Tuesday, March 29, 2016

In Defense of the Veil

This Mother's Day will mark the fourth year since my adult daughter and I made the personal decision to practice the devotion of veiling. Much thought, prayer, and discernment went into this decision. 

As our anniversary of wearing a veil approaches, I'd like to share an open letter. It was originally intended for someone specific but I refrained from sending it in order to avoid discord. Publishing it now, a year or two later, as an open letter will serve to offer an inside look into the devotion - what it is and what it isn't. The aforementioned letter follows:

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While I am in no way attempting to change your mind, I do feel that some misconceptions need to be addressed. Please share these thoughts with your advisors.
Wishing you a blessed Holy Week.
Yes, veiling is a personal devotion. Yet it is quickly growing as a more common practice. In fact, mainstream national Catholic publications regularly publish articles about the call to veil. This is indicative of a growing interest and trend. The sale of veils is also rapidly trending upward – something I know because of my contact with several veiling companies.

For many women, veiling increases the full active and conscious participation in the Eucharist. Coming together as a community of believers, is not in conflict with also experiencing a very intimate encounter with Christ. Both are appropriate and desirable for full participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The original exhortation by St. Paul was not concerned with covering physical beauty. He advocated veiling as a means of equalizing all women, since ostracized women didn’t veil. In covering all women and uncovering all men, St. Paul also emphasized our equal but differing roles. In addition, he proposed veiling as a sign of deference to the presence of the Holy Angels, who attend the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Holy Mass.

Further, there are many facets to this devotion. The pursuit of modesty in front of our God is also an important consideration. Especially in modern times, when women reveal too many of their physical attributes, it brings to mind the respect and God-given dignity we posses. While some may make a negative judgment, in practice I have found many priests, deacons, and other faithful who welcomed the respect it affords women.

Surely we’re not suggesting that women in the 60’s, prior to the Second Vatican Council, covered their heads for modesty’s sake in everyday life. Other than wearing hats as a matter of fashion, they did not cover at all – except for when in the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
However, this was not the only reason veils were (or are) worn. Other motivations include emulation of Mary the Mother of God, personal submission to Jesus Christ, in deference to the Church’s practice of veiling all worthy vessels (women are after all life-bearers), and a tangible appearance of modesty in feminine beauty.
Although the submitted article shares my personal reasoning, it speaks of the reasoning attributed to the increasing number of women who are continually making this decision. Personal devotions, after all, are also to be respected and are shared by many. To this day women who attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, little girls receiving the Eucharist for the first time, and brides – all wear veils – exactly for some of the reasons I have given. 
To those who practice the devotion, the wearing of the veil is a physical reminder of the True Presence just as a scapular, medal, or other sacramental evokes a rapt attention to the Holy. After all, even though there is no longer a requirement to veil, veiling itself is still biblical (1 Cor 11) and was emphasized by many of the Church Fathers as an important act of reverence. Today, it’s simply a respected option.
Birgit Jones

My hope in making this unpublished and unsent letter public is twofold. First, I'd like to hope that any woman who is discerning the devotion of wearing a veil finds encouragement and fortitude. Perhaps my words, the spiritual benefit experienced by those of us who do veil, and a bit of insight will ward off misconception and fear.

Secondly, I am sharing because it illustrates that my daughter and I made the right choice - for us. In recognizing that the call to veil doesn't resound in every woman, it is equally necessary to acknowledge that veiling is a beloved devotion to some of us. May we all give the respect we all deserve.