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A Few Reasons to Wear the Veil at Mass

December 15, AD 2011 84 Comments

There is a long standing beautiful tradition in the Catholic Church for women to cover their heads while at mass. I realize that writing on this topic is not going to be popular with the majority of people. It is a widely misunderstood practice, and you will always find various opinions in regard to it.

First let me point out a few things. I CHOSE to wear the veil at mass. My choice to wear the veil has nothing to do with my relationship with the men around me. I do not wear the veil as a sign of submission to an unrelated male, but as a sign of my reverence of the Blessed Sacrament, and to humble myself before Jesus.

Let me be frank. Wearing the veil is a very difficult choice to make. It takes a huge commitment; especially in a parish where nobody else does it.

I grew up wearing the veil, but that still doesn’t mean it is always a joy to wear. It seems to be an unspoken sign that you are ultra-traditional and live in the Stone Age. For this Charismatic, Novus Ordo loving, Catholic girl, it is almost painful when people assume because you wear the veil you must speak nothing but Latin!  As with any counter-cultural choice you make, the peer-pressure can lead you to question why it is valuable in the first place.

When I was over in Spain for WYD this past summer, the first thing we did after we landed and found our hotel was to find mass. Off we through the street of Madrid with a big group of people I was meeting for the first time. When we reached the church I was struggling. Should I pull out my veil in a crowd of complete strangers except for a few and advertise to them that I was “overly pious” The only other lady in the group that I knew wore a veil hadn’t brought any bag along with her, so I had to convince myself that it meant enough to me to overcome the stares of strangers and wear it regardless. Finally grace won out, and I reluctantly pulled it out of my bag and put it on. Into the church I went and was greeted with beautiful sight. At least six other girls were wearing the veil, some of whom I had met in the airport a short time before. As I knelt down, my fellow traveller knelt beside me, and it was only then that I realized she had just finished fishing her veil out of her pocket. It was a beautiful moment of grace and encouragement. If these girls had the humility to wear a veil, so could I.

Why do it in the first place? I have heard many good opinions on the subject, and as long as their goal is to draw themselves closer to Christ, then more power to you! I veil at mass because it matters to me that I am in the presence of God. Veiling is a reminder that this place is holy and should be treated accordingly. It is still widely unacceptable for men to keep their hats on in church; and why? It is a sign of respect for them to remove them. While it is not mandatory for women to wear a head covering in church, if we believe Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist why not go this extra step in showing reverence? It is still a tradition for women to wear a black Mantilla when greeting the Holy Father, and talk about adding dignity to the whole occasion! Here is Nancy Reagan greeting the Pope John Paul II:

Or how about this classy Spanish look?External forms of dress do orientate our minds to the focus of the event. Whether it is your team colors on game day, or the costumes on Halloween. Veiling sets apart the Mass, as sometime out of the ordinary, like the bride on her wedding day.

So what are your thoughts on the veil? If you wear one; why? and what brought you to start this tradition? Are you alone in this practice?


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Rachel Howell works for EWTN as the Customer Service Representative for the National Catholic Register. She loves her job, as she gets paid to talk on the phone and interact with people – her favorite pastime! A country girl who claims both Alabama and Idaho as her hometowns, she grew up in a large Catholic family that made her who she is today. She is passionate about her Catholic Faith, Pro-life work, and Cowgirl boots. She also blogs about her adventures in life at the National Catholic Register.[/author_info] [/author]

About the Author:

Rachel is a wife, Catholic, and cowgirl. Married to her sweetheart Sam, the two of them are enjoying the adventures of life hand-in-hand.