Why do women wear veils at Mass? And should they?

I’ve been curious about women wearing veils at Mass. My family is relatively new to the Catholic Church. Very few women at the Mass (Novus Ordo) we attend wear veils. It’s natural to not want to stand out. Veiling is an entirely foreign concept for us, coming as we are from Protestant-land. But I have to admit, perhaps it’s even a bit strange, that women who wear veils at Mass or in the adoration chapel, somehow appear to me as more beautiful in the moment than those who don’t veil. I wonder why? I find it both odd and compelling.

I want to know more about veiling. My sense is that it’s actually a profound theological fact built into the very fabric of creation, of human nature and natural law, and of the reality of the Church. I believe it may be a natural language giving to us by God, teaching us and forming us. Perhaps when women wear veils before the Real Presence they are more fully complete in some mysterious way. If this is true, then parishes where veiling is largely absent and not promoted are at the very least failing to allow themselves to be taught and formed by this truth given to us by our Creator. At worse, we may actually be sinning by giving in to modernist and false ideas of women, men, the Church, and of Christ Himself. I wonder if the Church should place a higher priority on the practice. I’m leaning to a strong yes.

Why do priest never preach on veiling? Why do they never seek to teach their parishioners on what veiling means, why anyone would or should consider it? I’ve never once heard a homily about it one way or the other. Are they ignorant about veiling? Frightening to speak up? Are they against veiling? Perhaps they believe they are merely being obedient. But I can’t really blame them for not touching the subject if they feel they don’t have to. So, why don’t bishops touch the subject. I don’t know.

I find it interesting that the official Church declaration, Inter Insigniores (1976), states:

But it must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed upon women to wear a veil on their head (1 Cor 11:2-16); such requirements no longer have a normative value.

And yet in the passage it references, 1 Cor 11:2-16, it is clear that St. Paul’s reasoning is not from culture but from the very design of creation and natural law. Although he uses the words of handing on traditions, he also argues: “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” And again: “For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.” And again: “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” And again: “That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels.” In each case he argues from non-cultural positions, but rather teaches from the structure of creation, of the very origins of man and woman, and of the angels. I think St. Paul would disagree with Inter Insigniores. What do we do with this? Were the writers of Inter Insigniores “infected” with modernism? Were they worried of the biblical language in light of the rise of feminism? The use of the word “imposed” is interesting. In any case, I can’t say. I’m ignorant on this.

Therefore I’m trying to learn. Below are a couple of videos that I find interesting. The first is more theological, and it starts by looking at veiling broadly (why during passiontide do we veil crucifixes and statues? why ever veil anything?), then it looks at women wearing (or not) veils at Mass. I have watched this video several times now. The second video is more about personal testimonies from those who have chosen to veil.

If you so choose, I would love to know your thoughts on veiling. Feel free to add your comments.

1 Comment

  1. Yes, you are correct, women should wear the veil when they pray out of obedience to God for the very reasons the Apostle Paul gave. Whereas men do not veil their heads when they come into the presence of God, because they are the image of Christ, while women image the church.(Ephesians 5:23-25) It would dishonor God to veil His image, that He created, while in His presence.
    Feminism has stolen the truth from the lips of the hirelings. They don’t want women to be subject to the image of God, or even wear a symbol of such subjection. A close reading of Genesis 1:27 will show that it agrees with 1 Corinthians 11:7. Adam was created first in the image of God and had God’s breath breathed into Him. “In the image of God created He him”. There was no punctuation in Hebrew. Genesis 1:27 was a three line poem. The third line said “male and female created He them” So in Genesis 1:26-27 four times God speaks of making “Adam” translated as “man” in his own image or likeness. Then of “them”(not Adam) He says only that He created them, contrastingly not mentioning His image. But Feminism has sought to usurp and claim that the masculine image of God, a Father and Son patriarchy, includes women, thereby effeminizing and emasculating God, who choses to always identify Himself as our Father, never as our mother. God is not imaged by the weaker vessel that is told to be in subjection to the image of God.(Christ/Husband)

    Once you understand the image of God is only upon men and not women, then the Apostle Paul’s reason, given in 1 Corinthians 11:7, makes perfect sense. Otherwise the image of God seems to have little bearing on the topic if you wrongly assume the Apostle is wrong about men only having it. The early church fathers all unanimously believed and wrote that women were not in the image of God, up until the fourth century AD, when Constantine made Christianity the state religion, and compromises were made “politically” to appeal to forcibly converted goddess worshippers.(Proto-Feminists) Mary was quickly offered up as a substitute for their old goddess. And women were claimed to have the image of God, so that Mary could be deified and worshipped to appease calcitrant goddess worshippers.

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