punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Sunday, December 4, 2011

To Veil or not To Veil? That is the Question

I’ve met some wonderfully devout Catholic families who wear veils during mass.

I’ve also met some wonderfully devout Catholic families who don’t.  Mine doesn’t, but I swear, there's an inexplicable draw about those veils.

I used to think that chapel veils were a sign for some sort of spiritual elitism.  But, in a way, I was just being a ‘un-covered head’ elitist adamant that I didn’t need a veil to be all holy-like.  And of course, you don’t need a veil to be holy and those who wear them already know that.

Some families opt to wear chapel veils because that is how mom and dad grew up and they're just passing the tradition on to their kids.   Others choose to 'veil' simply as a sign of reverence for our Lord and I have a deep respect for anyone who wishes to show, in their dress, that the mass is like no other hour in their schedule.  

And secretly, I think I’ve always found the lacy veils to be pretty and attractive.  It's not such a big secret, actually, considering I wore one for my wedding. See:

Many moons and pounds ago...
But, then again, it could just be my inner Spanish flamenco dancer wanting to leap out in passionate, mantilla clad form. 

Deep down, I realize that, if I don’t keep the Spanish dancing doña at bay, I’d probably show up to church looking something like this: (strumming of guitar sound)

Hm. Alright, maybe not quite that flamboyant.  Probably something a bit more muted, such as this:(dramatic angelic choir music)

Oh, yes, I would.  Six inch comb and all.

The important thing to understand about veils is that, whether you decide to veil or not to veil, either way, you aren’t doing anything wrong.  No matter what some might claim, the requirement for chapel veils was already in decline when the mass rubrics of the 1962 Missal did not mention them. Similarly, and more recently, the 1983 Code for Canon Law is silent about the subject.  So, no, you are not obliged wear one, but at the same time, it’s equally fine to wear one. 

We need to avoid the temptation (maybe you haven't been tempted this way but I have) to believe that some invisible veiled/veil-less rivalry exists somewhere six feet above the temporal plane. Although, that would be an, er, interesting ‘battle’ to witness (The Veils unleashing a hail storm of lacy netting and the Bald Caps deflecting with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), the truth is that the efficacious grace of the Eucharist is available to all properly disposed Catholics regardless of headdress.  

The important thing, of course, is what’s in your heart … unless what's in your heart happens to be a flailing Spanish flamenco dancer.  Whatever you do, don’t let her out.  Appease her with chocolate and Gyspy Kings music, but do not, I repeat, do not let her flamenco in church.  That might have been okay in the old translation (no it wasn’t) but the new translation, not so much.

And speaking of Gypsy Kings, who knew these guys made music videos and that they have over three million views?  Take look, if you can bear it:


  1. You know...a veil seems to me to also be good for sort of symbolically shutting out the outside world and focusing on your prayers. Your wedding veil was BEAUTIFUL. :) You looked lovely in it. It wouldn't have suited just anyone the way it did you.

  2. Aw, thank you Jen. Maybe I will post a pic!