Ok, as promised, a post about my veil experience.
Let me start with the fact that in nearly 27 years of existence on this earth and as a Catholic, the only times I have ever worn a veil to Mass were for the sacraments of First Communion and Holy Matrimony. That’s it. A 2nd grader excited to dress like a bride, and an actual bride.
Other than those two events, I’ve never even thought about it. Growing up, my mom told me pre-Vatican II Catholic school stories of teachers bobby-pinning a paper-towel to her head at the last minute for Mass. Vatican II meant no longer having to wear yucky and embarrassing brown paper on your head. Yay for the better world we live in today!
I don’t want to get into a discussion of the wherefores and why-nots of wearing veils to Mass. Personally, I’m fine when people do. And it’s not really for me, because being as ridiculously self-conscious as I am, I hate the idea of drawing attention to myself (this girl feels nervous when her husband starts
shouting talking loudly in a noisy restaurant).
Then I had my Burning-Bush moment.
Honestly, I know no other way to describe it.
It was a Thursday evening, about 6:15. The church was dark, except for the red candle near the tabernacle. As I began to pray, I felt this overwhelming sense, “Cover your head.” I mean, it came out of nowhere. I happened to be wearing a hoodie. I hesitated. “What would someone think if they saw me? Would they think less of me and think I was some kind of nut? Or would they think me more holy than I deserve?” “Stop worrying. Cover your head.” I put the hood up. It made me think of the way that God told Moses to take off his shoes in his presence in the burning bush. And then I felt at peace. Who cares what anyone thinks. Pride is my greatest struggle, I think. I prayed about that. And when I looked at the time, three quarters of an hour had passed. It was the most profound spiritual experience I’ve had in nearly a decade.
I know some modern Catholic authors say that women should wear veils because their bodies are sacred life-bearers. As a woman who’s body was created infertile, this never sat well with me. Clearly there must be more to this, right? I remember learning that Jewish men cover their heads in prayer as a physical reminder that God is above them. I like this. And this is what I felt that night. It was an acknowledgement that there is Someone much greater than me, very much above me, and this is what I was to do in his presence.