Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why I Do Not Wear a Chapel Veil

It really bothers me when devout Catholic women write opinion pieces about wearing chapel veils in the sanctuary as though they were attaining some special  humility before Christ; as though their holiness were greater than those who do not wear veils.  Women practice the tradition of wearing veils in the Byzantine Catholic Church, the Orthodox church, Orthodox Judaism and Islam (to name a few).  Perhaps the arguments they make are true for them, but not for me.  

As an Eastern Catholic Christian I pray everyday the invocation of the Holy Spirit which goes as follows: 

          "O Heavenly King Comforter, Spirit of Truth, You are everywhere present and fill all things.  Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life, come and dwell within us, cleanse us of all stain, and save our souls, O Gracious God."

God's presence everywhere is a truth for every Christian.  Therefore, I do not believe one should only show this degree of humility and modesty in the sanctuary.  It should be practiced everywhere as a sign of humility and modesty.  Until women are prepared to do so in the public eye, I see it as hypocrisy and vanity.  You might as well be a pharisee advertising your holiness for all to see.  I prefer the publican's route, come to Christ with humility in your heart not on top of your head.  "O, God, have mercy on me a sinner" (Lk 18:13).

When I go to the gym I might wear a tank top and shorts.  When I go to swim, I wear a modern one piece bathing suit (personally, I could not afford a much more expensive swim dress).  I wear skirts that go to my knees!  All of these practices are considered immodest by historical tradition.  Until I am ready to wear a burka everywhere, which in truth is the only acceptable modest attire by tradition, then I also do not feel it a necessity to wear a veil to church.  All women of the one true faith should consider this question, "Am I as modest and humble in every aspect of my life as I am before the Blessed Sacrament?"  If not, then "Am I a hypocrite if I only do this where other people can see (people who are praying)?"  

Another reason I do not wish to follow this practice are simple ones.  First, I see it as a vanity: the delicate lace, the beautiful patterns, the expensive fabrics.  To own a chapel veil is a luxury for me simply because it is not an essential piece of attire for everyday use.  For me it's a vanity because I would fuss with it all during church making sure it was positioned properly.  One reason I would fuss with it's position is because I have four small children who would tug at it and play with it.  Then if it fell off, or was taken off my head, I would worry about the immodesty of it.  This is not a disruption I need in my worship time.

As far as I understand this is a mere expression of faith and is a more of a tradition of culture rather than a mandate.  If the tradition is rightly intentioned, then we may desire to practice it to do the proper thing amongst our Christian brothers.  As in, we do it because everyone else is doing it as a sign of modesty.  However, in our culture, a veil is not a sign of modesty, but an archaic symbol of oppression.  

Before we start writing devotional editorials on the virtues of veils, I think our time would be better spent teaching young men and women the virtues of modesty in attire in their daily lives.  Before we run out and buy a veil, let's run out and go to confession.   Let's come the Lord with humble hearts and not just humble heads. 

Mno Hiya Lita!

4 comments:

priest's wife said...

I also do not veil- which disappoints traditional Roman-rite Catholics when they visit. Our Divine Liturgy is so....traditional- there are lots of men and boys at the altar- no extra ministers of the Eucharist, etc, etc- but I don't veil. First of all- as the priest's wife it would be like declaring to everyone that veiling is the 'thing to do'- also, I don't veil for the reasons you have here...latino-style lace really isn't Byzantine, anyway....maybe a country style kerchief?

D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dual Role Grandma said...

I understand your opinion. As a Latin Catholic who lived when females were expected to cover their heads, I think too many young women and their husbands have made a fetish of this. We did not only wear mantillas or veils, but anything that would cover our heads; in my case, I can remember suffering through Mass in a heavy-duty winter hat!!!

Yet, these people insist they know so much better than older women of their own tradition, and now they know more than our sisters in the East!

Dual Role Grandma said...

I understand your opinion. As a Latin Catholic who lived when females were expected to cover their heads, I think too many young women and their husbands have made a fetish of this. We did not only wear mantillas or veils, but anything that would cover our heads; in my case, I can remember suffering through Mass in a heavy-duty winter hat!!!

Yet, these people insist they know so much better than older women of their own tradition, and now they know more than our sisters in the East!