“A woman should not wear the veil on her head, until she is wearing it first on her heart.” Just a short year ago I would always argue with my Friend about veiling. My argument was I did not want to stand out during Mass, rather I wanted Christ to stand out. I also thought veiling was somewhat prideful. I saw women around my college parish do it, and often times it seemed as though they were doing it because everyone else was doing it or to appear as “holier than thou”. I was determined not to jump on the bandwagon. I could tell my Friend was not impressed with my unreasonable responses. But I was more of the rebel, rebelling against veiling. Until one faithful day in Adoration, God proved me wrong, completely wrong. Three things changed my mind about veiling. Humility, Scripture, and reverence. The opposite of what I argued. That Friend of mine, was the Holy Spirit.
1.) Humility! Everything must start with humility. We must become little to hear the Counselor of our souls speak. One day in Adoration (the day I was proven wrong), I was wearing a scarf around my neck, and I kept having this sudden urgency to veil using my scarf. Oh, I was fighting it. I was sitting in the back of the Adoration Chapel and this really tall girl sat right in front of me, completely blocking the Blessed Sacrament. Perfectly blocking Jesus. This sudden sadness filled my soul. I looked down for a split second, and when I looked up the tall girl moved and I knew Jesus was looking right at me. I immediately took my scarf and veiled. I heard these words in my heart, that every woman is a bride of the Church, thus it is pleasing to Him to veil in the real presence of our Savior. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”. I was the prideful one.
2.) Now, on to scripture! Of course I did not start veiling all the time after that encounter, it was gradual, but it was the perfect starting point to start the veiling process on my heart. I began realizing that veiling is completely scripture based and has been a custom since before Vatican 2. It is tradition, going back to when Christ formed the Catholic Church. Saint Paul tells us:
“That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.” (1 Corinthians 11:10-12)
The Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Veronica, who wiped the face of Jesus, did not simply veil because they lived in a different time period. They veiled because they understood the distinct and different roles of the man and woman in the Church. All holy things are veiled. The altar, the tabernacle is often covered in gold or jewels, our priests wear extravagant vestments, and our women are veiled. Why? Because they too, are made for holiness. It was a requirement for women to wear a veil right up until Vatican 2. And not because they were forced to do so by men, but because they were made holy by the Creator. The word veil comes from the Greek word exousia, translates to authority. Exousia can also mean might or power. Jesus gave The Holy Virgin much authority, after all She is a Queen.
“Maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.”(St. Paul to the Corinthians)
3.) Lastly, reverence. Out of our deep respect for Jesus’ true and breathing presence in the Eucharist, we veil. We want to bring our best selves to the Sacred Liturgy. The veil accentuates the woman’s beauty. We all take on certain roles out of respect and reverence to honor Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, or simply sitting in front of the tabernacle. Priests wear divine vestments, servers wear altar server vestments, and lay men removed their hats because according to Saint Paul, men should not cover their heads because they are the image and glory of God. Men and women are both fearfully and wonderfully made, but we must not mistake the different roles God calls us to. The greatest Saint of all time was Jesus’ Mother, and She veiled. Let us follow in Her footsteps!
Veiling was a process for me, but Jesus was very gradual on my heart. When I finally understood the veiling on the heart to its’ fullness, I couldn’t stop veiling externally. I embrace it. I know the importance and beautiful role of God’s divine creation of the woman, God loves the woman. The way we pray is even different, our prayer radiates a distinct beauty to Jesus. As brides of the Church, we are wearing authority on our heads!