Today is the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic holy day of obligation, and I have really wanted to step up my liturgical living so step 1 is attending mass on these days. Additionally, the Immaculate Conception has kind of become a “Wear a Veil to Mass Day.” There are parish social media ads for women to think about veiling to Mass on this day in emulation of the Virgin. So as a recent mass-veiling-woman, here’s my take on the day.
First off, who is the Immaculate Conception about?
Many people think it’s about Jesus’ conception because the feast day is so close to Christmas, but it’s not! The Immaculate Conception is all about Mary (as surprisingly , most things during this season are). In order to be a perfect vessel for Jesus, Mary herself had to be born without original sin, meaning that she had to be conceived immaculately (perfectly clean). While this is not something directly in the Bible, it comes from long-standing church teachings about the Virgin.
What does veiling have to do with the Immaculate Conception?
Part of veiling in the Catholic Church is to emulate the most perfect female example in the Bible: the Virgin Mary. In all works of art, Mary is veiled (because it was an Ancient Near Eastern tradition). And so the holiday of the Immaculate Conception has also become a big push for Catholic women to try out a veil to mass, with no strings attached.
What is the meaning behind Catholic veiling?
The theological meaning behind veiling comes from Church teachings about Mary and the role of women in general. Mary was the vessel for Jesus for 9 months and she was veiled, we also cover the Tabernacle where the Eucharist is kept (aka holy and important vessels are veiled). Women, as the bringers of life into the world, have special distinction as “holy vessels” there for it was a long-standing tradition for women to veil during Mass.
Men would uncover their heads while at Mass and women would veil; both to indicate their unique roles in the eyes of G-d. While veiling is TOTALLY optional, I personally feel it helps me to focus and feel more present when praying, listening to the readings, or going up for Communion.
Read more: Catholic Culture: Female Veiling
Ladies, if you’ve been thinking about it, today is the day to give it a go ahead! No judgments and no need to buy any fancy mantilla, any scarf will do.