3 tips for Catholic girls who, almost against their will, are becoming more traditional. A couple of things that I wish I had read…
1. Don’t be afraid of seeming like a hypocrite. So now you want to dress modestly and behave modestly and attend a mass which is reverent and loyal to tradition. Maybe you were looking for the total opposite of these things only a couple of years ago. Maybe you openly renounced your faith. Maybe you were an atheist and you were nasty to Christians and mocked God. Maybe you had never even thought about God until recently and now you’re waxing lyrical about Our Lord and Saviour, screaming “GLORIA TIBI DOMINE!” from the rooftops (be careful up there…). Let me give you some names: St Augustine, St Paul, St Francis of Assisi. You are in most excellent company.
You see this change which has happened in you, that’s God working on you and bringing you closer and closer to Him. If you have confessed the sins of your past life, forget about them. If someone brings them up, remind them that you have changed. I say this because I was extremely worried about people comparing the person I am trying to be now with the person I was. To be honest, I think I’m the only one who ever makes a comparison! Nonetheless, I think if I am feeling it, other people probably are too.
The devil will try to upset you by accusing you of being unworthy of the blessings that you have received. Simply remain cheerful and do your best to ignore the devil’s nagging. If need be even laugh at the absurdity of the situation. Satan, the epitome of sin, accuses you of unworthiness! When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future!
— St. Teresa of Avila
2. If you feel like you want to start wearing a mantilla, go for it! However, I think it is also wise to ask yourself a couple of questions beforehand: why do I want to wear it? What does it achieve? Who am I trying to please? A friend of mine gave me a little tiny Roman Missal and in it, it also has Morning prayers, Night prayers, the Angelus, Confession etc etc. Anyway, I’m not very good at getting the morning prayers done but I am quite consistent with night prayers. A part of the prayer is this (I’m sure lots of people know it but we can’t all be all-knowing, all-seeing, so I’ll just assume that like me, you didn’t know it):
“O my God! I firmly believe that Thou art here present, and plainly seest me and that Thou observest all my actions, all my thoughts and the most secret motions of my heart. Thou watchest over me with an incomparable love, every moment bestowing favours, preserving me from evil…” (Emphasis added)
I often think of that when I feel like people are staring at the mantilla. Hey, I like fading into the background. I pretty much always sit near the back of the church, to the side. I don’t want people to look at me. This lacy thing on my head, this is not for you, this is for God. If I wear a pretty one, it’s not to entertain you, it’s because I’m trying to give the best to God, to differentiate between what I do outside and what I do in the house of God. DO NOT GIVE IN WHEN THEY TRY TO MAKE YOU FEEL STUPID FOR WEARING IT. God knows the secret motions of your heart and if your intentions are pure and what you are doing is in keeping with the tradition of the Church, that is all that matters.
3. Perhaps you have attended some old rite masses and now you’re back in your normal parish with your Novus Ordo/Ordinary Form/whatever you want to call it mass and you’re thinking about some of the differences between the masses and the difference in the way that you act in the two rites. Just know that there are certain things that you can bring over from the old rite to the new rite and nobody can stop you. You can kneel for Communion, kneel for blessings, bow/kneel at the appropriate time in the Nicene Creed (yes, I know we’re already supposed to do this but how many people actually do?) and we have already covered the mantilla. These are small but concrete things that you can do. After all, if we kneel for Communion in the Latin mass, why don’t we do it in all masses? Is Our Lord any less present?
Maybe one day you will get to attend a parish which has a Tridentine mass every week, but today is probably not that day *sob*. You still need to attend mass on at least a weekly basis though (and I hope you will want to attend daily, if you can!). I think if you feel the urge to be more traditional, don’t hold yourself back! You are not alone – there are women just like you all over but, for the moment, they are a bit scattered. Every now and again, I spot an old lady who has continued to cover her head or someone who is kneeling for Communion. I suspect these people were criticised and mocked for hanging onto these practices but it inspires me to carry on, even if people sometimes do the same to me. Small changes make a big difference if our heart is in it. The important thing is to stay focused on God, to remember that all these changes are for the glory of God, to humble ourselves in His presence.