In just one week, you made my postthe 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:
- I will cross the threshold of our apartment.
- I will collapse on the floor.
- I will lie there for a minute.
- I will crawl to the couch and ask my husband for a heat pack.
- 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.