Is covering a "calling" or a "personal preference?"
You see, most of the women who I've met who cover, use phrases that involve the word "calling" in some way or another. And many of us have similar experiences where we feel as if the Holy Spirit is knocking us over the head with covering, when we're... less than enthusiastic... about the idea...
Here, in a nutshell (I hope!) is my own personal experience: About three and a half years ago I began to feel a small, constant, nagging tug in the back of my mind and it told me one thing... That I needed to cover my head when I was in the presence of God. The thought came unbidden. And I brushed it away. It reappeared. I thought of something else. It nagged at me. I turned up the music I was listening to and told the thought to shush.
The problem was that covering wasn't convenient. And what would people think? I was a recent convert. Would they think that I thought I was better than everyone else? No one in my parish covered. No one. I would stand out like a sore thumb.
I managed to ignore the insistent tug at my soul for an entire year. But it didn't go away. Or change. And finally I had to admit that it was wrong of me to ignore such an insistent and clear call in my life. So I began to learn about covering. I learned the history. I learned the reasons behind it (although it would be a while before I could articulate them myself). And I set a date, a good ways off, to begin covering.
I was sneaky in the beginning. I wore hats. I would wrap the chapel veil that Paul had given me around my head like a bandanna, so it would look quite so... "chapel veil-y"... I took to knitting beanies. Anything to help me hide or camouflage my covering.
Later I wore whatever was convenient. A chapel veil fit easily in my purse (and I do believe they are beautiful!). A snood kept baby hands at bay. And ultimately, my hats went away for the most part, because a particular toddler found that she had a passion for playing peek-a-boo with the brims of my favorite hats...
The tug that I feel to cover my head as a sign of respect for the most Blessed Sacrament has not ebbed in any way.
A handful of times over the past few years I have forgotten a cover and I feel naked and irreverent standing before God in that way. I know that doesn't make sense to many of you, but it does make sense for me. I am called to this personal devotion and I must obey this call.
If you feel called to cover, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. If you don't, you might think I've gone off my rocker.
A recent thread on a Catholic Forum that I was engaged in, included a heated conversation on this very topic. Some said that there was no such thing as a calling to cover, and that it was offensive to those who didn't feel such a calling to suggest that it existed.
I responded that God draws us in different ways. He knows what we need. He knows what's going to work. Feeling this calling doesn't make us special. It's just another way in which God is drawing us to Him and it's a way that, for whatever reason, some of us are called to respond to Him in.
And frankly, it's hard not to be offended when someone says, in no uncertain terms, "There is no such calling." Because in saying that, you're basically saying that we're just crazy and imagining this call from God.
So that's what sets it apart in my mind from a "preference." I may prefer to wear dresses rather than pants. I may prefer red to blue.
But I am called by God to honor Him in this way. And the difference between these two ways of looking at covering is vast.
Thus to those of us who cover it is quite a "big deal." That's why it's heartbreaking to those who are refused the opportunity to answer this call. And that's why it's more than just a "little piece of cloth" to some of us.
So try to keep in mind that maybe, just maybe, "there are more things in heaven and earth... than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
And I'd love to hear other answers to the initial question (even if you disagree with me!).
Paul just pointed out that when I read him this post, that many people use the same language to explain and justify certain sins (that thought never occurred to me as I was writing this post). And my response is this: The difference is in the action itself. One action that was brought up is repeatedly and specifically forbidden Biblically. The other is encouraged Biblically and is a (little t) tradition that lasted centuries in the Church.
Evil often co-opts the language of what is good, and gives it a little twist, in order to convince people that they are in fact doing the right thing. But if we fall back on the teachings of Christ and His Church we will not be led astray in these matters. That's why He gave Peter the keys after all. So that we would know what was true and what was not.