy Communion at my local parish? And how I was specifically told not to?

Well, since then, I've begun to attend the Oratory on a regular basis, absolutely loving the beauty and reverence I have found there. I love that I blend right in with others who are also in love with our Eucharistic Lord and that, together, we participate in the most beautiful form of divine liturgy.

So, you can imagine how delighted I was yesterday to hear Canon Wiener speak of the Holy Eucharist in light of the parable of the mustard seed, and then quote Bishop Athanasius Schneider, on this topic:

Living in the shadow of the mustard tree, being a citizen of the kingdom of God gives us access to the superabundant gifts of the everlasting king: The Eucharist, the nourishment of our souls celebrated in the divine liturgy.

“The Blessed Eucharist is for you … Rejoice, o man, your Christ, your priest, is eternally living with you. You are going to find Him at your side in all the needs of your life. If you are thirsty of truth, He will instruct you and pour light into your intellect. If you are suffering, if the sorrows of earth press heavily on you, He will console you”, says Mother Louise Margaret Claret, a spiritual daughter of St. Francis de Sales.

In the conclusion of his book “Dominus Est – It is the Lord” The Most Reverend Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Astana in Kazakhstan, writes:

“Allowing oneself to be fed like a baby by receiving Communion directly into the mouth ritually expresses in a better way the character of receptivity and of being a child before Christ Who feeds us and nourishes us spiritually. An adult, on the other hand, takes the food himself with his fingers and places it into his own mouth. … The gesture of receiving the Body of the Lord in the mouth and kneeling could be a visible testimony to the faith of the Church in the Eucharistic Mystery and even something that heals and teaches our modern culture, for which kneeling and spiritual childhood are completely foreign phenomena.”

Then, Canon Wiener went on to speak of the gift of the liturgy as having its source and purpose in the Eucharist itself.

The mustard tree, the Church, is continuously cultivated and renewed in the celebrations of the divine liturgy. The liturgy is above all a gift of the Lord to allow His Mystical Body to be part of His supreme act of Adoration, Thanksgiving, Propitiation and Petition. It will profit the whole of us, the members of this Mystical Body, when all individual members are deepening their faith and their knowledge with regard to the liturgy.

The more we all are able to see the true spiritual roots of the mustard tree the better we are defended against a purely ideological or human perception of the liturgy. The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest cultivates the splendor of the liturgy to bring us the Lord. This is certainly counter-cultural, but being counter-cultural is not the first reason for the Institute to exist. The first reason for us to celebrate the liturgy and for the Institute to exist is to nourish and cultivate the mustard tree planted by Our Lord and entrusted to us and all generations before and after us. Amen.

"The more we all are able to see the true spiritual roots of the mustard tree the better we are defended against a purely ideological or human perception of the liturgy." That's right. The Holy Mass is not just a way to express our religious tendencies or a place to go to in order to feel loved by similarly-minded people. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we encounter Christ himself. Our Lord, our God, the source and summit of our lives, the One who can fulfill the deepest desires of our hearts... is there.

How fitting it is, then, to fall on our knees before Him. 

Longing for God,

The Catholic Wife

P.S. Special thanks to St. Louis Catholic for posting the text of Canon Wiener's homily.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Would You Veil if More Women Did?

One of the things I have learned in the last few months in talking to many women at conferences and other venues, is that they want to veil in the presence of Our Lord... but won't do it because they are afraid of what other people will think. They are afraid of calling attention to themselves, because it would mean people might look at them and think that they are trying to appear holier than they are, or worse: that they are passing judgment on the majority who don't veil. These women long to please God, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, but are held back in their desire to do so because of the peer pressure not to veil.

Why do we veil?

We veil as an act of humility before Our Lord, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. To veil in church is to make visible what we believe in our hearts--that Jesus, true God and true Man, is present in the Blessed Sacrament in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity... and that we desire to humble ourselves before Him.

Why an external sign?

Because we are human. As such, our faith is edified by things we perceive through our senses: sacred music, sacred art, incense, beautiful vestments, pious gestures toward the tabernacle, etc. The greatest gift we receive is given to us by mouth: the Eucharist.

Why the head?

Because hair has always been a woman's glory--a part of us that we take care of in order to present ourselves to the world with dignity. By covering our hair when we enter into the presence of God, we are saying that all glory is God's, not ours.

Should I veil in church if I'm the only one?

Should you do something that is pleasing to God if you're the only one? My answer to this question is the same as the one used by those who are opposed to veiling in church: "God knows your heart." If you truly desire to please Him, then yes, by all means, veil. Even if you're the only one. God knows your heart. He will know that you are not doing it because you consider yourself better than anyone else, or because you want to pass judgment on others who do not veil. And enduring the possibility of others thinking those things about you will become a cross you will be happy to offer to Our Lord. (But most likely, they won't. In fact, you will probably give other women the courage to do what they've been longing to do!)

All of this is why I veil. If you would like to read deeper into the symbolism of the chapel veil, go here and here.

Need a little extra courage before you go for it?

Remember this: the same pro-abortion women's group who pushed the feminist agenda in the 1960's (the National Organization for Women) was behind a campaign to get women to shed (and burn) their veils, in direct disobedience of what was then Canon law. You can read more about it here.

For now, please go to Fr. Z.'s blog and cast your vote!

Longing for God,

The Catholic Wife