Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Veiling :: A Lenten Sacrifice I Grew to Love

Ten years ago, in the spring of 2004, I decided to start wearing veils as a lenten sacrifice.

It was something I had felt called to do for a couple years,  but my vanity and pride had prevented me from taking the first step.

Our family was going to be traveling that May to the ordination of my husband's oldest brother, the first of his three brothers to be ordained to the Holy Priesthood with the Fraternity of St. Peter. I had never attended a Mass in the Extraordinary Form, at least not that I could remember, but I knew that most of the women in attendance would be wearing a veil. I didn't want to stand out for not veiling, but I also didn't want to wear a veil just for the sake of blending in with the crowd.  

If I was going to wear a veil I wanted to make sure I was doing it for Christ alone.

The year before, during Lent of 2003, I had started wearing skirts on a daily basis, offering it up for a special intention.  By the end of Lent it was no longer a sacrifice, but something I had grown to love.  The same happened for me with veiling. After lots of reading and many discussions with my husband's brothers on the symbolism and reasons for veiling I decided it was time and that this act of devotion was something God was asking me to do for Him.  

It wasn't easy at first.  

I remember walking into Mass on Ash Wednesday and slipping into the back pew with my three little ones, ages 3, 2 and 6 months. It was definitely going to be an adjustment and take some practice (and lots of bobby pins!) to find a way to keep that veil on my head while juggling all those babies!  There were a few other dear older women at Mass wearing veils, so I wasn't the only one, but it was still hard. The next day was the same, and the next...

I was so afraid of what people were thinking of me.  I didn't want others to think I was wearing a veil to "try and look holy" or to draw extra attention to myself.  I didn't want to be an additional distraction during Mass. 

I still remember the afternoon of that first Friday during Lent. I pulled Sermons of the Curé of Ars (affiliate link) off the shelf and opened it up to read St. John Vianney's sermon for the First Sunday of Lent. The sermon was titled Temptations and was exactly what I needed to read at that moment.  Here is a particular quote from the sermon which I found particularly inspiring and which has stuck with me all these years:

The first temptation, my brethren, which the devil prepares for those who have begun to be more zealous in the service of God, is the fear of man. They are afraid to show themselves. They shun those persons whose society they formerly frequented. If they are told that they have changed very much, they are ashamed! The question, "What will be said of me?" haunts them so, that they have no more courage to do good before the world.  

The next day it was so much easier to push aside my fears, and blame them on temptations from the devil. I said a little prayer and slipped on my veil, before entering the Church. Despite what others might be thinking, God knows my personal intentions for veiling, and that is all that matters. With God's grace I was able to persevere and it continued to get easier.  Even with the constant distractions of little ones, wearing a veil has always helped me remain more focused on what is taking place at Mass and to treasure this precious time with my Lord.

I have grown to love wearing a veil for Mass, and whenever I am in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  The veil has such inspiring symbolism and is a beautiful way to give glory to God.  I pray that all women who feel drawn to begin veiling are given the courage and graces they need to do so.



Note: Currently my favorite veils are my rose covered veil (pictured at the top of this post and purchased from the limited quantities offered by Michele Quigley), my silver and black mantilla (pictured above, purchased from... oh, I can't remember at the moment!), and my black Soft Tulle Veil ordered from Catholic Embroidery and made by Veils by Lily. Lily has an excellent page on her website with answers to Frequently Asked Questions about veiling

51 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your stories, reflections and helpful links!

    2014-02-27 05:46:24

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  2. I have thought about veiling many times since my brother was ordained a priest in the Fraternity of St. Peter. However, I always came up with the excuse that my little ones would never leave it alone. Truly I think I was simply self-conscious of what others would be thinking, like you mentioned. I never knew the symbolism for veiling...thanks for that link. Thank you also for your story; you are truly an inspiration to live a holy life. With Lent coming up I think I will pray about veiling for Lent (as a sacrifice at first, I am sure) as a way to begin veiling. God bless!

    2014-02-27 06:08:47

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  3. I loved reading your beautiful post and wanted to share with you that I also wear my chapel veil. . In fact use to wear my great grandmothers chapel veil all the time but because of it's age and delicate nature I had to buy me some new ones to swap out so I had backups. I keep one in the car in case I might be running late and leave mine at home. I feel it shows reverence for Our Lord and I am lost without mine. They have a few others that have started wearing one also, maybe around six of us all together. My granddaughters also wear theirs when they come to mass with me. Thank you for sharing.

    2014-02-27 06:17:13

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  4. I think this might be my favorite post of yours. I'm sharing it with everyone. I feel like it doesn't even have to be "veiling" but any act we try to submit ourselves to.

    2014-02-27 06:38:05

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  5. I love this! I go back and forth about 'should I' and am not really sure what all holds me back but I can't seem to get myself there even though I know, know deep down that if I was in Rome I would wear one - so why not at my home parish, possibly pride as well. Good to meditate on!

    2014-02-27 11:09:09

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  6. It is such a journey :). We have been attending the Extraordinary Form for nearly 2 years now.... a very big journey and totally led my God. My veil has become really cherished by me, which is quite something as I didn't even wear a veil when we got married. I love seeing my two girls wear theirs, they look SO beautiful! Like you said, it draws me into prayer in a beautiful way during Mass and makes me feel so close to Our Lady. Thank you for sharing! I have yet to wear mine at an Ordinary Mass, so I shall seek courage! Many blessings on you and your family. ps. I was really blown away by the fact your husband has 3 brothers in the Fraternity of St Peter. Our Parish is looked after by the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (Transalpine Redemptorists) and their seminarians train with the FSSP in the States. We feel connected to them :)

    2014-02-27 11:20:41

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  7. Thank you for sharing your meaningful thoughts and reflections. Even though I wear a veil as well, there are parts of your message that have inspired me to read more and reflect upon a few points you made. Always grateful, Marisa M.

    2014-02-27 11:59:13

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  8. Jessica, I couldn't have said it any better. Beautiful post! I too had felt called to veil for a while but used the excuse "the baby won't leave it alone" to avoid it. Deep down I knew it was because of what people would think. Then we went to the Easter vigil. Sans kids. Gone was the excuse. So very self consciously I donned the veil. Over the years I've received many graces from wearing a veil. I've received many compliments, been able to witness to the veil and been able to pay more attention to the sacrifice of the Mass. A few other women have also been inspired to start veiling. It's a beautiful tradition that I pray is revived.

    2014-02-27 12:51:22

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  9. This is so beautiful! I'm not a writer, but if I was, I would have said the same thing! My journey to veiling, my thoughts, my temptations,...exactly the same as yours! Thank you for sharing this, and in doing so, encouraging others to discover the blessings of veiling for Christ! :)

    2014-02-27 13:25:35

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  10. I love this! Thank you for posting about this. I too started wearing veils as a Lenten sacrifice. This was was about 6 years ago for me.I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who God called in that way.

    2014-02-27 13:53:51

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  11. Jessica, thank you for this post. I am curious about the skirt wearing. Why is that something you'd offer up? Do you think that led to your decision to start wearing a veil? I hope that's not intrusive. I read about reasons for veiling, but is there similar reasons for dressing in skirts?

    2014-02-27 14:43:31

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    1. I don't want to go into all of my personal reasons online, but at that time I decided, with the help of my local confessor, to offer up the comforts of my jeans and sweats that particular Lent for a special intention. I don't think it influenced my decision to start wearing veils (perhaps indirectly it did) but I do think it led me to start making a conscious effort to dress in a more modest and feminine way than I had in the past. I haven't read much about it, but a friend of mine just shared a link to a Skirt-Up Lenten Challenge that sounds neat: http://femgenius.com\/skirt-up-lenten-challenge

      2014-03-01 04:20:32

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    2. Thanks for the link Jessica. When I read that you had started to wear skirts, something really struck me. I do apologize if my question was too personal. I appreciate all that you do share on this blog. I wasn't asking what you were offering it up for. I just didn't see how wearing a skirt was a sacrifice. It had never occurred to me that my yoga pants and jeans were a source of comfort until you wrote that. Just never gave this a thought. Having a bit of an epiphany here. Because it is so very true. It would be so very difficult for me to do this. Anyway, I will be praying about this. Thanks again for sharing,

      2014-03-02 02:00:27

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  12. Beautiful. Not an easy post. This took conviction and a great freedom from "what people think". Thank you for sharing with the blogging world! :)

    2014-02-27 15:14:52

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  13. Thanks for sharing. I had similar experiences with beginning to wear skirts and the veil. For me, though, it was Our Lady I sensed asking me to do it. I'd almost forgotten what a struggle and an embarrassment it was for me in the beginning until I read your reflections.

    2014-02-27 15:57:09

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  14. Jessica, thank you for this article. It is so beautiful to see women veiled before the Lord in His Eucharistic presence. And yes, it is a call from the Lord. Such a powerful way to show love of Christ, and gratitude for the great gift of our femininity. It is amazing how those early temptations of vanity and pride fade with time, especially when we keep our intentions pure! God knows our hearts, and, if we have right reasons for this practice, He is glorified by our actions! Thanks so much for writing this! Keep me in your prayers as I keep your family in mine. God bless!

    2014-02-27 16:15:52

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  15. Jessica, I wonder if you would grace my blog by being a contributor in My Veiling Series? We have people signed up but the calendar is not set yet. Here is the post about the Series. http://emilysestuary.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/our-ladies-image-veiling-an-introduction Let me know. Emily

    2014-02-27 16:18:23

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    1. Thank you for the invitation Emily! Unfortunately we will be needing to travel soon for some testing/health issues for our oldest son and I can't commit to anything more than I already have at this time. Could you please keep him in your prayers?

      2014-03-01 04:31:44

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    2. Absolutely. I will light a candle and pray. If you change your mind, the invitation is open. I am hopeful that we can keep it going all year. I have enough people to tell their stories on Tuesdays through June. Very excited. Blessings, Em

      2014-03-01 04:39:48

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    3. That is wonderful, and thank you!

      2014-03-01 04:42:46

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  16. Jessica. .I'm so surprised you didn't mention your previous post on veiling. Its a beautiful post..with the audio sancto homily...we listened to it one time and never looked back. Ill forever remember that post of yours! Veiling at every opportunity, Kara

    2014-02-27 17:03:50

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    1. You are right! I didn't think to include it and my husband mentioned it last night as well, along with the little book I have called The Chapel Veil: Symbol of the Spouse of Christ. I need to go back and listen to that homily again! It's been years. . . I typed up this post quickly yesterday, and was mainly just focusing on what I hadn't blogged about in the past to answer some additional questions I've been receiving. :) Here is the link: http://showerofroses.blogspot.com/2009/03/beautiful-sermon-on-veiling.html

      2014-02-27 17:27:27

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  17. Jessica, you continue to be a beautiful example of Faith and I am grateful every day that I found your blog! I know I learn so much from your posts that encourage me to delve deeper into my Catholic Faith. May God continue to bless you all!! Joene

    2014-02-27 17:14:58

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  18. Thank you so much for sharing this. You've really opened my eyes. Just thank you.

    2014-02-27 19:20:34

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  19. Beautiful post! Our family is very blessed that one of your husband's brothers was our Asst. Pastor for four years. He taught us the significance of veiling. He also spoke often about 'human respect' and how we sometimes avoid doing good things because we fear what others will think. Veiling took some getting used to, but now if I go into a church without it, I feel 'incomplete'.

    2014-02-27 19:27:22

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  20. Beautiful post. I loved how you focussed on the fact that you wanted to do this as your own devotion to God, not to just meet a standard of the group. I think we often times can do things that are externally good and while that doesn't take away the fact that it is still a good devotion, it's always better to have our own intention be as purified as possible. Thanks so much for sharing from the heart.

    2014-02-27 19:47:08

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  21. A lovely post. I started veiling about 5 months ago and had many of the same apprehensions and questions. The final decider for me was the idea that by veiling I could help to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for offences committed by immodesty. No one has ever spoken to me about it and I am the only one in my Parish. Interestingly, my young adult children didn't take a blind bit of notice and are fine about it. My son just said 'lovely'. Another huge help at the start was other ladies on twitter talking about it so I feel part of a group (#TeamVeil) even though I am the only one at Mass here.

    2014-02-27 20:14:02

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  22. Thank you so much for this! I have had this urge to wear a veil at Mass for the past year or so- pride has been keeping me from heeding this calling. Thank you so much for this gentle testimony and validation of what I have been feeling. Once I have the financial resources to buy a veil (for myself and my girls), I will do this!

    2014-02-27 20:23:42

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  23. Jessica - Thank you so much !!!! I have been really thinking about it and praying about it for some time. But I suffered from all the doubts you did. I will start it as a Lenten sacrifice and see where God takes me from their . God Bless You !

    2014-02-27 22:09:57

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  24. Yes! I agree! This post has pictures and a story about veiling, but is about so much more: coping with pride, doubts, temptations, etc. The quote from St. John Vianney was convicting. How often does temptation lead me to be defensive or withdraw from a situation, rather than embracing the situation calmly with grace. Thank you for much to think about and pray about as we launch into lent.

    2014-02-28 00:13:46

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  25. I am still in awe of the phrase " the first of his three brothers to be ordained to the Holy Priesthood with the Fraternity of St Peter." I keep re-reading it and thinking " wow, can God be so good and generous in just one family?!" What a wonderful, awesome thing! You are all very blessed. Please, keep me and my family in your prayers as we face a very deep crisis. God Bless you.

    2014-02-28 00:17:36

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    1. Thank you, Rachel! It was a little intimidating at first to have three priests for brother-in-laws! I will most definitely say a prayer for you and your family!

      2014-03-01 04:46:27

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  26. This is something, you know, that I have felt called to do. Same with skirts! And I always waffle a bit. You really have me thinking again.

    2014-02-28 01:27:41

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  27. Thanks so much for sharing this. These ideas are completely new to me. I've seen your chapel veils in photographs but never understood their significance. Thanks of explaining some of what they mean to you and in the greater church.

    2014-02-28 03:12:38

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  28. Veils are absolutely a garment of grace! I cherish that they are meant to be worn as an outward act of humility and obedience. God smile on those precious priests in your family and generously pour out His Spirit on their flock!!!

    2014-02-28 05:44:08

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  29. Thank you for posting your story! Veiling is something that has crossed my mind, but I haven't spent much time considering it...mostly because no one at our Church wears a veil, ever. Thank you for bringing it back into my thoughts!!

    2014-02-28 13:32:11

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  30. "I was so afraid of what people were thinking of me. I didn't want others to think I was wearing a veil to "try and look holy" or to draw extra attention to myself. I didn't want to be an additional distraction during Mass." Yes, this. I am already so self-conscious at mass. We sometimes go to a Latin mass parish, but at our "regular" parish, we are *so weird* already. I think about veiling and I can practically hear their eyeballs roll. Sigh. I have been discerning this for a while, still uncertain. I like the idea of trying it for Lent.

    2014-02-28 14:22:13

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  31. This is such a beautiful post, Jessica, and I thank you for sharing it - explaining to others this devotion we practice and encouraging other women to ponder taking it up as well. As someone else commented, we've been wearing veils for so long we don't think a lot about them, but reading this brings back the memories of when we started to cover our heads while attending the OF where it is not customary. The picture of you is so lovely! God bless!

    2014-02-28 15:28:47

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  32. Thank you for posting this. It would be wonderful if you could continue in this vein and discuss what you learned about veiling that encouraged you to take up this practice, and how it has affected your experience of the mass or helped you grow in your faith. Those were the questions that came immediately to my mind....

    2014-02-28 19:04:44

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  33. I have always worn a veil because I've only ever attended the Tridentine rite, it feels strange not to wear a veil. I've had a long journey to wearing skirts and dresses though! I think anything that can encourage reverence, focus and devotion to Our Lord's Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament is really important. Speaking of Lenten sacrifices, this is about to launch if anyone is interested http://femgenius.com/skirting-up-lenten-challenge/

    2014-02-28 22:15:00

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    1. Thank you! I actually just shared that same link up above, to the Skirting-Up Challenge before seeing it here in your comment. It sounds great!

      2014-03-01 04:25:39

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  34. Just think though, if you were going to visit the Queen (I'm from England lol) or someone important you would wear something special. You are going to visit Jesus Himself the King of Kings. The veil actually helps you to remember that Our Lord is present too. :-) I'm sure He would be so happy to see you doing something special for Him.

    2014-02-28 22:55:53

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  35. Beautiful post, Jessica, and inspiring! Honestly, after all these years, wearing skirts and veils is still a mortification for me and I still can't say I love it. But it does affect my interior disposition and offers an external witness to others (my children especially), so I persevere. I suppose having something I can continue to offer up, that still is not easy, is a source of grace? Praying for a blessed Lent!

    2014-03-01 14:20:07

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  36. Great minds! Haha.. I think it's a great way of taking that step towards modesty, being more feminine (or whatever your intention is) knowing that lots of other women are doing the same. :-)

    2014-03-01 15:45:14

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  37. Jessica, you have no idea how timely this is for me. God is truly using you. Blessings on you, and your children, especially your son.

    2014-03-01 23:10:26

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  38. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are a shiny light. We are blessed by your example.

    2014-03-02 00:52:24

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  39. Wow! So glad I found this blog! I ordered my first chapel veil today from Veils by Lilly which led me to this blog! I have "covered my hair" at Mass with fashionable hats in reverence to the Eucharist. I believe Our Lord asked this of me too! To my delight I have found the chapel veil and this blog. I mentioned veiling to a senior church member and she is excited about wearing a veil now! Glory t God!

    2014-03-02 05:17:38

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  40. I'm surprised how I would now feel odd if I didn't wear my veil. But it can still be difficult. Our parish is very liberal and we already stick out with our large family and for receiving on the tongue (if anyone notices - I assume they do, since my son is an altar server and receives in front of the congregation), and because I'm the only woman wearing a veil. But I try to remember that if I was fortunate enough to meet the Pope, I would have to wear veil - how much more should I wear it before the Lord? Thanks for sharing your experience.

    2014-03-03 00:57:03

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  41. Jessica - I wore a veil for the first time at Stations of the Cross and adoration! I have committed to it for Lent, then we will see where the Spirit leads me. Thank you so much for your example and for sharing your story. (I have been remembering your son and his upcoming tests in my prayers, I hope they go well) Peace - Cynthia

    2014-03-08 01:38:05

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  42. I love veiling, but like those who have already spoken, feel self-conscious at being the only one. Recently I have veiled on two occasions, and I can honestly say, no one seemed to care. Therefore, I will be doing it often. I was baptised in the Faith as a baby but have not been confirmed as yet. I will certainly be wearing a veil when I do become confirmed. I figure I may as well get some practice beforehand. I think it's a beautiful tradition of respect, humility and love. Sadly, even the beautiful traditions are being tossed aside. I for one intend to honour them as best I can.

    2015-06-29 10:06:26

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  43. Your story is similar to mine. I was curious about veiling. I'd had a small handful of friends who veiled for years. I had never felt compelled to veil. I live in a community with a great deal of Mennonites. They always cover their heads. The Mennonite country store sold Christian books and had a small paper booklet about veiling. My sister bought it and it was left behind after their visit. I read it. It would have filled less than an 8x10 page. And then I began thinking about it more & more. I wondered if God wanted me to veil. A bit of a frightening thought when there are only about 400 parishioners in my tiny church and no one veils. So I decided I must REALLY & FULLY understand what veiling is all about. I needed to know what the OT & the NT had to say about it. Also, what did the church say. So, I read a little bit, but set the thought aside as I schooled 5 of our 8 children. At the same time I was in a weekly Bible study. We were studying Genesis. I never shared my thoughts about veiling. One of the women in our group attended Latin Mass, but did not veil for the NO Mass or Adoration. Maybe she didn't at the Latin Mass. I really don't know. I've never asked. We studied Noah & Abraham and I never saw any parallels in their life with God and mine. BUT, one morning our instructor taught that BEFORE Abraham understood, he OBEYED. BEFORE Noah understood her OBEYED. Whoa! I felt a spiritual impact. I had decided I couldn't veil until I fully understood every point. I finally saw that God was calling me to veil (not just my own curiosity) and that he wished me to veil before I had a textbook of proofs for anyone who questioned me, even before I fully understood WHY. And I didn't want to veil. I didn't want to be the only one. Would I be a distraction? What questions would come? I decided to begin as a Lenten sacrifice about 4 or 5 years ago. I ordered a brown veil (to perfectly blend with my hair color - maybe it wouldn't be that noticeable). I made sure it was very beautiful - I picked one that looked like a circular lace scarf around my neck when I left the sanctuary. It didn't arrive in time for Ash Wednesday - there was a mad rush on this beautiful veil - how many others were being called to veil for Lent? It finally came. I wore it. It was awkward. It made me self conscious. I prayed for grace. I wanted to tell everyone why I was veiling. No one asked. I felt weird. I was afraid people thought I was trying to put on appearances of piousness. Or to appear holier that I know I am. I think that was my greatest fear. I just wanted to blend in . Be like everyone else. I did not wish to draw attention to me. It was a VERY difficult Lenten sacrifice. But I knew it wasn't just for Lent. So 4 or 5 years later - I really don't remember, I still veil. Have I ever not veiled? Maybe a handful of times where my veil was in another purse or left out of my purse before I ran out the door. I also remove it when I am included in photographs at a sacrament for someone else's child. When a beautiful baby has just been baptized and one or more of the parents appear uncomfortable with my veil (and I am godmother) I put it around my neck in family photos. In all these years I have probably only had 4 or 5 people ask me why I veil. If you never asked , but were curious, now you know! ;)

    2017-02-27 16:57:50

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