Another Reason Why I Cover My Head in Church – FM Awareness

In just one week, you made my post Why (and How) I Wear a Veil in Church without Being Uptight and/or Wrinkly the second-most popular post I’ve ever written. I’m not even going to try counting your tweets, RTs, favorites, likes, and comments! Your interest and response was completely unexpected.

I have so much more to say about that topic. This weekend, my spiritual director and I decided to prayerfully discern how God might be calling me to share the ginormous amount of goodness that’s swimming around in my brain about veils, Holy Mass, femininity, and the utterly astounding divine romance that God longs for us to discover in the Catholic Church.

Until then, I’d like to share just a quick something with you; something that has almost solidified my head-covering in God’s Eucharistic Presence.

Words that My Computer Can’t Spell

Before World Youth Day in Sydney, I visited my family doctor. He referred me to a rheumatologist — a word that even WordPress’s spellcheck doesn’t recognize.

After months of questions, blood tests, and staring at my confused specialist’s face, I discovered that I suffer from a chronic pain disorder called fibromyalgia — another word that confuses spellcheck. That was over four years ago.

Fibromyalgia, or “FM”, is a mysterious thing. Even today, some doctors still refuse to believe it exists(!), insisting that patients’ pain is “all in your head.” The Mayo Clinic lists common symptoms:

  • Widespread pain. The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache […]
  • Fatigue. People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
  • Cognitive difficulties. A symptom commonly referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
  • Other problems. Many people who have fibromyalgia also may experience depression, headaches, and pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.

When my FM flares up, I feel like a giant, exhausted, useless bruise. On a typical day, I’m in some sort of pain.

Unfortunately, FM’s cause is currently unknown. That’s why today, May 12, is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. Without a cause, we can’t find a cure. Doctors can only prescribe treatments to try easing our symptoms.

How Does This Relate to Your Veil?

I learned the hard way that, if I kneel during all the ‘kneeling parts’ of the Mass, this is what will happen later:

  1. I will cross the threshold of our apartment.
  2. I will collapse on the floor.
  3. I will lie there for a minute.
  4. I will crawl to the couch and ask my husband for a heat pack.
  5. I will be exhausted the next day.

This happened about 20 times before I finally admitted that I can no longer kneel along with everyone else at Mass.

Y’all, this breaks my heart. I almost cried typing it.

Why does kneeling mean so much to me? Because I’m a human being, and my body expresses the movements of my soul and spirit. Because God is really there at the Consecration, and I would like to fall on my face each time and lay there until He picks me up and sends me on my way. And because I see so many of my fellow baptized Catholics at Mass who have no idea what’s happening at that sacred moment.

I want to be that 20-something who acts differently during Mass…so that Jesus can be recognized in the Breaking of the Bread.

For some reason, kneeling is not the action God wants from me right now. While Father lifts up the Body and Blood of Christ, I sit and bow my veiled head. At that moment, my veil is my only outward sign to communicate how sacred I believe the Mass truly is. God, how I long for the whole world to believe!

——

Please do me a favor and read a little bit about fibromyalgia today, so that if you ever meet 1 of the 6 million Americans who suffer from it, you’ll know how to be a bit of help to him or her. And pray for increased understanding of FM among the medical community.

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7 comments

  1. As you know, we men also can suffer from FM. I’ve had it (or something similar sharing the same symptoms) for 30 years or so.
    It is a horrible disease. We need a miracle to get an antidote for this or some kind of effective treatment. Hope it comes soon…
    Faith keeps me going; and that is faith in my loving Heavenly Father who has already healed me by the stripes of Jesus.
    Bless you, Peter j Foster.

    • Blessings to you, Peter! My faith keeps me going, too. Since I have had to learn to deal with suffering, I’ve become more compassionate toward others, and so God has transformed it into a gift for me to grow in virtue. Thanks again for reading.

  2. At my parish, we have daily Mass in the small chapel and not alot of room to kneel so most do not. As a ‘Magdalen student’ my patron saint requests that her charges kneel in reparation for all the times we refused and for the atonement of the world. So, I do it but often worry the others feel I am judging them; which I am not. So I am so grateful for your sharing, as I will now also kneel for you and be thankful that I am so blessed to be able to make this small effort for my sweet friend.

  3. thank you so much this is very helpful for me I am in my 30’s and have FM and was recently dx with Lupus as well since I had a stoke lst year yeah at 35 I had a stroke… some days I need a cane some days I don’t… but it has been a challenge at Mass for me to kneel at mass and I want to show my reverence in kneeling before the sacrament as an example to my children I also veil at Mass which and am one of the only women to veil… but this really helped me today thank you God bless you will be in my prayers

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