Thursday, March 15, 2007

"I choose not to cooperate"--Spiritual Mr. Spock?

Yes, I watch Star Trek. I'm not the kind of Trekkie/Trekker, who runs around wearing a Starfleet uniform to the supermarket or anything, but I have a healthy enjoyment of the show..

So, back to Mr. Spock. Naturally, such a beloved character had to make a guest appearance on Star Trek the Next Generation. During that particular episode, he found himself being held hostage by hostile aliens, who demanded that he do as they said, or be killed. His response, in his cool, dispassionate, Vulcan manner was as follows:

"Since it is logical to conclude that you will kill us in any event, I choose not to cooperate."

Probably one of my favorite Spock lines of all time. It's so applicable to everyday life.

Take for example, people who get annoyed (or belligerent) when they see acts of personal piety. Catholic Mom recently blogged on the subject. She writes

Rich Leonardi writes of his transition to receiving Communion on the tongue. This is not a required transition. Rich in no way suggests it makes him more Catholic than those who receive in the hand .... But predictably, someone objects to this practice with the words “I don't understand why people like you think that your way is always better. And that you are in someway a better Catholic.” I cringe at that comment because it is such sentiments that keep me from wearing a veil. Personally I find the idea of wearing a veil appealing. ... It is a desire to mark my unique womanly vocation within the Church. At the same time it is a personal reminder of the necessary humility with which I should approach Our Lord. ...We have a dozen or so women in our parish who regularly wear a veil. I have heard others murmuring, “I don’t know why she has to act so holy. There is just no reason to fall back to the old ways. It is just too showy!” I don’t want to be “showy”. I don’t want to be a distraction to those around me. So I am still bareheaded. Maybe someday.

I understand her trepidation. Coming from a region of the US where veils were considered not only too old fashioned, but anachronistic and anti-feminist, I probably would have been excoriated (at least behind my back) for wearing one in many parishes. It's too bad. People shouldn't feel threatened by someone else's act of personal devotion, and the rest of us shouldn't feel cowed by their displeasure. But, there it is.

Despite my own uneasiness about veils, as my wedding approached, I became increasingly aware of how profound my vocation as a wife would be, and I began to want to let it be visible. More visible than any ring I'd ever want to wear. At least, anyway, while I go to mass. I suppose I was inspired by the veil I wore when I took my wedding vows, and some of the nuns I have seen, who wear their vocations so humbly in both their dress and their demeanor. So a day or two before my wedding, I went out and bought a little chapel veil. I started wearing it about a month after I married. It took me a little while, even then, to get over myself and not be so self-conscious about it.

It's been good for me. I like having something to wear that reminds me it's time to quiet down and really be there for mass. In some ways it works like blinders do on a horse, helping me avoid unnecessary distractions. I'm less likely to spend time before mass chitchatting. I dress in a more subdued way than I used to. I generally feel more prayerful.

Having moved away from where I used to live, to a place where personal piety isn't quite so controversial, I haven't had much opportunity to be insulted to my face over it. I'm one of only two women I regularly see at the same mass wearing one, but on those rare occasions when anyone says something, it's been positive so far. It's possible my ethnic background helps, though. Some people probably just assume it's a Hispanic thing. It should be interesting to see what happens when I start making visits back to my natal territories, though.

Anyway, when I made the choice to wear the veil, I also made the choice to take any criticism that might come from it. If another person feels that threatened by a little piece of lace, there's a good chance I won't be able to avoid annoying them anyway. And, since it's logical to conclude that they'll dislike me in any event, I choose not to cooperate. :)