Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Connect on LinkedIn

My Decision to Wear a Veil

April 4, AD2014

Birgit - veil

The process by which I answered the call to veil myself was slow discernment. As a list maker, I began to weigh the pros and cons in my mind and eventually wrote several posts outlining my thoughts. Venturing out of our comfort zone is often that way. We ponder and forget, remember and reassess, until a decision is made. It was a measured consideration for me but a decision I’ve not regretted making these past two years of practicing the devotion. One deterrent for me was the impression my veiling would give to others. What would they think or say? Would someone comment negatively? Would it be like my attempt at being a Lector and have me so nervous I couldn’t properly assist at the Holy Sacrifice of Mass? Evaluating my intention was probably the thorniest obstacle.

What finally helped me make the decision was assigning a motive to the action. Was I doing this for me? For others? Or was this a spiritually sound concept for me? In the end, I found my answer and on Mother’s Day of 2012 I wore my veil to Mass for the first time.

After the initial period of becoming accustomed to my veil, wearing it became second nature. Feeling the weight of the veil on my head is a tangible reminder of where I am and who I am there to see. An added bonus is the amount of mental privacy it affords. As someone who is very much a fan of ‘personal space’, I appreciate the intimacy veiling affords me while I pray. Distractions become less disturbing and my focus sharpens. I’m truly in my own world – with Jesus.

There is, however, another aspect to wearing a veil. As with any outward cues we give to those around us, a woman who practices the devotion of veiling is making a public statement about her respect and reverence – for Jesus, present in the Eucharist, and for herself. If she is to carry this statement to fruition, there are also certain commitments to be met. She is presenting herself as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. In wearing the veil she emulates the humility of our Blessed Mother Mary. With this comes a set of obligations.

If veiling is an outward sign, then there must also be inward signs. The weight of the veil becomes about more than covering, focus, or devotion. To be beneficial to the eternal soul, we must transform ourselves. Are we simply displaying our faith on our heads or are we transformed interiorly? To be true devotees the answer must be both. Are we more charitable, more giving, and more sacrificial? Do we volunteer to assist the parish in service to others? Do we pray more deeply, fervently?

When we make a commitment motivation is key but the ideal, put into practice, is even more important. Those of us who have chosen to follow this devotion are in it for the long haul and for all of the implication it carries. To emulate the Blessed Mother, to veil our feminine God-given attributes, and to offer ourselves entirely to Jesus – these all go hand in hand with actions.

So if we wish to pattern our lives after Mary’s, we must look beyond the surface. The devotion should indicate an inner holiness and submission to the will of God. If the resolve is to be taken seriously, if the Lord is to recognize our gift of self, our actions must speak fully and without reservation. Otherwise we are no more than the clanging gong of self congratulatory vanity.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Birgit is a 50-something cradle Catholic who is passionate about the pro-life movement. She has been married to her Catholic convert husband, Rick, for 40 years. They have four children and nine living grandchildren (all age twelve and under). Their frequent visits eliminate any fear of an empty nest! Birgit can also be found on her personal blog Designs By Birgit and Facebook fan page Designs By Birgit, where she shares the pro-life memes she creates.

If you enjoyed this essay, subscribe below to receive a daily digest of all our essays.

Thank you for supporting us!

  • WSquared

    It’s always heartwarming to see another woman who wears a veil. I wear one, also– to both the EF and the OF. It was the EF that prompted the question of why I would wear a veil there, but not at the OF, if the reason why I wear one at the EF was out of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. I attend the EF at most once a month, and when I was able to attend a
    High Sung Mass every Sunday, I always also attended the Sunday Vigil OF
    on Saturday evening, anyway. The EF has helped me pray the OF like never before.

    Perhaps a good rule of thumb (and the one I often give any woman who wants to wear a chapel veil) is: if you don’t want to wear one, nobody can make you. But if you do wish to wear one, nobody can stop you.

    Moreover, if anybody asks, just say that you wish to learn to love Jesus better– I can’t put enough stress on the fact that we are all always learning, conversion being an ongoing, everyday choice, and even adventure. Wearing a chapel veil is never any outward expression of having reached the summit. It is also never any sort of indictment of anyone else. Like attending and loving the EF, opting to wear a chapel veil doesn’t make one a better Catholic than anyone else. But it can make one a better Catholic, period, if one lets it. Moreover, if there’s some fear or mixed motives there, as to whether one is doing it out of vanity or out of love for Jesus, then the best thing is to pray to the Lord, asking Him to help you do it for the right reasons.

    In general, most people won’t notice, and if they comment at all, they are often positive. This is true of my OF parish, and both are fine with me. Some of the other women at the parish who have started wearing veils also are actually the ones from the Charismatic prayer group. …and of course, I extend to them an invitation to “be not afraid” to discover the EF, also.

  • Linda Powell

    I, too, have been discerning whether or not to “veil.” I go to a Traditional Latin Mass about once a quarter. (It is so far away that I think it counts as a pilgrimage. ☺) I love to put on the veil there. There are a very, few women that do not cover their heads at the Extraordinary Form.

    I have noticed that there is so much noise in the sanctuary before and after Mass that I have trouble concentrating on praying the Mass (before, during, and after) and end up being frustrated about the noise. It sounds like a high school gym in there. Since I have decided that it wouldn’t be very “sacred” of me to just stand up and tell everyone to be quiet, I have begun to take a CD of Gregorian Chant to listen to while I’m preparing for the “Sacrifice.”

    I commend you for your decision. BTW, my born-after-the-Vatican daughter LOVES the Latin Mass. She makes the pilgrimage with me when I go.

  • Claire @ Claire Writes

    It’s just beautiful that you answered the call to veil! What a wonderful reminder to others as well as yourself of the presence of Jesus in the tabernacle!

    • Birgit Atherton Jones

      Thank you so much for the kind comments. I can see that you understand the motivation.

  • Mary Fran

    “As with any outward cues we give to those around us, a woman who practices the devotion of veiling is making a public statement about her respect and reverence – for Jesus, present in the Eucharist, and for herself.” I do not need to “make a public statement” about my respect and reverence for Jesus, present in the Eucharist. I show my respect and reverence for Him by being silent in his presence despite the uproar in the church around me, kneeling in front of Him, genuflecting, paying attention to Him in the tabernacle, wearing appropriate clothing, staying an appropriate time to make a proper thanksgiving after communion and stopping by church to make visits. All without wearing a veil. I do not need a veil. And if I were to put something on my head in church, it would be a HAT. Nobody wore veils when I was growing up—every female wore a HAT. In obedience, not in humility. I’m a late 60-something cradle Catholic.

    • Birgit Atherton Jones

      Mary Fran, all of the things you do out of reverence and respect are worthy indications of your love of Jesus. It would be wonderful if more people did these things. These practices are not exclusive, however, and those of us who feel the call to wear a traditional veil certainly strive to do those things as well. Since the dispensation of the obligation to veil, women are still at liberty to add this devotion as a matter of their individual choices – not to distract or take away, but as another form of reverence. My thoughts are just that, *my* thoughts. I’m not trying to reinforce a church rule of days past. Although there is no longer an obligation to veil, some of us feel called – out of humility, love, and admiration.

  • Mary Ellen

    Mass and communion are meant to be communal. They are not just an encounter between you and God.

    • Debra

      Yes, you are correct. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is very much communal worship. In fact, we believe that this community stretches far beyond the obvious reality of the people gathered at that hour in that particular parish building. The Church teaches us that in coming together for Mass, we are celebrating along with the entire Church Militant, Church Suffering, and Church Triumphant. Even the angels and Saints are in attendance with us. This does not nor should it negate a personal encounter with Christ. We are to participate fully with our hearts, minds, and bodies. We unite ourselves to Jesus’s sacrifice at Calvary, re-presented to is in unbloody form at the altar, and offer ourselves to the Father along with Him. And when we come forward for Holy Communion, we not only express our being one with the Church, but we receive Jesus Christ, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity into ourselves. That is very personal! It is both/and, not either/or.

    • Birgit Atherton Jones

      You’re so right, Mary Ellen – Mass is communal – and we all become ‘one’ in the reception of Jesus (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity). There’s another, more personal aspect to Mass and reception of the Eucharist as well. At the moment of reception we are transported – standing in His presence – at the foot of the cross at Calvary. It is a very intimate time for our individual souls uniting with His – here, we are fully accountable. We are seeking sustenance and grace to accompany the journey of everyday life, with a refreshed soul. These two aspects – communion and intimacy – are not mutually exclusive but rather a fullness of our wonderful faith.

  • Lorraine

    I veil in reparation for the “outrages, sacrileges, and indifference by which He is offended”, most notably, the sin of abortion. For the last four years I have desired that just one person would ask me why I veil so I might tell them! Apparently I am either not approachable or no one really is interested.

    • Birgit Atherton Jones

      Lorraine, I understand what you’re saying. To my great surprise, I’ve never been approached and questioned either, so I make the wearing of my veil my testimony. If they know me, they know I’m fervently pro-life and Catholic through and through. Those who don’t know me can see my joy at being at Mass and that my face is not forbidding but rather open and inviting. The rest is up to how others choose to react or not.

      Another thought, we don’t always know when we are making an impression. You never know on whom you might be having an impact! God bless your aspiration to draw attention to the sins against God.

  • Pingback: Identify This Building - BigPulpit.com()

  • David Peters

    Birgit, thank you for sharing this wonderful article. As a Christian I am very blessed when I see the devotion of the veiling. Your points about the need for a deeper interior life are so important. God bless.