As a girl growing up in the 1960s, I was used to veiling every Sunday. The little girls had pretty, white flowing lace veils and older ladies like my mom and grandma wore black lacy veils. My mother even had a small round doily-like veil that she wore on the top of her head when she played the organ. She said it stayed out of her way while she was playing.
I remember that if you forgot your veil, you had to do something makeshift, like putting a Kleenex on your head and holding it there with a bobby pin. My young classmates and I had a strange fear that something bad would happen if we tip toed into church without wearing the mandatory veil or hat. As an elementary school student, I wouldn’t dare.
But as the ’70s came along and the Mass changed, the veil disappeared quickly. None of my friend’s moms wore a veil anymore, and we quit wearing them too. I didn’t even think about it.
Occasionally, we’d see a famous woman visiting the Vatican and she inevitably would be wearing a veil to visit the Pope. That would be the only thing that reminded me that veiling used to be a real thing we did in the Church. Outside of yard sales, I’m wasn’t even sure where to get a new chapel veil.
But over the past couple of years I’ve started to see something unique in the church. Younger women ARE wearing veils to Mass. Not only are they wearing them for Mass, but they’re wearing them even if they’re wearing slacks and a shirt or sweater — they’re not just for dresses any more.
Images of women veiling started showing up in my Instagram feed, and even on Etsy and Amazon. I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, I’d like to start veiling myself.
Like most things in this modern life, that would not be without some controversy. I probably couldn’t and shouldn’t wear it when I play with our more contemporary music ministry. There are certain people who have told me that they think women who veil look ridiculous – so I’d probably want to steer clear of those people at church too if I were to start wearing one.
But the longing is there, and I think the winter would be a good time to start – who could begrudge an older woman trying to keep her head warm in church?
Along with the desire to give this a try is also a sadness — a sort of grief at the years that even this option seemed unavailable to women in the American church. I feel sad when I look at my daughters, both of whom I think would look stunning in a church veil, and my 6-year-old granddaughter, who has never seen one!
I might be taking the leap soon. My son asked me what I wanted for Christmas and along with my usual request for socks and oven mitts, I added “A pretty veil to wear to church.” He was stunned. But then he said, “I got you mom. I know a girl, who knows someone who makes these at school.” Maybe this will be one of the benefits of having him attend a Catholic College.
So how about you? Any thoughts, feelings, concern about wearing a veil in church?
Copyright 2019 Elena La Victoire