Three or four years ago, my husband and I attended an extraordinary mass at a local church (not our own parish) as part of a Christmas celebration they were offering with a free concert. For the sake of simplifying what’s the difference between an ordinary mass and an extraordinary one, the latter (from my non-Catholic perspective) is much longer, and in Latin, instead of English. Other differences I noticed included that there was a procession of the Knights of Columbus, and several priests or members of the clergy, who all faced the altar, not the congregation. Another major difference that stood out was the majority of the female congregants wore a veil.
Earlier last year (August 2017), I received an invitation to learn more about the Catholic church, as my husband and I have a ‘mixed-religion’ marriage. This means that one spouse is Catholic, and the other is not. Although collectively I have been attending Sunday mass 2x a month for close to a decade, and this is the third move, third parish that we’ve attended, the letter I received was the first formal invitation to explore the Catholic faith and the path to Conversion (more on that in a future post).
Last summer also marked the one year anniversary of the consecration of our home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a pivotal turning point in my walk with the Lord (that could be a blog post of its own), and a realization grew on me that would alter how I viewed the Mass.
If the Eucharist truly is the incarnate blood and body of Our Lord, why wouldn’t I, as a Christian, be vaulting over the pews to be near Him? If St. Peter can walk on water, surely I can handle a queue?
If the Eucharist is truly the Living Host, then surely Our Lord is worthy, not only of my reverence, but of showing that respect each time I drew near Him? And why not with a head covering? There’s plenty of sites out there with a well-composed argument to veiling (one I recommend is Veils By Lily). If a woman veils herself as a bride on her wedding day, why wouldn’t we in mass, where we represent the Bride of Christ?
The practice, which varies from parish to parish, held an old-fashioned appeal and I made the decision that, regardless of how my exploration into the Catholic faith would bear fruit or not, out of respect for the Living Presence, I would begin wearing a veil in mass, or in lieu of a veil, a head covering.
It’s been five months now since I started and my biggest obstacle to veiling has been putting to death my own fears each Sunday (I’ve begun attending weekly masses now). A woman’s insecurity is a powerful weapon the Enemy has against us, as I, and perhaps others too, wonder, “Will I be the only one? If I’m the only one, people might see me”, “What if they laugh at me?” These are only a few of my insecurities but in them, a pattern emerges. The Enemy likes to turn our thoughts towards ourselves and our needs, but God turns our hearts towards others, and towards Him.
By choosing to veil, women participate in the Mass more fully (being both able to shut out distractions and focus on God, the Mass, and our prayers) but also as a symbol of reverence and feminity. As our culture of death seeks to rout all definitions of the family and home life, my decision to veil is my small statement of faith and a visible desire to see that culture be radically transformed by Jesus Christ.
For Christmas 2017, it was my first time returning to the parish with the extraordinary mass in several years and this time, I brought my veil. There were thousands in the celebration, and many women had head coverings: ivory veils, blush veils, Marian blue veils, black veils, black and gold veils, and white veils. Some women wore fancy Sunday hats with plumes, others wore knitted beanies and winter caps. I wore my brown and copper mantilla veil.
The following Sunday I returned to my own parish, and due to the freezing temps, I opted for a cloche. I may have been one of a few, if not alone, with a head covering that day. But whether alone or surrounded by fellow veilers, I’d like to encourage you — if you are currently considering adopting this form of feminine reverence, or have already begun — be bold in your resolve, be courageous, and pursue what draws you closer to God on the path to sainthood.