Universae Ecclesiae, chapel veils, and you

Posts about women wearing head coverings in church never get any attention… NOT.   Nice double negative, no?

I am reminded of the story of the guy during a conference on philology and philosophy who, having delivered a dopey and mind-numbing talk filled with errors, eventually quipped that, while in English a double-negative pointed to an affirmation, a double-positive did not point to a negation. At which point a thoroughly fed-up fellow panelists, griped “Yah, yah.”

I digress.

The new instruction Universae Ecclesiae has this important paragraph.

28 – Praeterea, cum sane de lege speciali agitur, quoad materiam propriam, Litterae Apostolicae Summorum Pontificum derogant omnibus legibus liturgicis, sacrorum rituum propriis, exinde ab anno 1962 promulgatis, et cum rubricis librorum liturgicorum anni 1962 non congruentibus.  … Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.

Derogate means that things are partially replaced, set aside.  So, insofar as the use of the 1962 books is concerned, if there is something that came into law after 1962, and that thing or practice conflicts with what is in the 1962 books, then those post-1962 things don’t apply to the use of the 1962 books.

Communion in the hand is after 1962, as are Extraordinary Ministers of Communion, altar girls….

As I read this, and I checked this with canonists, since the employment of females substituting for Instituted Acolytes came with an interpretation of the 1983 Code, you cannot have altar girls for the Extraordinary Form which was, in 1962, carried out by all male ministers and servers.  This would probably apply to other issues, such as the substitution of music, the use of proper vestments and choir dress, who gives which blessings, etc.

However, I don’t believe that this applies to the use of head-coverings in church by women.  Under the previous Code of Canon Law of 1917, women were obliged to cover their heads with a hat or veil during Mass.  The newer Code of 1983 does not have that obligation.

But, as best I can make it out, this obligation for women in the congregation to wear a head-covering was not in any liturgical book in 1962.  I haven’t checked, but there probably was one for the consecration of an abbess or for vows of religious sisters.  The rite of consecration of virgins was introduced in 1970, though I am vaguely aware that it had barely survived even before for Benedictine nuns.  But that is neither here nor there.  As far as I know there was no mentioned of women in the congregation wearing head coverings in the liturgical books.  And the Instruction UE deals with liturgical books.

So, while UE 28 makes it clear that females are not to serve at the altar when the older books are used, it does not touch on the issue of head-coverings for women in the congregation.

That said, Card. Burke has argued along the lines of the spirit of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.  Surely he is right.  While there is no strict obligation according to the law, the whole ethos of the older use of the Roman Rite creates a soft obligation, a strong presumption that those who attend will of their own free will do their best to conform themselves to what the older use is offering.  That would include a willingness on the part of women to use a head-covering in church.

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  1. o.h. says:

    My philosopher husband claims that the double-positive anecdote took place between J. L. Austin (Oxford, of “speech act” fame) and Sidney Morgenbesser (Columbia). Dh says that Morgenbesser’s response was “yeah, right.”

  2. Phil_NL says:

    Willingness, perhaps, but no obligation – and I believe there are perfectly good reasons for women, in this day, age and especially some countries, not to use head-coverings. Especially the outward appearance – conforming to a use which is now, in many european countries, only associated with muslim practice – can be quite problematic. This applies equally towards non-catholics as well as the vast majority of catholics. Of the many battles out there, defending that mantilla’s have a different function and background than the various muslim coverings to keep the men from violating women is not one we could win.

    Let anyone who wants to, use a head-covering in Church, but I maintain that this is not the time to revive this habit.

  3. Obviously, nobody should be a jerk about it on either side; but it would seem more consonant for women to wear something on their heads at the EF.

    However, it is also obvious that Catholic women should strive not to imitate Muslim headgear. (If all women in a country wear much the same, that’s not imitating Muslim headgear.) So yeah, if you wear a kerchief tied under your chin, wear it like a 1970’s Catholic chick and not like a 1970’s hijab chick. :) But Muslim ladies are not given to wearing either hats or lace veils/mantillas, for the most part, so a problem usually shouldn’t arise.

  4. RichardT says:

    The argument over whether one should follow the letter or the “spirit of of Summorum Pontificum” is going to be amusing. Somehow I can’t see the ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ crowd supporting the ‘spirit of Summorum Pontificum’.

  5. jasoncpetty says:

    Non-canonist here: Father, I understand and agree with your analysis: head covering wasn’t a 1962-era “rubric,” so para. 28 doesn’t apply to it.

    I understand the focus on para. 28 since this issue once was formerly a matter of canon law; but does 27 inform this discussion at all since the matter perhaps might then be considered one of discipline, or does “disciplinary norms connected to celebration” tie it to the priest’s, i.e. celebrant’s, obligations? It, like 28, has a canon-law reference, but whereas 28 sets up the ‘post-1962 provisions of law v. 1962 rubrics conflict/incompatibility’ standard for application, the 1983 CIC applies across the board in matters covered by 27.

    27. With regard to the disciplinary norms connected to celebration, the ecclesiastical discipline contained in the Code of Canon Law of 1983 applies.

    The distinction between them seems to be 28’s connected-with-sacred-Rites concept (apply 1962-era rubrics—not post-1962 incompatible “law”) v. 27’s disciplines-connected-with-celebration concept (apply 1983 CIC).

    Canonists: If 27 doesn’t inform head-covering (and act to relieve women of the 1917 CIC obligation by applying the 1983 law), then (1) what does 27 mean? (2) If it does apply to head covering, I assume it applies to fasting, too. Right?

  6. MissOH says:

    I have seen the argument that women should not cover at mass because muslim women do/have to, but as Suburbanbanshee, I also see no conflict with Latin Rite Catholic women covering their hair at mass. We don’t cover for the same reason or style as a muslim woman so I see no conflict or confusion. I wear a sheer veil when in the presence of the blessed sacrament. It does not cover my neck or throat and does not hide may hair entirely and it is not meant to. I put it on when I enter the church and take it off when I leave. At the TLM we attend on Sundays, a fair number of women wear hats. Even the women at my parish who wear scarves (which has been me on some bad hair days) tend to wear it bandana style or gele style. My point being, our veils do not in any way resemble muslim hijab and would not be acceptable as the same so I see no reason not to promote (not force just promote) this ancient and feminine practice.

  7. CarpeNoctem says:

    Well, it seems that UE is giving pride of place to positive law “connected with the sacred rites” in place at 1962. This seems to me to specifically be pointing to the rubrics of the various liturgical texts… not necessarily the Code of Canon Law, but specifically and precisely liturgical law… the mens of the Holy Father, I dare say, is to maintain the integrity of the EF celebration in accord with liturgical law, and perhaps -only- liturgical law when you look at what has been changed (tonsure, disciplinary law for the fast, chapel veils, etc).

    Did the rubrics say anything about chapel veils? No (it was the 1917 CIC). Did the rubrics themselves specify the terms of the Communion fast? No (it was also specified by the CIC, but not the rubrics.) Check me if I am wrong, but no actual rubrics specify the terms of these items… the source of these laws were from outside liturgical law, strictly speaking.

    The rubrics did imply (if not overtly specify by the title “acolyte”) that only men/boys are servers. (Indeed, current law makes that restriction as well.) The rubrics did specify who gave out communion and what the discipline was to be for that (on the tongue). The rubrics did give the maniple as an article of vesture. This is all within the realm of “law connected with the sacred Rites”.

    My read is that where there is positive legislation indicating how things were to be done, then it stays out of respect for the integrity of the ritual. For other things which are connected to the larger Church, subsequent prevailing law stands.

    Intrestingly, this seems to put the folks such as the SSPX on the line: The Church is expressing respect and continuity in the desire for integrity in the older liturgical ritual form, but 2) the SSPX and their buddies now have to argue against the plenary authority of the Church to regulate its disciplinary and ecclesial law outside of the liturgy… the real crux of their challenge to the Church and the real block to SSPX being delivered from their, ahem, ‘irregular’ state.

  8. amicus1962 says:

    “But, as best I can make it out, this obligation for women in the congregation to wear a head-covering was not in any liturgical book in 1962.”

    Father, you make the point I also made in an earlier posting. However, communion only on the tongue was not in any liturgical book in 1962 if I’m not mistaken. So is ad orientem worhip. Are we going to interpret par. 28 strictly on whether a certain norm or practice was mentioned in any liturgical book in effect in 1962? If so, then we will have to go back to 3-hour fast before communion. I think what the PCED wanted to say is that the norms AND practices in effect in 1962 should be respected and followed.

  9. Joe in Canada says:

    Was the ‘permission’ to allow girls and women to serve at the Altar a change in law or a clarification of existing law? If the latter, would that not mean that the law it to be interpreted that way?

  10. Centristian says:

    I think common sense has to prevail with respect to this sort of thing. The law of the Church does not impose upon women the obligation to cover their heads when in Church, today. That applies to women of today when in Church today, no matter what happens to be going on in Church, does it not? It is 2011, after all, no matter what is happening at the altar and we are under the 1983 Code of Canon Law, regardless of how old the Missal being used is and what canon laws obtained when that Missal was typical. Today’s law applies to today’s women.

    Is it reasonable to expect that women must observe either the 1983 or the 1917 Code of Canon Law, depending upon what form of Mass is being celebrated in any given Church? What do they do if they are at Church to attend Mass in the ordinary form, but during the celebration, a priest is celebrating Low Mass in the extraordinary form at a side altar? It’s a silly argument, I realize, but the point is that both things are occurring in the present day, and we are under the rule of the law of the present day.

    It would be just as unreasonable to take away from the reading of this document that, at an all girls’ Catholic school, where there are no boys available, females cannot serve the celebrant at Mass (as they often did in such circumstances before Vatican II).

  11. cruckdeschel says:

    What are the 1962 Missal rubrics for choir dress? Male/female? [There is no such thing as choir dress for females, unless you mean singers in the choirloft. That isn’t prescribed.]

  12. Phil_NL says:

    @suburbanshee / MissOH

    Even though the form differs as much as the theology behind it, I can see the secular press having a field day with it – each time they’re looking for a stick to beat the catholic Church with. It are not the facts of the matter that pose the problem, rather that it would be impossible to burn through the misinformation – resulting in a PR disaster and damage to the Church’s reputation.

  13. q7swallows says:

    Friendly point: Muslims got the idea of headcoverings FROM Catholics since Catholics pre-dated them. And no one tops the Mother of God as a standard-bearer. :-)

  14. Federico says:

    Father, unless I am mistaken (and I did check at one point) the proper posture for receiving Communion by members of the laity is not defined in the rubrics of the 1962 Missal.

    A cursory look at the 1917 Code shows great similarity with the 1983 code (e.g. 1917 canons: 853-869). Custom in force in 1962 is specifically not included in article 28 description of what derogates from subsequent regulations (and, canonically, custom may acquire the force of law, but it is never law, neither ius nor lex.)

    So, since restrictions are to be read strictly and favors (indults, dispensations, rights) are to be read broadly, I believe the faithful have the right to receive on the hand even in the EF of the Roman Rite.

    I remain ready to be corrected. And I hope nobody shoots the messenger. [I suspect there will be vigorous and interesting discussions about this.]

  15. Stephen Matthew says:

    I am in synch with Card. Burke’s reasoning regarding veils being in keeping with the spirit of the 62 liturgy and laws, and thus being, perhaps suggested.

    However, would not the principle regarding changes in canon law, whereby when the law changes and two standards must be taken into consideration (such as when an offense occurs under one law but the trial under another) the one that most favors the person in question is controlling hold in this circumstance?

    I suppose if the current arrangements hold long enough we will have letters, instructions, clarifications, and even particular law to address all of this in the fullness of time.

    Also, what of questions like veils when someone of one rite visits a service or church of another rite? After all, it would be hard for a visitor to be fully up to speed on the norms of another rite, but then ignorance of the law is never much of a defense… anyone know? (Obviously the 62 is not a different rite in this sense, but maybe the concept could be illuminating in any case.)

  16. Everyone talks about women covering their heads, but no one seems to mention the symmetric requirement that men must have their heads uncovered. This requirement no doubt enrages those men who always wear a baseball cap backwards, usually to cover up a bald spot.

    I often see signs in churches reminding men to remove their hats.

  17. Mariana says:

    “But Muslim ladies are not given to wearing either hats or lace veils/mantillas, for the most part, so a problem usually shouldn’t arise.”

    Well, exactly. Veils or other headcoverings used at Mass don’t look even remotely muslim!

  18. Centristian says:

    “But Muslim ladies are not given to wearing either hats or lace veils/mantillas, for the most part, so a problem usually shouldn’t arise.”

    The fact that a woman is assisting at Mass should be anyone’s first clue that she is not a Muslim, irrespective of how she is dressed.

  19. Tantum Ergo says:

    My lovely (grown) daughter doesn’t own a mantilla, but covers her head with a scarf. If this reminds one of Muslim attire, then I can only say that’s really “s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g” it. It simply shows a humble devotion to our Blessed Lord. (and if Muslim women cover their heads in humilty and devotion to God, then BRAVO for them also!)

  20. amicus1962 says:

    In his motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, Blessed Pope John Paul said that “…respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962.” We should bear in mind that TLM lovers are not attached to any particular norm, rubric or custom in effect in 1962, but to the entire Latin liturgical tradition in effect in 1962. “Latin liturgical tradition” is that set of norms found in liturgical books, plus the customs and practices that the faithful followed/observed even if not explicitly found the rubrics of liturgical books in effect in 1962. That includes exclusively receiving Communion kneeling and on the tongue, altar service reserved exclusively for men and boys, head coverings for women, ad orientem worship, three-hour fasting before communion, etc.

  21. dans0622 says:

    Good analysis. Two observations. If the manner of receiving Communion was never a “law”, properly speaking, how could an indult have been granted allowing a different manner of reception?

    I think you are right, though, that there is no written law in the 1962 Missal regarding the reception of Communion. Before that, I have no idea whatsoever….although I’m sure a law must have been written somewhere along the line.


  22. Tantum Ergo says:

    Dear amicus1962
    “three-hour fasting before communion”
    I don’t think there’s a case for requiring that, laudable as it would be.

  23. notadesperatehousewife says:

    I attend Latin mass. I choose to wear a head covering to show I submit to the Lord and not man. Also, this is out of reverence, while in the presence of the Holy Eucharist.

  24. Phil_NL says:

    @Tantum Ergo, others

    I do not want to create a rabbithole, but it seems that some more explanation of what I meant is in order, so here it comes.

    First of all, much of Europe nowadays has pretty big muslim minorities – and in some inner cities even majorities. Tension is rife, and much of it revolves around headscarfs and more complete forms of coverings.

    The problem is twofold: firstly, many women are in fact forced to cover, by their fathers, husbands, brothers or even the neighborhood . This goes so far that even non-muslim women are harassed such much they cover up just to make life bearable – muslim women often cover up in every public space, others have little choice but to follow. Respect for God doesn’t come in to it at all, the main motivation (apart from some soera’s and hadith, quranic verses and sayings from mohammed respectively, that basically say ‘this is an order’) is simply to keep the male relatives in control and ‘protect’ the women against violation. Not only does it suggest that all men are predators, it also conveys the message that all uncovered women are fair game – an idea sadly also put into practice by muslim youth on occasion.
    Secondly, the headcoverings are often the equivalent of a big middelfinger directed against western society. They are a sign that islam is coming or has arrived. This attitude is especially prevalent among those who wear it voluntarily. Unlike immigrants to the States, integration into the receiving societies is appalingly low, welfare dependence is high, and both lead to the formation of expanding muslim enclaves. ‘islam has arrived’ gets a very eerie meaning that way.

    Now in such a climate, imagine what a thoroughly secular press will make of a resurgence of Catholics wearing – or even promoting – headcoverings. The main message will either be that catholics have adopted the worst of islamic practice, together with the thoroughly un-Christian reasons and mechanisms behind it, or have thrown in their lot with the rising muslim tide, or both.
    Don’t count on any room whatsoever to explain the reasons for a mantilla, or the differences. The mere fact that catholics now also want their women to cover up as well will drive the message and it will be an unrelenting storm.

    I’d even go so far as to predict that its impact will be greater than the PR disaster that followed SSPX Williamson’s holocaust denial (which is still haunting the Pope in particular and the church in general here, even among faithfull but poorly informed Catholics), and it won’t away for years and years. Material facts don’t matter in such a setup – only the fact we’d be setting ourselves up for a battle we cannot possible win – to achieve something that we can very well live without to begin with.

  25. mirium2 says:

    I am very dismayed at the responses I have read on this site concerning veiling. The true point seems to be lost on just about everyone. It’s not about laws and rubrics, it’s about RESPECT. Respect, humility and reverence for Almighty God.

    Every woman who attends Mass should WANT to wear a head covering. It is about not being a distraction to the men in the congregation. There also has been much mention of “in these times“ or “in this day in age.” That is “modernism,“ you know, that thing several popes warned us about in the nineteenth century? There are reasons for not having altar girls or communion in hand or preference for veiling, and they are good reasons. Certainly, with two thousand years experience, the church must be given credit for having learned something.

    Don’t imagine God’s natural order does not apply to us because we came along a thousand years after a custom was established. Human nature remains the same after thousands of years of our existence. Men are always going to be distracted by women, it is part of God’s design, and we must make our decisions based on this fact. Some things really are immutable.

    Women’s beauty is a distraction ; Another irrefutable reality. I was taught as a girl and young woman that God created a great drive within men in order to propagate the species. As a woman of dignity, someone who would someday be a wife and mother, I should conduct myself with restraint. God gave women the gift of beauty and with that gift as with all Divine gifts, comes a responsibility to use the blessing for good, not harm.

    Ego, is such a powerful force in our lives. It takes practice, education and nurturing to learn the lessons necessary to harness it’s ravenous nature. So where are the pastors refusing entrance to immodestly dressed women? Who will teach our young women how important and precious they are? Once the church taught such things; It appears, not anymore.

    My heart breaks when I observe the behavior, attitude and ignorance of the young women in our society today. They are so young and fresh and beautiful; So full of promise and possibilities. And yet they have no concept of their own worth and importance as women. They dress and behave like tramps and come to Mass like that! So much for not distracting the males in the church. So much for not being the reason a man didn’t pay attention to God for the pitifully inadequate weekly hour he is supposed to be devoting to Him.

    This has nothing to do with women’s ‘freedom’ or Moslems or rubrics, but with love and respect for our Creator and Savior, ourselves and our fellow man. I have never stopped wearing a veil to Mass in all these years. I think we women gain a special advantage by wearing the veil. Just imagine being able to proclaim your love and humility to God by simply putting a veil on your head for an hour. I am grateful for such an opportunity.

  26. amicus1962 says:

    Tantum Ergo,

    “I don’t think there’s a case for requiring that, laudable as it would be.” I admit I prefer the one-hour rule, but the three-hour fasting was the rule in force in 1962. This rule was changed to one hour in 1964, so I submit according to par. 28, the rule in force in 1962, not the 1983 code, applies. Let’s say for the sake of argument the code of canon law is changed this year to reduce to 30 minutes or even eliminate the eucharistic fast completely. Would you still fast before c0mmunion? How long would you fast? One hour per the 1983 code, or three hours per the practice in 1962? Norms can be changed, but if the intention is to recreate the liturgical atmosphere as it existed in 1962, then we should consider following the customs that were in effect then, otherwise we end up picking and choosing.

  27. The point is that there are liturgical books and rubrics, and then there are canon law codes. They aren’t the same thing. Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae are talking about using 1962 liturgical books and rubrics. So it’s not “picking and choosing” to draw a clear distinction.

    For example, would you really want to say that children who attend the Ordinary Form are protected by the current canon law, but children who attend the Extraordinary Form are to have their bishops react the same way as they would have done in 1962? Of course you wouldn’t. That’s the difference between canon law and liturgical books, then. Very important.

    Nobody is stopping anybody from fasting from midnight on, or wearing a headcovering, or what have you. But if you think it’s gonna be made mandatory any time soon, don’t hold your breath.

  28. nanetteclaret says:

    Very beautiful. It is all about Jesus – and not about us. It’s a very hard concept to grasp in this day and age. Thank you for your faithfulness.

  29. EWTN Rocks says:

    mirium2, very good post; however, just to point out, men can be just as distracting to women (at least that’s what I’ve heard – I generally do not pay attention to fellow parishioners). The point is that modesty should apply to everyone attending Mass.

  30. Peter in Canberra says:

    dogmatism over gnats. period.

  31. EWTN Rocks says:

    Peter in Canberra,

    “Dogmatism over gnats”??!! Kinda

  32. mirium2 says:

    EWTN Rocks:

    I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you have been misinformed. Women do not have the same drive as men and they are not attracted to men for the same reasons men are attracted to them.

    I know that commercials, movies and television shows would have you and particularly women believe differently, but all the media has done is confuse several generations of people. I remembering seeing a commercial back in the 1970’s where two women exhibit great excitement and enthusiasm over the appearance of two swim-trunk clad men’s posteriors as they passed by on the beach.

    Nonsense! Ridiculous! Perhaps a handsome face, but a man’s backside?? Give me a break. Homosexuals are interested in each others backsides, not women.

    Women are far more forgiving over human appearance than are men, it is of lesser importance to them (most of them). Women choose men for many reasons, but their appearance is far down on the list of preferences. Intelligence, humor, kindness, compassion, the ability to provide for a family, loyalty, similarities in opinions and attitudes, a desire for and love of children, all come in way ahead of perceiving a man’s behind as a thing of beauty. You can trust me on this. Men do not pose a distraction problem for women at Mass; you can take that to the bank with the exception of adolescents for whom maturation is the only antidote.

    The women’s liberation movement of the 1970’s did a great deal to make a handful of women very rich and famous and the rest of the female population who bought in to their message, much poorer in many ways even beyond financial. They created a gender confusion that is still growing and expanding in proportion and destroying our culture.

    I have seen men exhibit inappropriate, immoral and unkind behavior in my life. I suffer no illusions that they are exempt from egotistical sin, I would even go so far as to say they are weaker than women in this area. But since they don’t traditionally wear veils at Mass this seems a mute point. We are not talking about men’s responsibilities here we are discussing women’s.

    Life is not tit-for-tat. Mommy isn’t here making sure each sibling gets and equally sized piece of cake. We accept the lot given to us by God. We accept the advantages with the disadvantages and do not look over our shoulders thinking, but the boys don’t have to do this. Well, perhaps the boys don’t have to worry about veils, but there are plenty of other things they are responsible for, from which traditionally, girls were exempt.

    No matter how long and loud the forces of evil shout it, men and women are not the same but complimentary in their differences. The media and government can reinforce this notion until the end of time and it will make no difference to the reality of the situation. Contrary to popular belief, perception is not 90% of the truth. The truth remain true no matter how long and hard it is attacked. The truth of God’s design wins; Satan’s lies loose. This always has and always will be the outcome. There is such a vast storehouse of wisdom in the traditional Catholic Church. I weep thinking of all that we have lost and younger generations have never even known. We have all been robbed of a priceless gift.

    For the above stated reasons I find your argument to my original post ineffectual. We are talking about a realm here which only affects the behavior of women. I do however thank you for your kind words concerning my post and hope that you have not taken offense where none was intended.

  33. Mundabor says:


    thank you for your truly stunningly beautiful posts (both of them); one reads you and he knows that your daughters – if you have any – are blessed with a rare mother.

    On the matter of the veil, I was under the impression (wrong, I start to think) that the custom of wearing the veil was purely due to the tradition, which was that a man shows respect and humility by uncovering his head, and a woman by covering it. In this perspective, a woman covered her head with exactly the same natural movement with which a man… took his hat down when he entered church. The progressive disappearance of male hats (now actually coming back, I would say) might have caused what was an exercise practised by both sexes to be seen as an obligation given to only one.

    I am not so sure as to the distraction. On the one hand, a beautiful woman will be, in my eyes, not one dot less beautiful if she wears a mantilla. On the other hand, being the mantilla worn only in church, its wearing will remind the man who is, say, easily distracted that he is getting it all wrong.

    To put it in another way, the veil in my eyes doesn’t make a woman less attractive, but it stresses her belonging to the same sex as Mary and helps the men present to see the beauty (which is unavoidable), but without making of it an element of distraction.


  34. I already wear a mantilla and receive kneeling and on the tongue whether at an EF or OF Mass , but the issue of whether the old Communion fast in place in 1962 is to be applied again for the EF Mass does have practical implications for me, so I’d be very interesting in knowing the answer to this for sure.

  35. very interested…not interesting…..

  36. So…when is the instruction on the instruction being released?

  37. robtbrown says:

    Joe in Canada says:

    Was the ‘permission’ to allow girls and women to serve at the Altar a change in law or a clarification of existing law? If the latter, would that not mean that the law it to be interpreted that way?

    Interpretation, yes. Clarification, no. The canon itself reflects the confusion found in Ministeria Quaedam.

  38. I have to say that I have never seen the logic in wearing a mantilla to a traditional Mass and not to an ordinary form Mass. It doesn’t seem like something that has to do with what form of Mass one assists at but is rather a way of showing reverence to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. One may say that the ordinary form liturgy contains fewer open displays of reverence, but why this should make me as an individual person assisting at Mass not attempt to show the same reverence here as I would at an EF Mass, and covering my head is done as a form of reverence and respect, I do not understand.

    Which I guess ties in with what Father was saying in the initial post, that the headcovering has nothing to do with the actual liturgical form per se.

    The same, to my mind, would hold true for the Communion fast. It is surely a form of reverence and respect for receiving Communion that does not appear to me to have a specific connection with the type of liturgy attended, but rather governed by the law of the Church and not liturgical rules and regulations.

    While one may argue that the issue of altar girls and the manner of reception also has to do with this, I still thought that the rules governing this did have to do with the specific form of liturgy attended. For instance, even though I am Latin rite, I still cannot receive kneeling at an eastern rite Divine Liturgy, nor, for more clearly obvious reasons, could I receivce in the hand at such a liturgy, but must follow the liturgical norms here even if am not subject to the canon law of that particular Catholic rite.

    Perhaps I have just misunderstood this though.

  39. robtbrown says:

    Phil_NL says:

    I believe there are perfectly good reasons for women, in this day, age and especially some countries, not to use head-coverings. Especially the outward appearance – conforming to a use which is now, in many european countries, only associated with muslim practice – can be quite problematic.

    That’s silly. Are you saying people shouldn’t say the Rosary because Muslems also have their beads? And, as someone pointed out, how many Muslem women do we see entering a Church to assist at Latin mass?

    Let anyone who wants to, use a head-covering in Church, but I maintain that this is not the time to revive this habit.

    I don’t see any move to revive it. The question is whether women attending a TLM should cover their heads, and that currently applies only to a small percentage of women attending mass.

  40. IOW, and I promise I will shut up for a bit after this, I thought that the exception to the norm of the latin rite in terms of manner of reception, which would be to receive kneeling and on the tongue, specifically applied to the Novus Ordo and not the older form, whereas the development of fasting just applied to the reception of Holy Communion for latin rite Catholics regardless of where and when they received, even regardless of whether such reception took place during Mass or not. But I see that I could well be confused and would in that case appreciate clarification on this issue.

  41. robtbrown says:

    It is quite common it Italy for older widows to dress in black and cover their heads when they are out in public. I don’t recall anyone thinking they were Muslims–or confusing that practice with Muslim attitudes.

    Although the liberal press can be quite stupid in its enthusiasm for whatever is anti-Catholic, even they wouldn’t confuse a Catholic woman covering her head at mass with the Muslim denigration of women.

  42. Phil_NL says:

    @ robtbrown

    You get me wrong, maybe you overlooked my post of yesterday, 3.59 pm? The issue is not about the veils in itself or possible confusion with muslim women. The issue is the firestorm that will erupt in the media as soon as they sense the opportunity to accuse Catholics of bigotry, making the woman inferior to the man, demanding they are covered (forcing someone to cover up is already a crime in France, punsihable by prison sentence, to illustrate how well that goes here), and, from other quarters, that the Church has thrown in its lot with the muslim tide. The damage will be profound.

    It’s emphatically not about the facts – it’s about the image that will be painted, and which would be unpreventable. Hence my allergy to any combination of the words ‘veil’ and ‘should’. Let the Church and all who wish her well in NW-Europe abstain from any encouragement, let alone imposition, of veiling. It’s a minefield, veils are the third rail of current European politics.

  43. Supertradmum says:

    I have an additional question. When is an altar girl too old? Woman in my chutch about 40 wears server garb cassock and surplice on the altar for Benediction,etc. Is this allowed?

  44. Mundabor says:

    “It is quite common it Italy for older widows to dress in black and cover their heads when they are out in public. I don’t recall anyone thinking they were Muslims–or confusing that practice with Muslim attitudes. ”


  45. Mundabor says:

    “The issue is the firestorm that will erupt in the media as soon as they sense the opportunity to accuse Catholics of bigotry, making the woman inferior to the man,……”

    I always fail to understand why Catholics shouldn’t do what they feel right, in consideration of what people who are not even Catholic may feel or say.

    If Catholics had tried to avoid every prejudice or slanders of non Catholics, the Church woudn’t exist by now.

    The Church is scandal to Her enemies. Let them be scandalised, say I.


  46. Alice says:

    As far as I know, if the bishop allows both sexes to serve in the sanctuary, there is no expiration date. I can’t really imagine a bishop saying that it was OK for retired men to serve but not retired women if he also allows girls to serve. I know that our bishop made it clear that girls/women may not wear the cassock and surplice in his diocese, but I don’t know if it’s forbidden everywhere.

  47. robtbrown says:


    I think the last thing the Church should worry about is what the liberal media says. In fact, there’s been too much of that the 40 years from the close of the Council to the election of BXVI.

    The objections in France (I was confirmed at the cathedral of Bourges) to those who want the TLM are mainly two: They are often considered monarchists, and they are opposed to secular society (abortion, homosexuality, etc).

  48. EWTN Rocks says:


    I’m not offended by your second post and appreciate your point of view. I believe the qualities you list for what women look for in men is spot on, and it’s true that I do not know of any woman who considers a man’s behind as beautiful. It’s possible that I’m oblivious to what’s going on around me as I personally do not have female attributes that distract men – in other words, I doubt any man would find my behind a thing of beauty. However, you are correct the point is showing reverence for our Lord. With this in mind, I still think it is inappropriate for anyone – men or women – to attend Mass in shorts, tank tops, and flip flops. Maybe not because it’s distracting for the opposite sex (especially women), but because it demonstrates lack of reverence for our Lord.

  49. ContraMundum says:

    If Catholic women should not cover their heads because someone might think that looks vaguely like what Muslim women do, then nuns should surely not wear habits, because those look vaguely like burkas. Clearly the true Catholic nun will wear a pantsuit to show she is not Muslim!

  50. catholicmidwest says:

    Here we go with the hat wars again. Driven by men, again. While the Church burns. Get a perspective and get a grip, guys. Good grief.

  51. Supertradmum says:

    Thankyou, Catholicmidwest. I wear a mantilla or hat to both the EF and the NO. But, seeing this morning women well over 40 at Mass in miniskirts, jeans and low cut tops, discussions like this are in the chair arranging on the Titanic category.

  52. I don’t quite understand the notion that one should not discuss head covering because people are wearing other inappropriate clothing and there is much else wrong with the state of the Faith and practice thereof among contemporary Catholics, or that this should somehow make the discussion irrelevant….In fact, I would not be so quick to discount the idea that a more widespread practice of head covering would encourage the idea that one should think twice about what one wears to Mass, which might then trickle through into every day life. So I’m not so sure it is wholly irrelevant when it comes to the topic of immodest dress in church and elsewhere. Nor do I understand why men should not be able to initiate or chime in during such discussions. I am actually as interested in knowing what faithful Catholic men think about this topic as I am in hearing from faithful Catholic women.

    I actually have a sneaking suspicion that such notions that one should not pay attention to or discuss what appears to some to be details when faced with the near disaster that is the current state of our liturgy and contemporary theological ideas only serves to make matters worse. I will adapt an image somebody once gave me in relation to old practices in the liturgy which one cannot know fully know the original intention behind: if you discover a loose thread in your knitted jumber, it is not wise immediately to start pulling before investigating further and giving some consideration as to the wisest course of action. What appears to be a somewhat irrelevant loose thread just may end up being rather important if you just go ahead and pull at it.

  53. I’m not arguing, btw, that the head covering definitely has a great significance, but I am not sure that it doesn’t either. My argument is simply against the contention that the discussion is somehow definitely and obviously irrelevant and should not take place.

  54. catholicmidwest says:

    Well, maybe it’s a worthwhile argument if we can say a hat is a symbol that has significance only because it refers to something else which is logically beyond itself. Hats in themselves are only objects.
    What might be interesting to look at is the thing to which they refer.
    And it might be interesting to examine why it’s the case that they seem to some people (relative to other people) to refer more or less surely to that thing.

  55. dans0622 says:

    Some say this issue is important because of certain implications, because it is a Biblical topic, or other reason. I like to talk about it because of the canonical implications. People discuss all sorts of issues on this site…birds, coffee, how to translate “enixe,” when to wear a biretta, how long is a cappa magna, baseball analogies, etc. Many of them are less important than head coverings. To get to the point–I see no benefit to your repeated dismissal of this topic and criticism of those who like to discuss it. No one (if you know of someone, let me know) thinks head covering is the most important issue of the day, or even close.

  56. robtbrown says:

    catholicmidwest says:

    What might be interesting to look at is the thing to which they refer.

    What is the thing to which they refer?

  57. Michael J. says:

    The 1972 Motu Proprio Ministeria quaedam of Pope Paul VI did not apply in 1962, yet we, or I should say, only seminarians of Institutes who exist to ordain priests to say the Extraordinary Form can have Tonsure, the Minor Orders, and Sub-deacons, but not as they were in 1962. In 1962 one became a cleric at Tonsure, now one becomes a cleric when ordained a Deacon. In my opinion, a Motu Proprio given ten years after the Mass of 1962 was in effect, should not govern anything in regard to the Extraordinary Form. And, since I believe only three Bishops in the United States will create LAY Instituted Acolytes, who will serve as Sub-deacons at Solemn High Masses? This is a practical issue that needs resolved in a different manner than it has been. However, I submit myself and my opinions to that of what Our Holy Mother Church teaches.

  58. Empress says:

    The most useful comment I have found with respect to this subject came from Mundabar, who said,
    “On the matter of the veil, I was under the impression (wrong, I start to think) that the custom of wearing the veil was purely due to the tradition, which was that a man shows respect and humility by uncovering his head, and a woman by covering it. In this perspective, a woman covered her head with exactly the same natural movement with which a man… took his hat down when he entered church. The progressive disappearance of male hats (now actually coming back, I would say) might have caused what was an exercise practised by both sexes to be seen as an obligation given to only one. ”

    I don’t think you are wrong, as I think that the prohibition of men covering their heads in church comes from St. Paul. But I have yet to see one arguement or defense of the current practice that is not strictly related to the tradition of it. I did not grow up with this tradition, and have seen no reason to adopt it. Because I don’t have a good reason to adopt it, to do so for the sake of peer pressure (being applied by the often times clanish TLM crowd) would only be akin to my wearing a costume – because it has no meaning to me.
    I have earnestly looked for a good reason to adopt this tradition (truely, for years I have been reading about it) and have found no good explanations. I do not lack humility or reverence for the Lord by showing up in his presence with an uncovered head – and it is very unhumble of some to suggest that I do – pronouncing on my motivation and therefore unjustly prejudging me. This argument is similar to Christ telling people that what goes into a man’s mouth cannot make him unclean, but what comes out of it. It is not what goes on your head that makes your reverent and humble, but what is going on in it.

    It is not at all like coming to mass in various states of immodest “un”dress. (I witnessed a string bikini and body glitter at a Maui mass once – no joking. ) Because if this tradition were for modesty’s sake so as not to distract men, then why relegate it to Mass? Why not wear it wherever you go. Nuns veil themselves (as opposed to Muslim women being veiled by the men that – frankly – own them, upon pain of death for unveiling) They veil theselves as a sign of their total commitment to Christ. So that is also different then wearing a chapel veil. I understand the meaning of the Nuns veiling themselves because it is a permanent sign – they wear the veil everywhere. But somebody, please tell me why someone such as myself, should adopt this tradition. I honestly can’t think of one good reason.

    Please, no judgements. I honestly want a good, reasoned arguement.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who wants to answer.

    The Empress

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