Catholic Culture: Female Veiling

So crazy enough I have decided to try to start veiling for Mass. It feels silly and important to me at the same time. This has been something on my mind for YEARS but I always pushed the thought aside as something for über churchy women, which I was not, and still am not. But ironically enough, veiling for a mosque visit during my Religious Worlds of New York Summer Program and researching Judaism this past year has reignited by interest in veiling for mass.

Read more: Student Series! Women and Islam

I’m still doing research on veiling in different faith traditions and looking into the Catholic theology of it. Even though I have already ordered my veil, I’m still nervous about wearing it to Mass and people thinking I’m faking being holier-than-thou, which I am totally not even close to or desire to be! LOL Currently I only see two women at my church wear them and I really don’t like that I will only be the third…sound silly but I’m probably going to go to another church than my “home” church the first time I wear it to test it out among strangers. 🙂

196This photo was taken while visiting the Islamic Cultural Center of New York for a Jumma service

This Q&A was adapted from the website I bought my veil at: Veils by Lilly.

Why do Catholic women wear chapel veils at Mass?

The veil is an external sign of the humbleness one is supposed to feel before G-d, who is present in the Blessed Sacrament (aka Eucharist). In Catholic theology, woman are the symbol of the Church, also known as the Bride of Christ, and the veil recalls a woman’s role in this relationship (think of the wedding veil).

For most of the Catholic church’s 2,000 year history women have worn some kind of head covering while in church. It only went out of fashion after Vatican II when it was no longer a requirement, but at no point did the church say it was not a good idea. Rev.  Bugnini  said: “The rule has not been changed. It is a matter of general discipline.” Basically speaking, women can now choose if they want to veil in church or not.

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But men don’t have to wear veils?

1 Corinthians 11:7 “A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.”

Just like the idea of a woman wearing a veil goes back to the bridal imagery,  a man is seen as bridegroom in this scenario. Since the Church is considered the “bride” of Christ, the women (as the “bride”) should cover her head as submission to the bridegroom, Christ, which is represented by men. The idea of submission makes any feminist cringe a little, me included.

Jewish side note: the yarmulke is a head covering worn by Jewish men at all times to show their humbleness towards G-d. I wonder why Christianity did away with that tradition but not female head coverings?

Read more: Travel Tip: Dressing for Houses of Worship

NGA-Francisco de Goya, Young Lady Wearing a Mantilla, 1800-1805

When to wear the veil?

You are supposed to wear the veil whenever you are in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (aka Eucharist). So for most people, that would happen only at Mass. For example, I teach Catechism classes at my church but they take the Eucharist out for the class times so I don’t need to wear my veil then.

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This is the veil I bought, I figured it would blend in with my dark hair

Is the veil supposed to be a full head covering?

No. It can be a small little piece of fabric (no need for something like a Islamic hijab). The idea behind it is to be an external reminder of the religious nature of the Blessed Sacrament.

I asked Will to help me pick out a veil because I was really nervous of making this step. I wanted one that was dark in color but long enough that I didn’t have to worry about it falling off.

JMF


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3 thoughts on “Catholic Culture: Female Veiling

  1. It’s not to be confused for the evangelical interpretation, which is that females should wear head coverings as a symbol of submission to their husband, (if married) or father (if single). Most people don’t know about it or believe in it, but every now and then you’ll meet a group that won’t let you join them unless you agree to wear one of the spare head coverings they have waiting for you.

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