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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pride, Veils, and Vindication

A few years ago, I bought 
myself and my daughters 
chapel veils to wear to mass.  
 I noticed the only ones 
wearing them were the old 
Italian ladies who sat on 
the front pew.  I was in 
the back pew with a 9 yr 
old and a legally blind, 
autistic toddler.   I 
watched the ladies.  They 
seemed very holy to me.  
Their reverence.  Their 
piety.  Their unquestionable
faith that had them there 
every single mass, rain or shine, 
no matter what.  The clinking
 of their rosary beads.  I was 

I watched EWTN.    I saw 
ladies walking in to mass 
wearing veils.  I noticed 
some were long black ones, 
like the ladies I had seen.  
Some though, had these 
cute round ones... sort of 
like doilies, atop their 
heads.  Like a more modern 
take on a veil.  "Now, I 
could do that.." I privately 
mused, and thusly ordered 
myself a "doily" one, a 
longer, more traditional one 
for my eldest daughter 
who didn't want to wear 
"a doily".  I even bought 
a triangle shape "baby" one 
with ties on the ends for 
my toddler.   We donned 
our veils, and went to 
mass, heads held high.

The little old Italian ladies 
weren't there.   Did they 
switch parishes when I 
wasn't looking?  Were they 
attending that super-early 
mass I couldn't get to, 
(because I'm too lazy to 
get up that early)?  

Regardless, they weren't 
there.  And we got stares.  
Not so much the kids.  But 
I did.  I felt silly, awkward, 
and out of place.  This felt 
like the equivalent of having 
the back of your dress 
tucked into your panty hose.   
We never wore them again.

A few years later, we started attending a more traditional parish.  Veils were worn more, true, but 
still not a huge amount of ladies wore them.  And not just the "old" ladies either.  Women younger than me were wearing them.   But still, I heard a few snide comments made by a remote few non-veil wearers behind their hands.  

I considered mine at home.  I'd bought a few more 
here and there, but the veils were doomed to sit 
unused in my drawer as I was too embarrassed to 
try wearing them again.  And I didn't want to be 
the topic of conversation if I did wear them.   

Time passed.

About two years ago, I slowly started feeling led to 
start dressing more modestly.  Not that I was 
dressing "trampy", but suddenly I was more aware 
of my skin being "exposed" (or my daughters) and 
what was that saying about my family's reverence?   Yes, yes, I know God loves us even in rags and 
smelly.   It's not a fashion show and I get that.   
That's not where my thought process was.   My 
thoughts were that I AM IN GODS HOUSE and I 
need to show reverence and respect.   Not that I 
wasn't before.. I was... but suddenly I felt exposed 
if the sleeves of my blouse were too short.  I wanted
my skirts longer, my shoes closed toed.  I started 
taking a wrap with me to mass, so I knew in my 
heart I was modest and covered and my arms not all sticking out.   The time or two I forgot my wrap, I 
felt indecent and exposed... not a good feeling to 

Fast forward to early 2011.  Lent was coming.  As a Catholic (I think we all do this), I wanted to use the Lenten Season to grow in my faith, pray more, attend mass more, and over all be a better Catholic.    I was listening to one of priests one day, and he said that we need to make ourselves "smaller" and "less" to make God "bigger" and "more".   Less of "me" and more of "Him".   My life is what He has blessed me with.  And it's His to take away, add to, and so forth as He sees 
fit.  I am His.  And with that, I realized my sin of 

Yes.  Pride.  I got up every morning before going to mass and would wash and dry, mousse, curl, tease, 
and spray my hair before mass.   If I'm not going 
off anywhere, I don't even do that for my own 
husband.  I only get up, shower, let my hair dry naturally, pull it back in a ponytail and put on a 
house dress.   God didn't care what my hair looked 
like.  He cares what my heart and soul "look" like!!  
 I considered the humility of Our Lady.  I considered 
the humility of the nuns I've seen.  The humility of those old Italian ladies I'd seen before.   That's when
 it dawned on me... their humbleness and humility...  that was something I wanted.   So, I decided, that was going to be my goal for Lent.  

For forty days of Lent, every time I went to mass 
I put on a black veil.  Long enough I could tie it up under my hair so it wasn't hanging down.  It felt 
weird and awkward.   I got stared at.  I felt like a 
fool.  Comments were made.  

"Oh, I guess now you don't have to do your hair any more."  (Said in a condescending way)

"I thought about doing that once, but I realized I didn't 'have' to."

"Only grandmothers wear those!"

"Father such-n-such said we didn't 'have' to do that.."

But, Lent was forty days long.  This wasn't about me.  This was about making 'me' "less" and God 'more'.  This was about letting go of pride.   About showing humility before God.   Not just about 
wearing a veil in mass, but wearing a veil on my 
heart.  I bought the books, "Holiness for 
Housewives" and "Apostolate of Holy Motherhood".   Women's libbers would have had a cow.  I didn't 
care, and DON'T care.  I've never been for that gobbledygook anyway!

I decided, well, if at the end of Lent I am still 
feeling silly and embarrassed, I'll stop.  And if 
anyone asks I'll just say I was doing it for Lent.   
Good plan, right?  

Lent ended.  It's July.. I'm still wearing veils.  

The remote few people who made "meow, meow" 
little comments stopped with their commenting.  
(thank goodness).   And I am still wearing a veil 
every time I go to mass.  (ETA:  As of 7/21/2013 
I am still veiling, and plan to veil the rest of my 

Finally, today, my girls and I attended the "daily" 
mass at noon.    We walked down to the front pew 
(our normal place) and as always it was beautiful and then when mass was over... I had a surprise.  A lady walks up to me, and says, "What a beautiful veil 
you're wearing!   Where did you get it from?"   I thanked her, and told her where I'd ordered it.  
(it's the handmade black lace doily looking one)   I briefly told her of how I'd started wearing them.  She was smiling and nodding... and says that she "had" 
to wear them when she was young, and would like to start wearing one again but didn't want a long one.  
She loved the style of mine. :)  She was encouraged 
to get one.  Vindicated at last!!!   

I admitted to this lady that it had been a source of 
pride for me.  That I had basically "made" myself 
wear them during Lent.  But I'd actually learned 
things BY wearing them.  No, I don't have to make 
such a fuss putting a lot of product in my hair to look "good" for "other people".  Mass isn't a fashion show.  Wearing a veil taught me to quit fussing over "looks"
 so much.  (so vain!)  Also, (and I can't believe I'm admitting this), but I am SO DISTRACTED during mass...   I sit in the front row for two 
reasons... one... so my visually impaired child can 
SEE what's going on... and so I am not distracted 
by kids kicking the pew in front of them and so forth and so on.  I can tune it all out better if it's going on behind me.  The veil helps more than you think, too.  When it's hanging down on the sides, it's sort of 
like "blinders"... which is good.  Helps me keep 
my eyes on Jesus. :)

Some people don't like veils.  Some do.  I saw a 
recent poll, and it seems that most people do wish 
that women would start wearing them again,  but 
most are unwilling to 'start' it at their own parish.  I totally get that.  It's nerve-wracking when you feel 
like the lone weirdo. :)    There are other ladies at 
our parish wearing them, so it made it a little easier.   Though sometimes at the noon weekday mass I am 
the ONLY one wearing one.  But I'm past that.  I 
don't care now if someone thinks it's odd.  *laughs*  I'm certainly not looking funny at you because 
you're 'not'. :)

Veiling (for me) is a personal thing.  Something I do 
not for 'me', but for Him.    

It does help that I'm not getting weird looks any 
more. :)  LOL

P.S.  I invite you all to read my friend Sue's blog 
entry, "Pondering"...  it goes very much with this topic.

ETA:  I've been asked where I get my veils... so 
here you go. :)  


  1. Susan, I love this post! My daughters and I do not wear veils. But I still understand that feeling of being the weirdo in the parish and having to do something which you know is right in your heart regardless of comments (or stares) from other people. Just having a pew full of children makes us stand out. Then we are practically the only people who genuflect before receiving Our Lord (everyone else has adopted the new tradition of bowing) and we are the only people who genuflect before receiving the Precious Blood. Then there's receiving on the tongue and my son always kneels for Communion. Once a visiting priest ordered my son (very loudly) to his feet before he'd give him Communion. It was sad. Who knows? One day we may go that step further and adopt veils depending on where God leads us. I shall remember your example.

    I am constantly amazed how something can seem difficult at first or even for a long time, but then God converts our hearts and helps and then it is no longer a problem. We are where we should be.

    Writing very quickly as I'm supposed to be doing other things! Hope this makes even a little bit of sense.

    God bless you!

  2. Thank you Sue!! I have to go... my hubby will be home any second.. but a priest barking at your son to stand up... oh my goodness.. shame on him! I hope you reported him to the diocese!! I do not genuflect (I am so sad to say) because I am physically unable to. I tell you the truth. I would receive on both knees if I could do it. It shames me that I cannot. But I do bow, and I receive ONLY on the tongue. My daughters do not wear veils. My eldest, I hope, one day will. I am quite sure my youngest daughter will within the next year or two. She is already thinking about it, I can tell. :) God bless you my dear Sister!! Your comments mean so much to me!! :) (((((hugs))))) +JMJ+

  3. I also love your post and example. I find it inspiring to see how much you love our Lord. I have never wore a veil personally but must admit this past lent it touched my heart as I saw an older woman wearing one. You must give me the info on how I can go about getting one. May God always bless and keep you and your family.
    With much love to you my dear friend ....Missy

  4. Thank you Missy!! You're too sweet! I will be happy to share both links where I've found veils. :) +JMJ+

  5. Ladies I edited to add at the bottom of my post, the two sites where I've bought my veils. I hope this helps. :) +JMJ+

  6. When I see a woman at Mass wearing a veil, it inspires me to be a better Catholic. †††