Why do some Catholic women wear a veil at Mass?

Every woman has her own experience with veiling. Except for her wedding, or if she’s fortunate enough to meet the Pope, some women may never wear a veil. For some, the experience of veiling for Mass, helps them see the Holy Mass in a more authentic sense.

There are several reasons women wear a veil. Since ancient Jewish times, it has always been customary for a woman to cover her head. In St. Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians (1 Cor 11:2-16), he urges this out of modesty, but throughout history, the reasons have typically revolved around one key element — reverence.

Before Vatican II, veils were mandated for women at Mass but have since been made optional and are rarely seen. There are three reasons to consider wearing a veil to Church:

First, as an act of humility. As Catholics, we cover what is holy — the Tabernacle, where Our Lord is most present. Once we receive Him during the Eucharist, our bodies transform, and we become one with Him. Veiling’s intent is not shrouding a woman’s strength of beauty, but rather acknowledging that she is sacred.

Second, veils are an honorable way to imitate the Mother of God, the first person to receive both human and supernatural life, thus making her the First Tabernacle. Any image or statue of Our Lady, her head is always covered, sometimes with a crown. She too exemplifies humility before Our Lord.

Finally, the most important reason is that the Holy Mass is a wedding, a union between Christ and His bride, the Church. Everything about our faith and the liturgy is profoundly symbolic. A unique distinction is made for women, because of the reality that we can carry life, not just human life, but also supernatural life. It’s why women wear veils at their weddings and men do not.

Some argue that the Church should require that women cover their heads, citing St. Paul’s admonitions. Others say that St. Paul, while preferring and instructing the practice, refers to it as a custom in the churches, not a binding norm. Whatever the case, women are not currently required by Church law to observe the practice, though the practice is for many a beautiful one to encourage.

(Source: Catholicregister.com and Our Sunday Visitor; osvnews.com)

Read more in the “Why Do We Do That?” series from Deacon Mike Fritz.