Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Veiling My Way Out of My Comfort Zone

Editor's note: This is another great contribution from the one and only Holly Vaughan. You can follow her on Twitter here!

I have been studiously observing how women veiling themselves at Mass has become more and more common.  As a (still pretty recent) convert, I am fascinated by the rich tradition and history in the Catholic Church.  I didn’t know for quite awhile that women used to be required to cover their heads in church, so clearly I didn’t know why the custom had changed either.  Then I saw that women from my theology class were posting that they were going to start wearing a veil - to their regular parish Mass, not just the Latin Masses they attended.  Then two people in my small parish began to wear them.  This was my first introduction to veiling, and I was intrigued.  

I tuned this over in my mind for some time, read about the history of veiling, read about the reasons women are veiling today, and thought about it some more.  Then I realized that this is something that would be encouraged by the very traditional monastery that I am an Oblate of.  So I considered it some more...and...did nothing.  Something didn’t sit right with me.  

I love seeing the gorgeous veils, like in the photo above.  I thought it was a beautiful devotion, and one that I would love to be a part of, but I still felt like there was something that I couldn’t put my finger on that wasn’t right for me.  I studied some more, and ran across this post from Jennifer Fulwiler.  You should read the whole thing, but especially the part under the heading “Why I Wanted To Do It.” Besides being one of the best reflections I had read on veiling, I realized that if this practice is about humility and devotion, then it has to be 100% about humility and devotion.  Many women do this beautifully with long and flowing veils of gorgeous lace.  They wear them well, never seem distracted by them, and aren’t at all worried about them falling off of their heads.

This….would not be me.  I knew that my picky and probably-not-as-humble-as-I-should-be self would be straightening it, checking it, making sure it was hanging right, and them ultimately catching it on something and ripping it or hurting myself.  I didn’t figure any of those things would bring me deeper into the Mass, or assist in my devotion to Our Lord, which should be the purpose of the veil.  I wasn’t quite reading to give up however, and stumbled across the online  (soon to be brick and mortar!) company Veils By Lily.  It was there that I found my solution - a small starter veil!  This one to be exact:

(Image from Veils By Lily Website)

This particular color is close to my hair color, has a removable clip in the front to hold it, and ties in the back.  I don’t have to worry about it falling off, it’s too short to catch on anything, and it’s discreet while still obviously being a veil.  It is exactly what I was looking for - a way to participate in this devotion that works for my personality and needs - a way to make it about devotion to Jesus and not about me.  (This is not a slam to people who wear beautiful and elaborate veils - I plan to get a longer one to wear to Latin Mass when we are able to go, and hopefully even to my parish in the future.  But just starting out, knowing myself and also being in a parish where veiling is uncommon, this is what works best for me right now.)
So - a week ago today I wore the veil to Mass the first time.  Either everyone thought it was part of my outfit, or they didn’t notice it, which was okay in my book.  The veil is inconspicuous, but I definitely know that I am wearing it, and it definitely made a difference for me at the Mass.  First of all, I felt connected with an ancient tradition of the Church.  Women have veiled at Mass many more years than they haven’t.  I love traditions and heritages, but as an adult convert, I don’t have Catholic family traditions that I grew up with.  The religious traditions and customs that I have, and want my children to have, are passed down to us not from our blood relatives, but from the Church.  Like the good mother that she is, the Church provides in this area.  

On a more practical level, while I know it sounds cliche, it kept me from being distracted, reminded me of the importance of Mass, and most of all why we are there - because we are part of the Church: the Bride of Christ.  

Anything that can remind me of that, is a gift that keeps on giving.

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