Notes from beneath the veil

I wore a chapel veil to church for the first time ever yesterday. It’s something I’d wanted to/felt called to do for years, and I finally committed to doing it during Lent. I didn’t make it to Mass last week because, you know, snakes on a plane, so this Sunday’s Mass was my first shot at it.

My biggest concern was not drawing attention to myself. Though a few women at my parish do wear scarves, hats, or veils in church, they’re a small minority, and I didn’t want to feel like I stood out. So when we arrived I slipped into the pew discreetly, which was made easier by the fact that I only had my five-year-old daughter with me (the one of dragon-defeating fame) since Joe had taken the others to vigil Mass the day before. After the first Scripture reading I finally began to relax, and by the end of the Gospel I felt confident that I was just an anonymous face in the crowd.

And then Fr. Uche began his homily. The Gospel reading was about the Transfiguration, and when he introduced the topic, he mused, “What did Jesus go up the mountain to do?” I jumped when a voice beside me shouted at the loudest possible volume:

“TO PWAY!!!!!”

That would be my sweet daughter’s pronunciation of “pray.” She’s so excited about Jesus and was so delighted to know the answer that she just had to scream it at the very top of her lungs — and, wow, who knew that a young child’s voice could fill an entire huge building like that? The church was packed with about 1,100 people, and I am pretty sure that every single one of them looked over at us in that moment. I had already felt like THE WOMAN IN THE CHAPEL VEIL!!!!, and now I felt like THE WOMAN IN THE CHAPEL VEIL WHOM WE’RE ALL NOW STARING AT BECAUSE HER KID YELLS AT THE PRIEST DURING MASS!!!!

Anyway.

I’ve gotten a lot of comments and emails from women who said that they were interested in covering their heads but had never tried it, so I thought I’d share my experience in case others find it helpful. And yes, there is definitely something ironic, and possibly a little lame, about undertaking a practice that’s all about humility and hiddenness and then writing about it on your blog. I get that. But I’m going to go ahead and crack open that can of worms anyway, because I know that it’s something a lot of us have thought about, and I think that at least a few folks might find a discussion about the practice to be fruitful.

First, a bit of background:

What I Wore

I especially wanted to share this detail since I know a lot of us have a hard time finding something we can feel truly comfortable wearing. I am thrilled to have discovered this chapel veil, which is based on an infinity scarf, from the Liturgical Time Etsy Shop. What’s great about it is that it can be worn as a scarf…

chapel veil 1 Notes from beneath the veil

Looking a little tense because I was running late...

And then slipped over your head to use as a veil!

chapel veil 2 Notes from beneath the veil

...Happy now because I realized I could explain, "Father, I was late for Holy Mass for a good reason: I was taking pictures of myself!"

The design allowed it to stay on my head easily — I didn’t need any bobby pins to keep it in place. Also, it helped me relax to know that I could just drop it down and wear it around my neck if it got to be too much to hassle with.

Which brings us to the question: Why did I get myself into this in the first place?

Why I Wanted to Do It

The practice of women covering their heads at church made sense to me from the first moment I encountered it. It’s not a tradition I’ve ever wondered about, wrestled with, or felt hostile to in any way.

It started, in fact, with my observations about the practice of men removing their head coverings when entering a church. Here in Texas it’s common for men to wear hats, especially cowboy hats, and it was even more common when I was younger. I grew up seeing dashing gentlemen in their fine Stetsons; I’d often come across black-and-white pictures of my grandfathers and their fathers from the 40s, looking like movie stars in their suits and fedoras. On a gut level I understood that men can enhance their appearances dramatically with headwear.

Rarely is a man’s hair his best feature. Many males have thinning hair, and, at least in our society, they don’t have tons of acceptable options for hairstyles anyway. So, for that gender, hats are a prime opportunity to improve their physical appearance and draw attention to themselves. When I was a child I occasionally ended up in churches for weddings or funerals, and when I saw the men remove their hats, they always looked a little smaller and less powerful after doing so. I understood on a visceral level that for a man to bare his head was an act of humility.

For women, it’s the opposite.

Our hair is one of the main ways we express our individuality. Even for those of us who have no skill at hairdressing, the cut and style of our locks speaks volumes about how we want want people to perceive us. It’s also one of the primary ways we make ourselves beautiful. Imagine a girl standing in front of a mirror, heading out to a party, determined to look as gorgeous as possible…but totally neglecting her hair. It wouldn’t happen. When women want to attract attention with their physical beauty, their hair is one of the first things they think about. It’s a fact of human nature that both genders tend to notice women’s physical appearances, moreso than they do with men’s appearances, and hair is a crucial part of that.

So, long before I’d heard any exegesis about First Corinthians or encountered horror stories about women in abusive congregations being pushed to cover their heads because they were seen as inferior, the idea just kinda made sense to me. I didn’t (and still don’t) think it’s a big deal. I would not push others to undertake that practice if it didn’t feel right to them. It simply seemed to me that men uncovering their heads and women covering theirs was a nice, optional thing that people could do to deflect attention from themselves in a holy place.

Standing Out

If it’s true that this practice is all about blending in, wouldn’t wearing a chapel veil defeat the purpose? I thought. If I end up being THE WOMAN IN THE CHAPEL VEIL!!!!, as I was afraid I would be, then I would actually be drawing more attention to myself than if I didn’t cover my head in the first place. Yet that’s not what happened.

To be sure, one of the reasons it wasn’t an issue is that some women do cover their heads at our parish. Again, it’s not common, but you see it often enough that it doesn’t surprise anyone. It might have been a different story if we went to a more casual church where a woman wearing a veil would be the only one doing so. (Kelly has some great suggestions for those situations.) But the biggest reason that I think I ultimately blended in is this:

It’s hard for a woman with a covered head to be the center of attention.

When I thought of my own reaction to encountering women wearing scarves or veils, it dawned on me that you don’t spend much time looking at them because there’s simply not that much to see. Even if you do a double-take when you first glance at them, your focus soon drifts to something else since you can’t see many of the details that make people interesting to look at. Their hair, most of their heads, and many of the details of their faces and necks are obscured. They wouldn’t hold your attention because it’s boring to look at a bunch of fabric.

What Will People Think?

On the way to church my Neurotic ESP kicked into gear, and I could already hear everyone else’s thoughts:

Wait, isn’t that the same lady who wore jeans to Mass last week and said “And also with you” at the sign of peace?

And:

Did I just see a woman in a chapel veil GENUFLECT ON THE WRONG KNEE?!?!?

These voices continued to pipe up in my imagination once I got inside the church…but when I tried to apply them to actual people, it all broke down.

There was Roxanne, who once dropped everything to come over and pray with me when I was having a hard time. Scattered throughout the pews were at least eight wonderful folks who had brought us homemade meals after babies were born and after my recent health issues. Across the aisle was my friend who volunteers at our church’s health clinic to serve those who can’t pay for medical care; over to the left was the gentleman who recently gave a large amount of financial assistance to a young couple with a crisis pregnancy whom he met when they turned around from an abortion mill where he’d been praying; and behind him was the couple who has cared for over 20 at-risk children through the local foster care system. Noe was undoubtedly out there somewhere too.

Waves of shame rushed through me when I realized: these are the people whom I assumed would be judging me.

Even I am not horrible enough to spend the Mass fixated on other people, rendering damning character assessments based on their outward appearances…yet I assumed that that’s what my brothers and sisters in Christ would do to me?

It was at that moment that I realized that this exercise in head covering brought with it an important, and surprisingly difficult, opportunity for spiritual growth: to presume other people’s charity.

* * *

I think that that last point was my biggest takeaway. To my great surprise, it seemed to me that the people around me were (wait for it…this is going to be shocking…) focused more on the Mass than they were on me. I know, amazing.

It reminded me of the advice that Dr. Phil used to give guests on his show: “You wouldn’t worry so much about what people thought of you if you knew how seldom they did.” (Let me hasten to note that I do not get all my life wisdom from daytime talk shows anymore.) (Now it mostly comes from Pinterest.) Anyway, I have rarely found that saying to be more true than when I covered my head at Mass. Nobody cared — nobody — and it was prideful of me to assume that anyone would in the first place.

So if you’ve ever considered wearing a head covering to church, I encourage you to do it. I think you’ll find it to be a beautiful exercise in hiddenness…as long as you remind your children not to shout at the top of their lungs when the priest asks a question during the homily.

(P.S. Since I included a couple of pictures, I’m counting this as a What I Wore Sunday post!)

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Enter the Conversation...

273 Responses to “Notes from beneath the veil”
  1. Leila says:

    I don’t veil, but I love women who do…. I am just giddy about this post. Thank you! (And, I had no idea there was a scarf/veil. That might just push me further in the veiled direction!)
    Leila recently posted..A modern day David vs. Goliath story

    • Pamela Smith says:

      Good luck with that. I wore one until our new priest immediately pegged me as “one of THOSE people”–meaning arch-conservative. I have yet to recover and have since stopped wearing the veil as a gesture of peace. Just so you know.

      • Cari says:

        I have been veiling for a year now, even when I am visiting another parish and there has not been a single issue, ever. :)

      • Angela says:

        @ Pamala
        …it was totally wrong for your priest to make that awful comment. Wearing a veil has been a long standing tradition of our faith. I think you should put your veil back on.. Do you think he would have said that to Our Blessed Mother. If Mary veiled before her very own Son why as ordinary women would we not be called and why shouldn’t we veil in front of our Eucharist Lord…discern again and ask the Holy Spirit to temper his contempt for the tradition of our faith that is 2000 years old..not just 40 since VCII….

        • Dave P. says:

          Actually, a head covering was the tradition. Hats and scarves always have been acceptable. The use of a veil/mantilla is a very recent development.

      • Mac says:

        I am sorry for the negativity you received especially from a person who is supposed to be encouraging you in your journey of faith. I am a convert and felt pulled to veiling about a year after entering into full communion with the church. I would like to offer my personal perspective to you. I chose to veil as a sign of submission and reverence to my Savior as well as the added benefit of modesty. Most of the parishes that I attend, I am the only one who wears a head covering and sometimes I can get a lot of staring eyes. (though I don’t feel any judgement from most of them) I do wish is didn’t draw attention but I have thought a great deal about it and realized my veiling is a commitment between me and my Savior. It has nothing to do with anyone else’s opinion of me or my veil. If I were wearing it as a fashion statement then that would be one thing but I don’t. If Christ has called you to veil, for whatever reason, then I pray you will pick it back up and pray for those who don’t understand because criticism from others has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own issues and insecurities. as long as you are not imposing your choices and beliefs on others than nothing you chose to do or believe should be offensive to anyone else. If they are offended then perhaps they should look at the root of why YOUR beliefs offend THEM. May God bless you and keep you… I will pray for you and your priest.

      • Mac says:

        I would also like to add that our parishes could certainly use a bit more conservative behavior!

      • Tanya says:

        I feel very sorry that you decided to stop covering your head ( or veiling) as a result of a priest’s comments. With all respect, it’s a very poor reason to do so. It has to come from you. I’m a convert to the Catholic faith. I started to veil ( didn’t know about could wear hats and think that’s more for outside wear and don’t have the money or interest to buy one for church, smiels, aaaaaand,think the veil is “prettier”, stronger spiritual meaning for me?) about two years ago, after “just” reading a comment on a site called cilice.uk. I read the comments about veiling having nothing to do with being inferior to men, etc… how it indicated, if I remember correctly, subimission to God? and went, like in a heartbeat, OHHH I want to do tha tooooooooo!! LOL. Really and truly. The “mystical feeling” that I had for the next two months has waned a lot and there have been a few times when I didn’t put it on. But, from what I’ve read, the comments of those born before Vatican II and those after, the blogs, etc… it is very clear to me that Vatican II never did away with it. Anyways… gets of mind boggling to read the comments on the subject, among them those who say well Vatican II never changed it. Then the canon law of 1917, then the canon law change of 1983.

        I can see that I rambled again, sorry about that. What led me to continue to wear the veil for as long as I have was the understanding, so I thought, that I was doing the “right thing”. Whatever you think about the practice, you Can’t do it or in your case, Pamela, Stop doing it because of what “another person things”. That is your self-esteem that was wounded somewhere. The priest doesn’t know you 100%. What else would you stop doing if a priest or another important person in your life made a comment that stung? I don’t have answers okay? I guess I’m in favor of covering ones’ head but that’s mainly because of the deep spiritual meaning that I’ve read into covering one’s head that’s all. Take care and God bless.

    • Lora says:

      It has been a great blessing for us to veil. And as far as “what will people think?” everybody just get’s used to it.

    • Mary says:

      A very enjoyable post Jennifer, thanks. Haha, I would love for you to write another when after wearing veils for a long long time, you suddenly cannot locate yours and have to sit thru a Mass without one. It is like showing up without shoes!

      • Kathleen says:

        EXACTLY! LOL
        I love this post too – I’ve been veiling for 2 years now and I started in Lent too.

  2. Amber says:

    Great post, thank you! Veiling is something I think about periodically and this was very helpful. I really like the one you were wearing!

  3. Ashley says:

    I wish you could see the look on my face when I clicked that etsy link and realized I could consolidate all my scarves and veils into one efficient super-accessory!

    Very nice!

    I too was concerned when I started wearing a veil. Not just because women who veil are a small segment of the parish population… but because my paleness sticks out in our predominantly Hispanic/Portugese parish community. But truth be told, I was open to veiling before I finally converted.
    Ashley recently posted..WIWS: Waiting

  4. Ingrid says:

    I have been reading your great blog since I saw you on The Journey Home; I love what you are doing! I recently returned to the Catholic Church and have fallen in love with my faith and your blog just re-ignites my passion. After laughing hysterically at your genuflection comment (I love that you can laugh at yourself!) I watched your three episode show and thoroughly enjoyed it. Having been raised in a Catholic family of four girls and one boy, I could relate to the craziness of your home! I look forward to having your book in my hands and buying copies for my grown kids and friends. Keep up the great work and never lose the passion!! Now I am thinking I want to wear a veil to church too! You make some of the old fashioned stuff about the church seem so relevant and hip.

  5. Nancy says:

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing this.

    But ladies, let’s remember that our talk of “veiling” and theologizing it, no less, would be foreign to our grandmothers and sounds vaguely Muslim, to boot. Catholic women wore headcoverings – sometimes chapel veils, often hats, sometimes kleenex – because it was a tradition and because before the mid-20th century men and women rarely went outside without their head covered – anywhere. And the men would take their hats off inside, the women, not.

    The point was not a “veil” as some modern commentators like to say and theologize. The point was simply a head covering, and while everyone knew some sort of vague spiritual reason behind it, it was mostly cultural and headcoverings – a mantilla or a cloche hat or just *something* bobbypinned to your head – was the way it was thought of, not as “veiling”.

    Suburban Banshee covered this super well in this post:

    http://suburbanbanshee.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/in-the-old-days-most-us-catholic-women-wore-hats/

    • Liesa says:

      The difference between a devout Catholic woman veiling and a Muslim woman covering up is significant. When I decided to wear a chapel veil to the Extraordinary Form (Latin Mass)a few year ago, it was because I wanted to express outwardly my inner faith life. It was a very personal and intimate decision. It went along with my innate desire to dress with dignity and modesty. I felt no constraint to do so.

      I really fail to see how it can possibly ever have a negative connotation, and I do not agree that it equals any other “head covering,” such as a stylish hat.

      On the other hand, many (but not nearly all) women who cover up in Islamic countries are often dressing to conform to a secular or sharia law, or dressing to please another, like a male family member. The modesty is tied to a cultural shame, rather than dignity.

      Having said that, I am positive there are many Muslim women in westernized nations who dress out of a personal desire toward a special modesty and dignity as well.

      • Dave P. says:

        I do not agree that it equals any other “head covering,” such as a stylish hat.

        Subjectively, perhaps. For the Church, a hat or scarf is objectively equal to a chapel veil or mantilla.

      • Yakub Israel says:

        The current state of the Catholic Church is in dismay. Tradition is going out the window in place of what the world wants. It’s disgusting to see the Church “get with the times”. Pope Francis is worse the JPII which is a pretty hard feat.

      • Yakub Israel says:

        If you’re going to a Trinidine Latin Mass, you should feel out of place if you aren’t wearing a veil and you’re a woman.

    • Denise says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more Nancy. I grew up attending the Tridentine Mass where we always wore a chapel veil, mantilla or hat to church, most of the time choosing the mantilla. I still attend that mass. I’ve never “veiled” in my life. That term has a specific connotation and is definitely associated with Muslim women, not Catholics. As a Catholic who loves Jesus, I wouldn’t be caught dead “veiling”.

      • Yae says:

        I agree with you but I will keep an open mind and stick with what the Catholic Church’s current stance is. Either way is fine with me. If I ever wear a veil again it will be because I am in the presence of the Lord and not because I am “veiling.” Never heard that word growing up when as a young girl, I wore a veil. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I do not like the sound of it.
        I liked this article and what Michelle had to say about the veil.
        http://www.catholic.com/blog/michelle-arnold/the-veil-and-i

      • Tanya says:

        I don’t know why women wouldn’t be caught “dead” veiling. I have understood that Muslim women cover themselves out of modesty, not out of cultural shame. Secondly, how can a woman who’s Catholic even be compare to a Muslim who has the covering totally around her face?? Puleease. No one wearing a veil wraps it around tightly around her face and neck as a Muslim woman would. Very poor comparision in my opinion.

    • Jeff Hite says:

      Slightly off topic here but when I read your comment this came to mind. Last year we left the parish we had been attending for about 5 years when it was taken over by a pastoral admin. That is a long story and not one I want to get into here. Anyway one day while she was giving the Homily (Yes, one of the many reasons we left) she compared the “Out of date practice” of women wearing a head covering to Mass to women being forced to wear a burka.

      This was of course the Mass that two of my daughters choose to wear a head scarf. Let’s just say it was not an altogether positive experience for us.
      Jeff Hite recently posted..Write a Story

    • Melody says:

      Thanks Nancy. I’m old enough that I remember when women and girls covered their heads in church, as a gesture of respect. Your are right that mantillas didn’t come in until the 1960′s. My mother and grandmother always wore hats. I wore a hat on Sunday, or a little lace thingy or a beanie for school Masses (I regret to say that I had a Barbie-pink mantilla as a teen). I get the respect part. I just don’t get the whole vibe with “veiling”. But if people find it meaningful, by all means, go for it; I wouldn’t dream of making negative comments to them. But I think my mantilla (the nice one, not the pink one) will remain in the cedar chest.

    • mommy says:

      If you look at the illustrations in the St Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism, you will see that all the women are wearing hats, not veils. I think that in the United States, the practice of wearing a veil became common as hats went out of style ( early 1960′s or so). I have never seen a photo of an American woman wearing a chapel veil prior to 1960.

      • laura says:

        I think you all are missing the significant cultural explaination as to the prevailance of the mantilla. As the name itself implies, it is a tradition imported from Spain and other Latin American cultures. The hats you tout as normal from the 60s are from the Anglo culture.

        Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

        It just so happens that hats aren’t as stylish this decade, hence the tendance for mantillas and scarves over hats.

        • Nancy says:

          The problem – as aptly demonstrated in these comments – is the spiritualizing of “veiling” which is being pumped up as “traditional” – when it is no such thing.

    • mommy says:

      If you look at the illustrations in the St Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism, you will see that all the women are wearing hats, not veils.

    • Mary says:

      YES. Thank you for mentioning this!

  6. Cassi says:

    Fantastic post! Let me be the first already-veiling lady (I predict those above me will one day try one on) to comment. :) I found my transition as the first veiled lady at our very small parish to be eased by the fact that I took up covering before I became Catholic. In fact, one might say it was the road that eventually brought me to Rome (through many other paths, of course). So my friends (who have been my friends for years prior to my conversion) already knew me as that weird girl in a headscarf. At first, I wore my very long hair in a bun with a scarf tied tichel-style over it. But I was very taken with the mantilla style veils, and eventually I made one–I’m crafty like that–and broke it out, of all places, at our parish picnic/mass at the river! The scarf I had intended to wear that day had gotten spilled on, and the veil was the only covering I had. I love the chapel veils, and also sometimes enjoy wearing a larger scarf draped around my head and shoulders. And we’ve recently had another lady join our parish who covers. I’m hoping we influence some of the others. :) I think it’s a beautiful devotion, and it’s sad the practice was lost. And you’re absolutely right. No one cares as much as we worry they will (perhaps that’s a device of the enemy?) what we wear on our heads. My friends just see me. And if to some I’m “the lady in the chapel veil” well, I’m okay with being a bit unusual. :)

  7. Cassi says:

    Well, shoot, this is what happens when you take a long time to type a comment. I’m not the first ;) and I won’t presume to predict for Nancy, just in case she got offended that I would. :)

  8. Love this post and you look beautiful! What a neat veil! I’ll have to remember that etsy shop for the next time I order a new veil!

    I, too, started wearing a veil for Lent back in 2006 or 2007. I had most of the same feelings that you mentioned, but have sure grown to love wearing it over the years. It seems like it is becoming more and more common now, even in liberal states like my own, to see at least a few other women wearing veils!

    God bless you and your family!
    Jessica @ Shower of Roses recently posted..7 Quick Takes on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

  9. How timely! I’ve been wanting to give veiling a try.

    Are you wearing the single or double loop? Long or short?

    Lovely design.

  10. I don’t normally wear a veil to church, but do think it is a sign of reverence. I can remember wearing hats and head coverings when I was much younger and felt relieved when the Church relaxed the rules on this. Now, I actually miss wearing something on my head — especially on bad hair days.

    This looks very attractive on you. I may just have to order one soon, as it certainly is a great accessory to have and I am thinking about reviving that spirit of reverence in church.

    Will you be giving one of these away on your blog?
    Jean M. Heimann recently posted..Pope’s Last Angelus: I will not abandon the Church. I will serve in a different way.

  11. Ana Hahn says:

    Crap, now I am thinking about doing it- it definitely always kind of weirded/freaked me out, but you have pretty much changed my mind. You look so beautiful!
    Ana Hahn recently posted..My Girls’ 7 Favorite Toys: 7QT

  12. Jewels says:

    Jennifer, LOVE this post!

    Kudos to you, girl, for following your heart and silencing your inner critic.

    I started routinely covering at Mass a couple of months ago. But not with a veil, with one of these: http://www.amazon.com/Pop-Womens-Fashion-Knitted-Crochet/dp/B0096DPZV6/ref=pd_sbs_a_2

    I have two of them (one in black, one brown) and they are lightweight for indoors (in Philly, that is. Where we have, y’know, winter.) but I have to fine super-lightweight ones as Spring is threatening to arrive.

    Blessings,
    Jewels

    P.S. You look gorgeous in your veil, dear ;)

  13. Amelia says:

    Thank you for this! While I don’t wear a veil, you’ve written the FIRST explanation of why to veil that has ever made sense to me. None of the other explanations I have read every seemed to make a lot of sense, but the way you related it to men and hats and thinning hair and all that really did make a lot of sense. I didn’t grow up in Texas, but I’ve always loved the way a man looks in a cowboy hat.
    Amelia recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday- The Homeschool Curriculum Edition

    • Megan says:

      I want to second Amelia’s comment!

      I recently attended a Latin High Mass for the first time, on a whim of my husband’s, and was terribly uncomfortable there. Surely everyone would see that I was not “like them.” Surely they would all know that I was That Woman who agitated publicly for women’s ordination and asked the bishop uncomfortable questions when he came to visit.

      I was in my usual Sunday garb — jeans, sneakers, t-shirt — and stood out in the crowd of sharply-dressed families around me. The biggest thing that struck me, however, was that I was horrified to see all the women in veils, because — like the priest referenced above — my first thought was, “Oh no! It’s a whole church full of THOSE people!”

      So, with that embarrassing confession out of the way, I want to thank you DEEPLY for your thoughtful explanation of covering and for this discussion of how men’s and women’s coverings really ARE different. Suddenly this all appears in a different light to me. So much so that I am, for the first time, wondering if I could try it.

      This reminds me of an exegetical study that a colleague of mine did in graduate school about the “covering” text in 1 Corinthians. He discovered one interesting fact: in ancient Rome (i.e., Paul’s social context), only aristocratic men and women covered their heads. It was a way of distinguishing between the upper and lower classes. It was even enshrined in law — a woman could be fined for wearing the stola if she was not of the proper social class and status.

      What my colleague concluded, therefore, was that by asking men to UNcover, in this text, Paul is requiring the men to embrace a lower status — sort of a social “lowest common denominator.” He is bringing the aristocratic men DOWN in power. But by asking the women to COVER, Paul invites all of the women in the congregation to take the role of high-status matrons. It raises all of the women there UP to the same level of power as the few aristocratic women among them.

      If you think of the dramatic inequalities between men and women in ancient Rome (most women were never legally considered people — they were property of fathers or husbands or some other guardian, with essentially no rights of their own), you can understand that what Paul is doing is attempting to “balance the scales” so that all of the Corinthian Church could worship as equals. As he wrote to the Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28 NAB).

      So my point is: if we think of covering as Paul intended it — a way of asserting our basic equality as baptized persons before God and one another — then I can find it easy to think of covering as expressing my modesty and humility before God during the Mass, while also expressing my own deep convictions of my value and worth in a church where I often still feel like a second-class citizen. This, I can work with.
      Megan recently posted..Remembering humitas – the Biggest Birthday Project Ever

  14. Nikita says:

    I have not wore my veil in awhile, it is mainly because the veil never stays on and normally I am rushing to get into the car to go to Mass. Thank you for linking that Esty account. I am thinking of looking into wearing my veil again, it just takes me to find the right veil for me. (I know sounds vain, but really it is I am not comfortable with the veil I own now.)
    Nikita recently posted..Catholic Woman’s Almanac Vol. 2 Issue 23

    • Cassi says:

      Just a suggestion–as the mother of small children, I definitely know what you mean about having trouble getting them to stay put–I sew hair combs in mine.

  15. gradchica says:

    Love the scarf-veil! My veils definitely need bobby pins to stand up to a 14-month old and a 3 yr old boy. I’ve been veiling for about 3 yrs now, every since we moved. It feels normal, natural, and not at all weird in our beautiful Cathedral where there are a few other woman with veils or hats. I definitely felt a bit conspicuous at first, especially when visiting more contemporary, casual-type churches on vacation, where I was the only one in a dress, no less a veil, but I just stopped thinking about it because, sheesh, I have enough to think about and juggle with my boys, I can’t think about other people too. Although the other week when my older son randomly threw his brother’s teddy bear off the balcony, I had a “The veil lady’s son tossed the bear!” moment :)

  16. Mamabearjd says:

    I was gearing up for some sort of Princess Bride moment “mawwiage….” as you quoted the dragonista!

    I am so happy that you are sharing this – perhaps giving your large audience the courage to veil. I still get looks at my parish but the effort towards reverence for me is worth it. Unfortunately I know several women who wish to veil but they don’t want to embarrass their husbands (I’m in TX too, you know what I mean).

    We recently had a “the veil lady’s toddler spit in her face moment.” (Then the veil lady’s husband escorted him out)

  17. Marie Meints says:

    This is really well written and, as usual, approaches the subject with humor, humility, and depth – a rare trifecta! I have thus far not been called to cover my head, though I almost wish I was. (Odd.) Your points about why it is appropriate to cover while men uncover and how the headcovering actually deflects attention rather than attracts it are insightful and not judgmental. I will be sharing this post when this comes up in discussion – thank you!
    Marie Meints recently posted..7 Quick Takes 2.22.13

  18. anne says:

    wow. i’ve always been confused about the veil-wearing issue!! this is the most clarifying piece i’ve ever read. God bless you!!

  19. Ginny says:

    your daughter yelling “to pway!” reminds me of the time that Beatrix, on returning to our seat after walking with me for communion, started crying out, “Body of Christ! Body of Christ!” repeatedly out of her sorrow over once again, not being able to receive. She was three at the time. Despite our talking to her about it over and over again, each week at mass for many weeks she would hope that maybe the priest or eucharistic minister would overlook her small stature and place the host into her outstretched hand. Anyway, that particular Sunday was pretty awesome. And we were sitting on the second row.
    The picture of you in the veil is pretty great. You should make that your profile picture :)

  20. Sara says:

    I lean towards wanting to start veiling. I’ve worn one in the EF masses I’ve been to, but that’s rare. It was definitely a different feeling! There is only one woman in our new parish that veils (that I’m aware of), and she took hers off a couple of weeks ago. I was shocked and disturbed through the whole Mass! Yes, I was paying attention, but not judging. Turns out, she had washed her hair and it was too slippery to stay on. Whew.
    Sara recently posted..February Daybook

  21. JUD says:

    Well hello there… wow I think that veil looks pretty

    modest, because of the colour it kind of ‘blends in’

    nicely. You have been writing about wearing a veil to

    mass for a while. I thought about wearing a veil when I

    got married, but didn’t dare it, basically because I had

    already 1001 reasons to feel nervous as a bride. Yes, I

    am sure you were not invisible (or inhearable…). And it

    must be awkward to blog about this while trying to be

    modest. I understand that. But honestly, I sure can see

    the modesty in this experience. It is often easier to

    blend in with the crowd then to do as God is asking us.

    And about your daughter – she wasn’t yelling at the

    priest – she was politely answering his question! Well

    done for her. Our priest sometimes complains nobody

    answers his questions. Usually they are rhetorical, but

    apparently not always.

    And – last – fun to see you do a What I Wore Sunday!
    JUD recently posted..What I Wore Sunday

  22. Shannon says:

    Great post. I didn’t know a post about chapel veils could be so funny and respectful at the same time :) Thank you for sharing! I have wondered about veils and it is helpful to hear about your experience and see what you wore and even where you bought it. I also have a child who sometimes calls out responses/commentary at Mass – although I’m always embarrassed, the priest says he’s pleased to know for sure that someone is listening (!) we could say the same about your daughter :) Also, I am a cradle Catholic and didn’t know until I was 25 yrs old that I’d been genuflecting on the wrong knee for my whole life, until finally a priest told me (I was blown away! ha ha) – and then when I tried to correct myself I realized that my other leg was weaker because I’d never used it to genuflect before, it was a little shaky until I got used to it, LOL.

  23. TheresaEH says:

    If I was that priest I would have sought your daughter out after mass to give her a high five ;-) Now that veil you wore is very lovely!!! For myself I would prefer to find a nice hat.

  24. I have so many questions, Jen!! What do you do if you have a really handsy toddler who would pull it off the whole time? Also, do you make/want your daughters to do it too?
    Colleen Martin recently posted..What I Wore…

    • LOL! I hadn’t thought about any of that, Colleen. Maybe I’ll write a Part II when I’ve done it more often. :)

      • Jamie says:

        Yep – I have exactly the same questions as Colleen. Actually, I think if I was wearing a veil my girls would beg for one too, and if they wore one maybe it would distract them from mine? But does it seem weird having a 2 and 3 year old veil??
        Jamie recently posted..Happy 30th Birthday + 1 Week

        • Emily B says:

          Colleen–for the really handsy toddler, bobby pins and/or a sewn in comb seem to help. That and a healthy dose of patience :) As for the daughters, we have a 4 year old who has her own veil. I do not force her to wear it, she wears it as she prefers, for now. I think our plan is to have her start wearing it regularly when when she receives her First Holy Communion, if she’s not already doing so at that point. And, Jamie, you’re right–my daughter wanted her own once she was about 3 and really noticed mine.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hats are the best for standing up to toddlers, but I’ve not found anything that is completely son-proof. Some weeks the veil/hat just doesn’t stay on and you move past it and try again next Sunday. ;)

      • Liz says:

        I’ve always wanted to wear a chapel veil just never had the guts to do it until this Lent. I have a 9 month old who loves to play with my hair. To avoid him pulling off my veil, I decided to go with a large, wide lace headband that snaps under my hair. Interestingly, it served the purpose and he didn’t play with it, not once. I got them from the etsy shop linked here (http://www.etsy.com/shop/HappyHomestead?ref=shop_sugg). I hope when he’s older I’ll be able to wear a mantilla but, for now this serves the purpose.
        Liz recently posted..Lenten Meal Plan Monday #3: A Linkup!

    • Laura says:

      I started covering my head about 3.5 years ago, when my 5 year old was 2. I had read about “veiling” and it seemed a lovely tradition, but just not for me. Then the topic kept appearing before me, and I felt I was supposed to do it. So, I set up a little “test” . . . I first asked 2 of my daughters, who were 10 and 13 at the time what they thought about the idea of us wearing veils to Mass (I had/have 8 of my 10 children still at home, 5 of them are girls). They were very enthusiastic about it, very positive– not what I expected. Then I asked 3 of my friends via an email– told them what I was thinking about and asked if they had ever considered it. Two if them replied the subject had been on their minds, and they were both going to begin. So, we jumped in and did it all together at the same Mass one weekend (4 of those 5 daughters did as well– the 5th one joined us later).

      The toddler did mess with it some, but he got used to it. And after a while, if it was slipping, he would put it back up. I often have my granddaughter with me now, and she has had a quicker learning curve, probably because she has always seen us wearing the veils. I keep ours in the car (some of the girls carry them in their purses), and we keep back ups in the car as well, in case someone forgets, or we have a friend who’d like to try it, etc.

      It does feel totally natural now, and I would feel odd without one. In a strange way, it helps me focus straight ahead– maybe because moving my head around can cause it to slip. It took me a couple months to feel totally comfortable. But it is now part of attending Mass for me. :)

  25. Teri says:

    Beautiful and thought provoking reflection on not judging others as judgmental! =D
    And thank you for the link to Kelly’s suggestions.

  26. I have some friends who have felt the call at one time or another to cover their heads during Mass, and I don’t think it’s a big deal. However, I have noticed my thinking “it’s no big deal” really depends on the countenance of the person doing it. On occasion we’ve had visitors to our parish who have worn veils, and let me just say they stuck out. Not because they were wearing veils, but because of the scowls on their faces. Seriously. Now, I have no idea what was going on in their minds or hearts that morning, but when one woman looked at me with that scowl on her face, I felt judged. I am not saying she was judging but somehow that’s how I interpreted it. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was wearing jeans that day too. ;-) So when I see a woman with a veil or hat on with a joyful smile on her face and a peaceful countenance, it just makes me smile and wonder if I might find some of that too if I covered my head.
    The Reluctant Widow recently posted..A Wedding Tale

  27. The first month of wearing the veil was the hardest for me but now my hair feels full monty when I don’t have it on. (My girls wore the veil when I started, too so I’m not exactly the only one in our pew with it on. My husband is now the minority) When the baby was born I struggled and when she learned to reach up and tug, that was a mess, too. But perseverance (and God’s grace) pays. Can I add your post to a link up I did for veils? Thanks.
    Anabelle@Written By the Finger of God recently posted..10 Tips for Fine Tuning your Media Antennas

  28. James says:

    Interesting, that’s probably the best explanation of why to veil.

    That being said, I can see where wearing a chapel veil when most people do not can easily become the equivalent of bragging about your humility. If you feel called to do it, then do it, if not, then don’t worry about it.

    As Nancy said, veiling is NOT a Catholic tradition. Women had their heads covered in Church because Paul mentioned it, although nobody was quite sure why. Scholars believe Paul was talking about modesty, not literal head coverings, thus the tradition ended with changing fashion.

    • Danielle says:

      I agree with James and some others who have commented about this being the best explanation so far about why to wear the veil.

      While Jen does make sense about hair making a “look at me” statement for women, there are those of us women (cough, cough) who’ve been attracted to men with bald heads (particularly those who wear bald proudly), and men with really nice heads of hair.I also agree with him that veiling could easily become the Humility War (akin to the Modesty Wars re: the pants vs skirts debate).

      Blogger Erin Manning of “And Sometimes Tea” had two very good posts on veiling:

      http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/2011/02/veil-wars-and-hat-battles.html

      http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/2011/02/in-which-i-ramble-about-veils-again.html

    • Danielle says:

      Paragraph didn’t break correctly.

      *I also agree with him (James)

    • Molly R says:

      Actually, it is Catholic tradition. When we are in a Catholic Church, and especially at Mass, we are in the presence of our King and Lord. One of the reasons women cover their heads is to honor Christ, our King, to cover our glory before Him, to humble ourselves before Him.

      I know no one will read this, since I am late responding to this post, but oh well! Jennifer, this was a great post, and you put it very well! I felt weird covering my head at first, too. At some point I heard a talk by Alice Von Hildebrand, about why women cover their heads (it is covering our heads, not veiling. It is true that we can cover our heads with hats, lace, scarves, a tissue in a pinch. Veils are more in use now because it isn’t the fashion to wear hats as much). She of course, put it perfectly, and I wish I could find that talk again. The gist of it was what I said above. Anyway, once I grasped that, and became accustomed to wearing something on my head, it became strange not to cover my head. Because, really, it’s not about me or anyone else. It’s about Whose Presence I am in. So now I feel very uncomfortable not having my head covered in church. So there is more to it than personal preference. Whether you feel called to cover your head or not, if you have some sense of wondering what all this is about, think about where you are, Who is there in the tabernacle before you, and consider how you would present yourself before a king–especially this King.

  29. Cathy H. says:

    Thank you for this post. A few women, mostly converts have been wearing veils recently. I had thought about it but wasn’t sure because, like you I was afraid of drawing attention to myself.

  30. Kathy says:

    I need advice. I am planning to get married this April and I love the idea of wearing something like this: http://www.etsy.com/listing/114960806/eternity-veil-headcovering-sheer-white?

    My concern is that this is my second time (I have a declaration of nullity) and I just don’t want to wear it if I don’t symbolize the type of woman who would wear it at their wedding. Would someone who knows about this explain to me the traditional meaning of a veil at a wedding?

    • Unfortunately I don’t know anything about that – hopefully someone else can jump in with info!

      • Janet says:

        Ditto what Colleen said, but also– there’s nothing illegitimate or untoward about marrying, if you have a decree of nullity (or are widowed, for that matter). The only “type” of woman you are is the type that is free to marry, and freely chooses to do so. Don’t let nasty-minded people disrupt a beautiful start to the next phase of your life.

        The only person with a “dress code” in a Catholic wedding is the priest/deacon. The veil you linked to looks lovely, and if you want to wear it, go ahead! In fact, if you want to keep wearing it to church AFTER your marriage, do that too.

        • Kathy says:

          Thank you!

          I always feel self conscious for having been married. It is as if the world says I cannot be a good Catholic and ready to be married for a second time. I do have regrets and wish things were different… I hope this gives me the wisdom to explain my future children what NOT to do :)

          I think I will choose a head covering.

          • Teri says:

            Kathy, I want to share with you that I had a previous marriage as well and found the annulment process to be healing for me. I will pray for you right now that you are able to move past the self-consciousness. You will be a beautiful bride! And I can also testify that God has allowed me to try to encourage others who have been through an annulment – and yes, you’ll have much wisdom to share with your children. :)
            Teri recently posted..Spin Class and Catholic Mass

    • Colleen says:

      Another explanation for veiling, besides it being a sign of humility, is that traditionally, holy things are veiled. The Ark of the Covenant was veiled, and the modern “Ark,” the Tabernacle, has a cloth covering it/in front of it. The thing that is covered is something special or sacred. Just as Christ takes the Church for his Bride, so does a man take a woman, and a married couple is a parallel of Christ and His Church.

      The wedding veil is an extension of an every day headcovering, and while covering our heads in church has fallen out of fashion, for some reason, the wedding veil has not. I think it would be perfectly appropriate for you to wear that!

      • Colleen says:

        There is a very good homily about it here, and the priest explains the symbolism behind the wedding veil in great detail.

        www [dot] audiosancto [dot] org/sermon/20080726-Marriage-Fall-from-Eden-to-the-Rise-in-Grace [dot] html

  31. mary says:

    Truth- I am a little “judgey” about head veils in Mass. Though I probably won’t jump up to wear one, this helped me understand it in a whole new way.

  32. Juliana says:

    We’re Orthodox, and the expectation in most of the Orthodox world is that women will cover their heads in church (I came to Orthodoxy in Russia, where they are particularly strict about this). Many churches in American jurisdictions do not observe this custom, being too far removed from the mother country, but there are also a fair number that do it here, so I’ve never had a problem. (Plus awareness of the tradition persists, even in “Americanized” Orthodox churches, so that helps too). Although I did have a priest at one Americanized parish ask me if I was supposed to be at the Russian parish down the street…) For a few years I experimented with covering my head all the time. There is a pious Orthodox tradition for this, not well-observed in the States, but somewhat more in the old countries. I found the comments and looks and stares just stultifying. After a year and a half, I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t want my future daughters to grow up listening to the junk I’d heard over that time (someone on the street asked me once if I was Jewish and then called down a thousand plagues upon my head before I even had a chance to answer. It was not a pretty moment).

    So my practice is to cover my head in church and require my daughter to do so as well. We started it from the moment she was churched, and she rarely fights it now (at 18 months). It helps too that we go to a church where 99% of the women cover their heads. (although our tradition is to use scarves wrapped around the back of the head rather than a chapel veil, but either would be at home in our parish).

  33. Abby says:

    Jennifer, thank you for sharing this. I especially found your thoughts on men removing their hats original and enlightening, because I think the most compelling ideas about veiling for me have absolutely nothing to do with women’s relationships to men, but rather a believer’s relationship to the presence of Jesus. The veil shows how humble you are in Jesus’ presence, so as you say, men remove their hats, women cover their hair. Also, by covering themselves, women embody the reality that they have the capacity to be life-giving vessels. Believers have always honored what gives life by veiling it.

  34. Erin says:

    I haven’t worn a chapel veil since the move that took us too far from a Tridentine Mass, and I miss it. I’d wear it, but I’d really stand out at our current church, and as for my hair- it doesn’t express individuality lately unless I forget to brush it. Which happens.
    And speaking of loud children while wearing veils, years ago we had our potty-training twin boys in the 2nd row at a Latin Mass. I had been using a kitchen bell timer to remind them to periodically go to the bathroom, and when the server rang the bells at the consecration, they both jumped up on the pew, pointed at their crotches and yelled, “LOOK MOM!!! DRY PANTS!!!” At least no one had to turn around to stare, though.
    Erin recently posted..7 Quick Takes, Chapter 24

  35. I respect this decision. Unfortunately these things, like any other accessory, could become just as much of a “look at my veil style” as anything else. However, the key is that it is actually serving a real purpose that truly DOES have an immediate impact (or lack thereof) on the male population (myself being one of THEM)

    You are so very right about hair and the way it attracts. It is what I notice first because this is something noticeable at a distance. The way hair shines, waves, curls etc is uniquely female and a “flag” that waves that says, “look, look, look at me!” even if this is not the intention. So to cover this up might temporarily raise curiosity…it will not keep signaling and therefore (if every woman were to wear a veil) this would help me pay closer attention to the Liturgy…the reason I go there in the first place.

    So, ultimately, it is an act of charity to wear a veil. Beyond this truth it is classic, classy and says more than, “don’t look at me.” It says, “I am here for the Lord and you should be too.” It does hearken back to an earlier time and in this case it is good. I hope this truly catches on.

    • Tanya says:

      You know what’s puzzled me in all the comments that I’ve read about wearing the veil is why some women think that if the veil is nice looking or catchers one’s attention or you can see through it, that it’s kind of defeating the purpose? As I write it I think I can “see through the veil”, and see that it’s most probably just how “I” see it. I mean that because it was never an issue for me, ( the topics listed above here in my response) what is the big deal about them to others? We human beings can get distracted with just about everything. As far as I was concerned, the issue was, when I was reading online about the veil and whether Vatican II had said bla bla bla or not, once I determined that the “Church” was right ( which to my understanding meant that since Vatican II hadn’t “repealed” the law that the American bishop’s understanding of this had been incorrectly applied, well that was that). I really don’t value a lot Father Z’s comments that due to changes in canon law of 1983 that women in the Latin Church are not longer Required, as he emphasizes, to wear it. That’s fine. What was a bigger issue for me was whether the Vatican had changed it. Am rambling again… golly
      So a million apologies here. It was my understanding, after reading a comment by, I believe, Cardinal Kim, of South Korea, ( in a picture in a book by Eileen George, Meet the Father ministry), who replied to her comment, oh the women look so pretty with the head coverings, that he said to her, it was YOU who did that (implying the American bishops), not the Vatican.
      Okay, back to finishing rambling, sorry for the disconnectedness here. Probably has something to do with needing to eat lunch and subtle head injury frontal lobe stuff smiles.

      If the Church asks or recommends that women veil, isn’t that the important thing? This is what I was trying to boil down to smiles. So what if the veil is pretty? Who cares if you can see through the veil?? The important thing is to help you, the wearer, to remember that you’re in God’s presence, for example. Does any poster in other blogs about wearing the veil really and truly think that people, whether men or women, DON’T get distracted by women who don’t wear a veil?? That wearing a see through veil is going to distract you More??

      Please, give me a break!! It’s the symbolism of the veil that’s important, not how much you can see of the woman’s hair underneath it grin. If you get distracted with that, keep in mind, that you can choose your “source of distraction” from multiple other sources grin. Toddlers, adults whispering right in front of you, the outfit of the people to your right, left, back, front, the music coming at you right when you thought you “might” have a few minutes of peace and quiet during Communion. I feel sorry for people or women who are uncomfortable wearing a veil because of the “attention” that they think they’ll bring upon themselves. Believe me, I can choose to get distracted or do so unintentionally, by whatever you’re wearing to Mass, no matter how modestly you’re dressed. Just two cents here.

  36. Barbara says:

    I just want to let you know that this cracked. me. up. My dear son asked-right at a quiet part of mass- “Does Jesus have a penis?” We were potty training, he was two, he’s my first boy, so I didn’t expect the word to be so fascinating. I feel bad that the people behind us never stopped giggling. Church giggles are the worst. I am sorry I wasn’t wearing a chapel veil to cover my red face afterward.
    Barbara recently posted..Mariana is the Dictator of my Life Quick Takes

  37. Jennifer says:

    Love your post, Jennifer! While I think that the point about hair is a good one, I was called for a different reason entirely: the Blessed Sacrament. It became irresistible to me to cover my head when in the presence of God Himself.

    When I first started not quite three years ago, I was nervous, but it’s like you said, no one else really cares. But it does plant seeds! I’ve had a chance to share with many of my fellow parishioners why I veil and there is an ever-growing wave of veils in our little parish. It’s beautiful to see.

  38. Jackie says:

    That veil is genius! As soon as I can save some money am getting one!

  39. April says:

    Wonderful, honest post. I guess my first thought is that since this is not common practice (again) yet, those called by God to do this must sacrifice a bit in order to help others back into the practice. The depth of the meaning behind it all is so beautiful. However, with options out there like that on etsy, vanity can still step into the way. I guess we must always be on guard and pray for the grace to help us through our weaknesses.

  40. bearing blog says:

    Hey, count your blessings. This past Sunday, my three-year-old chose the moment of the elevation of the Eucharist to shout, “I CALL MY PENIS MY WEENIE!”
    bearing blog recently posted..Electing the pope. Dot net.

  41. Chantal says:

    My son (8) answered the priest, and then the priest asked him to come up and tell his answer in the microphone. He was sooo proud of himself.
    You are certainly making me rethink the veiling issue. I really like the scarf veil. I might just have to buy one. I’ve been thinking that the Muslim woman veil so they don’t ever have a bad hair day!!! Their veils are very often cute and pretty too.

  42. she says:

    I lived for a time near an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, where married women of all ages wore long skirts and head coverings. The younger women often still managed to look trendy while doing so. I envied these women, though, that they never had a bad hair day.

    Around that time I had some health problems and started to loose my hair in patches. Since then I went through cycles of some hair restoration and loss as I approach middle age. Many days I wear hats to cover this. I even have started to buy dressy hats to wear to Mass. I didn’t a strong opinion either way about head covering at Mass, and now I always have my head covered.

    When I started wanting to cover my head full-time, I thought back to the Orthodox Jewish women I used to see around town. When I was younger, I envied them somewhat in the freedom from having to “do” their hair. Once I started to struggle with hair loss, I wondered if the tradition of head covering was actually an act of mercy. Women with covered heads never have to suffer the indignities of showing themselves in public with thin hair.

  43. Scott says:

    If God created me as a woman, I would totally rock the veil.

  44. Welcome to What I Wore Sunday! Ha!

    But really, thank you for writing this. I wore a veil once when I attended a Latin Mass but have never tried it in an ordinary parish. Your reflection on assuming those wonderful people in the pews were going to judge you was brilliant. Definitely food for thought.
    Kaitlin @ More Like Mary recently posted..What I Wore Sunday and for our Due Date Night (3)

  45. Jen G says:

    Well, at least you know that your daughter is listening to the homilies. How precious :)

  46. Sydney says:

    I think the veil is beautiful. Simple, elegant, practical. It’s just gorgeous!

  47. Romulus says:

    Great post — but please don’t use “gender” when the word you really mean is “sex”. This is so important that Pope Benedict pursued it at some length in his address to the Roman curia last Christmas. Thanks.

  48. teomatteo says:

    Very nice. My daughter, who is 13 will wear hers when we attend the Extraordinary Form mass in a distanct town. She doesn’t think twice and told me she likes wearing one. Who am I to argue with a 13 year old?

  49. Martina says:

    I love that more and more women are veiling at Mass. :)

  50. Bill Huber says:

    I travel around the world on business, and attend mass whenever possible in the countries that I visit. I’ve noticed many women wearing veils similar to yours, that can double as. Scarf, and simply pulling the veil up during mass. My observation is that the effect is completely natural, humble and does not draw attention to those who undertake it any more than any other reverent body language during mass. I believe that it’s a beautiful gesture.

  51. Your veil is very pretty and inconspicuous, first of all. And second of all, I am COMPLETELY JEALOUS that you have my FAVORITE PRIEST EVER! Fr. Uche had been in our parish until the summer, and our family and friends were very, very sad to see him leave. He is such a joy-filled, wonderful, intelligent, scholarly man. Such a blessing to have him as a pastor. Enjoy!!
    Literacy-chic recently posted..Voyager: Chivalry, Body Hair, and Civilization

    • I didn’t mean to sound dismissive of the veil. It really is very elegant and most inconspicuous. I particularly like the inconspicuous, because to me, white veils sort of scream the “LOOK AT ME! I’M WEARING A VEIL!” You do not have to worry about that at all. I love it.
      Literacy-chic recently posted..Voyager: Chivalry, Body Hair, and Civilization

      • Robyn says:

        Traditionally, white veils are worn by single women and black veils are worn by married women. (I’ve been veiling since Sept 2011)

        • And yet I see married women in church wearing white veils! I definitely would have had no idea from the way people actually practice wearing of veils.
          Literacy-chic recently posted..New Literacy-chic Blog (Cross-posted at Words, Words)

        • Liesa Gonzalez says:

          That is a misconception. The white vs. black veil was started by the Protestants. Please do your research.

          • Robyn says:

            I’d love to do more research… Where did you read that? And while the black/white thing is traditional, so I’ve been told, I do occasionally see older women that appear to be married wearing white, and even colors! Little girls too. I wore a white veil on Easter last year because it seemed more joyful to me! :)

          • Liesa Gonzalez says:

            I hope this is posting in the right place. Robyn, there was no reply button under your last comment. I researched this a while back, because my daughter was told that she could only wear a white veil. I read that this was a fairly recent tradition and it was not of Catholic origin. I have been trying to find where I read that, but cannot find it again. The closest thing I came up with was this Wiki entry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_wedding I know it’s not very helpful, but at least it confirms that the white vs. black is not a Catholic issue.

      • WSquared says:

        Literary-chic, why would you think that wearing of a white veil screams, “LOOK AT ME! I’M WEARING A VEIL!!!!” Do you have some sort of inside knowledge as per that person’s motives?

        If that person has indeed indicated as much that they’re doing it to be noticed, then yes, that would be the wrong way to go about wearing a veil. But that is no reason to think that a woman wearing a veil in general is a bad thing or that she should stop wearing it. Concupiscence being what it is, motives aren’t always pure and we human beings can ruin anything and everything we touch if left to our own devices. But we’d be surprised to see God’s grace at work when it turns what begins as not-so-pure motives into doing things for the right reasons.

        Just as a woman who is free to wear a chapel veil should, as Jen points out, remember (much to her relief) that less people than she thinks will stare at her and judge her, then perhaps it would be a good thing to do one’s best to ignore a woman who is wearing a white veil if one find it bothersome or distracting.

        After all, she’s free to wear that veil if she wants, just as those who wish to are free not to wear one.

  52. Also, Fr. Uche loves children. My daughters adore him. I’m certain that he thought your daughter was amazing. :)
    Literacy-chic recently posted..Voyager: Chivalry, Body Hair, and Civilization

  53. Not to gush more, but Fr. Uche is the first priest ever who didn’t make me feel awkward or apologetic for being female. That sounds strange, but it’s true. My experience with priests is not extensive, but still…
    Literacy-chic recently posted..Voyager: Chivalry, Body Hair, and Civilization

  54. PJ says:

    Good for you. My 25-year-old wife wears a veil and I think it is a wonderful practice, even if it earns her the occasional evil-eye from old hippies who flash the peace sign all through the Agnus Dei.

  55. Candace says:

    Glad to see you gave veiling a shot. It’s something I began doing for many of the same reasons you gave in January. I’ve ordered 4 different veils from Liturgical Time. I love their work, and they have always been more than kind.

  56. Stefanie says:

    Oh, Jen, I was laughing so hard at what you wrote. Thank you for another winning article.
    I may graduate to a veil one day — I even bought the material for it last year. Instead, I wear simple and small straw hats. Bought a black hat for Lent and sewed a purple ‘hat band’ for it with material left over from a costume project. It looks swell. I have a wheat-colored hat with black ribbon. A white hat awaits an Easter Season re-do.
    Everyone is used to me wearing hats now and I do feel weird without one when I am at Mass.
    It helps me to focus on Holy Mass because the hat kind of blocks out the people around me during Mass. This is a necessity for me because usually I am going to be teaching three different religious education classes AFTER Mass. It’s hard for my mind to not get ahead of the work day ahead. I’m amazed how focused on God I get when that Sunday hat is on my head at Mass.

  57. I grew up in a fundamentalist, evangelical faith that required all baptized women wear head coverings, preferably hats. It was a lovely sight back in the late 60s and into the 70s to see all the women with their varying kinds of stylish hats. Hats gave way to veils at some point in the late 80s. I left the faith in the mid 90s; it was very cultish and in retrospect – scary. As a relatively new Catholic (baptized at the Easter Vigil 2011) I don’t think I could wear a veil. It would remind me too much of the faith of my birth and the effort it took – with God’s grace & mercy – to break free of the brainwashing and extreme nature of that faith.
    Kris, in New England recently posted..The Weekly Muse

    • Cordelia says:

      Those are my associations with veiling as well…so it’s not something I will ever do myself unless it becomes obligatory.

  58. Jane Hartman says:

    I had a friend whose little boy after the priest’s intoning the “Let Us Pray” sang “Oh Kay” in the exact notes that the priest sang. So darling, as is your little girl’s “To Pway.” She was paying attention – that is awesome for a 5 year old! Your veil is lovely. I am going to adopt veil wearing at some time in the future. And I think I will try and buy some lace fabric to make my own. It would take less than a yard and with a 40% off coupon, it probably would be pretty thrifty.

  59. midwestlady says:

    WHY is this such a big deal to American women?

    • Philokalos says:

      Because American women are persecuted by their fellow Catholics for wearing veils.
      Philokalos recently posted..Childhood and Childishness

      • Ann Seeton says:

        that is for sure! I fell in love with really long full skirts as a little girl (when being forced to wear stupid short skirts which were in fashion and wanting to wear long ones like this girl in my class….) and when I hit 40 I decided I had let other people’s opinions dictate my clothing for long enough and I made some long skirts and have worn nothing else but what I like for almost a decade now. YET, I have had other Catholic women get rabid at me and accuse me of thinking that anyone not in a long skirt is lacking in modesty. It was worse when I covered my head at Mass so I stopped covering– and still regret my lack of independence.

        This is a great blog post on the topic.
        Ann Seeton recently posted..Winter Festival of Acoustic Music 2013

        • WSquared says:

          Ann Seton, who are these other women to presume that this is what you think about *them*?

          If you want to wear your long skirt and veil at Mass, that’s nothing to do with them, and if you have to, tell them as much. While I am not saying that veiling is “a call from God” (there’s a very good, recent post on this at the NCRegister’s “Big Pulpit” list of links), Canon law currently does not require a woman to cover her head, and covering heads in church falling into disuse does not mean that “Vatican II (or somesuch) banned it.”

          It all boils down to this: are you being respectful of the Eucharist and the Mass as an occasion of solemn joy with your modesty– whether that modesty includes a skirt down to your ankles or just at the knee, and/or a chapel veil or hat or scarf? If yes, then don’t sweat it!

          Do these women other women who would condemn you not see the irony– and hypocrisy– of thinking that everyone should do what they’re doing, else they’re being “judgmental,” is itself judgmental, to say nothing of lacking in charity?

          If you feel anxious, pray about it. If you are afraid that you’re not coming at things with the right motives, then ask the Lord to enable you to have the right motives– i.e. that you do it all for Him.

      • WSquared says:

        Bingo.

        Though for the record, I do wear a chapel veil at all Masses, be it the Traditional Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo.

        Most people either ignore my chapel veil, or they compliment me, the former more than the latter. Which is all I ever wanted, anyway.

    • Philokalos says:

      See for example the response of Mary R. at 5:06 p.m. Such expressions of piety for whatever reason stir other Catholics to a sudden and aggressive ignoratio elenchi: viz., I don’t have a problem with veils, but just make sure you don’t force me to wear one. Who said anything about forcing anyone to do anything?
      Philokalos recently posted..Childhood and Childishness

      • JenniFoo says:

        Exactly! What happens is that when women choose to start wearing head coverings, whether it be a veil, hat or scarf, or really whenever anyone chooses to do anything to try to become more holy and closer to our Lord, it convicts people who don’t care about their faith, so they get defensive and lash out. I’m going to guess that they are typically cradle Catholics or those that are Catholic because they were raised Catholic and not so much those that chose to be.

      • WSquared says:

        Indeed: who said anything about forcing anyone to do anything?

  60. Angela says:

    What a thoughtful post. I have often felt it was so respectful and beautiful. No-one in my parish covers their head, and indeed the dress is what one might call rather casual.
    But I love the idea and might look to get something suitable for when I am next travelling in Spain or Portugal.

  61. Katherine says:

    Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing this experience! Just three weeks ago I started wearing a veil in church, and was eager to read this post about your experience with it.

    In the short period of time I’ve been doing this, I’ve found that wearing the veil greatly improves my concentration on the mass, and helps me remember where I am, in God’s house: I might wear the same outfit to many other places, but I don’t wear a veil anywhere else.

    I ordered some veils from veils by lilly. http://www.veilsbylily.com/

    The more secular and hostile to Christianity the culture gets, the more I’m drawn to compensate by striving to be more reverent and serious about my Catholic faith. Once I learned the meaning of women wearing veils from an Ann Barnhardt blog post, it seemed like a natural thing to start doing to show respect, humilty and reverence to God in his house.

  62. lynn says:

    Your veil is perfect. I would actually wear one like this. As I was growing up my dad expressed a strong desire to see my mom and we girls wearing veils at Mass. So my mom insisted. It was embarrassing then because I was 13-14 at the time. It didn’t last long. Now in my adult years when I see a lady at Mass with a veil I always smile because it brings warm memories of my grandma to mind. She wore a veil so elegantly until her death in 1990. I used to think she always looked like the lovliest woman in the entire church.

  63. lynn says:

    also…, I am a cradle catholic, very faithful in practice and I watched all three of the episodes of minor revisions and didn’t realize once that you genuflected on the wrong knee. Like you, I never knew there was a right or wrong knee. We live and learn! LOL

  64. Anthony says:

    Remember, all that is holy is veiled at Mass:

    - The Tabernacle is holy and is (should be) covered with a canopy.
    - The Eucharist and Holy Chalice in veiled until
    - ALL women are holy, being vessels for life, and should be veiled at Mass.

    Ever notice that there is a huppah (veil) over the bride and groom at a Jewish wedding … their bond, as one, eventually to bringing forth life–even before Jesus elevated it to a sacrament–is holy.

    It is a submission .. but not to me “a man” … but to your Father in heaven.

    If women understood this the way I just described, what could be more achingly beautiful to do at Mass for Our Lord?

    • Miriel says:

      Ehhh. Ehhhhhhh. EHHHHHH.

      The problem with this comment is that it relies on an analogy that doesn’t really hold up. If “ALL that is holy is veiled at Mass,” then why is it only women who “should be veiled at Mass”? Presumably there are lots of holy men in the congregation; following your logic, they should also cover their heads — which is, as Jen points out, the opposite of the tradition for them. The priest is also holy; why should HE not wear a head covering? You might argue that his vestments are a kind of “veil,” but in that case, the clothing of a woman (or any layman) is the analogous covering, not a head covering.

      I appreciate your reverence for holy things, but this kind of attitude (i.e., “if only you understood the holiness of holy things, you would do X!”) is exactly the kind of attitude that drives a lot of people away from this kind of practice. It’s also important to note that the Church is not shy about saying “things ought to be such-and-such a way” when there are actual “oughts” involved. Where the Church is silent, we have to be really careful saying “X SHOULD be so,” (and ESPECIALLY, “do X as an act of submission TO GOD,”) when what we really mean is “X seems fitting and beautiful in these ways [but is still voluntary].” Jen’s piece meets that criterion; your comment does not.
      Miriel recently posted..P to the S

      • Em says:

        I like some of your points Miriel, but I think there is a truth to the idea of women having a certain unique ‘holiness’. It is not a ‘prayer and fasting, increase in virtue’ type holiness but a holiness in their God-given gift -their ability to bring forth new life. The Creator directly touches a woman every time she conceives a child. Like Cardinal Mindszenty’s quote states, “Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other human creature”. Therefore, all woman -mothers or not- have this ‘potential’ relationship with God and a certain privilege or holiness as a result.

    • Dave P. says:

      Anthony: as mentioned before, a hat or scarf suffices for “veiling”. The widespread use of the chapel veil is a recent development.

  65. Jane says:

    I was born Catholic and had a parochial school education, the nuns always told us the veil was to emulate Our Blessed Lady’s mantle.

  66. Mary R. says:

    If any woman wants to cover her head at Mass as an expression of personal piety, that is fine. However, I hope that the Church does not ever make it mandatory again for women to cover their heads at Mass. I had to cover my head at Mass when I was a child and it seemed to me as though there was something shameful about being female since we could not even enter the church bareheaded. That feeling was further magnified one day when I was in first grade and had to wear a napkin on my head to the school Mass because I had forgotten my hat. I was humiliated and embarrassed. I stopped wearing hats to Mass when I was a teenager and I have never looked back. You won’t find me wondering what it would be like to cover my head at church. I did not find it edifying at all.

    • Kristin says:

      Mary, thank you for sharing your experience! That is one of the things I love about our Church, it has room enough for women who desire to veil AND women who do not. Room enough for warm hugs and handshakes during the Agnus Dei AND women who flash the sign of peace. Room enough for women who wears skirts AND those who wear jeans to Mass.
      Kristin recently posted..The Converted Person

  67. anna lisa says:

    I don’t know what to think about this in general. In the microcosm your veil is beautiful. Your motivations for doing it are good too. I have a similar silk, scarf that I can pull up over my head on a rainy day– but I’d feel like a martian if I pulled it on my head for mass. I hate calling attention to myself too (and have kids that shout stuff in mass also!) At both the churches I go to less than 1% of the women wear them–and no Moms with families at all…What I worry about is *divisions*. The “this group” vs.”that group” gives me a stomach ache. The other day we were watching a BBC news piece in which they were secretly filming this pair of Muslim guys accosting women for not having their heads covered–in London!
    Uuuuugh.
    Oh and to the Mom upthread whose three y.o. yelled about his wee wee at mass: Awesome. I feel so much better about my own little criminals. That was the best laugh I had all day. Thank you. :)

  68. elcid says:

    I’m a little confuse…according to Canon Law as a sign of respect, women still are required to wear a veil when meeting the pope, so why not when meeting Jesus in the holy Eucharist??
    I always genuflect before receiving communion because I believe in the real presence, I always try to avoid lay ministers when taking communion, I only go to the Priest or Deacon, maybe I’m just too orthodox.

    • JenniFoo says:

      I don’t think so at all. My husband and I starting taking Holy Communion on our knees and I will not take Holy Communion from a woman.

  69. Connie says:

    Jennifer, I love it when the Holy Spirit speaks … He speaks the same thing to many people! Your post confirms for me that I am also to go back to wearing my veil. Last fall I went on my annual 4 day silent retreat, and I had decided before the retreat that I would wear my veil, after all, it wasn’t my home parish so it was a good place to ‘test the water’… It felt so right! So when I returned from the retreat I wore it at daily Mass, but, like you, I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and didn’t wear it to Sunday Mass (we have a much smaller parish, and many people know me). It is truly an act of obedience and humility to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit. And like you, I said to a friend: I think the Holy Spirit is speaking to other women about wearing a veil so I want to wear one to encourage others to listen and act.
    God Bless you and thank you for your witness!

  70. Kitty says:

    Jane: The nuns were wrong; we are never obligated to emulate Mary’s clothing choices, just like males aren’t going to wear clothing like Jesus would wear. It’s not traditional, at all, especially when you consider Catholicism isn’t just 1930s-1960s America. What’s so special about lace mantillas, anyway? I’m not Spanish. I used to think that this was a great way to think that I was being an orthodox Catholic, but I have since rethought that and veils – and all the creeping clothing rules that very often come with it (first one to bring up the fingerwidths&collarbones wins the prize!) – are not good for women.

    And for the person who mentioned Orthodox Jews: while seemingly nice on the outside, the pathologies of women in those sects is seriously disturbing, once you look a little deeper. Shaved heads? With wigs and hats? Arguments about denier of tights? Length of skirts? Color of cloth worn? Walking behind your husband in public? Unclean menstrual time to not be touched? Is that where you want to go? Just say no.

  71. Loraine says:

    I’ll admit that I haven’t read all of the comments….there are so many! Let me say this: if the Holy Spirit has moved you to veil, it is a Grace. I veil (for several years, now) in reparation for the
    outrages, sacrileges, and indifference by which Jesus is offended; particularly the sin of abortion. Concern of “what other people might think” is the prick of pride. Do not look to the World, but look to God. God Bless.

  72. Eva says:

    Im totally caught up in the fact that there were 1,100 people at the service! Wow- 50 is a big turn out at my church :)

  73. sara says:

    I have heard that it is good for women to wear a veil because it relates to Jesus in the tabernacle or something. Or it views women as tabernacles and they are to be veiled. I am very fuzzy on the details of what this point is….does anyone know what I’m thinking of?

    • Dave P. says:

      It’s an attempt to make the chapel veil the only acceptable head covering, at the expense of others always acceptable to the Church’s discipline regarding head coverings.

      (Full disclosure: my wife wears a chapel veil when we attend the EF, and I have nothing against chapel veils. I do object to those who believe that it is the only acceptable head covering in church.)

  74. DivaHick says:

    I wish I had been there. You know what I would have thought? Oh my gosh that kid is AWESOME! Good parents that they not only taught her the answer, she’s confident enough to share!

  75. E says:

    This is a beautiful reflection and much appreciated. My husband visited the Clear Creek Monastery a couple years ago and come home and we discussed veiling. He thought it would be a good idea. It took me quite a few months to muster up the courage to do it, and when I did, I was astounded at my own pride that would flare up at mass. I truly appreciate your reverance for those other Catholics at mass and your reflections on them and your assumptions. It is much easier to wear a veil at the EF mass but much more difficult at our OF parish because not many women do. Thank you for so eloquently explaining your realizations. May God Bless your effort!

  76. Cindy says:

    I have been veiling for that last six months and I also wear a silky infinity scarf that I bought at a department store. I came into full communion 2 years ago because of an extreme desire to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, so it just made sense to me to veil out of reverence for the Real Presence (I also veil when I go to confession or Adoration). I even discussed wearing the veil with my priest beforehand and he encouraged of me to wear it and said he fully supported it. I see it as a sarcamental, a particular devotion that I was drawn to do. It helps me to stay focused on the Mass so I can receive all the graces I need to carry on.

  77. Mary says:

    First of all – coolest veil ever! thanks so much for sharing where you got it.
    Second – Thank you for your beautiful words on why you felt called to veil. I grew up Catholic and my mother veiled until Vatican II and then just stopped one Sunday. She never allowed my sister or I to veil and she is one of the most prayerful, faithful catholic women I know. I guess I will have to ask her why one of these days.
    I am married to a convert and when I asked him about it, he just looked confused and lost so I think I will need to do some praying on the subject.
    Thank you for being so open and honest.
    Mary recently posted..joy comes in the morning…

  78. Laura says:

    Jen, you’re awesome. I’ve been hemming and hawing on this forever, and your bold move is helping me to take the leap. My family will be horrified.

    I’m glad you posted about it because had you not, I wouldn’t have had the nudge I need.

    Of course, I’ve got fat-face to deal with, but I suppose that just adds to the humility.

  79. Dan says:

    I find it very hard to believe the logic that wearing a veil makes you LESS distracting at Mass.

    Maybe you don’t feel like people are watching you because people are respectfully trying not to stare–they are trying to focus on the liturgy.

    Let’s face it, it’s not 1890. Veils might have been normal and socially acceptable for ladies to wear then, but today they aren’t. And if you don’t think they’re a distraction to others here in 2013, I think you’re lying to yourself.

    Blending in with everyone else instead of displaying such an outward show of piety best follows our Lord’s words in Matthew 6: 1-2: “But take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people might see them….Do not blow a trumpet before you…to win the praise of others”

    If the only thing gained from “veiling” is making someone feel good about themselves, at the expense of others, isn’t that counterintuitive to the Christian principle of putting others first before ourselves?

    • WillieFoo says:

      One has to question why a man cares if a women wears a veil? Wearing a veil is actually a sign of humility, modesty and obedience to Christ. The entire point of wearing a veil is to remove the attention that some attractive women attract from men who are distracted by women. When a woman wears a veil she is actually following the Bible where St. Paul instructed in 1 Corinthians 11;5-6 “And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head–it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.” What is far more distracting and disobedient for everyone is when women dress immodestly at mass. Who do you think you are to judge the intentions of a woman’s heart? You are not God and you can’t read the intentions of a woman’s heart. Your comments express your judgmentalism and your ignorance of Scripture and Church teaching.

    • WSquared says:

      Dan, what makes you so sure that those who veil mostly do so to be noticed, to win the praise of others? Have you some sort of inside track regarding knowledge of their hearts, their souls, and their motives? Are you so sure that they’re doing this “at the expense of others”?

      I’m guessing that the answer is likely “no.”

      The only thing that we should be concerned about is living in Christ’s love. And if a woman wants to wear a veil in order to help her do so, all the more power to her. If she is “doing it to get noticed,” then pray that she’ll do it more and more for Jesus, just as we all slowly learn to want to do everything we do for Jesus. That’s all you have to do.

      Furthermore, veiling or not, and one’s general conduct at Mass, is not about “distracting others” or not, but respect for the Mass; for the Eucharist, for the Lord, for the Sacred Mysteries. Is a woman wearing a veil disrespectful to the Mass and to the Eucharist? And does not your exhortation to “blend in” put respect for others first, or reduce respecting the Lord to mostly human terms?

      As for “being a distraction to others,” a woman wearing a chapel veil isn’t nearly as much “a distraction to others” as people talking loudly before and after Mass, to name just one example. And yet, people who wish to pray before and after Mass who mention the lack of peace and quiet that better disposes them to focus are often told to put up and shut up about this and many other things, and “not be judgmental,” because “our non-Catholic brothers and sisters see Catholics as cold and we should all be more welcoming.” And I’m not talking about families with very young children, by the way, but rather adults, and children seven years of age and older, who should know better.

      If, in these and other unindeal circumstances, other people can patiently learn to “offer it up” when others are noisy before and after Mass, and learn to tune out these sorts of distractions, then so can you when you claim that a chapel veil “distracts others.”

  80. sarah says:

    Thanks for this great post Jen. I have been on the fence about veiling but have always thought people would judge me. How silly of me to even think that anyone else is thinking of me in Mass! Your post may have just pushed me off the fence!
    sarah recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday

  81. Lisa says:

    Thanks for this Jennifer! I’m always intrigued by women choosing to veil. I’m interested in it, because I think it may help me stay focused during Mass. Question….if you veil do you have to wear a skirt or dress? I don’t mean to rehash the pants or no pants argument, it just seems to me that wearing a lace veil with pants may look a bit silly….for purely fashion reasons. I’m a pants wearing gal, so maybe a regular thin knit eternity scarf would work well for me. Anyone know where to get those?

    • This is such a great question, Lisa. I actually thought about addressing it when I was writing the post, but decided not to throw fuel on that fire. :) I really don’t know. I’m also more of a pants gal…yet I did choose to wear a skirt with the veil. I may end up doing veil + pants one of these days. No good answers here, unfortunately. Let me know if you come up with any insights!

      • I think it has more to do with the idea that a lace veil has a more “dressed up” feel to it so it seems to look better with a skirt. I don’t generally wear pants to mass but I’m not opposed to those who do and there are women in my parish who wear pants and also wear a headcovering (veil or hat).
        Michele Quigley recently posted..Chalice Veils

        • Jennifer says:

          I wear a veil, and sometimes I wear pants – dress slacks for Sunday Mass, and if I happen to make it to daily Mass and I’m in jeans, well, the veil still comes out. I don’t see any reason why you can’t wear pants and a veil.

  82. Diane says:

    It takes a talented writer to discuss such a hot button topic in a way that totally diffuses that, with grace and humor.

    Great discussion!
    Diane recently posted..Pope Post No. 2: Adopt a Cardinal heading into Conclave!

  83. I’ve been veiling for a long time (over 20 years). A lot of people think it’s impossible to do with a baby and it can be challenging when they are at the grabby stage but they get used to it and stop trying to pull it off your head eventually. :)

    I’ve heard people say they are concerned about it causing “divisions” but it doesn’t have to. It’s really as simple as I won’t judge someone for not wearing one and they don’t need to judge me for wearing mine. Some of my friends wear them and some don’t. It’s not an issue and it doesn’t need to be.
    Michele Quigley recently posted..Chalice Veils

  84. Valerie says:

    I’ve been veiling for almost two years now. A handful of women in my old parish slowly starting wearing veils and I always wondered what it was that caused them to start doing so. I told my husband that I most certainly would be obedient to our Church if women were asked to start veiling again, but I just didn’t feel called to undertake it on my own. This was a decision that I prayed about on and off for two years. Then slowly things started happening to me that made me feel like the Holy Spirit was prodding me to veil. I ignored the first two calls thinking that it was just coincidence. Finally, our parish priest asked our family to present a gift to a high ranking bishop that would be visiting our church, and kindly suggested that since he was traveling from Rome, it might be a nice gesture to wear a veil. I had always said that if the Church asked me to veil I would. God worked it out in a way that the church, represented by our priest, asked me to veil. I started that weekend and have never looked back. I will say though, that moving to a parish where no one else veils, I’ve struggled with insecurities all over again. My peace is restored when I remember the reason that I am veiling is out of obedience and reverence to our Lord and Savior.

    I would suggest to others that are unsure if they should veil or not – pray about it. If God is asking you to cover your head, He will make it abundantly clear to you in His perfect timing if you are called.

  85. jordan says:

    Actually, the veil makes you look more beautiful, but absolutely in a dignified way. Since I’m not a woman, I don’t feel free to tell women to wear it, so I can only say it looks lovely.

  86. Julia says:

    I am so glad you posted about this! I have been trying to figure this out in my head for a few years and still am not sure I can be humble enough to do it. I am excited to know of the etsy shop with the great Scarf/headcoverings. Awesome way to wear them.
    Julia recently posted..Bee-utiful First Birthday Shirt

  87. David Wurst says:

    I just wanted to affirm you in what you’re doing, and to tell you how much I enjoyed what I have read. I found you when twitter randomly forwarded one of your recent tweets to me. I am a convert to Catholicism myself, 3 years this Easter after being an Evangelical Protestant for 50 years. I love your heart and your honesty. May God richly bless you and your wonderful family as you seek to walk in His ways each and every day. David

  88. Claire M. says:

    I just wanted to add my proverbial hat into the “I’ve never veiled, but you’ve gotten me thinking about it!” camp. I am a new Catholic, and I don’t know that I’ve ever noticed anyone veil at my parish… but now you’ve gotten me wondering if I WOULD notice them, if I happened to see them. Maybe I wouldn’t be the first one, and maybe more importantly, if I AM the first one, maybe it’s OK.

    Oh, and I LOVE that your daughter shouted out the answer! I would have been impressed that she knew the answer and that she, as said above, was confident enough to SHOUT it out! :) That’s AWESOME. :)

  89. Lynne says:

    Your veil is truly beautiful, and I love that it sort of matches your hair. It’s very understated and lovely at the same time.

  90. Ben says:

    ‘Snakes on a plane?’ I’m English – either that’s some form of euphemism, or you really were prevented from attending Mass by some species of serpent which, presumably, held you captive on an aeroplane(?) By Jove! You Americans have so many adventures!

    My wife has always worn a mantilla at Holy Mass. It is both Scriptural, and has deep theological significance. It has nothing to do with cultural norms at all, and, in fact, as Pope Benedict would say, is ‘intercultural’ as with all liturgical actions – which covering/uncovering the head certainly is.

    The West has lost the deep significance of externals in many senses, and has lost, as a result, the experience that exterior action/posture has on internal disposition.

    I’m assuming that in America you are familiar with the concept of wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve? Well, in this sense, you could say that one is wearing one’s heart on one’s head! It’s an externalisation of the inner disposition which, in turn, affects and roots that disposition within one’s heart: you are praying as a whole person inside and out, body and soul.

    In Domino,
    Ben.

  91. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. Classy, practical, pretty veil. Nice job!

    2. Our hostess has her head well on her shoulders about this. But some of the rest of you, not so much. As somebody old enough to remember the tail end of the old days, all this bizarre rewriting of American Catholic history with stereotypes that only existed in pockets of time and space, and a new and dubious theology of “veiling,” makes me crazy. We’re not Muslims or Protestants; we’re Catholics. It’s right to wear a hat on your head to Mass, just like it’s desirable to wear shoes and socks. Paul was advocating that women just do what women did in public; and it’s hermeneutic of continuity to keep doing it. Nobody needs to put a gun of theology to our heads, and especially not one claiming that women are intrinsically distracting.

    I can’t wait for some dubious theology of women’s gloves to emerge. Just. Can’t. Wait.

  92. Kristin says:

    Jennifer, thank you for sharing your experience and more importantly, your motivation behind it.

    One of the things I love about our Church, it has room enough for women who desire to veil AND women who do not. Room enough for warm hugs and handshakes during the Agnus Dei AND women who flash the sign of peace. Room enough for women who wears skirts AND those who wear jeans to Mass.

    Unfortunately, it seems like this diversity of personal piety is often lost in discussions of veiling – I am grateful that your post did not wander into the realm of proselytizing about the veil as so many do.

    My struggle with veiling at Mass has nothing to do with the veil itself and has to do with my own encounters with the women I know who veil. In discussions of faith and family, they are often Pharisaical in their approach to the faith. They have been harsh to me for my own personal piety choices and, while good intentioned, have more than once pushed other young women away.

    It has been refreshing to read this encounter of a non-judgemental and Spirit driven woman who veils. Thank you.
    Kristin recently posted..The Converted Person

  93. Ella says:

    Love reading what you write! Funny and thought provoking! I started covering my head in church back when I was a Baptist and I’ve never looked back. I researched the Bible and history of Christian women’s head covering throughour the ages and, if you stay away from the hateful feminist screeds, you’ll find some great stuff. Completely convicted me. It is funny how even though I never tell any other woman to cover her head in church, I have repeatedly had women come up to me and say “I would wear a veil (or what ever) but…”

  94. Nancy says:

    I love your veil! It’s beautiful. My friends here in Kansas City have been talking about wearing a chapel veil. We will read and discuss your blog at our next meeting. God BLess You and God Bless Patrick Madrid for posting this on Facebook

  95. Margaret says:

    Sara– don’t theologize too much about the “meaning” of a woman’s veil. Those theories are later, wishful additions. The actual custom is to cover, not specifically to wear a veil. I think it’s already come up a few times in the 120+ comments, but those not of Hispanic/Italian origin typically wore hats or kerchiefs instead. If the headcovering rule (or even just a strong suggestion) were reintroduced in the Church, whatever I put on my head will definitely not be of the lacy or transparent variety. :)

  96. Jeff Hite says:

    As a guy I know it is often seen as something that I should not comment on, but I will because I care about my wife and my daughters.

    I really enjoyed you post. I have encouraged my elder daughters, now 8 and 6 to wear a head scarf of some sort. (one very much like the ones from the Etsy store you linked to) (Note: I have never forced them or my wife to wear one. We have one or two of each of them and occasionally I suggest that they try it.) usually with the girls it ends up in my pocket before Mass is over but they do seem to like to wear them.

    Again, as I guy, I really like seeing women wearing a head scarf of some sort. I think, as you said, it does kind of “Hide their best feature.” Meaning that they are not in Mass to show off what they are wearing but rather to attend to the Mass. As a father trying to raise both boys and girls to understand the importance of the Mass, I see dressing up, but not in a showy way, as an important part of that.

    I think you said it much better than I have here so I will just leave it at that. Thank you again for the post.
    Jeff Hite recently posted..Write a Story

  97. Martha says:

    I have veiled from time to time and always enjoy it!

    Now I can’t seem to get through a Mass without nursing my 4 month old (she gets her loud voice on and nothing quiets her like nursing) and there is no veil that can withstand pulling the nursing cover over my head, adjusting her, yanking up or down whatever nice blouse I had on, taking said nursing cover back off when she’s done, etc…. :) So I just go without mostly now – sometimes I try tying on scarves, but they still fall off.
    Martha recently posted..7 Quick Takes: Quickest Quick

  98. Phil says:

    Your action brought tears to my eyes

  99. Kristen says:

    I love the symbolism of the veil as covering something beautiful and holy. In Italy, you will often see the tabernacle covered in a veil and it relates to the bride wearing a veil as she walks down the aisle toward her future husband. We do this each time we approach the alter to receive Christ in the Eucharist – all being brides of Christ of course. It also references the Ephesians reading about the husband keeping the wife pure and unblemished. I, personally, have never felt called to wear a veil to mass, but respect those who do.
    Kristen recently posted..Notes from beneath the veil

  100. Joan says:

    Lovely. Better late than never :-)

  101. Amy says:

    I’m not drawn to veil during Mass. However, I have been trying to make going to Eucharistic Adoration more of a habit in my life and have considered a small chapel cap or veil for those times.
    Amy recently posted..Listen to your mother. Yes, you.

  102. Jen, I thought about and prayed about my mantilla/veil for a good 2 years. Unlike your parish with a few women wearing veils, NO other women wore one at our parish. One woman (who had passed away by the time I started wearing mine) had drawn attention to herself by kneeling before the Agnus, tsk-ing children receiving Communion in the hand (and from the chalice), etc. I was very worried that I’d be THE LADY IN THE VEIL, too. I felt pretty self-conscious about it for the first couple weeks, and then I figured I was just Christine Who Has a Veil, then gradually just Christine again.

    I blogged about it, too, but didn’t see the irony in it at the time, so I’ll thank you for making me neurotic about something new. ;-)

    Also, please let me know how to find that mantilla!!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!!1!
    Christine the soccer mom recently posted..Inheritance

  103. Mary Wallace says:

    Thank you so much!!!!!! I’ve struggled with the thoughts of wearing the Chapel Veil for about 10 years. It has re-emerged for me as a topic of interest, and something I’m bringing to prayer. Your post reminds me of all the things I’ve thought of against it. I am so glad to see someone post about it in a very skeptical, but I’ll try it attitude. Thank you!

    Peace of Christ to you!

    Mary
    Mary Wallace recently posted..Trust and Humility at Work: Mission Possible!

  104. Robyn says:

    I’ve been wearing a veil (lace) to mass full time since 9/11/11 – which happened to be the day one of our girls was confirmed, so it was at a mass with our new bishop. Why? Because my husband asked me to. He asked me to wear one whether we were going to an out of town Latin mass we go to about once a month, where most ladies do, or to our local novus ordo mass, where NOBODY does. Except me. I felt like I had a blinking lightbulb on my head at first, and went through a series of thoughts much like yours. Now it’s no big deal, it’s just part of what I do. I hope that others will feel like it’s OK for them to wear a veil too if they feel called to it, or if their sweet hubby requests it. I’ve had very few comments, but when someone does say something, it’s either positive or just questioning. I like the eternity scarf style from Liturgical Time – I think your post may have just made her very very busy!

  105. Sarah M says:

    My 17 year old daughter started veiling at church a few weeks ago. She is such an inspiration to me and horrifying to her siblings :-) I love that she stands her ground, knows why she is doing it and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. She even served massed, veiled. I’m not sure I will ever be one to veil during church, but I applaud those who do.

  106. Boniface says:

    Here is a great article that explains the origin of the practice and its theological background in the writings of the Fathers. It actually has to do with angelology.

    http://www.unamsanctamcatholicam.com/theology/81-theology/71-head-coverings-qbecause-of-the-angelsq.html

    • Christine says:

      Thank you for posting the link to the article. The whole reason of a woman covering ultimately is to honour God is what I took away from the scriptures and it was rather nice to see that even my theologically uneducated mind could come to this conclusion- or perhaps it was just the Holy Spirit’s teaching, which honestly is why I think many women are feeling a tug on their hearts today – a calling to cover.

  107. Eventually when most women wear veils in church, to do or not to do won’t cause any angst. It will be the usual thing to do – no big deal. I’ve been wearing a veil since 1997. Nobody has been nasty to my face, but, I hear, some have been disparaging behind my back. Too bad for them.

  108. Jennifer says:

    I too admit that I haven’t read all the comments, but I want to chime in with my veiling experience. I was raised Baptist, and from when I was a little girl I wanted to veil (only when I was little I wanted to Amish not Catholic!). When I became Catholic I was regretful that women “don’t veil anymore” but over the years I researched it – there’s a little book with two essays by college students (found at amazon http://www.amazon.com/Chapel-Veil-Symbol-Spouse-Christ/dp/B000KIDC7U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271208605&sr=8-1_)
    and I read a lot of blog posts too. Eventually I started veiling wearing a “convertible headband” from Headcoverings by Devorah, and then the first Sunday (Saturday) of Lent in 2010 or 2011 I started wearing a whit lace veil.

    As for not being noticed? I am the Cantor at Mass, there’s no not noticing that I wear a veil! I was SO nervous, but that day there happened to be a “REACH” retreat for the youth, and the REACH team members were introduced during Mass, and one of the women (you probably guessed it by now) was wearing a veil.

    I’ve received very little commentary about it, and the only commentary that was even semi-negative was a guy who commented about the Church “getting rid of it” and me “trying to bring it back”. He said once “Is your head cold?” And I replied “No, my head is praying.” The theology of that reply might be a little squishy, but here are my blessings:

    1. As a Cantor I was ALWAYS worried about how my hair looked for Mass. Now I don’t.
    2. Especially when I am in Adoration, or praying in Church, the veil reminds me of my littleness before God, how GREAT He is and how small I am.
    3. I’m not legalistic about it, so even if I don’t have a veil handy and I need to step into Church, (like snagging somebody right before Mass or looking for Father, etc…) I am still reminded that the Church is special, unique, the House of God.

    Oh, and my Cantor veil is also from Headcoverings by Devorah, it ties so that I don’t need to worry about it shifting or sliding or anything, but it’s not a kerchief, it’s called a Mimkatah, and I have the Yehudit. (http://www.headcoverings-by-devorah.com/headcoverings_mimkhatah.htm)

    • Jennifer says:

      Oh – and I forgot to mention, although I am the only one at my parish who veils, in our diocesan Cursillo movement there are many women who veil, and at a parish near mine veiling is spreading!

  109. JB says:

    Reminds me of something my mother said. My sisters and I had waist-length hair when we were little. People started to refer to us as ‘the 3 girls with the long hair.’ One day she took us to a hairdresser and cut it all off.

    She said, “It was all about the hair and not about the girl.”

    For me this was a good lesson about focusing on what’s important.

  110. Theresa says:

    I am old enough to remember when I had to wear a veil at Mass. It was required. If Mom and I forgot our veils, we had to use a bobby pin and stick a tissue on top of our heads. Now, you have to admit, that was ridiculous. But, Jennifer, I love your explanation of why you wanted to wear a veil. I don’t wear one but I also don’t have a beautiful mane either. Believe me, no one is admiring my lovely hairstyle during Mass! And I think your little daughter yelling out the answer at Mass is just precious!

  111. Jennifer says:

    Here’s another great article about veiling.

    http://catholicknight.blogspot.com/2007/12/chapel-veil-veiling-or-head-covering.html

    It has been on my mind to veil for several years. Now my daughter and I are in this together and we plan on making chapel veils for Mass this weekend.

    Veiling is done out of respect for GOD, the creator of everything. It has nothing to do with fashion and who cares what other people think anyway. At Mass, we are there for Him and Him alone. My daughter and I will probably be the only ones veiled on Sunday, but we don’t care. My 9 year old can see the importance of reverence and understand WHY we want to wear a head covering at Mass and that’s enough for me.

    • Erin Manning says:

      I honestly wasn’t going to chime in on this, because I’ve written enough about the practice of covering one’s head at Mass over the years (hint: it was never really called “veiling” in the past).

      But this commenter’s comment is the kind of thing that worries me, because I could see a scrupulous young Catholic woman reading it, and then clicking that Catholic Knight link, and coming away with the impression that the Church really, really does want women to “veil,” but won’t say so, and God really wants women to “veil,” but won’t say so through the Church, so really reverent, decent, and holy Catholic women have figured out that they’re actually supposed to “veil” to please God and the Church, while the unholy, irreverent, feminist types keep showing up with bare heads instead of realizing that it’s an immemorial custom to put lace on one’s hair at Mass, and that failing to do so is somehow being less than womanly, less than feminine, less than reverent, less than holy, and, in short, being displeasing and possibly even disgusting in the sight of God and the angels.

      If the Church actually thought any of that, she’d teach it, and clearly enough that women wouldn’t have to discern for themselves a call to cover their hair, or even to put some see-through lace over it, which (as I’ve said many times) is not entirely the same thing. The fact that the Church dropped the requirement in Canon Law means one thing, and one thing only: women are no longer required to cover their heads at Mass. If they wish to do so they certainly can, but a head covering is no more required (not even in the rather passive-aggressive way the Catholic Knight post seems to suggest) than any other optional accessory at this point.

      As long as that’s clear, then if a woman finds that covering her hair helps her focus on the Mass, then she should certainly feel free to do so, just like those Sundays when I realize that wearing my rosary bracelet will help me to stay focused (sometimes it does, and quite nicely and unobtrusively, too). Our personal pieties are just that: personal, and what helps one person to focus on Our Lord at Mass may hinder another.
      Erin Manning recently posted..Homeschooling: revenge of the nerds?

  112. Boy, so many women here veiling, that I hate to say that I am not. I’m conservative, reverent, etc., as anyone who reads my blog knows. But for me I just think there are too many battles to fight on things the Church actually requires us to do to start distinguishing myself by veiling. I’d like to see real hymns sung at Mass, for example. People genuflecting and not talking in the sanctuary. Kneeling at the Consecration (although I haven’t been to a parish in a while that still asks the congregation to stand). Having said all that, I do usually receive the Eucharist on the tongue. That already makes me different. I just come from a family with the whole spectrum from Carmelite monk to agnostic to hedonist, so I have fought so many battles over the years just by being faithful to Church teaching. That’s enough for me. If the Church again requires us to veil, I’ll happily do so. But until then I will go bare-headed to Mass. (Though I wish hats were still in vogue, because I love wearing them–for fashion.)
    Connie Rossini recently posted..Raising boys to be men–not beasts

    • Vivian says:

      Hats are still in vogue, but not many wear them. They are my preference for Sunday. I do have a couple that I don’t wear because they are rather interesting and will attract attention. I have received several compliments from men and women which led me to believe they wished more women would wear them.

  113. Gary says:

    As a man, I have always found that women who wear veils to mass admirable. It seems to show feminine beauty and respect for the amazing miracle that happens at the Holy Mass. They are an encouragement to me as a man, to try to show more respect to God and the miracle that occurs in the mass. I asked myself, would I meet the president of the US in dirty blue jeans and a tee shirt. No, then, out of respect, shouldn’t I dress up to meet God. I now wear a nice suit to mass. Other things I do to show God respect is to genuflect at the pew before seating myself and when I walk before the tabernacle. It is kind of like when a boy puts on a cowboy hat and a toy gun belt. They ARE a cowboy. When I wear a suit and show reverence at the mass, I feel more in sink with the miracle of the mass, I feel that I am showing God the respect he deserves. If people judge me as showy or something, so what. People don’t like me because I am Catholic too, but I won’t quit because of it. I only care about what God sees in my heart.

  114. Kelly Mc says:

    Began as a Lenten sacrifice myself, I’ve never gone back. My primary reason is because I am sorry for the immodesty in my own past and the immodesty that I see in our world today. If I can do something a little uncomfortable and that might get me mocked and offer that up to our Lord and our Lady, well, I’d be kinda selfish and prideful not to!

    Loving the infinity veil, going to have to check that out.

  115. GeekLady says:

    My post about why I won’t wear a veil is something that consistently gets a lot of hits, so reading about your experience and thoughts was interesting. Here are my thoughts.

    1. I do love the veil you’re using. It’s very pretty.
    2. I’ve always wanted to knit an infinity scarf (and here I go, down my slippery slope of knitting projects and vanity…)
    3. While I admire the aesthetic of the idea of wearing a veil during Mass, your comments about women’s hair explain a lot about why it simultaneously feels silly for me to do it. I don’t care about my hair. It’s just hair. I get it cut when the ends get too dry and snarly to brush effectively, and that’s about it. It’s not something I consider a best feature, or even a good feature. It’s a nuisance, kept long because it’s the most effective way to keep it out of my face, short of going full Centauri. And I’m always a little tempted by the Centauri female look, but can’t quite face the constant shaving.
    But not really caring about my hair one way or another means covering it lacks a sense of personal humility, and that’s exactly why the idea feels silly for me!
    GeekLady recently posted..7 Quick Takes – Aesthetic Edition

  116. pilgrims progress says:

    Ok, so now after having read several people’s comments about “wearing jeans” at mass, I am starting to feel self-conscious. I am a very low-style dresser, a practice that started in early adulthood because of some trauma. Now, I mainly dress so casually because I simply cannot find the kind of modest clothing i would like to wear (or make) i.e., long jumpers, tunics, et.c. for anything I can afford! So, I just wear jeans, and hope that nobody cares, at least, I figure I am pretty safe as long as I am in English mass in the U.S. I mean, is wearing a veil to mass similar to wearing a suitjacket to an interview? i.e. you’re not drawing attention to yourself, you’re drawing attention to your qualifications. Right?

  117. Suman says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    What a wonderful blog on veiling at mass. I too have been feeling the strong urge to wear a veil and so this Lent I made a couple of veils for myself and I started wearing it. A lot of the same thoughts went through my mind as you but after the first mass it didn’t matter because I loved wearing my veil. I am so much more focused on the mass. My peripheral vision is cut out so the only place I can look is the tabernacle!! My thoughts stayed focused on Jesus instead of wandering off to other topics in my head and believe me there is a lot of chatter in my head. The veil had a calming effect. Thanks for your article. Enjoyed reading it. God Bless you.
    Suman.

  118. Susan says:

    I date back to prior Vaitcan II and , of course can remember the “chapel veils”, which, even then, I thought looked a bit silly ! In the last few years I’ve found myself wishing I had the courage to wear a veil……I have some scarves that would work well, especially in wintertime. In my very small town parish it would ve extremely conspicous! If only one other woman would, I’d join her!

  119. Barbara Edwards says:

    I really loved this post. I just started to wear the veil about 6 weeks ago. I just decided I should be doing it, since it says so in the Bible and it’s never been changed. Like you, I felt EXTREMELY uncomfortable at first. Of course, I didn’t actually have a chapel veil so I was wearing scarves, which slipped off my head about a dozen times per mass so I felt like I was totally distracted during mass and the people behind me must have been as well. Finally, I went to our little Catholic bookstore and plopped down $15 for the only version they had available, a triangle of black lace with an edge of frills. I also invested in some bobby pins. Now it stays on, so I don’t have to think about it at all, and as a plus it stays in my purse in the little ziploc bag in came in, along with 2 bobby pins. So I can pull it out whenever I go to Mass. I feel like I’m doing the right thing. I appreciate Jennifer’s observations about covering our “best” feature; I hadn’t thought of that but I think she’s right on. I feel like a total freak, although one of the other rare wearers congratulated me the first week. The real downside to my vanity is that I look like an old lady. I’ve also stopped coloring my hair (for other penitential reasons) so now those gray streaks at the crown of my head are brightly highlighted by the black lace. Oh well. Humility — what a concept. Thanks for the post.

  120. Amanda says:

    I’ve been sporadically head covering for a little over a year. I would love to wear one all the time but truly do get self conscious about it since I attend Saturday vigil novus ordo mass exclusively because of my husband’s work schedule so I really do stick out. I should probably get over that ;) I bought some unobtrusive head coverings from Garlands of Grace and I have some scarves from Target that I like. The scarves were great when we attended a more urban church, I blended in kinda. I love your infinity scarf/veil though, that is a perfect option!

    Question: is it odd to wear a head covering and pants/jeans? I love head covering…and jeans, especially when I’m pregnant and few skirts fit properly or it’s super cold.

  121. Lisa De Ruyter says:

    The Mass and every Catholic Church with Jesus reigning Body, Blood Soul and Divinity (just as he was present at Bethlehem) is a sacred Holy Place and deserves reverence, love and devotion. The veil is not an ordinary thing you wear and neither is any Catholic Church or the fact that when we go to Mass we are at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb where heaven meets earth ♥ This sacrament is most Holy, it is sacred, so wearing a veil says I am in a sacred place and is a sign of reverence and devotion to our Lord truly present. We are called to assist devoutely at Mass and it truly feels more devout to cover your head, like when we wore a veil on our First Holy Communion and when we got Married. We were making a Holy Sacrament and we still are. Well, there is so much more meaning behind wearing the veil, check out this site: http://www.christianfamilyoutreach.com/pamphlets/theveil.pdf

  122. Enjoyed reading about your experience. I have veiled on and off at my parish. There is exactly one other woman there who wears a veil (she’s older and I imagine she’s been wearing one her whole life). I love wearing veils and I own some lovely ones but when I wear one I gravitate towards the really short plain ones because I hate calling attention to myself. I think you’re right that people probably think a lot less about it than I’m making it out to be. I love the one you’re wearing, so if it falls down it doesn’t completely fall off. When I veil, I do it to honor Mary and the Blessed Sacrament.
    Amy @ Consecrated Housewife recently posted..Fun at the Skating Rink

  123. Gigi says:

    Someone please answer: If females are especially holy because of their ability to give life, why the head? What is specific about the head of a woman that somehow indicates a holiness-that-needs-to-be-covered? It makes no sense. I no more feel a desire to cover my head than I do to cover my hands, and gloves were worn just as often as head coverings. I could cobble together some vaguely theological reasons about hand coverings: they perform good works for God, the sacramental posture of praying hands, hands that hold the rosary, the helping hands of Christ who touch the poor, the downtrodden…so cover them, too. Hands vs head, I see no difference.

    But I also need to know, which is it? Is veiling a humbling experience, meant to bring about humility? You could have fooled me, what with all the “beautiful!” compliments going around. If you want humility, wear an ugly ski hat; that would mean something. Not a frilly, feminine, old-fashioned, romantic confection of a head covering. And yes, now that I’ve said that, that’s precisely why I don’t like it: you guys are romanticizing it. It’s sentimental and that’s just not much of a sacrifice.

  124. happyface58 says:

    I wrote my own post about my experience of wearing a veil in response to your post and Fr. Z’s. Thanks for sharing your story, Jen–with the added addition of your daughter, it brought some laughs along with the insight into your experience. I look forward to your posts and also am looking forward to that day in the future when your book is published… Keep persevering!
    happyface58 recently posted..Veiling in Church

  125. Craig says:

    GREAT! Keep wearing it-it truly brings great respect and dignity. God and Mary protect you.

  126. Kathleen says:

    I started covering my head again (I grew up in the 50′s and 60′s) when I attended the Tridentine Mass. Then I thought, “Why don’t I do it when I attend a Novus Ordo Mass?” The reason I cover my head is out of respect. So, why don’t I show that respect at ALL Masses? I, too, was afraid of drawing attention to myself, but I knew I was doing it for God. There have been many people, through the years who have said things like, “I like your veil” or “I would love to wear a veil.” To the latter I replied, “You can!” I’ve also remarked to people that the veil helps to remind me that I am in a holy place! Who knows, maybe it will get people thinking about where they are, too! God bless!

  127. Jeannee says:

    When I attended a Latin Catholic Mass, every woman veiled, so I stood out until I did! – I kind of went through what you did, only in the reverse ;) Here was my “problem”, tho: I had found in my boxes my mother’s 1920s prayer book, Rosary, and etc, all of which were extremely helpful here! (the prayer book containing the Latin Mass) – EXCEPT for her veil (apparently it had gotten separated in the move) … so then, I was shopping in Whole Foods, and they had a display of – head scarves! I realized it was being sold to promote this whole ‘oh we’re all one happy world, we love Muslims’ idea, but I bought one and used it for good :)

  128. Liliana says:

    I veil and it feels right. Thank you for this post that has been read in Brazil.

  129. Bonnie says:

    Just my 2 cents about not doing something good that seems inspired by the Holy Spirit because it’s slightly embarrassing or you think, “What will people think?” I learned my lesson on this when I was on a religious trip that included Assisi. When teaching CCD I read a book on St. Francis as background for one of the lessons. I was immediately captured by all things Franciscan. I fell in love with St. Francis and St. Clare. A few years later a trip came up to Rome and Assisi and I was able to go. In Assisi we were visiting San Damiano, the convent of St. Clare and the sisters. I was almost breathless with joy. As we were on the tour inside, we began mounting the steps to the “dormitory.” I wanted to fall on my knees and crawl up the steps on my knees. But I didn’t, because I was self-conscious of what “other people would think.” But when we got to the place where Clare had died, I was so overcome with emotion, it over-rode my self-consciousness, and I knelt on the floor and kissed it. Then, much to my shock, another woman on our tour also fell to her knees and kissed the floor. I did not think she was foolish or a fanatic. I thought she loved Clare (and she did!) I realized at that moment I couldn’t have cared less if they all thought I was a complete fool and fanatic. God knew what I was doing, that it wasn’t for show or to show-off, but I did it from love. From love. Later I regretted very much not climbing the stairs on my knees. So now, whenever I am inspired to do something out of love for God, no matter how stupid I think I may look, I DO IT! And like Francis I revel in being a fool for Christ. Because what God thinks is more important to me than what fallible people around me think. They will pass away. He will not. I don’t need their acceptance. I need His. So wear your veil and think of Him looking at you like a proud Father who appreciates your gesture of love. Because He does.

    • Robyn says:

      Thank you Bonnie. That’s just what I needed to hear, and your story of devotion brought tears to my eyes.

  130. Trena says:

    Great piece! I decided for Lent to give up my pride…I started veiling too!

  131. Patricia Cornell says:

    I veil and love it at the Latin Mass in St. Louis, MO. Patricia in St. Louis, MO

    • Cassi says:

      Where do you go? I’d love to visit a Latin Mass, but there are none anywhere near where I live. But we (rarely) go to St. Louis for a weekend, so I thought I might visit one of the Latin Mass parishes there the next time we go. :)

      • Robyn says:

        My husband and I go to St Francis de Sales Oratory in St Louis – the gorgeous old church downtown with the “leaning” steeple. All of their masses are in Latin. Make sure you go to a high mass on Sunday morning – the music is AMAZING!!! And the incense. And the reverence.

  132. Sparki says:

    Convert, here, who also felt called to start wearing a chapel veil one lent, maybe five years ago. I started on Ash Wednesday, and my husband had to work, so I corralled the kids (ages four, almost six and 8) into the minivan. Got there late, had to park in a weirdly crammed spot…and then – horrors! – had to sit in the front pew. So I was the woman in the chapel veil sitting in the FRONT row with her squirming children. Never felt so conspicuous in my life! And then, to make matters worse, when I was trying to edge the mini-van out of the weirdly crammed parking spot after Mass while it was raining and I couldn’t see very well, my daughters started squabbling in the back seat, so I was inching backward, yelling at them to stop yelling at each other (such *intelligent* parenting, right?) and trying to see anything in behind me in the dark of night and pouring rain…and I backed into a fellow who was trying to inch his way out of a weirdly crammed parking space across the street. I was horrified! Slammed my car into drive, pulled forward again and hopped out sobbing my apologies to an extremely well dress and extremely agitated elderly gentleman. His bumper looked like it had been made out of glass – a whole corner was jaggedly broken off. My minivan had not a scratch – well, nothing that hadn’t already existed before the bump. And as the gentleman glared at me, I was so conscious of the chapel veil! I scribbled my name and phone number down and handed it to him, and his wife looked at me and our aging minivan and my three wide-eyed kids and said, “This is nothing.” And then she said to her husband, “You know it’s nothing. We can afford to fix it ourselves,” and she got back into their car and waited. He glared at me for five seconds longer and then turned his back and got into the car and drove away. I never heard from him, so I guess his wife smoothed him over.

    I also never wore a chapel veil to Mass again. But I did start up again this Lent, sort of, just because you were doing it, and I figured you should have some solidarity. I’m not wearing a veil per se, but I am tying a scarf into my hair, as I have occasionally done before. I’m just going to wear scarves for a while and work my way up.

  133. Angela says:

    Hello ladies,

    I have read through so many comments today, I think it is a wonderful thing that so many of us are marking our sanctuaries as a special place by wearing a chapel veil. I wouldn’t wear mine to the grocery store, the bowling alley, or to a party. You are telling the world that this space is special, it is sacred.. It is like no other place.

    I have read how many of you when you first started wearing yours something happened to call attention to yourself.. Even Jennifer had that with her little girl screaming out at Mass. I personally believe that, that is just one more step in your purification process, Jesus’s way of humbling us just a little bit more. If you thought that you were being humble by putting on that veil and sliding into the back pew where no one could see you.. Well He often has other plans.

    Thank you Jennifer for sharing your story and to all the other ladies thank you sharing your comments it’s nice to know how others feel about veiling as we often don’t talk about it.. God Bless

  134. elizabethe says:

    So, how does veiling compare to trucknutz as a comment-generating topic?

    OT, but I was wondering if you could add your NCR link back to your front page somewhere?

  135. Teri says:

    I really appreciate your post. You are such a gifted writer! Thank you for sharing.
    Teri recently posted..Spin Class and Catholic Mass

  136. Lindsey says:

    Hi Jen! I love it! In fact, I already happened across this etsy shop and decided that, were I to start veiling, this is the direction I would go, exactly like the one you picked: brown lace infinity scarf (I have dark brown hair).

    I’m in Houston, and my only drawback about the scarf-as-veil thing is, what will this feel like once it gets hot? I hope you’ll keep us posted.

  137. After today’s post I came over to read some of the comments (not all–don’t have time!)–and my only thought of any value whatsoever was this: Now how do all those lovely ladies wearing head coverings keep their bouncing baby boys from PULLING THEM OFF????? :) Veiling in my house is doomed to failure…LOL
    Kathleen Basi recently posted..Saintly Wisdom

  138. Jeannine says:

    You are prayerful and I respect your decision. Is it okay if I say you look pretty in your veil? Well, you look pretty either way!

    So happy to see you over at WIWS!
    Jeannine recently posted..Catholic Woman’s Almanac

  139. Vivian Dowdle says:

    I enjoyed the reflection and was surprised at some of the comments. Since I am in my 70s, the tradition of wearing a head covering is part of my church life. Since I was a small child, I have worn scarves, veils and hats to Mass. It was always a matter of respect. But wearing a head covering in public goes back a few thousand years. Long scarves were worn by themselves until medieval times when hats attached to scarves came along. Then perhaps 200 years ago, women starting wearing hats alone. Even in the more recent 50s, many women were still wearing hats just to go to work or shopping. I do find the word “veiling” to be an irritant. I never heard it until a few years ago.

  140. Melissa H-K says:

    I’ve always thought those lace mantillas look weird and deliberately old-fashioned, as if the wearer were saying “I’m a pre-Vatican II Catholic and you can’t make me change!” People who wear those really, really look out of place at my church.

    But gee, Jennifer, you really wrote convincingly about this. I’m seriously considering making myself a veil of some sort. I very much like your infinity veil, though I’m not sure I’d do it in lace. The trouble is that I’m in the choir and we are in the front of the church. Nobody else veils—it’s kind of a hippie parish—and I think it might cause ill will if I were to do so, because it would call attention to me and possibly take attention away from the music.

    Maybe I’ll just wear one when I visit my daughter’s family. She’s been thinking about wearing a veil, though I don’t know how she would get her two toddlers and two babies to keep their hands off it. Plus she already attends Mass wearing a big scarf to help with nursing modesty—unless one knew what to look for, one wouldn’t even know she was nursing.

    Anybody who wants to respond? I haven’t read all 199 (!!!) comments yet, but I don’t think anybody else has mentioned the choir problem.

    • Nicky says:

      Why veil? Why not wear a trendy hat? Or a covering that won’t stand out nearly as much.

      But I warn you, no matter what you wear, you WILL be challenged about it. I wear a hat and have been badgered and challenged many times.

      Thankfully it doesn’t bother me. I don’t really care what people think. My only concern is pleasing God.
      Nicky recently posted..How Not to be Touched by Strangers Part One

  141. freddy says:

    To all the ladies who wear headcoverings to Mass:

    The old code of Canon Law (1917) mandated headcovering for women (but never specified what type). The same canon; in fact, the same sentence also mandated men and women sitting on the opposite sides of the church.

    So my questions are: How many of you also follow this custom?

    If you do, why did you decide to and what are the results?

    If you don’t, why not?

    If you’ve just heard of it, do you think you might? Why or why not?

    (God bless you, Jen & family!)

    • Nicky says:

      I can’t answer your question.

      I don’t cover my head because of canon law. I’m a new Catholic, I don’t even KNOW Canon Law.

      I started covering ages ago while still a Protestant. I just felt very strongly that God wanted my head covered. For ME it was humbling and it still is. So I keep the hat on.

      I don’t see why people feel the need to challenge someone else’s personal devotion to our Lord.
      Nicky recently posted..How Not to be Touched by Strangers Part One

      • freddy says:

        Well, Nicky, as Catholics we believe that God speaks to us most clearly through His Church.

        Now, certainly He speaks to us in the silences of our hearts, and we are obliged to test those feelings and follow them if true. For example, you might “feel very strongly” that God wanted you to put pebbles in your shoes but depending on your age or state in life it might not be the best practice.

        I just thought, with all the talk about headcoverings for women, it might be useful to see just what the Church used to teach regarding them, and to what other practice it was linked.

        • Nicky says:

          I agree with you. But the Church allows women to covered if they so desire to.

          It also requires women to cover if they are meeting the Pope.

          :) So, in the end, so long as I keep it to myself and don’t go telling other women to cover I’m not sure why it’s such a problem for some people to see my head covered.
          Nicky recently posted..How Not to be Touched by Strangers Part One

          • freddy says:

            I don’t have a problem with women wearing headcoverings. Most of the women at my church do wear them. I’m just curious as to why and how the practice of men and women sitting on the opposites sides of the church — which was linked in the same canon — seems so much less important to people who appear to value traditional practices. That practice seems to have fallen completely down the memory hole, and one could make the case for it being as spiritually valuable as wearing a headcovering.

            The requirement for women to wear a headcovering when meeting the Pope only applies to private audiences; usually with heads of state. The meeting of heads of state is something filled with the finer points of etiquette. But the clothing and other formalities required, however lovely they may be, arguably have no special spiritual dimension.

  142. Wow. I’m surprised at the comments. First big surprise are the women who wear mantillas & are making a point of receiving Communion kneeling and on the tongue and NEVER from a woman. What would you think of me, EMHC that I am, in my mantilla? Whatever.

    Men seem just as sit here. We have the “you are way awesome for wearing a mantilla” and the “you’re ridiculous; do you sit on opposite aides of the church” bunches.

    Canon Law does NOT require us to wear a mantilla or hat. The current code says nothing about it and I’ve seen multiple apologists discuss that by not speaking of it, it means it’s not required. Not every woman who wears a mantilla does so because she wants to adhere to a defunct part of Canon Law. Most of us who do wear a mantilla have said we felt called to do so, didnt want to draw attention to ourselves for it, and have various reasons for doing so.

    (My own piece on it is here, if anyone even cares at this point, some 200 comments in: http://domesticvocation.wordpress.com/2009/06/15/humility-before-god/ ~ In it, I discuss the decision-making process I faced when I was discerning if I should start wearing a mantilla. I don’t see it a lot different than Jen’s, except that I’m usually the only woman wearing one, though I’ve been gaining “Mantilla Buddies” lately.)

    The only way I can imagine more controversy is if Jen teamed up with Simcha and wrote a pants/mantilla post. Heck, maybe I shou write one about how I’m going to Mass tonight in jeans, wearing my mantilla, and volunteering to assist Father with distributing Communion!

    Instant controversy!!!
    Christine the Soccer Mom recently posted..Inheritance

    • WSquared says:

      “First big surprise are the women who wear mantillas & are making a point of receiving Communion kneeling and on the tongue and NEVER from a woman. What would you think of me, EMHC that I am, in my mantilla? Whatever.”

      There’s nothing wrong with receiving Communion kneeling and on the tongue. Sure, it’s not the norm, but the faithful are permitted to if they choose. Like wearing a veil, nobody else has to. But those who want to are permitted to. Plus, you’ll never guess who inspired me to kneel, which I did before I started wearing a chapel veil: two little kids who knelt for Communion during daily Mass at Lent. And they did so without reserve.

      …but the thing about never receiving Communion from a woman IS a bit off. What a pair we’d make, Soccer Mom, you as an EMHC in your jeans and a mantilla, and me in my skirt or my pants, depending on the weather, also wearing my mantilla, and kneeling to receive the Eucharist from you. ;) By the way, I wear my jeans for daily Mass, and yep, I wear my chapel veil, too.

  143. Nicky says:

    I have been covering my head in church for as long as I’ve attended church as an adult. It was never, ever a question for me.

    When I joined the Catholic Church people started questioning and badgering me for covering. It was the oddest experience.

    I’ve had older women tell me I should take the hat off and show the men my pretty face.

    I’ve had younger women make fun of me because I can’t be bothered to do my hair.

    I’ve seen women who veil openly mocked for pretending to be ‘Spanish senoritas’.

    All of it has greatly disheartened me.

    We are accused (those of us who cover) of being overtly pious and thinking we’re holier then thou but on the flip side we’re being mocked and openly challenged for our decision to do something the Church allows.

    I wish you the best in your journey but I dread the day when you start experiencing the persecution that veiled women frequently have to deal with.
    Nicky recently posted..How Not to be Touched by Strangers Part One

  144. dacia says:

    I love this! I too felt the call to veil about 4 years ago at a Parish where not a single woman veils. Took a year for me to get the courage! 3 years now and I love it! The Parish I belong to now has many veiled woman too which is nice to see. :) here is a blog I wrote about why I veil. :) http://dacia-prayingtwice.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-i-veil.html?m=1
    dacia recently posted..Coming Soon…

  145. WSquared says:

    Jen, I kind of knew– don’t ask me how– that you’d think about doing this someday. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it, and I do love your veil-infinity scarf!

    Perhaps the best rule of thumb going either way is to know that if you want to cover your head at Mass, nobody can stop you. If you don’t want to cover your head at Mass, nobody can make you. And the Church is fine with both. So there should be no sweating it either way: those who aren’t covering their heads aren’t immodest, and they are not sinning. But one should not presume that a woman who does cover her head is trying to get noticed, and is just a big ol’ Pharisee, either. …let’s remember, after all, the part in Scripture about the one man saying, “Lord, I’m so glad that I’M not like these other sinful people…” and the other man acknowledging his own sinfulness. So Jen is right to point out that not accepting that other people will be charitable is prideful. But it is also equally true that other Catholics do indeed experience accusations of Phariseeism on this and other matters.

    Sure, someone wearing a chapel veil can be doing it for self-righteous reasons, and can be the most sour-looking, possibly uncharitable person you’ve ever come across. But it’s also equally self-righteous, sour, and uncharitable to presume that they are– namely, “I’m a NORMAL Catholic; I’M not like that doiley-head, elitist, holier-than-thou traddie weirdo, and everybody who likes the Latin Mass is an uncharitable jerk!” Spiritual pride can cut in two directions simultaneously, be it hiding behind excessive piety in the name of tradition instead of growing in the faith, or hiding behind the false humility of minimalism in the name of “progress” instead of growing in the faith. Also, true Communion is brought about through, with, and in Christ, and not primarily with “blending in” with others in the congregation. It is *Christ* who reconciles all people to Himself, and no community can presume to do as much and be as much without Him.

    On the whole, I tend to get the feeling from many of these discussions that they seem to be more about how to fit into the congregational community of any given parish than how everyone is to fit into Christ. Furthermore, given human sinfulness, we tend to ruin anything and everything we touch, even good, holy things, if left to our own devices. But the Lord can use even that, and someone messing something up does not make those things bad in themselves. So, why don’t we pray that if someone isn’t doing something for the right motives, then that with God’s help, they can come to do so?

    For the record, I do wear a chapel veil to all Masses, be they the Traditional Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo. I also wear it to Eucharistic Adoration. And nobody cares. I get the odd compliment about my chapel veils (I’ve made two new ones; I’m kinda crafty like that, too), but most people ignore it. The latter more than the former, and that’s all I ever could want. I was at first apprehensive about What Others May Think, and whether I was doing it for the right reasons, but slowly, I got over that. My husband at first said he’d think it weird, but he came around.

    As a related aside with very real parallels, kneeling for Communion tends to provoke similar kinds of discussions, and the Church also deals with it similarly: standing and receiving Communion in the hand is the norm in the U.S., yes. But any Catholic who wishes to kneel and receive Communion on the tongue is free to do so as per actual liturgical rubrics, and should not feel bad. So no priest may refuse to give Communion to someone who wishes to kneel. And for that matter, no fellow lay Catholic is in any position to stop someone who wishes to kneel from doing so, either, and has no business being disparaging or pressuring said person to stop, usually under the guise of “putting others first,” “not standing out,” and “blending in” or else it makes the person kneeling a… Pharisee.

    In so far as wearing a head covering is about humility, it’s about humility before the Lord, just as I suspect modesty is (more than it is about merely reducing distractions, “formality,” “respectability,” and “wearing cute clothes”): one learns to decrease so that the Lord may increase. And it does not come all at once.

    As for any anxiety or apprehension that one may have, prayer is helpful. If you suspect that you might be doing something for the wrong reasons, ask God to help you do them for the right ones– namely for Him– and you’ll find that the anxiety will lessen and then ultimately cease. And by the way, there is no lack of humility in discussing one’s decision to cover one’s head at Mass when one does so primarily to provide others with some perspective and much-needed encouragement and reassurance. There is a lot of grace that comes in coming to certain realizations, particularly being glad of being wrong in one’s thoughts about one’s self and what others may think. So there’s no harm in sharing it. Actually, it’s a very good thing.

    Also, I often read that the chapel veil is an outward manifestation of an inner disposition. That may well be true. But it also works the other way around, too, or at least it has for me (same goes for kneeling for Communion, as per Deacon Greg Kandra and others talking about communion rails).

    I’m a graduate student and someone who hopes to be a professor someday, God willing. The temptation to excessive pride, particularly in a very competitive environment, is everywhere, and so is the temptation to fear-driven selfishness and making everything about the intellect. So is the often debilitating pressure of caring excessively about What Other People Think, as well as “fitting in” and “blending in,” whereby one does ask, “what are we trying to ‘fit’ into?” I also know what it means to do something for my own glory and not for the Lord’s, as well as how doing something for the wrong reasons does not make the thing itself bad, and that one can learn to do it for the right reasons through a lot of grace prayed for persistently. I’ve had long experience with how “if I do not have love, I have nothing,” and some of that experience has been viscerally painful. I have furthermore done a fair amount of formal and informal thinking about “blending in.”

    I find that wearing a chapel veil at Mass and Adoration reminds me that the Lord is really in charge, and it’s helped me so much: He gave me the gifts that I have, and indeed everything that I have in order to serve Him and others, and I’m to learn to put Him at the center of my life and worship Him with everything that I’ve got, and everything that I’ve been given. Both kneeling for Communion and wearing a chapel veil in an effort to put Him first has prompted me to ask questions about how to be a parent, teacher, and scholar who is pleasing to Him, how He can use all of these things to help me to be a good mother, and also how I can ask Him to help me bring the best out of others– namely, any students and biological children given into my care, and how to engage others who are not like me. I think that kneeling for Communion and wearing that chapel veil reminds me of Who He is when I’m likely to forget.

    I’m also an ethnic minority, and have always been a minority no matter where I’ve lived, so being reminded of Who Christ is also reminds me that Christ is the actual reason why I belong and feel at home in any Catholic church anywhere in the world, regardless of whether I know the language. I am to find out who I truly am in Him, and I do know a thing or two of how not knowing who you truly are can and will tear one apart, because there is no shortage of people other than Christ and His Vicar who will gladly tell you who you should be, what to do, and what you should want. Including other Catholics whose ideas of God and Man, and certainly what they mean by Jesus Christ, may well be influenced by things other than what the Church teaches. Because of the Real Presence, I am also at home in any Catholic church whether anyone there “likes” me or not. I belong, not because other people look like me, “tolerate” me out of “respect for diversity,” or are nice to me, but because we’re all sinners whom Christ invites to belong to Him. So yeah, covering my head helps with all of that. Wearing one doesn’t make me a better Catholic than anyone else, but it can help me to be a better Catholic, period, if I allow it to.

    And are we all made in God’s image, whereby it behooves us to understand at all times what we mean by “God,” and certainly what we mean by “Jesus,” or do we sometimes presume too much that we are or ought to be made in the image of our neighbors, or that they should be made in ours, when we talk about “blending in,” “standing out,” or making others feel welcome?

  146. Ellen says:

    Jen, I always appreciate your balanced take on things. I live in a town that is 70% Arabic and about half the Islamic women wear a head scarf. For me, “veiling” describes what they do. I was very interested to hear your explanation about the practice, especially how it could be helpful to our devotional lives today. Still, not something I’ll be trying any time soon.

  147. Maya says:

    Loved this post, Jennifer. As always, blowing away the myths and misconceptions – awesome stuff! I’m not a catholic and attend a pentecostal church but I’m missing my Anglican (Episcopalian) roots terribly. Missing quiet, contemplative time with God.

    I’ve often wondered about head covering and I find that I agree with your explanation here! If I want to stick out even more in church (the ex-Anglican with five children), I could wear a veil!

    Thanks for your fantastic blog. I love it.

  148. Dave P. says:

    And to Our Esteemed Hostess: the veil looks good on you!

  149. Njideka says:

    I can only imagine how you must have felt. In some parishes here in my country (Nigeria), it plays out the other way round, you would stand out by not having some form of hair covering and probably have someone offer you a handkerchief/face towel to use as covering.

  150. carmen says:

    that’s a beautiful veil i want one! thanks for posting. have not gathered up the courage or momentum to go out and get one to wear it to mass, but i’ve been thinking about it just this past month. no one wears them here in the philippines, except to latin masses (i havent attended one yet). recently came across a blog post explaining its purpose (or one of them): that which is sacred is veiled

  151. Ouiz says:

    THANK YOU for showing us these wonderful veils! I’m going to buy myself one for my birthday!
    Ouiz recently posted..I won’t even try to apologize…

  152. Clara says:

    Jennifer,
    Wonderful post-very thoughtful. The chapel veil you used is lovely. I have been wearing a chapel veil or scarf for about a year now when we attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. But only occasionally will I wear it when at the Novus Ordo mass. Our NO priest, basically told me not to wear it. He said said ‘you don’t want people thinking you are holier than them’.

    This has inspired me to wear it anyway. Who will be looking at me…they should be focusing on the Mass, not the parishioners.

  153. Rachael says:

    Lovely post – thanks. I came into the Church via a traditionalist group, so veils have always been on my radar, long after moving into a regular parish structure. Truth be told, I think of it as a bit of a Christian “first-world” problem, prone to complications of self-obsession, social approval/conformity, concentration on externals. I know it messed with my head ;-) So I loved it when you brought it back round to our “third-world” problem of the most basic essentials – simplicity of heart, love of God and neighbour, faith in the charity of your fellow-worshippers. The Church is a big place and it has room for you with your veil and me (alas!) with my dark roots on show.

    Sometimes, I do wonder what the woman with the alabaster jar would have made of it all…

  154. Don says:

    I think it’s wonderful and a perfect example of modesty, it also makes you more beautiful. Always remember that no matter where you are or what you do you are in the presence of God.

  155. Sheila Clausen says:

    Totally practical not holy or theological question for you: So, did the veil really stay on you? Like even when wrestling with a baby? When I saw the veil you wore I told my husband this could actually change my life! My veil falls off about a billion times every Mass, especially when I take one of the toddlers out back as fast as I can because they are screaming. Not to mention remembering to take it off to change a pooopy diaper so the veil doesn’t fall in the diaper while I’m leaning over the baby(yeah, I’m THAT mom, I’ve had poop on my veil before). I’m so interested to hear if it really works for you as far as staying in place. This might be my mother’s day gift this year!

  156. vanessa says:

    Hello, just wanted to clarify some things. I believe the TRUE meaning of wearing a veil is to present a humbleness in front of Jesus Christ. Women are beautiful and you got that part right about covering up our hair, but it is to also remember that God is most beautiful and all attention should be on Him. So we veil ourselves just as Jesus comes in to the mass veiled. Wearing a veil shows that we must protect our beauty and show true reverence to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Consider going to Tridentine mass :) It is lovely. God bless.

    • Dave Pawlak says:

      Your goal can also be accomplished with a hat or scarf, according to the Church’s customs.

  157. Whitney says:

    Just wanted to throw this out there for anyone who goes to a more casual church:

    I am Episcopalian, where no one wears veils (it’s too “pope-ish”). I also am in Georgia, which is very casual, and at a casual church. I mostly wear doilies, but I also wear a lacey wrap thing.

    People really don’t stare that often. And when they do, they nearly always come up to me after mass to talk to me about it. They tell me:

    - They think it’s beautiful.
    - Where did I get it (the shop closed, sorry. It was GlamDoilies)
    - That they used to wear them as a child and they have fond memories
    - Why do I wear it?
    - That they are thinking of veiling, too.
    - That I’m really brave and that they admire me.

    No negative comment or look has ever been received by me.

    In fact, the doilies are so comfortable, that I often forget I’m wearing them. Then, after church, I’m doing dishes, going shopping.

    No one bats an eye. Seriously, even when I go for drinks to watch Sunday football after church and I’ve left it on.

    The only downside is that people DO notice me now. They notice when I’m not at church, mostly. I usually sit in the front, so everyone behind me gets a nice good view and they know that the veiling girl isn’t there. I don’t like that because I really like quiet time in church, and I like being left alone. The veil not only invites those questions I listed above, but it also invites people to ask if I’m okay because I missed church last week. No one says anything mean, but I do like to be fairly anonymous.

    I suppose God isn’t calling me to be anonymous but to be a more active participant in the church community, though.

  158. Cecily says:

    There’s an interesting conversation on this topic going on now at Suburbanbanshee’s blog:

    http://suburbanbanshee.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/in-the-old-days-most-us-catholic-women-wore-hats/#comment-23551

  159. Christine says:

    I know I am late to the party, but if I may. It is rather ironic that today of all days I stumbled across your blog (when I put in the search question ‘how to start a blog’- because I am considering writing one called My Dog-eared Catholic Bible) and this lovely post jumped out at me, because I too am a convert and have been grappling with this calling.
    I do believe it is an individual calling that is placed on the heart. I have covered my head in many ways for the last year +, even if it is just with a head-band because the point is that I am doing it for the purpose of honoring God- I have read all the scriptures that relate to this and this is my take away as the MAIN reason on all fronts. You hit the nail on the head with the – how much emphasis there is on women’s hair point. Something I recently just told a friend. Amy and the Catholic Voice ( I think- can’t find the comment now) also made very good points. I have this lent ,however. been grappling with the issue again and this morning at prayer I made a deal with the Lord ….confession; I put out the golden fleece yes…to see if this calling is REALLY coming from God or is some prideful, vain ,pious notion of mine! You see I am English and when I grew up, one would not be seen dead in Church (any denomination) without a hat, but no one ever told me why. This tradition still lingers in English culture, as you may have noticed with most all women wearing hats at the recent royal wedding. The fact is, I simply LOVE hats and my American husband knows it ,so when I wear a hat to Church he has no idea that for me there are now other reasons to cover. I became officially Catholic 4 years ago but I have been wearing hats on and off for the 20+ years of our marriage so for me to make it something different as a real sign of humility before God I would need to a) tell my husband and or b) wear a mantilla. (Indecently I am going to guess that the etymology of the word Mantilla is in fact from something Latin that probably means ‘to cover’ or ‘cloak’ since I am also 1/2 German and fluent in the language, I know that Mantel in German means coat -which covers). What I did however, was ask God that if this was really what I was being called to do then my husband needed to be the one who would ask me- that would be totally out of the norm for him.
    I do understand the resistance to calling it ‘veiling’ because I believe that to “take the veil” has historically been connected with becoming a nun but I think people are making too much about this issue. I believe that new women who are now feeling called to cover ( many of my convert friends), don’t have this historical connotation and to them to say veil is more natural than mantilla, besides which ,to us there is a certain veiling that goes on in our heart that is about focusing totally on God when we are at prayer, mass or adoration. So I do not think one needs to be legalistic with the terms used by a new generation. This focus on covering as an act of honoring God is ,of course, what separates this practice from that of women who HAVE to cover because their law requires it and that is so that men other than their husbands won’t be tempted by their beauty- you have to admit thought, those Eastern women are quite stunning with their olive skin and beautiful dark eyes :) So ,two totally different things there.
    Speaking of Muslim women’s coverings; I had a funny experience at Church BEFORE I was covering. I was wearing a shawl and it was snowing outside. Well when my hair gets wet it frizzes so as I was in the narthex about to go out to the car I put the shawl up over my head to protect my hair from the snow (that hair pride thing) and I heard a kid next to me say to his brother “dude a Muslim” , I’m just glad it was at a whisper :)
    I love the infinity scarf idea, I was just playing with a silver crochet infinity scarf at Coldwater Creek last month, thinking it would sit well as a covering.
    Many thanks for having the courage to post….obviously , due to the number of comments, you hit a hot one!

  160. Sarab says:

    We started attending an EF parish about 1 year after I converted and I started wearing a veil because that was what all the other women did. But, like many other people have said, I feel totally naked without it now!

    One thing to relieve the “slipping” issue… I attached a small square of the “hook” side of Velcro to the middle of the front of my veil. I wiggle that into my hair and it stays better than a bobby pin. I attached the “loop” part further down the veil to attach to the “hook” part when it’s not on my head… to prevent the hook Velcro from snagging my veil. It works perfectly!

  161. Cecilia says:

    I live in Bolivia, and after seeing some girls in the US wearing veil, the idea started to float around. I’ve been looking for one and have considered similar reasons to the ones you post. This only reinforces my decision to start wearing one at Mass.
    Cecilia recently posted..The gift of Benedict XVI – El regalo de Benedicto XVI

  162. You mentioned many good reasons for wearing a veil, but, “it makes you less visible” isn’t one of them. I really don’t notice anyone’s hair in church, or even what they are wearing, but veils and mantillas really stand out. I think if everyone were wearing them, it wouldn’t be that way, but, as is, it’s highly unusual for women in our culture to cover their hair and I find it noticeable to the point of distracting. Not a judging thing, I just find it’s unusual enough that it competes for my attention.

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it – I think you should, since it is what you feel called to do- but “it’s less of a distraction to others” is not a good reason to cite.
    Wendy from Zoom recently posted..Metaphors

  163. Hi – I just started wearing a veil last week with my 16 year old daughter. We gave it to her as one of her birthday presents and I asked her if she would start wearing it with me. I thought it would be a nice way to start the tradition by giving it to her during a special occasion.

  164. Ana Mendez says:

    I am blessed to be at a Parish where our Pastor encourages women to veil their heads in respect for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

  165. Melissa H-K says:

    Some of you may remember that I had decided not to cover my head at my parish, because it is a liberal church and I am very visible, what with singing in the choir at the front of the church.

    I’ve been thinking about it some more, and I’m leaning toward trying it at my home parish. Because I really would be obtrusive, I decided to sound one of my choir friends out. So I approached one of my choir friends after Mass. She’s a very sweet, gentle, kind woman.

    And man, she just about ripped me a new one, even though I explained my reasons. She said that wearing anything resembling those mantillas with which she grew up meant that I was saying to the whole church that I was submissive to all men, that it’s the equivalent of a hijab. In other words, she was horrified. I think she would have been less upset if I’d said I was going to tattoo my entire face. I’ve never heard her so upset.

    I told my friend that this parish was clearly not a safe place for me to cover my head. So I guess I’ll do as I was going to do—cover my head only when I visit my daughter’s parish.

    I’m working on some patters so that I can crochet my own. I have lots of ideas. It’s kind of exciting!

  166. Faun says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You’re holier than the rest of us! Thanks for drawing attention to that fact!!!

    • Melissa H-K says:

      I very much doubt that the author intended to show that she was “holier than the rest of us.” There are lots of reasons to cover one’s head other than showing off.

      • Jessica B. says:

        Hello!

        I agree. The main reason I wear a veil is that I am a sinner, and I need tangible reminders (symbols) in order to recollect my thoughts, etc before the Lord.

        God bless!

    • Tom Saltsman says:

      The attitude displayed here reminds me of the sinner’s attitude toward the righteous in Wisdom 2:12-20. My NAB says that some believe this passage to be a direct prophecy about Christ. It doesn’t sound very smart or Christian to attack others for trying to keep their conscience clean. St. Paul talks about being persecuted for the Cross of Christ. It’s clear from the attacks mentioned on this page that women who do veil carry such that Cross. Bless them.

  167. Alicia says:

    Jen, I loved this! Thank you. I bought a chapel veil months ago but have STILL not gotten the courage to wear it. This may sound silly, and it probably is.. but here’s the thing: During the weekdays when I head out to adoration, or go to Mass, I wear jeans. I feel weird wearing a chapel veil and jeans together. Maybe this is a sign that I shouldn’t be wearing jeans period but I still do…
    Thoughts?

    • Jessica B. says:

      Hello!

      I too wear jeans to daily Mass, at times. I feel that the chapel veil (or other head covering) can definitely be worn with jeans, since it is a symbol. Besides, jeans are modest, unless you have ones that are all shredded!

      What about a denim skirt? Would you feel more comfortable in that?
      Most of all, God bless you for following the gentle prompting of the Lord!

    • Tom Saltsman says:

      It comes down to two things: 1) Who do we have to answer to on Judgment Day: God or neighbor? and 2)How do we hear the voice of God in these matters of attire for public or private prayer? Yes, as a male, I don’t wear a cap while praying privately or anywhere if I can avoid it! So the issue is really prayer and obedience to God, not just mass!

      Regarding the first question, I have found great joy in worrying only about what God expects from me; included in that is anything I owe my neighbor, nothing more or nothing less. Secondly, from centuries of Church Tradition and Scripture, I know that all I need to be is modest in dress (jeans OK but not the greatest choice) and uncover my head as a man. For women, I believe this means wearing a veil.

      Is a unveiled woman sinning? If it is sin for me to wear a baseball cap at mass, then it is just as sinful for women not to veil. Something to think about! I feel comfort when seeing such a beautiful veil as displayed on this web page. It’s gorgeous! It looks just as sacred and inspiring as great architecture!

  168. Jessica B. says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post. Your courage gave me courage to do the same, since it is something I have felt the Lord calling me to do for quite some time now!

    I even got to the point of sewing mantillas and selling them on eBay! Spreading this beautiful practice in little (and hidden) ways.

    God bless you!

  169. Amber V says:

    Ahahahaha! Thank you so much for the needed laugh today. “Genuflect on the wrong knee…” and say “..and also with you…” Are you talking about me? I don’t think there is one person in my parish who wears a chapel veil. If they do I do not notice but now you have me intrigued. I like your explanation and short history lesson behind it. I may be checking out that etsy store…

    • Jade says:

      That would be me too. Convert here always doing some crazy things, like you guessed it, genuflecting on the wrong knee!

  170. Alyssa says:

    This is a great story! I love it! My grandmaw is a third order Dominican so I am familiar with veils and the meaning behind it because their is a cloistered nuns (Dominican) a block from Mawmaws house. I really got into when I was discerning to be a nun or sister or minister devoted to divine office or something of that sort. After 4 ish years decided I was gonna aim for the married life (oh, future husband if you pass by this comment, pray for me). So when I went to college the Spanish professors wore mantillas so I joined in with my chapel veil and of course all my college gal pals had to join. I just couldn’t wear it at my parents parish because they told me it is embarrassing. I am now in grad school so I wear it EVERY mass. Now I’m aiming for making simple veils, not much lace, but with messages or symbols like the monstrance printed on the back or chi rho or adore. Yeah, I want my veils not only to be hiding my hair (and kinda my face) but showing humility and a sign that I came here for God and his love for us here shown as the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the most Holy Eucharist! GOD IS GOOD? ……..(respond: ALL THE TIME)

  171. Tom Saltsman says:

    My biggest concern is, “If one can’t hear the voice of God (I Corinthians 11 and centuries of Church Tradition that was never officially rescinded) and follow his grace in the small and easy stuff He commanded, how can one do the harder stuff like martyrdom or overcoming gluttony, greed, etc.?”

  172. Jade says:

    I SOOOOO want to veil. But at my Parish and at the mass that I usually attend there is only one little old lady in a veil. I would feel like THAT woman in the veil and not only that I would be THAT BLACK woman in the veil. Yikes! I just feel like I would be calling SO much attention to myself that my anxiety would kick-in overdrive and I would probably not make it past the doors of the church. I read all veiling articles with relish. Maybe just maybe if there were even a handful of ladies (and younger ones at that) who veiled at mass I would veil too.

  173. Thank you, Jennifer. That’s all — just thank you.

  174. Mary says:

    So in order to not draw attention to your beautiful hair you decided to wear a veil which you then feared would draw attention to you only to discover everyone at Mass is focused on Jesus and not on you! Which just goes to show that this whole thing isn’t about not being a distraction at Mass but rather a lot of people thinking highly of themselves for being so “reverential” and “humble.” (Not you, just in general.)

    I’m afraid I’m rather tired of reading impassioned blog posts by young women who have taken up veiling (with such modesty!) about how they desire not to be a distraction to others at Mass because their luminous beauty must catch all the attention. Instead they decide to Facebook post & blog & tweet about it daily all the while wearing their lacy veils in their Facebook and Twitter pictures. How’s that for modesty? The point is that it is NOT the custom for women to wear head coverings here in the US and has not been for a long time. If you want to make that case then you should also be posting about how all women ought to wear nylons and skirts over their knees and heels and put their hair up once they’ve reached the age of 18 and not go out at night alone. I do not “veil” and have no desire/inkling/plan to “veil.” My lack of “veil” does not indicate I have less respect/honor/reverence/love for Jesus than those of you “veiling.” Perhaps it indicates I have more modesty/humility/understanding. If “veiling” is a personal devotion then keep it personal. Why do so many young women who are “veiling” think they have some mission to convert others to wearing veils? “Oh, it’s a private devotion which helps me focus on Jesus and I feel called to do it.” Then do it. Quietly. Convert by example instead of self-promotion. I won’t take you seriously while you tweet/post/write about it daily while using a photo of you looking beautiful in lace. As our priest says, “if you’re going to wear one so as not to distract then you should be wearing one the same color as your hair.” What’s with the various colors? Purple? Pink? Those are a distraction. Yours does look beautiful, Jennifer, and blends beautifully with your hair. If I saw you wearing it at Mass I wouldn’t think twice about it.

    While I don’t believe most young women who have taken up “veiling” are doing it out of conscious pride I do believe those who spend a lot of time talking about it, writing & posting about it, are being prideful. I do get the sense they think they are doing something to be emulated and honored, that they are doing it to be “counter-cultural,” which shows it to be a reaction to something other than Jesus, that they think highly of those who “veil” (which means they think highly of themselves for doing it, even if subconciously). Someone doing something which is of great importance to her who wishes to do it with all modesty does not feel the need to trumpet it about that she’s doing it. God calls us to Him as we are, to make us better people, to make us like Jesus. Are all those who “veil” at Mass, in order to honor Jesus fully, behaving as reverently when they encounter Jesus elsewhere in the world, in strangers & loved ones? While you are at Mass, focusing so much on Jesus, are your children being noisy and running about and distracting others from focusing on Jesus? Are you failing to teach your children how to sit properly & quietly at Mass, as they should, to honor Jesus? Perhaps instead of spending so much time telling others we should be “veiling” some people should spend more time making sure their children are behaving in God’s house (and elsewhere) and discerning whether they are doing something out of modesty & respect or out of a sense of superiority.