What do these things have in common?
If you said that they are all veils you would be correct. The first is a wedding veil, the second a chalice veil, and the third is a burka, the traditional covering for a Muslim women.
What then is the purpose of a veil? The Latin root of the word veil is vela meaning a cloth, sail, or covering. To veil is velare which means to cover with a cloth or sail. And that is exactly what a veil is supposed to do – to cover.
We veil that which is sacred, or, at least we used to.
A bride is sacred to her soon-to-be husband. She used to be a virginal and pure gift. Surprisingly few are anymore. The veil is lifted at the altar to ensure that the person the groom is marrying is the actual bride he desires. In Holy Scripture we read about Jacob. Jacob falls in love with Rachel. He swears himself into seven years of slavery with Rachel’s father in order to gain her hand in marriage. The day comes and Jacob takes his veiled bride as his wife. In the morning the veiled bride turns out to be none other than Rachel’s sister Leah. Jacob commits to another seven years as a slave in order to marry Rachel as well. From that day all men lift the veils of their soon-to-be brides to make sure they are marrying the right person.
At Mass, until the consecration, the chalice is veiled. The chalice is a sacred object for it holds the actual blood of Christ. The chalice veil also symbolizes the Holy Spirit. In the Orthodox Church the veil is waved over the chalice when removed to symbolize this to a greater extent. It is a beautiful tradition far too many priests have abandoned.
To many in the western culture a burka symbolizes a man’s dominance and is thought to reduce a woman down to nothing more than a possession. The burka, in reality, is nothing more than a veil covering something thought to be sacred. This is taken to extreme with the entire body being covered and only the eyes being seen. I personally feel that we can learn a lesson from the Muslims here. Before you start your hate letter, dear reader, please finish the blog….
The Catholic Church tradition has always been that women be veiled at Mass. This comes from Holy Scripture where Saint Paul instructs us that a woman should be veiled when she prays. The Church never stopped this tradition. If just fell out of practice on its own.
Actually, it was forced out of practice by the masculinists. Masculinists? Huh? This country has never had a true feminist’s movement. A feminist’s movement would exalt the virtues, qualities, and greatness of being a woman. Instead what we have masquerading as a feminist movement is an attempt to make women equal to or greater than their male counterparts. There is a misguided belief that a woman only has value if they can do everything a man can do. The early feminist movement worked hard to cast off man as head of the family and establish a free and empowered woman who doesn’t require a man for anything.
Woman, of course, is the greater of the two species and has been bestowed with a gift no other creature, including angels, have been given. Women bring about new life. This is a feat that a man will never be able to do naturally no matter how much he self identifies as a woman. This gift is so great that it makes all women sacred by their very nature.
This did not keep some women from turning their backs on their sacredness and led some to call for all women to burn their bras and free themselves from male tyranny. Did such tyranny exist? Of course it did and it will always exist where people put selfish desire over that of the love for God. But in the self interest of being better than a man woman lost such virtues as sacredness, modesty, and chastity. Chivalry didn’t die. Those who we were being chivalrous for disappeared.
We veil that which is sacred and now women wear as little as they can get away with. They have ditched the veil and now come to Mass wearing outfits that are smaller than what a typical bathing suit was forty years ago. There is no wonder why women are viewed and treated like objects today. We in the west view a covering, a burka, as a sign of ownership of an object yet our lack of a covering have made us the very objects we detest. There is no surprise that fewer and fewer people get married and even fewer stay in a monogamous marriage for life. We live in a throw away culture where we discard objects that have outlived their usefulness. This now includes people.
One of the things that must be done if we are to become the great nation we once were is that we have to restore the sacred nature of women. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if more women would start wearing veils to Mass again? Most women I know won’t even consider it because of what others will think of them. Only nuns, eighty-year-old women, and crazy shut-in cat ladies wear veils to Mass. That’s not me…
I have but one question for those who say that. Whom do you go to Mass for? If it is God wouldn’t you want to be the most sacred person you can be for him? If it is for those seated around you, you are there for the wrong reason.
Chastity and modesty are virtues this world desperately needs returned. If we veil that which is sacred be sacred in what you choose to wear. Short shorts and miniskirts make you an object of lust not a sacred temple to the Lord.