Dear Edith

Dear Edith Response #1 – Amanda

Read the original question here.

Dear Carey,

Thank you for your question! To start, I think you are correct in that St. Paul’s teaching was related to the culture at that time. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a declaration in 1976 called Inter Insigniores, in which they state about the teachings of St. Paul regarding women,

 “. . .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.”

Since the 1970s, women are not expected to wear head coverings while in church (though the expectation remains for Mass in the Extraordinary Form), leaving it up to a woman’s personal choice. As it is a choice, I can only share why I choose to do so. There are variety of reasons, but they are all part of a desire to recognize my femininity before God by wearing a veil in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

One such reason is that, when I put on my veil upon entering a church, it is a concrete reminder that I am in the presence of God. This fosters a disposition that helps me pray and focus (helpful for someone who is as easily distracted as I am).

I also wear a veil as a sign of submission to the will of God; however, for me, this is far more of an accountability measure than it is a sign of holiness. I continually struggle with surrendering my will to God’s, and wearing a veil helps me remember that I still have much growing to do in this area.

Finally, the veil reminds me that it is a great blessing to be a woman, as our bodies are sacred vessels capable of carrying life (think of how the chalice which holds the Precious Blood is veiled before the consecration). This is one attribute that distinguishes us from men. As a woman, I have a special vocation to receive life and nourish it, whether that be through loving my friends, in my work with college students, or one day as a mother. All of that being said, the veil is certainly not necessary for women to focus at Mass, surrender their will to God’s, or embrace the gift of their femininity. There are plenty of holy women in my life who inspire me and happen to not wear veils. In the end, I wear a veil because I like wearing one for the reasons I mentioned, and I hope that any woman would feel free to wear one or not, as she chooses.

Amanda is a Coloradan who recently relocated to the south. She works at a Catholic college and could talk for days about her love of Catholic education. She can usually be found at a local coffee shop or getting lost while exploring her new city.

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  • Reply Kate

    This is a great response, Amanda! I really appreciate the humility you expressed in describing your reasons for wearing a veil.

    April 4, 2017 at 1:25 pm
  • Reply Joan Garrity

    Having lived it – in the 50’s, all girls and women were required to wear a hat in church – or you could not go into the church. Then it morphed and we could wear a mantilla (pretty and romantic) or a chapel veil – a lace circle – that you could easily keep in a little plastic envelope and have at the ready for anytime you might find yourself in church. But then, if you didn’t have a chapel veil with you, you could use a (clean) piece of kleenex and a bobby pin. I think this kleenex bit is what did in the requirement to wear a head covering in church.

    April 15, 2017 at 1:22 pm
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