One of the hallmarks of my conversion is what my husband calls "the uniform." Since converting back to the Church, I've adopted the tradition of the chapel veil, and dress much more modestly in the Presence of the Sacrament. For me, it is a personal reminder of my submission to Jesus, and a constant reminder to behave in a manner fitting a daughter of God.
I came across this practice through my research into Marian apparitions. It dawned on me that the Blessed Mother never really appears without her own veil. In all her apparitions, she's veiled - after all, she's ALWAYS in the Presence of God, right? So in my mind, it makes sense that anytime I'm to be in the Presence of God in the Holy Eucharist, my head is to be veiled like the Blessed Mother. Far be it from me to place myself above her example, right?
So I did some research on veiling. A lot of people seem to think that Vatican II "got rid of" the tradition. That simply isn't true. What IS true, however, is that Msgr. Annibale Bugnini (secretary for the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship at the time) was asked if women would still be required to cover their heads at Mass. Msgr. Bugnini answered that veiling wasn't being discussed during the Council. Somehow, several journalists took that to mean that women didn't have to veil anymore, and printed their findings to the glee of "feminists" everywhere. By the time Msgr. Bugnini demanded a retraction based on the manipulation of his words, it was too late. Women, confused by what they'd read and heard, stopped veiling.
Vatican officials have gone on record stating that no change was ever made to the discipline of veiling, yet the damage was done - women stopped veiling and it became seen as a gesture that demeaned women. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth!
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, a Catholic philosopher and theologian, states it best:
However, when I began to veil, I felt a bit self-conscious. I didn't want others to think I was being "holier-than-thou-art." I wanted so much for this to be my own humble, outward sign of my humility and graciousness towards the Lord. Plus, as I stated above, the veil truly does help me keep focus and gently reminds me to act in a way more pleasing to God. But as they say - if you feel a calling from God to manifest His Glory in some small way, who cares what others think? Shamefully, I still care, but I try to push those thoughts out of my mind and offer the mortification to God just the same.
So far, I'm the only one in my parish that I've seen veil. Once, when traveling to another parish, I saw another veiled woman who was about my age. My heart leapt at the realization that I wasn't the only one! Ha ha. I've been lucky enough to find other women online who also felt the same calling and it's nice to know I'm not the only one.
But I'm curious if there are any others out there! Thoughts? Would you veil? Would you veil if you saw others veiling? What do you think of women who veil?
8/2/2011 04:54:51 pm
Hi Gina, I just came across your blog and a lot of it has been so interesting to me. This story in particular because I remember hearing about it when I was younger. I'm not a practicing Catholic anymore, but I grew up around a lot of devoted Catholics and I was myself until college. I remember learning not about veiling but just that women were supposed to cover their heads with something at mass (veil, hat, scarf, a tissue if you forgot to wear something) after I learned about it I always felt called to do this at masses. It never made sense to me that women just stopped doing it. But I guess, like you, I felt like people would think I was trying to be "too holy" or something like that. I already felt a little judged for being the only teenager in the church choir with a bunch of seniors. I am always happy to see even one old women in her Easter bonnet on Easter Sunday. So in short, if I were to commit to being Catholic again, I would fully support veiling and would veil if I saw others doing it.
8/3/2011 03:00:56 am
7/18/2012 04:27:27 pm
I veil! And fortunate enough to live close to Mother Angelica's Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament where 90% of the women veil. I wrote a post on that http://anabellehazard.blogspot.com/2012/07/mantilla-veil.html and asked for women to tell me why they veil. Would love it if I could quote your first line and link up this post. Also, I am a lawyer and on behalf of my "kind", I am sorry for the pain of your lawsuit. Blessed Zelie Martin was sued, too and told her daughters that she will one day thank the plaintiff for making her go through purgatory in this life. Hope that eases your pain somewhat.
7/19/2012 03:21:59 am
Hi Anabelle! Welcome aboard! :)
7/31/2012 01:20:04 am
Is a hat OK? I would feel too self conscious to wear a mantilla.
10/7/2012 01:08:41 am
So nice to have found your forum. This calling is interesting to me. I must admit to being a bit of a feminist, left coast liberal... Fine, I've been on the cafeteria plan. Wearing the veil is my submission to Gods will. I am so far from holier than anybody. I think this is our Fathers way of bringing me back...
12/21/2012 06:46:26 am
Hi Gina, I recently discovered your blog and I am really liking it! My introduction to veiling was junior year of college, the year I went to Latin Mass every weekend. I became SO sensitive to the way I worship that year and really grew from learning to pray the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. A majority of the women in the Latin Mass community wore mantillas, so I bought a white one and would wear it every week, and most of the Novus Ordo Masses I went to on weekdays (I was lucky enough to be able to go to Mass daily back then). Senior year, it was less feasible for me to get to Latin Mass and I began to re-think the veiling, and I started wearing a hat or scarf on my head to the Ordinary Form. Now, I only go to Mass on Sundays and days of Obligation (though I really really miss my daily morning Mass!!), and I sometimes wear a hat, or sometimes don't. It depends on the weather, and how brave I am feeling that day, and what parish I'm going to. I find it consoling that veiling is no longer required, and so even if I prefer to wear it, there may be good reasons for not doing so sometimes. It is more important to prepare my heart by turning to God often throughout each day and especially before Mass. But I still wear my mantilla (my black one, now that I'm married) at Latin Mass and anytime I'm at Adoration.
10/17/2013 01:13:14 am
I admire your thoughts and your way of expressing and putting it in front of readers is really something that I have seen after a long time. We need more writers like you.
4/13/2015 10:57:27 am
I am a recent convert and attend Mass in a very small country parish. I am the newest member of the church and of the community. I stick out as it is, but I would be afraid of standing out even more if I wore a veil. I want to, though. I think it's such a beautiful way to show reverence.
What I find so interesting and intimidating is that I like to blend in. (silent scream). But, I've been woken up at 4:00 in the morning with a burning need to research this topic. So I have to assume that the Lord is not going to let me sleep through the night until I've taken up my cross (or is it veil). ;-)
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