The following can also be read in the next issue of Ecce. Go get your copy of the first issue today!
A long time ago in what seems to be a different life than my own, I was away from the Church. It wasn’t because I didn’t believe what She teaches, or that God is Sovereign, or that Christ is His Son sent as a perfect sacrifice for my sin. It was my own lack of humility and my own lack of trust in Him.
For a time I dabbled heavily (OK more than a dabble) in witchcraft. Even then I knew that in spaces meant for the sacred (Yes, I know that witchcraft is the opposite of that…) I should be covering my head. I joined groups for women who cover their heads. Most of them were comprised of Orthodox Jewish wives, though Christian women and even some pagan women were in the groups.
I knew inside myself that covering my head was an important part of my spiritual life and it is ultimately a main ingredient in what led to my reversion back to the Church. I was following my Mother’s example and listening to Her gentle whispers. She led me back to Adoration and the the Eucharist and told me, “daughter, this is how you need to present yourself before Him.”
Now not only do I cover at Mass, but I do so almost all of the time after a LOT of reading Sacred Scripture and listening with my whole heart. If we are to be praying without ceasing (1Thess 5.17) and a woman should be covered when praying or prophesying (1Cor 11.5), then it stands to reason that our heads would always be covered.
Saint Paul the Apostle was a huge proponent of women covering their heads and he spoke at length about it in 1 Corinthians and eluded to it elsewhere in the New Testament. I don’t see it as a personal calling, but more of a directive within our oral traditions.
But why? Aside from what I already mentioned regarding Scripture, what is so special about it? Why do I do it and why should you seriously consider it?
Everything holy is veiled. God in the Tabernacle. Our Lady. Even the angels in the presence of God. Jesus Himself is God veiled in human flesh. God even saw fit to veil the entire planet upon creating it, shielding us from the hazards of His infinite universe with our ozone layer. The holiest thing a woman with her husband can do is be co-creator with God in the creation of children, thus, in my estimation, she should also be veiled. Our bodies are a dwelling place for Our Lord.
How many times are you sitting in Mass and looking around, not focusing on the Reason you are there? Wondering where that woman over there bought her skirt, because it’s super cute and the colour is amazing, or gawking at a new baby because who wouldn’t? Maybe your mind is still on the rough start your family had in getting out of the door to Mass this morning. It could be any number of things, but the point is, you are not presenting yourself in humility before Our Lord on the Altar because your attention is not on Him.
I am generally loath to compare human beings to animals, but think of the blinders that horses wear. Why do they wear them? To keep them focused on the task their master set them on. I often think of a veil that way. When I find it slipping, it usually corresponds with my own focus slipping at Mass. So I readjust, making sure to cover my periphery just like a horse, so that I may pay close attention to what my Master, my God, is speaking to my heart and so that my devotion to Him can be honed and directed perfectly to His will. When my focus is directed, more often than not that example is picked up on by my children who will instantly redirect their behaviour.
Surely we all know the modesty standards by now. If you don’t, maybe I’ll talk about that in the future if Ecce doesn’t think my writing is tripe. You ought to be dressed as a woman. I understand that modesty is something we grow into especially in our culture, so I am not about to knock you for wearing slacks to Mass. Part of that dressing as a woman is commanded by oral tradition by Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians, where he says, “For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.”
We aren’t talking about hair being the covering as so many like to claim. Yes, hair is part of our holiness. That’s no question. It’s spoken about considerably in both Old and New Testaments. For women, though, our covering is a shawl, a veil, a scarf, a mantilla, or a napkin like we have all heard about pre-Vatican II mothers and religious sisters covering girls heads when they forgot their veil for Mass.
The veil completes the modesty that we owe to ourselves as Daughters of THE King, as sisters to those worshipping alongside us, and most importantly to Our Lord Who we are there to devote ourselves to as often as possible (ahem…. Always. See above reference to unceasing prayer and devotion.)
SETTING THE EXAMPLE
I want you to know, fair reader, that I am not judging you if you don’t veil. I do want you to seriously consider it though. I know it can be daunting. As a result of Vatican II, a lot of tradition has fallen away, and that includes veiling. If you are at a New Mass parish, chances are you aren’t seeing many women veiling. It just takes one. One woman making that leap in her faith. It’s not about you, or me, or anyone else, it’s about reverence and honour of Our Lord God Almighty, but we need to be the demonstration of that sometimes. Veiling is one of those sometimes.
It is effective with our daughters as well. While they are not yet women, my littlest girls veil at Mass. My two-year-old is hit or miss but she does love it and says “pweeetttyyyyy bale Mama” when she wears one. Or she wants to trade with mine, or with her sister or with one of the few that we carry in our Mass bag. She won’t yet wear it through the entire Mass like her seven-year-old sister will, but it’s part of her culture, she recognizes it, and in time she will learn the whys behind it.
We are an example in all we do as Christian women, wives, and mothers. Make it count for holiness, humility, and modesty as evidence of the faith we have.
I sincerely hope you receive this in the love with which it is offered, that God pierces your heart with conviction, that Our Blessed Mother serves as an example, and that you grow in holiness, humility, and modesty day by day. Ad Jesum Per Mariam.