Wow I am a blogging machine lately! Its really because I have about 15 draft posts that I would like to finish up. Before I get to talking about veiling, here is a craft I recently did for our door!
There have been various articles on veiling that I have seen floating around on the web. There are some on the tradition of the veil, how a veil is attractive to a man and why some women choose to wear a veil at Mass. As I was talking to my friend about it all I told her my story with the veil. She said I should write about it so here it goes! I am not trying to convince any woman to wear a veil to Mass, although I think it would be lovely, I am just sharing my story and why I wear it.
I have been wearing a veil to Mass since January 2009. I wore it to a wedding...well actually the first time I wore a veil to Mass was at my wedding in Dec. 2007. My connection to the veil was long before 2007 though. My great grandmother, Rafaela, was my first exposure to the veil. I can't remember an instance where she didn't wear it in church or at Mass. She wore one up until she couldn't physically go to Mass anymore. When I was a child and saw her wearing it I thought it was the most beautiful romantic action of hers because it reminded me of history, tradition and a wedding of course. She passed away in Nov. 2006 at 97 years old and my fondest memories are seeing her in Mass wearing her veil. The veil represented her commitment to God and His Church and I thought it was so cool that this holy woman was my great grandma. When I would see her at first Friday Masses in elementary school I would go up to her after Mass while she was doing her after Mass prayers and tell her "hi", even when I was in junior high. Yup, that's how proud I was that she was part of my family!
Fast forward to my time on N.E.T. and I remember one of my sisters from TX (shout out to TX!) was talking about how she wore the veil sometimes and I was so intrigued. I thought it was a beautiful tradition but wasn't sure if it was for me. I didn't want to hide my hair plus at the time I was a jeans and tshirts gal, even to Mass. I was having a really hard time with my femininity at the time too as I was in that "I am no longer a teenager but wouldn't consider myself a woman yet" I just wasn't quite sure what real femininity looked like. Who would I be as a woman and how did the veil fit in? The veil is also a symbol of chastity which is something I had always struggled with. Before I became a missionary I was in an unhealthy relationship with a man who was older than I was. Part of the reason I became a missionary was so that I could get away from the whole situation because I couldn't seem to stay away from that relationship, yet I was unhappy that it was driving me farther away from God.
When I got home from N.E.T. I was seriously thinking about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart and if God was calling me to enter that order. I thought about being Christ's bride and His alone which would mean I would wear a veil all the time. This really made me plunge into reflection about my femininity. The veil would encourage me to uphold my dignity in and outside of Mass especially in regards to what I wore to Mass. I couldn't just wear a tshirt and jeans or a short dress/skirt to Mass with my veil now could I? I had to dress modestly, with style of course, but modest. Wearing the veil would also mean I would need to uphold my dignity in regards to purity which is something that was going to be a challenge for me. It was easy to be pure while I was a missionary because we weren't allowed to date. When I got home the dating scene was still there, this man was still there and the same temptations never left but something was different, I was different. I wanted something different and I was going to strive for it. I wanted to strive to be worthy of my wedding veil either as a sister or a wife.
When I was on retreat with the Sisters I very clearly felt that God was not calling me to them which saddened me in part because I would not get to wear a veil. I remember thinking the only time I would get to wear one was on my wedding day. Little did I know that people can still wear a veil and be married or single! I was so naive. At the time I was still uncomfortable with the prospect of wearing a veil to Mass because I would stand out. I don't like attention on me so if I wore a veil people would see me and I wasn't ready to let that happen. A big part of that was pride! When we think of ourselves and our insecurities too much we aren't thinking about God and pleasing Him. I also thought about the whole "why do women have to cover their hair? What about men?! How sexist is that?!" Again, pride. But the veil is so much more than just covering your hair and men vs. women in the Church!
You see, I like to be veiled or hidden at Mass not because I need to hide my
In one of our conversations with each other JJ remembers me telling him that I would want my future husband to propose to me by giving me a veil. I wanted to be like my great grandmother who was a beautiful example of a woman and part of her beauty was her wearing her veil. She humbled herself before the Lord and I wanted to do the same, to humbly serve in my vocation. One of the traditions behind the veil is the symbolism of a woman being part of her husband's family, of being under his protection. So when JJ proposed, part of it was presenting me with a white mantilla veil and I knew he was going to ask me to be his bride at that point. The whole proposal was really beautiful but the fact that he gave me a lovely white mantilla veil was particularly meaningful. I knew this meant he wanted to guard my femininity and honor it with his own masculinity. It meant that he was taking me under his headship as my husband and my beauty is reserved for Jesus and him. I also love the fact that he remembered our conversation. How romantic!
For practical reasons I like the veil because I can focus better at Mass and not look around or have people talk to me before or after Mass. I am not scrupulous about wearing my veil because I usually forget it for daily Mass. I used to be more scrupulous but found myself shaming myself when I forgot it or not going into adoration because I did not have my veil. As I have worked hard to overcome most of my scruples I don't feel so bad when I forget it. I do have a couple back ups in the car in case I forget my veil pouch but for the most part I usually wear it to Sunday and Holy Day Masses always. Also the veil is great way to hide a bad hair day!
So all this talk about why I veil, but now here is a little challenge for the Marian month of May ladies: wear a veil once in May to daily Mass or Sunday Mass. If it feels too weird to go to your parish where people know you then go to a different parish where no one knows you. Do you veil already? If you do please share why and how it makes you feel? If you are a blogger write about the challenge if you do it! I am interested to hear other women's perspectives on this topic. If you need help finding a veil try your local Catholic gift shop or Veils by Lily has some beautiful ones in all kinds of colors and styles. If you want more info. on veils in general this is a great resource from Fish Eaters.