From time to time I post something about women and chapel veils, head coverings, mantillas… call ’em what you like. Lively discussion inevitably results.
I was alerted to this by a reader. It may be of some interest to female WDTPRSers. It come from Faith & Family Live’s "In Over My Head". My emphases and comments.
A comment or two first.
It is no longer obligatory under the Latin Church’s canon law that women and girls must cover their heads in church. It was. It isn’t now.
That said, I think this is a good custom. It recommends itself on many levels, some of which are, frankly, obvious. Others will object that this is all "culturally conditioned", etc. You draw your own conclusions. Still, I think we live in a time when certain visible expressions of our Catholic identity have been swept away. It is good to discuss these things.
In Over My Head
Fashion Friday vol. 6
Posted by Hallie Lord in Reviews on Friday, December 11, 2009 12:00 PM
I hope you won’t mind if I tie my second Fashion Friday stocking stuffer suggestion [Good idea, men… good idea!] into the slightly more weighty topic of covering one’s head at Mass. Veiling is an issue that’s intrigued me for a long time and I’m eager to hear your experiences with and opinions on the subject.
Over time I’ve learned that if there’s an issue I can’t seem to get off my mind it usually means God is trying to tell me something. Whether or not he is actually asking me to veil is still being discerned. Sometimes he simply leads me to a deeper understanding of and respect for an issue without actually calling me to participate. [Good way to frame the question and choice.]
For a while I resisted the idea of covering my head at Mass because I was afraid I would come across as holier-than-thou. I’ve come to realize what an uncharitable assumption that was, [Because it assumed the worst about others and what they were thinking.] though. I never feel anything other than delight when I see a sister in Christ wearing a veil at Church. I’m a bit ashamed that I assumed others would react less graciously than I did.
I think the real issue for me is that I am allergic to attention. There’s not much that I enjoy less than having people look at me. In fact, when Dan and I were planning our wedding I only half-jokingly asked our priest whether I could skip the walking down the aisle segment of the wedding. I worry that my feeling self-conscious will inhibit me from participating fully while at Mass but perhaps viewing covering my head as a small act of mortification would help.
Having said all that, I must admit that my temptation to fade into the woodwork may have met its match in a small company by the name of Garlands of Grace. [Okay… I looked at that site and wasn’t deeply impressed. I think other sorts of veils are better looking but, wow, I am so not the guy to ask about those choices. Now… get me out of here fast!] The gals at Garlands of Grace are putting a new vintage-inspired spin on the classic chapel veil and, as many of you know, if anything could convince me to start covering my head at Mass it would be a vintage-inspired veil.
The head coverings made by Garlands of Grace are absolute treasures. Each one is unique, feminine and fetching. They’re also very reasonably priced making them perfect for stuffing into stockings and the reviews from my blogging sisters assure that the quality is impeccable.
[Various questions follow.]
If you feel so inclined, I’d love to hear your thoughts on veiling. If you do cover your head at Church, what led you to adopt this practice? What fruit has it born in your life?
If you do not veil, have you ever considered doing so? Is there something that’s stopping you or are you just having trouble taking that first step? Maybe we should petition for a national Wear a Veil to Mass for the First Time day. [Or…. Year.] Now that’s a movement I could get behind. Oh, how I would love to quietly fade into a sea of lovely veil wearing gals.
I hope you all have a very blessed and joyful Gaudete Sunday!
BTW… an entry on where to buy chapel veils, HERE.
I only half-jokingly asked our priest whether I could skip the walking down the aisle segment of the wedding.
Any other brides who feel this way, bring it up to your priest and demands an actual liturgical procession rather than the traditional bridal procession to precede the Mass! I have always offered this to couples, so far without success. (0 for 23 ;))
Would you mind re-visiting your statement that “It is no longer obligatory under the Latin Church’s canon law that women and girls must cover their heads in church. It was. It isn’t now.”?
I have heard arguments to the contrary that seemed to make logical sense. They go something like this:
1. Chapel veils were explicitly required under the 1917 Code
2. The 1983 code abrogated the 1917 code but
3. There is a provision in the 1983 code that states that any existing laws that are not explicitly abrogated remain in effect
4. The 1983 code is completely silent about the issue of chapel veils so does not explicitly abrogate the veil requirement.
5. Veils are still therefore required.
Any thoughts about this?
One niggling little point that always bothers me about these discussions: many people seem fixated on the sheer lace chapel veil (blessedly absent from the site you linked, Father, thank you!) as the normative, “traditional” way. My understanding is that women were expected to “cover” at Mass, not specifically “veil.” I suspect my Irish ancestors would have largely favored the basic cotton kerchief tied under the chin or at the nape of the neck, or else the very practical hat or cap. Yet it seems that now the vast majority of women who do cover at Mass are of the lace mantilla-variety, even most don’t appear to descend from countries where that was common. And honestly, every time I see a lace veil, part of me asks, “In what sense are you covering with this see-through bit of lace?” A blouse or skirt constructed of nothing but that lace would most certainly not “cover” a woman and would be highly immodest. So why is it somehow “covering” the head?? I’m not trying to be difficult here, really, it’s just something I’ve never understood…
Canon 6 of the 1983 code explicitly abrogated the entire 1917 code, including canon 1262 which mentioned the requirement of headcoverings.
Hope this helps!
I’ve admired ladies who cover, but I’ve never been able to pull it off. My various infants and toddlers have though, frequently and consistently. So I finally decided God did endow me with an ingenious built in head covering. Hair.
I… choose to remain un-veiled. Lots of reasons, some a matter of personal politics, which I admit are trivial when one is in the company of the Real Presence. But mostly because I’m naturally a fidgety person & I know I’d be squirming every which way trying to keep the darn veil from sliding down over my eyes. As such, it’d prevent me from focusing on Holy Mass–my whole reason for being there. I understand why some women do prefer to don veils, though. I respect their choice. All I ask is that my choice be respected, too. EVERYONE should aim to dress modestly & behave in a recollected manner in church. At the end of the day, headgear doesn’t matter all that much. Piety does!
Thanks. This seems to be pretty straightforward but I took the opportunity to dig a bit more.
Canon 6 states:
Can. 6 §1. When this Code takes force, the following are abrogated:
1/ the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;
2/ other universal or particular laws contrary to the prescripts of this Code unless other provision is expressly made for particular laws;
3/ any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See unless they are contained in this Code;
4/ other universal disciplinary laws regarding matter which this Code completely reorders.
§2. Insofar as they repeat former law, the canons of this Code must be assessed also in accord with canonical tradition.
but Canon 20 states:
Can. 20 A later law abrogates, or derogates from, an earlier law if it states so expressly, is directly contrary to it, or completely reorders the entire matter of the earlier law. A universal law, however, in no way derogates from a particular or special law unless the law expressly provides otherwise.
Given this, and sub-paragraph 2 above, it seems to me like the case can be made that head coverings are still required. It remains unclear (to me at least) if Canon 6.1.1 meets the requirements for “express abrogation” mentioned in Canon 20. Of course, I have at best a layman’s understanding so have to take the words at face-value.
The 1983 code also explicitly abrogated canon 1262.2 from the 1917 code:
“Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be BARE-HEADED, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.”
So far it has been ignored by the masculine faithful who obstinately refuse to cover thier heads in conformance with the 1983 code! :)
(in all seriousness I had an argument with a young man in church who was wearing a baseball cap. He assured me that he was just fine thank you very much you old f@rt..)
Thanks Margaret! LOL. The question I was always afraid–or didn’t think it was my place–to ask!
Margaret and Fr. Charles:
Personally, my issue with the mantilla/lace covering thing is that it’s about impossible to keep on the head (especially with hair as slick as mine). However, when it comes down to the question, I always think of “covering” more in the verb sense than the adjective sense, if you follow. That is, the lace is a cover, even if the head is not entirely covered or hidden.
My preference is for hats, now, because of my 7-month old. You’d think a hat would be easy for the kid to meddle with, but after trying it with a mantilla or a scarf (like the one pictured) it seems the best option.
That’s how I see it, anyway.
I meant “the lace is covering, even if the head is not entirely covered…”
My mother started to use a veil again. Not because of what others are doing. In Fact hardly any other women wear a veil around here unless its at an EF Mass. She does it because she feels its something that God desires of her. To me a veil is so awe inspiring. As Catholics we veil what is holy such as the chalice veil, or tabernacle. A veil should remind men that women are holy and we should treat them as such. A veil points beyond itself and says here is a mystery made in God’s image. After all in the creation of new life it is the Lord who directly creates the human soul.
There has been a stocking stuffer veil hidden in my closet for a couple of weeks now. (Don’t tell my wife)
A few friends and myself decided a few years ago to start learning about the veil. We researched every avenue we could find. We finally just prayed about it and all felt that we were being called to wear the veil. We also started attending the traditional form of Mass about six months before that time, every other week or so. Being a convert, I never knew about the veil. I didn’t learn anything in RCIA, much less the veiling practice. I believe that it is a lovely custom that shows my reverence for the Holy Host, and also shows that I am under my husband’s authority (I mean that in a good way !!).
I know that many of my other friends are very resistant to “old” customs and cannot even begin to think about doing those things – they are seen as going backward. I think that it has definitely helped my faith grow. It keeps me focused on the Mass (contrary to what another reader said – I would suggest she try a bobby pin to keep it in place). I wear it now to every Mass I attend, whether it be traditional or Novus Ordo, because I believe that God called me to wear it and he’s the same in every church, so I must be the same in every church.
This is a controversial subject, to be sure !
About babies and small children – a hat is a good substitute. I found it nearly impossible to keep my lace mantilla on my head with a babe in arms – he always pulled it off.
This post is somewhat of a confirmation for me, as I have considered and prayed about wearing the veil on and off for about a year and a half now. (I went to my first EF Mass a year and a half ago, Corpus Christi 2008, and have attended about a dozen times since then.) This Tuesday, when I went to an OF Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I felt a definite tug on my heart towards wearing a veil to OF Masses as well, so I finally wore one to an OF Mass on Wednesday. This post raises, and resolves, many of the objections which have made me hesitate, and it has encouraged me to continue to wear the veil. Overall, while I’ve read up on many of the reasons for veiling, mostly I’m wearing it as a sign of respect for the Lord, and I hope that from wearing it, the external action will help me to form the inner virtue (i.e. wearing the veil will help me to be more pure and humble of heart).
ejcmartin… your wife, she’s open to it right? otherwise, that gift may backfire!
I say this as someone who took a while to come around to the veil, and if my husband would have given me on 3 years ago, I would have kicked him!
I would probably kick him if he gave me one this year too, but only because I don’t like his taste. ;)
What works best for me now that it’s cold are knit caps and berets. They stay put and effectively cover my hair without becoming the kind of distraction that a slipping and sliding mantilla can be.
Ah, a favorite subject. I attend both the OF & EF Mass. Before I started veiling, I did a good amount of research as I knew I would be asked a lot of questions about why all of the sudden I’m a “throwback”. Fr. Z has put a term to what I’d been bemaoaning internally for years, but couldn’t articulate — loss of Catholic identity. I saw the veil initially as part of our Catholic identity as women. But that didn’t seem reason enough to wear one. Catholics don’t just do something b/c it seems like a good idea.
So researched the why’s & why-we-don’t-need-to-anymore & took the matter to thought & prayer.
While there is much beautiful theology behind veiling, which I totally subscribe to – we are mysterious, vessels of life (which the Church veils), we are imitating Mary, the perfect woman; it is a sign of submission to authority, it recognizes the divine, invisible order & makes it visible; it is a sign of modesty/chastity, it recognizes the headship of my husband & symbolically recognizes the difference in roles, this is what it came down to for me.
I think as women, we are very much about “look at me”. Even when we’re really not trying to be. It’s the nature of the beast, so to speak. So veiling helps us temper our nature, not nurture our passions, and strive for that which is holier and sanctifying.
When I place the veil on my head, it is an external sign for me to turn my heart & soul now to Jesus, whose house I have just entered. That His glory, not mine (my hair -my “crowning glory”) is the focus of my worship. Our beauty is a powerful thing, and covering it is a sign of submission of it to that whom we worship more.
The veil also, helps temper my nature by shielding myself from the world (the veil does a great job of cutting off your peripheral vision, thus keeping me from looking at others around me) and thus I can direct my mind, thoughts, heart & soul to God.
Finally, I can see why veiling was removed from Canon Law (if indeed it was) — “coercion veiling” defeats the purpose of veiling. We don’t veil b/c we have to or b/c men say so. We do it as a sign of true submission, to understanding our fallen nature, b/c we understand why we’re doing it, to be a sign of holiness & humility. To be “forced” into is, in my estimation, counter to what veiling is about. It is about our willing submission to it.
The author stated, “Oh, how I would love to quietly fade into a sea of lovely veil wearing gals.”
She obviously hasn’t been to an EF Mass!
Also suitable for travel in Saudi Arabia, Taliban controlled areas of Afganistan and the mosque on Fridays.
I am 27, and just recently started veiling. I attend a “traditional” Mass here in Columbus, at St. Patrick Church, where many women and girls veil. It’s not the EF, but still–lots of veiling.
I did some research before I did it. My post on veiling/types of veils (especially one that doesn’t fall off!) are here: http://catholicpostergirl.stblogs.com/2009/11/08/undercover-with-the-veil/ (I hope my hypertext works…)
I love wearing it. I think it helps keep me focused, and I think it’s good for the younger girls who veil to see someone “older”, but not their mom, who has chosen to veil. And it was, indeed, my choice: one that I have gladly embraced.
I would LOVE to see more women veiling, but it’s a CHOICE, not a command. So pray about it and do what feels right for you.
My parents, I think, were a bit surprised when they first saw me wear it to Mass, since I hadn’t really discussed it with them before I did it. But they didn’t say anything negative about it.
I think it’s obvious that there has been a significant marginalization of exterior signs in general in the church. Exteriors signs help orient our interior dispositions toward devotion. What could be wrong with that? It’s a loving act to show an exterior sign of reverence. Exterior signs have not been given the importance as they have in the past. Take away more and more exterior signs of devotion and it’s like removing bricks from the structure of the faith.
I was once at a mass where there were a number of women wearing veils and a little girl asked her young mother ‘what are those things on their heads?’. All the mother could say was ‘Oh, that’s the way they used to do it a long time ago…’. I found myself spontaneously saying aloud ‘because Jesus is here’.
For whatever it may be worth, my wife recently discovered the Pashmina scarf. It is a tad Middle Eastern-ish but perfectly solves her problem of the veil constantly slipping (she has very thin hair). They can be found in most any department store. There are even some “Christian” ones sold here: http://search.aquinasandmore.com/results.php?page=1&keywords=pashmina
I’ve never felt the slightest impulse to wear a veil. I agree with the comment above that most veils don’t actually cover the hair, and can serve as a serious distraction both to the wearer and those around her.
So my view is this — go ahead and wear a veil if you feel called to do so. But PLEASE don’t make assumptions about those who have chosen otherwise.
I wear the veil at both the OF and EF Masses, but remain in the minority at the OF. I would like to see this practice revived as well. I imagine that the Women’s Movement did not look kindly on this practice, since St. Paul makes it known that a women’s head covering symbolizes she is under authority (1 Cor 11:3-5). Ouch!
The article/link below is very interesting from the Catholic Apologetics International website which supports and explains in depth, using the 1983 Code of Canon Law, that the Church teaching on women wearing veils has not changed. It sounds like something Thomas More may have written. I am not a Canon Lawyer, but felt it was explained well.
Here is one paragraph from the article. I recommend reading it in its entirety.
[The] “custom, in the Catholic Church, has the “force of law,” and thus it is just as binding as any canon could be. The irony is that, if one wants to base his decision regarding veils on its legality, the 1983 code contains about a dozen “legal” canons stating that previous customs and practices, not forbidden by the new code and existent for thirty or more years, have in themselves the “force of law.” In fact, if the custom is 100 years old or immemorial, it can actually have more force of law than a canonical law (Canon 26). With both Scripture and Tradition giving the custom of veil-wearing its force, there is no precedent for claiming that canon law abolished the requirement for veil-wearing.”
[Clarification: Women who are subjects of the Latin Church are NOT bound by canon law to cover their heads. They can if they want.]
Pseudomodo, I almost always wear a hat at Mass. In my present parish assignment, probably half the women are veiled. I was pleased to see, when I was in Japan a couple of years ago, that quite a number of the Catholic women and girls wore veils to Mass as well.
O.K., so in my yoot, 1930s, 40s, 50s, the majority of women and girls wore hats in church. At my high school girls’ academy, with uniforms, we wore black beanies. At my Catholic college, we kept those little round doily type “chapel veils” with us for quick visits to Mary Chapel. At home, for Mass, we still wore hats. I don’t remember seeing veils, except on some ethnic types, which was unusual. At any rate, we covered our heads. When I found my way back to Church through the Traditional route, and saw that veils were de rigeur, I immediately ordered some very soft, lace ones. I’m glad we wore hats when I was struggling with small hair-pullers; but now I feel that the veil is a much more apropos covering, at least for me. Some ladies are still wearing hats. I do on a rainy or snowy day – the cover your ears, furry type. The veil says to me that I need to be humble before God, that the Blessed Mother wore a veil and who better to emulate in the presence of Her Son.
Re Women’s Movement comment – you’re right. When I was researching the whole veil question, I found articles about women actually burning veils right along with bras !
Re: the comment about being a role model to girls – my girls actually goaded me into wearing it to the Novus Ordo when we were going back and forth between the EF and NO Masses. They said how come you wear it to EF, but not NO, because Jesus is in both places…….hmmmm food for thought. Sometimes our children bring us closer to God.
We live in a small city in Canada but are blessed to have a weekly TLM. This past summer some vistors from the US attended Mass and the woman and daughters were all veiled. My wife thought that it was great. We don’t have a Catholic book or gift store so it wasn’t the sort of thing she could just go out and purchase. Hopefully then I will not be on the receiving end of any kicks Christmas day. If I do I will ask FatherZ to post a photo of my bruise St. Stephen’s Day!
Please check out http://www.halo-works.com for lovely veils. Plus, the lady who owns is could use the business for her family’s well being.
The custom of “covered” women can be traced back to St. Paul in 1 Cor. 11:5, “akatakalypto”. I’ll leave the rest to the readers, or perhaps that character at “Standing On My Head.”
The custom of “covered women pre-dates Christianity. Israelite, Roman and Greek women can all be found with head coverings before Christ came. Rome had the Vestal Virgins for example.
I just wonder at the anger we encounter when any of us discusses this issue. Even though many of our friends are women striving for holiness, this issue seems to elude them. Any ideas ?
This interests me on several levels:
1. I like women veiling, and think it is a GRAND and PIOUS devotion.
2. I have had this discussion with my wife. We do live in a pretty “modern” Church area… Alaska. There are a few older women who veil, I think mostly because it is the only TRADITIONAL thing they can cling to.
3. My wife and I have had an ongoing discussion about this. I brought it up because we are weeks away from our first child and we agreed that she could not ask her daughter (if we have a girl) to do so if she isn’t going to. So we have been discussing and praying about it. I KNOW she reads Faith & Family,… I don’t know if she will come across this, and IF she does… whether she will let me know. So this could get interesting. I was planning on doing a post on my blog about it soon… so we shall see.
So ladies… if you have any suggestions one way or the other please contact me and let me know :)
Veiling is awesome, I support the practice. I also on the side that veiling is inforce. Yet the reason that it wasn’t in the 83 Code was for women to take on the practice themselves.
I never tire of saying that it is an integral part of Christianity that “the one who humbles himself shall be exalted.”
And so a veil or hat donned for purposes of humility is really a crown.
And remember that Our Lord allowed Himself to be crowned with something substantially more painful and humiliating than a chapel veil.
ndmom, I totally agree with your comment. Like gloriainexcelcis, in my youth (40’s and 50’s) most women wore hats or berets to Church (not only to Mass, but whenever visiting a church). Head scarves were also worn, but not veils. It was later – in the 60’s, probably – that I started to see mantillas, and I sometimes wore one then. I have not worn a covering on my head to Church for at least 40 years – probably my bridal veil was the last time!! – and have not felt any inclination whatever to wear any.
Living in a tropical country (Trinidad & Tobago), where few, if any, churches are air conditioned, it’s not very likely to find anyone wearing head covering of any type at Mass. I have only seen two in the past year or two – one a young woman who wears a baseball cap to Mass and the other an elderly woman who wears a head scarf. No one else, that I can recall.
In Trinidad, most of the women who wear any kind of veil/ head scarves are Muslims.
I recently adopted the practice. I feel less self-conscious wearing a hat instead of a veil,, so that’s usually what I do.
Interesting. For those ladies who feel “no inclination” to wear a head covering, why not? I am trying my best, as ndmom correctly admonishes to avoid making assumptions about those who have chosen otherwise.
I worried that wearing a proper chapel veil was a prideful thing for me… like I was trying to fit in with the women who go in for that. Wearing something else on my head feels more natural. A pretty scarf in a pattern or color can do just as well. Also, a hat. There’s no reason not to wear a pretty, stylish hat. In fact, you can do it in such a way that nobody will know you’re “covering” out of piety. They’ll just think you’re wearing a nice hat or have a pretty scarf tied on your head like a kerchief.
MichaelJ, the reason I don’t feel inclined to cover my head is that I have lived all my life in a culture where people only cover their heads to protect against the weather. For a long time, women never went out without something on their heads. But, that has not been the case in my life time. So, I don’t have any feelings about being bare-headed or covered, in general. Not in the way I might about being barefoot or wearing something strapless. Those would feel strange to me in Church.
As Joan M says, in Moslem countries most women who wear veils are of the Moslem religion. Indeed, it’s also a symbol of their submission to their spouse. Reviving the custom here among Roman Catholic women could really help us get closer to Moslems, and we might better understand each other’s faith. It would be a small gesture towards world peace!
Women covering their head is Biblical – I Corinthians chapter 11. That’s Tradition with a capital ‘T’. Removing such a law is consistent with the laxity in the Church today, and helps support immodesty, both by the men looking and the women who dress inappropriately. Of course the theology behind the veiling, as described in the Bible, is totally forgotten, and said forgetting is along the lines of feminism (rather then femininity) which would claim discrimination. Bottom line, non-veiling is consistent with the general apostasy and luke-warmness today.
Chapel Veils make a woman beautiful in a way that I am at a loss to even describe or understand. It so completely reflects a tender and delicate femininity. So striking in a sea of blah. It is so quite and humble. Like flowers in a garden, only a brute could not notice and walk across them. I always feel drawn to hold a door for a woman who looks feminine, old or young. Habited nun especially. You walk on sticks, you walk around flowers.
I think the move back to veils will happen. I think it will take courage and be hardest on those who go first. I think it will have wonderful spiritual affect for both the woman and those around her. I think the ripples of that grace will be felt through out our homes and churches and will echo though generations.
As lucy pointed out, this happens with prayer. I suspect that it is so self-effacing, so mortifying to the one’s pride that it probably can only be done after much prayer. It is a choice, but it is also a choice that reflects a woman’s heart. Such a woman would be worth more than gold. Such a woman would be worth marrying, even in our current fallen legal and moral culture.
And no, I don’t think it matters if it is a veil or a hat or a scarf or a kerchief or what. Though it should probably not be a male style hat or a female hat that is overly large or distracting. Feminine and humble.
I usually wear a snood to mass, sometimes a lace chapel veil if I go to an EF mass. I cover regardless if I go to OF or EF mass.
The highly qualified canonist, Edward N. Peters, JD, JCD here gives his opinion that women are not required to cover our heads: http://www.canonlaw.info/2006/09/vatican-ii-canon-1262-and-chapel-veils.html
While I am convinced that it is not required by Canon Law, I nevertheless cover my head in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. It is an excellent custom and I appreciate the opportunity to adopt an outward expression of devotion.
I had seen enough negative comments online about women veiling that I was prepared to have others think of me as “holier-than-thou” when I adopted the custom. However, I have never had anyone say or do anything in person that indicates such a judgment of me.
Yet it seems that now the vast majority of women who do cover at Mass are of the lace mantilla-variety, even most don’t appear to descend from countries where that was common. And honestly, every time I see a lace veil, part of me asks, “In what sense are you covering with this see-through bit of lace?”
Margaret, one of the advantages to a lace mantilla is that it doesn’t mess up your hair. I have a small (about 18″ long and 12″ wide) black triangular one; it stays right on, and since it doesn’t drape a lot, it doesn’t slide around; no muss, no fuss. A longer one would probably need bobby pins. I wear a mantilla because outside of winter, I’m not a big hat person. Plus, I can keep the mantilla in my pocket.
I guess my little veil is not technically a mantilla, but it ain’t a hat, either.
Re: cmm’s comment
Muslim veiling is probably the result of a mistranslation of a “gird your loins” statement about belts. Which doesn’t matter, because it was devilish heresy anyway. Today, in most of the Muslim world, veiling is used to oppress women and make them live in fear — including our Christian sisters, who face rape and murder if they go out too “uncovered” for some random Muslim’s taste.
So, no, I don’t think it’s a good idea to look like a Muslim or a good little dhimmi infidel. It doesn’t do a thing for evangelism; it makes it appear that we accept the authority of Islam and agree that Christ is just some guy and women should grovel. Keep in mind that Muslims are taught that eventually all people will acknowledge this; you need to work against their assumptions if you want them to convert.
I have absolutely no desire to wear chains to church, either, unless I can use them to slap slavemasters upside the head on the way there.
Moving right along… I have no problem with Christian veiling, but it’s purely the result of some rather odd historical chances and peer pressures that everyone and her aunt in the TLM movement tends to wear the kind of chapel veil which is a post-beehive hair innovation. When I wear something on my head for church, I wear a hat, the way my foremothers did. If I go to an EF parish, the really old ladies who were really there in the old days wear hats. Really old Italian and Filipino ladies wear considerably bigger veils that really are like mantillas. Only the comparative young’uns wear the veils of Jackie Kennedy. It’s deeply odd and very human, that people want to get all mystical about the specific Catholic equivalent of Cadillac fins and beehive hairdos….
As for opening women up to the possibility, may I suggest that telling another woman what she should and shouldn’t wear, in a matter of prudential freedom, is… presumptuous? Offensive? None of your business? Talk about why you do it, but don’t talk their ears off; and don’t make statements about how every woman should and must do it. If you really believe in the power of a tradition, you ought to believe it’s persuasive. You ought to believe that all kinds of hats and headgear count, instead of giving the impression that it has to be some lacy chapel veil thing. And you ought to give people time to think about it, and not expect them to show up next week doing it; and especially not expect them to dress as your clone in every way.
19 years ago in a new (for me)NO parish, a large group of Blue Army women (and girls) all covered their heads at Mass. I began. They quit. I didn’t.
About 10 years ago, some new women to the neighborhood, former Mennonites, covered their heads (still do)morning, noon, and nite…as in sleeping…since their reasoning is that if you awaken in the nite and want to pray, your head is already covered. Their example helped me to do the same, since it is difficult to do that in the beginning. I can’t help but wonder if Mennonite women cover their heads as a remnant from their Catholic days.
Many Jewish women cover their heads at Synagogue. And some when not there. My understanding is that it is for modesty.
As noted above, I also believe God wants me to cover my head. The practice has helped me immensely and now cannot not wear a head covering – a kerchief tied at the nape. Am asked, on occasion, if I am a nun and respond by saying that the Bible asks women to cover their heads. It also ‘feels’ so ladylike, helps modesty and humility too. The benefits truly outweigh the negatives…if, indeed, there are any.
I don’t make assumptions about women who wear hats, veils, scarves to Mass. I don’t make assumptions about women who don’t. It’s not a matter of Church law. In terms of “tradition,” women once never were seen bareheaded in public and wore hats when they went to luncheon parties at each other’s houses in the 1950’s. Now they don’t. (Heck, my mother didn’t go downtown without a pair of gloves.)
It’s a personal decision. To me, it seems along the line of individuals’ favorite devotions. You might find one very helpful; someone else might not.
I have read some wonderful posts here today about veiling that really seem to understand why we cover our heads. I hope that the practice will spread in church again.
It seems that the veil tradition went out like the meatless Fridays during the year.
Almost all Russian Orthodox Christian women veil in the parish I attend and they must be veiled in order to receive a sacrament. St. John Chrysostom says women should veil because “it pleases the angels.” [Pretty good reason. They do an awful lot for us, after all.] However, some Orthodox women have stopped veiling in France because of the Islamic population and influence. They do not want to be seen as Muslims. In many Orthodox parishes a strict dress code is enforced. Just like what you would see in a SSPX chapel. As much as I like this pious custom I wish it was voluntary and not enforced. Nothing is worse then a Greek or American curious female visitor coming into the parish and being and immediately being veiled from the community veil case by one of the old babas!
I was bemused by this comment in her piece:
“Each one is unique, feminine and fetching”.
‘Fetching’?? Surely this would NOT be a reason to choose wear a veil/mantilla/hat. Why substitute [cover] one alluring glory with another? There is obviously no need to make them postively unattractive but the sense seems to be in not providing distraction to the menfolk and not having something to vaunt to the other womenfolk.
“For those ladies who feel “no inclination” to wear a head covering, why not?”
I’d turn the question around. Why wear a veil that, in many situations, draws attention to the wearer and distracts her from her prayers? I’m pushing 50 with three teenage boys. I’m under no illusions that the appearance of my no-nonsense short hairstyle is creating an occasion of sin for any male at Mass. Unless it’s really cold, or very sunny, headgear is just not part of my wardrobe. I’m too young to remember the days when all women covered their heads at Mass. Perhaps when every Mass I attend is celebrated by a reverent priest who does not change the words to suit his mood, and my fellow worshipers are focused on our Lord rather than socializing with their pewmates, and the music is not written by Haugen and Haus, then I might start pondering the advisability of veiling, but it’s pretty low on the list at the moment.
I believe the head coverings (both veil and hat) are a beautiful sign of piety and most of the women who wear them at my parish are also dressed modestly and in their “Sunday finest” (I say “most” because I have seen women and their daughters dressed in very casual clothing and a chapel veil at the same time).
At my parish’s EF masses many, but not all, of the women wear veils. I also have seen the rise in popularity of chapel veils and mantillas at the parish’s OF masses. I serve as cantor at those OF masses and despite the increase in veil use, I have chosen not to wear a veil or hat. The predominant reason is because I do not wish to stick out more than I already do. I don’t want my head covering (whether veil or hat) to be the source of distraction when I am chanting the Psalm or leading the propers. For that matter, I also dress very conservatively (usually a dark suit and a blouse of subdued colors) for the same reason. I also believe appropriate behavior, posture and reverence can serve as good practices for piety.
That being said, if Canon law once again requires women to have their heads covered, I would most gladly comply.
Crimony. This is exactly the kind of talk that puts one off.
Imagine if we spent all this time rhapsodizing about the joys of praying at Mass by putting your hands together, as opposed to praying holding hands or praying in the orans position. It would be silly, because it doesn’t need to be promoted. People know that the default prayer position is putting your hands together in front of you, in some fashion. If some man started talking about how sweet and fetching it was to see women pray that way and how distracting it was for them to pray the other way that exposed their bosoms immodestly, I swear I’d have to bring out a two-by-four. Women don’t pray for men to look at. (Sure, you can find praying women attractive, but don’t talk about it in a creepy way that sexifies a non-sexual act!!)
If you really really believe that women covering their heads in a church is the default normal way to act, it should occasion no remark at all! It would be like, “Oh, yeah, she ties her shoes.” “Yes, I’ve been tying my shoes lately before I go to church, instead of wearing velcro shoes.”
But you don’t really believe it, which is why otherwise traditional people do all this untraditional rhapsodizing and objectifying and crazy talking.
And yes, when I was in a medieval group, I was one of those people who got very annoyed when somebody started talking about “this is my fourteenth century gown” instead of “yes, this is my new dress”.
I got my veils at http://www.modestyveils.com/ and I wear a veil at the EF. No one, well, maybe one lady, wears a veil to the OF and I have yet to do so. But if the Holy Spirit compels me one day, then I guess I will. There is a different feel when wearing a veil for sure. As to it slipping…I use a bobby pin!
It’s been a long week… let me clarify again.
I’m all for women wearing hats or scarves (or veils or other headgear) to Mass. It is the default Christian female thing to do, and forty years is just a hiccup in human history. Nobody should regard it as making a spectacle of themselves. (It is a step up in formality level, however, even if the headgear itself is casual. Not the worst thing for church.) But as long as it’s a prudential choice, I’ll choose to wear or not wear as it suits me.
If women want to do it, they should just do it, not talk about it. If it’s not any big deal, act like it. If you don’t want people to take excessive notice, just act like it’s perfectly normal and nobody should blink an eye — and they won’t. Act like you belong and you will.
Nobody made all this ruckus when women stopped burning their bras and started wearing them again. It was the default thing to do. So… less talk and more action would seem to be the more traditional way.
As far as I am concerned, hell can freeze over before I’d wear one.
If some of you are so hot on St. Paul and his fashion dictats, then I suggest some of you people ought to be REALLY consistent anbd whine about the rubrics the priests and others follow at High Masses in the EF form.
If you are bowing on bended knee to the Apostle Paul in these sartorial matters, then you can complain that MEN’s heads should remain uncovered at prayer — and yet, I suppose when the priest is sitting at a sung credo or gloria, I am to believe he is thinking “Lalalalal no, I’m not praying, I’m NOT listening because it is shameful for a man to pray with his head covered, no, not me, dearie no, I’m NOT praying during the Credo and Gloria, EXCEPT RIGHT NOW, when I take my biretta off, NOW I’m listening and praying — See I took my biretta off — but oh, now, lalalalala not PRAYING now…”
Please people, get a life! I had my fill of that stuff when I was a kid and we had to wear paper kleenex hankies on our head if we forgot. To me THAT part of the Latin Mass can take a hike — I’m DONE. As far as I’m concerned I’d like to lead St. Paul beside some of those “Restful waters” so I can duck his head under and hold it there — the beauty of it is, I don’t have to worry about killing him.
[And this is said by someone who has attended a Latin Mass a good 5 times a week for most of the year, so don’t even “go there” with me!]
[I guess that’s a “no” vote.]
Jill’s “get a life” comment is the sort of thing that led me to expect negative reactions when I started covering my head at Mass. (I always wear something on my head in church. It varies among a lace mantilla, a scarf, a beret or a hat.) But, even though I have seen many hostile, judgmental or abusive comments online, I have not encountered them in person. I suspect that most people can respect that covering my head is meaningful to me and that the online rudeness I’ve seen is not representative of people’s usual behavior.
I’m all for increasing respect shown to Our Lord at the altar. But I wish this discussion included both sexes, that women could show respect by having their heads covered, and men by having them uncovered, except when the rubrics require the wearing of a mitre or biretta or whatever. But I wouldn’t want this to be REQUIRED. I also remember the kleenex on the head days. Ridiculous. Showing respect by how we dress and conduct ourselves is not just a feminine matter.
The Garlands of Grace stuff does not appeal to me. It has that 60’s peasant / hippy look and I personally have had enough of that.
This whole concern with head covering by women (and no discussion of the bahvior of men) makes me a little nervous. The language around it can smack of the Muslim hajib. The last thing we need to do is take any kind of cues from Muslims.
I have three daughters and one on the way. I infrequently attend the SSPX chapel, but when I do so I ask my daughter(s) attending with me to wear a veil and a dress. For one, it is prescribed in the bible:
For another: why should we mix the sexes? Let women be women, and men men. Latillas, veils, are as traditional as candles in Church. Give up Radical Feminism for one hour out of the week, and be a lady!
I love this topic! I also did the research and even lost some sleep over this issue. I was concerned about the looking holier than thou and drawing attention to myself. I was going back and forth between the NO and the TLM and was attracted to the veils at the TLM. My daughters, who were 11, 9 and 5 at the time loved the lacey beautiful veils. One time when going to the NO, my girls asked me why I wasn’t wearing it and they challenged me. I was still uncomfortable but after Mass 3 different people came up to me and said it was beautiful to see my girls and myself in veils. They had fond memories of their youth or wished their girls would wear them. In the end, I asked my husband his opinion and he said he liked them and that was all I needed. When I read the little white booklet called the Chapel Veil(not sure who puts it out)written by two college girls, I was convicted. WHen I read about the covering of my head to receive my bridegroom as at my wedding ceremony, I was really sold. Why would my daughters wear one on their FIrst Holy COmmunion Day and not any other COmmunion day? As a recovering feminist I also have a big desire to show submission to my wonderful husband and my Glorious Lord.
I encourage all of you ladies to give it a try and perhaps we can reclaim the reverence for Our Lord that he deserves. Bless you all for entertaining this ides.
One of the things that appeals to me about the custom is that this is a custom for women. I’m tired of the way our culture obscures distinctions and differences between the sexes. I’m tired of worrying about how fair and equal things are. I just want to do something feminine, modest, old-fashioned and lady-like.
Why wear a veil that, in many situations, draws attention to the wearer and distracts her from her prayers?
In my case, it helps me FOCUS on my prayers. The veil obscures my peripheral vision, so I can’t really see who’s around me, or what people are doing. I look straight ahead, at the altar and the tabernacle.
I’m too young to remember the days when all women covered their heads at Mass. Perhaps when every Mass I attend is celebrated by a reverent priest who does not change the words to suit his mood, and my fellow worshipers are focused on our Lord rather than socializing with their pewmates, and the music is not written by Haugen and Haus, then I might start pondering the advisability of veiling, but it’s pretty low on the list at the moment.
I’m 27. I have absolutely no memory of women veiling, except from old movies. But just because I don’t remember it, doesn’t mean that I don’t think it’s a fantastic custom. I’ve never heard a Mass in Latin, and I’d love to.
Now I will say that I would feel more uncomfortable veiling at my old parish, because it was much more “contemporary.” That’s not because I am ashamed to veil, but because I’m afraid I’d get all sorts of rude comments after. And I know some women who DO get those rude comments if they veil in a less traditional setting, which, to me, is just wrong.
Men show respect by having their heads UNcovered. (I think that’s right, anyway) This isn’t about equality, which is what I”m getting from your comment (If I’m wrong, please correct me). Male and female have different “geniuses”, to quote JPII. We aren’t the same. Each sex has different ways to glorify God. The habit for nuns is different than the habit for brothers. Veiling is a uniquely feminine thing that I think is really beautiful.
If I’m misinterpreting anyone, please let me know.
Margaret: I can see your point, however I would like to offer an explanation of why I mostly use a lace mantilla to veil. Firstly, it brings me no discomfort, as I used bobby pins at first to hold in on. I now use nothing because I’ve gotten used to holding my head a certain way.
The lace mantilla is very distinctive and most associated with mass, so putting it on becomes a personal ritual for me, different from just wearing a hat off the street. It’s also comfortable in any weather and can be folded up and kept in my purse where I can’t forget it in my rush out the door Sunday Morning.
Melania: I personally have no problem with the hijab. They wear it for modesty and as a symbol of their dedication. It’s the burka (full-body covering) which I find most disturbing. I’ve met many moderate Muslims who look very much like traditional Catholics at mass.
As Father Z noted in his recent humor post regarding firearms, the traditional mass requires those with birettas to uncover at the mention of the Holy Name. Men are required to uncover at every mass.
Ironically, in previous eras, the men would uncover upon entering while the women would do nothing, having covered already for going out.
I don’t think it requires a veil on one’s head to be ladylike, nor do I think it’s radical feminism if a woman decides she doesn’t want to cover her head at Mass. How are such comments helpful in persuading women resistant to the idea to give it a try?
I found it much easier to do when I was stationed overseas than back home in the U.S. of A.
I have worn hats in the winter months and do not usually remove them once inside for Mass.
There are many places both in North America, and across the globe wear there has been no break in the cultural norm of women wearing a head covering at worship. These are also the places where, “wearing the best you have to show honor to G-d” never fell out of style either.
girgadis: “I don’t think it requires a veil on one’s head to be ladylike, nor do I think it’s radical feminism if a woman decides she doesn’t want to cover her head at Mass. How are such comments helpful in persuading women resistant to the idea to give it a try?”
No, of course not, a woman can be very ladylike and feminine without a veil. But we are talking in the milieu of the Mass.
But, why can’t a woman at mass wear a veil according to the prescriptions of St. Paul? Is it a hard thing? Is it immoral? What is the problem with it? It was followed for hundreds of years until the traditional Catholic church halted, in a sense, around 1962…
So, girgadis, why shouldn’t women follow this beautiful tradition? It accentuates femininity…
Hmmm… All the feminine and fetching talk, again, seems to me to center exclusively around the non-traditional lace chapel veil. “Fetish” is too strong a word to use here, perhaps, yet it keeps coming to mind when I read certain comments.
Frankly, there’s nothing remotely fetching in the older-style kerchiefs and babushkas and such. Google an image of Bernadette Soubirous before her entry into the convent. Why her head-covering isn’t unattractive per se, I’d be kind of hard-pressed to ascribe any especially becoming qualities to it either. :) Similarly most ladies’ hats from the 60’s and earlier, while nicer-looking, still don’t necessarily scream “feminine and fetching” to me, so much as “hat.” http://www.fashion-era.com/images/HairHats/original_hathair_images/1942hats_hair.jpg
All this being said, if the Holy Father or my local bishop ever even expressed the hope or the wish (falling far short of a command) that women return to head covering at Mass, I would do so. But I think I’d go with something more like these, if I didn’t just do a basic triangle of cotton from my fabric stash… http://www.headcoverings-by-devorah.com/headcoverings_peachskin_snoods.htm
I’m too young to remember how things used to be, but I’ve heard that men & women used to sit on different sides of the church. I guess (like wearing a head covering) that may have helped with fighting distractions. Does anyone know if this practice used to occur?
Does anyone considering this think about Mary?
I understand its optional, and I don’t judge anyone who does not veil. Frankly, I don’t always veil myself.
The observation I’ve made about Mary is that she is always veiled. She has appeared in various centuries. Has she ever been known to appear unveiled? I wonder why, honestly.
First, in response to the early comments about whether transparent lace actually “covers” my expensively highlighted and layered hair, my thick lace veil *does* (as opposed to enhancing it). I have to turn my head to talk to somebody close to me because it is not transparent and I have no peripheral vision with it on. And I wear it slightly over my forehead with a pin to hold it in place, so it really does serve as a cover not an ornament.
I veil because:
1. I believe it shows reverence to God and pleases the angels.
2. It creates sacred space for me. I wear my veil nowhere else but in the presence of God, and feel naked without it in a church. Once I leave the church or the adoration chapel, my veil comes down around my neck and becomes a scarf.
3. I am distractable. My veil is kind of like blinders on a horse. I don’t know if people are noticing, nor am I noticing them. I can “hide” behind my veil and pray (both OF and EF).
4. It seems to offend people less when I don’t want to shake hands during the sign of peace or hold hands during the Pater Noster, or make small talk before and after Mass when I’m trying to pray. Or kneel after the Agnus Dei, etc. They just assume *I’m* the weird one and that’s ok with me. I wear it for God, the angels, and me — not to make any kind of a statement.
It’s really only been the last century or so that headcovering at Mass has become abnormal (no, I’m not old enough to remember; I looked it up :) But when I stop before entering the church and pin on my veil, I feel like I am entering another world.
On one occasion I saw a very pretty young lady taking off her veil outside of the chapel after daily Mass. I asked her why she was wearing a veil and to my surprise… she said, “Because I am beautiful…. but when I am in the chapel there is somebody far more beautiful than me.”
My jaw dropped….. Scales fell from my eyes!
God created women to be His most beautiful creatures. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman except for a woman who veils her beauty out of love for God. Wow!
I’m not a mantilla chick, though I own two, encountered at a thrift store and purchased so I’m prepared for emergencies. But that means I need to find a bobby pin because I have fine hair which isn’t inclined to be cooperative.
I wore a hat to Mass today but we’re in single digit fahrenheit temps. I anticipate wearing a hat intermittently throughout winter.
There are several mantilla chicks, and I don’t think anyone pays close attention; some are front row sitters so are noticable. One is new to the mantilla and fusses with it all the time. Two others, also in the front, have taken up scarves wrapped similarly to Muslims, so around their neck as well as covering the hair. I notice only because they’re in front of me and the one woman fusses. She doesn’t carry all the time so is sometimes without.
Another woman wears a hat, but she’s a woman of a certain age and is likely over 80, she may have been raised with the habit of wearing a hat in public, never mind whether she’s in a church.
Even though veils may not be a canonical requirement, is it still a moral obligation; cf. 1 Cor. 11:3-16 and “Head Coverings in Church.”
I don’t think much of the veils the article’s author recommends, but the site has some good headcoverings for daily wear. I have very long hair (past the hips) usually worn in a knot, which tends to prevent the wearing of most hats. A veil makes sense for Mass since it is easily carried and put away, and I have one I bought from a Spanish import company which I love (Lands Far Away for those interested). When I forget it, I usually have a scarf or shawl on hand that serves the same purpose. In winter, I stuff my hair into a wool beret, which ends up acting as a snood and head warmer in one convenient accessory. Where I am in North Texas, its really too hot in the summer to bother with hats (though I tend to pull one out for Easter) so again the veil is a sensible choice.
I’ve had the same experience as many women who have begun to wear a chapel veil. At first I felt slightly outlandish (and this despite the fact that I frequently wore hats on a daily basis) and worried that I would draw attention, especially in OF communities. Eventually, it grew to be a part of how I prepared myself for worship, a physical sign that I was in a holy place and needed to act accordingly. It has the lovely effect of instructing my children in the same, even with the baby du jour tugging it off occasionally.
Taking to using combs or sticks to keep my hair in place has had the side effect of keeping the veil in place as well. I have noticed that it is much harder to keep one from sliding off if a woman has naturally fine straight hair. The curlier the hair, the more likely the veil will stay in place. For women with short, fine hair, a hat may end up a better option, or bobby pins might work if the lace isn’t too fine.
I want to echo a previous comment that Muslim women who wear the hijab seem to do so out of genuine desire for modesty. Hard to fault that if you ask me. And yes, the burka full body wrap is the disturbing perversion of modest dress (something like the English Victorian age of silliness).
Personally as a youngish man, I find it very attractive when women cover especially in the manner depicted on this page (i.e., scarf-like hair covering). I think it speak volumes of self-confidence and assertiveness: ‘I am so confident in myself that I don’t need to fish for attention from men.’
No need to ‘show up’ boys because she already knows she is a masterpiece.
Think about that! Any man who actually let’s the thought come about will think this of modest women.
True enough, many will not see this and sadly are still under the absolutely satanic influence of pornography and hypersexualism. I firmly believe that the sooner it is banned, the faster we will recover a collective moral fiber in this country.
Muslim women veil because the Jewish and Christian women at the time of Mohamed also veiled, Muslim’s copied the custom of women veiling from Judaism and Christianity, and while Christian women have abandoned the custom the Muslims have kept it. This should not be seen as a further excuse for the abandonment of the head covering but rather as something we should all be colectively ashamed of.
How is it that the Muslims with there many false beliefs are yet far more pious than the average Catholic? Their women still cover their heads and clothes the rest of the body modestly as Christian women always did, the muslim prays five times a day, how many Catholics pray the liturgy of the hours throughout the day? Or keep the hours of the Angelus even? The muslim fasts for 30 days during Ramadan yet Catholics can’t even bring themselves give up meat on a Friday.
“Certainly there is in this world a powerful reserve of faith, and also a considerable margin of freedom for the Church’s mission. But often it is no more than a margin. One need only take note of the principal tendencies governing the means of social communication, one need only pay heed to what is passed over in silence and what is shouted aloud, one need only lend an ear to what encounters most opposition, to perceive that even where Christ is accepted there is at the same time opposition to the full truth of his Person, his mission and his Gospel. There is a desire to “re-shape” him, to adapt him to suit mankind in this era of progress and make him fit in with the programme of modern civilisation—which is a programme of consumerism and not of transcendental ends. There is opposition to him from those standpoints, and the truth proclaimed and recorded in his name is not tolerated (cf. Acts 4:10, 12, 18). This opposition to Christ which goes hand-in-hand with paying him lip-service—and it is to be found also among those who call themselves his disciples—is particularly symptomatic of our own times.”
Millions of Catholics claim to love Pope John Paul II yet where are these millions taking up his call to act as signs of contradiction to the pagan culture of our times?
The veil from the beginning of its use has always been a sign of honour, a mark of nobility.
The purpose of a veil is not so much to obscure as to shield the most sacred things from the eyes of sinful men.
This is why the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem was veiled.
This is why the Torah Ark in a Jewish Synagogue is veiled.
This is why the Tabernacle in our churches are veiled.
This is why both the Ciborium and the Chalice are veiled.
“Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
This is why you should shield yourself with a veil.
A friend gave me a “mantila” and, when giving it some thought, felt that, if I am to error on anything in the Church it would be on the side of more rather then less, so I wore it. It is a longer type of mantila that falls down on both sides of the face and the one thing I discovered about it is that it blocked out the people beside me. I felt cocooned within the veil and there were no distractions. Different I know, but thought I would share. By the way ladies, there is no reason to get your “undies in a bundle” over this. I do it for reverence towards Our Lord and not to upset anyone else.
I think it’s great that some women choose on their own to veil. I’m concerned about husbands or men who put pressure on women to veil in church, or groups like the SSPX and schismatics that require veiling. Personal decisions should never be at the whim of someone else or an organization that fetishizes or forces veils on women in a hyper-legalistic view of church observance.
I started veiling a year ago. There were a couple of women veiling (Legion of Mary) and I was curious, so I started reading and researching. That led me to reading and researching about the TLM. I wanted to attend one out of curiosity, but I figured I would need to veil out of respect for their tradition (when in Rome and all that). So I ordered one. I kept reading and researching. We went to our first EF mass and I veiled (more to fit in, sadly, than out of any true devotion). It was a remarkable experience… not just the veiling, but the whole thing!
Like the author of this article, I am also allergic to attention, so I was hesitant to wear the veil to my own church. The week after my first TLM, I decided to wear my veil to our adoration chapel. The more I prayed the more I felt compelled to veil in the presence of Christ. Then I began wondering why I should veil at an EF mass and in adoration, but not at my own church’s OF mass… Christ is equally present! So, I prayed and I took the plunge…
I didn’t feel self-conscious. I was able to focus more on the mass. There were fewer distractions. For me, veiling has been a blessing. I do feel that it is one way I can be more humble in the presence of my Lord and my God. I do feel that it is one more way to show respect as the events of Calvary unfold before me in every mass – EF or OF. I do feel that it is one more way to imitate Mary. As a former Episcopalian I always heard talk of “outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace”. All of this is what the veil has come to mean to me. However, it was a deeply personal journey and choice.
We went to the OF for the holy day this week because of an impending snow storm. (We are blessed to have frequent opportunities to attend the EF.) Anyway, we crowded into mass and I was sitting by my daughters. I didn’t have a chance to put on my veil before entering so as we sat down I pulled out my veil. I asked my 16-year old daughter if she wanted one. She was embarrassed, but took it because she has grown up with them. I know people do stare. Why wouldn’t they? I would have before. One lady cornered my 12-year afterwards, asking her why we had veils. (I think she was simply curious, not mean spirited.) She did well I thought, saying that Jesus was in the tabernacle, so women should cover their heads and men should uncover them. I do feel like a freak at the OF wearing them, but it’s probably just pride and I FEEL like it’s drawing attention to me, whether it is or not. Anyway, one nice thing is that it’s a pretty good signal to the priest that we will be kneeling for Holy Communion. You can see us coming a mile away! :o)
I like hats and veils personally but never wear them in public because until recently I never saw anyone else doing so. My husband recently encouraged me to buy, at a thrift store, one of those “red hat lady” type hats with a wide brim and a purple bow. He said I looked nice in it and should wear it more often! However if I wore it to Mass it would probably attract a lot of attention and defeat the whole purpose of head covering!
Although I believe in dressing modestly and simply for Mass I don’t always wear my “Sunday best” or dress up. Sometimes I wear slacks and in warmer weather sometimes wear capri pants. Would it look silly or contradictory to wear a veil or hat to church if I was not dressed up?
Also, now that it’s winter, would just leaving a stocking cap or scarf on during Mass suffice as far as head covering goes?
I’ve begun to wear a veil, yet I was concerned it wouldn’t stay on my head because I wear my hair short. I have to keep fixing it so it will stay put.
Other times, I wear a brown ‘beanie’ [a leftover from my Third Order Franciscan days]. That stays on better.
With the cold weather, I wear a snood-it covers both my head and my neck so they stay warm. But that ‘mashes’ my hair!
“So, girgadis, why shouldn’t women follow this beautiful tradition? It accentuates femininity…”
Maltese, I cover my head, but I choose not to do so with a mantilla. Women have other options and so long as a hat or head scarf covers all of my hair, does it really matter that I’m not wearing a veil? I gave the mantilla a try and it was a huge distraction when I was hoping it would have the opposite effect. I might give it a try again some time, but it won’t be because someone thinks I’m unladylike or a radical feminist.
The reason I cover my head has nothing to do with wanting to accentuate my femininity – it has to do with wanting to overcome pride and vanity and practice humility. I do this not only by covering my head but by wearing clothing to Mass that does NOT accentuate my femininity. Clothing is a much bigger distraction than hair, imho. I attend both the TLM and the Novus Ordo and women aren’t the only ones who need to clean up their acts at the latter. Both sexes need to just say no to crack and pull those pants up around the waist, especially in church. If women wear slacks to church, I think they need to be paired with a long shirt or tunic that falls below the hips. Revealing clothing is distracting to everyone, not just the opposite sex, and is a bigger concern to me than whether women cover their heads or not.
Jill/TAWT, why are you so angry? A true feminest I believe. Have any noticed how every time Our Blessed Mother appears she is always veiled. I veil because I believe, and for those who believe, no explanation is necessary, and for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. I also wear a dress (never pants) and at a decent length and no low cut neckline or shoulders showing. I am going to the house of God, and I will be dressed properly.
Maltesa: I guess a Scotsman in a kilt attending Mass would throw you in a real tizzy. “What is that man doing in a skirt?”
Isabella: I guess the men aren’t little scatterbrains. Somehow THEY can seem to concentrate at Mass without being in some sort of privacy wall. Some of us women aren’t scatterbrains either. Your call.
Jayne: Look, if you want to wear a veil, for whatever reason, go for it as long as you’re not giving me dirty looks for not doing so, or trying to force one on me.
Will someone explain to me what “husband” little 5, 6 and 11 year old girls are supposed to be “subject” to?
As for the BVM — yes she wore a veil. It was a cultural thing. She didn’t wear a bra, either. Do you really want to “go there?”
As for Muslims, I don’t want to buy into their “oh, if a woman is showing more than an eye, it’s her fault she got raped “modesty” business. There is NOTHING “modest’ about it — the men get all the pleasure they want, and the women have to go along with making themselves look like moving ragbags because their men can’t control their urges. It’s self preservation with them. I think Christian men, are capable of not thinking “gee, I should rape her” because they can see a woman’s ankle. We’re BETTER than that. Yes, that’s judgemental. So be it – it’s true.
And while we’re at it — can someone please explain to me the tendency of women in traddy circles with the 70s granny maxi skirts that were “in” for a half-year? Particularly when work with birkenstocks?
I was “there” enough to remember in the late 50s and early 60s women’s dresses were kneelength a shade above or below, depending on the age — but they were NOT competing for “sack dress with no shape” hell. I’d love to be enlightened with the thinking of putting young girls in Duggar girl sack dresses. I really don’t think the average male is going to have nasty thoughts about an 8 year old if she’s wearing a knee length dress. Nasty men will think evil if she’s wearing a sack dress.
Take a GOOD look at those older photo albums and magazines and take a look at what women were wearing then. They weren’t showing cleavage and they didn’t have their skirts hiked up to the butt, but they weren’t competing in the “all world dowdy” contest either.
Well, did I ever wear a veil? Yeah — once. But then my dad got kinda freaked out because I tended to use a scarf instead of a mantilla when veiliing (which made me look like a Muslim to the untrained eye). And so I stopped doing it, although I only covered my head like that only as a matter of personal taste.
But even if you don’t believe in Islam (like you and me), you’ve got to give credit for the reasons some girls in the Western Hemisphere freely choose to wear a hijab — modesty, pride of femininity, etc. And that’s something that even Catholics don’t get sometimes. So, I do agree with Leonius on this point. (Now, let’s not talk about the burqa; that’s a different story. But you get the picture.)
I was raised in the Episcopal church many moons ago and women always covered their heads in church, usually with hats. I started attending the Catholic Church pre-VII and the ladies covered their heads with hats or mantillas. I started using a mantilla because they were so light and comfortable and easy to carry in the purse.
Without a hat or veil in church I feel like I am in one of those dreams where you are walking around in public with only undergarments. Very uncomfortable. I also think that Paul’s instruction to women to cover their heads in worship is more than just cultural. I wear a small scarf to daily Mass, or a knit hat if it is cold. To Sunday Mass I wear a hat, and when I attend an EF I wear my veil. My parish is strictly OF but our choir is often invited to sing for EF Masses in other parishes. Most of the choir ladies wear veils for these occasions and seem happy to do so.
I realize that the Church no longer requires that women cover their heads so I certainly don’t judge what other ladies do. It is their free choice.
I agree Girgadis, cracks and cleavage and bare shoulders need to go. That would be a big improvement in reverential attitudes!
This is not a matter of gender equality for me. It is a matter of adopting a healthy, balanced attitude. I don’t think that making dress an exclusively female problem is a good idea. I think the proper approach is to say that everyone should strive to dress appropriately for Mass. End of story.
If people want to bring back the custom of women wearing hats or chapel veils, and men assuring that they remove their hats while in church, I have no problem with that, as long as we all don’t get rigid, judgmental and fanatical about it.
Some of the talk about “veiling” and admiring the hijab makes me uneasy. It reminds me of all those “women’s groups” I got roped into attending from time to time back in the 80’s and 90’s. This was where we all “explored our femininity” and congratulated ourselves on being women and discussed how women are different from men and considered all the ways that women are better than men, et cetera, et exhaustively cetera.
I know, I know. As a therapist I should have loved all that touchy-feely stuff. But actually, I started to ask myself what was really going on in those groups. No need to elaborate.
God made me a woman. That wonderful! Women are different from men. Great! Time to move on. Next.
As a pastor, I think before we visit the topic of covering women’s heads, we should address the topic of women covering various other parts of their bodies first!
I really don’t understand the amount of vigor there is around discussing this particular garment. A veil is a garment, no more and no less.
What goes on inside one’s head is far more important than what one sticks on top.
You’re correct there. Low cut dresses, super-tight clothes, trousers that show one’s anatomy (read butt crack) when one sits down, and too-short shorts and skirts are not appropriate in mass, but all of these show up with amazing regularity. You should never have to witness a wardrobe malfunction in mass, but they do happen far too often.
One can be just as immodest in a tight-fitting dress with a low front and a veil as one can be in low-cut jeans, a t-shirt and a ponytail.
I would imagine that if one is veiling, one is also appropriately dressed in other ways. I have never seen the phenomenon of veil and then a skin tight dress, or tight jeans, etc. I grant that it is possible, but it doesn’t seem to go with the mindset of veiling.
I’m with Catholic Midwest @1:52pm. I would only add that what is in the heart matters more than what is or is not on our heads.
It’s time for this to close.
Not always. I’ve seen women at the EF with low-cut tight dresses and veils on. There’s more than one way to be immodest.
PS low cut tight dresses can be long. Think prairie fashion. Long apparently trumps low cut in peoples’ minds? Low cut is low cut. Tight is tight.
I would say that a trend toward appropriate dress is what a lot of us are calling for–and I think we can all agree on that, whether or not it includes veiling.
Jill, little girls are usually interested in what their mother has.
cmm, suburbanbanshee is abslutely right about Muslims; their objective is to convert everyone, by force, if necessary. If you pay attention to international news, last spring a lot of Kosovars came out from under their Muslim cover, and asked for priests to baptize them; because infidels (that’s you, me and anyone not a muslim) are subjected to extra taxes based on the fact of not being muslim, not allowed to freely worship, aren’t considered for a lot of jobs, there were families who appeared to convert 500 years ago. In public they were Muslims; in private, Christians, passing their true religion down through their family.
Muslims are trying to force everyone to follow Sharia law, no matter their religion, the country they’re in or the law of the land. This is intolerable but attempts have been made in the US.
JonM, many muslim women wear the hijab because they know their family will kill them if they do otherwise. Did you read about the Muslim woman who refused an arranged marriage, moved in with her boyfriends mom and her father’s solution to the fact she was too Americanized was to kill her? He ran her down, together with the boyfriends mother. In Sharia there’s no penalty for killing someone who brings dishonor on the family; refusing an arranged marriage, dressing as an American, in short, being a normal part of society are enough for a death sentence. Unfortunately for him, he killed her in a country where there is a penalty for murder.
Appropriate dress is not an exclusively female issue. There are however exclusively female aspects to it. Since men, in general, are more susceptible to visual temptations, women have a responsibility to consider this when we dress. Dressing modestly is being charitable to our brothers in Christ.
Another exclusively female aspect of the dress question is that of veiling. If someone raises the topic of veiling it is ok to talk about it without dragging in other subjects so that we can talk about men too. There isn’t anything wrong with discussing a topic that only applies to women.
We live in a culture in which womanhood is under attack. Most women need help and encouragement to understand what it means to be a woman and to feel good about it. If this topic is too touch-feely for you, you do not need to participate in the discussion. It is not, however, appropriate to tell those who wish to discuss it to move on.
There have been a number of mercy killings in the States in recent years, and it’s a bigger problem in Europe and Britain. We are also starting to see a large number of cases of female mutilation in the civilized countries of the West.
catholicmidwest, I think you mean honor killings. I’m sure the men doing the killing would think it’s a mercy killing.
catholicmidwest says “I really don’t understand the amount of vigor there is around discussing this particular garment.”
The amount of vigour is due to some people taking veiling beyond a personal decision. Some say that all women should cover their heads. Some say that women who cover their heads are doing something wrong (for example, being holier-than-thou or obsessing over trivia.) People do not like to see their positions misrepresented. People do not like to feel judged or criticized. It is not unusual for people who feel this way to become defensive or angry.
The point of the last few posts is precisely that mercy killing, female mutilation and compulsory clothing for females are cultural “norms” in some societies which are unjust and gender-based. These practices are also, curiously, usually enforced (or at least endorsed) by females who have beliefs about their worth tied to these practices, which are then played out in politics and the affairs of the community in general, which is run by men.
If this thread is exclusively about modesty, that’s one thing. But I don’t believe it is, frankly. We can certainly talk about veiling–it’s a free country. But people who object to veiling FOR THEMSELVES have that right and can talk about that too. It is not mandatory for women to veil liturgically per canon law.
You are, of course, correct. I meant to use the phrase “honor killing.”
No one in here is picking on anyone for wearing a veil. A veil is a garment and garments are in the realm of personal choice.
Veils, scarfs, hats, unbrellas, gloves, who cares?
Capchoirgirl, 99% of the time, when I see a woman wearing a veil in church, she’s got next to nothing on top and about 5 feet of cloth behind her. :P
As for me, I do wear a veil or a hat to the EF. I used to wear one to the OF as well, but I got out of the habit when I started college. For me, it’s a when in Rome, do as the Romans thing. If it ever becomes a requirement of culture or law, I will veil again, but until that time, I have no feeling of being called to wear a veil to the OF. This has been especially true since I married and my husband explicitly told me that he isn’t a fan of veiling. I have nothing against other women covering their heads for devotional reasons, provided that they respect my decision not to cover.
I’m all in favor of women veiling at Mass, if they choose to do so. I’m not sure what the downside is to following St. Paul’s (read: the Bible’s) advice. On the other hand, few of the women I know wear a veil, and that’s never particularly bothered me. When I see women wearing a veil, I think it’s a nice gesture, but I usually don’t give it much thought one way or the other (and I don’t think that we really should worry about other people’s habits on these things.)
I just wish we could get many Mass attendees to give ANY thought to what they’re wearing to be in God’s presence. Jeans and a T-Shirt don’t bother me… but when that T-Shirt is expletive laden or reads “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” perhaps more concern for the presence of the Eucharist is necessary…
There have been a couple of comments calling to end this discussion and another telling women who cover their heads to “get a life” and generally taking a rather belligerent attitude to us.
Why do you ask “who cares” when obviously people do care about this topic? A head covering, especially a veil, is not just a garment. It is a symbolic garment. When I cover my head in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, I am making a statement. The practice is very meaningful to me and I care about it very much.
I do not, however, care very much about what other women do in regard to covering their heads. While I would love to see this custom return (if done for the right reasons) it is pretty far down my list of changes I would like to see in the Church. I do not mind at all if some women choose not to cover their heads or they choose to write about that choice here. I do mind when people write in to say that this topic is not worth discussing and should be closed.
MikeM: Exactly! Let’s at least THINK about what we’re wearing when we go to Mass. That alone would be a huge step forward–to realize what we are about to do, and dress accordingly.
I guess I can understand why some women wear chapel veils. I guess I can understand why some women don’t. But what I simply cannot understand is why this subject generates such angst on both sides that the mere mention of it in a thread generates 100+ posts twice as fast as any topic of actual interest or importance. Never fails, despite the fact that nothing new had been said on it in at least five years. The greatest mystery of the internet age, so far as I’m concerned.
Jaynek, my question earlier was this: Why is this topic the object of so much vigor? (103 posts now!)
If women want to wear veils as an option and they think it makes them feel more comfortable or helps them in some way, that’s fine. It’s their option and they are free to exercise that.
If women don’t want to wear veils, no matter what their reasons are, why is it so important to some people? It’s their option and they are free to exercise that.
I repeat, canon law doesn’t enforce veiling for women (or men, for that matter).
And veils are an article of clothing–an optional article of clothing in Western culture. And as with all such articles of clothing, they are worn at the discretion of the woman, men lurking around in the background notwithstanding.
So, what is the problem? Is this just some sort of pecking order thing where people are picking on one another or what??
And what’s the deal with the men having so much interest? Do you want to wear a veil? If you’re that concerned about it, I say go for it. Stranger things happen every day–I probably wouldn’t even notice, honestly, nor would anyone minding their own darned business like they ought to be doing.
We were supposed to discuss. That’s what comment boxes are for. My opinion doesn’t fit into your schemata apparently, but it is a valid opinion nevertheless.
I don’t understand what the controversy is and I can say that straight up. Have any opinion you want. It’s okay. But don’t tell me what mine has to be.
“If women want to wear veils as an option and they think it makes them feel more comfortable or helps them in some way, that’s fine. It’s their option and they are free to exercise that.
If women don’t want to wear veils, no matter what their reasons are, why is it so important to some people? It’s their option and they are free to exercise that.”
It’s especially puzzling that so many folks (especially men) are apparently spending their precious Mass prayer time reflecting on the self-confidence, piety, and modesty of the women around them. It seems that women just can’t win — either they wear veils and distract the men around them who are impressed by their humble and modest beauty, or they DON’T wear veils and distract the men around them by their sassy hairstyles.
I wear a veil…I haven’t always, only when I started going to the EF Mass…then, it became so easy to wear it to any Mass I went to,or any time I enter a church. For me, I put the veil on, and it isn’t about modesty, piety, or distractions. It helps me to focus that I am in the Lords House, and he is here, and I am but a humble woman. For some they feel as it is a step backward for women, but, I think it is a step forward for women to reclaim their femininity reserved for church where all too often pant wearing women have invaded the church and demanded their place of importance. Yes, It can be difficult to wear a veil with baby/toddler, I have gone through that- but I just persevered, as I have seen other mothers with me do it. Ultimately I think a lot of women are even afraid to try to wear it——– honestly…it does scream Catholic doesn’t it?
About half of comments in these veils threads are not really about women or veils at all. They’re really about the constant troubles that men have with themselves, and those are impossible for women to fix with or without a veil because it’s not our fault if they can’t get their crap together enough to pay attention to church. I have the answer to that half of the veils controversy. It’s RITALIN and that good old army food additive, SODIUM NITRATE, for those men who constantly volunteer that they can’t pay attention–and want it fixed. That or maybe the men should wear the veils (or blinders!) Problem solved.
The other half of the discussion is women talking about what veils do for them in a spiritual sense, or not, which is a more legitimate and interesting discussion, and within which both opinions ought to be (and probably are) respected. Unfortunately, this female half is generally drowned out by the guy half which is a pain in the rear–and reason #1 why although I have worn a veil/hat/hood indoors, I won’t now. My motivation for wearing a head covering is very simple, but you never know when you’re going to flip some toggle in some fruitcake’s head. Better not to wear highly “symbolic” garments.
If “Catholic” was all a veil said, I’d be wearing one. That was my simple motivation.
Suburbanbanshee – mercy, your anger is all over the place. If this issue annoys you, maybe you should avoid reading this post on veils. I can’t imagine why this causes such anger……some of us like to wear veils because we’ve come to believe that God has asked it of us, rather or not the Church does at this time. I agree with “the angels are present and so is our Lord, why not cover” idea. If you don’t want to, then don’t. I think it’s something that you have to take time to muse over and if you feel called to it, then do it.
I do not understand your responses to my comments. I directly replied to your question about “vigor” in my comment @ 2:59. Are you disagreeing with my answer or did you just not see it.
I am not telling you or anyone else what your opinion should be. I do not understand why you think that I am. If anyone is telling others what opinions to hold it is you. As I understand your comments, you are telling people that they should not have strong feelings on this subject and that men should not be allowed to express any opinion at all.
Personally, I welcome contributions from men on this or any other subject. If I did not want to be exposed to men’s views, I would find an all-women blog. I find it somewhat disturbing to see Catholic women expressing such hostility to men.
ALL: Please settle down now. I don’t want to have to shut off the combox and kick people off the blog.
I suspect that most topics connected with women generate similar amounts of discussion. I daresay that a post on “Wives should obey their husbands” would lead to even more heat and volume than the topic of veiling.
I appreciate your moderate responses (to me and to others). I should know by now to stay out of it when it’s none of my business.
Henry Edwards and JayneK, we’re socialized in American society to believe that men and women are alike in all ways except for that pesky little plumbing problem. Having an opinion that does not promote the sameness and equality thereof is politically incorrect thus all with incorrect opinions must be sent to re-education blogs.
Failure to support the liberal agenda is viewed by some as a sin and a condemnation of lifestyle, resulting in personal attacks against those holding the politically incorrect opinions. Conservative and traditional are verboten.
To keep veils from slipping all around, try this: buy a cheap headband (the wire type with teeth are best) and anchor the veil to it with bobby pins.
I got a package of 3 wire headbands at the dollar store.
I wear a veil because it focuses my attention on prayer and worship. I think of it as a liturgical garment that I wear to Mass. Novus Ordo.
Fr., I’m sorry if I’m not in concert here, and am disjointed as well. I would like to try to understand the excellent discussion here.
1. Catholic psychology is summarized nicely in the Summa Theologica – Part 1 – #s 75-85. Simply…, according to my understanding, our soul, has an intellect, a will, and a sense appetite. Our informed, or not, intellect has to inform the blind will so that it can act prudently and wisely with regards to the sense appetite(s). Our soul is what we think, say and do, or what we take to Confession if against God. In the case of head coverings/veils, it seems our eyes (a sense organ) can lead us to distractions and temptations at Mass, or out and about or not. Covering our heads, men have to close their eyes to take custody of their eyes in Church, may be a good idea for our soul’s sake. I do not know exactly how a head covering works to help lessen distractions…sights, sounds or interior distractions, but in my case it does. Thanks be to God.
2. Catholic Identity, Catholic Continuity, and Catholic Unity…(ICU)…lead me to ask myself…how do I best practice my faith for my soul’s sake, and for the sake of the souls of others. Cover my head or not? For me it is cover my head.
3. What is the best thing we women can each do for the Church…cover our heads or not?
4. I guess it is an individual decision.
Cannon Law has removed requirements to veil, and a local priest said it was “old fashioned”, yet, nobody has justified how that section of the bible (1Cor11) can be ignored. Isn’t that like picking and choosing???
My daughters and I have been wearing veils for almost 2 years. I started with a beautiful gold lace scarf/shawl covering my head and shoulders at Christmas mass. I received several wonderful comments from men and continued from there. We like the scarves as shown by Fr. Z.
Reasons why I veil – the spirit was speaking to me, ‘because of the angels’ (the great St. Pio had a great respect for the angels), and out of humility and obedience to God. And the above…
That said, I think veiling can make a significant difference in the church. Speaking from experience, it has changed my heart, and my veiling has encouraged veiling of my children and their friends. So, I have affected several from the next generation already. In addition, it encourages greater reverence for me with each Mass.
How can my veiling make a difference in the church? Compare with the question of ‘How can my prayer make a difference?’ We may never know until we meet our maker.
I think that both sides of this discussion tend to feel condemned by the other. I can sympathize with people reacting negatively to assertions that women are required by Canon Law, Scripture, etc. to cover our heads in church. These sorts of comments imply that women who do not cover their heads are sinning. Who appreciates being accused of sin, even by implication?
Even when we speak of subjective personal experiences, it is easy for it to come across in a critical way. If I say that covering my head makes me feel closer to God or that it expresses my reverence, some people are going to take that as a claim that women who do not cover are not close to God or are not reverent. It would not surprise me if I am over-sensitive in a similar way to those who describe their choice not to veil. I tend to end up feeling somewhat bruised after reading these discussions.
I think that the sensitivity and heightened emotion around this topic are an indication of just how powerful a symbol head-covering is. Something about it seems to touch many of us on a visceral level. Whenever I see range of reasons that women give for adopting the custom, I am struck by how rich and multi-layered this symbolism is. It is perhaps this very complexity that also allows some people to perceive the symbolism in a negative way.
I suspect that a major factor in the heat this topic generates is its connection to the roles of and relationship between the sexes. This is an area of great confusion, controversy and strong feelings.
I’m late into this discussion but I did read all the comments. I veil at the adoration chapel and am trying to get into the habit while praying at home but I don’t veil at Mass, even tho that would be my preference. My reason is much different from anything I have read here. I did start veiling at church a number of years ago. It attracted very unwelcome attention. Not from the modern, “everything that happened before Vatican 2 is bad” crowd. Instead, I would be accosted after Mass by other veiled women, women who were very angry at the modern church and thought I shared their anger. They would criticize the priest, the bishop, the liturgy in the most condemning terms and try to get me to participate in their “b…..” sessions. Some of what they would say was accurate (I live in the Saginaw diocese) but calumny is still a sin. When I stopped veiling, they left me alone.
I think we need to take, in its entirety, my comment on the hijab, and specifically, Muslim use of it.
Personally, I find it hardly comparable to the burka or the niqub, these being insulting to women. I use the word ‘hijab’ simply because I don’t know an English (or Latin) expression for the kind of head covering worn by our Saints (especially Mary). Hijab is not entirely accurate, but effective for the purposes of this conversation.
Killing a woman for not having ‘proper’ head covering takes legalism to a nightmarish level. Certainly, the Muslim religion is defective and in my historical reading a corrupted version of Christianity. Why God punished us with this challenge is a different issue though I think that the manner in which the Eastern Empire dealt with division might have had something to do with it.
Anyway, back to head coverings, etc. I was (and am for the next several months) speaking only as a 25 year old man who happens to find the use of head scarves attractive precisely because it boldly declares strength and confidence as well as modesty.
Don’t get me wrong, my intention is neither to praise Islam per se nor to campaign for specific and autocratic head covering laws. Before making hay out of this, there are many things for me to take care of (promote TLM, Gregorian chant, bit more instructive homilies at my wonderful and reverent parish). Also, I want to be clear that I personally like women who ‘speak up;’ I would say empowered but that has some bad colorings from our oddball culture.
Also, I think that head scarves are pretty fashionable. I’m not knocking other options; scarves just seem to be a perfect mean of modesty and smart dressiness. (Remember, this is my opinion – perhaps a window into why I am still working on that Sacrament that begins with M!)
Again, I think that it is far for ’empowering’ for a girl to cover than to dress like a prostitute, get drunk, and act boorishly. That’s the extent of my musings,
Could someone please point me to a picture of our Lady, as she has appeared to the saints, where she was NOT wearing a veil. Didn’t think so. If the mother of God feels the need to ALWAYS cover her head, isn’t that a pretty strong suggestion?
As to not wanting to look like a Muslim, would you call the mother of God a Muslim? She always appears wearing a fully covered head, not a mantia, hat, etc. Saint Paul would seem to be a pretty good authority on this matter.
I am just a man, but look around the next time you are in church. If there is any picture, statue, etc. of the blessed Mother, take a look at her head.
Also take a look at the pictures of almost all Popes before VII. What will you see in the popes head? A triple crown. I really don’t understand why the church allows so many of it’s most outward symbols to be abandoned.
This thread is about head coverings, so in closing I will say that, as a man, it brings comfort to me when I see my wife and my girls cover their heads.
“If the mother of God feels the need to ALWAYS cover her head, isn’t that a pretty strong suggestion? If there is any picture, statue, etc., of the blessed Mother, take a look at her head.”
Actually, I have seen a few statues of Mary in which she is NOT wearing a veil. My mom had one in our home when I was growing up, and she still has it today, by her bedside in a nursing home. It dates back to at least the early 1950s. It shows Mary with long reddish-brown hair extending to about her shoulder blades. She wears a long red dress/tunic with long sleeves and a long blue mantle. Her hands are folded in front of her and my mom keeps her favorite rosary hanging from Mary’s folded hands. This statue is the first image of Mary I can remember.
Also, in Germany in the early 20th century, some statues were made showing Mary wearing a German-style military helmet with a spike on top instead of a veil, and with other military accoutrements. An order of nuns in central Illinois once had (and may still have) one of these in their convent chapel. This order originated in Germany and most of its original Sisters came from there so I’m guessing they brought it with them from their homeland.
Finally, no disrepect to Our Lady intended, but if her appearance in visions, etc. is meant to “suggest” that all women wear veils, then logically she is also “suggesting” that all women wear long red or white tunics covered by blue or white mantles, AND that they go barefoot (I can’t think of any apparition in which Mary wears shoes of any kind).
Also… I remember my mom and some of her friends telling me that when they used to go to Mass or make church visits prior to Vatican II, they would just keep a little lace “doily” in their purses for that purpose; and if they forgot to bring one, it was considered perfectly acceptable to pin a handkerchief or even a piece of Kleenex on the top of their heads as a substitute. So traditional chapel/church veils need not be opaque or cover ALL of one’s hair. A token piece of cloth on the crown of the head was sufficient even in the “old days.”
Bookworm. Do you really think your mother enjoyed putting that stupid Kleenex on her head? It was about her bowing to social pressure from harridans and cranky ushers twitting about proper decorum. That she should have felt compelled to wear a snot rag is what’s sick.
And for fashionistas:
As for all that chatter about “ooo…that veil is so P*R*E*T*T*Y and feminine business….isn’t that Precisely what Paul was wailing about? Women “calling attention to themselves?” Go for that burlap head thing and be done with it.
I also don’t need Paul to tell me how to be feminine.
And for Henry who “doesn’t get it:”
I actually have a lot more issue with the 2nd part of Paul’s rant.
I know about about historical dress and costuming from my theatrical study of dress in different time periods. It so happens that at the time, ladies hair dressings were QUITE elaborate to the point of distraction. If he had just said to THOSE women, “hey, you dames who have outlandish hairstyles [i.e. not ALL of you] d’ya mind putting on a scarf or something so you don’t pull so much focus?” That would have been prefectly reasonable. But no…EVERY woman is potentially some sort of hoyden. The “woman as virgin or whore” mentality.
And furthermore it’s his underscoring this unspoken attitude he has when h claims how glorious, by comparision all MEN are. Excuse me, but before he fell off the horse (or whatever conversion story of his you want to buy into) and smacked his head he was a JJJJEEEEWWWW. You know, those men who pray with head coverings?
Why is mister coat holder Johnny-come-lately now saying that it’s shameful for men to pray with head coverings?
MEN supposedly are the only ones worthy to show their heads, and women are supposed to be worms in the corner. To Paul’s way of thinking any good thing that comes to a woman was bounced off her husband to her as some crumb. Nuts to that. That’s where Paul can take a hike in my book.
Sorry, but on this one we’re all worms in the corner or should stand aright and hatless in awe of the Lord. There is nothing wrong with the hair on our heads God made.
I should LOVE to wear a veil, both as an exterior sign and because it would cocoon one off from distractions, but I would stick out like a sore thumb in my parish! Also, and you may laugh, but, can one wear a veil with trousers (or pants, as those of you of the American persuasion no doubt would say)?
I have seen women wear veils with pants. I have never done it myself, since I always wear a dress to Mass and most other times too. (The main exceptions are jeans or overalls for barn chores and a gi for karate.)
Those of you who thought the discussion on veils was heated, had better hold onto your hats (or bare heads) if we get into a discussion of dresses-only women. :)
My husband was more concerned about the “sticking out” issue than I was, but what I did at first was to wear head-coverings other than veils. Around here it is possible to wear various styles of hats and scarves that do not especially stand out. After I had adopted the custom for a while, it started feeling natural enough to both my husband and myself that self-conciousness was no longer a problem. Once he felt comfortable with it, I began wearing a black mantilla among my other possible choices. Perhaps this sort of gradualism would work for you too.
Yup, I wear a veil with pants. When I go to Mass during the workday, and in the winter, I’m in pants–I love skirts and dresses, but not when it’s -2 outside.
My wife said she’ll start to veil now just to antagonize Jill/TAWT. Okay … I lied. She’s Japanese and it is still customary in Japan to veil.
“That she should have felt compelled to wear a snot rag is what’s sick”
In case anyone was wondering, she only did this if the handkerchief or Kleenex in question was CLEAN and NOT recently used, of course… so I wouldn’t refer to it as being “compelled to wear a snot rag.”
Of course it helps to be one of those well organized women who NEVER fails to keep a fresh handkerchief or packet of tissues in her purse at all times. Unfortunately, I did not inherit that quality from my mom. I probably would have been outta luck back then.
I started wearing a veil to Mass at the TLM when our Pastor (FSSP) asked us to. Every woman and girl wears either a hat, veil or scarf. I find that now when I have to go to a NOM I continue the practice and no one looks at you funny. A few other ladies at the NOM wear them also. I also go to a TLM at a NO parish where the Pastor has volunteered to have a Latin Mass. God Bless Him. About half the ladies and girls wear them. A commentator has written that according to St. Paul the wearer is under authority. And so we all are–under the authority of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. An added plus is that it is not necessary to take so long combing the back of your hair to make it look right. The whole thing remnds me of as a girl in the 40s when the last resort was kleenex and a bobby pin so Sister didn’t give you a demerit. LOL. I am bemused at the number of comments here as opposed to when Father writes about a world shaking event and it gets maybe 40 or 50 takers. Strange.
Amazing Wolverine: Welcome back. I’ve missed you. You really should have your own sho on prime time TV! ROTFL!
:-D thanks, mfg. I’ve noticed that on this one Fr. Z has wisely stayed out of the fray!
[FWIW, I think Paul had an older sister who could regularly beat him arm-wrestling. PRobably could run faster too.]
I attended the TLM for years before I finally decided to wear a veil. I had come across my grandparents’ missals and my Nana’s veil. My mother said I could have them. As most women at mass were wearing a veil it was not too hard for me to do so. It was when my family might come with me to mass or to Benediction (I had been organizing a May procession in our town between two parishes that had Benediction at its culmination so my parents would sometimes come to it) that I initially felt self conscious. Once I just went ahead and did it and got over it, I really liked wearing the veil, although if I happen to forget it, I don’t freak out with a Kleenex. I like the long, lacy ones, as my hair is a bit long. I secure it with a bobby pin and forget it is even there. I don’t feel like I am being subjugated to second class citizenship. I like to continue this Catholic practice. I often wear a black beret in the winter time instead of a veil.
This has been an interesting thread!
I think you nailed it, JayneK, that this subject seems to affect women on a visceral level.I have noticed that whenever veiling of women comes up on other Catholic blogs the subject generates quite a bit of discussion.
Thank you for your kind and wise replies, JayneK and capchoirgirl! Dresses or dresses only would be a good topic for discussion, too!
Started wearing the veil because I hated the idea of wearing so much. Good thing to give up. However, being an Army veteran it seems very odd to be “covered” inside a building. RE: dresses, as soon as all the men were them in the winter, I may or may not wear one, too.
bookworm-with regards to Our Lady wearing shoes in her apparitions, there were at least two: LaSalette , white shoes with gold buckles trimmed with roses; and Pontmain , blue slippers with [I think] small red laces.
Most of her other apparitions, she is barefoot, though I have seen statues of Our Lady of Fatima with sandals on the feet.
Your characterization of St. Paul’s epistle as a “rant” is bothersome, to say the least.
Still, if Divinely inspired inerrant scripture is not enough for you, I suspect that anything I might say will be woefully inadequate.
I couldn’t resist coming back to see more comments. There are aspects of this discussion I find troubling – the “admiration” of Muslim practices (watch the film “Osama” about the life of women in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan if you want to clarify your thinking on that score) and the very emotionally centered discussion of “how wearing a veil makes me feel” (that’s a little too “getting in touch with my femininity” and maybe a little too much “it’s all about me”).
On the other hand, the emergence of the veil vs. hat vs. scarf hierarchy reminds me of very Orthodox Jewish teenage boys who spend a fair amount of time fussing about their tzitzit. Oy vey!
A lot of strong feelings over an innocent, laudable and voluntary custom. 150+ comments at this point. Some of those comments
are, frankly, rude.
However, the comments here did give me an idea of how it might have been when congregations of women religious began to modify
their habits. One group would protest that it was a mark of servitude, that no one could tell another what to wear. One group would
insist that sisters wore the habit to attract attention to themselves. Some might miss the habit, but prefer not to stick out like a sore
thumb. Life in the congregation would be like being trapped inside this combox. Chilling.
I wish it were “innocent” all the way around, Clinton. The fact is that wearing a veil is completely charged with symbolism and much of it is not very nice. It’s a shame that something that should be as simple and comfortable as a favorite scarf has become a battleground.
Regarding kolbe1019’s comment:
I think women look very beautiful wearing veils, so I do not think the veil is meant to conceal women’s beauty; if that were the case, then they would wear sackcloth and men would be very sad and uninspired. Rather, that which is sacred is veiled—that which is a vessel of Christ, e.g., the tabernacle, the ciborium in the tabernacle, the chalice before and after mass, etc. Women, too, can carry inside themselves people made in the image of God; therefore, women are sacred in the same way and are veiled.
Regarding the veil in Islam, the hijab, I heard it started because Mohammad wanted to prevent strangers from seeing his many wives, but I could be mistaken.
We are at war, spiritually, and our women and their beauty are a very powerful force against the malignant spirits prowling throughout the world. May they continue to guard their God-given beauty, and may we continue to reverence them, especially our Virgin Mother.
No one has mentioned Canon 21 from the 1983 Code of Canon Law yet!
Combine that with 1 Cor. 11:3-16 and the 1917 Code, and I do not see how there can be any middle ground between requiring the veil—as both the Church and God through St. Paul’s inspired words have taught for 2000 years—and not requiring it, as some seem to think the Magisterium has taught since Vatican II.
For more information: “Why the veil?“
catholicmidwest, I’m not sure what part of the custom is “not very nice”.
I do know that, as a man, I *must* uncover in Church. It is not voluntary. To remain covered in the Presence of our God would be
deeply offensive to everyone present. And be sure, the symbolism is not simply to set us males apart from the women, but is most
assuredly an act of submission and deference. And I repeat, I *must* uncover, whereas women may do as they wish.
Please understand that I am not claiming victimhood because our Catholic culture demands that I remove my hat in Church. I’m
honored to make my duty, and publicly mark my respect and submission. If a woman chooses to mark her respect and submission
by covering, she should be free to do so unjudged and unmolested. I’m not egotistical or misinformed enough to think that she’s
doing it for my benefit. She is, of course, doing it for Someone Else. And yes, that is innocent.
Count me in the camp of loving the idea of covering, but questioning the practice of it in this sense: if St. Paul’s objection to uncoveredness was its distraction, what happens when one veils and causes distraction? If I cover my head with a bejewelled mantilla or a peacock fascinator, is that really in keeping with the spirit of the “law?”
For me, I’m afraid it would become an occassion of the sin of pride. But if someone can convince me I’m wrong, I’m open to it.
Of course, I’m singing in the schola for an EF wedding next month so I need to figure something out. And quickly!
Singing in the schola could also become an occassion of the sin of pride, especially considering that most probably do not possess much skill in this area. Should this too be avoided?
An excellent point. But at my OF parish, what of the distraction (not that I’m planning on wearing a peacock fascinator, but still)?
I think this was a great discussion topic; it’s great to hear how others veil, the tribulations women have gone through in making the decision to veil or not, and such. I don’t sense a “looking down upon” of those not wearing veils. If you don’t veil, don’t be defensive.
Personally, I veil because the Holy Spirit placed it on my heart, and a heavy heart at the time. I was one of 2 or 3 who veiled in a large parish at the time. Did I stand out – yes. I’m not one who enjoys being different, I don’t do it to make a scene, and I don’t judge others for not veiling.
But, as a practicing Catholic, God seems to be calling me to get out of my comfort zone and defend the faith nearly every day.
( http://www.fisheaters.com/theveil.html is a great read for an explanation and purchase of veils.)
As to the type of headcovering there were no specifications. There are weekdays I wear hats, but most Sundays I try to look my best and wear my nicest “head covering”.
As for criticizing the humble St. Paul – take your complaint to God the Spirit, who guided our early church fathers in deciding what should be placed in the bible. Paul didn’t write knowing one day his letters would be included right alongside Genesis, Isaiah, and the 4 Gospels.
My chapel veil is a single layer of lace that has many layers of symbolism. Like any exterior sign of religion, it has the potential to be sinful if not accompanied by the right interior disposition. This does not mean that we must forgo the exterior signs, but that we must bring our hearts into conformity with them.
The foremost significance of my head-covering is to show reverence to Christ truly present in the Eucharist. If I dishonour the Real Presence by uncharitable or judgemental thoughts, then my head-covering is hypocrisy.
My veil is also a symbol of modesty. It is not that there is anything actually immodest in our culture about a woman’s head being uncovered. It is a symbol of my willingness to cover my attractiveness and to refrain from using my sexual power against men. If anything in my dress or behavior does not match this symbol then I make myself a liar.
When I cover my head I also mean to convey the value that I place on the traditions of the Church. I honour the prayers and example of the Christians who have gone before me. I appreciate actions that allow me to feel connected with them. Yet if I were to consider myself superior to Catholics who have not adopted these customs I would be bringing dishonour rather than honour to the tradition.
Another thing that I wish to signify when I cover my head is my acceptance of authority over me. I accept the authority of St.Paul in Holy Scripture. I accept that my husband has authority over me. If these things are not true then my veil is dishonest and I lack integrity.
I faced a clear case of choosing between symbol and substance when I first felt drawn to cover my head. My husband was very uncomfortable with the idea of me adopting this custom because he thought that I would draw attention to myself and our family. So I kept my head uncovered rather than wear a covering that would be a lie. I waited until he was ok with it.
I think this concern about drawing attention to oneself and standing out is reasonable. I would prefer not to and one of the things I like about assisting at an EF Mass is that I am just one of the crowd. But I am prepared to stand out for a good cause and that is what I believe showing reverence to Christ is.
Jesus died on the cross for my sins and thanks to Him I have the hope of heaven. He deserves everything that I am and have and can do. I owe Him every outward sign and every inward thought and feeling. When I think of what is due to my Lord and Saviour, the possible perceptions of my actions fade to irrelevance. Will people think I am a weird religious freak? Will they think that I am a self-righteous prig? It just doesn’t matter.
There is, however, one reaction that I do hope for. Every time this topic comes up for discussion, some woman usually comments that she wants to cover her head but finds it difficult doing so when she is the only one. If my action not only shows reverence but also encourages others to show reverence, I could not be more pleased.
Esquiress, my view is that as long as one is dressed appropriately for Mass, it is pointless to fret over what others might think of one’s
ensemble. In fact, that may be where the sin of pride creeps in.
It does get a little complicated when one considers that standards will vary by locale. A man could well wear a pair of shorts to Mass at
the local University Catholic Center and not raise an eyebrow. That same person could wear those same shorts to Mass in Mexico and
it would be as outrageous, scandalous, and ludicrous as if he’d worn diapers. Of course, you’ve a better idea of the expectations of your
Since you’re in the choir at an EF wedding, I’d assume that if you covered with veil/hat/scarf you’d blend right in. No distraction, no
What to do at your regular parish? Perhaps we should revisit the local University Catholic Center, the one where all the men wear
shorts to Mass. Fr. Groovy has declared that the parishoners shouldn’t genuflect upon entering and leaving the pews, and made
kneeling for the Consecration verboten. (Don’t roll your eyes–it actually happened in my undergrad years). Imagine you are there,
Esquiress. Do you continue to mark your respect and submission to the Presence of God by kneeling and genuflecting? Or do you
go along so as not to give anyone the idea that you’re trying to make a spectacle of being holier than thou?