Several years ago, the priest who concelebrated my wedding (Fr. Louis Solcia) suggested that I do something that I hadn’t done since the day I became a bride: wear a veil in church.
I had always considered the veil to be an outdated tradition, reserved for pious elderly women. To be frank, my first thought was, “No way. What will people think? I’ll be the only person under the age of 80 with one!”
I began asking God why he would ask this of me, and wrestled in prayer with him over the idea. Slowly, I put aside my human respect and asked myself, “Why do we all yearn to wear a veil for our First Holy Communion, and dream of wearing one on the day of our wedding, but cringe at the idea of wearing it at any other time?” In both instances, we’re veiled as we approach our earthly or heavenly groom.
I thought, “When it comes to my attire, what’s the difference between how I dress for Saturday’s dinner and Sunday’s Mass?” When I present myself at God’s altar, shouldn’t there be a difference? After all, you might be able to wear your “Sunday Best” for any formal gathering, but you wouldn’t do the same with a veil.
So, despite the insecurities that screamed at me, I put one on and walked into church. Surprisingly, I felt a sense of immediate peace. Soon, what I wore on my head caused me to reevaluate the appropriateness of the rest of my wardrobe. After all, how can a woman veil her head without sufficiently veiling the rest of herself? I found myself becoming more mindful and deliberate in my actions and prayers. It reminded me that I was in a holy place, and in a Holy Presence.
The veil renewed my sensitivity to the sacred. Although I already knew that every church is the dwelling place of God, I felt a deeper realization that he wanted to converse with me. I wanted to be more of a woman of God.
These immediate inner promptings drove me to begin researching the veil. Although I’m still learning its theological significance, I was allured by the fact that St. Paul said women should veil themselves “because of the angels.” I was surprised to learn that the three corners of the veil represent the woman being under the protection of the Holy Trinity.
I was especially intrigued when I read how feminists in the 1960’s exhorted women to “remove your badges of slavery to men and get rid of your veil!” The veil doesn’t represent my slavery toward men, but, as Alice Von Hildebrand remarked, “the female body should be veiled because everything which is sacred calls for veiling. . . . Veiling indicates sacredness and it is a special privilege of the woman that she enters church veiled.”
At times, it’s hard because I feel as if I’m the only one in church wearing one. At these moments, I sometimes ask, “Why am I doing this?” But, I’m not the only one. Hillary Clinton wore one when she met Pope John Paul II, as did Michelle Obama during her meeting with Benedict XVI. Despite their less-than-Catholic public policies, they veiled themselves. If they veil themselves when they stand in the presence of humans in order to show reverence, how can I not do the same in the presence of God?
In wearing a veil, I’m not under the impression that it makes me more holy or pleasing to God than those who don’t. After all, God looks at our hearts above all else. All I know is that if you’re thinking about wearing one, don’t be afraid. You’re not the only one, and sometimes other women simply need to see your courage and they’ll follow. God did not give us a spirit of fear, but offers us his courage to rise up and be a light to others.
Although there’s much more that could be said, I’ll leave you with these three quotes from other women who have experienced blessings from wearing a veil:
“I think wearing the veil is a beautiful outward symbol of the recognition of femininity and its distinction from masculinity. Wearing it helps me grow in virtue in modesty, in humility, and authentic femininity.”
“People may have stared, I may be exposed to judgment, and no, I am not perfect. None of these reasons were enough to keep me from showing my love and respect for God!”
“I wear a veil because while I am in the presence of God, I wish to be hidden from everyone but Him. It reminds me that I am there for Him.”
Crystalina Evert has spoken to hundreds of thousands of people on four continents about the virtue of chastity and is the author of Pure Womanhood and How to Find Your Soulmate without Losing Your Soul. She runs the website womenmadenew.com and lives in Denver with her husband, Jason, and their children. (She loves the veils from www.veilsbylily.com)