The subject of chapel veils, mantillas, whatever, comes up occasionally. It always excites conversation.
My view is that this custom should be revived. According to the Church’s present law, women are not obliged to cover their heads in church. I would be pleased if they did, but… hey…
That said, at the blog Conversion Diary, we read of a woman’s experience of wearing a veil in church for the first time. It is interesting to see this from a convert.
Converts in many ways seem more open to the traditional elements of the faith than many “cradle” Catholics. No?
Let’s see the first part:
Notes from beneath the veil
I wore a chapel veil to church for the first time ever yesterday. It’s something I’d wanted to/felt called to do for years, and I finally committed to doing it during Lent. I didn’t make it to Mass last week because, you know, snakes on a plane, so this Sunday’s Mass was my first shot at it.
My biggest concern was not drawing attention to myself. Though a few women at my parish do wear scarves, hats, or veils in church, they’re a small minority, and I didn’t want to feel like I stood out. So when we arrived I slipped into the pew discreetly, which was made easier by the fact that I only had my five-year-old daughter with me (the one of dragon-defeating fame) since Joe had taken the others to vigil Mass the day before. After the first Scripture reading I finally began to relax, and by the end of the Gospel I felt confident that I was just an anonymous face in the crowd.
And then Fr. Uche began his homily. The Gospel reading was about the Transfiguration, and when he introduced the topic, he mused, “What did Jesus go up the mountain to do?” I jumped when a voice beside me shouted at the loudest possible volume:
That would be my sweet daughter’s pronunciation of “pray.” She’s so excited about Jesus and was so delighted to know the answer that she just had to scream it at the very top of her lungs — and, wow, who knew that a young child’s voice could fill an entire huge building like that? The church was packed with about 1,100 people, and I am pretty sure that every single one of them looked over at us in that moment. I had already felt like THE WOMAN IN THE CHAPEL VEIL!!!!, and now I felt like THE WOMAN IN THE CHAPEL VEIL WHOM WE’RE ALL NOW STARING AT BECAUSE HER KID YELLS AT THE PRIEST DURING MASS!!!!
I’ve gotten a lot of comments and emails from women who said that they were interested in covering their heads but had never tried it, so I thought I’d share my experience in case others find it helpful. And yes, there is definitely something ironic, and possibly a little lame, about undertaking a practice that’s all about humility and hiddenness and then writing about it on your blog. I get that. But I’m going to go ahead and crack open that can of worms anyway, because I know that it’s something a lot of us have thought about, and I think that at least a few folks might find a discussion about the practice to be fruitful.
First, a bit of background:
You can go over there and read the background and other comments about dress, reactions, etc., which as a man – frankly – made me look quickly for an article about new electronic gadgets or baseball or movies with aliens and explosions.
But I am glad she posted about this.
Now I’ll back out of the room, as I always do when posting on this…. See ya!
One more thing….
Here’s a little POLL. Just pick your best answer. Anyone can vote, but you have to be registered to comment.
I usually wear a hat, or a mantilla and have had nothing but positive feedback both in Ireland and in England. The Maltese women like to show off their hair, so they were not so positive.
That is the point, thought, is it not, to not be a distraction if one has beautiful hair?
I pray better with either the hat or mantilla.
I’ll start things off in the commenting on this thread by recalling that in a previous discussion on chapel veils, I commented that if I were ever to veil that blazing orange would be my color (see, Fr. Z’s comments in that thread) and AnAmericanMother helpfully explained to me that I could buy netting used for hunting in that very color, run it through the machine, and presto have a lovely veil for myself. I will only add to that, that now singing in a schola cantorum for the ancient rite I do veil however I have yet to add blazing orange to my repertoire.
I would love to start wearing a veil if it were made a requirement or even just strongly encouraged. However, I feel funny about suddenly making such a noticeable change in a parish where nobody wears the veil and I haven’t done so before. I really don’t like drawing attention to myself. If the priest spoke up to encourage it, I would be one of the first adopters, whether anyone else decided to jump on board or not! I don’t like to give the impression that I am trying to invent ways to be “holier than thou”. It’s easier when the priest invites the change.
One thing that Jennifer mentions in her post that is not often considered especially by those that see this as the church “putting women in their place” is that the custom was for men to remove their coverings, and that for both men and women this is a sign of humility – women cover up what for them is something that is attractive, and for men wearing a hat often covers up what is unattractive especially for those many men who have hair loss. So it should be emphasized that this works both ways. I voted in favor of bringing back veiling (and men removing their hats), because anything that encourages humility amongst us is a good thing.
Back in the 1950s hat-wearing by both sexes was much more common, so ladies retained theirs while men doffed them. I remember my late mother in the early 1960s having a black mantilla in her handbag which, if she was otherwise hatless, she would assume if approaching the altar rail for Communion.
Converts love veils more because they’ve been imprinted with the stereotype. Non-Romance-language cradle Catholics who remember the tail end of the old days remember women wearing hats and scarves, and so they think in terms of actual clothing.
[Insert tediously huge links list of period photographs and portraits of hatted female Massgoers, none of which will have as much impact as one scene in The Godfather. Which shows the power of art versus fact.]
Have you asked your priest for the invitation? Or simply brought up the matter with him? I know that some priests are fairly adamantly opposed to such practices, but there are discreet ways to bring up the topic so you don’t put yourself on the spot. Something I’ve done with this and other issues is tell a story; “I remember last summer when I went to …, I saw women wearing …” His response will give a fairly clear indication of his disposition towards the idea. Then, if he sounds positive, than you can follow up with, “I’ve been thinking about it” or “Why don’t we do that here.”
It’s easy for me because I can tell all sorts of stories about what I saw in Mexico, and things my (Mennonite) parents remember seeing Catholics do when they were kids, or what the Mennonites themselves do to lead into a topic. (We live deep in Mennonite country in Ontario.) My wife was thinking about wearing a head covering, so one day, chatting with the priest, the topic of my mom’s and aunts’ Mennonite head coverings came up. It was a good opportunity to see how he felt. From there, I mentioned that I remembered seeing Catholic women cover their heads in church. I commented that my wife had been thinking about it – while the priest wasn’t eager to tell the women in the parish to start, he was enthusiastic and open to the idea. (She was within earshot, so she heard his positive reaction.)
Shortly afterwards, and purely by coincidence, a Mennonite friend of my wife’s gave her one of her head coverings – she’s on a mission to make my wife more lady-like by their standards! She jumped on the opportunity to start wearing it to Mass.
So, we now have my Mexican wife, in a Canadian Catholic parish, wearing a Mennonite head covering – it’s quite a mix! No other women in the parish wear even hats. Needless to say, she does stand out. Fortunately, my wife doesn’t easily feel awkward or mind being the odd one out.
For women who are more conscientious of standing out or drawing attention to themselves, I can understand the hesitation completely. But, back to the main point, one day when you’re chatting with your priest, discreetly bring up the topic. Who knows – you might be pleasantly surprised and actually find the opportunity to ask him if he would make such an invitation to the parish.
You can also make lovely veils in camouflage. Dog, duck call, and shotgun optional. I’ve found that the local fabric stores have the veiling/net fabric in just about any color you can imagine. Cartoon characters or sequins would probably be right out though.
I haven’t worn mine to Mass yet . . . :-) But I do wear my black mantilla when I’m not singing in the choir, and my black chapel cap (which like me is a retread from the Episcopalians) when singing. But I’m (1) too old to care what people think (as my dear old dad says, if somebody can’t tell me “Pack your toothbrush counsel and go with the Sheriff”, I don’t care what they think), and (2) after nine years at this parish, everybody knows I am eccentric, full of convert zeal, and don’t back down an inch when (after consultation with a hopefully well-formed conscience) I think something’s right (or wrong).
I do think that an encouraging word from the pulpit would help many ladies who are more diffident than I.
“Converts in many ways seem more open to the traditional elements of the faith than many “cradle” Catholics.”
I agree. I find many (but certainly not all) cradle Catholics are preoccupied with proving that all the stereotypes about Catholics (good ones and bad ones) are false. “We’re not like that any more …”
As a convert, I know there are many cradle Catholics who have the full benefit of growing up within Catholic traditions at home and in their parish, and that’s a wonderful thing. But many did not have that benefit and are trying to “get away from” all that old stuff.
Many converts join the Catholic Church because they’re looking for the “real thing.” If we wanted fun, modern, laid-back and casual, there are thousands of places that do those things MUCH MUCH better than the Catholic Church does. The “real thing” includes chapel veils, among many other items.
That said, that’s a practical, attractive color and shape of headrail that Jen’s wearing. Very nice.
Mamajen stop worrying about others thinking you are holier than thou. Think of the veil as a devotion, like the Rosary. The veil is a devotion of submission, submission to Our Lord.
There are so many reasons to choose to veil. I grew up seeing the veils all around me. Never cared for hats…they seemed obtrusive in church. And I never understood why a grown-up would do really fancy hair and then perch a tiny little chapel cap on top of her head. I was struggling with the whole idea of veiling, all my thoughts were the same thoughts you’re having. I MISSED veiling but I thought we were not ‘allowed’ to veil anymore. No one in our NO parish veiled. I’m blessed with nice hair, some days it’s even great hair. Like 99% of women out there … well… I’m a bit vain about my hair especially since I’ve gone naturally gray. I look at other womens hair, the styles, colors etc and I admit that sometimes… during one of those long sermons my mind and eye will wander around to hair =) Then one Sunday as we left church a woman came up to me and said, “You have the most beautiful hair, it just sparkles under the lights, I can always tell where you’re sitting by all that hair.” That was both incredibily embarassing and drove the point home about veiling. I’ve wondered if the Holy Ghost wasn’t hard at work through her words to me that day. So I started reading
St. Augustine of Hippo
St. Augustine describes any failure in the veil to conceal all the hair, even a minor one, as a violation of chastity.
St. Ambrose of Milan
“Is anything so conducive to lust as with unseemly movements thus to expose in nakedness those parts of the body which either nature has hidden or custom has veiled, to sport with the looks, to turn the neck, to loosen the hair? Fitly was the next step an offense against God. For what modesty can there be? ”
St. Augustine says that a woman does not HAVE to cover her hair for prayer as long as she it is not out of vanity that she chooses to not veil but because she lives where veiling is not the custom….BUT he says that not veiling is not a good custom.
St. John Chrysostom would have all women veil all the time !
1 Co 11:1-16 is not limited to a woman’s presence in the church, angels are indeed present in the sanctuary with the consecrated host, for angels bring the Eucharistic sacrifice to God’s altar in heaven (as the Eucharistic canon says: “may your angels bring this sacrifice to your altar in heaven”). The angels have a keen eye on the entire proceedings of Mass, including how the parishioners are conducting themselves. As St. Paul says in 1Co 4:9, “we are made…a spectacle to angels,” St. John Chrysostom, chiding the misbehaving parishioners of his day, once said,
“Know you not that you are standing in company with angels? With them you chant, with them sing hymns, and do you stand laughing? Is it not wonderful that a thunderbolt is not launched…For such behavior might well be visited with the thunderbolt.”
The angels are sensitive to the issue of head coverings for the covering demonstrates that one is under authority, since the angels, in the presence of God, always cover themselves, yet God is uncovered (Is 6:2).
So Veiling is a way of helping those around you in church remember that they are there to assist in the most holy Sacrifice of the altar, not to visit, text, joke, and chatter. Just as the priest has prayers to prepare him for Mass, those assisting at Mass should also prepare themselves with prayer. It is by our prayers that we assist, not by doing things, but by adding our prayers to those of the priest that we truly assist in the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Wear the veil. You won’t be sorry.
With all due respect, what is Canon Law compared to Sacred Scripture and 1900 years of unbroken tradition? And now that the church is staggering under the crisis of unmanly priests, does anyone need more confusion about gender roles in the Divine Order?
[Canon Law v. Scripture? We are not sola scriptura Protestants. We are not biblical positivists. Christ gave His own authority to Holy Church to make these determinations. At this point, Holy Church has determined that women are NOT obliged by her positive law to wear a head covering. Make an argument that they ought to (and I think they should), but we are not Protestants. We take the Church’s laws seriously.]
I’m glad that you mention men removing their hats. I was taught this as a child in a protestant upbringing. Joining the Catholic Church, it was natural for me to do the same, simply because it was one of the few forms of reverence that I already felt comfortable with. At the time I didn’t even know it was a Catholic practice since I didn’t see other Catholics doing it. I teach my sons to remove their hats before entering the Church, or in the winter, in the entrance way. I’ve noticed that when ladies in the Church help get my sons ready to head back outside (they’re 5 and 2 years old), they don’t give a second thought to putting their hats on inside of the nave. It’s unfortunate that such ideas are largely lost. I have noticed that in addition to the old men, a few young fathers also come well-dressed, with well-dressed kids, and always take off their hats. It’s a good sign.
As a convert I have no old-days Catholic experience to call upon. I was interested in wearing a veil, I love symbolism of the tradition and I always dress modestly, and even more modestly when attending Mass out of respect.
However I am concerned that there may be a “darker side” to these old traditions that should be considered by everyone before jumping on the “wear a veil” bandwagon. Last year I participated in a small Catholic bible study group and there were several elderly women in the group. Somehow the subject of wearing veils came up. All of these elderly Catholic women told the same stories: a “guard” posted at the entrance of the church to turn away any woman attempting to enter for Mass without her head being veiled, and also being turned away from Mass if she were wearing pants; women in the pews with a tissue bobbypinned to their hair because they forgot their veil and were otherwise not allowed to enter. It definitely gave me pause….do we really WANT to go back to these days? Do we really want our mothers, daughters, sisters denied access to Mass merely because they forgot their veils or because they are wearing pants?
I think you’re right – in North America, hats were the stronger practice for women in Mass. My parents clearly remember their Catholic neighbours, friends, etc. wearing hats to church, even when they visited a non-Catholic Church. I think it would be wonderful if Catholic women revived that practice. But my impression is that most younger Catholic women who want to cover their heads these days are more inclined towards chapel veils. As you imply, in this case, I think either would be fine. (although I definitely favour some sort of head covering to nothing at all.)
That is the point, thought, is it not, to not be a distraction if one has beautiful hair?
It is, at best, a side-point, and I personally would say 1. that beauty does no damage 2. that this would be highly counterproductive, as the veil, at least the white one customary for the unmarried, is in nearly all circumstances very, very beautiful.
The point is something highly more essential and has to do with the creation of Man and the distinction of the genders itself, witness Holy Scripture at the place where the veil is recommended (although apparently the Holy Scripture in prescribing seems to withdraw itself to places and times where this is socially thought indecent). There is no time to go into detail, but … ideas have consequences and symbols have meanings; and those who believe that men and women are just equal (well, maybe biological functions, temperament, and priesthood excepted) are not illogical if they oppose the veil (which they generally do).
Dear @JacobWall, I do not see the tradition lost that men remove hats. The tradition may be partially lost that men wear hats at all (outside the military), and as usual on such occasions, knowledge of the respective etiquette is, a bit, in decline also. But still, it is and remains a tradition, and a tradition which actually is followed, and is followed by the masses and not just some very conscientous people, for men to remove the headcovering.
Women who feel called to wear a head covering, whether veil or hat, are already free to do so. The practice is not currently banned, and adult women do not need the encouragement of the priest speaking from the pulpit in order to comply with what they perceive God is calling them to do. If you want to wear a veil, wear a veil. But please don’t suggest that those of us who don’t regard this as essential to prayer need to get with the program so that you won’t feel uncomfortable. And would it not be better in the long run if you were to persuade your bareheaded sisters by your gracious example rather than by forcing the issue? Making others uncomfortable in order to prevent your own discomfort seems particularly uncharitable.
Be VERY careful with that. Horror stories of the past are a common weapon used by Progressives to stop people from maintaining even the slightest traces of tradition. I respect my elders, but I also know that many of the old-timers out there these days are of the revolution and upheaval generation. One of the “breaking points” that made my (protestant) dad give up on church all together was a certain Bible study when a group of nice old ladies started telling “horror stories” of how unfair, misogynistic, abusive and repressive the bad-old-days were when contraception and abortions were entirely prohibited (even by Protestants!) From there, they started praising how easy and good it was for women to “protect” their health, etc. When it was clear that they meant that free and open abortions available to all was a good thing, he lost his temper. When he talked to the pastor, the pastor simply defended them, claiming he agreed with my dad, but he couldn’t say anything to them since they were women – and the old “respectable” ones at that.
For any traditional Christian practice out there, someone will have horror stories about it to justify suppressing it entirely. If we start buying into this way of thinking, we will soon be Anglicans.
I meant to say has to do with the distinction of the sexes itself.
Sorry. (Although what I wrote sounds like a deliberate, yet wrong choice of word, it was rather a typo, an unwariness.)
I might add, back in those days, the women knew that was the rule, just like men knew they had to dress decently. It’s silly to villainize the situation as though they were being miss-treated or abused. They knew full well they had to bring their head covering and that it always expected.
“Women in the past were not allowed into church without a head covering, and felt bad about it despite the fact that the rule was very clearly communicated and they knew it full well; so because the few who forgot felt bad about it, women should not wear head coverings now.”
That’s a pretty big leap in logic. It’s a play on emotions and nothing else.
I wouldn’t say that we should go back to those rules, but using to use those stories to discourage women from using head coverings is underhanded. We need to be VERY, VERY careful about how much we buy into the logical leaps and emotional games of progressives – even when those progressives are nice old ladies.
I wear one to my N.O. parish. I have never seen another there. By now they are used to me. I don’t want to appear rebellious or overly “Traddie” so I make a point to be friendly and smile at the kids and join in the sign of peace and quiet. I have had a total of 2 comments made to me. One man said as we were leaving the building, “that’s a pretty veil you’re wearing.” And another woman at the Holy Water Font said “you look so pretty in your veil.” Which is NOT why I wear it. I think they are using the word “pretty” because they don’t know another word to express appreciation for seeing it, again. I wear it to show my humility in the Presence of Jesus. I wear it to show my desire for Holiness. I feel called to wear it and can’t stop now. I wear a black one as I am married. What girl doesn’t want to wear a veil? I feel it around me for hours after I take it off. I love the veil and wish more women would wear it but having it mandated is probably not a good idea.
Background: 33-year old Catholic woman. Not a canon lawyer. I was concerned about this topic about 5 years ago, so I looked it up in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. I didn’t find headcovering in there, HOWEVER, at the beginning, it said the following
“Can. 5 §1. Universal or particular customs presently in force which are contrary to the prescripts of these canons and are reprobated by the canons of this Code are absolutely suppressed and are not permitted to revive in the future. Other contrary customs are also considered suppressed unless the Code expressly provides otherwise or unless they are centenary or immemorial customs which can be tolerated if, in the judgment of the ordinary, they cannot be removed due to the circumstances of places and persons.
§2. Universal or particular customs beyond the law (praeter ius) which are in force until now are preserved.
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.”
Since there is nothing in the current Code that states that a woman is NOT to veil, it is not a contrary custom. Wouldn’t this indicate that we still should? Or am I totally off track?
Since I read this, I started wearing a veil or scarf or hat any time I was at Mass or Adoration. I just keep one in my purse. I wore it at the NO at my parish before we got the EF. I was told by a priest when I asked him about veiling that if you are worried about being a distraction, just wear a veil that matches your natural hair color. I have never gotten any dirty looks or funny comments in those 5 years. It might be because I am about six feet tall….
If someone could address my canon law comment, I would appreciate it. I just want to know if I am misinterpreting it. Thanks!
I wear one at TLM or when in a cathedral or the National Basilica. I tried doing this at my NO parish and there were a few eye rolls (60 plus women) and a few uncomfortable stares (40s and under). One young girl (11 years old roughly) asked me “why I had that on my head” after Mass. I excitedly told her all about it. And she was interested to know more. Because of the stares, I haven’t worn one at NO in several months.
There is one other woman who veils. She’s in her 20s, but she isn’t a regular parishioner.
How might the practice be spread? I’ve mentioned it to my contemporaries and they aren’t opposed, but don’t see why one would do that. I think it’s viewed as eccentric.
Am thinking of doing the “babushka style” instead with a kerchief. It comports with the contemporary “earthy” look. Maybe that is one way to revive the practice? Justing thinking out loud.
I’m in favor of the tradition becoming more popular (as I wear a veil myself), but I don’t know if we should get Church law involved in this. I have to say I have generally only received positive feedback on it and have had more than a few women approach me to ask where I got my veil because they were thinking of buying one themselves. And for the record, I attend OF Masses in a moderate (though leaning on the conservative side at times) parish.
When we can, we attend the Extraordinary form of the Mass. My 16 year old daughter began wearing a chapel veil to that form and then felt uncomfortable not wearing it to the novus. She asked if she could wear it to the novus and I said certainly, but be ready for comment, (her pig-headed dad kneels for communion and “line-jumps” so she is familiar with the comments)
She has had several mothers and young ladies approach her saying that they wish that they were brave enough to wear a veil. I do love that daughter of mine (for many reasons)
Thank you, ndmom.
If someone wears a veil, leave her alone. If someone does not wear a veil, leave her alone. There are a couple women in my NO parish who do veil. I don’t know what reaction, if any, they get. I’ve simply smiled at the one who seems to be a sweet older woman. A woman veiling or not is a superficial litmus test regarding her faith. I would expect that, should veiling come back strongly, women who do not veil will be judged wrongly, plus there’s another problem. There were numerous comments on Jen’s post describing how pretty her veil was. Indeed, it was lovely. But one’s veil could evolve into being another “look at me” fashion statement. (“Does this veil make my butt look big?” Ha! Kidding.) That’s not what the veil is supposed to be about, but it could descend to that, along with the judgement.
I hate wearing anything on top of my head. Wearing something on my head is a distraction for me. Seriously. Even when I lived in a winter climate, I did not wear hats. Oh, I bought them, only to wear them once. The only part of the Mass that I didn’t like the two times I attended an EF Mass? The distraction of having something – a silk scarf used as a veil – on my head. I hope the practice remains voluntary and people leave each other alone with regards to their practices, but I’m not hopeful on the latter issue.
We already have the perfect head-covering: our own, natural hair!
My 10-yr-old daughter veils at the Novus parish where her Catholic school is based. She is not permitted to veil at Friday Mass with the school class as the veil “violates the dress code.” Go figure.
Per , Holy Mother Church never intended to unveil. My daughter began veiling after reading Paul’s admonition, recognizing Mother Mary’s veil, and the veils worn by habitted sisters and nuns.
I’ve thought of wearing a head covering too. The primary reasons against it for me is that it would call to much attention to myself and I would feel like I was trying to show myself as “holier than thou.” So yes, probably the most common problems. Also, I’d worry about giving the impression that I think women are inferior to men.
It seems to me that the purposes of a woman covering her head have three primary reasons: expression of humility, a sign of the woman’s dedication to physical modesty around men, and a social recognition of the difference between men and women. All are very good objectives. [I distinguish physical modesty from modesty in general because it is my opinion that while both sexes need to be modest in general, physical modesty is more of an obligation for women out of charity to men because the physical modesty of a woman tends to have a much different effect on a man’s chastity than vice versa.]
As an aside, I wonder whether the man baring his head had more to do with “removing his armor” and making himself vulnerable than with exposing his possible lack of hair as a sign of humility?
Anyway, it seems to me the meaning of head coverings for both sexes has changed, at least in the US. I don’t see anyone, male or female, normally wearing head coverings for any reason except for fashion or protection against the weather. And it seems to me to be the norm for both sexes to remove the head covering on coming inside for the same reason you don’t generally wear your coat indoors. So then, for a man to remove his head covering doesn’t seem to have any particular meaning anymore, usually. And for a woman to keep on her head covering indoors, anywhere except in church, would generally be seen as eccentric, a fashion statement, or in the case of a veil, a sign that the woman was Moslem, or possibly Hindu.
So to me, the remaining current social meaning of keeping the head covering, or veiling, during Mass, is simply that the woman is a traditionalist who at best honors modesty or at worst thinks that women are inferior to men.
So then, under the purposes of signifying the higher need for women to be physically modest among men, and at the same time, making a social recognition that men and women are different, I think having women veil or cover the head has been, and possibly could be again, a very simple, logical and practical way to do so. This is especially so if it can act a sign of humility, which corresponds to a balancing custom among men. It bothers me to have something as a mark of woman’s humility without a corresponding mark of man’s humility, because it would seem to imply to me that woman was somehow less in dignity than man. It seems to me that there is no sex-based difference in the need for humility.
But yeah, in the end, mostly I’m worried about standing out, or making people think I’m trying to be holier than thou, or that I think that women are inferior to men.
Now I’ll go read the rest of “Notes from beneath the veil”.
I’ve not had a lot of comments about my veiling but the comments I have had have been nice with one exception…. a “harumpf” from the newer deacon. Since we don’t see eye to eye on other things I simply smiled and moved on.
I’ve had 2 women ask me why and I’ve told them. I had enough women ask me where I got my veil that I bought a few and kept them in my car so I could give them to anyone who was interested in veiling. That got expensive so I started making veils to give to anyone that is interested, and I’ve pointed them to Ebay and to Veils By Lily. There is also the option of the gauze scarves sold at wal-mart. The simple addition of a hair comb stitched into the veil or scarf will help hold it in place.
A great veil option for those who have squirmy babies and toddlers is the oversized circular veil. About a 20 inch circle of lace that covers most of the hair but has no sides like a triangular mantilla so less to pull on =)
As to the Canon Law. When I read it I got the same thought as you did… that since no law said we should not veil, then we should veil. I was already veiling by then so it didn’t matter to me and was not the reason that I began veiling. I don’t know how to add a photo here, but I have a photo of a press clipping regarding the veil that says that women are still supposed to veil, that the confusion was all a misunderstanding etc. The person quoted was “Annibale Bugnini” .
Forcing the veil is not a good idea because it loses it’s virtue, the grace.
It seems this is one of several liturgical practices that could use more explicit support from the clergy as beneficial options (e.g., receiving Communion kneeling/on the tongue, wearing a mantilla, or wearing one’s “Sunday best” in general). I’d be happy with more clergy at least publicly recognizing that these practices are valid and not extraordinary. A lot of discussion on these topics seems to suggest there are a good number of people who see value in these practices, but they are concerned about not only the possible stares but also how their priest might interpret or respond to their choice. Of course, we still need to overcome those fears. (I remember having to accept the visible disdain one liberal priest would show me as he would pause and wait for me to produce my hands at Holy Communion. I’m sure Fr. Z could tell many stories from his seminary days.) But my point is, laypeople look to their priests to some degree for liturgical standards, and I think many more people would readily commit to these practices–even as “lone wolves” in their congregation–if their priest or bishop voiced support. A few lone wolves get together, and before you know it, you have a growing pack.
I wear a veil to the TLM but at my novus ordo parish I do not–yet. I am different enough in that I always wear a skirt and often the only lady to be doing so. If I hope to set an example and not be just considered a fanatic that no one would imitate, I will hold off on the veil for the moment…unless I am convicted to do otherwise.
JonPatrick: “… and for men wearing a hat often covers up what is unattractive especially for those many men who have hair loss”
Ahem… rem acu tetigisti… cough, cough :)
I think we can afford to be a little relaxed over the whole question, really. Over the past two or so generations, since the 60s, we have been the first in over 1000 years of Western history by whom the regular wearing of some form of head-covering has been abandoned. And this happened virtually overnight, on that timescale. My parents’ generation (born 1918 and 1919) were still those who up to about the mid-60s would never have considered leaving the house without a hat, headscarf, whatever (in my mother’s case, gloves as well) yet by the 70s they would do this, although my mother was never seen without hat or scarf at Mass.
Of course, much else that once seemed immutable has been abandoned in the same period, seemingly for good. But who can say? Who knows but that in another 50 years, or less, headcovering will once again become the norm and our brief span since the 60s seen as a complete aberration? After all, who would have said just 10 years ago that SP would have been implemented within 5 years, not to mention Anglicanorum Coetibus?
It would be nice to wear a veil to church, but I’m more concerned about the dress code since more & more parishioners in our church, or in any church for that matter, as I have observed, are ignoring the rules of wearing conservative clothes, despite the countless reminders. It really distracts me if I see a lady wearing short pants or a sleeveless cocktail dress inside the church, even if I’m a girl myself. Shouldn’t the church strictly implement the rule of wearing conservative clothes inside the church and appointing some staff to reprimand these people? sorry for being off-topic, I don’t know if there’s an apporpirate thread to post these thoughts…
AMDG, you hit the key phrase there: “liturgical practice.” In that section of I Corinthians, Paul is addressing liturgical questions. Canon 2 of the 1983 Code states, “This Code for the most part does not define the rites that are to be observed in celebrating liturgical actions. Therefore, *current liturgical norms retain their force* unless any of them are contrary to the Canons of this Code.” Since headcoverings for women are not contrary to any canon, it seems to me they are still considered a liturgical norm to be followed. This was the Canon that convinced me to begin veiling (in a very happy-clappy parish) about 5 years ago.
Even the Canonical Defender states on his blog, “Faithful with liturgical questions probably ought not look to the 1983 Code for answers because, with a few important exceptions, Canon law does not treat liturgical matters.”
Just wanted to add that I wear a chapel veil to Mass because I’m in the Real Presence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, not because men are at Mass. I wear modest clothing but my veil is covering my head because I am humbling myself while truly at the foot of the cross. Were I physically standing at the foot of the cross, I would wear my veil (and throw myself down upon my face). If someone looks at my veil and has a negative reaction, that’s on them. I have a negative reaction to others putting on their coats and saying goodbye to their friends right before Communion so they can skip out early. My negative reaction to that is on me. Their doing it is on them. My wearing a veil is, therefore, on me.
For any woman interested but hesitant, I’d like to suggest you try wearing a veil (or headcovering of your choice) at home for prayer before wearing it to your parish. If you get used to it at home, you might be less self-conscious in church. Although many women connect it to the True Presence in a church -and I don’t dispute them- my own experience has been that it’s good to veil at home for any prayer, particularly the Liturgy of the Hours.
For what it’s worth, I think any mandate would be counterproductive.
But I would like to see the same thing our priest did wrt communion on the tongue – some of the usual suspects were back-biting and fussing about members of our parish who received on the tongue, and he simply picked an opportune time to note from the pulpit that it was perfectly permissible to receive on the tongue, just as it was in the hand, and to please not be uncharitable about your brethren whose practice was at variance from yours.
He also has pretty much put an end to hand-holding at the Our Father, by similar tactful methods. I think anything more heavy-handed would not work as intended – just to reassure those ladies who want to veil but are afraid to take the initiative, and forestall rude remarks etc.
I would take those elderly ladies’ stories with a big chunk of salt. I suspect that they heard the gory details from somebody else (there’s a good reason that hearsay is inadmissible), or they have unconsciously embroidered them over time, or it’s just too good an argument for them not to use. It’s my experience that a good number of the “progressive” ilk feel that absence of truth is no obstacle to repeating a story, if it is in support of some “larger truth” – i.e. what they want.
I’m no spring chicken myself, and back in the day (the 50’s and early 60’s) even Episcopalian ladies covered their heads – and this was (and is) a “low church” diocese. There were no “veil police” in the narthex; instead there were two little brown leather boxes with covers that fit down inside, one at each entrance, containing a stack of lace chapel caps for any ladies who forgot their hat or veil. My little sister and I used to wear them . . . if Mama didn’t see us . . . :-)
My two best friends were Roman and Maronite Catholic, and I never saw any “veil police” in their churches either, nor in my cousins’ Catholic parish in New Jersey when I spent the summer up there. Doesn’t mean they weren’t out there . . . somewhere . . . but I think this falls in the category of too good (i.e. exactly supporting the old ladies’ predilections) to be true.
We women covered our heads all the waking hours in the plain groups. You get totally used to the stares from outsiders. Overall I saw a good variety of head-coverings. I sewed mine, but those stay in the drawer because now I am quite sure some fellow Catholics would think and/or say: “Oh! Who does she think she is? A sister?!? Humph!! Good grief.”
This orthodox Jewish lady has a large variety of lovely and feminine coverings that do NOT scream “nun wannabe”. http://www.headcoverings-by-devorah.com/home.html It takes a while to browse through all her coverings, but she has about everything. (I have a few from her which, BTW, are the ones I wear most.) She sells on eBay too.
Another thing: It has always seemed to me that (cradle) Catholics are way, way too concerned about what people think, being at all different, etc. Sometimes you just know you’re asking for it (as in wearing the hanging opaque veils I mentioned above that fasten underneath in the back) and need to adjust just a bit. However, I see now that if I had started out wearing those that the earth would not have quaked and after people got to know me they’d have realized that’s just what I was used to. Even so, with a different type covering the resident non-habited nun asked me pointedly WHY I covered my head in church? And didn’t I think God “knew my heart”? I said that most certainly He does and therefore…etc. (I didn’t tell her, but since humility is not by any means my strong point, I’ll just carry on.) Anyhow I already knew where she was coming from.
I guess covering does take nerve, but then we Catholics could use maybe a boatload of that. No, we don’t have to, but there is I Cor. 11 (Anabaptists use this reason). It is a very anti-feminist reason, actually. And we can do things without them being mandated. If people think we are holier-than-thou, that is their problem. If we forget and get out the door without it, no reason for condemnation either! We do all we do for the love of Christ, Who went all the way to the Cross for us. It’s all about Him and His presence in the Blessed Sacrament and what Holy Mass actually is. The head covering just makes sense.
Sicilian Woman wrote, “The only part of the Mass that I didn’t like the two times I attended an EF Mass? The distraction of having something – a silk scarf used as a veil – on my head.”
Well, if that is the ONLY part of the TLM you didn’t like, then don’t wear a scarf as a veil and attend the TLM regularly.
There is no requirement to wear a veil/mantilla or anything else on your head when attending the TLM. Current Canon Law applies to the TLM/EF, too.
At the EF Mass I attend weekly, I would say half the women wear one and the other half do not. No big deal.
I have always worn a veil or hat since I came into the Church 7 years ago. I have received only a few questions regarding “why?” and I always say, “Because Jesus is Truly Present.” This reason overrides any sense of feeling uncomfortable, worrying about whether others think I’m trying to be “holier than thou,” etc. I remind myself that I am at Mass for Him, not anyone else, and that what He thinks trumps all others. At Fatima, Our Lady said that people would wear fashions that offend Our Lord, so I try always to wear modest clothing, and having my head covered is part of that.
My observation, as a convert, is that the reasoning for veiling declined in proportion to the belief in the Real Presence. Ditto with genuflecting before the Blessed Sacrament, receiving Communion in the hands, not kneeling to receive, and singing protestant hymns/songs. In the “olden days,” people knew that Jesus was present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, so veiling for women was natural and logical. Now, with so many people not believing in the Real Presence, veiling makes no sense to them. Why veil if He is not truly present? So another reason I veil is to make an outward statement that I DO believe in His Real Presence and almost as an Act of Reparation for those who do not.
I wear them for both the EF, which I usually attend, and the OF when I go. The only times I have not worn the veil at Mass after starting to wear it in my twenties has been at OF weddings, as I did not want people to be confused and think I was competing with the bride. For me, the veil reminds me of the wedding feast of the Lamb, and it reminds me of the love that I should return to God.
Supertradmum: That is the point, thought, is it not, to not be a distraction if one has beautiful hair?
Who do you mean will be distracted? The priest? I can’t imagine that a priest celebrating Holy Mass will even notice people’s hair. Or the faithful? When I am in church it has never yet occurred to me that other people even have hair …
What is or isn’t on anyone’s head during Mass is in no way connected with the real presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. I go to Mass to meet the Lord in Holy Communion. He will be there if I wear a veil or if I don’t. I will get to meet Him. Does anything else matter?
Just wanted to add that I wear a chapel veil to Mass because I’m in the Real Presence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, not because men are at Mass
The idea of showing humility in the presence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by covering my head does not, I think, naturally occur to me. Perhaps a veil would have more of that feel. A hat itself doesn’t have that implication to me at all, I think. As @suburbanbanshee says, and I remember, Catholic girls and women in the US didn’t “veil” per se, they covered their heads, usually with hats. And hats could definitely be anything but humble. And could end up covering precious little of one’s head or hair.
I do have a tendency to see veils as pretty too, and not necessarily humble per se. That’s why I was thinking in terms of modesty and signification of the difference between women and men.
Not saying you’re wrong or anything. This is just something I have to reflect on more. Especially since, on the other hand, I also recognize that some feminists considered covering the head as women admitting they were inferior to men, which would certainly be showing humility. Hmm.
And no, I don’t think head coverings should be required. The question, I thought, was whether the custom ought to be revived, not whether it ought to be mandatory. And yes, of course any difference in custom at all can be used as an occasion to be uncharitable. But also, as well, as a chance to be charitable. Whether you choose to wear a head-covering or not.
Although I can understand people being nervous. After all, the Novus Ordo was forced on us without any regard to what people actually wanted, so there’s a feeling that merely allowing certain customs to come back might lead to them being forced on everyone willy-nilly as well. I have to admit, that worries me sometimes too.
And yes, @CatholicByChoice, I agree with @JacobWall. I was a child during the “horrible days” of women having to cover their heads. I don’t remember any woman being turned away, or feeling humiliated if she ended up bobby-pinning a handkerchief or tissue to her hair.
Pants and other definitions of modest clothing is an entirely different subject and could and was sometimes a point of contention, but that would be a different subject.
CatholicCoffee, I have had some holy young men, including seminarians, tell me that beautiful hair is a distraction in Mass.
A head-covering is more modest for young women, especially.
I was in a church one time and very young girl with gorgeous blond hair was walking up the aisle. Many of the older women were distracted. No one should be noticing hair or fantastic clothes at Sunday Mass. I imagine, to you, I look like Mammy in Gone with the Wind, shaking my head and saying, “It ain’t fittin’. It ain’t fittin’. It jest ain’t fittin”.
Thank you for your comment. It has been the same for me-a revert after 34 years along with my 23 yo and 18yo daughters who converted (along with my two sons and husband) Easter Vigil 2011. The girls and I all cover our heads for the reasons you gave, and it seems more and more women are covering for the same reason in our parish. I have a veil that belonged to my late grandmother while the girls enjoy wearing hats or scarves as well as veils. I also wrote a bit about our choices on my blog at mangiamamma.blogspot.org. It is indeed a personal choice, and we are so grateful we are allowed to be able to choose to veil.
If you truly have humility, you don’t have to show it. Now, if women were to shave their heads as a show of humility, that would have more meaning to me as a gesture — a woman without hair is a humbled creature, since her glory is taken away from her. A lacy frilly veil hanging over the sides of a woman’s face accentuates the lovely hair that is plainly visible under the covering — hence the compliments that come women’s way, even from men, and from priests — who really shouldn’t have a preference either way except that it looks pretty and they are told its holy.
By the way, I keep my eyes closed during Mass so I can focus on God and not be distracted by people. It’s also a good way to keep my inner critic silenced. If somebody’s beautiful hair has you all worked up, maybe you should veil your eyes.
Imrahil touched on the essence of Paul’s exhortation on headcoverings ~ it’s not primarily for modesty, humility, to hide one’s lovely locks which may be a distraction/temptation (& don’t say that’s silly…just look at the millions spent to get “big, sexy hair”), or even as a symbol of the holiness of purpose of the woman’s body (to carry another immortal soul).
It IS related to all of those things…but it is, first and foremost, an acceptance and demonstration of the natural order that God Himself established & commanded. Paul says “the head of every man is Christ…any man who prays with his head covered dishonors his head” (& therefore, dishonors Christ). “For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image & glory of God.” This is acknowledging that Jesus came to us as a Man. That wasn’t random.
Woman, on the other hand, “was created for Man” & therefore, “ought to have a sign of authority on her head.” This is such a difficult concept today, where women have assumed nearly all the roles that were proper to men ~ in the home, workplace & even (to some degree) in the liturgy. I believe Paul was so adamant that this was a non-negotiable issue because he knew how timeless it was. As Isaiah lamented, “as for my people…women rule over them”! This usurping of male symbolism by women is precisely what Paul says offends the angels present at Mass.
Here we go again, regarding the head covering-thing. Sigh. Men can have beautiful hair et c too, but nobody seems to think of how they can affect us women! It’s not possible to guard your eyes when a gorgeous man is sitting three feet in front of you. In stead of recieving communion you end up in the confessional – that’s not a gentlemanly thing to do to ladies!!! No, veil the men too, but with someting unmanly. White lace will do.
I have had some holy young men, including seminarians, tell me that beautiful hair is a distraction in Mass.
Happens to us old men, too. I suspect in part it happens because these days it seems the fashion for women’s hair to be a snarl, so when you see an exceptional head of hair, it can be quite distracting, in any environment. And sadly, I see little difference in the demographics of unkempt hair between Mass and public places.
It’s not possible to guard your eyes when a gorgeous man is sitting three feet in front of you.
I find it is most helpful to close my eyes during prayer. ;)
Women didn’t stop wearing headgear in church because they stopped believing in the Real Presence. They stopped because they started wearing beehive hair. (Also, there was more social pressure not to wear hats and scarves indoors, both because it impugned the wonderfulness of modern heating and air conditioning, and because it was formal and out of fashion.)
And yes, it’s important to understand that pious practices can be affected by fashion, because it makes it possible to bring them back into fashion. If you think of yourself as both doing something good and looking good, you will make the practice of wearing your headgear of choice more attractive to others. If you try to look as dumpy as possible and feel miserable and shy, you will look and feel like crud and you will not give glory to God or provide an example. (Sure, you can join Jesus on the Cross, but you can do that all sorts of other ways.)
Fr. Greeley had plenty in his novels to disagree with, but he’s right about his many descriptions of how Catholic women are supposed to dress up to go to Mass and brighten people’s days by being confident and attractive and reasonably fashionable. Personally, I have a gift for being a frump, and even I put in a little effort because God loves me and I don’t want to look like I don’t love Him back. You have inner beauty? Let it show a bit. You’re allowed to look decent in the mirror, sheesh.
Whatever you wear on your head, you’re not supposed to be treating it like a crown of thorns. (Unless your name is St. Rose of Lima, and you really are wearing thorns; but if you’re reading this on the Internet you’re not her.) It’s a diadem, people. You’re a daughter of God living in the freedom of the children of God. Go to church, look good, pray, and don’t look to see whether everybody else is looking. The more normal you treat whatever it is you wear, the more normal everybody else will act about it.
I fixated on the word “custom” when I voted “Sure, why not?”
Custom does not carry the weight of law. Ladies and girls are free to choose to wear a veil or not to wear a veil. But the example, teaching, and encouragement of those who do wear veils will cause the custom to spread. We already have a little of example; what’s lacking is teaching the “why.”
A nice place to start might be with groups such as the Little Flowers.
I definitely think it should not be revived, as far as being a requirement. Too many people are so far removed from the *why* of why women should wear headcoverings, that 99% of people would think the Church was “going back to the dark ages.” I think the Church should focus on far bigger issues, such as reverence for the Eucharist – from EVERYONE, not just women!
N.O.W. worked very, very, hard to plant the idea of the veil as an oppressive garment. Veiling is for YOU. It has nothing to do with MEN. It’s a sign of submission to the Lord, not Tom, Dick, or Harry =) Veiling is a personal devotion, the veil itself is a sacramental when worn for prayer. Don’t please fall into the “equality” trap. One thing has nothing to do with the other.
Here is a quote from the 1968 handbook from NOW
A. Religion Resolutions, “Because the wearing of a head covering by women at religious services is a symbol of subjection with many churches, NOW recommends that all chapters undertake an effort to have all women participate in a “national unveiling” by sending their head coverings to the task force chairman. At the Spring meeting of the task force of women and religion, these veils will be publicly burned to protest the second class status of women in all churches. (Dec., 1968).”
The priest vestments are sacramentals. They are beautiful! It shows that you’re offering your best to the Lord. The crucifix around your neck is a sacramental. Is it ugly? Probably not, probably made from silver or gold, so should you toss it and just tie two sticks together? The rosary in your pocket/purse is a sacramental and I bet its BEAUTIFUL too! A veil worn for worship and prayer is a sacramental why can’t it be lovely too? You are wearing it to honor your Savior, would it be more pleasing to him if it was raggedy or sackcloth and ashes? Lace is pretty, women like pretty things, God likes pretty things or he wouldn’t have made flowers, babies, or kittens =D It’s a sacramental and should be pretty and pleasing, it’s not a punishment!
Actually, that doesn’t appear to be how Augustine interprets those passages of Paul.
If I understand this correctly (and please, people, correct me!), Augustine is trying to reconcile the fact that Genesis says male and female are both in the image of God, and the fact that Paul says that in Christ there is no male and female, with Paul’s words in Corinthians that man should uncover his head so as not to dishonor his head, which is Christ, while woman should cover her head because she is the glory of man.
Augustine says Paul is speaking metaphorically, because woman is also in the image of God. Augustine thinks man and woman are in the image of God, not according to their bodies, but according to the rational mind, which both have. Since man was created first, he is the image of God with or without woman. But since woman was created second, to be a help-meet for man, then if she is considered solely in her role of help-meet she is not the image of God. He seems to separate the idea of help-meet from that of rational mind.
So what Paul is saying is that while both male and female are actually images of God in their rational minds, they represent, in the sex of their bodies, something else. The maleness of man represents the rational mind “the more it has extended itself to that which is eternal, and is on that account not to be restrained”, so the man’s head ought not to be covered because covering the head symbolizes restraint and the rational mind should not be restrained when it “has estended itself to that which is eternal.” The femaleness of woman represents the rational mind devoted to temporal affairs, such as works of mercy. Since excessive devotion of the rational mind to temporal affairs, even works of mercy, can lead to too much time spent on inferior things, she should cover her head to symbolize that the rational mind should show restraint in spending too much time on temporal things.
Wow. Am I reading this right? Augustine, at least in this chapter, doesn’t appear to think it symbolizes the subordination of woman to man at all. How do the real scholars on this blog read this?
@Granny. Yes, I think you’re right about NOW. I was a member for a long time, starting in the late seventies.
Whenever this subject comes up I am reminded of the time when I was sitting behind a couple of very well dressed West Indian ladies in Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris. The one directly in front of the person sitting next to me was wearing a very large elaborate hat – definitely Sunday best – and when asked by my neighbour to remove it indignantly replied that ‘No she was not going to remove it as she always wore a hat to Mass!’ These ladies had obviously dressed up for the occasion and showed up others who had managed to slip in wearing shorts and strappy tops.
There used to be someone outside the Cathedral making sure people were properly dressed but I have noticed that sadly this no longer happens and anything goes now. However they do have a sign showing a baseball cap with a red line through it!
Thank you Maryh. Glad you saw the light! Welcome home =)
NOW clearly had it in for the church in the late 60’s. Women’s ordination was on their minds. Anything they could do to stir the pot and cause chaos was the order of the day.
“Take the lead in uniting women of all denominations and religious groups to work together to support efforts to recognize the right of women to be ordained in religious bodies where that right is still denied.” I’m not sure what issue this was but it gives a clear picture of their agenda.
NOW is the time to take back control of our lives. NOW is not the time to assimilate to bureaucratic puppeteers who want to control, degrade, torture, kill and rape our bodies, NOW is the time to drop a boot heel in the groin of patriarchy. NOW IS THE TIME TO FIGHT BACK. NO GOD, NO MASTER, NO LAWS!
For nearly 2000 years women veiled. Why not now. Was the church wrong for all those years =)
I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land ( with a group ) 3 years ago. It was the most wondrous experience. I was truly in awe and felt blessed at the experience. Whilst there I felt a very strong calling to veil, so I wore a shawl in the prescence of the Blessed Sacrament. When I returned home I so wanted to continue respecting Our Lord in wearing a mantilla ( but was initially concerned about what others would say/think in my NO parish). I prayed to Holy Mother Mary and felt that I could continue veiling because it was for Him and not for me. I continue to do so and still feel awed by the real prescence of Our Lord in the Holy Sacrament. At this point it really only matters to me and my wanting to adore Jesus. Although, another lady has started veiling in our parish also. Company is good. :)
pax et bonum
I cover my head for Mass- usually with a hat, sometimes with a small three cornered scarf, and sometimes with a black lace mantilla that I tie at the back. I try to be discrete so as not to be a distraction. My hats are small, worn on the back of the head with my hair inside.
However, what is all this worry about people thinking you’re “holier than thou?” People in my church could accuse me of that for genuflecting before the tabernacle, as only about half of them do that. They could accuse me of being “holier than thou” for folding my hands as the sisters taught me to- pointing to heaven- rather than just clasping them with fingers folded over as most of them do. They could accuse me of that for many reasons. However, I am not going to stop genuflecting or folding my hands or doing any of the other things I believe are the right thing to do. I could also think that “holier than” stuff about others I see, the younger women in veils and long skirts, the man who bows down and covers his face with his hands after communion, the woman who goes and kneels before the statue of Mary after Mass, but why would I? I like seeing pius people. I do not think of them as being show offs but as loving God very much. As for the casually dressed, I smile and am kind to everyone at Mass. I do not think I am holier than them at all. I have never had anyone say one word to me about what I wear on my head, after attending this church for many years, and if they looked at me strangely I didn’t notice. One thing: if I were to see a person at Mass who I think looks holier than me, I hope I would try to get holier, rather than expect them to be less holy. So- don’t worry about what others think so much. Be modest, wear what you feel is right on your head, give your attention to God rather than other people. I voted yes to bringing back the custom, because I like the custom. I like covering my head to go before God and I would like to see more women feel free to do it too.
YUP!!!!! What she said! Well put and thank you!
Just to clarify, I am not in the least bit afraid of wearing the veil, at least not for my own sake. I grew up in a NO parish in which nearly every woman veiled, and so did I. So, for me, there is nothing weird or new or embarrassing about it. The thing is, now that I am in a different parish where it is not the norm and probably hasn’t been for decades, it could very well backfire if I took it upon myself to set an example. People do not want to mimic someone who they think is showing off. I know because I’ve heard the commentary when individuals suddenly started doing things outside the norm. This is why it would be very helpful if the priest mentioned it first, so that it would seem like I was following his suggestion, not my own. For now I choose things that I can do more discreetly, like only receiving communion on the tongue and only from the priest or deacon.
@JacobWall – you are right that I should probably mention it to the priest. I haven’t done so yet. I have also thought about asking him if we could use the altar rail for communion (for those who would like to). That’s another thing I would love to do.
Well, if that is the ONLY part of the TLM you didn’t like, then don’t wear a scarf as a veil and attend the TLM regularly.
There is no requirement to wear a veil/mantilla or anything else on your head when attending the TLM. Current Canon Law applies to the TLM/EF, too.
Indeed, acardnal. But that is easier said than done, depending on the norms of the parish where the EF is offered. The parish where I’ve attended the EF twice is an FSSP parish, where veiling is the norm.
From the web site of the FSSP parish in the state where I am thinking of relocating:
Men wear no head covering. Women wear a hat or mantilla or chapel veil. Veils are available on a table just inside of the main door of the church. Traditionally, single women wear white, married and widowed women wear black or other colors.
This implies that a head covering is mandatory. I’m curious as to what would happen if I showed up, covered modestly from the neck down, but without a veil. Stares? A talking-to? My contention is, I shouldn’t have to be concerned.
Men can have beautiful hair too, but nobody seems to think of how they can affect us women! It’s not possible to guard your eyes when a gorgeous man is sitting three feet in front of you. In stead of recieving communion you end up in the confessional
Amen, VexillaRegis. Thanks for having the courage to say what I didn’t.
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Sicilian Woman, Personally, I would never let the wearing of a veil keep me away from the Usus Antiquior. You are very fortunate and blessed to have it in the area where you live.
maryh~ I am surely not a ‘real scholar’, but I will take a stab at it…The quotes from Augustine that you posted were from his work “On the Trinity”, so I think his focus was on explaining not so much human relationships in the natural order, but how both men & women are related to/reflections of the Trinity in different ways.
In his works “Against the Manichaeans” & “On Marriage and Concupiscence,” he seems to be more directly addressing the relation of men to Christ specifically as their Head (not just as images of God in general, or the Trinity as a whole), and of women to men (as their head):
“For the man is the head of the woman in perfect order when Christ who is the Wisdom of God is the head of the man.”
“Nor can it be doubted, that it is more consonant with the order of nature that men should bear rule over women, than women over men. It is with this principle in view that the apostle says, ‘The head of the woman is the man;’ and, ‘Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.’ So also the Apostle Peter writes: ‘Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.’”
Here are a few other thoughts of the Fathers as well:
St. Clement of Alexandria:
“For this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled.”
“One act is becoming to a man, another to a woman…How unsightly it is for a man to act like a woman!”
St. John Chrysostom:
“Being covered is a mark of subjection and authority. It induces the woman to be humble and preserve her virtue, for the virtue and honor of the governed is to dwell in obedience.”
“For this cause He left it to nature to provide her with a covering, that even of it she might learn this lesson and veil herself.”
“A woman does not acquire a man’s dignity by having her head uncovered but rather loses her own. Her shame and reproach thus derive from her desire to be like a man as well as from her actions.”
“No governor should come before the king without the symbols of his office. Such a person would never dare to approach the royal throne without his military girdle and cloak, and in the same way, a man who approaches the throne of God should wear the symbols of his office, which in this case is represented by having one’s head uncovered.”
“To oppose this teaching is contentiousness, which is irrational. The Corinthians might object, but if they do so, they are going against the practice of the universal church.”
Dear @inara, thanks for the flowers.
Dear @maryh, thanks for giving something substantial into the debate. (I have not now the time to read up St. Augustine, so I’ll comment from your summary.)
Anyway, the idea that the veil symbols woman’s inferiority to man cannot, after all that, be simply dismissed as a misconception due to popular uninformedness. Don’t you agree? Whatever what St. Paul says really means, his words simply naturally create such an intuitive conception.
St. Augustine also, according to you, interprets St. Paul in a way that
– God created woman as man’s helpmate and not vice versa,
– helpmateship as such is subordinate,
– and even, or so it seems, that women, driven perhaps by temperament and biology, tend [!] to be more active and less contemplative than men (for the natural assumption for “representation” would be that it has, also, some connection to what persons of the sex in question happen to do).
[Tend. I do not know whether that’s true; but if I were about to actually examine that, and it certainly is somehow examinable, I would, against the advice of modern highschool teachers, allow myself to generalize. If we do not allow for generalization, if we not accept the fact that it is quite different with N. N. as order to stop thinking, we shall never either find out anything nor make a concept of anything.]
Let us, then, distinguish.
Subordinateness, in my view, means that the superior can tell the subordinate what to do and not do.
This is something different from mere secondplacedness. Or, according to the Latin meaning, inferiority, though I have a feeling (excuse a foreigner’s impudence) that the word “inferior” is somehow understood along the line of cretinism and mental retardedness, or also lesser morality or dignity.
I do not know whether this something similar is also true in the US Armed Forces, but in Germany a staff-sergeant is of course always inferior to a captain. But he is subordinate only if both belong to the same company (or a rather limited number of other occasions which I’m not outlining here, but which all recruits learn in their first days).
Now even what St. Augustine says St. Paul says does look like some sort of secondplacedness. Doesn’t it. He does reconcile it with the fact that a woman is made in the image of God: something which, although technically St. Augustine’s clarification was in place, St. Paul never dreamt of denying; which, frankly, nobody dreams of denying.
But we will not, imho, get around the hard fact that St. Paul (St. Augustine concurring) intended the veil to be an expression of some sort of secondplacedness of women. Not in dignity, not in morality, not as a right of the men to dominate, not as a right of the men to patronize. But still.
You yourself seem to allude to that when you wear it in signification of the difference between men and women.
mamajen, this is a little off topic but I think you said at one time you live near Syracuse. According to this website there is a TLM at Sacred Heart Basilica.
After Jen’s post and this post, I took the plunge and posted my thoughts and venture into veiling over the last year on my blog (http://wp.me/p3dmFg-k).
Not in my blog: I’d have to say I don’t think it should be Canon Law again, but I do think the practice needs to be encouraged, and at least explained, to people, and women prayerfully come to it in their own time. I know if I had been handed a veil the first time I met someone who veiled, I would have been excited to wear a pretty white thing on my head, but would have had no idea why, and so the devotion would have fallen to the side eventually.
Well, dear @VexillaRegis, I do not know whether this is anything helpful but…
distraction is one thing. But if you actually end up in the confessional, I’d (from afar) quite strongly suppose that you fear to have committed mortal sins where there are none.
It is (in all realistic scenarios) no mortal sin to be distracted at Mass. And it is no sin at all (in principle, and no mortal in realistic practice) to find a man gorgeous and look at him.
(A “lustful look” as mentioned in Mt 5,28 means a look accompanied by the interior formal wish to commit fornication with the person in question.)
Thank you for the link! I live far enough away that I wouldn’t be able to make it regularly (at least at this time), but I would very much like to check it out sometime.
–I definitely think it should not be revived, as far as being a requirement. Too many people are so far removed from the *why* of why women should wear head coverings, that 99% of people would think the Church was “going back to the dark ages.” I think the Church should focus on far bigger issues, such as reverence for the Eucharist – from EVERYONE, not just women!–
I don’t think this is a movement to reintroduce the requirement–there is too much besides the hair that is not routinely being covered to start there–but rather a movement to make the practice seem regular again.
IOW, it doesn’t have to become a formal norm again, but it would be nice if it were be taken as entirely normal again. Women who wear veils just want to be able to walk into a Catholic church knowing that they will be found entirely unremarkable for doing so.
Women should wear what they want. But please don’t wear a veil because you think I’m ogling your beautiful hair; I’m not. It’s a custom that’s changed along with other clothing customs. If you want to do it feel free, but please don’t judge other women who chose not to. Wearing a veil won’t make you a better or holier person.
I must say I did not read all of these comments but anyways. I am a very recent convert myself and I always wanted to wear a chapel veil. I finally had the opportunity to purchase one over the summer while on pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa and started wearing it every once-in-a-while after that. The priest at my home parish was with me when I bought it and thought it was cool but shortly after I started wearing it he pulled me aside and questioned me on it. I was so completely overwhelmed I kind of started wearing it sporadically after that. I wore it a couple times at school but felt awkward being the only one in hundreds and then one weekend forgot it at home and kind of said whatever. Then I had the opportunity to go to my first TLM, I felt awkward without my veil. Needless to say I went home and found it and I’ve been wearing it every time I’m in the presence of my Lord ever since.
I’ve had a few older parishioners at the campus chapel comment that they remember when they were required, and at the youth rally for the March for Life a few high-schooler’s behind me asked what it was after Mass. I’ve gotten better at answering these questions and explaining it to people. I find the veil really helps me focus on the real reason I’m at the Church and it’s so cool when after adoration and Mass it smells like incense for a couple weeks… I sit in my room and sniff my veil on occasion and just remember. It’s awesome
Even in our round-layout, upholstered-pew, turbo-charged modern church, one sees a few chapel veils in the congregation, usually on women under 40. Indeed, even in the local campus parish, some of the kids know about them.
What was it in the mainstream media again about what young Catholics want?
I used to veil when I first started attending the EF Mass regularly until a nosy woman inquired why I, a single young woman, was wearing a black veil. In the end she flat out asked me if I was a virgin. After that I quit veiling. Obviously wearing a headcovering wasn’t working as “not creating a distraction for others.”
I don’t need something on my head to “know [my] gender role in the Divine Order”. If men find me “immodest” because I don’t cover my head at Mass, then I’m quite alright with that. The virtue of modesty far surpasses that of attire and head coverings, and covers things such as speech and mannerisms, whether or not you ignore your screaming child during Mass that disrupts everyone else, etc.
Furthermore, I don’t buy into this “it humbles me” reasoning. I find that those who claim veiling humbles them to be some of the least humble people I know. Veiling while trashing bishops, priests, people who attend the OF, trashing the OF Mass, etc completely defeats the purpose of veiling for “humility”.
Those who find women’s hair distracting, I’ll tell you what else is distracting- trying to focus throughout Mass while every two minutes the lady in front of you is re-adjusting her veil/scarf that keeps falling off, sliding down, being pulled off by her child, etc.
If someone wants to veil/cover their head, then fine, but leave those who don’t believe they are called to this particular devotion alone. Don’t insist that they’re immodest, crazy feminists, non-submissive (Though, I’m single and almost thirty. I don’t really have to be submissive to anyone except Christ. Tell you what, if He tells me to start covering my head again, I will.), whatever.
I wonder how many women would still be open to covering their heads if the only option was a babushka or something along those lines in plain unattractive solid colours like pea-soup green?
Hey ho –
My 2 cents worth: funniest thing I ever saw was a girl at a TLM wearing a nice modest mantilla on her head, and a summer top with spaghetti straps on the rest of her …
I was discussing this with a lady friend last night, and told her this story, and also said I thought no one should feel ‘obliged’ to have to veil – sometimes there is pressure applied at the TLM or in other places by some ladies. I know my mother couldn’t wait to ‘uncover’ because she always said hats didn’t suit her face shape, and by the 1960s she was only buying hats so she had something to wear to Mass – she simply didn’t wear them any other time.
I have short hair and have wondered what the point of veiling would be if I don’t have a crowning glory to cover up. Also I think look rather fetching, peeping out from under that lace, so would I be doing it for the wrong reasons?
And perhaps the fact that I wear pants/trousers pretty much all the time – of the most modest variety; don’t worry – might make the veil a bit incongruous. Although I’m quite taken by the idea of a camoflague one.
Maybe one day I’ll astonish them all, myself included. But I’d have to be very sure of my motives, and also not then go on a power-trip and start inflicting the veil on all comers.
Alice Von Hildebrand makes a splendid case for women wearing a veil. It would behoove everyone who hasn’t read what she has to say on the matter to do so promptly.
Someone else mentioned here that the color of the veil (according to some old ladies, apparently) signifies marital status, and I had never heard of that before! How crazy! I had always thought it was just a preference. I remember my mom having both a white veil and a black veil.
Dear @Christopher Mc Camley,
saying that “something will not make you a better or holier person” will generally not make the adressee a wiser person or a person with one question less in her head. On the contrary, it will make her feel guilty, and that for no reason. How can you ever possibly do a good thing if (at least if it is a good thing of certain sorts) you start by being questioned down into your bone marrow about the integrity of each single unconscious contributing factor?
Then, noone actually has proposed that wearing a veil will make her eo ipso a better, holier person.
Some have proposed that wearing a veil is the right thing to do. Which is something different.
as the dear @Suburbanshee (I guess it was) rightly and touchingly explained, the sense of the veil is not to reduce beauty. If it makes you more beautiful, then that is a reason to wear it and not one against it. (I’m not saying the reason, nor it settles the matter; but yes, it is a reason for it, not against it.)
Dear @mamajen, I did. Yes, white for the unmarried, black for the married, never seen any other color.
(Which, shall I say it, also induced that, well, making oneself inapparent to others’ eyes is not the point the veil is about. Just think about a young man feeling called to marriage but not yet specifically to someone specific, how he is going to feel about white veils.
Nor, in my very humble opinion, should it be all about making oneself disapparent.)
Thank you for your response. This is something I have been thinking of quite a bit over the past years, basically having to look at all my original assumptions again based on new experience.
The word “inferior” does, unfortunately, have a strong connotation of “lesser morality or dignity” in English. It seems to me that one of the only places that inferior has a less negatively charged meaning (that I’ve had experience with) is in the military usage.
A Lieutenant is indeed, for example, an inferior officer to a Captain. He or she is required to salute under the appropriate conditions and respect the Captain’s position. However, a Lieutenant will only be subordinate, as you said, “required to obey” when he or she is in the same “chain of command.” It’s a bit more complicated than that (for example, if a superior officer tries to “pull rank” on an inferior officer not in his/her chain of command), but that’s close enough. Yes, I have personal experience, having been a military officer at one time.
All this to say that I have no trouble at all understanding that being subordinate has no necessary relation with intrinsic value, or sometimes, sadly, even with capability.
So then, yes, I think I agree that women are in some respect in “second place” to men. I think perhaps I understand that as a certain ontological (if that is the correct way to put it) subordination to men by virtue of being more tied to the physical; and of course, the physical is secondary to the spiritual.
As for individual women being in second place to individual men, I would see that primarily in terms of the husband/wife relationship. The reason for this seems more straightforward to me. Although I have wanted to deny it, experience has taught me that any organization without an identified “head” will not flourish well. It is essential that the family remain whole and flourish. Therefore, there needs to be a head. Why the man? Many possible reasons, but a very practical secular one is that it is very difficult to both care for children and protect them at the same time. Woman must normally be with the children (at least until modern times, this was a life and death matter for the children under a certain age and even in modern times, is still applicable for a woman who is pregnant), so the man must normally take on the role to protect.
It’s not clear to me than women in general are to be subordinate to men in general, although, used in the military sense above, they would be inferior. Inferior is still a very charged term in English though. I don’t know a better way to say this.
As for women taking “men’s roles”, that would be another discussion. I would agree that it is wrong for women and men to assume the necessary role of the other sex, but I have yet to properly work out for myself what that means. No doubt, at this point, I would probably define those roles more narrowly than some people. I don’t think that most of the roles women have taken on in modern times are “men’s roles”, properly understood. But clearly, women have taken on, or tried to take on, some roles that are clearly a man’s – for example, the priesthood.
I’m of the generation that once covered its heads in church and I’ll bet that you talked to a Canadian woman of a certain age about “veiling” in church she’d think you’re talking about First Communion, Confirmation or Marriage, because that’s the only time we referred to veils.
Sure, we covered our heads in church, but honestly, the concept of ‘veiling’ is something I never heard of until I started hanging around these blogs. We wore hats, scarves, kerchiefs, tuques, berets, etc. (for many hats were Sunday wear and they wore scarves or something less formal to weekday masses) but ‘veils’?
Mantillas became popular after Jackie Kennedy wore one but they were a fashion accessory just like her little pillbox hat hat been before. They were easy to put on, easy to replace in their little plastic case to pop in your purse. They were more practical than hats because you could always have one with you. It had nothing to do with hiding more hair. Many of us who couldn’t afford them wore little triangular kerchiefs with string ties.
If men are distracted by ladies’ HAIR at Mass, then they are way too distractible, in the way that young children are distracted by anything shiny. Get. A. Grip.
Here we go again, regarding the head covering-thing. Sigh. Men can have beautiful hair et c too, but nobody seems to think of how they can affect us women! It’s not possible to guard your eyes when a gorgeous man is sitting three feet in front of you. In stead of recieving communion you end up in the confessional – that’s not a gentlemanly thing to do to ladies!!! No, veil the men too, but with someting unmanly. White lace will do.”
I remember wearing a veil as a young girl, it was alright except it kept falling or I kept expecting to look pretty and thus I was distracted at Mass and for all the wrong reasons too.
I say if one wants to wear a veil fine and if you don’t, fine too. What matters is our desire to worship in truth and in spirit but dressed appropriately. That matters more than a veil.
Folks dressed as if going camping or to the beach and showing up for Mass in such attire is very disrespectful and distracting. I remember a priest friend telling me he had a hard time delivering a sermon once because he was so distracted by a young woman who walked by nonchalant in very tight jeans. He said his first reaction at seeing her was, “ooh! Tight jeans!” He asked me to pray for him. I have. ^^
At my parish there are some ladies who wear their veil and no one says anything, just as it should be.
It would be nice to see more veils for the simple reason that the symbolism with Mary is just beautiful. I understand that no one wants to be pushed into it but it would be great if some more contemplation was given to the subject. For example does a woman think about it every Mass, about once a month, once a year or with many years between? I don’t have an answer as I have never had to think about it for myself. My closest comparison was wearing my first wide brimmed, Fedora type hat, like those from the 40’s or 50’s. I am not of that generation, being 43, but at a point I just thought, do people care that much or is it my own worries about the choice and being stared down. I bought it, wore it (still do) and after the second or third time I must say I gave it no further thought. True, I am in NY which might allow for some more “personal style space” but if you feel bad about your choice I think it will feel bad anywhere, and vice a versa.
With regards to color and single, married, virgin, etc, interestingly enough traditionally in the early Church, virgins wore dark colors (not white) as a sign of humility. In the early Rite for the Consecration of Virgins, the virgin wore a dark dress to show her humility. However, now, the tradition is to wear a white wedding gown (though I’ve seen everything from wearing albs to every day attire.)
Although this will probably elicit the same reaction I have received in the past in stating an opinion on abortion in the presence of the fairer sex, i.e., “you’re not entitled to an opinion because you are a man!”, I venture to speak up in favor of the ladies’ covering their heads in church. Regardless of whether it is required by canon law, I love to see it because apart from anything else it is completely in line with both Scripture and Tradition. It shows such great solidarity and continuity with the Apostle Paul and the early church!
@Imrahil – aww shucks. [blush]
acardnal, I do not have an EF nearby. (I wish!) The closest one to me – the one I’ve attended – is a couple hours away. :-(
Speaking as someone raised in the Church, then fallen away for a time in the mid ’70s and returned in the ’80s, when I grew up we all covered our heads, even after the reforms, and still received communion on the tongue, although standing. Sooooooo … when I came back, even though many things were (a LOT) different, I continued to cover my head and receive on the tongue — it would have felt extremely uncomfortable NOT to do so. (The Body of Christ in my hand???? I don’t think so!!!!) I’m surprised that head-covering elicits so much interest — when my son was a chorister, and I began going to the church where he sang, I was amused to learn that I was referred to as “the mother who veiled”, the first time I’d heard the word used as a verb — and I am shocked to hear that there are priests who would actively discourage the practice. I’m with the lady above who said that if people were bothered by it, it was on them. I just do it and don’t give it a second thought — if people find it strange, it at least gives them a heads-up that I might not want to be holdin’ hands during the Our Father…
TheBigWeave: You asked what a canon lawyer might say. Take a look at the blog, “In the Light of the Law”; Canon lawyer Ed Peters has a few interesting entries on the subject.
Sicilian Woman: I know a woman who visited, hatless, a couple of FSSP parishes where all the women had something on their heads. Nothing was said to her and there were no stares. I suspect, however, that if she became a parishioner, the pressure would be on her to comply.
At my Catholic elementary school the sisters were the “head covering” police at the required daily Mass. They had a supply of Kleenex and bobby pins for any hatless girl, and enforced the rule. I don’t blame them, because it was canon law at the time, and teachers know all about head lice. Hey–here’s an idea for those of you who like to humble yourself…why not try wearing a Kleenex to church? It would be a lot more effective than lace :-)
Imrahil, thank you for having such high thoughts of me, you are a true Bavarian gentleman! In this case it’s worse than you think – I’m happily married with children.
I’m off to work, but thank you Siciliam Woman and wmeyer for your support and suggestions.
Fr Z, can I ask you a question – why would YOU be pleased to see the chapel veil re-introduced?
Or are you not allowed to say, for fear of your life?
[I’ve written about that elsewhere on this blog.]
I have been covering my head with a scarf for nearly 13 years now (I’ve been a baptized Catholic for almost 14 years). The biggest thing I noticed after I started covering my head is I am now isolated in my parish. I’m no longer asked to participate in parish activities such as RCIA, nor am I asked to carry the “gifts” to the altar.
I don’t mind not being asked to carry the “gifts” to the altar, but I am bothered about being cut off from RCIA. Even so, I’m not going to quit covering my head. Not only is it a traditional practice for Catholic women, I believe what St. Paul said about its necessity.
On a brighter note, I did have one gentleman who looks to be around 60 years old tell me a few years ago that he was happy to see me covering my head. I cover my head for God instead of my neighbor, but it was a nice thing to hear, and recalling his kind words helps to cheer me when I’m feeling the isolation from all of the other parishioners.
So please, gentlemen, don’t hesitate to say something kind to women who cover their heads. Every word of encouragement helps.
It’s not clear to me than women in general are to be subordinate to men in general.
Which might be because that just is not the case.
Thanks for your answer btw. (so also to dear @VexillaRegis).
0k..I’ll admit it..I veil at both NO and EF. First and foremost it is a sign of respect to our Lord’s presence in church. I am not concerned about cannon law..just that the law does not stop me from doing so.
Some history: I started wearing a veil at the EF Mass, but started thinking I was being hypocritical for not wearing one to the NO Mass. I felt by not wearing one at the NO I was subconsciously making a statement to the validity and real presence at the NO. So I started wearing one whenever I went to Mass or Church. I switched NO parishes beause the one I was at was very liberal and I had other issues with the Priest misinforming the congregation, changing parts of the Mass etc. In the NO church I go to now is orthodox (not traditional), there are several women who veil (including the nun who wears a habit). and of course I travel hours to get to an EF Mass when I can go and afford the gas:)
For anyone interested in head covering..there are several placing to get veils , tiechels, snods:
or try ebay…
Dear @VexillaRegis btw.,
of course I do not know, but I might suspect that you know I’m happily married with children even in the situations you describe; nor would you formally intend to do what you know you, because of this, must not do.
The feelings you have in the meantime have a very loose connection to morality, indeed in themselves they are neuter. I do not say that practice will not be a bit different, but still, fear of mortal sin? really? in what goes not beyond permitting thoughts?
Reason for this is not that I am holding you in very high regard. I am :-), but for what I wrote, it suffices that I hold you as one who knows Catholic doctrine, intends to obey it, and is not absolutely and totally given over to sensual pleasures.
I’m a convert. I use a veil. I love it. The PP is very happy about it.
My veil is from the lace museum in Lisieux, but I’m planning on making one, too, I found great instructions here:
I voted “sure why not?” Making it a custom just gives another thing that can be interpreted as an option by the more liberal minded among us. Perhaps providing them at the back of Church and a small amount of catechesis infrequently might just give the gentle prod and confirmation that ‘it’s ok’ to some who may be thinking about wearing one?
A particularly poignant moment in the liturgical year is when the statue of Our Lady is adorned with a beautiful lace veil for a while – and the visual connection with a small number of younger women and small children wearing their’s in the congregation.
On this, the last full day of Pope Benedict’s Pontificate: Thank you, Holy Father, for your selfless service to the Church. May God bless you and protect you all the days of your life.
My experience wearing a veil…..
I attend a large surburban NO parish in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. I started wearing a chapel veil 6 months ago, after having it tucked away in my purse for over a year. My hesitation to wearing it was rooted in fear. I was worried about looking ridiculous, the stares I would get, comments I would receive, appearing to be “holier-than-thou”, …etc. It was a huge obstacle for me to overcome. In order to get past this fear, I had to take “me” out of the picture and focus completely on Jesus. Not an easy task. But, ironically, that is exactly what a veil does! It helps me focus on what is taking place on the altar in front of me and helps eliminate distractions around me. My 18-year-old daughter, who wore a veil before I did, compares it to blinders on a horse. A veil can be transforming. It encourages a woman to be modest, reverent and prayerful.
Comments I have received: An older woman exclaimed joyfully…”Oh! Are these coming back?” A younger woman in her 20’s…. “I read about those on a blog, but I’ve never seen one!” Another young woman…..”What group do you belong to? I would like to wear one of those.”
It never occurred to me that there was a whole generation of young people that didn’t know about chapel veils. What I discovered was that people need information and answers to the following questions: What is a chapel veil?….Why is it worn?….Who can wear one?….Where can I get one? By providing information and veils, I am finding that women of all ages, and their daughters, are embracing a centuries-old tradition and modeling Mary’s modesty, humility, reverence and love for Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Let us heed the words of our Supreme Pontiff, Benedict XVI, in this Year of Faith to “rediscover the joy of believing” and recall that “It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes us fit for mission and strengthens our witness, making it frank and courageous.” (Porta Fidei, October 11, 2011)
Imrahil, thanks for your kind words. You are right, the hormonal system kicking in, saying “this gorgeous man would be a really good mating partner” is in it self morally neutral, but I am a bad fire fighter, if you get what I mean.
Luckily this rarely happens, as I’m usually very busy playing the organ on Sundays.
Few comments to APX and others:
That black/white thing SO ticks me off!!!! Also the idea it has, just has, to be some sort of lacy mantilla or it isn’t traditional. I think many of the new traditional people consider they “wrote the book”. That’s all. I was told straight out by an uber conservative friend (before Mass started — FSSP): “It is traditional to wear mantillas so that’s what we wear here.” My reaction: “No, it isn’t! I remember, but you weren’t there. The lacy veils are just what you guys like. To each her own. I’ll wear what suits me.” [Nothing at all against FSSP; an FSSP priest brought me into the Church. And nothing against mantillas either!]
The other thing: the principle of headship order (particularly in marriage and family) is why the non-Catholics who practice women’s head covering do this. It used to be understood/taken for granted. Not any more. Since non-Catholic Christians have NOT originated any Truth, I suspect that came originally from the Catholic (universal) Church. No claims to know this for sure, but it makes sense on so many planes. I have no problem with seeing those verses in I Cor. 11 this way; it doesn’t make me feel in the least inferior to any man on the face of the earth. Sex roles are so blurred and distorted these days, but God did not make it so. For Catholics there is also the fact of the Real Presence, a further reason some women choose to cover their heads.
People come up with all sorts of notions about head-covering (and everything else) that are really just their group’s opinions. We can think it through on our own and act accordingly. For me the arguments for head-covering from Scripture and tradition are sufficient.
Suburbanbanshee: Thank you for the interesting historic photos on your blog. It proves my memory is correct (I thought I was losing it after reading all these newbies saying veils were the historic norm). I also remember, from a childhood spent on both coasts and the midwest, that most women in the US wore hats to Mass on Sundays. Many different kinds of hats. I find this variety more in keeping with the variety of God’s creation than everyone wearing the same thing. I don’t understand why people say wearing a veil is a “centuries old tradition.” It really isn’t. Some people wore the long chapel veils in the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s. But not many, and not on Sundays. For example, in my Catholic elementary school class, there was only one girl out of 15 or 20 who wore the long veil to the mandatory daily Mass. The rest of the girls wore little round lace caps that could easily be ket in their uniform pockets without making a bulge.
About colours. I’m married and wear a cream veil. Black makes me look ill. AND I wear (very nice) trousers and (very nice) jumpers.
Volanges is right, as is PatB. I grew up in the pre-Vatican II church. Veils were not traditional, except in Spanish-speaking countries. Hats were traditional. They had been so since the 17th century, when a hat (or bonnet), not a veil, became the common out-of-doors head covering for Western women except in traditionally rural areas. The only 20th-century alternative was the silk scarf, usually folded into a triangle and tied under the chin. The school uniform for girls in my parish included a blue cotton beanie with a white tassel on top that matched our blue cotton jumpers and was worn whenever we were in church. Girls with pony tails folded their beanie in half and perched in on their head with the help of bobby pins. If you forgot your beanie, the nuns would hand out kleenexes for your head. As fashions changed, large and small hats went in and out of style. When “My Fair Lady” became a Broadway hit in 1956, huge decorated hats suddenly replaced the simpler and more modestly sized hats of 1955. A couple of years later smaller hats came back.
It was de rigeur for women never in general to venture outside their homes bareheaded, but as time went on the rule relaxed. By the early 1960s church, luncheons, teas, and a few other ceremonial events were the only occasions on which wearing a hat was definitely required. When beehives and other teased hairstyles became the fashion during that era, a wide headband with a bow on top counted as a “hat” in Catholic churches, as did Jackie Kennedy’s reduced-size pillbox. It was around then that the lace mantilla and the doily-size lace “chapel veil” came into vogue for church–because women simply weren’t wearing hats on any other occasion as the ’60s progressed. They simply stopped buying hats, except as sunwear or winter wear. If you look at the photos of Sharon Tate’s Catholic funeral in 1969, you will see hordes of female mourners attired in minidresses and mantillas. Around the same time the rules seemed to relax, whether spontaneously or not I can’t remember, and it was suddenly fine for a woman to go to Mass bareheaded.
In short, the “tradition” of women veiling themselves for Mass dates only from the 1960s. I have no idea where the idea of black vs. white veils came from–perhaps from Hispanic culture. My theory is that the Catholic veiling “tradition” that many of Fr. Z’s other readers have invoke actually dates from about the late ’60s, when many tradition-minded Catholics who were horrified at the various ghastly liturgical practices that crept into churches after Vatican II began to consciously define themselves as different and somewhat separate. Some affiliated themselves with the SSPX, while others started attending rogue Latin Masses in out-of-the-way chapels, and still others tried to keep older practices, such as receiving Communion on the tongue, alive in their Novus Ordo parishes. The mantilla–the last vestige of the female head-covering during the last days of the pre-Vatican II church–lingered on for the women who tried to preserve in their own liturgical lives their own personal memories of the pre-Vatican church. When the traditional Latin Mass came back under indult in 1984, those women in their mantillas became the backbone of the female attendees. They have been so ever since, which is why younger Catholic traditionalist women, who have never known the hat for non-recreational wear, have the idea that they are supposed to “veil” themselves in church, completely hide their hair, or whatever. They have lost 400 years of actual Western tradition.
That said, I’m all for bringing back the mandatory female head-covering, although I love hats, and I’d vote for hats, not veils. I must say that I don’t cover my own head in church, except when it’s cold outdoors and I keep my beret on. That’s because I don’t want to be a complete weirdo in my parish, where I’m already lobbying for more Latin and older music in contrast to my fellow-parishioners who want a “contemporary choir” at every Mass. I already stand out because I wear a skirt and heels to Mass every Sunday–which in my parish is regarded as being stuck-up. It’s that kind of parish–sigh.
I’m not in favor of reviving the head covering as a requirement. I grew up in the days when it was required and sometimes was surprised at what would qualify as a hat – some wide netting with a bow maybe but no real hat or band. I remember being frantic when I couldn’t find the round doily looking thing I used to wear on my head and having to affix a kleenex with a bobby pin to my hair just to look like I was covering my head. It was nonsense. The nuns even carried it further in my grade school – up to 6th grade had to wear beanies that matched the uniform, 7th grade had to wear black doily things on their head and 8th graders had to wear white ones. Like God cared which color it was. Anyway, after experiencing such nonsense, I was happy to see it go away.
I’m a 55 year old cradle Catholic who began veiling on Mother’s Day 2012. Similar to the calling I received from God before making the decision to homeschool, the nudge toward veiling was subtle yet persistent. My adult daughter and I are the only ones who veil in our small, rural parish but since our motivation isn’t about others’ opinions, we simply focus on our reasons for participating in the practice. I have written about my decision and motivation on the Catholic Sistas blog, if you’d care to take a look. http://www.catholicsistas.com/2012/06/12/lifting-the-veil/
I have been wearing a veil at our OF parish for the pat 10 years. It was a hard decision to come to, but in the end, I knew it was more about what God wanted from me than what other people might think. I wear it as a sign of humility in front of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and that’s all I tell people if they ask me about it. The folks who have approached me about it were either pleased about seeing a veil or seemed genuinely curious. Masses at my parish have continued uninterrupted since that time, leading me to realize that I’m not nearly as important as I think ;)
When I rejoined the choir, I kept wearing it (we sit up front) and I keep it on when I cantor. As far as I know, no one is wigged out by this. The upside is that now 10-12 ladies wear veils or head coverings (at the choir Mass, anyway) including another lady in the choir.
I hold no animosity towards anyone who doesn’t veil and I don’t understand why anyone would think I was such a big ‘distraction’ for wearing one.
Some people are getting fixated on the word veil. I remember hats, I remember scarves, I remember the beanie, I remember the dreaded kleenex box. The veil is my preference at this time and not a source of vanity. It is easy to carry and keep in the car. If the church decided tomorrow that veils were not acceptable and we had to cover with scarves I’d wear a scarf or hat… whatever. If you don’t feel drawn to cover fine. But don’t please make comments like, I wonder how those who wear dainty lacy veils would like it if it was a pea green scarf… no one is being snarky with those who do not cover, return the favor.
Christopher Mc Camley says:
26 February 2013 at 6:23 pm
Women should wear what they want.
Absolutely not true.
But please don’t wear a veil because you think I’m ogling your beautiful hair; I’m not.
You are not the only man in the church.
It’s a custom that’s changed along with other clothing customs.
It is certainly much more than that.
If you want to do it feel free, but please don’t judge other women who chose not to.
Irony alert, considering your next sentence.
Wearing a veil won’t make you a better or holier person.
That doesn’t mean women shouldn’t wear them.
I hope I’m not too late to this thread, and someone is still reading! I am a convert of ten years — Deo gratias!! — and a mother of a few young children. (It sounds like I have several peers in the readership!) I have wanted to cover my head in Jesus’s Presence for a least 5 of those years, with varied success. At a former parish (conservative Midwestern diocese) I kept a Holy Hour and always wore a veil or hat for it, but I usually did not wear one to Mass (and when I did, once the toddler pulled it off, I left it off). I now live in an East Coast archdiocese and have only seen a veil once at my parish. I too am nervous about starting to wear one, since our family already attracts too much attention. Here is my question: in my parish church, sadly, the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a separate chapel, AND we always sit in the vestibule outside of the main church anyway. So I am two levels removed from the Real Presence except when receiving Holy Communion. I feel a little weird wearing a veil when, technically, I am not in Jesus’ Presence at all. Do you readers have any thoughts on what’s right in this case?
Find a parish that offers both the OF and the EF. I drive 40 minutes and I don’t resent one minute of the drive or one dime of the $$ spent on gas. Check the Mass locations at the following link BUT CALL to be sure
The above link will help you find a parish that will welcome you and all your kiddlets and will never make the Lord sit in the corner.
for a bit of levity on that subject go here
Mrs. Abingdon, our narthex has glass doors to the nave, so the tabernacle can be seen from there & therefore, my girls & I cover our heads (with mantillas, kerchiefs, hats or sometimes my pea green scarf!) once we step in the front door of the church. To explain it to them I said “Can you see Jesus? (yes) Then He can see you. :o)”
Mrs. Abingdon: In the days when wearing a head covering at Mass was required by canon law, you just wore a hat when you were at Mass. There was no stipulation about where you sat, or whether or not you could see the tabernacle. Some saints always sat behind a pillar so they couldn’t be seen by people, or get distracted by looking at them. They could not see the altar. That does NOT mean they were one or “two levels removed from the Real Presence.” Either you are at Mass, or you are not. Where you sit in the building has nothing to do with what is on your head.
Relax. The Church does not require you to wear a hat. Don’t worry about it.
inara…Jesus can always see us :-)
Sorry for the multiple posts. I’ll try to make this my last.
There’s an interesting discussion on this topic going on now at Suburbanbanshee’s blog: