Why wear a head covering or veil to Mass?

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"Why wear a veil" by Julie Larsen (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: Pexels.com (2015), CC0/PD

I started to veil as a child, so I did not really understand the significance of it at the time. My mother just had me cover my head when I went to Mass. I grew up in the Novus Ordo – or “ordinary” English Mass. So, I faithfully covered my head for Mass and after my First Communion too.

Fast-forward many years later. Well, my family did finally switch to a Latin Tridentine Mass back in the 1990s. After some time, I got married and moved to have my own family. My husband always has been supportive of my veiling during Mass. We usually attend a Tridentine Mass.

But now I want to think about why we cover our heads for Mass. What is the reason for women veiling? In fact, in the “old days” women veiled all the time. It seems with Vatican II a lot of traditional practices went out the window: women veiling, Communion only on the tongue, boys as altar servers only, and so on.

One article I came across tells us that Mary is the Ark of the Covenant. In the Old Testament times – the Ark carried holy items that were special to the Jewish faithful at the time. Now, in New Testament times, Jesus is like the Ark: He is present in all our Tabernacles worldwide. He is there waiting for us. Mary is always veiled. I have never seen a true Apparition of Mary where she was not wearing a veil. So, we may ask why is Mary veiled? She is honoring Jesus by humbling herself with a veil and she is the sacred Mother of God! So we imitate Mary when we veil.

There is also a biblical passage that is mostly offered as a reason to why we should veil.

For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil. (1 Corinthians 11:6)

Brian Kelly explains more in an essay on Catholicism.org:

Saint Paul explains why women ought to cover their heads in verses 7-10, continuing with the passage just quoted: ‘The man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. For the man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man. Therefore, ought the woman to have a power over her head, because of the angels’.”What does St. Paul mean by “because of the angels” – He is referring to angels are present at Mass. So, that makes sense. We should humble ourselves as women to veil. It is a reason to practice humility as well. (Catholicism.org)

First, there is the tabernacle.

Tabernacles are covered with a veil. In the Old Testament, the tabernacle, or Holy of Holies, was separated from every other place in the temple by a gigantic veil. So, in the New Holy of Holies, (the Sanctuary), the Tabernacle is veiled. The veil symbolizes Our Lady. As Our Lady’s Heart was rent on Calvary, the veil of the tabernacle in the temple was ripped in two by an angel when Jesus died.

There is more to ponder.

It is written in Jeremias and in capital letters: “[T]he Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth: A WOMAN SHALL COMPASS A MAN.” (31:22). And, again, “ [H]e that made me, rested in my tabernacle” (Ecclesiasticus 24:12). Even when we pray the Hail Mary, Mary compasses Jesus, for she is invoked before and after the Holy Name. Therefore, she is the Veil of the Tabernacle; she is the door through which we pass to Jesus: Ad Jesum per Mariam.

Second, only a woman can imitate Mary in this way. She is veiled in honor of the Veil of the Tabernacle. A woman hides her beauty under a veil, for, especially in God’s House, “All the glory of the king’s daughter is within in golden borders” (Psalm 44:14). “O Lord,” the priest prays at the Lavabo: “I have loved the Beauty of thy House, the place where thy glory dwelleth” (Psalm 25:8). Many holy commentators attribute this verse to Mary. And how wonderful that is! (Catholicism.org)

So, we are imitating Mary by covering our heads and basically obeying God’s biblical word by covering our heads at Mass.

So, let’s say you are convinced to cover your head now after reading this – or maybe you want to pray about it for a while – that’s great.

Where in the world do you buy a veil?

There are lots of shops online that offer veils.

First of all, I make veils – I don’t have a big “stock” so to speak, but I do special orders most of the time and I can order certain laces if asked and requested. I have a small website: Regina Caeil Veils. I try to keep my prices reasonable – so ask me! My Facebook page has some better pictures of what I can make.

"Why wear a veil" by Julie Larsen (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: Copyright 2020 Julie Larsen. All rights reserved.

There are other places that offer veils as well.

Veils by Lily is probably one of the most famous – and I’ll be honest some of her laces are very beautiful and would love one myself!

Etsy has many chapel veil makers up there. Veiled Woman is a friend’s Etsy shop.

Anyway, hope this helps if you decide to buy a chapel veil – go shopping and look around!

Remember to pray about it. Veiling is not always easy to do if you are going to regular English Masses and no one else veils. However, you may start a trend! I remember visiting my old home town and some Novus Ordo chapels this last fall and was quite surprised to see more women veiling even at the Novus Ordo Masses. I also was pleasantly surprised to see that my college town had a Latin Mass on Saturday mornings – maybe it didn’t count for Sunday – but that Mass is growing and I think they will eventually have a Sunday Mass – pretty cool!


Copyright 2020 Julie Larsen

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About Author

Julie is a mom to four wonderful blessed children, a doula "servant" to mothers for pregnancy to postpartum and owner of spiritual based doula training. She loves sewing, nature, mysteries, sci-fi, drinking tea, and more. Check out her other websites: CatholicDoula.com, Find a Catholic Doula, St. Zelie Parent Education, and Moms of BLOOM: Bettering Lives of Outstanding Moms.

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