Chapel Veils and the Evangelization of Men

Birgit - veil

Birgit - veil2

Among the many things the secular media and liberal Catholic media missed from Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke’s recent interview with the New Emangelization Project was His Eminence’s call to return a more reverent awe in the Mass.  Here is a summary of His Eminence’s key points:

The Mass has become de-sacralized. There have been and continue to be “serious liturgical abuses” that include “priest-centered” liturgies and rampant liturgical experimentation that has “stripped the Rite of the Mass of much of its careful articulation of the Sacred Mysteries that had been developed over centuries…” Because of this, many men have been “really turned off by the loss of the sacred…and are not being drawn into a deeper liturgical spirituality.”

The Church needs to return to more reverent masses and catechize men on the Mass. His Eminence believes that “men will respond when they see a priest reverently acting in the name of Christ.” Men also need to be catechized “about the profound realities of the Mass.” While it is clear that the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite has a special attraction for men, particularly young men, if the Ordinary Form is “celebrated very reverently with good music, [it] can have the same strong positive effect on men.”

Rebecca Devendra has made an important contribution to the conversation with her recent article, “The Chapel Veil and Women’s Rights”, over a the excellent website  In part, Rebecca says:

The Church, in her traditional liturgical practice, adorns things that are sacred. We veil our altars, decorate our tabernacles with gold and jewels, and robe our priests in beautiful vestments to signify the dignity of their office. It is certainly not sinful to do away with these things, but the outward acknowledgement of the dignity due to them is laudable and conducive to humility. As St. John Chrysostom said, “Christ appears when the Priest disappears.”

and this:

I wear a veil regularly now at Mass. It took some time and prayer to feel at home in it. It helps to find a parish where half of the women wear head coverings (veils or scarves or hats, as all of these things are acceptable substitutes), and to know that people will not make it their personal mission to comment on your attire.  I can assert comfortably now that there is great solace in the practice of veiling. It is conducive to prayer, and like all acts of loving devotion, freely chosen.

Modesty, chastity, dignity. This is what a chapel veil represents, and it belongs to a woman in respect to God, not only to man. It is a symbol of her authority and of her right to communicate with God in a specifically feminine form of devotion.

Here are several thoughts:

While there is much work to be done to return many men back into a deep understanding and awe of the Mass, and many ways to do it, one clear way is for women who feel so moved to wear a veil.

I’ve got a hunch that if large numbers of women started wearing veils to Mass, large numbers of men would begin to grow in their faith.

Lead on sisters!  Lead on!

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18 thoughts on “Chapel Veils and the Evangelization of Men”


  2. Thoughtful article. However, it is rather troubling when men or women begin to think that the other gender changing is needed to further their own faith. Like in the garden, Adam blamed Eve who blamed the serpent instead of admitting their own sins. As a woman who has often felt belittled or domineered into looking the way men want or acting in a certain way for them, there is something about the article’s reasoning that seems a bit off. However, that might just be me.

    1. Anna, I came across a quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen a couple of weeks ago: “When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her.”

      It’s interesting that this quote really doesn’t work the other way ’round. For better or worse, women seem to have the ‘superpower’ of helping boys to become men and helping men to become better men. I’m afraid the members of my sex, left to their own devices, would make a rather poor showing for themselves (would a woman put up with one of those frat boys from the University of Oklahoma?).

      So instead of looking at it like the women have to change to further the men’s faith, I believe that Mr. Christoff may be suggesting that women can inspire and encourage men to a deeper experience of the amazing mystery that is the Mass.

    2. That is a beautiful way to look at the issue that I had not seen. Thank you! However, I would say that there are certain men who have certainly helped me to grow further in my faith and understand more of God. Maybe we can both inspire each other.

    3. “Maybe we can both inspire each other.” Wonderful! Now we are getting to the ‘heart’ of the New Evangelization!

  3. Birgit Atherton Jones

    As a woman who began veiling in an NO parish almost 3 years ago, I really enjoyed your perspective. I was more concerned about how I would be received, as I am often the only woman to practice this devotion in our parish. I never thought about about how it might affect members of the masculine gender. I do love the distinctions of the genders – equal, yet very different.

    All in all my experience has been quite positive and I don’t see myself going back to being bare-headed. At the onset, I did speak with my husband and felt it important to know what he thought. We had an in-depth conversation wherein he asked for my motivation and I shared it. It’s a lovely and reverent way to show love of God and love of neighbor.

    1. That makes two of us.

      I also veil at an NO-only parish. I had a bit of apprehension, too, but I figured that I already had some good answers for folks who had comments– namely that a woman wears a veil at the TLM because of the Blessed Sacrament. If “that’s still Jesus” at the NO, then why not veil there, too?

      Nobody comments, actually, and if anyone does, it’s mostly been very positive.

      I’m one of two women who wear a chapel veil at the NO at our parish. The other one likes the idea of “rocking that mantilla”– sounds way better than “join the doily-head club!” Besides, “The Doily Heads” make us sound like Catholic punk band, or something. 😉

  4. I would be interested to know what percentage of men do you feel are not going to mass because of your observations and what percentage of men are not going to mass for a totally different reason(s).

    1. Denise Beaudoin

      You can observe this easily by first going to a novus ordo mass, and counting the men, than going to a old rite latin mass where women are veiled, and counting the men. Like you, I would not be able to explain totally different reasons other than mass more or less sacred’s attraction on men.

    2. Thank you for the comment. To put the question another way, out of all the many men who are not going to mass at all, how many of them would you recover if the “sacred attraction” were enhanced ? I think the authors reasoning is centered on a very small
      percentage (out of the whole) who would return as opposed to a very large percentage that would not and are not affected at all by decorum.

    3. Denise Beaudoin

      The same percentage of men that are present in traditional latin mass would be multiplied by the number of churches certainly. Attendance in United States in Bizantine churches all using extinct languages such as syriac, aramaic, koine greek, coptic, slovanic, etc., are up to 45% and it would be higher if they had more churches certainly. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. Men witnessing the faith in other men would be attracted also. Here is something evocative: Only 20 names were confirmed of the 21 Copts killed by Isis in Lybia. Ahram-Canadian News was able to gather information about this man. He was a Chadian Citizen who accepted Christianity after seeing the immense faith of his fellow Coptic Christians to die for Christ. When Terrorist forced him to reject Jesus Christ as God, looking at his Christian friends he replied, “their God is my God“ so the terrorist beheaded him also. Catholics and orthodox christians can rebuild this dying western civilisation. We did it before.

    4. I agree about rebuilding this declining state of church and culture but feel that it
      is solely in the hands of theologians to meld theology, dogma and canon law into a shared concept understood by all – Vatican II was the first critical step.

    5. Denise Beaudoin

      Nothing can compare to religious decline non-stop since 50 years now, and denying Vatican Ii misstep is wrong. We have to live our faith more fully to counteract this. Read “The Death of American and the West” on blog which inspired me. Read also “The reality of the traditionalist ghetto” on blog Both are very important to understand where we stand now.

    6. Yes, it is sad that EF Catholics seem to have been marginalized. Somewhat like those who
      cannot receive communion and have only Pope
      Francis to advocate mercy on their behalf. Any
      way you slice it the Church is changing and that
      is a process that always involves pain. Hang in
      there Denise.

    7. EF catholics are marginalized because neo-catholics have been sold on the idea that the the Holy Church for 2000 years and all popes and saints before Vatican II were wrong. Communion cannot be given to one not in state of grace. Food is of no use for dead people. If a non-repentant sinner a consecrated host, it could the cause of his damnation. People have free will and if they desire communion, they should stop sinning and receiving communion will help them to make them stronger in remaining without sin. The first step toward holiness is a leap of Faith and then everything else is a climbing on the ladder by progression, but it is the only way to true heart peace and happiness. I read traditional spiritual books and the best translated bibles. It takes an extra effort to learn about the catholic teachings, and you have to will it. This attitude will overthrow all obstacles. It is the only true path to grow in imitation of Jesus Christ. I have to stronger than most as I was a great sinner and atheist before. There’s no going back to this horror for me. I trust in Divine Providence. I do not understand everything, but I Believe and I always pray to do God’s will for me, and no my own will. I progress all the time, and it is encouraging. I’ll name you James in my future prayers. Save your soul before anything else.

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