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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

To Veil or Not to Veil

I have intended to blog about this topic prior to this, but just never got around to it. I've found that the timing with everything has to be right, and often, my timing is not. But tonight, it's time. I happened over to WardWideWeb and there I found a GREAT explanation as to the correct reason for choosing to wear a mantilla.

Somewhere around a year or so ago, I noticed several people in my parish veiling. The headcoverings varied from hats to scarves to lace mantillas, the latter of which were sold in the church gift shop. (Yes, my parish has a gift shop. It's a Catholic mega-church and in spite of myself, I love it). Anyway, as could be predicted, the mantillas and other headcoverings were more prolific in the three daily Masses than in the Sunday liturgies, but just the same, I began to sense a call to cover my head.

I purchased a black lace mantilla and I'll admit the first time I wore it I was a bit self-conscious, but in time, that feeling went away. I still wear my veil at Mass and in the Adoration Chapel to remind me that I am in a holy place and the lace on my peripheral reminds me to direct my worship to the Lord and away from the random thoughts which plague me at the worst possible time.

I also have a white lace mantilla which is worn on the more special occasions.

Of late, though, as I've gone though a rather intense period of dryness, I have questioned my wearing the veil. Am I doing so for the right reasons? Am I trying to appear to be more holy?

I will tell you the reasons I began to veil, but in order for you to really understand, you need a summary of my history. While I was in high school,I began to cultivate a feminist attitude. This attitude became a chip on my shoulder during college as I studied for Law Enforcement. I later became a firefighter, and I fear some of the feminity I held was in danger of being lost among the androgynous culture perpetuated by the lesbian lobby. (that's a whole different story).

I still joke around that my friends in college thought I was just another guy. I actually was dismayed to learn only a couple of years ago that some of the guys took bets that I might actually be a lesbian!

Anyway, I had fallen away from my faith and continued to be away for many years. It took a long time to come back, and this is something I did with a HUGE dose of God's grace and a lot of study.

Finally, I reverted to the faith of my childhood, and it seems it was permanent, and maybe something in me was seeking an outward sign. And outward committment to somthing I had internally realized. When I saw others wearing the veil, I understood, finally, what was missing. I had not realized my modesty, nor had I ever really accepted my feminity in the way other woman had. Now, I am not a "girly-girl", and truth be told, I never have been. That tomboyishness remains around and within me, but believe you me, I am feminine through and through. But something happens when I enter God's house; I understand that I am a woman; and perhaps someday I will be the woman He created me to be. I am a woman in His image and everywhere, I see His mother upheld as an example of femininity. She is veiled. She always points the way to Jesus and in doing so, she is a leader among all women, as well as men.

I heard the call to imitate Our Lady and I have found, through wearing the veil, that no matter what I am outside of Mass, when I arrive to worship, I am a woman of God, and nothing else matters. The veil is a sign of modesty and submission to God. It is a reminder of the holiness of our location, and I do need this reminder at times.

Allow me to explain.

I may not be a girly-girl, but I am ALL ABOUT my hair. Yup. God blessed me with good hair and I've heard about it all my life. And even though I am in my 30's, I'm still playing with it. I love to color it and go from one color to another drastically. For to jet black. And the cool thing is that these colors look GOOD on me. Last fall I actually had my hair colored professionally for the first time in my life, and I got hilights. What did I do? I had her color my hair jet black with unnaturally red streaks. It was not neon, but close. Now, I am a sensible woman, and so we went conservative so the look was appealing. The red faded to a nice auburn for which I recieved many compliments.

Just this week I had it colored again, and cut, and guess what? More red this time. Less conservative. And when the sun hits my hair, I KNOW that it glows. I love this.

You may be asking what my point is, and some of you may already undestand. I am vain of my hair. Yup. My hair is my best feature and I like to show it off. But a line has to be drawn, and I do so at Mass. I don't go to Mass to look good or recieve compliments. I go to worship God. He already knows all about my hair, and my veiling it for Him is a form of modesty. It's a small way of my saying to Him, "Ok, this is not about me, but all about YOU, and so I will cover myself so that I become smaller and YOU absorb all the attention which is so rightfully due to you."

I was thinking recently of not veiling anymore. The "craze" seems to have died down and some who used to veil do not anymore. I have gone to Mass a couple times without it, and although I felt somewhat naked, it was OK.

Then a point was brought home to me. I went to my regular adoration hour a few weeks ago, and did not wear my veil. Now, during my hour, I like to sit up close to Jesus, so I am in front of other people. That's not usually an issue, for everyone has their favored places in the chapel, and those places rarely overlap.

Well, one day, a gentleman who has the hour before me stayed late. I remember that he left after I arrived, but for some reason returned and apparently stayed awhile. As he was leaving the second time he came forward and knelt near the front pew, directly in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I was not distracted and paid him little mind.

Then he leaned over as he stood, and said to me, "Boy, kid, you sure do have pretty hair!"

He finished his goodbyes to Jesus and went on his way.

There I sat, veil-less, wearing a pony-tail, realizing that had I worn my veil as usual, this man would not have felt the need to compliment me. I was not there to be complimented. And what's worse, I feel that my hair actually distracted this man enough to divert him from his own prayer. Now, is that my problem? No, it is not. We all have distractions but the reality is that I have taken pains for my hair to be noticed in certain times, and this incident reminded me that thus, I have a certain obligation to NOT be a distraction to others.

Y'all, I'm no beauty queen. I'm not Rapunzel, but I am a woman with bright red streaks and let's face it...that does tend to garner attention. And during Mass or Adoration, that is NOT the time to garner anyone's attention. So I veil.

Some may argue that's the wrong reason, but in my heart, I have come to understand that it's the right thing to do. I will not lobby for all to wear the veil, for I don't think that's necessary. It would just be seen as another law, and some would resent it.

I would like to see more formal education on the topic. Last summer I was accused of being disobedient to the Magesterium for wearing the mantilla, and my explanations (Including history of it) fell upon deaf ears. She referred to my mantialla as a "doily". I had to remimnd her that it is blessed and is therefore, a sacramental. She accused me of being disobdient because the American Bishops have not spoken on the subject, either yay or nay.

(As an aside; I found her argument preposterous, and it was only with great restraint that I prohibited myself from pointing out the fact that the American Bishops also have not spoken out on her personal devotion to praying in the ORANS position during Mass and singing in tongues at charismatic Masses and otherwise in public....but that's another story).

The reality is this; wearing the veil is a personal devotion. God may speak to us all in different ways, and maybe some of us need the equivalent of blinders used on horses to keep our attention forward. I do not want anyone to see me as other than a sinner in need of correction, for ultimately, that is why I veil. There are many acceptable reasons to veil, and they may vary from person to person. For myself, it's my vanity and a certain reminder that I am a woman after Mary's own heart, and God has willed it this way. He has willed that I be a Catholic woman, to follow in her footsteps and point the way to Jesus for others. I don't have to be a religious sister for this; I need only recognize that as a woman, I have a duty in God's service, as do we all.

We do not cover our heads out of submission to men. I abhor the thought! We do not cover our heads to stand out or seem more holy than others. We cover our heads out of respect for the Lord who is present.

If we as women go to visit the Pope, we are to veil ourselves. How much greater is Jesus than his Vicar? Isn't the decision to veil, then, in the presence of Christ obvious?

Is there any more to be said? (or as usual, have I been too-long winded?)

God bless you all, as always.


Anonymous said...

Adoro: You must be reading my mind because I've been debating veiling for some time now too! My primary reason is: if women should veil (even non-Catholics) to see the Pope why not veil when we visit God and His son?

That man in the Adoration Chapel could have been a "sign" you know what I mean?

I went thru the Feminist period too. Oh girl, did I ever. I'm sure people thought I was a Lipstick Lesbian. Now I'm at the point in my life (pushing 40!) where I don't care what anyone thinks but God.

I think I'm going to go look for a Veil. I'm sure the first time will be disconcerting.

Good post! I've missed you. I hope your health is good.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I massacred my name: it should be Cathy_of_Alex. That's what you get when you type too fast!

Adoro said...

Cathy, I think the guy in the chapel was God's way of telling me to continue to cover my head.

Don't health is fine. I just can't blog if I have nothing to say...I'm weird that way. Eventually, probably, I'll run out of opinions and then I'll have to hang it up entirely. :-)

Adoro said...

Ma Beck said...
That was AWESOME!
Thank you yet another perfectly legitimate, sane explanation.

P.S. I'm SO jealous of your hair.

Thursday, May 25, 2006
I had to copy/paste the above because this post posted twice. And since I didn't want to insult anyone by deleting their comment,along with the main post, well, I decided to use the copy/paste function.

Ma Beck, thanks for the compliment. :-)

Unknown said...


You have the most open and honest posts. All of your posts taken together express so well the large number of factors that make up what it is to be a human being.

It shames me to have it pointed out how I reveal such a tiny portion of myself. Thank you for making me think about that.

Anonymous said...


always amazing the way God works, for me i feel a veil would be an affectation, almost a stunt "look at Holy me"

(i am passing judgement on no one else)

great post!

-library anon

Deacon Bill Burns said...

Sounds to me like you made the decision for all the right reasons. To think on it another minute.

The person who claimed you were being disobedient to the magesterium. To do that, the Church would have to have made some formal pronouncement on the subject condemning the practice, an it would have to be taught as a matter of faith or morals. There's no such teaching, unless it's in the "new" magesterium based on the ever so elusive Spirit of Vatican II. Oddly, though, most people claiming to be guided by that spirit seem to be singularly unaware of the documents produced as a result of Vatican II or following it (such as the Catechism, the GIRM, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis).

Anonymous said...

Adoro - wonderful post! I go through this debate at least twice a year with different female friends. I have never covered my head even at my wedding. Maybe God will send me some kind of message that I should veil but for me it has to hit me like a 2 x 4. I would love to veil but not even the elderly Portuguese ladies at church do so anymore.

Thanks again for sharing!

Terry Nelson said...

Hi! I love your posts as well - as Ray said, they are so honest. I mentioned veiling in a post of mine and people I know were not happy. I referred to the 'veiled women' at St. Agnes - there is an impression they project that says to me the veil is a little more than what you write about. A co-worker thinks it's pretty to wear a veil. I think it's fine if a woman wants to veil, but it's just as fine if she doesn't. I do think it's somewhat affected in some cases, and culturally it's not our thing any longer. But this critique comes from a guy who can't figure out why women wear high heels or shortskirts or wear make-up. It seems to me that they are indeed being dictated to by men and prove it by paying so much for everything they purchase. Women drive the economy. I honestly do laud your reasons for wearing a veil however, and as a man influenced by Mediteranean culture I think the black mantilla should always be worn by older women - and let white be worn only by young girls only. Just my two bits! God bless you!

Stella said...

I love your article. I started wearing a chapel veil because a friend of mine explained it so beautifully. She actually wrote an article on it which is available in a booklet through It's weird to have friends writing books. . . Anyway from what you wrote here it seems like you might like to have her insight. It's called "The Chapel Veil; symbol of the spouse of Christ."

Anonymous said...

I was so happy to come across this site! I have been filled with anxiety on whether to wear a veil at Mass. I don't want to appear trying to be holier than thou and don't want to draw attention to myself. I want to show reverence to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and this just seems to be a beautiful expression of what is in my heart. Mary, Mother of Purity, pray for us!

Anonymous said...

This post is so refreshing...I started wearing a veil after 2 years of debating within myself (mostly not wanting to apprear sanctimonious--how judgemental of me to assume others would be judgemental!). Finally, the final question was, "If God wanted me to wear the veil, would I obey Him?" So, as an act of obediance (mortification really!), I did it and haven't thought much about it since!
It's a personal devotion....and for me, I think that it really is God's way of rehabilitating my femininity (which I am somewhat uncomfortable with)and intimacy with Him. Funny how a piece of lace can do such a thing, but it is true for me! Sometimes, Our Savior asks us to do personal things for Him, and we find out why after we trust Him.
My only hope is that no faithful Catholic would ever feel I was thinking I was holier than thou just because of a veil. I pray it is not so!

Mhari said...

hey, I went through the same kind of debate with myself... like everyone here! It's so nice to see that other people have the same questions. You explained very well, may He give you His peace!


Anonymous said...

Great post. I enjoy reading what other women (and men for that matter) think about the veiling thing. I was so drawn to it, and unexpectedly so. After having researched and read what I could find on the history of it and when and why the practice (at least among Catholics)stopped, I now cover my head with a veil when at the Tridentine Mass on Sundays. Unfortunately, I lack the courage (so far) to wear it during the week at my local Novus Ordo Mass. Wearing the veil effects a subtle and quiet change in me - I would suggest the following two articles for anyone that's interested. They helped me a lot:

God bless,


Adoro said...

Thank you, all, for your comments. I'm amazed that this little post is still getting some attention. Clearly veiling is a hot topic in today's Church.

I firmly believe that if our culture wasn't so oversexed and militantly secularized, more women would be veiling.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading all the posts. I am in my 40's and remember wearing the "doilies" aka chapel caps as a young girl. I was so relieved to be rid of them. Never really thought about it again until about a year ago when our church started having the Tridentine Mass as an option. I tried it and loved it. I've worn everything from scarves, snoods, hats to mantillas. It makes me feel more feminine and yet modest. The lace of the veils particularly keep me focused on the priest and the sacrifice taking place on the altar. It has gotten to the point where I feel naked without a headcovering. So, if I do go to a Novo Ordo mass, I just wear a hat. No one has ever given me a second look and I felt true to myself. My husband, a very oldfashioned conservative person is kind of bemused by my veiling but supportive if that is what I wish to do. Me...I veil as submission to God, not to the male of the species. My background? Registered Independent, retired military. It just feels a need in me. Your column gave one of the best explanations I have read. Thanks...


Anonymous said...

To Elizabeth who stated that she "lacked courage so far" in wearing the chapel veil during the week, I must repeat a quote from Mother Angelica. She said that God gives the grace while you are taking that first step, not before hand. And this was my experience. I was so torn as to veil or not. I asked Jesus to give me peace if this was what He wanted and if it was pleasing to Him. When I walked into church with my head covered, I was completely at ease. It has not been a distraction for me at all. I'm guessing it was the evil one who tormented me with all these fears. I thought of how our dear Lord wore a crown of thorns for love of me, now I can wear a beautiful piece of lace out of love for Him.

Anonymous said...

I my friend am also having a struggle about wearing the veil and I just started wearing one about a month ago. I don't wear it all the time because I feel that in some cases it is a distraction to the people around me. I don't want to seem as though I am holier than thou. I do feel much more centered on God when I wear the veil and much less distracted. Instead of buying a veil I crocheted mine from thread and I'm still a little uncomfortable about wearing it. It's really pretty but my sister says I look like and old lady with it on. I just want to be obedient to God but when you have someone putting you down it does make one feel kind of silly being the only one with a veil on. I do love it and have made another one in ecru so that maybe it will be less noticed.

God Bless you for this post

Unknown said...

After many years of struggle with the idea, I finally started veiling about 4 months ago. I thought it would be embarrassing and make me stand out as being 'holier than thou'. It was so freeing to finally feel that I had ignored the world's clamor and listened to God.

I wear the veil at mass and adoration and any function that is held before the tabernacle. I have only forgotten it once and felt terrible and embarrassed all through the mass. With the veil on, the world is shut out. It's just myself and God at the sacrifice of the mass.

Our society makes a big deal about individualism and self-determination, when in reality it's all about following the croud. We need to stop paying attention to the world, and pay more attention to God. Being in submission is holy when it is to God and not to sin. Why should the children of God care what the secular world thinks? Holiness is never popular.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I wonder, what if a man desired to wear a headcovering veil during the duration of prayer or mass for the purpose of humbling himself towards the Holy Eucharist . . Is he also permitted to do this without bringing shame to God?

Thanks for your input and answers.

Adoro said...

Thanks for your comment, Lloyd.

In the Christian tradition, it has not be customary for men to cover their heads at, no, it would not be proper. In fact, men are asked to take any hats off, and this has been consistent practice through centuries now, both in and out of church.

In the Jewish tradition, men had prayer shawls and had to pray with covered heads. I don't know the history and when that stopped being a practice.

In any case, although I'm a HUGE advocate of women veiling during Mass and in Adoration, I also admit it is more custom than requirement. While scripture and tradition back up its use, it is not a requirement even under canon law...although I've seen that quoted in more than one way as well.

On another note, because I also have to do work for the church in different capacities, I do not veil when doing so because it is not the custom in many places and doing so would make me stand out, thus take attention from our Lord Jesus. So I only veil in my own parish when I don't have to "work". Perhaps this will change over time.

What's important is obedience and humility; if veiling for the wrong reasons, well, it's simply wrong. And we always have to consider what is prudent.

Caitlin said...

Awesome blog. I also wrote a blog post on this subject. You should read it if you like! Thanks for all of your interesting posts; keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

This post was encouraging for me. I've grown up never knowing that women were supposed to wear the veil. I'm fifteen and have begun to wear a mantilla when I go to Adoration, but I feel too awkward to wear it at Mass (where is probably where I should be wearing it). I want to start wearing it at Mass, but I've been getting opposition from my sister (who IS lesbian and a feminist), my mother, and even from one of my parish priests. I've worn the mantilla to Adoration despite my family's general disaproval, but your post was very helpful to me. you're right; it is an act of subission to God, not men.

Jet Three said...

Thank you so much for posting about this! I've been searching for topics on whether or not to veil. It's extremely encouraging, please post some more!

Leticia said...

I have a lovely black mantilla and I always wear it to Latin Mass, and when I started to wear it to Sunday Mass (Novus Ordo) my daughters begged me not to.
They didn't want me to stand out.
So I comply out of compassion for them.
I agree with all you reasons to wear the veil but one: I have BAD hair which the veil veils. So it's reverse modesty with me.

Rachel said...

I'm defintely going to start veiling. I heard about it a while ago and thought it preposterous, and then I saw a lady in church with one last year and thought she looked strange - I was actually embarassed for her! It's crazy to think about how much I've changed since then. Thanks for this insightful post :)

Adoro said...

To use this post as free advertising is ingenuous.

If you want publicity, ask honestly; spamming is rude, even among the trad crowd.

Try again with proper etiquette and I'll consider the request.

Thank you.