As my fingers traced the lace edges of my black and gold chapel veil, I thought of a comment someone made to my husband yesterday on how he is unhappy with the “new trend” of women wearing veils. He compared those of us who veil with the oppressed women of the Muslim faith and I cringed. I realized that by returning to the veiling of my youth when the confusion of Vatican II began unraveling more than just the tradition to veil, that I may receive a few looks or comments–I just did not imagine that my husband would be getting the brunt of the remarks.
For many years, I have felt the call to veil again and the reasons I had were many that I could explain, but more than I couldn’t. Though the few women in veils peppered the pews of my parish, I admired them for their reverence and in not succumbing to the pressure of the common, the ordinary and the expected. Their faithfulness spoke to my heart and a few months ago, I bought my first veil and wore it to morning Mass.
Our Church veils the sacred, such as the Holy Tabernacle, the sacrificial altar and Moses veiled his face after seeing God. When I wear a veil, I am showing reverence and respect for God and symbolizing the veiled Bride of Christ.
Johnnette Benkovic aptly mentions in her blog, “The Holy of Holies in the Old Testament, for example, had four layers of veils. In our own Catholic churches, we see that this holy tradition has been passed down through the ages. Our Holy of Holies is the tabernacle within which resides the All Holy One, Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity. The Blessed Sacrament is kept inside the tabernacle with its door locked except during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Inside the door are two veils behind which is the Eucharistic Presence of Our Lord, Who is often inside of a ciborium which itself is covered with a veil. Prior to Vatican Council II, even the exterior of the tabernacle was covered with a veil, a custom to which some churches still adhere.”
While the Church has never lifted the practice for women to veil, it also does not require women to veil. However, just as I pray my rosary, the church does not require it–it is a practice though, designed to draw me closer to Him. I veil so as to be more attentive at Mass, lessen my distractions, show humility and point my face to the One who died for my sins. I am surrendering my self to Him and making a statement to the Lord that that I love Him and want to obey Him.
While there are a few who stare, most don’t pay a bit of attention to me in my veil at Mass and that is exactly how it should be–we should be looking heavenward and not at our neighbors in the pews.