I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before but I veil for Mass. I’ve been veiling for almost a year now and I cover for Mass, Confession, Adoration, prayer and basically whenever I’m in a church. Veiling was, for a long time, compulsory for women but this requirement was abrogated in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. Women are still free to choose to cover their heads but no longer have to. I am told it has remained common practice at Extraordinary Form Masses but in the Ordinary Form it has almost died out. Many have suggested, however, that veiling is experiencing a revival among young women – women too young to have experienced the times when it was the norm but are drawn to the practice anyway. I am one of these who is too young to remember a time when women had to veil, since I wasn’t even born until almost a decade after the new Code of Canon Law. Only once in my entire life had I seen a woman veiling at Mass. But even just that one time I was transfixed by it, though it was several years later that I actually began the practice for myself.
My own decision to veil was somewhat spontaneous but at the same time something I had felt drawn to for a long time. I felt a tug in my heart but couldn’t really face the reality of doing it. I lived in the Middle East for several years and for a long time I associated head-covering with that oppression of women and hiding from men who would otherwise leer at you. Not to mention I used the headscarf to hide the fact that I am European and not make myself a target for attacks. So head-covering itself was not a new idea to me but for many years it did have those negative associations. It was only through a lot of research and a lot of prayer that realised that the true beauty of something should not be judged by those who abuse it. I was so drawn to veil at Mass but I never saw a single other woman veil at my parish veil and was too scared of being stared at or refused the Eucharist or something (an EMHC did try and refuse me the Blood of Christ a few weeks ago but that’s for another post). It wasn’t until one week I was discussing the subject on CAF with another young woman who was interested in veiling that I had this moment where I just went “okay, I’m going to cover this Sunday”. I hadn’t actually been to Mass in a few weeks so I think part of it was that I knew it was ‘safe’ since I wouldn’t be receiving the Eucharist anyway. I didn’t have anything to veil with so that day I went out and scoured the stores looking for something. Eventually I found the perfect thing, a plain white gauzy scarf. As I went into Mass that Sunday I almost chickened out. I stood in the narthex and put the scarf around my neck but couldn’t put it over my head. I went into the church feeling a bit dejected and went and knelt in my pew to pray as normal. All of a sudden I felt this wave of grace and the Holy Spirit really came to me in that moment and without really thinking I pulled the scarf over my head. I don’t think I had ever called upon our Blessed Mother for help quite as fervently as I did at that Mass. As she always does, she showered me with graces and as I prayed the nerves calmed and I was filled with the most wonderful feeling that I was doing exactly what God wanted me to be doing. There are honestly few experiences as amazing as that. Ever since that day I have continued to veil at Mass and extended the practice to Adoration, Confession and my private prayer both when I visit the church to pray and at home.
For me, veiling has been an immense blessing. It brought me back to the Mass when I had drifted, it increased my devotion to the Blessed Mother and honestly it has truly enriched my experience of the Mass. Through the veil Christ has humbled me and drawn me ever closer to Him. If you do not veil and feel drawn to it, I implore you give it some sincere thought and prayer. God will guide you. Trust in Him and don’t be afraid of being the only one. Just pray that your witness may inspire other women who feel drawn to the practice.
Resources for veiling
CAF Group – Veiled in Grace – if you are a member of the Catholic Answers Forums, I thoroughly recommend that you join this group. It is for women who choose to veil for any variety of reasons and provides a great support group and also has some excellent resources.
Mantilla With Me – this is a very good resource, it’s very simple and easy to read and has a very humble approach. It also has some good advice for first-timers.
Garlands of Grace – they have beautiful, simple head-coverings and headbands and also cute little ones for young girls.
Rosa Mystica Mantilla – they sell very beautiful mantillas in a wide range of colours and styles.
Headcoverings by Devorah – for those less inclined to the lacy mantillas, I would say this is the place to go. They have a huge variety of styles of head-covering so you can find what works best for you.