Wearing a Veil: Don’t Judge the Motive
Assigning a motive for religious practices sometimes leads to unfortunate misconception and false judgement. This unfortunate error often affects women who practice the devotion of wearing a veil while in the Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. With a bit of tolerance and thought, these negative assumptions can easily be dispelled. Hopefully the examples below, followed by the actual reasoning of those who veil, will correct these errors.
1. Because I Am More Holy than You
Many people these days look at women who choose to practice the devotion of veiling as ‘holier than thou’ – most characteristically in Novus Ordo parishes. Nothing could be further from the truth. In my personal experience, the reasons women veil are numerous. Their motivation includes emulating the Blessed Mother because she is the consummate female role model. Another reason is that, often times, sacred things are veiled – the tabernacle, for example. As life-bearers, we women, have a sacred collaboration with our spouses and God. We carry the treasure of little souls within our bodies for nine months before introducing them to this world.
2. Because It Is a Fashion Statement
There are so many ways to embellish our appearance. We wear flattering clothing, jewelry, and perhaps a bit of makeup. Yet a chapel veil is not a fashion accessory. If the temptation to look on the veil in this way, it may be wise to reconsider this pious practice. Conversely, wearing a veil is often a hindrance to fashion. That carefully coiffed head, adorned with a beautiful hairstyle may very well be flat and unflattering by the time the final blessing of Mass is given. Wearing a chapel veil can, however, affirm the recognition of our God-given femininity as complementary to the masculinity of our spouses.
3. Because I Am Stuck In The Past
Some Catholics of good faith believe that the obligation for women to cover their heads continues to be binding to this day. Others know the law surrounding veiling was abrogated and therefore, believe the practice to be passé. A quick study of Canon Law, however, confirms that, while the devotion is no longer binding, it is acceptable, and even desirable, as a voluntary practice.
4. Because It Is a Distraction
Wearing a chapel veil is, for me, a tangible way of removing myself from this world and entering into Heaven on Earth. As I clip my veil to my hair, my demeanor changes, and my soul stills. Yes, I am in communion with the others in surrounding pews but my soul is in still deeper communion with God. The distractions of life as usual fade away and my soul is transported to the Cross. There, Mary stands at my side and we ponder together this Son she bore and the Salvation He brought.
5. Because I Am Vain
Realistically my almost sixty years have left their mark. Short-cropped, salt and pepper hair that is left undyed, a body not nearly as svelte as my younger self, and creases etched into laugh lines at mouth and eyes – that is the reality of my present self. Wearing a chapel veil of the finest, imported lace would do nothing to change these realities. If anything, donning a veil when few or no others do is the opposite of vanity. It speaks of humility and a comfort with the God-given self.
6. Because I Want to Call Attention to Myself
How easy it is to seek acceptance – to be one of the crowd. When we blend in we are almost anonymous. That bit of extra weight, the charcoal hair, and unexceptional face can make for a monolithic scene. It is exactly when we step out of our comfort zone, for the sake of the spiritual, that we become different. Although this is never the intent, especially for an introvert, it speaks of a devotion that overcomes. It overcomes the trepidation of being judged and presents a vulnerability not usually sought. It could be called a childlike gift to Father God, one of the ways to show Him love.
7. Because I Want Praise From Others
“She’s such a good Catholic; look at how modestly she dresses and wears a chapel veil!” No, that is not at all what wearing a veil is about. If anything, those of us who practice this optional devotion would rather not be called out as holy women. Speaking for myself and those friends who also veil, we are a sorry lot. Our lives have taken us on many crooked paths and self-inflicted detours. We have not always listened when the Holy Ghost whispered, much less when He hit us in the head while shouting at us, like the sinful children we are, to please pay attention.
Women Who Do Veil
Women who veil vary as much as our chapel veils do. We come from all walks of life – cradle Catholics, converts, young, old, Latin Mass devotees, Novus Ordo attendees, married, single, and myriad other characteristics. Even our reasons for covering our heads are numerous. The common ground is our devotion to our beautiful Catholic faith, handed down to us directly from Jesus to his disciples in an unbroken piece of Heaven on Earth.
We seek forgiveness, sin and confess, resolve and fall – but we pick ourselves back up again, keeping our eyes on the Prize. Whether you join us in the devotion of wearing a chapel veil or not, we are your sisters. Let us truly be in communion. Let us pray for one another.
Read about my discernment below:
I’m very drawn to veiling and had a great bonding time with my daughter in law when we purchased my first veil together. That said, when I was looking into it, one Priest told me I would appear “unapproachable”. Sure enough, based on my own experience with some women who veil, this is a danger. You describe veiling as counter to vanity, but here are your own words: “The devotion of wearing a veil should indicate an inner holiness”… so first of all, does that mean those of us who don’t wear veils do not have an inner holiness? Second (and therefore), am I even worthy of a veil? Do you see what I’m getting at? My last and so far unanswered question; if the point of veils is to cover beautiful hair (all glory to God), why are veils so beautiful?
Greetings Laura! Yes, some priests have an aversion to anything that seems ‘old school’ to them – the bells at consecration, receiving Him on the tongue, and veils. It is not surprising to have had such a comment. As for the idea that somehow we are unapproachable, I have this to recommend. Make yourself approachable. Smile into people’s eyes. Be helpful to your parish family. Participate in events. Be a true supporter. Our actions portray whether or not we are approachable, not our dress. When I speak of ‘inner holiness’ I am not alluding to any false sense of piety. What I am saying is that we need to illustrate by our manner (and dress/veil is a part of that) that we understand the truth of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. That we are worshipping and not just idly passing time for obligation’s sake. It is an outer sign that we are seeking holiness, as God commands us to be holy. It’s not that we have accomplished it, it’s that we are striving. The beauty of our veils is up to individual taste and style. There are some nice, plain veils and there are elaborately beautiful ones. I’m not so much wearing the veil to cover my hair, as I am as a ‘wedding garment’ for the honor of being in His house. Churches, statues, stations of the cross, holy art – all of these are beautiful because they honor and glorify God. I hope that makes sense. I so happy that you commented. God bless!