7 Reasons I Veil at Mass

Let me get this out of the way first. No, it’s not because I think I’m better than anyone. Yes, I’m nearly the only woman at my parish veiling.

Catholic chapel veil meme

 

1. Humility

It helps me recognize that there is someone over me.

 

2. The Order of Creation

Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head.
But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. (1 Cor. 11:4-5)

 

3. Reverence

It honors the Eucharist, source and summit of our faith.

 

4. Canon law

Headcovering appears in the 1917 Code of Canon Law. Then disappeared without mention in the 1983 version. So is it relegated to the dust bin of history? Perhaps not. Canon 5 states:

Other contrary customs are also to be considered suppressed, unless the Code expressly provides otherwise, or unless they are centennial or immemorial: these latter may be tolerated if the Ordinary judges that, in the circumstances of place and person, they cannot be removed. {emphasis mine} 


Since headcovering dates to at least the churches Paul founded in Corinth, it’s about as immemorial as you get.

 

5. Otherworldliness

It’s an external help to remind me that this time is different from all the other hours of my week.

 

6. Universality

Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled?… But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God. (1 Cor. 11:13 & 16)

7. Contain life

The things in church that mystically contain life are veiled. The chalice, the tabernacle, the ciborium, and women. We forget in our day-to-day lives that every human pregnancy is a miracle. It’s an awe-inspiring privilege to share in God’s creation.

You know who doesn’t forget this miracle? The infertile. I first read about the veiling of the vessels of life during one of my lowest points on our infertility journey. I felt forgotten by God. Putting on my mantilla was a physical accompaniment to my prayers, begging him not to forget me.



Now I keep wearing the veil for many reasons, including the seven listed above. But always with an attitude of thankfulness. I’m grateful for physical traditions to reinforce my spiritual practices.  I’m grateful to share in God’s work of creation. And most of all, I’m grateful for my identity as a woman.

 

PS. I currently wear a black starter veil, and I’m thinking of ordering a blue veil for feast days. I swear by these super-duty clips for keeping everything in place.

 

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Snag my top reccomendations for theology, fiction, motherhood, and Catholic classics. I even tell you if something is a beginner or an advanced book to use in your club.

33 comments

  1. I veil too and have for 4 years. I am 34 and for a while I was the ONLY one now there are 3 veilers! we are a small parish of about 30-35 people. It is nice to know there are more of “us” out there. oh I wear a black velvet headband under my veil and it keeps it from slipping around, no need for clips.

    1. I want to start veiling and have 5 veils at home. My parish is small…400 active parishioners. We all know each other. I am 53 but look younger. The nuns no longer veil. When i told the priest i am interested in the TLM, he dismissed it saying in Italy, there arent latin masses. Ugh. People wear shorts, halters, short skirts, talk in church, etc.
      Not that i should care, but i don’t want to be accused of being overly pious, self righteous, etc. It may be time for a new church.but ive been going there for 15+ years now. How can it be that im alone? How did you get the nerve to veil when no one else has? Convicted but afraid.

      1. We started a little over a year ago. It was hard at first because I felt self conscious about it, but then when I think about all the reasons I veil I found it silly to be self conscious. I veil for God and Jesus not for the people in my church and certainly not for my priest whomever that may be at the time. It is a very personal decision that each decides with God. I hope you find the strength from God you need to do what you feel you are being called to do. God Bless

  2. I veil too! Though I think I will have to disagree with one of your reasons.
    I don’t think canon law continues to require veiling due to the language in 1983 was that 1917 code was “abrogated” and continued not to mention veiling within the 1983 code. As far as I, and all the scholars I have been able to consult so far, that leaves veiling in a canonically grey zone. We’re free to chose or not chose veiling under canon law. I honestly think it makes the act of doing so even more powerful!
    Canon 5 would apply to customs that are otherwise considered contrary to customs as laid out in the law which I do not see for the practice of veiling. That’s a good thing!

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful response! You’ve obviously put a lot of research and discernment into this 🙂

      I would point out though, that the word “contrary” is inserted into the second sentence in English. But it is only in the first sentence of Canon 5 in the Latin. The original Latin for sentence 2 of Canon 5 reads “Codice aliud caveatur” (code provided otherwise). It says nothing of contrariness.

      The English insertion makes the second sentence redundant. If the first sentence addresses all “universal and particular customs” which are contrary, what does that leave for “other” contrary customs?

      1. Thanks. I wrote my college thesis on this, and did a lot of consulting with so many scholars to get down very thoroughly into the canon law. I still contend it’s a very weak case for making the claim veiling is required. The other customs would be suppressed, as the law explicitly states.
        Again, this is not saying you should not veil, just there is not the evidence to claim that canon law enforces veiling.
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  3. I do wear my veil while in church for all the 7 reasons that were mentioned, I would add that when ever Our Lady Mary appears to certain few as well as in paintings she is (for the most part) always as far as I know wearing a veil. If Our Blessed Mother wears one why don’t you? Also if you pray outside of church do you put it on then pray? What if you don’t have any covering available do you still pray? Does 1 Cor. 11:4-5 not apply? I feel that we should at least carry or wear a covering so that when we want to spontaneously pray we act as we would in church. Cover they head ladies Our Blessed Mother does!

    1. I am a full time catholic veiler. If you study the history of veiling throughout the centuries and read the church fathers on veiling, you will see why. I wear a mantilla (black or in harmony with liturgical colors) to mass, but I wear a turban or snood most of the time outside mass.

      1. Natalie I also cover full time as well as wear long skirts and modest clothes. It makes me feel totally different and it has helped me with coming closer to God.

        1. I started veiling last year at the behest of our Lord Jesus. He wanted me to wear it and I resisted for quite some time. I wear it all the time except in bed. Most of the year I wear a white veil except during lent when I wear purple.
          I am glad that there are others who wear full time. Here even those who do so in mass do not outside of church. I get many odd looks (well, it is Cornwall) yet when visiting my daughter in London no one bats an eye. There are other faiths which ask women to cover their heads and men for that matter.
          Don’t be afraid to take that step. I am glad I gained enough courage to do so.

    2. I agree with you that Mary was a huge reason for me to begin veiling at Mass and Adoration about 2 years ago. The other reasons listed are true for me as well, but in a simple way I wanted to be more like Mary as well.

      And I too have similar questions regarding the fact that if we are to pray without ceasing, should we cover our heads all of the time or only in the presence of God in the Eucharist. I’ve kind of taken the view of the latter, but historically both men and women wear a lot of different kinds of head coverings more than our modern society.

  4. Why would cannon law matter at all when it is written in the bible? meaning God wants is? Isn’t Gods’ wants a priority over any law of man? why would one need to explain one’s desire to obey God by any point other than: The Creator likes it.? I pray covered because Heavenly Father likes it and I like Him.

  5. In the Coptic Orthodox Church, most women wear a veil during mass and prayers. I agree with your 7 reasons and the fact that our Lady Mary appeared to be always wearing one.

  6. I started veiling about two years ago. The church where I go for daily mass has quite a few ladies who veil, but I was going there for about six years before I felt a call to do so. I am the only one at my parish church who veils, and often the only one when I visit other churches. That’s okay. I’m doing it for my Lord. Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

  7. I remember goin to Mass wit my grandmother in da erly 60’s and she alwys wore a veil. She wuld evn pull one out of her purse for me.

  8. I used to wear a veil but stopped as I felt I was drawing attention to myself instead of having focus on the Mass. after reading this, I will think about wearing a veil.

    Thank you,
    Marie

  9. I am so pleased you brought up veiling, I always felt it was an injustice and lack of reverence to Our Lord not to veil. If I don’t wear my veil then I always wear a hat, but I always cover my head out of reverence and love.

  10. I veil as well however if we read in 1 Corinthians that we should wear a veil while praying to God I see it as a necessary item to wear all the time. I (try) to wear an infinity scarf the I can wear around my neck so I am always at the ready when I feel the need to pray! Also all you lady’s who choose to veil have you also looked into or believe in other traditions that are not practiced for a grand majority such as the traditional Latin Mass? If you haven’t looked into it the Mass now and the Mass before Vatican ll VERY different!

  11. Thank you Lorelei,

    I started veiling when I was homeschooling 2 of my children for a short time. I began attending a church after meeting a mother who inspired me. I noticed so many ladies wearing veils and finally got the courage to ask one `why`. Her answer was quite straight forward and she was more than happy to tell me all her reasons. since I couldn`t stop thinking about it, prepared my husband and children I finally got the courage to walk in our small French Canadian church with a veil on my head, and stand at the podium to do the readings. I decided to offer my fears of judgement and whispers as humility to God. I have never looked back, it has been 1 year. I hope one day someone might approach me and ask the “why Veil “, so I may answer with delight .

  12. Women who object to veiling would only be too willing to veiling up if they were asked to do so before stepping into a non-Catholic/other religion place of Worship. They forget we have the Blessed Sacrament. The Satanists know the true church, you don’t catch them trying to steal a consecrated host from any of the other religions.
    If there were one million families praying the Rosary every day, the entire world would be saved.
    Pope Pius X out there.

    . “All the evils of the world are due to lukewarm Catholics.” Pope St. Pius X.

    Great article, God bless

    1. You shouldn’t be thinking about how you look.
      Stop being vain.
      And using a photo of someone in costume in a film to express how ugly you actually think you look isn’t exactly humble either.

  13. I veil and have since I read Corinthians. I always dress for Church in a dress because I am going to see the King. Not for me but to honor God.

  14. I recently joined the Legion Of Mary Lay group in our parish, and I now after reading all your comments I am going to start veiling for mass. When I received my 1st holy communion i remember being dressed in white and a veil over my head..
    At lease for the most part , when going to receive Holy Communion , Im going to start wearing a veil.

  15. I wish more women would veil. I cover full time and I also dress modestly with long skirts and sweaters. I have noticed a big difference in me since I have. I also feel it helps me be more conscious of my behavior. I feel closer to God. It has been 3 years since I started covering full time.

  16. I would hope that as a Catholic I would never look down on a person attending Mass because they weren’t veiled or did not meet my standard of dress. God knows our hearts. I am soon to be 61 and do not miss wearing veils to church. It was wonderful when I didn’t have to anymore.

  17. Thank you so much for this article, I have been on the proverbial fence about whether or not I should veil. Only a couple of women in my parish wear one, but then, I come from a quite liberal, cosmopolitan, city. You make excellent arguments, though, and I think I can see my path forward.

  18. You shouldn’t be thinking about how you look.
    Stop being vain.
    And using a photo of someone in costume in a film to express how ugly you actually think you look isn’t exactly humble either

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