Recently I was debating with myself. You see, we attend the Extraordinary form of the Mass (traditional Latin) every Sunday and Monday. I would never even think of NOT veiling there, that is not a problem. The debate happens when we attend our local parish for daily Mass. When we lived in Front Royal, through the years, we became more and more traditional. We were blessed with really good and holy priests who had gifts of explaining what Holy Mother Church taught in such a way that one could understand perfectly clear. We were also blessed with wonderful examples of Catholic Family life in the friends that we had. In that time, I also became a member of the Holy Family Institute that not only deepened my prayer life, but requires study about the Catholic church and the Pauline Family. Back in Front Royal some women veiled and some did not. As time went on, I felt as though I should be veiling, but certainly didn’t want to bring added attention to me or my not-so-perfectly behaved small children! My friend Denise and I were talking one day and she said that she wanted to start to veil. We decided we would both start to veil so as not to feel too alone or self-conscience. (At this point a quote from a newspaper article in the Nashville Diocesan paper comes to mind. Women had veils “dripping from their heads,” but I digress! LOL) Another thing that influenced my desire to veil was watching the movie, “The Passion of Christ.” It has been a few years, but when Jesus was either dying on the cross, or had just died, Mary Magdalene lifts her veil to cover her head. As Catholics we believe that the Mass transcends time and place, therefore we are somehow back with Christ at his crucifixion and death. To me, that alone merits a head covering.
During our last few years in Front Royal, I did veil regularly. (Denise got married and I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. It was a high Latin Mass where we all veiled.) We moved here, deep in the Bible belt, over 4 years ago. A lot of people don’t even dress modestly at Mass, let alone veil. Already feeling like an odd ball because I wear a skirt to daily Mass, I certainly didn’t want to feel more out-of-place by veiling. When we went to Adoration once I week, I did continue to veil. Earlier this week we attended a funeral and I saw a woman there wearing a veil. After the funeral Mass, I ran into the woman in the lady’s room. When I asked her where she got the beautiful veil, she explained that she goes to an Assembly of God church and all the ladies veil to honor Jesus’ name. Wow! She went on to tell me about internet sites where you can get veils and told me she had a black veil in the car that she would love to GIVE me! She was practically begging me to veil to respect Jesus’ name. I was too embarrassed to admit that I had several in my car, but was too, I don’t know, prideful to wear one. What this woman didn’t understand is that she was in the real presence of Jesus! What would she think of the congregation of she knew that? Isn’t is a shame that so many in His real presence not only don’t veil, but don’t even dress modestly?
This morning we went to daily Mass. After taking the baby out of the car, the debate with myself ensued! Should I or should I not veil? Do I really want to wear a white veil when I’m dressed in dark colors? I’ll stick out like a sore thumb! Unlocking the door, I went and got out my reddish-black veil so it would blend in with my dark navy shirt and red skirt. I knew I must wear a veil, and I did. It was to show the respect that Jesus deserves, among other things. A friend of mine told me after Mass how wonderful I looked in my veil.
As a side note, I have been re-reading the book “Dressing with Dignity” by Colleen Hammond. In that book, Mrs. Hammond goes into details of the long tradition of not only modest dress, but veiling. I also pulled out my little booklet called “The Chapel Veil Symbol of the Spouse of Christ” by Elizabeth Black nad Emily Griswold. Those two women were both in college when they wrote it. These two books, especially the later, serve as wonderful reminders that head coverings in church are not meant to suppress women and that some traditions that have fallen by the wayside are worth resurrecting. In “The Chapel Veil,” Miss Griswold writes, “The primary reason for the veil is that it is a symbol of the Eucharist as the consummation of Christ’s love for His church.” Please think about that statement and get a hold of that 23 page booklet and read it. Find out the reasons why Miss Griswold would write that! It is worth it. (If you are local, I would be happy to loan you my copy.) Here is the final paragraph of the booklet: “Women are privileged to veil themselves in the presence of God because of the veil’s Eucharistic symbolism and of the honor for women to be the personification of the glorious Bride of Christ – the Church. Furthermore, it is a sign of the call to imitate the Mother of God and a reminder of the holiness of the body of a woman. The presence of a veil shows forth not only the glory of woman, but also the glory of man and his vocation to headship – it shows the God-given complementarity of the sexes. Veils are not just a man-made token of female inferiority, nor are they a way to show off that one is a ‘traditionalist.’ When they are worn for either of those reasons, they are entirely shriven of the supernatural meaning. It is this loss of the sense of the supernatural that robbed many churches of this custom. Since it has been demonstrated that the woman’s veil is a powerful symbol of Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist, the renewal of this tradition will help to bring about reverence for the amazing gift of the Eucharist, which has been lost.”
In the meantime we are awaiting our eldest daughter’s First Communion. Guess what one of her gifts will be that day. Shhh! Don’t tell. We have gotten her a new chapel veil. We know she will love it and not have a problem wearing it no matter what Mass we attend.