“I cover my head when I worship.”

From KansasCity.com comes this, with my emphases and comments.

Never mind the problems with terminology, dig right in and read to the end.

My spirit came alive through Latin Mass

I cover my head when I worship. I am not a Muslim woman but a Roman Catholic who attends Tridentine Mass.

Like millions of other cradle Catholics, I grew up with the simple, easy-to-follow liturgy performed in English across America. Officially it’s known as the Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass and was introduced 40 years ago by Pope Paul VI. [That "easy to follow" stricture sure has has been two-edged.]

Novus Ordo was a response to the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, which declared that “the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance.”

Simplified it was, but substance? What I learned about my faith in those early years you could’ve stuck inside a fortune cookie.

Not surprisingly, then, I fell away from my faith in college — like so many other students — because the foundation of my beliefs was a pile of sand, not the solid rock of Christ. I stopped attending Mass and neglected my spirituality altogether.

At one point I attended a couple of Greek Orthodox worship services. I remember there being something alluring in the stunning and elaborate series of rituals that I saw there.

A seed had been planted, it turns out, one that would grow as I became older and realized a spiritual yearning growing inside me. One day I was recalling that experience warmly and realizing I wanted that kind of worship in my life. I wondered if my own church, the Catholic Church, offered something similar.

And that’s how I found myself at Our Lady of Sorrows in downtown Kansas City, and heard for the first time what Mass sounded like to countless generations of believers prior to Vatican II. It was in Latin, so I had no idea what the priest was saying. The strange old rituals of this Mass, what I’d come to know as the “smells and bells,” were completely foreign to me.

But it had me right away. I realized that very first hour that I had come home. The beauty and the reverence of this rite struck a chord deep inside of me that resounds to this day.

Since I began attending the Tridentine Mass, I’ve come to appreciate the substance and textures of my faith that were never evident to me before. My husband still doesn’t attend church, and my mother-in-law refers irreverently to the “doily” I wear on my head during Mass.

But it’s not just about smells, bells and knowing what Agnus Dei means. For me, it is about experiencing the fullness of my faith.

Jennifer Leeper is one of 13 contributors writing the Faith Walk column. Reach her at faith@kcstar.com.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Konichiwa says:

    My experience of being led to the Traditional Latin Mass is similar. I never left the Catholic Church, but I did feel that something was missing. I explored the Byzantine rite, and wondered, “Do we Roman Catholics have anything like this?”
    In the end, I found the extraordinary form. I feel more complete, and I love it. I tell my good friends about the extraordinary form, and hope that they will at least love it as much as I do.

  2. gloriainexcelsis says:

    As a child and young adult back in the 40s & 50s, we wore hats in Church. In my Catholic high school we had beanies to wear with our uniforms to Chapel. In my Catholic College we wore small lace “caps.” It wasn’t until I returned to the TLM that I discovered the Mantilla or Chapel Veil. There is a feeling of humility and reverence that comes with the wearing of the veil. I find that it liberates me from the world. I don’t know how that sounds, but it is true. In the local NO parish, a friend of mine was asked that question, “What are you doing with the doily on your head?” The pastor even asked another friend if wearing the veil gave her an ego trip. Sad.

  3. robtbrown says:

    The pastor even asked another friend if wearing the veil gave her an ego trip. Sad.
    Comment by gloriainexcelsis

    Is there anything more pathetic than a self-righteous liberal?

  4. rwprof says:

    Probably half of the women in my parish cover their heads. Interestingly, of those who do, almost none are middle-aged, but the vast majority of elderly and young women do (the elderly wear hats, and young women, scarves — a mantilla would be culturally odd in an Orthodox church). Our parish also to a significant degree self-segregates as is traditional (men on the right side of the church and women on the left), so the right is about 70% male and the left 70% female. What is interesting is that there seems to be no correlation between the two, that is, you will see women with their heads covered on the right side of the church, and women with no head coverings standing on the left while their husbands stand on the right. I, anyway, find these patterns interesting.

  5. trad catholic mom says:

    I also wear a mantilla. At the NO I had attended in the past there were a couple of women, all above 50 that covered, they were also the only ones that received kneeling and on the tongue by the priest, and would be purposely last in line. At the TLM, almost every female covers in some way.

  6. In my Greek Orthodox parish yesterday, I was very pleasantly surprised to see our new Presvytera (the Priest’s wife) wearing a classic black lace mantilla in the communion line. Several of our ladies do cover their heads, some with hats, some with scarves. But the mantilla was much more striking, and very beautiful. It immediately impressed me as both feminine and pious, and I hope it catches on! More beauty in the liturgy is always a good thing.

  7. archambt says:

    I apologize if that is off topic…but its the other side’s take on the issue, it seems…or, lack of take?

  8. Rachel says:

    When I found my parish two and a half years ago, I fell in with four other girls, and we’d meet for encyclical studies and such. Only one of us covered her head at Mass. But these days, after Summorum Pontificum and all, four of us wear veils to the daily NO Mass, and the fifth wears a veil all the time as a postulant in a Dominican convent.

    It’s depressing to hear of people who assume veils are an ego trip. I wear mine simply to show reverence to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and I wear it in spite of the great shyness and self-consciousness I felt at first. I decided I didn’t want fear of man to stop me from honoring the Lord. It seems to me that Jesus’ words “Do not judge,” might apply to the habit of imputing bad motives to others when you could reasonably impute good motives instead.

  9. trad catholic mom says:

    Sort of reminds me of this post: http://youngadultcatholics-blog.com/2009/09/10/a-muslim-woman-in-the-pews/
    Comment by archambt

    Blogs on the Call to Action website. Read a couple of those entries just to be sure the site was what I thought it was. No wonder the blogger thought the veiled woman in Church was a Muslim. She seems to lack modern references of Catholic women in head coverings.

  10. ssoldie says:

    Deceptive propaganda about anything that is Traditional has been going on for 40+ years. It started with Vatican II’s ambiguos language. All you wonderful woman who attened the ‘Gregorian Rite Mass’ and wear your veils (according to enlightened progressive liberals’doily’s’) God bless you all. And Is there anything more pathetic then a self rightous liberal, yes, a self rightous Priest, Bishop, or Cardinal liberal. Yes, so sad

  11. irishgirl says:

    I’ve taken to wearing a veil at my TLM-I usually wear a brown ‘beanie’ that’s a leftover of my years in the Third Order Franciscans. With my short hair, I was always afraid the veil wouldn’t stay on my head!

    And yes, there is nothing more pathetic a self-righteous liberal…

    Good for you, Jennifer, for not being afraid of what other people might say!

  12. JayneK says:

    I think that a self-righteous conservative is more pathetic than a self-righteous liberal. Since I am more in sympathy with the conservative position, I don’t like seeing it tainted by self-righteousness.

    Returning to the topic of head covering, I have never had anyone say anything negative to me about my wearing a veil at Mass and I am one of only a handful that do it at my parish. At least, I haven’t in person. I have seen negative comments online.

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