To Veil or Not to Veil?
To tell you the truth, this is a question that never even crossed my mind as a possibility until I stumbled upon Cristina’s Filling My Prayer Closet blog post where she wrote about her decision to wear a veil to Mass during Advent. On first read, I was like what???? My mind automatically turned to women wearing veils because they have to, because they must hide their bodies and because they are inferior to men. Not a good veil association :).
But I stopped and checked my heart and looked the picture of her in her veil. It was beautiful and offered a deeper adoration of God, something I desire. I wanted to wear one…
When I thought about it more, I realized that most every picture of Mary portrays her wearing a beautiful veil (in fact, on my blog she’s wearing a blue one!). Why would I not want to imitate Mary? If it’s good enough for the Mother of God, well then certainly it’s good enough for me.
I spent a while perusing Liturgical Time’s Veil Shop on Etsy, admiring the veils and thinking about which I would choose. But when I thought of myself at mass wearing the veil, it made me very uncomfortable. Not really because of the negative association (because after all I would be CHOOSING to wear the veil), but because I feel like people might see it as an attempt to draw attention to myself, which is not at all what I want to do. I want to be modest, unnoticed, adoring, simple. Would this call too much attention?
My other concern is that certain members of my family feel I am a bit too “fanatical” about Catholicism :). I walk a fine line of adding to my activities a little at a time, so it’s not too much at once. I’m afraid this might be a bit too dramatic.
I have thought about it and prayed about it, and while my heart wants to wear a veil, my head just isn’t sure. I finally came up with an idea to wear a veil on Christmas Eve. It seems like a proper time to honor the Blessed Mother on the eve of the day that she delivered our Lord and a reasonable way to “dress up” for Christmas mass. It might be less noticed by all parties and I could see how I liked it.
What do you think? Would you consider wearing a veil? Be sure to visit Life of a Catholic Librarian and Filling My Prayer Closet, who are both challenging women to consider wearing a veil for Advent as part of their Advent Veiling Project. They are also giving away five different veils throughout Advent. If I win one, I just might consider that a sign from the Blessed Mother that she wants me to “veil.”
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I loved reading your post…filled with such honesty. I share many of your ponderings. I already know my family will think I really lost it this time. But I am feeling a pull to try and my husband is very supportive.
So many beautiful ones to choose from! I will keep you in prayer as you discern.
I am glad I am not the only one who’s family thinks they are crazy ;-). Thanks for praying for me and for your comment! God bless!
I was like you for a long time. Then I really started thinking through the logic (like you have about Mary & veiling going hand-in-hand). The truth of the matter is that no matter how slowly you bring out your ‘fanatical’ Catholic identity, the same people will think the same things about you. I don’t mean that to sound negative, harsh, or discouraging. I mean it to give you courage to answer God’s call in your heart. He is the important one, not family, friends, or fellow parishioners. If God put the idea of veiling into your mind, soul, and heart, then He will see to it that you are rewarded in the only way that matters. I know some women started veiling trepidatious too, but instead of a full veil, some of them started with a wide headband, graduated to a handkerchief tied veil, and finally let their veil flow over their hair and shoulders. Don’t let anyone’s thoughts dissuade you from practicing a traditional reverence for Jesus in the Eucharist. May God bless you!
What a wonderful comment! Thanks so much for your encouragement. I know you are right but it is challenging :). May God give me strength!
WOW! You have almost the EXACT thoughts and feelings as I am about discerning to veil. A few others at my church veil so I won’t be the only one but I too don’t want to seem “holier than thou.” I just want to humble myself before God and get closer to Him. After having nearly finished the book, “33 Days to Morning Glory” I have been having a pull to veil. Interestingly, veiling is not even mentioned in that book but consecrating myself to the Blessed Mother I can understand why I am wanting to veil. Thank you for your wonderful post!
Thanks Rachael. I just finished Total Consecration in October also using “33 Days to Morning Glory” and going through the process with Gary Zimak and Following the Truth. You reminded me that one of our promises to Mary in Total Consecration is that we will listen to her nudges and act on them. You’re right. I’m being nudged too. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have blogged about it! I need to pray for the bravery to give this a go, because it’s what she’s asking of me.
Great post, Lyn! I shared many of the same concerns when I was first contemplating this topic. A few years ago I decided to do it for Lent, that’s how I got started. The special liturgical seasons seem a perfect opportunity to experiment. 🙂
Thanks Tiffany! It’s interesting as I go through and read everyone’s blog posts how they have the same qualms as me. It makes me more brave to try it. If you guys got over it, then surely I can too 🙂
I am really self conscious about being thought fanatical by my family! My mom’s side of the family are all cradle Catholics, but maybe they are too used to their faith to be this excited about it. My husband would think I’m a nut for wearing a veil but he doesn’t come to Mass with me so I don’t feel any particular need to talk to him about that unless he asks me about it. I think Christmas Eve would be an awesome time for a veil. Especially Midnight Mass, can you imagine? A beautiful devotion!
Thanks Rachel! It’s good to see so many struggle with the same fear of “fanaticism” that I do. It’s tough because we’re not trying to push them away, we’re trying to draw them in. I feel like it’s best done slowly, as my priest said the other day about evangelism — subtle but persistent, not quiet. I’m getting braver and may try it at daily mass, which like you said, no one in my family attends with me so it eliminates one of my worries. Thanks for commenting! Veil on! 🙂
I felt such a connection when you said “I walk a fine line of adding to my activities a little at a time, so it’s not too much at once.” As you know, my husband is an atheist. This makes it hard for me to be – HOLY COW CATHOLICISM IS AWESOME! – all the time (as much as I feel it). I asked Mike what he thought of my veiling – sorry Mike is my husband, so now you’ve been properly introduced. He didn’t care as much. It didn’t “do anything” for him. He said it was odd. But whatever I want is ok with him. He’s good like that – but I think it’s me who is worried that my Cathol-mania (made that up) will push him away and I want him in the fold! You know?
GREAT post. Can’t say it enough.
Thanks so much Cristina! And thanks for starting this great project and introducing the concept of veiling to me. 🙂 I definitely agree we want to bring them in, not push them away and overdoing it (as much as we’re dying to and want to share our love for Catholicism!) seems to do the opposite. My priest suggested the other day to evangelize subtly but persistently. I totally agree!
Please do not think ill of me for choosing NOT to veil. There are far too many women in the world who are forced to veil=even worse, burqas. In our own Catholic history, until recent history, women were not permitted to attend Mass without covering their heads.
I feel strongly about women`s rights issues, so no, I will never veil.
Having said that, I feel we should dress neatly and modestly at Church!
Hi Edna- I totally hear you! That was absolutely my concern at first, too. But I started to look at it as I would not be wearing a veil because someone made me, I’d be wearing it because I choose to — and what a difference that is. In one of the blogs I was just reading the writer talked about veiling as a way to protect God’s most precious gift: the ability to create life, which only women have. Perhaps we are lucky to be able to wear veils. Anyway, food for thought :). Thanks for your comment!
[…] discerning whether or not to wear a veil to mass. While my initial reaction was negative after reading a blog post about a project to wear veils […]
I love the beauty and humility of the veil. I wear one when I occasionally attend the Latin Mass nearby. I’m not feeling inclined to start wearing one otherwise because it makes me feel self conscious and that I am drawing attention to myself. Since I’ve gone to this same church for 23 years and know many people, I know it would draw attention to me to wear one. Therefore, it would have me thinking about myself more than what was going on at Mass. But I do think women who feel drawn to wearing them for the right reasons, should do so.
Thanks Patti! That is definitely my concern: that I would draw too much attention to myself and like you said, be self conscious and thus not focused on the mass. But I guess I need to try it and see if that’s actually the case. I’ll report back 🙂
Very interesting post. 1917 Code of Canon Law (replaced in 1983) required women to cover their heads in church, following St. Paul’s direction in 1 Corinthians.
For the two years of my priesthood I celebrated a Latin Mass on most Sundays and dealt with this issue a fair bit, mainly defending women who chose not to veil against those who did. My first job was to be clear on what the Church requires of us. Women are no longer obliged to wear a veil while in church by Canon Law.
That said, I am a fan of women wearing veils while at Mass. The first reason is that it was something that was done for 1900 years. Secondly, the practice was recommended by the Bible itself. There might even be some practical advantages in terms of modesty (i.e., if some women cover their heads, others might elect to cover more of the rest of their bodies).
There are, I think, two potential problems with the practice, spiritual pride and the difficulty that the underlying positive logic of veil-wearing seems opaque to us today. That said, I still think it a good thing to do.
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Father Roberts! I wore one today to daily mass for the first time and felt a bit self-conscious. It’s good to have your reassurance :).
I grew up wearing a hat or veil to church. It made sense to me: cover the source of vanity in front of the Lord. I got out of the habit in college. I just didn’t think about it. When I started raising my son I had to rethink my actions and began to think about my attitudes again. I started wearing a veil again because some of my friends did, but continued because it seemed right. There are always a few old ladies who wear hats so I am not alone. And I vary hats and scarves and veils. The whole idea is to cover my personal source of vanity.
Thanks for sharing! I am very alone at my parish and just ended up feeling too self-conscious about it. I’d like to go to a Latin mass where it’s standard so I don’t stand out so much 🙂
I have to say thank you Father for clearing up the Churches
stand on this issue. I am a convert of 20 years now and am so on fire for our faith. Some of my friends recently told me that we are obligated to wear a veil or covering. I want to always be obident to the Church. I do feel that a lot of religious pride is sometimes involved in the wearing of a veil. I do love how they look and my fear is that if I choose to wear one that I may become prideful of it. Sounds silly I know. Please pray for me and I will pray for you ladies. God bless.
Thanks for your comment Tarah! I think you share many of the concerns the rest of us do. I ultimately decided not to wear any form of veil, as I was simply too self-conscious as the only person doing so and I focused more on that than on mass. If it were more common, I’d love to wear one. I hope to make it to a Latin mass this year where I’ll feel more comfortable wearing it.
I am converting to the Catholic faith this coming fall. My intentions are to wear the prayer veil after my conversion is to be closer to God in prayer and spirit. As a new convert it just doesn’t feel right to wear it without having completed my RCIA classes and received the sacraments through the church. Blessings to all the ladies who veil and to those you choose not to, for we are all equal in His eyes.
That sounds wonderful and I understand wanting to join the Church first. It will give you something else to look forward to in addition to the Eucharist! Let us know how veiling goes for you. Do any other women in your parish wear a veil?
Just found this site while researching something else. Thank you – brought back memories! Veils were not required, but wearing something on our heads was required. In the 1940s and 1950s women wore hats or kerchiefs to Mass. Once in awhile a woman might wear a long scarf worn loosely under her chin and around her back. Teenagers might wear a tam, kerchief, bandanna, or whatever was in style at the time, but I never saw veils (except white veils on brides and on young girls receiving First Holy Communion and Confirmation. If on the spur of the moment a woman wanted to stop into a church to pray and did not have a hat, then she would take one of her handkerchiefs (“ladies” always had a handkerchief in her purse) and wear it on her head fastened with (If I remember correctly) a bobby pin. I’m from the Northeast, and these were the styles of the day. If women today want to wear a veil instead of a hat at Mass, that is a personal choice – as is going without a veil or hat. What’s important: attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist as often as possible! Lucy
So interesting! Thanks so much for sharing, Lucy. I am starting to notice a handful of women at my parish wearing veils now. 🙂
I’m so grateful for all the comments on this topic. I too decided to veil after coming back to the Catholic Church. Now, I can’t imagine NOT covering my head in the Presence of our Lord. I was recently told by my pastor to remove my veil and never wear it there again, so I am looking for a new parish. It saddened me beyond words! It was as though I was being denied the right to express my devotion to our One Lord and Savior…how that can be tolerated is still puzzling, so I have written our Bishop about it. Let’s please pray for all our priests and parishes!
Hi Jaime, I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. You should absolutely be allowed to veil and I’m glad you wrote the bishop! It should be your choice to veil or not. 🙂 We will pray for you! Blessings, Lyn