Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wearing a Chapel Veil

Fr. Z has an interesting post about wearing chapel veils in a place where other women don't do so.  I think he gives excellent advice (the comments, as is to be expected on such a topic, range from very helpful to downright crazy).  I have a few points to add to the mix.

I wear a chapel veil (a large, black, lace triangle kept in my purse) every time I set foot in a church.  I am a convert, and in the place where I converted it was customary for women to cover their heads every time they stepped into the church.  I have adopted this custom.

At first I was self-conscious about wearing a veil in churches where I would be the only woman doing so.  I was afraid of being chastised by the parish priest.  I found over time that I was even more uncomfortable with not wearing a veil.  I have, on various occasions, worn a hat, shawl, or scarf instead.  I recommend this option if you are concerned about drawing attention to yourself or appearing overly pious.  This was recommended several times in the comments over at Fr. Z's blog, and it is a good solution.

I find that a veil does indeed help immensely with distractions (on of the reasons the questioner gave for wanting to wear a veil).  I think this is partially because of the reduction in peripheral vision, partially because it is a reminder to myself that I am in church and I ought to at least try to focus, and partially because it tends to discourage people who might otherwise want to strike up a conversation with me.

It is unfortunately easy to start thinking badly of anyone who doesn't do the same optional pious practices that I do.  There are plenty of pious practices that I don't do and can't do to keep me humble, but I recognize the temptation.  If wearing a veil would add fuel to the fire, it would probably be better not to do so.  That said, I wouldn't worry too much if the concern is that other people will think that you think that you're better than they are.  As long as you don't actually think that, those opinions are irrelevant.

At this point, wearing a veil has become a non-issue for me; it's simply what I do.  I no longer worry about what other people think, or what other people might think I think.  I do find it refreshing on the rare occasion that I find myself in a place where the majority of the women are wearing veils.  I feel at home, as I do in places where people are quiet before and after Mass and many stay for a few minutes to pray after Mass has ended.

Okay, I'm done.  Soapbox over.

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