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Lifting the Veil…

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…onto my head

I have been contemplating wearing a chapel veil to Mass for a while now. At 54, I am just old enough to remember going to Catholic school and being instructed to cover my head by the religious sisters who taught us. My mother, sister and I also wore veils on Sundays. As with other traditions of our beautiful Catholic faith, this sign of reverence and humility was cast aside, however, when Vatican II was introduced to the people in the pew. While there were quite a number of good things that came from properly implementing this Church council, there were also some abuses from those who were attracted to the novelty of making changes for the sake of change. Some practices were mistakenly altered or eliminated while others were mistakenly (or blatantly) introduced. Examples of the former: some religious sisters stopped wearing their habits (and women their chapel veils). Another was the total abandonment of abstaining from meat, without the substitution of another act of piety, on Fridays outside of the Lenten Season. The latter could be illustrated by ‘feel good’ homilies instead of firmly instructional ones and the introduction of holding hands during the Our Father – which is not in the Rubrics…ah, a topic for another time!

Similar to the calling I received from God before making the decision to homeschool, this latest whisper had been persistent even as it had been subtle. Little nudges in the form of blog posts, such as A Call to Veil: The Mysterious Unfolds, brought that little niggling thought back to my consciousness time and time again. My adult daughter and I had casual conversations about veiling but still, I never felt strongly enough to commit. The final pull came from a very dear friend of mine with whom I had lost touch. We spent years together in the pro-life trenches. Poor health on her part forced a sort of ‘retirement’ from active duty. Her carefully researched and thought-out articles for newspapers and pro-life publications were treasure troves of information. Before Mary Lou says anything, she studiously pauses and makes sure only well thought out words come from her lips. I have tremendous respect for both her opinion and her research. When we ran into her at the 65th anniversary Mass of one of our priests, I commented about the chapel veil she was wearing. Her reply, simply stated, gave me the courage to strengthen my resolve.

Mary, the mother of God, covered her head as did many pious women throughout history. We are warned time and again by scripture about 1) prideful actions 2) blurring of lines between the genders 3) immodest attire and actions 4) submission to the Will of God. It should also be noted that a visit to the Vatican would hold the expectation of wearing a veil as well as a sleeved dress. Armed with this re-enlightenment and after careful consideration, I gratefully accepted her offer of borrowing one of her veils and giving it a try. She told me that, once I began to veil, I would feel bare without it. My creative side won out, though, and I soon found myself at the fabric store, purchasing lace and thread to make my own. On the ride home, my husband and I discussed the idea and challenged my reasoning. In the end, the decision was made. Along with my daughter and her two year old, I would begin to explore this tradition on Mother’s Day.

Although I am still getting used to the practice, I find it unexpectedly calming. I feel more ‘in tune’ with what is happening at Mass. His presence is more vivid with this outward demonstration of my intent to ‘let go and let God’. It will take a few more weeks for veiling to become a deeply entrenched habit but I am seeing the benefits already. As for my two-year old granddaughter, she is a natural. Quite an energetic and precocious little girl, it is surprising how she eagerly keeps her little veil in place. One Sunday, she actually resisted removing it after we left church. All in all, I am confident that the correct decision (for me) was made. I find veiling both humbling and comforting, each of which are welcome feelings. So from now on, I will lift the veil onto my head before I enter His house!

Rachel’s cut-lace veil attached to a satin headband.

Post Script:

I certainly did not want our veiling to become a distraction by constant adjustment, so I sewed my granddaughter’s veil onto a satin headband (using a slip stitch). This way, she can simply slip it on and it stays in place much better than trying to use clips or hair pins. She is quite active and replacing the veil/headband is something that even a two-year-old can do.

Since Mother’s Day, we have all continued to veil and I am grateful that we were led to this devotion by the whispers on our hearts!

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About BirgitJ

Birgit is a 50-something cradle Catholic who is passionate about the pro-life movement. She enthusiastically serves on the Diocesan Gospel of Life Committee where she chairs pro-life events and writes pro-life articles. Birgit has been married to her Catholic convert husband, Rick, for 37 years. They have four children and seven grandchildren (all age eight and under). Their frequent visits eliminate any fear of an empty nest! Her vibrant Catholic faith colors every aspect of her life. She also sings in the church choir with her husband and daughter. Other interests include politics, as they relate to ‘Life’, and Church liturgy as well as photography, cooking, and gardening. She can also be found on her personal blog, Designs by Birgit.

June 12, 2012 - 8:26 am

jan - I am so excited to read your article on veiling. I have been catholic only 8 years, but I would consider myself very devout. No one veils in my catholic church and my husband would die if I did veil. But I might do it anyway.

Thanks,

Jan

June 12, 2012 - 9:08 am

Mary - Well written! I love knowing someone else shares my sentiments, although I grew up attending the 1962 Missal Mass (now Extraordinary Form), wore my veil to be like my beautiful Mother, and now wear it to symbolize so many things, such as the separateness and sacredness of women as the bearers of life (like the veiled tabernacles in traditionally designed churches) and belief in the True Presence. :-)

June 12, 2012 - 9:20 am

Robyn - I’ve been veiling since September 2011, after my husband asked me to. He is very traditional and loves the Latin mass, which we attend in St Louis when we can but it’s over 2 hours from our house. Almost all ladies wear a veil to the Latin mass, but he asked me to start wearing it whenever I’m in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, including our regular Novus Ordo mass and at Eucharistic Adoration. I agreed, grumbling, because I didn’t want to be a spectacle. I am literally the only veiler in our church! He says someone’s gotta be first, so I guess that’s me. I’m a 39 yo mom of 3 teens and a 20 yo, and my middle teens are mortified. Especially my 18 yo son. One time he refused to sit with me at mass because I was wearing the veil. Sigh. But once I started, I’ve worn it all the time, no matter where we are or who I’m with. It is an exercise in humility and an outward sign of inner reverence. At a family member’s funeral, one of my aunts who is a fallen away Catholic said, “you look like the Virgin Mary!” which I took in the best possible way, and said wow I sure hope to be as much like her as I can.

June 12, 2012 - 10:09 am

Margaret B - Great article, Brigit. As a 51 year old myself, I often what happened to wearing a veil. I have been thinking about it for awhile now if I should start wearing one. Thank you for giving me food for thought.

June 12, 2012 - 11:50 am

Beth - Beautiful! However, I’ve been to the Vatican and the veil is not required….at least at St. Peter’s and the Museum. Perhaps if you entered the rest of it??

June 12, 2012 - 1:29 pm

Maria - Just lovely! Although I am from the generation of 30-something,who grew up not using a veil, or even seeing our mothers wear one, I too have been “nudged” to begin practicing the wonderful gesture of wearing a veil to mass. It shows reverence and sends a clear message as to who we’re there for. And if we’re going to show solidarity with the Vatican, knowing that the practice was never really done away with should serve as that extra impetus practice the faith with our whole hearts and not by halves. Thanks.

June 12, 2012 - 8:15 pm

C - I must admit that I look askance at the (younger) women who wear a veil when we go to the Cathedral in our hometown because I have always felt like they were trying to draw attention to themselves by “wearing” their piety on their heads. It is good for me to realize that it might have a greater significance to them than just cosmetics, which had always been my assumption.

June 12, 2012 - 8:56 pm

Lily - Great post, Brigit! As someone who has always worried about what other people think, veiling at Mass for the first time was probably the best mortification I could have asked for. It forced me to make a resolution to do it purely for God, and this gradually extended to other areas of my life as well. It is an amazing thing to have our intentions purified! Thanks for sharing your journey!

June 12, 2012 - 9:19 pm

BirgitJ - Yes, veiling was actually a humbling devotion to begin specifically because I was afraid that others would judge me as being ‘holier than thou’. It took much resolve and humility, however, to take up this practice – especially since we are the only ones who veil in our small rural church. To God be the glory!
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June 13, 2012 - 1:58 pm

Amelia - Excellent post, Birgit! I, too, felt called to veil and have found the practice of it be a humbling experience. I have been veiling since Holy Thursday 2010, two years now. I can attest to the fact that it helps you focus and that you feel naked without it. The latter happened to me one time when I took a different bag to Mass. Now I keep my veils in the car!

June 13, 2012 - 9:07 pm

Trena - @Beth, the veil is not necessarily required at the Vatican but encouraged. Do a google search and you will find pictures of Nancy Regan and Hillary Clinton wearing veils when they met the pope.

Thanks for this great article! I wrote about wearing the veil a few months ago and was considering it. The thought slipped to the back of my mind but you have brought it present again. Thank you so much.

June 16, 2012 - 12:02 am

SATURDAY EDITION | Big Pulpit - […] Lifting the Veil onto my Head – Birgit J., Catholic Sistas […]

June 16, 2012 - 7:27 am

TheresaEH - If I were to be privilaged to attend mass said in Latin, or Rome, or at EWTN I would certainly wear a hat. But wearing a veil or as I call it a “doily” on your head, all that does is draw attention to YOU!

June 16, 2012 - 9:34 am

BirgitJ - If veiling were about being like everyone else e.g. attending Latin Mass or being at the Vatican, I could see your point. My post, however, clearly illustrates both my reasoning for veiling – which is humility before God and a sacramental way of being in tune with Him, and that this was *my* journey toward veiling, not an admonition for others to veil against their will. As a previous poster beautifully stated, judging others because they veil misses the important component of the reasoning behind *why* they feel called to veil. That should be left to the sensibilities of each woman instead of the expectation of conforming with others around her.
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June 16, 2012 - 11:32 am

Deacon Bill - This feels strange. I am a 65-year-old deacon and so far the only male offering a comment but in a culture in deep decline, and after having discussed this with a variety of priest friends, I have come to believe that the veil is one of very few symbols that managers to say something good and positive about the dignity of the Christian woman (and girl). It really warms my heart. God bless you all.

June 18, 2012 - 8:28 am

WSquared - BirgitJ, thank you for writing this. The first time I attended the Latin Mass, I noticed that everyone veiled. Because it was the norm, I veiled as well. But I also became curious. Furthermore, it was something that I’d read on Dr. Gerard Nadal’s blog wherein he was explaining why a bride wears a veil to his young daughter that made me change my mind about not veiling for my wedding (my mother was overjoyed when I asked her to make me a veil, even if it was about a couple of weeks before the wedding), and which told me a bit more about why women used to veil for Mass. It was one of those practices that expanded my sense of how humility before the Lord is powerful and it is strength. So then I began to do it more out of love than just habit, and I began to veil for the Novus Ordo, too.

TheresaEH, I’m sorry you feel this way about veiling, because it really is a beautiful tradition. …and calling a chapel veil a “doily” is a bit rude.

June 18, 2012 - 2:44 pm

Suzanne - I have never seen a doily that looks like a lace mantilla. The comment strikes me as not only a bit rude, but inaccurate.

Women who wish to cover their heads in church need not wear lace, however. Fabric headscarves are just as traditional as mantillas, and hats can be both stylish and practical (warmth or sun-shading) while they cover your head.

June 18, 2012 - 3:35 pm

BirgitJ - True, Suzanne. Other types of head covering have, in the past, and are now perfectly fine to wear.
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June 18, 2012 - 10:03 pm

Sondra - I wanted to cover my head too, but feared scorn from the “doily” haters and their ilk, so I crocheted some cute kerchiefs.
http://www.bhg.com/crafts/knitting/clothing/quick-crocheted-kerchief/
Now nobody knows if I’m pious, have bad hair, or just really love hippie bandanas. At any rate, I cover my head. It’s a cozy feeling to me, almost like I am Mary (Martha’s lazy, yet devoted sister) curled up at the Lord’s feet…which is a strange way to describe it, but that’s how it feels to me, it’s a tender thing. The other day I had to sit through a meeting where a lady described her memories of wearing a veil to Mass. She claimed it had to do with the fact that a woman’s hair (even her 3 year old hair at the time) was viewed as an occasion of sin for men. She saw the veil as a put down or some kind of Catholic burka. Some people just take things in the most negative light. To me it’s all about the love.

June 21, 2012 - 1:29 pm

Lily - I don’t think drawing attention to oneself is necessarily a bad thing. Yes, Jesus said that we shouldn’t pray so everyone will see us, but didn’t he also say we shouldn’t hide our light under a bushel? So which is it? Reverence for the Blessed Sacrament has suffered greatly the past 40 years. When I go to Mass, I see people receive the Eucharist nonchalantly, as if it’s a trivial thing. Most people don’t even genuflect toward the tabernacle anymore… and some of them are priests. Worst of all, a HUGE percentage of Catholics don’t even believe in the Real Presence! This, here, is the true tragedy. LET US call attention to ourselves so that we may give glory to God. When someone asks you why you veil, tell them that you believe in the Real Presence and that it’s a life-altering reality, if only we’d pay attention. Do we realize that, in the Eucharist, the sacrifice of Calvary is made present before our very eyes? Do we realize that God himself suffered, was crucified, and died, begging only that we love Him back? Ladies, wear your veils for God, as a sign of your fidelity to Him and as a sign of your desire to love Him more and to make Him loved. Jesus in the Eucharist has been far too ignored for far too long. Let our veils point to Him.

June 30, 2012 - 12:42 am

Dr. Michelle Rios - IF WEARING A VEIL IS UNNECESSARY TODAY, WHY WAS IT REQUIRED YESTERDAY?
Sacred Scripture is quite clear: godly ladies cover their head when in church or in prayer. If for centuries the Church taught there were sound and valid reasons to require Catholic ladies to cover their heads when in church or in prayer, when and why did those reasons stop being valid and important? Does anyone care to answer?
How can something, be it not wearing a head cover or anything else, be a sin one day, and not a sin the next? If something is against God’s law, then it’s against God’s law always, not just while some Canon lawyers want it to be against God’s law.
If Canon Law is truly based on Apostolic tradition and Scriptural authority, and Canon Law required wearing a veil in church or in prayer, then Catholic ladies should continue to have to cover their head when in church or in prayer. Or is anyone trying to say that Canon Law is based on the arbitrary, capricious and whimsical likes and dislikes, opinions and preferences of Canon lawyers? Can divine authority be so casually substituted by mere human whim?

It is incomprehensible that one day Catholic ladies are subjected to the penalties of sin for not covering their head as mandated by Apostolic Tradition and Sacred Scripture, and the next day they’re told that covering their head is needless, capricious and inconsequential. If the Church was wrong in requiring use of the veil in the past, what guarantees us that She is not wrong in not requiring it now?

Again: When and why did the Church’s valid and sound reasons for veling stop being valid and sound? COULD SOMEONE PLEASE ANSWER THIS. Thank you.

June 30, 2012 - 11:03 am

BirgitJ - I can certainly understand your confusion since I shared it before researching the topic as I was being drawn into the practice of veiling. The first matter to understand is the difference between Discipline and Doctrine. As scripture states, ‘the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints’, Doctrine was there forming the Church at the time of Jesus and the Apostles. While Doctrine develops over time as the Church understands it better, it cannot be changed – not even by the Pope – it remains fundamentally the same.

Discipline, however, is a man-made authority and can therefore be changed by the proper authorities. It falls along the lines of the God-given authority given to the Disciples, ‘Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven…’. Examples of this would be the length of the period of fasting before receiving Jesus in the Eucharist – in the past it was certainly much longer than the one hour rule of today! Another example would be the lifting of the obligation to abstain from meat on Fridays outside Lent. Although we are still obligated to perform some sort of penance in its place, the restriction is not as narrow as it once was, allowing us some options or leeway.

Veiling also falls into this category. It is a Discipline that was required by the 1917 Code of Canon Law. With the coming of the Second Vatican Council, veiling fell into disuse. Finally the obligation was abolished by the 1983 Code of Canon Law. While women are still allowed (and even encouraged) to veil, the obligatory nature of this Discipline has been lifted. This beautiful devotion is seeing resurgence as women of the current times learn the reasoning behind it.
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June 30, 2012 - 8:38 pm

Dr. Michelle Rios - YES, there is a difference between the Church’s discipline and the Church’s doctrine.

YES, the Church does not play games with its discipline; the Church’s discipline is not childish, arbitrary, or capricious.

YES, the Church’s discipline is firmly grounded on scripturally based, Tradition-approved, doctrinally sound reasons.

YES, the Church’s discipline, since its founding, has obliged Catholic ladies to cover their head when in church or in prayer.

YES, we know veiling fell into disuse. And, YES, we know the discipline requiring Catholic ladies to veil was abolished by the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

What we want to know is: 1) WHEN did the scripturally based, Tradition-approved and doctrinally sound reasons for requiring Catholic ladies to veil stop being valid? And 2) WHY are those scripturally based, Tradition-approved and doctrinally sound reasons no longer valid?

COULD SOMEONE PLEASE ANSWER THESE TWO (2) SIMPLE QUESTIONS? Thank you.

If the scripturally based, Tradition-approved and doctrinally sound reasons for requiring Catholic ladies to veil have NOT STOPPED being valid, i.e., they CONTINUE TO BE VALID TODAY, then WHY has the discipline been abolished?

Is not the abolishing of the requirement what is childish, arbitrary, or capricious? COULD SOMEONE PLEASE ANSWER THIS SIMPLE QUESTION, while they’re at it? Thank you!

July 5, 2012 - 5:24 pm

Anabelle Hazard - Great article. I am 30 something and I veiled five years ago in the footsteps of Our Lady. My oldest veils (she’s receiving Communion) as well and I was just wondering if I should require my 4 y.o and 2 y.o, too?
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July 5, 2012 - 7:36 pm

BirgitJ - I, too, have pondered veiling for the younger girl who is not yet ready to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. Although, I am certainly no expert, I would think that there might be some leeway given to the four year old – and especially to the two year old. The way it worked out for us was quite simple. We made sure that the two year old had a veil available and simply put it on her when we veiled. She was actually quite enchanted with the idea and refused to take it off after that first Mass! As with ribbons, hats, and bows, most of our little ladies are quite accustomed to putting some type of adornment on their heads from an early age. So I would imagine most wouldn’t mind. Another thing you might consider is that if the younger ones see their older sister veiling they might simply want to copy her and the issue will be resolved. I probably wouldn’t force the issue too much but would gently keep it available. I attached our two year old’s veil to a satin headband and the ease of use is quite nice as well. Recently her four and six year old cousins begged me to make veils for them as well – which I gladly did! Good luck with your troupe of little ladies. May God bless you!
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July 8, 2012 - 12:32 am

Lily - Dr. Michelle Rios – I believe the answer to your question can be found here: http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/head_coverings_in_church.htm

You will want to read the full article, but here are some quotes that stand out to me:

“1. Lost significance. As explained above, signs are culture specific. A particular gesture, clothing, expression, conveys a meaning which is widely understood by people of a particular culture. When the culture no longer sees the significance the sign loses its meaning, except to those who have retained the understanding of it. Certainly, the practice of an important sign can re-introduce a particular understanding into a culture, and so an argument can be made for retaining a sign, like women wearing a head covering in church, and teaching its significance.”

and

“In the particular case of head covering, while the truth intended by this sign remains valid, properly understood and in union with other truths, it is easily misconstrued today as a servile subordination of wife to husband or even all women to all men. In the contemporary world, in which the equality of men and women as persons is emphasized, this is a legitimate consideration. We must not use our Christian freedom to hinder souls (1 Cor. 8). Since there is no intrinsic moral obligation to this practice, it can be set aside. As the last canon of the Code of Canon law reminds us, the salvation of souls is the highest law of the Church (salus animarum suprema lex).”

“Personal Piety
While it is absolutely clear to me that there is no canonical or moral obligation for women to wear a head-covering in Church, women are certainly free to do so as a matter of personal devotion. They should, however, see it as a sign of subordination to God, as that better suits the liturgical context. Those who wear a covering or veil, and those who don’t, should not judge the motives of the other, but leave each woman free in a matter that is clearly not of obligation.”

I hope this helps. :)
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July 8, 2012 - 12:40 am

Lily - As noted in the article above, we should see our veils as a sign of subordination to God. I would strongly encourage all my sisters in Christ who veil in church to do so MOST especially as a sign of reverence before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, Who is truly present in all the tabernacles of the world. In a time when so many people have lost their faith in the Real Presence, our veils should point to this amazing reality!
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July 31, 2012 - 11:39 am

Vickie Tinsley - I loved the story of the veil and proud of your decision to veil. I have been to mass with my family a few times and seen a few women use the veil and I knew it was a tradition that had stopped but I think it is a great tradition. I think it reminds us to humble ourselves as we go to to worship our Lord.

August 5, 2012 - 4:44 am

Catherine Chong - I’ve been veiling since last year, since i’m married i wore black lace chapel veil, some of the ladies in my church has change their black to white (even though they are married/widow) instructed by the leader of wardens .. i feel it’s not appropriated. Please share with me your ideas on veiling colours, should we wear white veil during special day like good friday ??

August 5, 2012 - 5:22 pm

BirgitJ - Hi Catherine! Thanks for the great question. It is one I have contemplated as well. While I do not claim to be an expert by any means, I can share my thoughts with you. Since veiling is no longer an obligation, I came to the conclusion that the traditional ‘rules’ are not mandatory. If a woman wants to continue the tradition in the old observation, I think that it is fine to maintain the white for unmarried and black for married/widowed ladies. However, I have personally given myself some more rein.

Here are some of my thoughts: 1) wear a veil that ‘matches’ your hair. I have very dark brown/black hair with a bit of silver, so I wear a black veil with silver roses in the pattern on some days. Other days I wear an ivory or tea stained veil – to match my dress for that particular day. I make veils for a local Catholic store and some of my other veils are more colorful. For example, there is a light blue one with silver sparkles – Our Lady, Star of the Sea. There’s also a black and green one with golden spots – St. Scholastica, patroness of storms. Of course, some ladies wear hats or scarves as well, so you can see that there is some leeway for variety there as well. All in all, I think that at this point, it is more a matter of personal taste and your motivation. To me, devotion to the Eucharistic Lord and humility before Him, guides me. As long as my conscience is clear on that account, I feel good about my version of observing this wonderful devotion.

One final point, I don’t think that anyone should dictate veil color for another person. You should do what feels most reverent and comfortable for you!
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August 17, 2012 - 10:27 am

Marie - I choose not to veil. Let me explain why very quickly. St. Paul wrote in the bible that veiling was to show submission to husbands. I believe it is found in Corinthians and I don’t have time to look up the exact verse. A man’s head is not covered because he is the glory of god, but a woman’s head is covered because she is the glory of man. In a nutshell this is what the scripture states. I choose not to show submission to men, however I am respectful and mindful of the Eucharist. Where women are getting these other ideas about veiling is beyond me. I’m perfectly content and happy going before the lord as he made me hair and all and I do feel that I show great respect to him without the veil. I simply don’t feel compelled to wear a veil. Just thought I’d throw in my 2 cents from a more “modern” perspective.

August 17, 2012 - 4:01 pm

BirgitJ - Hi Marie, I read your comment and would like to respond. Veiling is a Discipline that was required of all women by the 1917 Code of Canon Law. With the coming of the Second Vatican Council, veiling fell into disuse. Finally the obligation was abolished by the 1983 Code of Canon Law. While you are describing your reasoning for ‘not’ veiling, this post details my reason ‘for’ veiling. While women are still allowed (and even encouraged) to veil, the obligatory nature of this Discipline has been lifted. So you see, no one is trying to push this beautiful devotion on anyone. Reading my post and many of the wonderful comments here, will also show you many, many reasons why women veil – not one of them being submission to men. Actually we are seeing resurgence of this devotion in our current times exactly for the multiple, worthy reasons behind the practice.
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August 17, 2012 - 4:50 pm

Marie - If that is the case how do you explain St. Paul’s teaching in the bible? I haven’t noticed any changes in veil wearing. I go to mass every Sunday and we have 30,000 members and 4 masses on Sunday, so you can imagine how full the church is at one mass. I have not seen anyone wear a veil at mass.

August 17, 2012 - 6:14 pm

BirgitJ - If you go through previous commentary on this post you will see that I make a distinction between Doctrine and Discipline. Veiling is the later and is therefore something that the Magisterium can change. For example, in St. Paul’s day, men and women sat on opposite sides of the church, men wore a skull-cap, and women a veil. This was ultimately a matter of modesty, and of custom. Only the Magisterium has the authority to determine which customs should be practiced, and where custom ends and divine law begins. We are always best served by following the Church, rather than our own judgment, for what she says is “bound in heaven” (Mt. 16:13-18).

As for your own observation, I would contend that neither one of us could simply use our own personal experience, in the pew, to make a judgement call on this topic. I have gotten my information from a wide array of priests, Catholic publications, and those who sell and wear veils themselves. Although there are also not many who veil in my area, I do know that the devotion is indeed gaining ground by these vast and varied sources and by the fact that posts about it are quite popular. The fact that the Latin Mass is being celebrated more frequently these days also serves as an indicator.
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August 17, 2012 - 7:51 pm

Marie - Thanks for the insight. While I respect decisions of other women, I will still choose to not wear a veil as I don’t find it necessary. I feel I show much respect in kneeling, praying, and adoring and don’t feel the need to veil myself.

August 17, 2012 - 10:31 pm

Dr. Michelle Rios - Hi Birgitj,

Please take note that the tradition of veiling was NOT “abolished by the 1983 Code of Canon Law.”

The fact that the tradition was not INCLUDED in the Code is quite different from it being “abolished.”

Something is “abolished” when it is specifically mentioned or signaled out as not required anymore. This was never the case with veiling.

If you have a document from the Holy See informing that the tradition of veiling has been “abolished,” could you be so kind as to provide the link for such a document?

Thank you.

August 17, 2012 - 10:57 pm

BirgitJ - The requirement that women wear head coverings at Mass was part of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which provided:

Canon 1262

§2. Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.

Notice that this didn’t establish a requirement for any particular form of head covering. It could be a mantilla, a veil, a hat, a scarf, etc.

But when the 1983 Code of Canon Law was released, it provided:

Canon 6

§1. When this Code takes force, the following are abrogated:

1° the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;

Laws which had been part of the 1917 Code, including canon 1262, thus lost their force and the legal requirement was officially ended.

Read more here: http://jimmyakin.com/2012/07/do-women-need-to-wear-head-coverings-at-mass.html
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September 6, 2012 - 2:16 pm

NinaD - I am 23 and recently became catholic this past April. I had the calling to veil right away, and I feel it is a beautiful tradition that was lost because the women’s movement for equality had taken the words out of the bible and turned it into something that it isn’t.
I genuinely feel that it should be something a woman should WANT to do, not do becuase she HAS to. I love reading articles on this beautiful tradition and I hope that more woman view it as something positive.
I am the only person my age at church that wears a veil, the only others that do (which are limited to about 2 or 3) are older and generally italian or hispanic. However, because of my age, I do get the stares and hear the comments of people thinking I’m ridiculous. Yet, it does not discourage me from wearing my veils. I look at it this way, Our Lady wore a veil. If it wasn’t for her would our church have come into existance? I may not be a “cradle-catholic” and I have much to learn still but I know what my heart says to me and just like how I followed it to the catholic church in the first place I will continue to veil through all the negatives that people seem to try to attach to it.
Thank you BirgitJ for your wonderful post! I hope that you continue your positive journey in church through veiling and continue to revive a beautiful lost tradition!

February 25, 2013 - 8:34 am

Anabelle Hazard @Written By the Finger of God - I hope you don’t mind. I’m linking this up to a post that I wrote on mantilla veils and the varied reasons why women wear them.

February 25, 2013 - 10:31 am

Birgit J - Thank you for sharing my post – of course I don’t mind, I consider it an honor. ;-)

May 25, 2013 - 6:23 am

Lyd Kidarsa - Dear Birgit, you have phrased it all beautifully.

I am a consecrated secular in her second junior year.
Previously, amongst many things that I am excited about my calling, one of it is the fact that I don’t need to veil up at all, and so can ‘blend up’ reservedly amongst anyone anywhere.

But a photo of a bunch of Korean ladies (young and senior) in the Mass wearing – what I found out called – ‘chapel veil’ took my interest on this tradition.

From time to time I did searches about this tradition of chapel veil, mantilla etc, and also the fact that our founder often portrayed wearing ones.

Last week I watched the film “Brother Sun and Sister Moon”. I saw Clara (and also her mother!) wearing veil when attending the Mass long before she’s entering San Damiano convent.

I want to ask your advice on how to start veiling for the Mass?
I want to do it because think wearing one in the Eucharist will make me more focus, like going to the ‘tent’ to meet God.
It is just that now I am worried, somehow that it’s only one of my impulsive nerd desire.

Please join me in prayer in discerning this decision.
If God be willing I will start veiling to the Mass too from the day of my renewal of vows which will be early in July…

Your 2 years old granddaughter Rachel looks great!
It’s a good tip to sew it on a piece of satin headband.
Yes, I’ve tried to put on some fabrics at home when no one around. It often falls and get untidy :)

Thank you Birgit, God bless you!

May 25, 2013 - 11:17 am

BirgitJ - Greetings Lyd! I am so glad that you found my post helpful. Yes, wearing a veil can be looked at as entering a tent to be in the Presence of God. If you have been researching this and the idea of veiling keeps appealing to you then the Holy Spirit might be calling you to veil. That’s how it was for my daughter and me. I would be pleased to pray for your discernment.

You might just try wearing a veil, at home when you pray, to get an idea of how it feels. Then pick a day and just go to Mass wearing it. Your idea of the day of your renewal of vows sounds like a great time to start!

You will find that different types of lace have different textures. Most of mine will stay on my head without pinning but my daughter pins hers in place or uses combs. You can also find simple clips and sew them inside the veil. And like you mentioned, my granddaughter wears hers on a head band. That would work for an adult as well – as long as you can find a headband that is comfortable. I do find it important that I’m not distracted by the veil while I’m praying, so make sure you do what best suits your personal needs.

God bless you and congratulations on your upcoming renewal of vows. Let me know how it goes and feel free to ask any other questions you might have. I’ll pray for you!
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May 26, 2013 - 1:20 am

Lyd Kidarsa - Thanks for the insights.
Good idea Birgit, I can use the veil to pray at home first.
Thank you very much for your greeting and prayer!
Peace be with you.

May 27, 2013 - 11:13 am

A. Crawford - I am not sure it if is *necessary* to veil; I have never felt impelled to urge others to veil as I urge them to go to Mass, go to confession frequently, etc. I do think, though, that it is one way of helping to reassemble the shattering of our society that has occurred in the wake of feminism.

I understand Marie’s reasoning that she doesn’t need to veil because she is choosing not to submit to men, which is the way she put it, I believe. An unmarried woman, I suppose, is not in a position to submit directly to a man. However, the biblical command that a woman is to submit to her husband (as found in Ephesians 5, for one example) is very strong, and the idea is found in several of the Epistles. I don’t think an argument can be made that this idea is culturally based; rather, it’s written into the nature of our beings as men and women. This does not at all mean that women and men are not equal in dignity or in value before the Lord. What it does mean is that the man is captain of the ship and his wife is his first mate. It means that as she submits to him in matrimonial obedience, he commits to giving his life for her, as Christ gave his life for the Church. In a marriage governed by this biblical pattern, this love is truly stronger than death, and it provides a picture of the love of Christ for the Church and of the unbreakable tie between Jesus, the Lover of our Souls, and us, His bride. (Which is probably why marriage is under such devastating attack in our day; a good marriage shows not only this relationship between Christ and the Church but also the relationship of love among the members of the Trinity.)

I have many reasons for veiling and have found it to be spiritually fruitful in many ways, but I have two favorite reasons: 1) Veiling is a visible means by which women can in their persons display the invisible reality of the Church as forever Bride and Christ as forever Bridegroom. 2) Veiling makes us more like Mary, the Mother of God. As Catholics, we are not Gnostics–we do not believe that what we do with our bodies doesn’t matter. A woman who veils should first veil her heart, of course, but sometimes the physical veiling helps with the spiritual veiling, too! We are unified beings–and as we strive to become spiritually more like Mary, and hence more like her son, veiling helps us to do that.

As for those who say it calls attention to ourselves–well, yes, it does, which is precisely the most painful thing for me. I have, for many years, been ruthlessly pruned by the Father with regard to other people’s opinion. I keep thinking maybe it will stop sometime, but it doesn’t! Veiling is still so difficult for me, though I’ve been doing it steadily in both OF and EF masses now for more than two years (longer in the EF mass). I call it my little hair shirt! Sometimes I apologize to the Lord for being so embarrassed and reluctant when He has done so much for me. My husband is extremely supportive, so that helps. One of the last times I had a battle along these lines, I said to Jesus in the tabernacle, “I’m doing it because I love you, Lord.” At that moment, I realized that veiling really has increased my love for the Lord.

I am praying that more women will feel the call to veil, and I have distributed prayer cards to my young friends who veil so that they will pray with me. I can assure the person who commented on the phenomenon of young women who veil that most of them indeed know exactly what they’re doing and why, and the ones I know are very enthusiastic about fighting feminism and showing their love for the Lord in this way.
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June 21, 2013 - 10:30 pm

Lyd Kidarsa - Thank you for the insight Andrella.
Thank you Birgit, it did help me focus when praying at home as my eyes are not easily distracted by what’s happening on the right or left. My extension of vows for the next 3 years is coming near, this July 7th. Even though at the moment it is still called ‘temporary’ vows, I pray that I may be faithful to Him till the end of my life. Best wishes, Sistas.
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December 11, 2013 - 11:20 pm

nancy - Hi, I first wore a veil, under great resistance, to an extraordinary form of the Mass. At this time it was 2007 and we called it the Latin Rite Mass. I was shocked, the angels LOVED it! How did I know that I know that? I can’t tell you, except I have always had an attachment to my guardian angel since I was a very small child. Even when I disregarded God, Jesus, Mary, I knew my guardian angel, and he knew me. Then I discovered this way of prayer, http://www.opusangelorum.org/ . I haven’t been to Mass without a veil since this 1st Latin Rite Mass. I rarely, if ever, wear a skirt, I do try to dress nicer than ususal, but no dresses. I don’t know or hold to any of the scriptures that describe wearing a veil. It’s OK for those that do. I just have my reason. I wear a veil. I do not veil. Veiling imparts a holier than thou attitude that is very offputting to people who might want to take it or leave it. It’s my little chapel against the non stop yakking in church, that veil puts me in another frame of mine, I hope a Marian frame of mind, helps me have joy and peace that I sure don’t understand. I love it. I use a comb sewed into the forehead part, I do not want to be fooling with veils and distracting others or drawing attention to myself. Most of the years I have been doing this I have been the onliest one. A church I attended for about 6 months was mainly Asian and by the time I left, quite a few women were wearing very beautiful veils. But I am alone with my veil again, and that’s OK. And mine are a little large, a friend says “go big or stay home.” It was funny at the time, but they are a little bit large. Anyway, these are some of my thoughts on wearing a veil to Mass.

January 5, 2014 - 12:16 am

Mary - I felt an inner nudge to veil for awhile before I started veiling last August(2013). I visited the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Alabama & bought my veil there. There is only one other woman who veils at my church. I felt awkward at first but I really have felt that it helps me focus when praying & I feel more connected to Jesus during mass. I asked my Pastor how he felt about it before I started to veil. He said he was fine with it & thought it was a good practice. However he did not want me to wear the veil on the Sundays that I am an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. I have abided by his wishes.

January 6, 2014 - 1:01 pm

BirgitJ - Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences concerning veiling with us. I, too, am one of only two ladies who veil at my parish. I find it admirable that you asked your pastor’s opinion but would be curious to know his reason for asking you not to veil when serving as EMHC. My daughter does wear her veil when she serves as lector. God bless you and both your answer to the call of the devotion of veiling and for your obedience.
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January 16, 2014 - 5:29 pm

Rebecca.K - Hello!! I’m 18 years old and live in Sweden, I’m Syriac orthodox and I speak Aramaic , the language of Jesus , and I’m also Aramean, My people and our language have lived around 2000 years , and every women in our church is wearing veils, mostly the older women , but I love wearing veil because I think is beautiful and for the respect of both my self, my faith in for god ! So it’s important not the think it’s awkward or anything because you wear a veil, those who NOT wear veil should be embarrassed going in to church and be in front of the priest not wearing veil , the modern world think they can “change” the basic “rules” ,if you’re going to church and have faith, at least do things right , and from the heart , lots of love and may god be with you and lead you right <3

January 17, 2014 - 4:01 am

Lyd Kidarsa - Hi Rebecca! I am so happy to see your post, it was forwarded through to my email, because your cultural Aramean root is very interesting to me. Can we be friends ? Email me at [email protected] if it is ok for you :). I started veiling since 7 July 2013, but for morning daily Mass only, not yet for Sunday Masses. I am Indonesian and I pray for peace in Syria.
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March 2, 2014 - 10:17 am

Sue2 - I appreciate your article Bridget and your specific knowledge on the subject, particularly your answer of August 17, 2012. ;) We have had many discussions on this topic among the men and women in our Marian Devotion Cenacle. One insightful comment from a female member was, “when the Church convinces more women to respectfully cover the rest of their bodies for Mass, she can focus on covering their heads.” Certainly, we agreed that when we are required to do so, we will wear the veil, but in the meantime the women did not feel so called to it, much to the disappointment of a few of the men in our group. Nevertheless, it is a good discussion to have and I very much appreciate the openness with which you presented it.

July 9, 2014 - 11:37 pm

Lyd Kidarsa - Bridget and friends, I’ve found the answer of my discernment about the veil. I decided that I will never veil up again! I have never feel comfortable wearing it for Sunday Mass anyway, use it only for Daily Morning Masses. All the best Catholic sistas, to those who choose to veil or not to veil. I’ve finally chosen the second, but at least I’ve attempted to find out.

I feel as free as a bird… :)

July 10, 2014 - 6:11 am

Martina Kreitzer - Lyd,

I don’t veil, but I feel the urge to respond to your comment. I adore my friends who have chosen to wear a veil, but have never once felt God call me to do so. It used to bother me that I didn’t feel compelled to wear a veil, until someone I consider to be a father figure to me made a passing comment about it that really put things in place for me. He said – roughly paraphrased – that it should be something that is discerned in conjunction with your spouse. Huh, I thought. Seems kinda sexist, but I now see the wisdom of that. Of course barring extreme situations between spouses, the idea of doing something as intimate as veiling does sound like a good idea to discern together as a couple. Anyway, just wanted to share that with you. I now view it as something that when/if I do get that tickle to veil, I will definitely be letting my husband know so we can discern that together. :)

July 12, 2014 - 7:58 am

Lyd Kidarsa - Thank you for your sharing, Martina. God bless your family.

August 17, 2014 - 2:23 pm

Barbara Bishop - Thankyou for your blog on veiling. It is always prominent when I google about veiling. I have been veiling, once again, after a hiatus brought about by moving to a new Parish where none of the women in the congregation veil. I tried conforming, but the Holy Spirit brought me back to my senses, in many ways.

There is so much written about veiling as the way to show submission to the husband and father. Little is said about veiling because of the Angels. I find contemplating the Angels and why we are commanded to veil before them is just as compelling a reason to veil as the others. We must realize there are Angels in our Church building, those that dwell there always with the Holy Eucharist. They are always in intense devotions directed towards the altar and tabernacle. There, also, are all of the Guardian Angels of the congregation also. We seem to forget that the Church is more than twice as filled that it appears to our eyes. The intense and pure devotion being demonstrated by the Angels is a powerful force directly connected to our Heavenly Father, creator of all beings, connected to Our Bessed Mother, the Queen of the Angels and of course connected in the most sublime way to our Lord, Jesus Christ. The Angels demand full devotion from us, and we, as women are commanded by God to to be a visual demonstration of that devotion.

I am widowed, so veiling for my husband is spiritual, I live with my father so he may remain in his home after the death of my mother, but he does not attend Mass, so i veil for him in obeiance to the commandment, “Honor Thy Father” but my reason for veiling, for being the sole veiled woman in our Church comes yet from a deeper reason. I look at the picture of Christ of the Divine Mercy. Man is the head of women, as Christ is the head of the Church. Women, we pour forth from man as the Church, like the blood and the water from Christ’s side. We bring life and beauty, warmth and nurturing into the world and into the Church. As God’s instruments of life we are sacred. So humbling, it staggers me to my knees to realize how God has blessed us. And to give us men, husbands and fathers to help us and protect us so that we may continue to do God’s work, the work men are unable to do in the capacity that women are capable of doing.

To women that are concerned with standing out, making a spectacle of themselves by wearing the veil I say, take heart and courage. First veil the tabernacle within you and know God made you to manifest his miracle of life. Then veil your heart and know that therein dwells the grace and majesty of the King and Queen of Heaven. Then veil your head as a sign of knowing you freely and completely submit the the sacredness of womanhood for the greater glory of God. We veil for all that is Holy, our Church, our God, our man and the Angels. To be quail from doing as we are commanded by God because of some ego-based fear will soon become as dust. Everyone in Church is praying, if they are not praying and they are looking at us veiled women they are witnessing women walking the narrow, rocky path to God and will be touched by what is right. Many men in my Church have said they are so glad to see the veil on my head, it fills them with reverence. I am a 61 yr. old woman, no striking physical beauty, no youth nor nubile attraction. Only humility in going forth and doing what is commanded of me. Today as almost every weekend a woman approached me and said how she feels a yearning to veil, if only she had the courage, I say what more courage can you draw from than the Cross with our Lord dying for us, Mother Mary and Magdeline, veiled, kneeling in His blood at his nailed feet?
Plant the seed and tend the soil, we as women will bring forth beauty and life through humble courage and quiet prayer.

The veil belongs to woman. No man will ever be able to wear the veil. God gave this sacred symbol of our womanhood to us. I encourage all Catholic women to embrace this sacred gift.

Thankyou and may our Blessed Mother’s mantle embrace you always.

August 18, 2014 - 12:18 am

Barbara Bishop - I realize now that in my previous comment I combined the image of Christ on the Cross with the image of The Divine Mercy, the Blood and the Water poured forth from his side at the crucifixion as we all know, and from his heart in the Divine Mercy. I apologies for my misleading imagery and lack of thorough review before submitting. There are other words out of place, but I think the gist of my thought on veiling comes through.

I so appreciate all the comments already submitted. This is an important topic for us as Catholic women, a thought-provoking and meaningful discussion.

One last comment. I have read quite a few disparaging comments over the last year criticizing women who had, for lack of a head covering, bobby pinned a Kleenex onto their heads before entering a Church. I have to say Bravo! to those women who would bow to the point of covering their heads with a humble piece of tissue. God does not tell us we must cover our heads with a beautiful piece of lace, nor expect a fancy Sunday hat, this is not a fashion parade. For these women that found it more important to enter the Church properly and pray, than be too proud and vain as to humble themselves with a scrap of tissue I quote, ” Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God!”

August 18, 2014 - 10:22 am

Birgit J - Barbara, thank you for stopping by and for your thoughtful comments. I, too, am often the only woman wearing a veil at Mass. It’s something to which I have grown accustomed. Just the other day, a wonderful priest from India, pointed to my veil after Mass and asked me why I wear it. After I shared my thoughts, he smiled and said, ‘yes, this is why the women in my country veil as well!’ It’s nice to find a similar soul, but the benefits I reap are centered on the way I feel as this act of intimacy with Jesus gives my soul calm and a sense of peace. I’ve contemplated ending the practice of this devotion, when I feel like I might be a spectacle, but I never do – because humility and submission to Jesus Our Lord, keeps me resolute. Although the devotion of wearing a veil is no longer mandatory, those of us who chose to practice it have the right to sincerely practice it.
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August 19, 2014 - 6:22 pm

Barbara Bishop - Thankyou Birgit, for your genuine response and gentle clarity. Yes, the veil is no longer a law of the Church that women must comply with, regardless of our own private need for this devotion. The Church allowed us to grow up and act out of our own mature sense of responsibility, which makes this devotion even more meaningful and sacred, and instils equality and trust to our place in the Church.
Just as any newfound freedom, often the freed one fails at first to see the purpose of continuing what has always been done for them and has trouble managing the change. I think we women are in that stage. Many women that talk to me do not know why they even stopped wearing the veil and are shy to resume the practice. Many young women are drawn to it without understanding why. It is a new dawning for us and I am so glad to be a part of this rebirth into our true identity. To discover and help others discover how vital we are to the Church, to learn to dwell with each other in Christ knowing we are not the same-men and women, but we are equal in the eyes of God.
We must remember to respect each woman’s choice in the matter of the headcovering. And support each other as Catholic “sistas”, daughters of Mary and brides of Christ. We must remember that we, the women of the Church represent the Church always, but most sacredly during the Mass. For it is at that time in which we are the Church in a most profound way.
So whether we choose to wear the veil or not, we must remember to invite peace into our hearts and nurture that which we are to each other, to the Church and especially to our Creator.

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