(Btw, if you'd like more information on women covering their head at Mass, I recommend heading over to Nicholas Hardesty's blog: phatcatholic apologetics.)
When I first heard about a woman veiling her head at Mass, it was through phatmass.com (which I've mentioned before). My initial reaction was like, "Dude, it's not the Latin Mass anymore!" (Yes.... I know.) Then, as I read more about a woman covering her head, the history and the practice of it, and I was....intrigued. I really kept praying about it, and thinking about doing it.
I went to a Steubenville youth conference that summer, where I saw a young lady (younger than me, I'm sure) covering her head with the most beautiful scarf, and I thought, "I need to do this." It was like a bolt of lightening out of the sky straight to my heart. I bought a similar scarf at the conference and wore it the very next day to Mass. Yes, I felt like everyone was zeroed in on me. Yes, I was a little embarrassed. But I also felt, I don't know, otherworldly? in my actions.
Then came time to go home, where I wasn't surrounded by on-fire, faithful, young Catholics. Then I got scared. I was working for a parish at the time - a parish that is even more liberal now than it was then. The first Sunday came to go to Mass, and I debated at home - do I wear it? Do I forgo? I wore it, and I still remember the ripples that went through people as I sat down (remember, I worked for the parish). I felt so self-conscious. Nobody said a word to my face, other than my mom as I recall saying, "That's lovely."
After a few weeks (a month?) of wearing it at Mass (and also my personal prayer time in my office and at home), I was approached by the ex-nun who had been hired to run the RCIA program (insert your own joke here). I wasn't sure about her yet, but she seemed friendly enough. She got straight to the point, saying, "Why are you wearing that thing to Mass?" I explained that I felt called to cover my head at Mass. I was then told: "You shouldn't veil because it is an outward sign of piety and Jesus is very clear about being against that in the Bible. It is appropriate to veil in private prayer [I shared that I veiled in private prayer] but not in public prayer, which is Mass. In a position of leadership within the parish, you have a lot of influence that doesn't jive with being modest if your dress doesn't reflect that, but that if you're going to do it maybe you should wear long skirts. If you're trying to go for a pre-Vatican II feeling, you wouldn't have your job, you would be a second-class citizen (as a woman), and that you wouldn't be married to your husband [my husband isn't Catholic]." Oh, and she told me that people are saying all this stuff about me, anyway.
Anyway, I told her that I was going to continue veiling (after some back-and-forth discussion), and that if she continued (or others) to have a problem with it, to take it up with our boss - the priest.
So, I continued veiling, except now I felt doubly paranoid, but yet at the same time, defiant. Like, "You think you're gonna stop me that easy? Pfft." Oh, I should mention that at the time, I was a reader at Mass as well. Well, I was scheduled soon after the confrontation with that co-worker, and I read, with my scarf on.
I think it was that week that my boss (the priest) asked if we could meet. Knowing that he never talked to me without having a purpose (outside of reviews, us meeting was never a good purpose), I was understandably nervous. I walked in, thinking it was about my job, when in reality, it was about my covering. He said he had been approached by a few people (including the co-worker) about me covering, and asked why I did it. (Something to understand about this priest: he tries to put on a facade of caring, when in reality, he's trying to think about how to cut you down.) As I was explaining to him, I was getting the sense that he was really inwardly rolling his eyes - which turned out to be true. He told me that he understood my desire, but that it wasn't appropriate to veil when I was at church in an 'official' capacity, in my job. So, if I was speaking at Mass, I couldn't wear it. If I was reading a reading, I couldn't cover. If I was signing youth up for something, I couldn't cover.
I took my name off the schedule for readers. I abided by the other 'rules.' I was upset, but I offered up the situation. I became even more defiant.... "Oh yeah, you ain't got nuthin' on me!" I started going to other parishes for Mass. I switched over to a brown lace (small) chapel veil, instead of a blue scarf - thinking that if I was going to wear it and be accused of being 'pre-Vatican II', at least I'd wear the lace. I also was still veiling during private prayer.
But, slowly, I stopped - first at Mass, then at private prayer. Why? Well, of course, it's complex. A myriad of reasons.
First, I had a 2 year old and a newborn. I think that's enough said, for me. In case it's not: It was hard enough getting it to stay put (it ties in the back, under the hair) even tied and pinned. Add a toddler and a grabby newborn/infant - I was overwhelmed - not just with children, but everything.
Second, I started really questioning my motives: it became something to flaunt, it became something to say: "See, I am more stubborn than you!" and "I will outlast you!" and "You're not gonna tell me what to do, because this is my right to do this!" Which, of course, are all holy and pure motives. lulz
Third, I was tired of having dirty looks, I was tired of going to Mass with knots in my stomach, all because I veiled. Yeah, I was scared.
I think, for myself and perhaps for others (though I cannot know this), that covering your head, or receiving on the tongue, or kneeling to receive the Eucharist (or genuflecting before kneeling), etc, can be a way of 'standing against' the liberal forces at work in our parishes. I'm not saying that these things aren't pious and holy practices - I just wonder if sometimes we can get caught up (as I did) in an us vs. them mentality. After awhile, for myself, it became less of "I feel God is calling me to this" and more of a "I'm doing this because they said I shouldn't." I really don't mean to cast aspersions on anyone's motives, but I can't help but think that I'm not the only one who has felt like this.
Unless, I am just a neurotic freak.