Saint Paul speaks of shame when it comes to women covering their heads before the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:5-6), but I was brought to do so for a reason that came about earlier than the entrance of shame in the Garden.
A priest on Relevant Radio said God had a very specific order when He made the world, with simpler things on one end and more complex things on the other. The priest said the created world increased in holiness too. Being created last, the holiest thing God made was Woman. The priest capped it off by saying, “Holy things are veiled.”
At the time I heard this, I had already been considering a veil. I knew a handful of women who wore them, and some had posted articles about veiling on Facebook. I felt that those I knew who had sacrificed a lot for Jesus and those who had a particular love of Jesus in the Eucharist were the ones who were veiling. I admired them.
The veils were pretty. They made the wearer look feminine. They made the wearer look reverent. I could feel my heart being led.
And I wasn’t sure I wanted it to be led. I had many reasons not to veil. I was worried about what people would think. I was worried about how it would feel. I was very sure that if I was going to do it, I didn’t want to just try it out a few times. For some reason, I felt that wearing a veil or not wearing one had to be something I would commit to doing always. If I was going to wear it, I would have to do it forever.
I sat on the fence, comfortable enough to stay there and do nothing. But the thing that made me realize I couldn’t stay on the fence was hearing the words of that priest: “Women are the holiest things in the order of creation and holy things are veiled.”
I heard that and began to speak to the Lord: “I think this is a bad idea.”
(How many times have I started an argument with the Lord and lost? I’m glad He still lets me argue.)
“This is a bad idea, Lord! I sit in the front row on Sundays (because supposedly this helps small children behave); I’m a lector; I’m a Eucharistic minister. People are going to see me! It’s not like I can sit in the back and I can try this out privately! And I have little ones who’ll pull it off! I can hear you calling and this is a bad idea!
“But…if you really want me to wear the veil, I’ll do it.”
This is a dangerous place here. I am made in God’s image. It’s not the other way around. God is a separate entity from me and our opinions do not always agree. He has His own ways and His own thoughts. And disagreeing with Him is different from disagreeing with a friend. If my friend and I don’t agree, we can both stay where we are and still respect each other. If I disagree with the Lord and still want to be His friend, I am eventually obliged to conformity.
Two days later, I ran into a friend in a parking lot. She suddenly said she needed to give me something. It was a veil.
I ran to the chapel, looked at the tabernacle and laughed. “Okay, you win! I guess you really wanted me to wear it!” I put it on. It was easy to do, with Jesus and me alone in the chapel.
Sunday was harder. I was nervous and left it in the car. But then I saw a mother and her daughter come into Mass wearing their veils. They are dear to my heart, the girl being one of my former First Communion students. If they were wearing veils too, then I wouldn’t be doing it alone. I went back to the car and got my veil. I put it on, feeling self-conscious, working hard to keep it in position (because I didn’t know you needed hair pins) and feeling grateful that the Lord gave me some other veiling ladies to keep me from being the only one.
Since then, I have tried to commit to wearing the veil every time I’m before the Blessed Sacrament, just like I thought I would have to do. And sometimes, I still feel awkward. There are some parishes where veiling is fairly common and I don’t look any different. There are others where no one does it except me. I offer that up to the Lord. I know I am sticking out. I know some people might make judgements, positive or negative, about my veiling.
A member of the Knights of Columbus, wearing a tuxedo, cape and plumed hat at an ordination Mass, came over and thanked me for veiling, telling me I looked beautiful. I have to admit, that made me really happy. Another time, a woman came over and straightened my veil and said, “Your holiness is crooked.” That made me really worried (although she meant well) that people look at me and think I’m trying to be holier than everyone. Another person told me she didn’t want to veil because she didn’t want to call attention to herself. And (although she meant well) that made me worry I was judged by others as seeking attention. Thankfully, no one has ever said anything specifically critical.
But no judgement made by others or myself in self-consciousness actually matters. The veil is about Jesus. I have come to treasure His Eucharistic presence. The red tabernacle candle is a sign of that presence, and now, so am I. Vatican II made wearing the veil optional, so I couldn’t say whether the Lord wants every woman to wear one. But I wear the veil because I asked the Lord what He wanted for me and He gave an answer. Blessed be the Lord who made women holy and allowed holy things to be veiled!
Genesis 24:65: She said to the servant, “Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?” And the servant said, “He is my master.” Then she took her veil and covered herself.