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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5 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.

  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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