QUAERITUR: To veil or not to veil.

From a reader:

I’m debating whether or not to start veiling at the Novus Ordo Mass I attend. [She is obviously talking about wearing a chapel veil or head covering in church during Mass.]

I find going to Mass puts me in the occasion of sin because there is so much cacophony and irreverence before and during Mass that I cannot stay focused. I have actually got lost in mid-prayer, forgotten what I was praying about, and not able to get myself back into focus. I also find myself having uncharitable thoughts and getting prideful when this happens. [You are not alone, friend.]

I feel like I need to wear it to help with my humility and to be a physical reminder to stay focused on why I’m there, but I keep having this underlying nagging voice telling me not to do it because it’s a sign of pride and I’ll stand out as being overly-pious.

I’m not talking about wearing something showy. I’m thinking more along the lines of a smaller black veil (it’ll blend in with my dark hair better than white) that is just long enough to cover my hair. I don’t want to stand out.

If I do veil, I know I’ll be the only person wearing a head covering, as my parish is not traditionally minded at all.

Does it sound like I’d be veiling for a valid reason, or should I be concerned that this is more rooted in pride? I don’t know what to think because my parish is so casual that even wearing my Sunday best makes me feel overly-pious.

I am in a quandary.  I sincerely understand the points she has raised.

I think we have to assume that the writer can’t go to another, more traditional parish where the use of the chapel veil would not be seen as so singular.

We could do a lot of “on the one hand” and “on the other” with this.  She clearly wants to do it, but doesn’t want to appear singular in the eyes of others.  She thinks it might help her during Mass, but in choosing to do it, that choice could itself become a problem.

As much as I am in favor of a return to this entirely optional custom, I am going to advise in this instance additional reflection with prayer before making this choice.  It seems to me that if dilemma still has such sharp horns for you, then perhaps this is not the right time to do it.

And there is really no rush or pressure to decide.  At the core of my advice on this point is, relax.  Don’t make this into a huge additional distraction for you at Mass, something to worry about when you go.  Giving this a little more time may allow you to make this choice with a little more confidence.

In an act of the purest optimism, I will open the combox so that some of you ladies who have more than likely gone through this same internal debate might chime in with your helpful insights.

Helpful, please.  Thoughtful and brief.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. servusmariaen says:

    I applaud any woman in this day and age who has to courage to honor St Paul’s injunction in 1 Corinthians 11:4-16. Veiling has a venerable tradition in both the east and west. I was particularly moved by this statement with which I can fully sympathise:

    I find going to Mass puts me in the occasion of sin because there is so much cacophony and irreverence before and during Mass that I cannot stay focused. I have actually got lost in mid-prayer, forgotten what I was praying about, and not able to get myself back into focus. I also find myself having uncharitable thoughts and getting prideful when this happens.

    I find myself (as a man) having to close my eyes most of the time when assisting at the Novus Ordo for the same reasons. It’s sad but true. Sometimes I see almost as much uncovered at the Novus Ordo as I do on the street…………

  2. Yorkmum says:

    When Istarted attending TLM I dug out my aunt’s old mantilla and always wore it. (I have now treated myself to a new, less frayed one.) After I had been going to TLM for a while I realised that I would prefer to cover my head in my parish church, despite the fact that no-one else does. I still attend my parish NO Mass every Sunday.

    I prayed and pondered for a while. Wearing a black mantilla did not seem a sensible option for me for many of the reasons your reader expresses as negatives against the idea. I purchased a long wrap around scarf – the type you can make go over your head or not as you prefer. I started wearing it to church as a scarf. After a while I started to wear it wrapped over my head. I have never looked back. No-one has ever said a word to me about it.

    Maybe that is a route this lady would like to consider?

  3. dwrobles says:

    I am not a woman and but I do have the exact same concerns because I am considering receiving communion kneeling at our OF Mass. I would be only one to do so and as the questioner says I don’t want to do it for the wrong reasons or make a scene with the priest. Fr. Z’s advice of not to hurry the decision is probably good advice. Good luck with your choice and remember that sometimes the smallest actions give others of us courage to live the faith more fully.

  4. momoften says:

    I do feel that when I do wear a veil I can focus much better. The writer is correct about that. There are many times I wear a veil when I am not my more traditional parish, for instance–at a Mass at the Catholic Cemetery this weekend in honor of those who have served our country. I was the only one wearing one. Not out of pride do I wear it in parishes where women do not wear it, but more now out of habit. I once felt maybe it was prideful wearing it where no one else did, but for me, it is part of my prayer life in Mass. Maybe that is how she is feeling now, but the true test may be if she wears it and becomes more focused and prayerful. Perhaps it is the devil that puts the thought of pride with wearing it? I say, try it.

  5. pbewig says:

    You might want to wear a hat instead of a veil. Your note suggests that you are wearing your Sunday best, and a hat might be considered by some as a fashion accessory. A hat is still a head covering, but less overtly pious than a veil.

  6. I decided three years ago to veil at a very Liberal Parish. No one else at our mass did veiled. The older Italian women did at the Italian mass, but I digress., I admit the first few Sundays I wore my veil ( it was black, but people noticed any way) a few people. mostly women would stare, but by the third week, they’d stopped.

    By the fourth week, a woman who “worked” for the church came up to me and told me that she liked that I veiled, but since she was always busy at mass ( she lined up the ushers, she arranged the people in for the Offertory procession, so the veil was untenable.) Then 2 weeks later, she too, was veiled, encouraged by me, she had worked it so the veil would not slip off her head.

    I have stopped wearing a veil temporarily, because my one year old loves to pull hair and veil and glasses etc etc.
    The novelty of you wearing your veil will wear off. And people will go back to ignoring you.

  7. shin says:

    It is obvious that the devil wishes to make veiling as difficult as possible and put an end to it.

    So prayer and never retreating from the spiritual battle is the answer. The Christian does not change something because everyone else is doing the opposite. Especially not this.. which while some might think it optional.. 2,000 years of weight are against such erroneous thoughts.

    We must do what God wishes. It is as simple as that. And we know what that is.

    When we know, and do not do it, we know what that is too.

    In the end a sense of proportion and modesty is needed. Modesty is going to mean looking different from everyone in church and outside of church in these times. That may draw a kind of attention.. but it’s right in such cases.. where modesty draws negative attention, modesty must still be practiced.

    “We are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.” (1 Cor. 1:9)
    “Let your modesty be known to all men: the Lord is nigh.” (Philippians 4:5)

    May I suggest a wrap around scarf over the head, or a plainer vein than the image shown above? Frankly I see people choosing veils because they are ‘pretty’. But the reason to veil is because it is modest not because it is pretty.. so a plainer head covering is the path of virtue.

    ‘Woman naturally nourishes her hair, therefore she naturally ought to completely cover her head.’

    St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church

    Let me add not all attention drawn is negative.

    “How delightful it is to do good to others by your appearance!”

    St. Ambrose of Milan, Father and Doctor of the Church.

    To do good by modesty is the true spirit that should be behind dressing in these ways. A sign of contradiction, and a sign of virtue.

  8. AnAmericanMother says:

    I have two mantillas (one black and one gray) and a little round black lace chapel cap that is left over from my Episcopalian days. It is about 6″ across and just covers my hair when it’s put up in a coil.

    I always wear a mantilla when I attend the EF, but hesitated to wear one in my regular OF (though quite traditional) parish since nobody wears one. I think that being the only one wearing a mantilla while singing in the choir is MUCH too much of a muchness, since we stand out anyway in our purple choir robes (though we’re in the choir loft in the back there are parishioners up there as well).

    Finally compromised and started putting on my old chapel cap. Got two comments, one kind of surprised the other very positive. I simply responded that I had felt moved to wear something on my head, and that was the end of it. Nobody has given me any grief at all. And once I put it on I don’t feel self-conscious or prideful — at first I specifically prayed not to be holier-than-thou or pharasaical about it, but now I just put it on. And I’m much too busy anyway, trying not to make mistakes in the singing.

    Since it has its own little plastic case, I just tucked the chapel cap in my purse. And since it was there, I started wearing it when I attend daily Mass. (I thought a mantilla would be just a WEE bit outre’ in slacks and a polo, which I wear to work.) Much to my surprise, this week I saw three other ladies veiling at daily Mass, two of them in full dress mantillas (and one of them was wearing slacks!)

    So my advice (for what it’s worth) is not to dither and Just Do It. Pray not to be prideful. You may be surprised to find you have a lot of company out there in ladies that were just waiting for somebody to take the lead.

  9. buffaloknit says:

    I hope for the best for you in this dilemma! I too can relate to a bundle of the issues the writer brought up. I also appreciate Fr. Z’s insight on this issue: a distracted person can easily become a distraction especially in his or her response to the initial distraction.

    My helpful suggestion is this: a hat. As you put it on before Mass, say whatever prayers you need to, to be charitable while wearing the hat, focused, etc, etc. Like a real sacramental, the material object is a reminder to be focused, charitable and prayerful. (I do, understand the obvious differences in the hat vs. veil issue). In the summertime, you might blend in with other ladies in sun hats; as the weather gets cooler, you can switch to beret/cloche as appropriate- and in winter time-wear something else like a scarf/wrap. The summer is a good time to start this habit!

    I have actually just purchased myself a pair of hats, style web ID: 529297 at macys dotcom (only $15 in store!) They are quite nice looking in real life.

  10. chloesmom says:

    A hat would be a feasible option — right now I’m looking around for a nice hat to wear to Mass. If the parish is as a whole quite liberal (and mine certainly is!), then the hat would be a good start. After a while, you could switch to the veil and not worry whether it is a distraction to others. (If it is, that says something about them, not about you!). Also, this lady is not alone – I too have felt the way she does at Mass. As she puts it so well: “I [sometimes] find going to Mass puts me in the occasion of sin because there is so much cacophony and irreverence before and during Mass that I cannot stay focused. I have actually got lost in mid-prayer, forgotten what I was praying about, and not able to get myself back into focus. I also find myself having uncharitable thoughts and getting prideful when this happens.” Maybe we should start a club! Seriously, though, I’ll pray for her, and recommend we all pray for each other!

  11. cmm says:

    Once the woman next to me was wearing a veil. I could not even tell whether she was young or old, deep in prayer or crying. It felt like a barrier. I didn’t like it.

    While people are chatting noisily before Mass, I read the day’s readings and then they understand that I want to be left alone.

    When people do things that distract me – if my neighbor is texting on her iphone for example, or if my neighbors are exchanging comments about their shoes or shirts, where they bought them, for how much, etc. – I try to force my thoughts away from criticism by thinking about Christ in them: how nice and friendly this one neighbor always is, what a divine singing voice the other one has, etc. It doesn’t always work, but it often helps shift perspective.

  12. Banjo pickin girl says:

    If there are a lot of physical distractions it seems like the veil might help, since it sort of hangs down at the sides and acts like blinkers on a horse (sorry, but I can’t think of another sort of example, I am just a simple country person and don’t know much). I don’t wear a veil but my parish is very quiet before and after Mass (we are a N.O. parish and quite a few do wear veils or hats). Do what you feel you are called to do. It sounds like any “proud” feelings would be overridden by being distracted at prayer, which seems to me like a more serious thing. And it also would be a reminder to others that they are after all in church and not at the movies or some other entertainment venue and God is there watching, as He is everywhere watching.

  13. Mom2301 says:

    This is exactly the same boat I am in so please know that as you pray about these things you are not alone. The only Catholic church in our county is a quite liberal NO church. The nearest EF mass is over 95 miles away from here. Our parish is small and I am active in it. Most folks know I have a more traditional bent and many take that to mean I think myself better than others. I certainly do not. However, if I began to veil (as I would like to) it would just add fuel to the fire. A veil in my parish would be over the top since altar girls, mission statements, crazy stoles, guitars, Gather Us In and VERY loud conversations in the pews prior to mass are the norm.

    As I continue to pray for guidance regarding this issue I will pray for you as well.

  14. Centristian says:

    I think alot of people who fret about what people will think about what they’re wearing in church would be surprised to learn that nobody is actually paying any attention to them at all. Worshippers in mainstream settings by and large could care less what anybody else around them is wearing, and I’d be surprised if anyone were to react scornfully to a Catholic woman wearing a mantilla. While they aren’t common, they aren’t unheard of, either. A number of Episcopalian women, I notice, wear them habitually.

  15. sophiamarie3 says:

    I empathize with your concernns, I prefer the TLM at a very traditional parish. Unfortunately, I’m not always able to make it across town, so I am left with the same dilemma you face when I attend the more loosey-goosey NO mass. I choose not to veil out of fear that I will be tempted by pride or mistakenly appear arrogant, however, I then find myself completely distracted by the absence of reverence and mystery of the liturgy.

  16. I always wear a head covering in the form of some sort of veil, i.e. mantilla, pashmina or something along those lines regardless of which parish I am at or whether it is traditional minded or not. I started to wear it because I discerned a strong calling to do so as I was preparing for a Marian consecration.

    I didn’t really consider many of the concerns other people have. In terms of distraction, I don’t think that a veil should be seriously distracting to anyone. I kind of don’t accept that argument as a serious obstacle because a veil is in itself not something that imposes itself on somebody else’s attention if they make even a small effort not to focus on it beyond perhaps the initial surprise of not having seen one worn before. It is true that we must be concerned about not becoming obstacles to each other, but one can take the responsiblity for other people’s actions too far as well, and I think taking upon oneself the responsibility for a person continuing to gawk at a mantilla or having uncharitable thoughts about it to be taking it too far. I simply find it difficult to understand that it should constitute an unjust occasion of sin or however one may put it. Should one refrain from kneeling in prayer after Mass in a parish where the vast majority of people instantly bolt out the door or start chatting with each other simply because some might think uncharitably about it? I don’t think such an old and venerable custom of head covering could be regarded as making an exhibition of oneself.

    Now, I do understand that some people are concerned about it, and if the concern is going to cause much pain and turmoil to the person who is discerning wearing a head covering, then that is a valid concern. But objectively, unless one chooses a neon coloured flashing veil with an inbuilt loud speaker emitting a wee ditty of some description, I don’t see the concern as one that should objectively be an obstacle to wearing a head covering.

    In terms of the pride issue, I did not consider it much in making my decision either because I believe was truly not a desire to appear holier than thou that prompted me. Now, that does not mean that one does not have to be on the alert for feelings of pride in this practice, but I believe the same to be true about various other spiritual practices in and of themselves good, including prayer in general, daily Mass attendance, remaining in prayer after Mass, spending time in prayer before Mass etc. especially if others are preoccupied with sitting around chatting, charitable acts and nearly everything involved in the spiritual life. If I were to give up or not even attempt any practices that might at some stage or other provide the material for temptations to pride, then I would probably give up the spiritual life altogether.

    Since I personally believe head covering to be a good and beneficial practice, I think that the solution to such dangers of pride is the same as for every other good and beneficial spiritual practices: remain alert to the danger, counter it by reminding oneself of one’s many imperfections and outright sins, and one’s nothingness before the glory of God to which all should be directed, make acts of renouncing the temptations and the attitudes involved in any sin to the extent one has giving into it, and ask God for grace to overcome it. Usually, whenever one is tempted to pride the material for such reflections present themselves quite readily in the very thoughts and feelings that are involved in the temptation in itself.

  17. doanli says:

    Maybe the priest(s) at the churches can really turn up the air conditioning (just during Mass) so as to force scantily clad women (and men) to cover themselves up properly?

    It bothers me as well, but I think a majority of the ones not dressing up properly are young people and they do not know any better because they have not been properly catechized and/or no one, including their parents or guardians, ever told them what to and what not to wear to church. Pray for them.

  18. doanli says:

    Or have a sign like they do at the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, AL (EWTN). It lists the guidelines on the front of the church before you even step in.

    One could also donate shawls or scarves as well.

  19. Leonius says:

    It is only a source of pride if wearing it makes you feel better than everyone else who isn’t, only you can answer that question as it is individual to you.

    While hats are a feasible option and would fulfil the idea of covering ones hair choosing a hat over a veil to avoid contempt is a lack of courage imo, do not be afraid to become a sign of contradiction. I also imagine that a hat would not help so much in avoiding distractions as it does not obscure a ladies peripheral vision the same way a veil does.

    A person can do more good in a liberal parish by remaining while not succumbing to the liberalism than they can by fleeing such a parish, though again fleeing may be the right course of action, it depends once more on the character of the person involved, one must be able to bear the contempt of others with joy knowing that has Christ was mocked so must we be also and that been mocked as He was brings us closer to Him.

    So examine your conscience, knowledge of yourself is necessary to answer this question and no one knows yourself better than you, at one time it would have been your confessor but I doubt you have a good, regular confessor who knows you well.

  20. doanli says:

    Also, I think the head covering should be something simple—flashy, showy hats also distract people from the Mass as well.

  21. Mundabor says:

    One is, I think, proud is he lives the stupidity he sees around him with a “I am more intelligent than you are”-attitude (which is probably true; but one shouldn’t bask in the thought).

    One is, I think, not proud if he simply proves righteous indignation and sincere dolour at the way the Mass is disfigured. I go as far as to say that this modern “I shouldn’t be proud and get on with it”-mentality is what has caused bad masses to go on to this day. Methinks, St. John Vianney wouldn;t have been so mild with people disrespectign our Lord this way.

    As to the veil, I suggest to the lady that she shoud wear it **in true humility**, taking the bad looks that go with it and offering them to the Lord.

    Personally, I have a rather more belligerent attitude. At such masses you hear me saying the Hail Mary in Latin and to answer “and with your spirit” loud and clear (hey, it’s the translation of the Italian: can’t be wrong). I shut up by the cretinous songs (which I don’t know anyway), give a very dignified and serious sign of peace instead of jumping up and down the place, and so on. If I can’t make the priest see sense, I refuse to lose mine.

    I also never bother to look right or left to see whether someone disapproves me. I am not at mass for their approval.


  22. Pedantic Classicist says:

    Always a fun topic. Sound advice, Fr. Z. While I am a man and am therefore far from qualified to comment, my dear friend ScienceGirl has posted incisively and (very) entertainingly about her own choices on her blog. The long and short of it is that she often wears hats (! and looks great in them, btw) and that she often wears her veil on weekdays but ties it up stylishly. Anyway, since I know she is too modest to post a link to her entry here, I will include it for any who want to be entertained at greater length. [and trust me, you haven’t been truly entertained on this topic until you’ve seen her “Mantilla-raptor”!]
    Here it is:

    (hope it’s okay to include the link; apologies if it’s not!)

  23. Jenice says:

    I have been drawn to wearing a veil but haven’t done so in my NO parish for the reasons discussed in this post. I did, however, decide to wear one on Good Friday this year. I was the only one with a veil and I felt very self-conscious and it kept slipping off. But I stuck with it. I wish I could say the earth moved, but it didn’t. I’m not sure I’ve worked out a good theology of chapel veils yet, and I suspect it would take more time to get comfortable. A professor of mine said that he really liked these kind of sex-based practices, and that if he were a woman he would wear a veil at least on the somber days, like Good Friday. So that’s what I did. It is really hard to do some of these kinds of things when the Church doesn’t require it.

  24. cheyan says:

    It took me going to an Extraordinary Form Mass once a month for a few months before I was comfortable wearing the same scarf I wore to the EF Mass to the OF Mass I attended the rest of the month – that is, I needed to start out wearing it where it wasn’t unusual before I felt ready to deal with wearing it where it was. Even if there’s no EF Mass nearby, perhaps going to a different parish (or a different Mass, if you normally attend the same one at your parish) could help? If you’re somewhere or somewhen unfamiliar, you won’t worry as much about standing out for your veil, since if someone notices you it’ll be because you’re unfamiliar to them, not because you’ve started wearing something different.

    If this isn’t an option for you, remember that if your parish is full of noisy chatter before Mass, it’s likely that nobody’s paying any attention to what you’re wearing – they’re paying attention to catching up on their friends’ lives over the last week, and deciding where to go for lunch, and maybe being glad they got to church before Mass started. Even if they are evaluating everyone else’s clothing choices, if you’re not wearing a hot pink mantilla you’re going to draw less attention than the woman two pews over wearing a t-shirt and jean shorts.

    Also, if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably notice that once you are wearing a hat, veil, scarf, or what-have-you, you’ll be able to recover from distractions faster, so you won’t feel as self-conscious after a while. (Not that this helps for the first few weeks, but it’s something to look forward to!)

  25. rsalie says:

    What about a headscarf type? (Forgive me if I am not using the correct teminology for it) There is a website called Garlands of Grace that sells veils that look more like a kercheif than the big lacy style mantillas.I too am in a more liberal parish because of where my husband is stationed right now, and trust me , no one notices these. Personally I love the beautiful mantillas and I don’t think there is anything wrong with them or a hat as other people have suggested….this is just an in between idea.

  26. New Sister says:

    To Father Z’s Reader: the “underlying nagging voice telling me not to do it ” – my dear, that cannot be the voice of God. [Cannot be the voice of God?] Do not listen to that voice. Wear your veil and pray Ave Maria until the voice flees. It took the example of another woman to give me the initial courage to veil — then others followed.

    My advice to you, as a sister in Christ: Just do it! I’ll be cheering for you…. Ave Maria!

  27. Leonius says:

    Centristan: “I think alot of people who fret about what people will think about what they’re wearing in church would be surprised to learn that nobody is actually paying any attention to them at all. Worshippers in mainstream settings by and large could care less what anybody else around them is wearing, and I’d be surprised if anyone were to react scornfully to a Catholic woman wearing a mantilla.”

    While you are generally right that the majority of people do not care in slightest what a person might me doing at mass there is often one or two people who make it their business to be in everybody elses.

    I have heard of several women who have experienced scorn for wearing a veil, usually from older ladies who stopped wearing theirs at some point, younger people tend to be curious/ambivalent but the older people who actually abandoned the veil can be quite visceral as they take it as a personal insult, by wearing the veil the woman is contradicting their decision to abandon the practice and acts as a sign that they were wrong to do so.

    As such a lady does well to be prepared for a confrontation and to understand that it is not really about them it is about the guilt the attacker feels themselves, as such the response as always should be love and forgiveness and an embracing of an opportunity to practice what the veil represents, humility.

  28. Mundabor says:

    “It is really hard to do some of these kinds of things when the Church doesn’t require it”.

    I think this is one of th emost useful things one can do. One or two may frown, but ten or twenty will be moved to reflection. It will open to them a small window to an entirely different world. It is a silent, but very effective message.

    By the way, where I generally attend (a very conservative church, admittedly) chapel veils are clearly on the increase and are now worn by a substantial and very noticeable minority of women (of all ages). I don’t doubt that in just a few years they’ll be the majority.

    You see year by year an old and dear world coming back; a world you thought had been lost forever. It is so beautiful…


  29. I will throw my hat into the hat ring. Especially after the recent royal wedding, where everyone was wearing hats! Seriously, my wife is English, and hats are fairly common church attire there (both Catholic and Anglican), as they are in many protestant denominations in the US (especially predominantly African-American churches – this is also true at black Catholic churches in the US).

    Wearing a veil, especially at a more liberal parish, could mark you out as one of “them”, and make it harder to influence the parish later. But if you are always wearing a hat to Church, and wear a black veil to Good Friday or some such, then it is less likely to be seen a a “political statement” by those inclined to think such ways.

  30. New Sister says:

    P.S. to my unknown sister: my cheering for you will not apply if you opt for one of those lace doily cap thingies! {I really don’t get those} Wear a *chapel veil* – the most beautiful you can afford. I am partial to taupe, light brown with a tinge of blue — ask Our Lady to assist. She not only has impeccable taste, but finds great deals when she wants us to have something. [She’s a Jewish Mum, afterall!] :-)

  31. MJ says:

    I wear a hat or mantilla to Mass, and only once have I ever seen someone (my Aunt) scolded for covering her head…of all places, it happened at St. Mary Major in Rome, Italy. She wore a hat when we visited the Church (just visiting, not attending Mass…I didn’t have a hat/mantilla with me at that time). The guard at the door stopped us and motioned for her to remove her hat out of respect. She tried to explain something to the effect of “No no – out of respect women do wear hats and cover their heads. It’s the men who remove their hats” but he would have nothing of it and wouldn’t let us pass until she (reluctantly) removed her hat. Lol. :)

    Anyway, most of the advice I would give seems to have already been given. I just wanted to share that little story. :)

  32. Cazienza says:

    If a mantilla might stand out too much in this particular situation, wear a pretty hat, or a simple pashmina-type scarf or shawl. Lay it over your head and wrap the ends either in front of your neck and flip them back over your shoulders, or wrap them behind your neck and let the ends hang down in front. It shouldn’t be tight (being able to breathe is a GOOD thing ;)).

    If you feel it might make you less conspicuous, have it around your neck as you come into church, and then slip it up as you prepare for Mass.

    Just do it. Do it this Sunday, without making any kind of decision about “Oooh now I’m a Head-Covering Lady Forever According To The Order Of Our Lady”. Just one Sunday. See how it goes, and take it one step at a time. See what you think afterwards.

    Don’t be afraid :) It is a good thing to do and I’m quite sure that even your uncertainties are a channel for God to work His grace in your life.

    (@Fr. Z: I tried to be as brief and as helpful as possible!)

  33. I’m not sure if my last post qualified as helpful, and I do know it wasn’t brief! But I tried!

    Now, just one more thing: when one discerns an outright call to veil, I think most concerns will fade away as the one concern will be to submit to the calling one has discerned.

    Of course, my concerns were much less noble than those a lot are grappling with, in that I was mainly self-centred in being worried others might think badly of me or feeling embarrassed that I stuck out, so it is more reasonable that they should fade away. However, I believe that when one truly becomes convinced that one should veil, concerns will either fade away entirely or one will find a way around them in terms of how one veils.

    So, I would second Father’s suggestion to give yourself time, pray about it and try to relax about it. I would perhaps not spend too much time pondering the same concerns over and over again, but simply pray and ask God for the grace to discern what He wants you to do.

  34. For the reader: It’s just not all about you. If the distractions and noise are making it hard for you to keep focus, if it’s irreverent at your parish, your veiled head won’t change that. Talking with your pastor, with charity and focus, might. Also talking with your brothers and sisters, honestly and with charity, might. The veil is a prop. Don’t be deceived into thinking anything will get better because of it. For the person who want to kneel to receive: I’ve crossed that Rubicon myself. It goes better if you speak with the priest ahead of time, telling him what you are going to do and why. Also, make it easier for the priest by kneeling far to the left of right of the usual standing communion line, or by being the last to receive so that you are not forcing anyone in back of you to trip over you or worse. Who needs a lawsuit? Back to the veil: Every Catholic woman has dignity and has the right to decide what she puts on her head. But, you will not alter the cells in your brain, making them more capable of focus, by putting anything on your head. Learn to practice true recollection. The kind the saints practice–yes, in the midst of trials more horrendus than noisy people at Mass. Get some pamphlets about behaviour at Mass. Give them to your fellow parishioners. Sit somewhere else. Bring holy cards and give them to restive children. They love those, and the cards have been known to silence a hurricane. But mostly, remember that the Mass is not about you. Learn to enjoy the presence of Christ under every circumstance, noisy or quiet. Others will not judge you or make comments or attack you for headgear. They might if they don’t know you, never see you smile at them, or see you bristling with every wail or fidget. You just are not that interesting. Christ is there. He’s the main event.

  35. Gabriel Austin says:

    Women always look quite elegant in hats.

    And consider how elegant the nuns look in their habits, compared with the Sister Mary Pantsuits who just wants to be one of the boys.

  36. MichaelJ says:

    For those concerned about “disapproving scowls” from others, perhaps it would make it easier if you assume that the scowls are not directed at you.
    I remember once getting the “silent treatment” from my wife for a couple of days. I knew she was mad at me for something but had no idea what I had done. When I finally worked up the courage to ask her what was wrong, she explained that two nights previously, she had prepared an extra special meal, working very hard and that I had “scowled” after taking a bite.

    At this point, I burst out laughing (which, admittedly did not help) because my “scowl” had nothing at all to do with her, the meal she had so lovingly prepared, or the work she had done. Instead, it had everything to do with the burrito I had eaten at lunch.

    So, if you decide to wear a mantilla, or kneel for communion, or receive on the tongue, or do any other thing that might provoke disapproval, just assume that all of those scowling people have gas.

  37. Scott W. says:

    Mo’ veils mo’ better.

  38. inara says:

    I’ve found the best antidote to any sideways glances you might get is a smile…and the times I’ve prayed that my veil would not be a distraction to anyone or lead them to assume I think myself holier-than-thou, the Holy Spirit has been kind enough to send a stranger up after Mass with polite questions and encouragement :o)

  39. shin says:

    @ New Sister

    Good to hear! Deo gratias! Keep telling the truth! :D

  40. New Sister says:

    Father – thank you. I cannot and should not (and will endeavor to not!) say what is or is not the voice of God. It is the word “nagging” she employed – against an act of piety – that set off my alarm bells.

  41. I don’t want to rip on anyone wanting humility and unity, but “standing out” is something that’s bound to happen to everybody in life. Just be glad it’s currently not something you have no choice about, like being confined to a wheelchair or having an incurable skin condition.

    There’s nothing that says you can’t do it, and there’s nothing that says you can’t do it one week and not the next, or in whatever way you like. The chances are good that nobody will notice or care, or that people will encourage you. If they don’t, that’s not any different from any other day you do stuff and may have to defend it against busybodies or explain it to the interested. (You can always ask them if they also want to know the symbolic meaning of the colors of the clothes you’re wearing, if they are very rude. Or if they have any other useful comments about your shoelaces or the car you drive.)

    Re: other comments — Once again, I would like to point out that hats have been normative for Catholic women in many ethnic groups throughout long ages (particularly in Northern European settings), and there’s nothing “compromise” or Protestant about them. There’s very little chance that any of my ancestors ever saw a lace chapel veil until Jackie Kennedy, because we didn’t have a big Italian or Hispanic community in town. Wearing a chapel is a valid identity choice and will carry a message; but pressing a small group of particular fashion styles on every Catholic woman is ridiculous and atraditional. (And when I hear “veiling”, I’m old enough still think “religious sister joining an order”, not “chick down the road going to Mass”. St. Brigid’s veiling was not about liturgical participation. Useless to try to restrain the rush of language change, of course….)

  42. Andy Milam says:

    Here is thoughtful…

    I find women who veil to be very aware of their surroundings, in a good way. I find women who veil to be very “Mary like,” hence very beautiful, in a platonic way….

    Here is brief….

    I support you 100%.

  43. Of course, the reason there didn’t use to be a word for “the practice of a woman wearing something on her head at church” is the same reason we don’t currently have a word for “the practice of a woman wearing only her birthday suit to church”. Every Christian woman wore something on her head and no Christian woman didn’t, and most women didn’t step out of the house on any but casual occasions without something on top. (I blame shallow car ceilings.)

  44. TravelerWithChrist says:

    I’ve been veiling 3 yrs now.
    I began veiling at a large, NO (happy-clappy) church after a calling from God – it was a persistent calling, my own thoughts were that it was silly, I’d stand out, look silly, and after all, a bishop and priest said it was out-dated. I don’t think anyone else was veiling, so I began searching (reasoning, and what to veil in) and found a delicate gold rectangular scarf/shawl and promised to start on Christmas.
    After the Christmas Mass, a gentleman came to me with wonderfully kind words, saying how beautiful it was and how he wished more women would veil. I took that as a sign and I try not to think of going back – I say that as I have young children, the youngest is a boy under 2. My daughters have joined me, and even remind me to grab a veil before leaving for mass!!
    I get compliments and stares; I’ve had many who said it has encouraged them to veil and become more reverent. There are now almost a dozen veilers!!
    I think substituting for a hat may work, but in doing so, it took away from the purpose somewhat – to try to avoid standing out. What?? you may ask. As Catholics, we are called to stand up for what we believe in; to don a hat is a substitution for the real thing. We are imitating Mary, in her full-length MANTLE!! She humbled herself beyond belief in front of her own Son, Jesus. She is the best example. As far as I can say, the ‘pride’ issue is a seed planted by satan.
    Many who have veiled have experienced a change – in themselves and the way the mass affects them. It is a wonderful blessing, I encourage all to try.

  45. Christopher Gainey says:

    Please veil. This also reminds those around you of the true reason we are at mass. I encourage my wife to veil and she will not unless others do so. Please lead by example, and any mortification you experience will also be a call to humility.

  46. dans0622 says:

    The primary concern of this woman would seem to be removing herself from this “occasion of sin.” Wouldn’t it take more than a veil to do this? Won’t the effect of the veil “wear off” after a time if there is not a corresponding strengthening of the will and mind to ignore and/or properly respond to these distractions? As a man who is easily distracted, I’d look for any advice in this regard and I can’t start wearing a veil.

  47. newtrad says:

    I went through this exact issue about5 years ago. I studied the theology of it all and prayed about the pride of it all, etc, in the end my daughters wanted to do it and challenged me to “just do it”. At first there were a few stares, but at the end of Mass, I always received nice compliments from people. Now I belong to EF parish so it is not an issue but when I do make the occasional visit to a NO, I couldn’t imagine praying with an uncovered head, not because it is a sin, but because it has become part of my prayer habit and it does help me to focus and mind my own business. I feel it is a sign of humility to my Beloved Groom and I have learned that as many people turn their noses up, just as many admire and want to replicate it. Be not afraid to raise the Standard!

  48. luna.shiawase says:

    I feel where the writer is coming from.

    I go to a relatively modern parish and the only ladies I see veiled are our local Pallotine nuns who attend mass at my parish (which is down the block from their convent). I started attending traditional masses at a parish about forty minutes from my house. I love wearing a chapel veil during mass because it makes me feel even more modest in front of the blessed sacrament. I grew up at my parish though, and have been wanting to start wearing my veil. I realized that since I’m very involved and have never worn one, people will question me and wonder why I’m starting to wear one all of the sudden. SO what I decided to do was wait until this coming advent when the new translation comes out to start wearing it at my parish during mass. If anyone asks, I’ll tell them I wanted to start differently with the new translation coming out. I think that’s a good excuse to give people who question me wearing the veil. Timing is usually an effective thing, haha!

    I definitely think that you should wear the veil and not care what anyone thinks. Sure, they may get the “overly-pious” impression, but that should encourage them to try and be up on your level (because really, the fact that you want to concentrate more in mass, in my opinion, does make you a little more pious than some people who go just to fulfill the weekly obligation).

    Best of luck, though!

  49. Julia says:

    I’m one of those old people (67) who remember when nobody wore veils or mantillas.

    In grade school we wore tams or beanies to daily Mass before school because you could easily put it in your coat pocket or stuff in your desk without ruining it. On Sunday, all females wore hats. Cloche hats, big hats with ribbons, little bitty ones like Mamie Eisenhower wore.

    Then, hats went out of style. I think it was because of a change in hair styles. Bouffants with lots of back combing and ratting were held in place by the new hair spray and were smashed by hats. Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox could sit on top of the bouffant unlike the old hats and then she popularized mantillas. I think we had already started wearing the chapel size lace things in early high school and then the bigger mantillas became popular when Jackie was photographed in them. In a pinch, we even pinned a Kleenex on the head.

    Seeing as how that is the history of “veils”, why do the traditionalists think they are traditional? In the U.S., at least, they are a mid 20th century phenomenon.

    I’d suggest the really traditional hat. Lots of cute ones out there and nobody will stare at you.
    I was the first one in my church choir to not join hands for the Our Father, but I wasn’t obnoxious about it. Now nobody does it and the few who want to, do the orans on their own. It’s possible to do what you think is right; how it’s accepted depends on how you do it.

  50. benedetta says:

    The reader states that she is thinking of veiling as a “physical reminder” to stay focused. She is not saying that she believes that the veil will somehow magically maintain focus for her or stop irreverence.

    If she feels called to veil, then she should and (like so many I have observed) also wear a smile and be kind. If this place is irreverent and quite loud, her veiling with compassion towards others in the congregation seems like it would assist her as she states she is looking for a way towards greater humility.

    If it is mainly the focus and a physical reminder though one could opt for ones which are not noticeable to anyone but herself such as scapular or medal, or, many religious goods stores offer at low cost bracelets.

    I would say that everyone loses focus during prayer at times and it seems that one ought not worry too much about it. It is difficult though when looking for a chance to have some peace of mind and have a moment with the Lord when there are not just all manner of distractions but that it further seems that people invest a great deal of attention or justification towards these instead of returning focus themselves to where it must be. Of course we have all been through the “valid yet…illicit or valid yet irreverent…” odyssey and while surely grace can work even with all the weirdness and the noise I am sure we collectively still lose out, still get dissipated, thwarted in our seeking even though it all may be just barely and technically supremely valid…

    If St. Francis were here today I think that God would still call him to “rebuild My House”. Though the structures themselves are sound and solid obviously I think that he would still set right out to work on widespread irreverence, disrespect, noise and loud talking in the church.

    Parents need to teach children appropriate decorum in the church from when they are small and help them to comprehend that it is not a place like all other places. But a conversation with the pastor might be a possibility. Some pastors ask or place notices in different places to remind people about decorum, or revisit the issue periodically for everyone’s benefit.

    If we pride ourselves on the social justice and the dignity to which we are all called, to the exercise of free will in making a religious commitment, then we ought to also realize that it is profoundly disrespectful in the sense that it is rude to be loud or permit children in your care to be loud in a place that is sacred and in which people especially to pray and have communion with God. No one can know what the person next to them has brought to their prayer in this week. Just because we are happy as clams and wish to be exuberant and chit chat does not mean that things are going so fabulously for the one next to us…or, since we take part in the universal Church…for the one a hemisphere away…It certainly is difficult to maintain focus but this should be the one place in the world where we are able to tune out all distractions from our time. If we are having a fabulous week, all the more, in humility and compassion, ought we maintain quiet and offer a prayerful shoulder to one who may not be so fortunate. After all we don’t want to pretend that we believe that because things are going great for us that we are somehow better than one that may be weeping…

  51. buffaloknit says:

    @Julia, Thank you Julia, for stating this critical point! My mom has told me this, for years, and thus, I opt for hats! I think a lot of whippersnappers my age, don’t appreciate the chronology you just explained! I do wonder, what was the state of hats….before the time period you describe?

  52. Jayna says:

    I am used to be the only one with a veil at NO Masses, particularly in more casual parishes where, like this reader, I seem to be the only one capable of dressing myself in the morning. When I first started wearing mine (and like one of the commenters above, I felt a little self-conscious about just showing up one Sunday with one), I got a few stares, but people will get used to seeing you wear it week after week and then they’ll get over it. You may even be surprised by positive comments. Over Holy Week, I went to Mass at my previous parish (incredibly liberal place) and a woman actually turned around before Mass started and told me she thought it was beautiful. And that wasn’t the first time it happened. I say just do it.

  53. Shellynna says:

    Have not read the comments, so I apologize up front if this comment has been made. But my immediate thought about this lady’s reasons for wanting “to veil” was “Well, what on earth are men to do who suffer similar trials and temptations? Or is it just women who need to retire behind lace when unable to pray and having Bad Thoughts?”

    If Fr. Z’s correspondent wants to wear a veil to Mass, that is her business and she should just do it without scrupling. But I get very tired of all the hyper-pious sentiments some women use to justify what should be a personal and unremarkable wardrobe choice. Perhaps the reason for the second thoughts about pride is that there seems to me a certain false humility to the idea that wearing a piece of lace on one’s head makes a woman more humble and able to worship properly.

    A better attitude might be that wearing a veil is a lovely tradition that can be reclaimed as an expression of Catholic identity. If other women see a woman wearing a veil and take it up, it might eventually contribute to a more reverent congregation at Mass. If not, then the lone woman will at least be upholding her Catholic identity in her own way, knowing that others will find their own ways to do so.

  54. Leonius says:

    The history of veils goes back a lot further than the 20th or even 19th century Julia as does our traditions.

  55. TravelerWithChrist says:

    If I may, are those people who are calling us veilers overly pious or prideful the ones wearing low-necklines, pants, or sweatsuits?
    My point is, perhaps those are the people who don’t want to examine their own faith, as the saying ‘everyone else is doing it’ would no longer stand.

  56. nanetteclaret says:

    I have been a Catholic for 5 1/2 years and have been wearing a veil the whole time. I decided before I converted that I would. Having been brought up Presbyterian (communion is tiny wafers and grape juice and just a “symbol”), I wanted to be able to show Jesus that I really, truly believe that He is present in the Blessed Sacrament. So when people ask me why I wear a veil, it’s exactly what I tell them: “because Jesus is present – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament.” Keeping that thought in mind has helped me to remain unselfconscious. I do it for Him and don’t really care what the world thinks about it. I also wear a long skirt for Our Lady, and I always ask myself, “What would St. Padre Pio think of my outfit?” I like to think of the clothes I wear to Mass as battle gear. It shows whose side I’m on.

  57. New Sister says:

    But Julia – we who have been impelled to don a chapel veil are not doing so to re-capture “the past” – as much as liberals so accuse. And we don’t care about being stared at — if people do stare, they cease to after a few weeks, and msut eventually ask themselves why they do *not* cover their own heads at Holy Mass. (it is a very good question)

  58. Julia says:

    Leonius: The idea of wearing mantillas was in keeping to the way things were in 1962. (the year of the approved Latin Mass and the year I graduated from a girls’ Catholic high school). I was trying to convey that the situation at that time was a blip on the 20th century radar. This is particularly focused in my memory since I recently discovered 2 mantillas in a trunk in my deceased parents’ basement. My mother only wore it for a few years; I didn’t see her wear it before 1960 and her mother never wore anything like that.

    I’m sure there was a long history of women wearing long pieces of material on their head in previous centuries. But the early 20th century women’s head covering was hats; and I think it was the same in the 1800s. In 1962, “veils” were mesh things over the face. If you look at photos from that era, there were many hats that had such veils. We didn’t call or think of mantillas as veils. That’s a new use of the term; even though “taking the veil” did mean entering the convent.

  59. servusmariaen says:

    For the person considering kneeling to receive Holy Communion. I started doing this since I had been assisting exclusively at the Traditional Mass for a few years. I was reluctant at first to do so because I didn’t want to make a scene or appear as though I was “holier than Thou”. I try to make sure I am the last person (in order not to trip anyone). I hadn’t thought of asking the priest whether it would be easier if I knelt to the side last. No issue has been made of it. I was very self conscious at first. People still seem stunned by it but that’s ok. I haven’t looked back.

  60. a catechist says:

    My experience: when Not wearing one became a distraction, I decided to get one. I couldn’t find one locally & the ones online didn’t grab me, but I found some nice ones at a gift shop while on vacation. It seemed like Providence to me, that I came across them just when I’d finally decided to try it. It took a little while to get used to, maybe 3 Masses or so. In the 3 yrs. I’ve worn a veil, the number of women veiling has more than tripled.

    I don’t wear it to weddings where the bride will be the only other woman in a veil. Other than that, I don’t worry about it.

    It’s been a little like the effects of Receiving on the tongue–not a huge change, but a subtle and durable one. You might try practicing at home, too: wearing it to pray or read the Bible to get used to it before wearing it to Mass.

  61. Julia says:

    I’m confused. I thought there was an impetus to figure out what were the rubrics of the 1962 Mass re: what to wear and other things, such as who could be altar servers, etc. If that’s not the case regarding “veils”, why the issue about veils? Where does this impetus come from?

  62. TravelerWithChrist says:

    Mary wore a MANTLE, which is where the word mantilla came from – little mantle.
    there’s a prayer about being under the protection of the mantle of Mary.
    St Paul was wise in requesting a head covering, not a mantle, a hat, or anything specific.

  63. MJ says:

    Julia, you said “…in 1962. (the year of the approved Latin Mass…”

    Just a clarification point – and perhaps you did mean this, but just in case – the Latin Mass was approved before 1962, but the 1962 Missal is the one currently in use by the FSSP. (not gonna get into non-FSSP Latin Mass groups :)

  64. Girgadis says:

    Here is my simple solution that works for me. For the EF, a mantilla and for the OF, a chapel veil with a built-in comb. I keep the latter in my bag at all times so no matter where I happen to catch a weekday Mass, I’m prepared. I doubt anyone notices (all the better) and if they do, they’ve kept mum about it (better still). I don’t do it for them, I do it for Him.

  65. aspiringpoet says:

    I went through the same thoughts when I was trying to decide whether to cover my head. Ultimately, I decided to go for hats since I like them anyway and I would stand out less. Even then, when I first started wearing them, I found myself having various prideful thoughts – in the beginning. I prayed about it and dismissed the thoughts as best I could, and after a while they went away. Now I find it simple and humbling to cover my head. An adjustment period is necessary: there will be distractions and temptations at first, but gradually they will subside.

    My personal theory, based on my experience and what I’ve heard from other women, is that the devil likes to attack women who adopt this practice, and his favorite attack in this situation is temptations to pride. If a woman is sincere and has good intentions, he will eventually give up.

  66. MargaretC says:

    People would worry less about what others think of them if they knew how seldom they did. I’d recommend that Father’s questioner start with a simple straw hat (it’s summer, after all), or a scarf and see if her neighbors really object, or if she’s just afraid of looking different.

    As to any temptation to pride, I’d like to recommend the “Litany of Humility” by Cardinal Merry del Val, who was papal secretary of state for Pius X. If pride is the problem, you will start to flinch before you have prayed half of it.

  67. justamouse says:

    What about bringing a rosary with you to hold-something tactile yet small so that just you know?

  68. AmandaJMoll says:

    2 issues here…

    1) to veil or not.
    Veil if your conscience leads you to do it. Try praying the Litany of Humility. No one is likely to notice too much anyway.

    2) what to do about your easily distracted and critical spirit? Take it to confession and to Our Lady in the Rosary. Take some time to get to know the folk you find most distracting. Pray you can grow to love them and see Christ in them. They are not sinning if they know no better. Maybe with time and genuine friendship, you can lead them to a more respectful Mass. Remember you don’t know their hearts, only He does.

  69. thesheepcat says:

    Possibly applicable: St Philip Neri liked to say, “A man must not abstain from doing a good work merely to avoid the vainglory he may feel in doing it.”

  70. JennyZ says:

    I like to cover my head, but I have the same issues. I usually go with something a little less conspicuous, like a solid colored bandana, or I wrap my hair in a nice scarf.

  71. BLB Oregon says:

    I think Fr. Z’s advice is spot-on. I’m also reminded of the close of Letter XVI of the Screwtape Letters:

    “But there is one good point which both these churches have in common – they are both party churches. I think I warned you before that if your patient can’t be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it. I don’t mean on really doctrinal issues; about those, the more lukewarm he is the better. And it isn’t the doctrines on which we chiefly depend for producing malice. The real fun is working up hatred between those who say “mass” and those who say “holy communion” when neither party could possibly state the difference between, say, Hooker’s doctrine and Thomas Aquinas’, in any form which would hold water for five minutes. And all the purely indifferent things – candles and clothes and what not – are an admirable ground for our activities. We have quite removed from men’s minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials – namely, that the human without scruples should always give in to the human with scruples. You would think they could not fail to see the application. You would expect to find the “low” churchman genuflecting and crossing himself lest the weak conscience of his “high” brother should be moved to irreverence, and the “high” one refraining from these exercises lest he should betray his “low” brother into idolatry. And so it would have been but for our ceaseless labour. Without that the variety of usage within the Church of England might have become a positive hotbed of charity and humility,

    Your affectionate uncle


    Let those who have “scruples” have them, and those who are aware of the “scruples” of others be willing to give ground, and I think that before long we’ll have fewer women worried about being seen in a Catholic church wearing a chapel veil without a chance to explain themselves. What a day that would be.

  72. And seriously, I don’t think pride should be an issue. Whether or not you feel pride is a very small issue, in the end. Whether or not you sincerely believe that it’s a good idea to wear something on your head is a lot more to the point.

    If something is true and you know it, following the truth is bigger than you are. Nobody says that all evangelization should cease until all evangelizers are perfect saints, or that the priest can only read the Gospels on days when he is experiencing absolutely no temptations to disobey Christ. So whether or not you’re a monster of vanity (which God forbid) is less to the point than whether this particular Scriptural tradition is valid and true.

  73. benedetta says:

    Also I would say that it takes some courage, and pride in a good sense, not the negative one, for someone to veil at a parish where the NO is irreverent as does wishing to receive communion on the tongue, kneeling, looking for some quiet, decorum and greater reverence. Given that we realize that this has the potential to be misunderstood and generate negative unintended attention, I would say to this reader that if she decides she would like to try it out and see how things go that she could, in order to take courage in having to endure whatever may arise, perhaps see in what she is doing a bit of encouragement towards others who may secretly be contemplating the same or a conversation with the pastor or who just may be bewildered and looking for solemnity. And perhaps with her actions another may feel enough courage to show the genuine reverence they feel in their hearts for God and the sacrament. If nothing else another might not feel quite so totally alone.

    As a general matter I have to say also after reading this blog for a certain amount of time and having had the chance to think things over, my experiences and those of others at “irreverent NO Mass” I must say that while I intellectually comprehend that a certain group which became empowered and entitled wished to tinker and experiment such that in extreme cases things became unrecognizable, after so long I cannot say that I comprehend to any degree, and simply find it irrational and against our collective interests as Catholics, why the tinkering has come to rest in a state, after so many years, of this sort of barely licit or even illicit yet always confidently and technically valid schema. For the life of me, I cannot discover any reason, theology, or goodness behind what amounts to a sort of attempt (if it could be possible) to harness, ration, or regulate, grace. After worshipping in many different places after so long and after having the opportunity to hear of others’ experiences it seems just completely antagonistic to the faith, regardless of which council, which year, which Pope, etc etc etc, to, limit or constrain in this way that which should be received, using free will, so much as possible as it is, boundless, without limitation, gratuitous, undeserved, unmerited, with no beginning nor end…to name a few (others would do much better). Why would anyone in a million years willingly consent to this sort of Mass?

  74. Irene says:

    I agree with Julia that hats were the norm pre-1960’s (I am 71), but chapel veils were also in use in the 40’s and 50’s. On Sundays and holy days it was always hats. For daily Mass in winter it was wool scarves, and in summer chapel veils. Chapel veils were also used for quick visits. I have a picture in one of my 50’s yearbooks of our school chapel — the girls are all wearing small chapel veils. Anyway, anyone who chooses a hat over a veil will be following pre-Vatican II tradition.

  75. I haven’t read any previous posts. Wear the veil when you are there, but find a better parish! We drive two hours to assist at a TLM because we live in a place where Catholics are pretty rare. Surely there might be something closer to you.

    BTW, four families from our Parish, St. Damien’s in Edmond, Oklahoma lost homes in a tornado and one family lost two little boys and their home. Please pray for them!

  76. Dorcas says:

    Wear a scarf (babushka-style) tied over your hair. This would not bring any notice at all, and if it did, the noticer will probably just conclude that your hair needs washing or is otherwise a wreck. Can your pride handle that? If you want to cover your head then skip the lacy bits of frippery; these are really a kind of adornment, rather than a true covering. I think that one of the Church Fathers (can’t remember which one) actually scolded women for wearing filmy, transparent headcoverings for this very reason. Will people ever stop talking about how ‘beautiful’ this custom is? Please, women and girls have a enough tendency to vanity as it is.

  77. Robin says:

    Why is it that any article/blog post on women wearing chapel veils creates such a firestorm? Any thoughts? I would love to wear a veil, but I work in my parish and my pastor has made it clear that he loathes the practice.

  78. andreat says:

    There are quite a few posts which seem to suggest that wearing a veil is somehow better than wearing a hat, or other head covering. I really don’t understand where this comes from. As far as I am aware, the chapel veil, as we see them now, has really only become popular in recent years. In western countries, at least, it was far more common to wear a hat, or a shawl. (I have even come across women who insist that particular colours are better than others!?)

    I think it is hard enough for women to make the decision to cover their heads for the NO without intoducing a false heirachy of headwear.

  79. nanetteclaret says:

    Robin @ 7:18 p.m. –

    You said your pastor loathes the practice of women covering their heads. That’s very interesting. It reinforces something that I’ve noticed, and it’s that the most hostility I’ve encountered has been from priests (not my parish pastor, thank goodness). Speculating on why they, of all people, hate to see women wearing headcoverings might really open a can of worms. So to speak.

  80. tioedong says:

    Could I suggest she wear a hat? Or a scarf?
    If she thinks veils imply “I’m holier than thou”. remember a hat just might mean you have thin hair or a cold head…

    (FYI: here in the rural Philippines only servers and ushers and old ladies wear these veils and skirts… most of the poor wear slack/jeans and teeshirt to church, and the dress code only insists they be modest…ironically, some Protestant churches insist on skirts for women).

  81. k. snyder says:

    I’ve been veiling for about four years now at various NO Masses with no negative comments so far. As far as being a distraction for others and standing out, I’ve received far more reactions to my newborn baby in four months than my veil ever garnered in four years. No one interrupted my after-Mass prayers to look at my veil and say how cute my veil was. No one ever made faces and waved to my veil; and there were certainly no children pointing to me and saying “Look Mommy look!! A veil!! Look at the veil Mommy!!” My veil never whined, never puked on my skirt, never required a feeding, and I never had to get up in the middle of Mass to go to a “veil room”—all of which I would imagine would make me stand out more to others than what I wear on my head. So I guess it’s just a matter of perspective.

    As far as limiting distractions for yourself, wearing a veil is a step in the right direction. However, the noises will remain, and you will unfortunately still see the young woman who needs a sweater and the young man wearing jeans and a Vikings jersey. I view my veil as just a different type of personal devotion, with its own unique benefits and challenges, and this mindset had helped me with “holier-than-thou” pride. Try not to fall into an analysis paralysis; wear it for a bit then judge the fruits.

    My prayers are with you.

  82. tnconvert says:

    I recently started wearing a chapel veil to the Novus Ordo Mass. My husband and I chant for the Latin Mass, and I was regularly wearing a veil to the EF. It occurred to me that I was being inconsistent (dis-integrated) to veil in the presence of the Eucharist only when the Mass was celebrated in Latin. It also became clear that the veil emphasized something sacred was happening. Likewise, I feared I would call attention to myself by veiling, but few people have said anything to me, and most comments were positive. I think that just proves my pridefulness to expect everyone to rush to point at my chapel veil!

  83. eiggam says:

    I believe tthe decision to wear a veil is at the writers discretion. I always wondered about the Kleenex on the head; it made the whole concept silly and I was in grade school when this was going on. These comments have made me appreciate why these practices may have meaning for folks.

    As for avoiding distraction, where one sits in church may have considerable impact. Don’t sit by the door where you can see everyone coming or going. Also, I have found that sitting close to the front keeps me from seeing all those kids who get up to use the rest room during Mass. (There can’t be that many emergencies!). When finding yourself distracted, try to return to the task at hand and be aware of the grace of God turning you back to him, away from the world.

  84. trad catholic mom says:

    My experience is that once I started veiling and got used to it, it didn’t matter if I was at the TLM or the NO it is now normal for me to cover my hair. I don’t really think about it anymore except when I lose my bobby pin and have to adjust it during mass LOL

  85. Kathy C says:

    I want to veil for the wrong reason entirely. I don’t feel a pious urge to veil, and my gray hair isn’t going to distract anyone. I love to knit pretty scarves, and it would be great to put one to use! My daughters think they’re pretty, but see no reason to actually wear them. Does it count as sinful pride if I want to show off my lacy handiwork rather than my piety?

  86. Alan Aversa says:

    @dwrobles: I would just do it.

  87. Though it is a side issue, and I suspect it is not what Fr. was looking for in the way of helpful comments, I am mystified by one thing in this thread (and similar comments in previous threads on the subject), and that is why it should somehow be suggested by anyone that the truly traditional head covering to wear is what was commonly worn in the US for a few decades before Vatican II. Surely Catholic tradition extends somewhat beyond that both in time and place! So even if hats were the common thing in the US in the era immediately preceding Vatican II, it would not automatically make them more traditional and mantillas or other types of veils and shawl-type covering somewhat of a novelty.

    We have a wealth of latin rite tradition to draw on in this matter, and I am sure we can find solid traditional precedence for quite a few styles of head covering. Some of them would be clearly beyond what would be advisable to wear today in terms of extreme chronological incongruity. None of the options discussed seem to fall within that category.

  88. I opt for the less traditional use of italics in simply letting them run to the end of the post….

  89. catholicmidwest says:

    I really understand being distracted by the things that can and often do go on in N.O. masses. I can also understand feeling uncharitable about it all. I’ve been there. However, I think that wearing a veil can make it worse, in that it creates another point of difference and can be a distraction in itself for you.

    You know, prayer can be difficult for a lot of reasons, and when it is and you persevere, God honors that. He knows. If you are just having a whole lot of trouble, I think I would opt for a rosary in your pocket or a prayer book or missal to help keep you focused quietly, and to help keep your mind on the Mass and on Who you’re talking to.

  90. JKnott says:

    I don’t have anything to add to the many helpful comments.
    Perhaps most have seen this article; Restoring Catholic Identity: The Significance of the Chapel Veil http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2009-restoring_catholic_identity.htm
    but it may be helpful for our sister questioner.

  91. Lily says:

    It really doesn’t have to be this hard. A priest once said to me that scrupulosity is a sign of pride. So, if you’re feeling overly scrupulous about this, take a step back, ask yourself if the reason you want to veil is good and true, and if it is, do it. That’s it.

  92. drea916 says:

    There are so many women who want to wear a veil but are concerned about standing out. If we all just start wearing our veils, it would be the new “normal.” Let’s do it, ladies!

  93. BLB Oregon says:

    eiggam says:
    “I believe the decision to wear a veil is at the writers discretion. I always wondered about the Kleenex on the head; it made the whole concept silly and I was in grade school when this was going on.”

    I don’t think I’ve seen a chapel veil smaller than the smallest yarmulkes (which can be even smaller than the Pope’s zucchetto). Maybe it does not go so far as some will like in terms of covering the feminine glory of a woman’s head, maybe covering her glory with a glorious lace mantilla seems to miss the point, but I think there is a degree to which a veil is a veil, even if it is a very small one.

  94. UbiCaritas says:

    A little background: I am a grad student in my mid-20s. I attend the EF almost exclusively on Sundays, but often (due to class or work constraints) attend the OF on holy days of obligation or if I’m having an “I need to get to Mass but cannot drive nearly an hour each way” kind of day. I also have near me a very liberal parish which does, however, have Confession available on Saturday afternoons.

    I veil at Mass, whether EF or OF. I also–and this part may sound a little odd–veil for Confession, should I go on a Saturday afternoon or at the last minute elsewhere, even if I’m wearing jeans in expectation of spending the rest of the evening with friends.

    Why? In the former case (Mass), because it helps me focus. I am easily distracted, and find myself either paying WAY too much attention to the kids two rows up or making highly uncharitable (if unvoiced) observations about the people around me rather than, y’know, focusing on the great Mystery happening before me on the altar. The veil reminds me where I am and what I’m supposed to be doing, and (as a bonus) cuts down on my peripheral vision a little, leading to fewer opportunities to be distracted. I think of it as a kind of uniform. A military officer wears a uniform to mark his place in the military hierarchy and as a constant reminder of his duties therein. A priest (hopefully) wears his clericals for similar reasons. Ditto me and the chapel veil.

    As for Confession at the liberal parish I mentioned (the priests are liberal but theologically sound–at least, I’ve never heard them muck around with the words of Absolution, nor have they ever given me bad spiritual advice), I do from time to time go in jeans. Confessions are heard in a small chapel behind the main church, BTW. I’m usually one of a very few young people there. I wear my going-out-for-the-evening outfit (not immodest, I assure you) there with my veil as a kind of statement: Catholicism doesn’t preclude having a really fun life, and one should be not only a good Catholic but *approachable* as a Catholic…but at the same time, the chapel is not the world, and God is still the focus of my activities at that time and in that place.

    I hope that made some sort of sense, and wish you the best in your decision. Oh, and one more thing: at the moment, a lot of women wear scarves tied around their necks as a fashion accessory. One can always (and I have, on a number of occasions) pull the scarf up over your hair whilst in church, and re-wrap it around your neck afterwards. Just an idea, and one that I know a few other women here have suggested.

  95. mamamagistra says:

    drea916 –

    re: “There are so many women who want to wear a veil but are concerned about standing out. If we all just start wearing our veils, it would be the new “normal.” Let’s do it, ladies!”

    Amen! How about starting to veil on the first Sunday of Advent, 2011? Everyone will be so distracted keeping up with the new translation in their missalettes anyway. (180 days away!)

  96. Lisa says:

    I had this exact same dilemma a few years ago. I solved it by wearing thick headbands, scarves, and hats to cover my head, things that I could just simply be wearing for fashion or comfort (hats and scarves for warmth in the winter), so I wouldn’t stand out, and people wouldn’t know what reason I had for covering my head.

  97. APX says:

    What’s the difference between a chapel veil and a mantilla?

  98. q7swallows says:

    Getting over the veil quandry was a great training ground for me to have the courage to receive Our Lord kneeling — in any Roman parish anywhere — no matter how everyone else is receiving. Even unto scowls from a few disapproving priests, God bless ’em.

    It’s not about any of them; it’s about the Lord.

    Be not afraid.

  99. Joan A. says:

    I would like to see us get away from this peculiar idea that veiling is some sort of moral issue. Invariably in these ever-popular veil discussions, someone starts quoting St. Paul, as if Catholics are transformed into sola scriptura on this and only this issue. Then come the quotations of old Church guidelines and some people will even work in the Syllabus of Errors. And there’s all this stuff about the angels who are mortified by the sight of our bare heads. Are women really more “modest” in the 21st century with a filmy piece of lace over their heads? There seems to be some desperate need to “prove” you are holier or will get holier if you wear a veil. Or, from the guys, we will see you as holier and respect you more.

    NATURALLY I GENERALIZE. But this tone is present. Let’s get this straight: there is no mandate, ecclessial, moral, spiritual, or otherwise to wear any sort of head covering. It is a clothing choice, a personal matter, and nothing more. Whatever deep meaning it might have for an individual woman is her own experience and not connected to some universal truth about head coverings. Just like some men may feel it’s more respectful to wear a coat and tie, or they feel more comfortable coming to Mass “dressed up.”

    Even the conversion to a verb, “veiling” implies we are doing something with significance beyond what it should have. If a person wants to wear a veil, mantilla, hat, beret, or for that matter high heels or sneakers or clogs, she is choosing an article of clothing for her own, personal reasons and there is nothing more to it than that.

    I cannot honestly believe the Blessed Mother wants all women to veil, as is sometimes implied – however, she may be pleased by your own decision for your own reasons. It’s an issue for each person, but it is not honestly much more than a fashion choice, even if all sorts of other holier and beneficial attributes come along with it for certain individuals. Those things are meaningful, yes, they are real, but completely subjective, that is the point; they are entirely individual, just as the decision to wear a scapular or miraculous medal.

    Yes, I do wear a veil.

  100. rcesq2 says:

    The lady who wants to ” veil” (since when did that become a verb, by the way?) seems to be looking for the wrong solution to her problem. Putting a lacy something on top of her head is not going to reduce distractions. Indeed, as she intuits, she might become a source of distraction to others. Wearing dark sunglasses and earplugs would be a far better solution, or sitting in the front row or all the way in a corner in the back. The far more traditional “offering it up” of behavior she finds irritating might also be more to the point. Furthermore, being distracted in the Lord’s presence can also be a good thing – you’re letting Him in on what really occupies your mind. Once you pull yourself together, ask Him for guidance on whatever you were thinking about. It can be a most fruitful way of praying.

  101. Annie says:

    I was in just as much of a quandary about putting on a headcovering at the OF. Did lots of thinking, reading and praying, and concluded for me, whether anyone else does or not, it’s the right thing to do. Is it easy? Not really. Do I care it’s not easy? Yes, but it gets easier, I’m just the odd one in the mantilla. Will I keep doing it? Yes, because when I don’t, I realise I should be. And as a q7swallows says, at the end of the day, it’s not about me, it’s about Him.

  102. ndmom says:

    No comments on the veiling quandary, but on the larger issue of maintaining prayerful focus whilst all around you are not, some thoughts:

    Attend the earliest Mass on Sunday morning. In my experience, this is the least likely forum for chattering and nonsense.
    Sit way up front, where you cannot see (or perhaps even hear) those who might be a distraction for you.
    Bring a small book or prayer or meditation to help you focus and keep your eyes and ears from wandering. The “In Conversation with God” series has excellent meditations based on the day’s liturgy.
    If there is just too much noise before Mass, save your prayers for after Mass, when many of the chatty folks will be making a beeline for the exits.

  103. UbiCaritas — It’s not weird that you wear something on your head at Confession. What’s weird is that so many, many people think of the rule as “wearing something on head for Mass” as opposed to “wearing something on head from the church threshold onward” and “probably also wearing something on head during other Sacrament/prayer-related activities outside the house, like processions or going to cemeteries”. (Though the exact rule normally wouldn’t have mattered in the old days, since women were pretty much always wearing hats outside the house, etc.) Totally normal for any period of disruption and nothing to be ashamed of, certainly.

    (Now, when are all the men who want women to “veil” going to wear hats outside the house and have a hat to take off when entering church, and to raise their hats to people they meet, and to the Real Presence when they pass a Catholic church? Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, gentlemen!)

  104. Oh, here’s some interesting stuff I found in a memoir, Beyond Ellis Island: A Story about Czech Immigrants, by Mary Betik Trojacek:

    “Our family seldom went to town on a Saturday just to while the time away. After spending Monday through Friday in the fields, this was our day to catch up on house chores… We usually baked one or two pies or cakes for Sunday. One kid had to shine all the Sunday shoes… Another kid did the ironing and got each one’s clothes ready for Sunday church… So you can see that most of our Saturday was spent getting ready for Sunday.

    “Sunday morning we put on our Sunday dress, Sunday shoes, and a hat. In my growing up years, it was a church rule that all women and girls had to have their head covered when they entered the church. The present young generation will never see such a display of colors and styles of hats… the millinery business flourished. In our little town of Ennis, there were stores that sold hats only. After the church relaxed the law and Catholic women stopped wearing hats to church, the hat business went downhill.

    “The older ladies usually wore a Babushka or a Shatka (similar to a head scarf) triangle shaped, and tied under the chin. Some were very colorful heirlooms brought over from the old country…

    “During the transition period of going from hats to no hats, prayer caps and mantillas were used by those who had a difficult time adjusting to the new concept. But after they got used to the idea, the prayer caps and mantillas were folded and put away in a drawer too.”

    Saw this about the looser olden days attitude to pew seating, btw: “In church, the kids sat in the front pews; Daddy sat midways on the right because he could hear better there; and Mom in the back, usually on the left. The pews in the back were reserved for mothers with babies and small children.” Heh, Toddlertown is older than I thought. :)

  105. Oh, great. I was looking for more stories, and found there are actually anthropology books out there (Anthropology Matters! by Shirley Fedorak, 2008) which claim that Catholic nun habits “exemplify a form of purdah and hijab”. I think it’s a textbook, even. What jerkfacedness.

    (And what an idiot, associating veiled hats at funerals with “purity” instead of with “I’m crying my eyes out and don’t want to show my red eyes and blotchy face to the world, much less the extremity of grief.” Anthropology my butt. She’s not even human.)

  106. KAS says:

    I write as one who wore the veil for a number of years and then stopped.

    I found the veil helped me to focus on my prayers because it was such a physical reminder of where my mind belonged. I found that my entire focus during mass was better. I loved wearing it. I loved that if fulfilled a scriptural mandate.

    However, the hostility was palpable and the glares ongoing. The accusations of being “holier than thou” were common. I am a person who prefers NOT to be noticed and the veil caused some unwanted attention that, without any support, I found too much for me.

    The truth is that if I were attending a mass where women who wear a head-covering at Mass were accepted without any hostility and were such a non-issue that they did not get glared at then I’d have kept it up. Even if there had been ONE person who had been supportive on an ongoing basis– but the truth is I could not continue it due to peer pressure. I caved.

    If you can resist these sorts of peer pressures, glares, etc. I recommend the practice and miss doing it myself.

  107. Mariana says:

    I’ve been using a veil for only a few months now, and all my reservations about standing out (as only about two others use a veil) vanished the first time. Our PP came up and thanked and praised me, I had a few nice comments and since then it’s been plain sailing.

    Wearing a veil also helps one to focus, I simply can’t see those beside me. Which is one of the things I wanted, as I very easily get distracted.

  108. benedetta says:

    I just don’t comprehend why if a woman wishes to cover her head (or receive communion on the tongue, or kneel…) she should be singled out for the treatment whereas if one chooses to talk loudly throughout the Mass (and before and after) with one’s teen child or if one wishes to wear revealing clothing no matter where one is including in the church, that these must be accepted as signs of the times. We are called to be counter-cultural. Just because decorum and appropriate behavior by adults has diminished it does not then follow that it should all be affirmed in the Church (The adults, not children who will be children and of course need guidance and with whom occasional outbursts for babies and toddlers is par for the course…Not talking what children all do, talking what the adults are doing who should know better if they are able to work and socialize in the world). Rather it presents a teaching moment and an opportunity to revitalize a Catholic identity. How is it still “community worship” when so much disintegrates into theatre or edu-tainment? Why should the needs of the worshippers who feel entitled to yak away before during and after Mass trump all others’? At least in a movie theatre the other “paying ticket holders” have no problem whatsoever spontaneously and loudly shushing the ones who think they are the only ones there…Apparently pastors desire the irreverence. If they don’t then they will take measured and charitable actions toward catechesis on that and other issues which may not have resonance in the popular media but are crucial nonetheless. If adults need a refresher about decorum, they need a refresher and it need not be divisive and in fact would have quite a unifying effect on the prayers of a community. Now, if people are being disrespectful of God and others, and increasingly irreverent, simply because they do not believe what is truly there, then, that is very different and of course would require serious catechesis…

  109. SQ says:

    I second the earlier Mass suggestion. My children behave better at 8 am.

    One other thing, and this is very difficult – pray to the Lord, “Jesus, help me to love this parish and be a channel for your grace.” For me, praying to love (1Corinthians 13) my parish has been one of the hardest prayers to pray. It still is, but I recognize the fruits in my life, my family’s life, and my parish.

  110. chironomo says:

    For what it’s worth… although not a great number, I have observed more women wearing chapel veils at Mass in my parish during the past year. And, without exception, it is younger women… generally with several children. We have an EF Parish (FSSP) only a few blocks away, so I have wondered whether they might have not been able to make Mass time there and attend our parish instead. Or perhaps it is just becoming a more widespread phenomenon with the presence of the EF.

  111. Mariana says:

    ” purdah and hijab”

    Purdah and jihab, forsooth!

  112. benedetta says:

    Also in these times merely professing to be a Catholic is in and of itself counter-cultural. When the opportunity eventually presents (and it most certainly does, regardless of whether/when we attempt to compartmentalize it into what one does for about an hour on a Sunday or we are more cognizant that God is at work in every moment of our lives) do we cut and run or do we accept the call? It is not Having chosen to be a Catholic one is already counter-cultural. We all certainly attempt to deny the call in various ways when it comes to putting faith into daily action. But the notion that one can profess to be a Catholic and just sit out the need to resist the very present and destructive forces at work, to neglect the need to revitalize our identity, is a myth. There simply is little to no dialogue with the present culture within a context of mutual respect. The cultural assumptions at work reject everything the Church stands for, is a voice for. Even the notion that there is religious freedom in this country is one that doesn’t seem to live up to the Murray envisioning. Like a famous atheist rocker sang “You can choose not to decide but you still have made a choice.” Catholics must be selective about which aspects of culture should or can be integrated and not take for granted that it will prove healthy if left to roam at will within the lives of loved ones for whom we are responsible.

  113. TravelerWithChrist says:

    I also veil for confession, and in fact, I veil anytime I am at Church, in the presence of the Lord…
    I even veiled for a concert that took place in the sanctuary, as the tabernacle was present.

    …for the greater glory of God…

  114. nanetteclaret says:

    KAS @ 6:48 a.m.

    I am really sorry to hear of the hostility you encountered. I would encourage you to try again. If you can, try to do it with an attitude of assertiveness. Just think to yourself, “I’m doing this for Jesus. Not for myself, not for anyone else.” This attitude will fortify you and you will be able to withstand any hostility. People will sense that whatever they say or do to you will not make any difference, so they won’t even bother. Don’t let “them” win! Remember that Jesus suffered much hostility, so you can unite your suffereing with His and offer it up. Also remember Jesus’ words, “The world hated Me before it hated you.” You can turn the lemons of others’ hostility into the lemonade of prayers for them and their conversion, since if they are showing hostility in Church, they obviously have not learned charity.

  115. jade says:

    For me, covering my head when in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament isn’t debatable. The Sisters taught it 52 years ago when I was a high school student and nothing said since then, including all that came from Vat II changed that. I, too have scruples and pride, but when I am forced by circumstances to attend the nearby NO instead of our beloved TLM (which is a lot farther but worth the trip when we are able), I cannot help but cover my head. I am an old woman with an embarrassing skin condition and the tendency to flush scarlet if I feel anyone staring at me. But I hold my rosary trusting my true Mother loves despite my shortcomings and that as she presents me proudly to her Son, He will love me as she so generously does.
    If it helps, I find it very helpful to just be aware of Our Blessed Mother’s love for us. In ourselves we don’t amount to much and neither do our scruples but we have friends in high places!

  116. It has just bothered me that I was maybe a little unclear in a previous post when I said: “Now, just one more thing: when one discerns an outright call to veil, I think most concerns will fade away as the one concern will be to submit to the calling one has discerned.”

    I do not mean that a person who feels somewhat embarrassed or uncomfortable standing out will feel none of that fear as soon as one has actually discerned a calling to wear a headcovering. This still needs to be faced and will probably only truly disappear and fade away when one has begun the practice.

    What I should rather say is that most concernes will fade into the background. Some of them may still be present to a certain extent (such as embarrassment), but they will no longer appear as a possibly solid obstacle preventing the practice rather than as minor hurdles to be jumped in a race one is convinced one is set on running.

    So, I don’t mean to suggest that one should wait until there is no degree of subjective difficulty or challenge anymore, but rather that any concerns will become minor challenges once one is convinced that one should begin to cover one’s head. It is important to realise that feelings of self-consciousness, for instance, will only truly disappear when one actually begins to veil in church.

  117. mrsmontoya says:


  118. bjbf says:

    many who know me would agree that there must be something seriously wrong with me ~ i say that as a 58 year old woman who has NEVER, from the time i was probably 3, entered a Catholic Church without either a hat or veil… that “never” would include the 2nd “40 years in the desert” when finding a Traditional Mass, even in Rome, was as likely as finding the lost Ark. hence, i don’t understand the seemingly endless questions about to veil or not to veil…
    are you going to the house of God? do you feel/want/believe covering your head in some manner is a sign of respect for or humility before God? is it a sin? if the answer to the 1st is “yes” and, to the best of my knowledge, the answer to the 2nd is “no”, then just do it!
    in fairness, i have long been seen as an “entity unto herself” as i long ago said farewell to both the whims of fashion or the opinion of my fellow creatures by wearing only long dresses, capes, hats, gloves, muffs. et all. i did this not only because what “they” called fashionable seemed to be designed by Screwtape to strip women of their God-given dignity (while being utterly lacking in taste) as well as it simply fit my personality. i long ago lost count of how many men have said “i wish my wife would wear something like that” or how many women have said, “i wish could wear a hat”.
    but, i digress ~ think of it as “Say the Black, Do the Red”… or, as your own little mission as “a soldier of Christ”… or, remember a sheep dog has a wide vista to view while a sheep only one view… or, paraphrase Lincoln with “you can be accepted by some of the people some of the time…” the goal of life is to love, serve and please God and thereby be content with our best possible self.

  119. Mariana says:

    Mariana says:
    1 June 2011 at 8:16 am
    ” purdah and hijab”

    Purdah and jihab, forsooth!

    Sorry! Must have been a Freudian slip or something: Purdah av HIJAB, forsooth is what I meant!

  120. q7swallows says:

    Joan A.,

    Let’s dig a little deeper. Fr. Z’s questioner is being besieged with qualms about whether wearing a (traditional) head covering in church to assist her in maintaining a prayerful mode in a situation that militates against it is prideful or not. She is concerned that her DEFENSIVE action is an offensive move.

    In this world, “it’s just a subjective fashion choice” doesn’t cut the mustard for someone about to break this kind of trail.

    Those of us who have been-there-and-done-that are offering what encouragement we have to sustain her in this courageous and counter-cultural move. Just for thinking about taking back a little personal turf for God, she has managed to engage the enemy and she’s already drawing fire (qualms). She needs the shield of encouragement! Bring on St. Paul, the Blessed Mother, saintly women, Tradition, and those of us who are fighting this battle with her. Excuse me if I have been proud in saying that overcoming the fear of wearing a veil took me to another strength. I thought the change of perspective might be helpful; not some moral victory I had to “prove.”

    Granted, a head covering in church is an unmandated ecclesial fashion choice but might there be some intrinsic merit in the practice? And might choosing something that is “fashionably innocent” in its own right but “against the popular grain” potentially lead to other benefits (like, say, a holy courage for other perhaps more important things)?

    The Lord often uses little things to confound the proud and strong. Why not a hat or a bit of lace?

    Let’s think, too, of lex orandi, lex credendi. Since we’re incarnate beings, this also applies to how we pray with our bodies.

    What we DO with His gift of our bodies (even unto the choices about what parts we allow to be visible, what we cover, and even HOW we cover them–in church and out of it–are all statements (prayers) to God about our relationship with Him and how we view and treat His creation (including other beings). Prayers are not just words; they are actions too–the results of our decisions.

    Decisions that become visible are going have an impact on others.

    Wearing a veil in church says something.

    So does wearing a tight shirt and snug jeans. (!)

    With fashion choices, why you choose this and not that, what you are saying with it, and for Whom/whom you are wearing it make all the difference. Because fashions have a necessarily visible impact and DO consequently affect our neighbors, they are almost never “completely subjective” or “completely individual.”

    Once Fr. Z’s questioner has decided what is greener pasture and doesn’t get intimidated out of it, those of like mind hidden in quiet anonymity will join her. In the meantime, I commend all who struggle with this to the Blessed Mother.

    Not brief, Fr. Z, but then — as you well know — apologias never are.

  121. Leonius says:

    The closer a person comes to saintliness the more the devil attacks that person, this is not a valid argument against trying to become a saint anymore than the devil attacking veil wearing women by appealing to their pride is a valid argument against wearing a veil.

    The devil also attacks women who do not wear a veil through pride and he attacks those who want to but don’t through fear. What the devil may do should not even be considered but rather what is pleasing to God.

  122. Jason says:

    I must admit that, as a man, I’m often puzzled by what women anguish over. I read posts here from ladies who worry about pridefulness in wearing a veil. Pridefulness? To cover your head in the presence of the Lord? The veil is at once the symbol of Mary’s greatness and humility.

    The Lord started in His creation with the simple and then progressed. His final creation was woman. The tabernacle of new life and the place in which God trusts the new souls which He loves is the womb of a woman. His own Son was incarnated in such a way.

    It is a great gift to be such a creature. To me, in that context, it is prideful not to wear the veil in the presence of the Lord.

  123. AnAmericanMother says:


    It’s not so much the worry over pride itself as fear of the snarky comments of other women accusing the veil-wearer of pride. Ladies don’t want to “make a scene”, and sensitive ladies are easily wounded by the hostile comments and glares of other ladies, whom they presume are in a “sisterhood” with them. Of course they aren’t, necessarily, but that’s how sensitive people think.

    As I approach little-old-ladydom, I find that I’m less sensitive and certainly less concerned about what Mrs. Grundy may say. Really, what can they do? You’re not going to be burned at the stake or hauled off to torture.

    At some point, ladies, you have to not let the snarky women control your life and what you believe is right. Like grade-school bullies, they will always find something to snark about if you show vulnerability. You can either toughen up, or you can humbly offer up your feelings of embarrassment to Jesus and ask him to help you do what is right.

    And if you feel up to a little play-acting, a look of big-eyed innocence and bewildered incomprehension, “Oh, do you think so? I was covering my head out of respect for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament – ?” with perhaps a gentle gesture of the open hand towards the Tabernacle. I like to mess with their heads right back — which is probably why nobody bothers me much.

  124. q7swallows says:

    Amen, AnAmericanMother!

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