This history of veiling for women in the Catholic church is a long and beautiful history. Things holy and beautiful are always veiled in both the Old and New Testaments (think the Holy of Holies, the Blessed Mother, a bride presenting herself on her wedding day, the Tabernacle containing cesecrated hosts, etc.) Veiling is a personal decision and one that, given today's culture and focus on the secular receives more attention that it probably should. If you are struggling with the decision, perhaps this short story can help you in your journey. But the most important thing is not whether or not you veil; it is that you worship and love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind. Perhaps the following short story from www.veilsbylily.com will help you in your journey.
Jesus Swept Me Off My Feet
His longing for my soul was so intense that he wanted me to receive him in the form of a small host that looked like - but wasn't - a piece of bread. In substance, what seemed to be this piece of bread was actually his very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, and he wanted this that I might enter into intimate union with him and partake of his divine nature. He swept me off my feet.
The magnitude of this reality was too much for me. The God of the Universe - the God whom no one could see and live - had taken on human flesh and was now feeding me with himself in the Holy Eucharist, as he himself said he would:
"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him." (John 6:54-56)
I tried to grasp this. Jesus was very literal when he spoke about giving us his flesh to eat and blood to drink. Many of his disciples left him over this, saying this teaching was too hard to accept. Yet, he didn't back down. As I learned from the disciples of St. John - the beloved disciple who had been there when Jesus taught this - the very first Christians knew this to be true.
Could it really be true, then, that my Lord and my God wanted to enter my very being - body and soul - lowering himself to my wretchedness and raising me up to partake of his divine nature? Could it be true that my tongue touched my God, and that my God himself dwelt in my body in his true, substantial presence, just as he is in heaven and without leaving heaven? How could I have missed this? How could I have missed this?
Thinking back to my teenage years, I remember going to Mass in the 90s and not thinking it was anything special. Nice, yes, but not particularly... life-changing. There was singing. There was praying. But nobody acted as if the same Jesus of the gospels became truly present at the consecration. I believed it because I was told, but there was no evidence of it in the way we acted.
The design of modern churches didn't help. There were no visual reminders that we were entering into the heavenly liturgy, that our Lord and God was being made truly present, and that all the angels of God and saints in heaven were present, too. But it was true. It had always been true, but I had missed it. I had missed it!
I mourned for all the times I had received my dear Jesus without thinking. I mourned for all the times I had ignored him after Holy Communion. I mourned for all that I had suffered alone when there was Someone longing to suffer it with me.
I could do something, though. I could beg him for forgiveness and for the grace to love him more. Not only that, but I could vow to share this amazing manifestation of Divine Love with anyone who would listen.
It was around this time that I first heard about the timeless tradition of headcoverings in church. What attracted me most was that the veil acknowledged that we were in the presence of the living God. Other people, even those relatively uninformed regarding the tradition, also knew that the veil was a sign of reverence. Many didn't quite understand why I "had" to wear it, considering the Church no longer required it, but they knew it was a sign of reverence. And that was enough for me.
My veil was a sign of my love for Jesus, in return for his perfect love which had always been there, even when I turned away. It was a sign of gratitude to my Savior for having come after me, in all my sinfulness, to rescue me and to immerse me in the ocean of his Mercy.
Besides wanting to return my Lord's love with love, I wanted my veil to be one of those reminders I never had. I didn't want to ever "miss it" again, and if it could help someone else remember that what happens at Mass is awe-inspiring and life-changing, then I wanted to wear it.
Sisters in Christ: I know that we often worry about what other people will think if we wear a veil. Let's face it - it's hard to be the only one. So, if you are inspired to wear your heart on your sleeve for Jesus by bringing out your veil, consider that, in reparation for the indifference of the past few decades, we can build up the Church by helping her recover the sense of the sacred that has been lost.
Sisters, let us be willing to be seen as fools in love with Jesus. Whether you wear your veil at Mass or kneel to receive our Lord when no one else does, let us be fools in love and share with all humanity that it really and truly is our God in the Holy Eucharist.
He is waiting for us!