I converted from Protestantism to Catholicism in 2016 and it was one of my greatest decisions. Since my conversion, I’ve kept it under wraps and told very few people. I don’t think my family would understand my choice. Since the beginning of my journey to Catholicism I was intrigued by the women who came to mass wearing a veil. The secular, feminist side of me mocked them and their traditional values. Who would succumb themselves to a rule made by man?! But as I studied, I found that this “ancient” tradition isn’t degrading or a rule made by man. It’s, in fact, a beautiful and storied tradition dating back to the time of Christ.
It’s very rare to see young women in the Church wearing a veil to mass. Most veiled women are older, still living the values under Vatican I. So, the anxiety that I’m plagued with, tells me that veiling isn’t meant for me. But I do so love the traditionalism and meaning behind the veil.
So what is that meaning?
According to my favorite veil shop Veils by Lily:
The veil is meant to be an external sign of a woman’s interior desire to humble herself before God, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. As women, we are symbols of the Church – the Bride of Christ – and “the veil is meant to be a visible reminder of the perfect submission of the Church to the loving rule of Christ.”
For 2000 years, Catholic women have worn some kind of head covering in Church. Though the particular reasons for doing so have varied (for example, modesty in the time of St. Paul), this practice has always focused on the transcendence of the place – the church, the very dwelling of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Having been given this magnificent Gift by Jesus himself, every Catholic church holds something not found anywhere else: the true, living presence of our Bridegroom, hidden under the appearance of bread and wine.
“The veil is a visual sermon, … a public proclamation before the Lord that He IS the Lord and that we love Him and that we are ready to obey him. It’s a totally counter-cultural statement proclaiming obedience in the midst of a culture that is totally permeated with this attitude of ‘I will not serve.'”
The veil is a sign of the great dignity inherent to a woman, who has the potential to receive life within herself… both human life and the supernatural life of God. This is an important message the world needs to hear, now more than ever!
Additionally, 1 Corinthians 11:3-6 states:
But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.
I say all this to say that it’s not required of a Christian woman to cover her head. In the 60s when Vatican II came out, it was no longer required for women to wear a covering to mass. However, it’s still a valid tradition, if you see fit. And I love it. I love the idea of covering my head when entering in the presence of Christ. I love the reverence of it all!!
I currently don’t use a veil. To be fully honest, I haven’t found a church to attend in my new area, and haven’t been to confession in a few months (definitely feeling the conviction to get back). I will be ordering a veil (see link above for the most beautiful veils) on Friday and I’m so excited to enter this journey!!