Why Women Are Wearing a Chapel Veil Again
A resurgence in the optional devotion of wearing a mantilla, or chapel veil, has many people in the pew scratching their heads. Why would women, especially younger women, return to a practice that is described as submissive and subordinate? The answer to this question lies in the motivation leading to the devotion. It may be simpler to address the mistaken intentions often directed at the ladies who make the leap.
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.
Is The Veil 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.
Are We 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 recognize that the law surrounding veiling was abrogated and therefore, yet 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.
In a world where the characteristics of the two genders are at odds, wearing a veil compliments the beauty of our differences. Men and women are equal, different, and complimentary. The Lord Our God created us as male and female. The secular agenda of confusion must not be allowed to deny the beauty of our femininity as a compliment to the masculinity that is man.
But Isn’t Wearing A Veil Distracting?
Speaking for myself, wearing a chapel veil is a tangible way of removing myself from this world and entering into Heaven on Earth – the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Entering the church, I clip my veil to my hair. With this small act 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.
Realistically my sixty-one 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 a desire for humility and a comfort with the God-given self.
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.
Seeking 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.
What Type of Women 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. We are simply seeking to restore one ancient aspect of the beauty of our common faith.
Let us truly be in communion. Let us pray for one another.
The only reason any woman covers her head in church is that she believes, like the Catholic Church taught for centuries, that she is an inferior piece of garbage whose existence distracts the important people — males — from God. It is exactly like a burqua in that only doormats would ever consider it.
So many people simply refuse to understand that it is a woman with strength of conviction who veils. She is honored and revered by both Church and morally sound men. My husband is such a man.I choose this devotion myself, for reasons of profound faith. I love my Lord Jesus Christ and my Catholic Faith.
The Church veils the sacred – the altar, the Tabernacle, the chalice, and the heads of her women who are living tabernacles of Catholics to come. As God made his creation he started with the basic, and each day the creation got more special. God’s last creation, and most special (and sacred) was woman. We have a very important (more superior if you prefer) place in God’s creation, plan, and church. This is just one of the many reasons why I choose to veil.
Beautifully expressed response. Thank you!
Not at all. Theologically it a privilege that women may cover themselves in the Presence of God. It is a sign of privilege not submission.
Then why don’t men cover their heads?
The Bible and the Church have always taught that men and women are beautifully different, yet complimentary and equal in value. Therefore we have practices unique to our gender. Men are to be noble, masculine, and respectful in their demeanor. This lead to the practice of removing their hats when in the church or when greeting a lady. Women, on the other hand, are feminine, modest, and respectful in accordance to their characteristics. We veil, not in submission of men but in respect and homage to God.
In response to one of your comments I chose not to publish, we veil because one of our gifts is the ability to cooperate with God in the creation of new life. Not only while we are bearing a child, but all the time. We are always proud of our gift of feminine uniqueness.
@karen, I will continue to discuss with you as long as you are civil and genuine in your desire to converse. The comments that are less than civil, however, will not be approved. Thank you for understanding.
I will try to be civil. Please define what you mean by “feminine?” For example, is it feminine for a woman to have a profession other than housewife? Is it feminine to use our intelligence? How does that work, because I was always taught that it was insulting to men for women to be openly intelligent. We had to ‘veil’ our intellect or men would get their feelings hurt. How is it feminine to express our intellect?
Thank you! Feminine genius comes to mind. Yes, it is feminine to use every gift God has given us as long as it is for good. Intellect, talents, skills, athleticism, etc. We women are an entire package made up of our own unique abilities – all of which we have the power to use and perfect. Women can be doctors, lawyers, architects, athletes, and mothers – or a combination of any of these. My own daughter-in-law is a dentist and mom of 4. Our daughter is a molecular biologist and mother of two. The first works and parents. The second has chosen to stay home and educate her own children. Both are blessings in their own way.
On the other side of the coin, it can also be masculine to love and nurture children as a father. To help with household operation and cooking. We are a team. This is how my husband and I choose to live. I help him with his career and he works with me in our home. We should all be comfortable within our own circumstances and do our best to give our best.
Obviously you have never met or seen an Amish or Orthodox Jewish Gentleman.
because Paul said they didn’t have to.
Wow! You clearly have no clue about the historic, spiritual purpose behind veiling. Moreover, your obviously angry feminist rhetoric betrays zero awareness of its biblical roots, but your knowledge of scripture is most likely grounded in a surface reading without extensive study and reflection of the bible. Leftists critiquing scripture engage in “proof-texting” to make their arguments but finding verses they can attack as not comporting with modernist understanding and application of what seems to their fevered but limited imaginations to be egregious examples of so-called sexism and female slavery.
You operate in the blissful ignorance of someone who has never studied scripture in depth on its own terms, and therefore clearly does not know how to read or interpret scripture one iota.
So show me where I’m wrong. Where does the Bible support women in professions? Having economic and political power?
Deborah was a judge. (Judges 4:5) She held court beneath a date palm tree between Ramah in Benjamin and Bethel in the land of Ephraim.
Shiphrah and Puah were midwives who saved many newly-born male babies by defying the Egyptian kings’ order that baby boys must be killed.(Exodus 1:15)
Huldah was a prophet. (2 Chronicles 34:22)
Lydia was a businesswoman (Acts 16:14)
Priscilla was a tentmaker (Romans 16:3; Acts 18:3).
Phoebe was a deaconess (Romans 16:1-2)
The unnamed woman in Proverbs 31:10-31 fashioned and supplied belts, garments, and coverlets to merchants in the marketplace and with the profit, she bought her own vineyard, managed the winemaking business and her household, too. And was also a philanthropist.
You just revealed the true agenda of Feminism – it’s all about “power” as you say. True.
I like wearing a veil to Mass for the sake of the angels.
For the sake of the angels – what a beautiful reason to wear a mantilla! I’m happy to be in the company of angels at Mass, so for their sake, I cover my head.
Check it out: 1 Corinthians 11:10
Actually if you want to make it about feminism i started doing it shortly after the me too movement to assert that women are not sexual objects solely for mens gratification but who should be should respect as we are all temples of the holy spirit. Wearing the veil for me reminds me of my worth and value as a woman and for me sends a clear message to men how i wish to be treated.
Troll much, Karen?
Totally not true and quite an insult to yourself and all women, most especially our Mother, the Ever Virgin Mary who wore a an inner veil, an outer veil and a head covering. Karen, you have fallen for the lies of the world over the heavenly truth. May Our Most Pure Mother of God restore your soul and grant you many blessings! Amen
my my ..
I have a graduate degree and have directed multiple men in my profession over the years. I veil because of the theological reasons already stated, and because it changes my experience of the Mass. It helps me to focus mentally and increases my feelings of peace and reverence. The Catholic Church does not and has never taught that women are “inferior pieces of garbage”.
That is a horrible lie. Hats and veils beautify. No relation to a burka at all. Shame on you. Wearing a veil or a hat lifts one up not tears one down. I’d like to slap you for being so nasty but I think I’ll just pray for you and hope you have a change of heart and learn something
When has the Church EVER taught this? Much less “for centuries”? Council documents, or it didn’t happen… Our Lady is the absolute masterpiece of God, there is no better creature ever created. This has been taught since the beginning of the Church. Your sacrilegious claim: “Catholic Church taught for centuries, that she is an inferior piece of garbage whose existence distracts the important people — males — from God” is a made up lie, but I am certain you already know this.
Let’s make this about faith and not feminism.
A former teacher who raised 4 children, I love to wear a veil for many reasons but one reason heretofore not mentioned , is because my face is shielded from distractions . I enter mass to worship and pray, not to socialize or be seen . Often the
transcendant beauty of aspects of Holy Mass coupled with the prayers of my heart lead me to tears. I like the privacy of the veil. After Mass I remove it outside and socialize. Thank you .
I am a convert who has chosen to veil. I am also a retired engineer. I veil to remind myself Whose house I’m in, and as an act of humility which, as my former co-workers would loudly and readily confess, has never been my strong suit. Make of it what you will: the choice is mine.
Women ought to veil because the Holy Writ tells them that they ought to. Further, it reflects God’s design for women to have hidden, modest roles in society and Liturgy, as opposed to men’s visible, outward roles (cf. Gaudium et Spes Para. 52). Men and women aren’t the same: women weren’t made for leadership roles; men were. As such, it is fitting that women cover themselves with a veil as a visible reminder of feminine modesty. Bossy harridans turn everyone’s stomach, whether you admit it or not. Sick of the forced joyful tone exalting the greatness of women all the time as a precondition for reminding them of their place in the world in a pusillanimous tone. What we need is someone to give a sober, candid reminder of women’s God-given role in society.
Because the Bible says so. Nuff said.
what is the big deal? some females want to wear them for their own personal reasons. and women that don’t, so what. Age, tradition , and teaching, – of the family, catholic upbringing, and culture of the times – there is no wrong or right. so get over it. P. S I veil , so what no one cares… ( but the veiled.)
I wear a veil. I used to attend the tlm and now at a conservative NO. I would not agree with you karenjo 12. I’ve very independent. I’m also a retired firefighter and worked with men most of my adult life. I’m also a consecrated virgin. I wear mine because I received the veil at the hand of my archbishop. Many different reasons to wear one.
I started wearing one a little less than 2 years ago when my bishop promoted it at Mass, saying we veil things that are sacred and women are sacred so women should wear a veil, and wouldn’t society be better if women were regarded as sacred. Also present was another woman parishioner whom he was soon going to make a consecrated virgin. He may have meant her to take the message and decide to wear a veil at Mass, I was the only person who began to do so. I had already wanted to wear one but the bishop saying that made me finally believe it would really be okay. Jesus called me to be single hearted for Him in chaste celibacy for life, to call me back to the Church, a dozen years ago now (this was through growth in prayer and the influence of St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila) but I am a never married woman that to my profound shame is not a virgin and I found that because He is perfectly holy I am unworthy of Jesus the Bridegroom Whom I once betrayed. I witness to Him in tears and penance. It’s not women in general, but consecrated virgins who are formally regarded as sacred persons, The neighboring pastor banned me from Mass for a while recently for wearing my veil (an ordinary black cotton scarf), I obeyed and stayed away two months attending daily Mass at other parishes, as soon as I returned again after that he has continued to harass me about my veil even though I am just quietly attending weekday Mass. To my mind my veil acknowledges reverently the headship of Christ the Bridegroom of the Church and that He does not reject me for not being a virgin but is risen from the dead and triumphant and can make His bride clean and holy and gives my life value. My veil reminds me of the covenant faithfulness of Jesus’ love for me, and the permanency of my consecration to Him.
Thank you for sharing your amazing journey to veiling. I, too, find that certain priests do not look kindly on those of use who choose to practice this devotion. My daughter and I are the only ones in our parish and surrounding parishes as well. I find that the foreign priests are more accepting of the devotion. No priest has ever had as harsh of a reaction as that which you have had to endure – although my daughter has had a similar experience with kneeling to receive on the tongue.
I was taught by nuns that we covered our heads before entering the church because of Jesus’s presence and for no other reason. The bins would stand at the door with Kleenex for girls who forgot their head covering. I was covering my head at church but felt odd and quit. There are only 2 women who do cover their heads in our parish. WHEN do you cover your head…these two don’t do it until they have gotten into the pew.
When I was a little girl, I remember wearing a little round chapel veil on top of my head, but the grown-up women wore lace mantillas. During the 1960s all seemed to give up doing so, me included. About 10 years ago, a prompting in my heart suggested re-adopting the veil. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another woman wearing one at my Novus Ordo church, and I didn’t want to be the only one, and so I steadfastly resisted for years. I mean, *for years.* Because I didn’t want to (a) stick out like a sore thumb; (b) appear to be trying to seek attention; (c) appear to think I was holier-than-thou; (d) be thought in any way “weird” or “Pharasaical” or “hypocritical.” But the prompting wouldn’t go away, and finally from past experience, I had to admit that what I was doing was ignoring a prompting from God. So, finally ordered up a veil, and have for some years been wearing it, whether am at a crowded Mass, or am the only one in the Church. I suppose I may in fact be vain, hypocritical, attention-seeking, holier-than-thou, weird, and Pharasaical, but I decided to let God deal with all that, in His own way. My job is to obey Him, and to do a good job assisting at Holy Mass. Over the ensuing few years have begun to notice a sprinkling of other women wearing veils at our church – almost all much younger than I – one “regular” is a young teen.
Thank you for blessing us with your response. Your story sounds similar to my own. That undeniable whisper …
Tomorrow will be my second Sunday wearing a veil to mass. I did not choose to start wearing one. I was led to the decision through prayer. I ignored it for a couple of months but the call became too present to ignore. Instantly it felt like home for me and like I had been doing it forever. I will continue doing so for the simple reason that it is my way of drawing closer to Jesus. It is how I show reverence and enter into an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I don’t look at anyone, those who do or don’t choose to veil, any differently. We all show our hearts in different ways. I love to witness these differences as they are truly a witness to Him and His true presence.
Yes! My reasons for wearing a veil are also many; obedience to a whisper from the LORD, a sign of humility, a sign of repentance, I am properly dressed to participate in the sacred liturgy, I am dressed differently than when I go about town to the store, the gas station, etc. It is between me and Jesus, though I did ask my husband if it made him uncomfortable…it didn’t.
And two more…to be an ‘antidote ‘ for the loss of awareness of the presence of Christ in His tabernacle and reverence; silence of the heart.
I also wear the veil in a Church where there is a tabernacle.
I did once see 2 angels in my church during Mass, during the consecration. I did not see wings on them. I saw 2 beings kneeling in the air above the parishioners. What struck me and still does to this day was the absolutely intense devotion with which they were praying and it was all directed at the altar I can not completely describe the intensity, it was a supernatural force that like a powerful waterfall of lightning. I watched them for several minutes until the awareness that they could turn that intense gaze toward me shook me to the core and I dropped my head and did not look up again until we stood for the Our Father. I was so thankful that I was wearing my veil! I will never attend Mass with out my head covered out of reverence and holy fear for the angels!
I talked to my sister-in-law about the experience. She said they were guardians of that church. After that experience I realized that many angels are present in the Church, all our guardian angels and those that dwell there. It was a great privilege to witness and it moved me beyond words.
Thank you for sharing this amazing experience! God bless and happy Lent.
You might want to check out my latest veiling post http://catholiclifeinourtimes.com/chapel-veil-mantilla-mandatory-catholic-women/
Thank you for the sharing of this moving experience.
It seems that God has been inspiring so many women to wear a veil recently.
I am living in Australia. God called me to wear the veil a few months ago, I responded immediately. His intention for calling me was to start a ‘veiling’ movement in my parish. He wants all the women in my parish to wear the veils. Not only I have to wear the veil, but also in my act of veiling, portray it as ‘sacred, honourable, very good for the soul and the development of the spiritual life’… so that others in the parish will copy me. (This parish has unconsciously copied me once before and turned my previous God-inspired trend into a parish routine for more than 13 years since 2006)
With the veiling, I started with a cheap nylon “Made in China” printed scarf ($5) for three months because I was anxious and fearful of being the only odd one out of the bunch… then, two weeks ago, I was asked (in my prayers) to show reverence and the deepest respect to God… so I now wear the most beautifully ornated lace veil. (to be like the rest of the church furniture, that is … everything done for God or dedicated to God must be of the best quality ). I looked at the priest vestment, the coverings of many things in the church and they were all very well-made and beautifully ornated – top quality, expensive, beautiful … I adopted that theme for my veil.
Welcome! Thank you for sharing your experiences with me. I do agree that we should always present our best when it comes to the Presence of Our Lord. God bless you in your quest to encourage others.
You might also be interested in my recent post about modesty. In this day and time, it is so important to remind women of their dignity. Wearing a veil and dressing appropriately helps in that regard. http://catholiclifeinourtimes.com/modesty-and-shades-of-gray/