The tradition of women wearing a head covering during worship is nothing new. As a Jewish girl, I was drawn to this practice at a very young age, picking up the small piece of white lace and placing it over my head. I felt protected and separated for worship in a holy way. That practice was between me and God, a secret that I had inside of me. A longing to know God and be closer to him.
My search for God became more traditional. Wanting to celebrate the Sabbath, go back to the sanctuary on Saturdays and an exploration of becoming kosher. The harder I tried to conform to the Jewish law, the harder I fell, and Yom Kippur did not seem to help me at all. In fact, it was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement that led me away from me practicing my Jewish faith. I saw it as a great hypocrisy, that the Pharisees of my day would live ungodly lives 364 days a year yet on this day they were the most pious and reverent Jewish figures. I, as a pauper in synagogue, would be relegated to the nose bleed section, sometimes even in a different room from where the Rabbi was. I did not have the necessary funds to buy my seat. I had spent years under the notion that I had to pay to pray, and well, it drove me farther away from the God I loved.
In my search and quest for the truth, Christianity had never dawned on me. As a Jew, my understanding of Christianity was that all gentiles were Christians, that they were one and the same. But the concept of Jewish people alone being set apart by God haunted me, and even as a young teenager, I made it a point to invite several of my gentile friends to my bat-mitzvah, because I knew God loved them too. It was this idea of being set apart that drove me to leave the synagogue, along with its mercilessness attitude against women and their role in the religious life.
I did not come to Christ, Christ came to me. He had come to me several times before in my life, although I did not recognize him. In my late teens and early 20’s, I was constantly invited to church, and many times I went. In my seat I would be crawling, waiting for God like in the Old Testament to strike me down. I was betraying Him just being there. And after many services I ran away like I was being chased, because well I was.
God tried to reveal himself to me, but I was not ready. I was not ready to lose my Jewish friends and community. I was not ready to be ostracized. I didn’t hear him because I was angry that he had taken my grandmother away from me. But when she died I took the Christian concept of death and incorporated it into her funeral. We celebrated her life, released butterflies and sat a short Shiva. I had been to enough Christian funerals to know that they were doing something right.
So when God led me to the Catholic church, a land I was unfamiliar with, He allowed me to see the fulfillment of the Jewish girl I was. Without knowing any doctrine apart from the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, I knew I was home. The altar, the tabernacle, the cups of wine, it was all familiar. The Torah was there but not in the form of scrolls, but instead in the form of Jesus. There was the singing of Psalms, and this time I understood them because they were not in Hebrew. But it was in kneeling before God that I felt something was missing. I later understood that call to be the call of the veil.
Wearing a veil for me completed who I had always wanted to be inside and memorialized my intimacy with God. My inner longing to be His bride was finally coming to be. I had long revered nuns even as a Jewish girl, and the mysticism their veils produced in me. I remembered the feeling of walking into that synagogue and reaching for a head covering. It was part of who I was and now am.
God calls all women to veil in special and set apart ways. Veiling is a spiritual reminder of our holiness before God. This veil we wear whether physically or spiritually is to be carried out in our Christian practice in the world, this is what sets us apart as Christian women, our holiness, our service to neighbor, our care for our families and to the sick, the poor and imprisoned. We are set apart not because of our ethnicity or religion, we are set apart because we are followers of Jesus Christ, and ALL are invited.
I am reminded by the veil that I am especially set apart by God because of my Jewish roots and conversion to Christ. I am reminded that I will always be Jewish which sets me apart for Christ. I am reminded that my thoughts on God having only the Jewish people set apart for himself were right, and that God wants all people to be his sons and daughters. And I am reminded that He has chosen me to accomplish this through wearing my veil at church and in the world.
“But you and your sons with you must take care to exercise your priesthood in whatever concerns the altar and the area within the veil.” Numbers 18: 7(a)
This is a wonderful video on veiling that I encourage all women of all backgrounds to watch. This is also the company I order all my veils from and have loved every veil I have ordered! And as I always mention with any company I support here, I am not getting paid in any way to endorse Veils by Lily.