Tuesday, June 2, 2015

An Experiment in Veiling

Though I knew a few women who veil, it wasn't something I had given much thought to, until I saw Rebecca's post and her FB RSVP for Wear the Veil Day back in November. It got me started digging, trying to find out more about this custom and why some women choose to follow it. Following link after link both made me curious and brought me into the fever swamps. For the most part, advocates of women covering their heads referred to it as an expression of humility before God. Most of them advocated veiling as a deliberate choice, something they hoped women would try, rather than something that must be done. (Though if you follow enough links, eventually you find someone saying that it's really still mandatory, despite the fact that it's so uncommonly done. Mixed in you also start finding arguments about women being submissive to their husbands in ways that I'm not completely comfortable with, as well as arguments against Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Ahh, the internet.)

Despite not being completely convinced by the theological arguments, I finally decided that it would be worth trying, an experiment, if you will. I decided on an Infinity Scarf Mantilla; that way if I decided veiling wasn't for me, I would at least still have a scarf I might wear. One Sunday in between ordering the veil and receiving it I saw a woman at Mass wearing a veil; this was the first time that I had seen someone doing so at our parish. Afterwards I complimented her on it, asking where she had gotten it. This conversation was the first Husbandido heard of my newfound interest in veiling; it took him completely by surprise. That veil that lady was wearing was one that had belonged to her mother, but her utter assurance that it was worth doing (and should never have been done away with) helped me be more confident in my experiment. 

My veil didn't arrive by December 8, so I missed Wear the Veil Day. I was nervous about conducting this experiment at our parish; I put it off until we went to Arizona for Christmas. With Christmas, Sunday Mass, and the feast of Mary, the Mother of God all happening while we were out of town, it seemed like a great opportunity to experiment without any potentially awkward questions. (We attended Mass alone; my parents, brother and his family did not join us.) I was nervous and felt weird wearing my veil walking into Mass on Christmas. Then I looked around at the stained glass windows; all the female saints except St. Kateri had their heads covered; I no longer felt alone. Before Mass started, I looked around; there were a few other women with their heads covered, which was reassuring. As Mass started, I found that my mind no longer drifted; it was easier to focus. The next two Masses where I wore my veil I also felt calmer and less distracted. The only comment I received was when I was talking to the head usher while Husbandido took pictures; he assumed that we regularly attended an Extraordinary Form parish. I didn't correct his assumption, though I found it ironic, as I have never attended an Extraordinary Form Mass. (I would like to at some point, though.)

After we returned home, it took me a week or two to make the leap into wearing my veil at our parish. Being on pastoral council, I wondered what assumptions people would make; I didn't want to give the wrong impression. I'm not trying to be "holier than thou" or push for any kind of return to "old ways." It's simply a personal expression of faith and humility. The first many weeks I wore my veil at our parish I was relieved that it was our temporary parochial vicar presiding, not the pastor (who knows me). The first time our pastor saw me wearing my veil I was incredibly nervous, as I was the first few times I saw other members of pastoral council at the Mass we attend. I was very surprised that no one said anything or asked any questions. I even skipped wearing my veil for Easter since we were attending Mass in the parish hall, where there would be fewer people. (Our parish is large enough that it is easy to feel semi-anonymous in sanctuary.) 

Before Easter I decided that I needed a lighter color veil for spring, so after much indecision (this time with Husbandido's input), I ordered this in sky blue. It's taken a little more to get used to wearing; the infinity scarf mantilla is definitely easier to wear. I now found myself planning my outfits for Mass to go with my veil, which also has me considering adding to veil wardrobe. Currently under consideration are this (though spelled differently,  Brigid is my confirmation name), this (blue is my favorite color), this (green is Husbandido's favorite color and my second favorite), or this (in black and brown, black and green, or black and blue). (I might just have a problem here... But they're so pretty!) Feel free to weigh in with what you think I should get next.

I was surprised by the comments I received on my veil at the Healing Mass we attended. Several women commented on how beautiful it is, as well as remarking that it isn't something you see very often. The only person at our parish who has said anything was a lady from the Dominican Republic, who I knew from Bible Study and who was taking the Catholicism series I was running this spring; she wanted to know where I had gotten my veil because she loved it and wanted to go back to veiling. 

Wearing a veil helps me separate the sacred from the profane; it keeps me focused on God during Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. My experiment in veiling won me over; I hope you will consider conducting your own experiment.


  1. I am so pleased to read this :) I do love wearing my veil and sometimes I want to buy all of the veils because they are so pretty! I love the green one and the long blue chapel veil the best. So many to choose from huh?! Happy veiling :)

  2. Wonderful! I so want an infinity veil but can't justify the cost right now :-( of the ones you're looking at- I like the long blue one best!