Veiling and the covering of women’s heads in church


				


					JUNE 24, 2014
					

 

Veiling and the covering of women’s heads in church

 

Should Women Cover Their Heads in Church?
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218 readers’ responses

http://blog.adw.org/2010/05/should-women-cover-their-heads-in-church/

By Msgr. Charles Pope, May 19, 2010

Now be of good cheer. This blog post is meant to be a light-hearted discussion of this matter. The bottom line is that the Church currently has NO rule on this matter and women are entirely free to wear a veil or a hat in Church or not.

I thought I’d blog on this since it came up in the comments yesterday and it occurred to me that it might provoke an interesting discussion. But again this is not meant to be a directive discussion about what should be done. Rather an informative discussion about the meaning of head coverings for women in the past and how such customs might be interpreted now. We are not in the realm of liturgical law here just preference and custom. 

What I’d like to do is to try and understand the meaning and purpose of a custom that, up until rather recently was quite widespread in the Western Church. The picture below was taken by LIFE Magazine in the early 1960s.

 


 

With the more frequent celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, the use of the veil is also becoming more common. But even at the Latin Masses I celebrate, women exhibit diversity in this matter. Some wear the longer veil (mantilla) others a short veil. Others wear hats. Still others wear no head covering at all.

 

History – the wearing of a veil or hat for women seems to have been a fairly consistent practice in the Church in the West until fairly recently. Practices in the Eastern and Orthodox Churches have varied. Protestant denominations also show a wide diversity in this matter. The 1917 Code of Canon Law in the Catholic Church mandated that women wear a veil or head covering. Prior to 1917 there was no universal Law but it was customary in most places for women to wear some sort of head covering. The 1983 Code of Canon Law made no mention of this requirement and by the 1980s most women, at least here in America, had ceased to wear veils or hats anyway. Currently there is no binding rule and the custom in most places is no head covering at all.    

 

Scripture – In Biblical Times women generally wore veils in any public setting and this would include the Synagogue. The clearest New Testament reference to women veiling or covering their head is from St. Paul:

But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head.  But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved.  

 

 

For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil.  A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God.  Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given (her) for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God. (1 Cor 11:1-11)

This is clearly a complicated passage and has some unusual references. Paul seems to set forth four arguments as to why a woman should wear a veil.

 

1. Argument 1 – Paul clearly sees the veil a woman wears as a sign of her submission to her husband.

He also seems to link it to modesty since his references to a woman’s  hair cut short were references to the way prostitutes wore their hair and his reference to a shaved head was the punishment due an adulteress. No matter how you look at it such arguments aren’t going to encourage a lot of women to wear a veil today. It is a true fact that the Scriptures consistently teach that a wife is to be submitted to her husband. I cannot and will not deny what God’s word says even though it is unpopular. However I will say that the same texts that tell a woman to be submitted tell the husband to have a great and abiding love for his wife. I have blogged on this “difficult” teaching on marriage elsewhere and would encourage you to read that blog post if you’re troubled or bothered by the submission texts. It is here:
An Unpopular Teaching on Marriage
. That said, it hardly seems that women would rush today to wear veils to emphasize their submission to their husband.

 

2. Argument 2 – Regarding the Angels

Paul also sees a reason for women to wear veils “because of the angels.” This is a difficult reference to understand. There are numerous explanations I have read over the years. One of the less convincing ones is that the angels are somehow distracted by a woman’s beauty. Now the clergy might be but it just doesn’t seem likely to me that the angels would have this problem. I think the more convincing argument is that St. Paul has Isaiah in mind who wrote: I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two they veiled their feet, and with two they hovered aloft. (Is 6: 2-3) Hence the idea seems to be that since the angels veil their faces (heads) it is fitting for women to do the same. But then the question, why not a man too? And here also Paul supplies an answer that is “difficult” for modern ears: A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man. In other words a man shares God’s glory immediately whereas a woman does as well but derivatively for she was formed from Adam’s wounded side. Alas this argument too will not likely cause a run on veil sales.

 

3. Argument 3 – The argument from “nature

In effect Paul argues that since nature itself veils a woman with long hair and this is her glory that this also argues for her covering her head in Church. What is not clear is that, if nature has already provided this covering, why then should she cover her covering? I want to take up this notion of glory in my conclusion.

 

4. Argument 4- The Argument from Custom

This argument is pretty straight-forward: Paul says it is customary for a woman to cover her head when praying and, other things being equal, this custom should be followed. Paul goes on to assert that those who insist on doing differently are being “argumentative.” In effect he argues that for the sake of good order and to avoid controversy the custom should be followed. However, in calling it a custom, the text also seems to allow for a time like ours where the custom is different. Customs have stability but are not usually forever fixed. Hence, though some argue that wearing veils is a scriptural norm that women “must” follow today, the use of the word custom seems to permit of the possibility that it is not an unvarying norm we are dealing with here. Rather, it is a custom from that time that does not necessarily bind us today. This of course seems to be how the Church understands this text for she does not require head coverings for her daughters.

Conclusions –

1. That women are not required to wear veils today is clear in terms of Church Law. The argument that the Church is remiss in not requiring this of her daughters is hard to sustain when scriptures attach the word “custom” to the practice.

2. I will say however that I like veils and miss women wearing them. When I was a boy in the 1960s my mother and sister always wore their veils and so did all women in those days and I remember how modestly beautiful I found them to be. When I see women wear them today I have the same impression.

3. That said, a woman does not go to Church to please or impress me.

4. It is worth noting that a man is still forbidden to wear a hat in Church. If I see it I go to him and ask him to remove it. There’s a partial exception to the clergy who are permitted to wear birettas and to bishops who are to wear the miter. However, there are strict rules in this regard that any head cover is to be removed when they go to the altar. Hence, for men, the rule, or shall we say the custom, has not changed.

 

5. Argument 5 – The Argument from Humility

This leads me then to a possible understanding of the wearing of the veil for women and the uncovered head for the men that may be more useful to our times. Let’s call it The Argument from Humility.

 

For both men and women, humility before God is the real point of these customs. In the ancient world as now, women gloried in their hair and often gave great attention to it. St. Paul above, speaks of a woman’s hair as her glory. As a man I am not unappreciative of this glory. Women do wonderful things with their hair. As such their hair is part of their glory and, as St. Paul says it seems to suggest above it is appropriate to cover our glory before the presence of God.

As for men, in the ancient world and to some lesser extent now, hats often signified rank and membership. As such men displayed their rank and membership in organizations with pride in the hats they wore. Hence Paul tells them to uncover their heads and leave their worldly glories aside when coming before God. Today men still do some of this (esp. in the military) but men wear fewer hats in general. But when they do they are often boasting of allegiances to sports teams and the like. Likewise, some men who belong to fraternal organizations such as the various Catholic Knights groups often display ranks on their hats. We clergy do this as well to some extent with different color poms on birettas etc. Paul encourages all this to be left aside in Church. As for the clergy, though we may enter the Church with these ranked hats and insignia, we are to cast them aside when we go to the altar. Knights’ organizations are also directed to set down their hats when the Eucharistic prayer begins.

I do not advance this argument from humility to say women ought to cover their heads, for I would not require what the Church does not. But I offer the line of reasoning as a way to understand veiling in a way that is respectful of the modern setting, IF a woman chooses to use the veil. Since this is just a matter of custom then we are not necessarily required to understand its meaning in exactly the way St. Paul describes. Submission is biblical but it need not be the reason for the veil. Humility before God seems a more workable understanding especially since it can be seen to apply to both men and women in the way I have tried to set it forth.

There are an amazing number of styles when it comes to veils and mantillas: Mantillas online

This video gives some other reasons why a woman might wear a veil. I think it does a pretty good job of showing some of the traditions down through the centuries. However I think the video strays from what I have presented here in that it seems to indicate that women ought to wear the veil and that it is a matter of obedience. I do not think that is what the Church teaches in this regard. There can be many good reasons to wear the veil but I don’t think we can argue that obedience to a requirement is one of them.

 

Wearing the veil

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/fs/viewanswer.asp?QID=589

May 10, 2007

A few weeks ago, I had a dream that I was going to Mass but had begun to wear my Mantilla again. I told my husband about it and he said “wear it!” So, I dragged it out and I wore it. I was uncomfortable at first, being the only woman to have her head covered, but then it was as if it provided me the shelter to concentrate on my prayers and on Jesus and the Mass better than I ever have. I have worn it since to every Mass. Am I wrong to do as I was shown in the dream? Could it have been a message from God to start covering our heads again? –Jeanette

Dreams are most often our subconscious talking to us, or they are the brain’s way to creatively deal with stresses and anxieties of our lives. This dream may have been your subconscious talking to you to remind you of this devotional practice, or it could be a dream inspired by God.

It is not wrong to follow through on an inspiration gained from a dream as long as that inspiration is not sin, leads to sin, or is otherwise contrary to the faith.

Wearing a Mantilla is a great and ancient devotional practice. It is a shame that its practice has fallen into disuse.

You are to be applauded for deciding to return to this devotional practice and God will reward you for it.

I understand being uncomfortable at first. Your experience is almost exactly the same as mine the first time I put on the monastic robes.

Continue in this great devotional practice. Others will see you and be inspired either consciously or unconsciously. Those who may criticize you for it do so because deep down, at least unconsciously, they realize that they should be doing the same.

St. Louis de Montfort said once:

Although what is essential in … devotion consists in the interior, we must not fail to unite to the inward practice certain external observances. “We must do the one, yet not leave the other undone” (Mt 23:23); because the outward practices, well performed, aid the inward ones; and because they remind man, who is always guided by his senses, of what he has done or ought to do; and also because they are suitable for edifying our neighbor, who sees them; these are things which inward practices cannot do.

The inward devotion is, of course, more important, but as the great St. Montfort teaches, we must unite the inward devotion with the outward observance.

Again, I praise God that you have decided to practice this devotion of a head-covering. God bless you for it. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

 

Veiling and Canon Law

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/fs/viewanswer.asp?QID=1303

February 17, 2008

I am having trouble figuring out if the practice of veiling for women is still officially Catholic Canon Law.
I was on a website Fish Eaters (http://www.fisheaters.com/theveil.html
*) that interprets Canon Law in this manner:
It was written into the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1262, that women must cover their heads — “especially when they approach the holy table” (“mulieres autem, capite cooperto et modeste vestitae, maxime cum ad mensam Dominicam accedunt”) — but during the Second Vatican Council, Bugnini (the same Freemason who designed the Novus Ordo Mass) was asked by journalists if women would still have to cover their heads.
*See the following page

 

 

His reply, perhaps innocently enough, was that the issue was not being discussed. The journalists (as journalists are wont to do with Church teaching) took his answer as a “no,” and printed their misinformation in newspapers all over the world. Since then, most Catholic women in the “Novus Ordo world” have lost the tradition.
After so many years of women repudiating the veil, the Vatican (as the post-conciliar Vatican is wont to do), not wanting to be confrontational or upset radical feminists, simply pretended the issue didn’t exist. When the 1983 Code of Canon Law was produced, veiling was simply not mentioned (not abrogated, mind you, but simply not mentioned). However, Canons 20-21 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law make clear that later Canon Law abrogates earlier Canon Law only when this is made explicit and that, in cases of doubt, the revocation of earlier law is not to be presumed; quite the opposite:
Canon 20 A later law abrogates or derogates from an earlier law, if it expressly so states, or if it is directly contrary to that law, or if it integrally reorders the whole subject matter of the earlier law.

A universal law, however, does not derogate from a particular or from a special law, unless the law expressly provides otherwise.
Canon 21 In doubt, the revocation of a previous law is not presumed; rather, later laws are to be related to earlier ones and, as far as possible, harmonized with them.
Canons 27 and 28 add to the argument:
Canon 27 Custom is the best interpreter of laws.
Canon 28 Without prejudice to the provisions of canon 5, a custom, whether contrary to or apart from the law, is revoked by a contrary custom or law. But unless the law makes express mention of them, it does not revoke centennial or immemorial customs, nor does a universal law revoke particular customs.
Hence, according to Canon Law and immemorial custom, women are still to veil themselves.
But alternatively EWTN (http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/head_coverings_in_church.htm) interprets it thusly:
The 1917 Code of Canon Law canon 1262, stated,
1. It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church.
2. Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.
When the 1983 Code of Canon Law was promulgated this canon was not re-issued; indeed, canon 6, 1, abrogated it, along with every other canon of the 1917 Code not intentionally incorporated into the new legislation.
Canon 6
When this Code goes into effect, the following are abrogated:

(1) the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;
(2) other universal or particular laws contrary to the prescriptions of this Code, unless particular laws are otherwise expressly provided for;
(3) any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See, unless they are contained in this Code;
(4) other universal disciplinary laws dealing with a matter which is regulated ex integro by this Code.
Thus, there is no longer any canonical obligation for women to wear a head-covering, much less the more specific veil.
Which interpretation is correct? Or how does one find out the exact stance of the Catholic Church on the matter? -Mahina

 

Well, the first thing you need to do is to ignore Fish Eaters*. Their opinions are often not in line with the Church. Their interpretation is typical in picking and choosing canons they think support their positions. As EWTN points out Canon 6 explicitly abrogates the 1917 Canon Law and thus meets the point in Canon 20.   (I have bolded pertinent passages that you have quoted). Fish Eaters is disingenuous and must be eating bad fish. *See immediately below

EWTN is a reliable orthodox source. Their analysis of this subject is accurate.

There is no longer any canonical obligation for women to wear a veil or head-covering (mantilla). This does not mean that woman cannot wear a mantilla–they can if they wish. The wearing of a mantilla is a beautiful custom that we, and many others, have recommended and encouraged. But, there is no canonical requirement. Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

 

*Veiling

http://www.fisheaters.com/theveil.html
This is Traditionalist -Michael

For 2,000 years, Catholic women have veiled themselves before entering a church or any time they are in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (e.g., during sick calls). It was written into the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1262, that women must cover their heads — “especially when they approach the holy table” (“mulieres autem, capite cooperto et modeste vestitae, maxime cum ad mensam Dominicam accedunt”) — but during the Second Vatican Council, Bugnini (the same Freemason who designed the Novus Ordo Mass) was asked by journalists if women would still have to cover their heads. His reply, perhaps innocently enough, was that the issue was not being discussed. The journalists (as journalists are wont to do with Church teaching) took his answer as a “no,” and printed their misinformation in newspapers all over the world. 1 Since then, many, if not most, Catholic women have lost the tradition.
After so many years of many women forgetting or positively repudiating the veil, clerics, not wanting to be confrontational or upset radical feminists, pretended the issue didn’t exist. When the 1983 Code of Canon Law was produced, veiling was simply not mentioned (not abrogated, mind you, but simply not mentioned). However, Canons 20-21 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law make clear that later Canon Law abrogates earlier Canon Law only when this is made explicit and that, in cases of doubt, the revocation of earlier law is not to be presumed; quite the opposite:

 

 

 

Canon 20 A later law abrogates or derogates from an earlier law, if it expressly so states, or if it is directly contrary to that law, or if it integrally reorders the whole subject matter of the earlier law. A universal law, however, does not derogate from a particular or from a special law, unless the law expressly provides otherwise.
Canon 21 In doubt, the revocation of a previous law is not presumed; rather, later laws are to be related to earlier ones and, as far as possible, harmonized with them.

Canons 27 and 28 add to the argument:

Canon 27 Custom is the best interpreter of laws.
Canon 28 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 5, a custom, whether contrary to or apart from the law, is revoked by a contrary custom or law. But unless the law makes express mention of them, it does not revoke centennial or immemorial customs, nor does a universal law revoke particular customs.

2

Christian veiling is a very serious matter, one that concerns two millennia of Church Tradition — which extends back to Old Testament tradition and to New Testament admonitions. St. Paul wrote, 1 Corinthians 11:1-17:
Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that in all things you are mindful of me and keep my ordinances as I have delivered them to you. But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ: and the head of the woman is the man: and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered disgraceth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered disgraceth her head: for it is all one as if she were shaven. For if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn. But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn or made bald, let her cover her head. The man indeed ought not to cover his head: because he is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man [c.f. Genesis 2-3]. For the man was not created for the woman: but the woman for the man. Therefore ought the woman to have a power over her head, because of the angels. But yet neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, so also is the man by the woman: but all things of God. You yourselves judge. Doth it become a woman to pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you that a man indeed, if he nourish his hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman nourish her hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor the Church of God [i.e., if anyone want to complain about this, we have no other way of doing things, this is our practice; all the churches believe the same way]. Now this I ordain: not praising you, that you come together, not for the better, but for the worse.

According to St. Paul, we women veil ourselves as a sign that His glory, not ours, should be the focus at worship, and as a sign of our submission to authority. It is an outward sign of our recognizing headship, both of God and our husbands (or fathers, as the case may be), and a sign of our respecting the presence of the Holy Angels at the Divine Liturgy. In veiling, we reflect the divine invisible order and make it visible. This St. Paul presents clearly as an ordinance, one that is the practice of all the churches.
Some women, influenced by the thoughts of “Christian” feminists, believe that St. Paul was speaking as a man of his time, and that this ordinance no longer applies. They use the same arguments that homosexualists make in trying to prove their case. In this quote, homosexualist Rollan McCleary, who believes that Jesus was “gay,” tries to show that Paul’s admonitions against homosexuality were culturally conditioned:

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes about “men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Romans 1:27).
Asked about these texts, McCleary said references in the Scriptures to homosexuality were misunderstood or taken out of context.
“In those days they didn’t have kind of concept of homosexuality as an identity such as we have it,” he argued. “It has much more to do with other factors in society … homosexuality was associated with idolatrous practices.”
In the case of Paul’s writings, he continued, “does everybody agree with St. Paul on slavery [or] on women wearing hats? There is such a thing as historical context.”

Of course we Catholics agree with St. Paul on slavery (St. Paul wasn’t talking about chattel slavery, by the way), and on veiling, and on everything else! Please! But the liberal above makes a point: if Christians want to reject veiling, why not reject the other things St. Paul has to say? The traditional Catholic woman has the snappy comeback to the defiant homosexualist: “we do veil ourselves and don’t disagree with St. Paul!” But what leg do the uncovered women have to stand on? And what other Scriptural admonitions can they disregard on a whim — or because of following the bad example of a generation of foolish or misled Catholic women who disregarded them?
Now, I ask my readers to re-read the Biblical passage about veiling and note well that St. Paul was never intimidated about breaking unnecessary taboos. It was he who emphasized over and over again that circumcision and the entire Mosaic Law were not necessary — and this as he was speaking to Hebrew Christians! No, the tradition and ordinance of veiling is not a matter of Paul being influenced by his culture; it is a symbol that is as relevant as the priest’s cassock and the nun’s habit.

 

Note, too, that Paul is in no way being “misogynist” here. He assures us that, while woman is made for the glory of the man even as man is made for the glory of God, “yet neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, so also is the man by the woman: but all things of God.” Men need women, women need men. But we have different roles, each equal in dignity — and all for the glory of God (and, of course, we are to treat each other absolutely equally in the order of charity!).The veil is a sign of our recognizing these differences in roles.
The veil, too, is a sign of modesty and chastity. In Old Testament times, uncovering a woman’s head was seen as a way to humiliate a woman or to punish adulteresses and those women who transgressed the Law (e.g.., Numbers 5:12-18, Isaias 3:16-17, Song of Solomon 5:7). A Hebrew woman wouldn’t have dreamed of entering the Temple (or later, the synagogue) without covering her head. This practice is simply carried on by the Church (as it is also by Orthodox Christians and even by “Orthodox” women of the post-Temple Jewish religion today).

 

That which is veiled is a Holy Vessel

Note what Paul says, “But if a woman nourish her hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.” We don’t veil ourselves because of some “primordial” sense of feminine shame; we are covering our glory so that He may be glorified instead. We cover ourselves because we are holy — and because feminine beauty is incredibly powerful. If you don’t believe me, consider how the image of “woman” is used to sell everything from shampoo to used cars. We women need to understand the power of the feminine and act accordingly by following the rules of modest attire, including the use of the veil.
By surrendering our glory to the headship of our husbands and to God, we surrender to them in the same way that the Blessed Virgin surrendered herself to the Holy Ghost (“Be it done to me according to Thy will!”); the veil is a sign as powerful — and beautiful — as when a man bends on one knee to ask his girl to marry him.
Now, think of what else was veiled in the Old Testament — the Holy of Holies!

Hebrews 9:1-8
The former [Old Covenant] indeed had also justifications of divine service and a sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made the first, wherein were the candlesticks and the table and the setting forth of loaves, which is called the Holy. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies: Having a golden censer and the ark of the testament covered about on every part with gold, in which was a golden pot that had manna and the rod of Aaron that had blossomed and the tables of the testament. And over it were the cherubims of glory overshadowing the propitiatory: of which it is not needful to speak now particularly. Now these things being thus ordered, into the first tabernacle, the priests indeed always entered, accomplishing the offices of sacrifices. But into the second, the high priest alone, once a year: not without blood, which he offereth for his own and the people’s ignorance: The Holy Ghost signifying this: That the way into the Holies was not yet made manifest, whilst the former tabernacle was yet standing.

…The Ark of the Old Covenant was kept in the veiled Holy of Holies. And at Mass, what is kept veiled until the Offertory? The Chalice — the vessel that holds the Precious Blood! And, between Masses, what is veiled? The Ciborium in the Tabernacle, the vessel which holds the very Body of Christ. These vessels of life are veiled because they are holy!
And who is veiled? Who is the All Holy, the Ark of the New Covenant, the Vessel of the True Life? Our Lady — and by wearing the veil, we imitate her and affirm ourselves as women, as vessels of life.
This one superficially small act is:  

—so rich with symbolism: of submission to authority; of surrender to God; of the imitation of Our Lady as a woman who uttered her “fiat!”; of covering our glory for His glory; of modesty; of chastity, of our being vessels of life like the Chalice, the Ciborium and, most especially, Our Lady;

—an Apostolic ordinance — with roots deep in the Old Testament — and, therefore, a matter of intrinsic Tradition;

—the way Catholic women have worshipped for two millennia (i.e., even if it weren’t a matter of Sacred Tradition in the intrinsic sense, it is, at the least, a matter of ecclesiastical tradition, which also must be upheld). It is our heritage, a part of Catholic culture;

—pragmatic: it leaves one free to worry less about “bad hair days”;

—and for the rebels out there, it is counter-cultural nowadays, you must admit!

The question I’d like answered is, “Why would any Catholic woman not want to veil herself?”

 

Veiling Options for Women and Girls

There are various options here for women:  

—the classic Catholic lace mantillas

—lace chapel caps (this is for young girls)

—oblong gauzy or cotton scarves worn over the head and over one or both shoulders, or tied in various ways (see this page for information on various ways of tying scarf-type head-coverings (offsite, will open in new browser window) standard-sized square chiffon or cotton scarves folded into a triangle and worn tied under the chin in the Jackie-O style or tied behind the head in the peasant style, etc.

—large square scarves worn “babushka” style (fold large 36″ square scarf into a triangle and place over head with the “tail” side hanging down in back. Then turn back the pointy ends behind the head and tie into a bow or make a knot over the “tail”)

—shawls worn over the head

 

—elegant but simple hats (cloches, toques, berets, “Lady Diana” hats, etc.)

Traditionally, single women wear white or ivory head-coverings, and married or widowed women wear black, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule, and is often ignored.   

 

Finding or Making Head Coverings

Places to buy head coverings (links will open in new browser window):

—Rosa Mystica classic mantillas. 

—Veils by Lily classic mantillas in various colors, styles, and lengths

—Silverhill Treasures mantillas imported from France and Spain

—Scarf World Yes, more scarves!
—
Headcoverings by Devorah

—Immaculate Heart Mantillas classic lace mantillas, chapel veils, etc.

—Halo Works classic mantillas

—Vermont Country Store classic, “retro” solid-color square chiffon scarves

—Modest World various types of scarves

—Desert Boutique  inexpensive, long scarves in many different colors

—Headcovers Unlimited scarves and hats

—Berets 

You can also buy very inexpensive — less than $4.00 each — undyed 11×60 rayon scarves to dye any color here: Undyed Scarves (will open in new browser window). For dyeing, I used plain old RIT Dye. Be sure to wash separately; colors can bleed! Idea: embroider edges (all the way around, or just the short edges) for something unique to you.
It might be a good idea to have an extra head covering or two for women guests who might accompany you to the “Tridentine” Mass but who are new to Tradition (men should remember this, too, if they invite a woman to Mass. It could be embarrassing for her if she is the only one who is not veiled, and there is the chance that at some chapels or parishes, she could be refused the Eucharist. The safest bets, I am guessing, are the longer lacy veils or oblong scarves; a lot of women I know believe they look silly in the shorter veils or caps. And, hey, don’t forget to tell her how beautiful she looks <wink>!).
It’s always a good idea, too, to keep a veil or scarf in your purse and/or glove box so that you can run into a church any time for prayer.
Sisters, veil yourselves, even if you are visiting a Novus Ordo parish and are the only woman to do so. Be true to Tradition, to Scripture, to your own desire to submit to God. Be not afraid… And lovingly encourage other women to do the same, teaching them what veiling means.
I’ve asked Catholics, both male and female, from various Catholic e-mail lists I am on what they think of veiling. Want to read their thoughts?

 

Footnotes:

1 See this pdf file of the original AP article in the Los Angeles Times.

2 A similar sort of situation can be seen with regard to canon law and Freemasonry. The relevant canons, first from the 1917 Code of Canon Law, my emphasis:

Can 2335. Nomen dantes sectae massonicae aliisve eiusdem generis associationibus quae contra Ecclesiam vel legitimas civiles potestates machinantur, contrahunt ipso facto excommunicationem Sedi Apostolicae simpliciter reservatam. (Those who join a Masonic sect, or other societies of the same sort, plot against the church or against legitimate civil authority, incur excommunication”).

And from the 1983 Code, which omits mention of Freemasonry itself:

Can. 1374 A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; however, a person who promotes or directs an association of this kind is to be punished with an interdict.

Because the new Code of Canon Law dropped mention of Freemasonry, many people, including clerics, assumed that it was now okay for Catholics to become Masons. To clear up the confusion, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement which can be found on the Vatican’s website here. The relevant text reads, my emphasis:

It has been asked whether there has been any change in the Church’s decision in regard to Masonic associations since the new Code of Canon Law does not mention them expressly, unlike the previous code.
This sacred congregation is in a position to reply that this circumstance is due to an editorial criterion which was followed also in the case of other associations likewise unmentioned inasmuch as they are contained in wider categories. Therefore, the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic associations remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and, therefore, membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful, who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.”

 

Head Covering

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/fs/viewanswer.asp?QID=1918

June 14, 2011

 

 

After returning to the Church for the past two years and my husband and children joining the church, my 14 year old daughter asked if she could cover her head during the mass. She wanted to show more reverence to our Lord in the Mass. I unfortunately discouraged her since I didn’t understand the practice at the time. Since then I have done some research and have apologized to my daughter and learned what a beautiful outward expression of devotion to the Eucharist this is.

Does one have to wear a Mantilla or can she also wear a head scarf (snood)? I think I’ve seen them in the Jewish traditions. They are plain and simple as to not draw too much attention.

I am so proud of my daughter, but also afraid for the reactions of others, she already kneels before receiving the Eucharist. She just tells me she believes its about personal choice and she believes this is truly the Lord so she wants to make sure she is adoring Him properly. I know she has given me food for thought about head covering too. -Cecilia

Welcome to the Church. I praise God that you have returned and that your husband and daughter have come into full communion with the Church that Jesus established.

I am thrilled to hear that your daughter wishes to honor this ancient tradition of wearing some sort of headgear when present at the liturgies. She is to be praised and congratulated for her faith and devotion.

As what to wear, a mantilla or a head scarf is suitable. A snood, on the other hand, depends on the style. A snood can be a hair net. This is really not appropriate as we are attending Mass not working at McDonalds

A good document on head coverings that I recommend is A Mother’s View: Modesty in Head coverings* (pdf file).

I recommend Modesty Veils as a place to buy mantillas. This source has several different styles at very reasonable prices to choose from.

Do not worry about what others think. That is their problem. Jesus said “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15).

If we are hiding our devotion then we are not serving the greater glory of God. St. Louis de Montfort taught:

Although what is essential in … devotion consists in the interior, we must not fail to unite to the inward practice certain external observances. “We must do the one, yet not leave the other undone” (Mt 23:23); because the outward practices, well performed, aid the inward ones; and because they remind man, who is always guided by his senses, of what he has done or ought to do; and also because they are suitable for edifying our neighbor, who sees them; these are things which inward practices cannot do.

Wear the mantilla or scarf openly with grace and humility as a witness to all of the devotion that all women should express.

The Modesty Veils site also has a page on the Tradition** of the head covering that is excellent.

It is true that the requirement of the veil mentioned in the 1917 Canon Law was omitted in the 1983 Canon Law. This means little. The Church does not make a law for every little thing, especially when the long-standing and ancient tradition teaches and informs us.

Those who do only what the law requires are immature. We are all called to a standard of excellence, not to the mediocrity of minimum requirements. The minimum requirement to receive the Eucharist is once a year during the Easter season. It is foolish, however, to receive the Eucharist only once-per-year. While we do not sin in doing this, it is not prudent.

St. Paul said twice in Scripture: “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23) and “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

In other words, just because it is allowed, doesn’t mean we ought to do it.

In like manner concerning the veil, even if it is not required (which it is according to the Bible–Corinthians 11:1-16), does mean we should not do it anyway as an act of devotion and love.

Encourage your daughter to continue this practice and not worry about what others say or think. Whenever we do anything that glorifies God there will be detractors. It is a great testimony of Godliness, devotion, and femininity. Be sure you wear one too, and shame on you if you do not! Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

 

*A Mother’s View: Modesty in Head coverings

http://www.sacramentals.com/HeadCoverings.pdf

Catholic News and Commentary, 2003

In last month’s issue of Catholic News & Commentary, we discussed modesty and purity in thought, word, action and dress.

Another way women can practice modesty is by properly veiling their heads while in a Catholic Church, while at Mass, in processions, or any time or place where Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament.

St. Paul says that an unveiled woman is a dishonor:

“But every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered disgraces her head, for it is the same as if she were shaven” (1Cor. 11:5).

When I was growing up, every woman came to church with her head covered. We never questioned it or asked why we practiced the custom; it was just a routine and common practice, at least to me.

Today, most women who assist at the Traditional Latin Mass cover their heads, but many do not. Some will wear a veil at a Latin Mass, but when they are in church for other reasons they do not wear the veil. There are also those women who come into church unveiled, go to their pew and pull a veil or a chapel cap out of their purse and put it on.

In all honesty, I would venture to say most of them really don’t know why women should come into the presence of Our Lord veiled – not only during the Latin Mass, but any time they enter a Catholic Church wherein Our Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament.

As I mentioned, as a child growing up in the Latin Mass, head coverings were a must, whether it be a veil or a hat. In fact, and rather unfortunately, the one thing I remembered about Easter Sunday was getting a new Easter bonnet, and the conversation on the way back to the farm was always about who had which hat and which ones we liked the best.

 

After we were married for a number of years (before our return to the Traditional Mass), my husband bought me a beautiful white outfit trimmed in black. It included a broad-brimmed white hat with a black band and feather.

I was holding my 18 month old son, and just as the Easter procession at Mass was beginning, he reached up with both hands and pulled the hat down over my face – all the way to my chin. Each time I’d get one hand loose and attempt to adjust it, he’d grab it somewhere else. Mind you, my eyes were covered under the hat and he was hanging on with both hands, laughing – as was everyone standing within eyeshot. After turning to see why everyone was chuckling, my husband was able to loosen our son’s grip.

Needless to say, I was distracted, but at the time I thought it was funny. After having come to a better understanding of the Mass, however, I am embarrassed to know it was an occasion of sin to all of those around us. Not a good way to start such a Holy Day. One thing good came out of it – I have never worn a hat to church since.

It isn’t that I have anything against hats – I realize that there are women who choose to wear them to Mass in preference to other forms of head coverings. In the research I did for this article, and others that I have written about the same theme, I found nothing which prohibited the wearing of hats, but perhaps that is not the real issue.

Hats can be a distraction to others; they can call attention to oneself if they are colorful or busy, plus, they sometimes are large and block the view of those behind.

In this way they can become an occasion of sin for others.

Another distraction to me personally is the little doily-like covering, or small chapel cap, that sits on top of the head.

St. Paul is clear in stating that the reason for the woman’s head to be “covered” is to remove the hair, the woman’s “crowning glory” from public view. With this admonition in mind, it seems only reasonable that it would be proper to cover as much of the hair as possible with a simple, modest veil or head covering.

Again, this is but my personal opinion as I have found no information indicating it would be wrong to wear a chapel cap.

Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Why is it customary for a bride to wear a veil? Is it just for looks?

Just a custom?

Before the bride goes down the aisle, the veil is pulled over her face. Properly considered in its sacramental sense, her beauty is humbly veiled as she approaches her bride-groom, in the presence of God in His majesty, for it is before God that the couple will make their vows. Only after the vows are made is her face uncovered for her bride-groom. The hair, her crowning glory, is still veiled as she leaves the church.

Upon coming back to the Latin Mass, and before be-coming aware of the reason, I knew in my heart that it was proper to have my head covered at Mass. I had been seek-ing the truth of this, and God put the truth on my heart.

A Catholic church should be a quiet place where the faithful come to worship our All Loving God with the least amount of distraction possible.

Jesus Christ is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. Should one dare to come into His presence immodestly dressed, heavily per-fumed, drawing attention from the Holy One that the faithful come to worship?

We should always keep in mind that when we go to Mass we are coming to a re-enactment of Calvary. Our Blessed

Mother, all the angels and saints, are gathered around the altar to unite their prayers with our prayers, the priest’s prayers, and our Lord Jesus’ prayers for the praise, honor and glory of His Almighty Father, and for the salvation of souls. We should be in awe of such a holy place where we are surrounded by Christ, His Mother, and all of Heaven!

We definitely would not want to be a distraction, or to draw attention away from such a Holy One, or to cause anyone to sin during this holy time.

Sacred Scripture presents several reasons for wearing the veil. St. Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians (11:1-16) that women must cover their heads because it is a sacred tradition commanded by Our Lord Himself and entrusted to Paul: “The things I am writing to you are the Lord’s Commandments” (1 Cor. 14: 37).

The 1917 Code of Canon Law made it clear that women were required to cover their heads in a Catholic Church (Canon 1262.2). When the revision was published in 1983, the matter of women’s head covering was not addressed, but that certainly did not mean that the previous 2000 years of practice and custom were meant to be abandoned for no cause and with no explanation.

In the Nov. 24th 2002 issue of our local church bulletin, the following was written:

Now one reason for the use of veils is wrapped up in the mystery of a woman’s femininity which can bear children. At the moment of conception, when God creates a soul and it joins its body in the womb of its mother, God’s creative hands work within her, and since whatever God touches becomes sacred, we veil it. And since a woman’s hair is her glory (1 Cor. 11:15), we veil what is her dignity.

We do the same thing in our church, for the glory of the Tabernacle is veiled because of the sacredness inside; furthermore, the glory of a consecrated Chalice is veiled be-fore Mass because of the sacredness of what it holds.

Thus, head coverings should not be considered a sign of inferiority; rather it is a sign that women are different from

men and even further, that women aren’t men. As a result, it is a noble act for women to continue this practice, especially to express their love for God for the woman-hood He has given them.

It is an honor for me to wear the veil. Committed and cloistered nuns wear the veil, brides are veiled.

I once read that it is proper for virgins and singles to wear white veils, whereas married women may wear colored or black veils. It was the custom for widows to be veiled in black.

“Christian women around the world have other reasons to wear a hat, mantilla, rebozo, gele, scarf, shawl, or veil. Some wear it out of respect for God; others, to obey the Pope’s request, or continue family traditions. But the most important reason of all is because Our Lord said: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

“We should always be ready with our bridal veils, wait-ing for Him and the promised wedding (Apoc. 22:17), following the example of our Blessed Mother Mary, who never appeared before the eyes of men but properly veiled.

To those who still think the wearing of the veil is an obsolete custom, remember that ‘Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever'” (Heb. 13:8).

 

**Tradition – The Veil

http://www.modestyveils.com/tradition.html, http://catholicplanet.com/articles/article51.htm

Derived from a book in progress called: “The Unveiled Woman” by Jackie Freppon, 2002

During the second Vatican Council, a mob of reporters waited for news after a council meeting. One of them asked Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, then secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, if women still had to wear a head cover in churches. His response was that the Bishops were considering other issues, and that women’s veils were not on the agenda. The next day, the International Press announced throughout the world that women did not have to wear the veil anymore. A few days later, Msgr. Bugnini told the press he was misquoted and women still had to wear the veil. But the Press did not retract the error, and many women stopped wearing the veil out of confusion and because of pressure from feminist groups.

Before the revision in 1983, Canon law had stated that women must cover their heads “. . . especially when they approach the holy table” (Can 1262.2). But in order to reduce such a growing collection of books, the new version of Canon law was subjected to concise changes. In the process, mention of head-coverings was omitted. In 1970, Pope Paul VI promulgated the Roman Missal, ignoring mention of women’s veils. But at the time the Missal was published, it didn’t seem necessary to keep mandatory such an obvious and universal practice, even if it no longer had a “normative” value (Interinsigniores, #4). And mention in Canon law or the Roman Missal is not necessary to the continuation of the tradition, for it is rooted in Scripture and has been practised ever since the early Church. Indeed, Pope John Paul II affirmed that the real sources of Canon law are the Sacred Tradition, especially as reflected in the ecumenical councils, and Sacred Scripture (O.S.V. Catholic Encyclopedia, p. 169).

 

Scripture

Sacred Scripture presents several reasons for wearing the veil. St. Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians (11:1-16) that we must cover our heads because it is Sacred Tradition commanded by our Lord Himself and entrusted to Paul: “The things I am writing to you are the Lord’s commandments” (1 Cor. 14: 37).

 

Divine Hierarchy

God has established a hierarchy, in both the natural and religious spheres, in which the female is subject to the male. St. Paul writes in first Corinthians: “But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God (1 Cor. 11-3). And, in the institution of marriage, God gave the husband authority over the wife, but responsibility to her as well. Not only is he the family’s decision-maker, but he is also responsible for the material and spiritual welfare of his wife and children. Man is not in this position to enslave or belittle the wife. As the Bride, (the Church), is subject to Jesus, women must wear the veil as a sign that they are subjected to men: “Let wives be subject to their husbands as to the Lord; because a husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is head of the Church.” (Eph. 5, 22-23). The man represents Jesus, therefore he should not cover his head. However, this subjection is not derogatory to women, because in God’s kingdom everyone is subjected to a higher authority: “For as the woman is from the man, so also is the man through the woman, but all things are from God.” (1 Cor. 11, 12). Furthermore, the symbolism of the veil takes that which is invisible, the order established by God, and makes it visible. In the history of the Church, priestly vestments have played a similar symbolic role.

 

Women’s Honor

It is an honor to wear the veil. But by publicly repudiating it, a woman dishonors her feminine dignity, the sign of female subjection, just as the military officer is dishonored when he is stripped of his decorations. The Roman Pontifical contains the imposing ceremonial of the consecration of the veils: “Receive the sacred veil, that thou mayest be known to have despised the world, and to be truly, humbly, and with all thy heart subject to Christ as his bride; and may he defend thee from all evil, and bring thee to life eternal” (Pontificale Romanum; de benedictione). St. Paul says an unveiled woman is a dishonor: “But every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered disgraces her head, for it is the same as if she were shaven” (1 Cor. 11, 5).

 

Because of the Angels

“That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels” wrote St. Paul in 1 Cor. 11, 10. The invisible hierarchy should be respected because the Angels are present at Christian liturgical assemblies, offering with us the Holy Sacrifice with the honor due to God. St. John the Apostle wrote: “And another angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense that he might offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne.” (Rev. 8: 3; see also Matt. 18:10). They are offended by a lack of reverence at Mass, just as they abhorred King Herod’s acceptance of adoration from the people of Jerusalem: “But immediately an angel of the Lord struck (Herod) down, because he had not given honor to God, and he was eaten by worms, and died.” (Acts 12: 23)

Ancient Tradition

The custom of wearing the veil was maintained in the primitive Churches of God. (1 Cor. 11:16). We see this in the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians. The women of Corinth, beset by modern sensibilities, started coming to church without their heads covered. When St. Paul heard of their neglect, he wrote and urged them to keep the veil. According to St. Jerome’s commentary Bible, he finally settled the matter by saying the head covering was a custom of the primitive communities of Judea, “the Churches of God” (1 Thess. 2-14, 2 Thess. 1-4), which had received this Tradition from early times (2 Thess., 2:15. 3:6).

 

God’s Command

Even today some people erroneously believe that St. Paul based the tradition on his personal opinion. They think he did not intend it to be continued in the Universal Church, but only as a local custom.

 

 

This argument, however, does not conform to the Pauline spirit. After all, it was Paul who stood before Peter to change Jewish traditions in Christian Churches (Gal. 2:11-21). St. Paul reminds them: “for I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it; but I received it by a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:12), referring to the authority of his ministry, and veracity of his words. Pope Linus, who succeeded St. Peter, enforced also the same tradition of women covering their heads in the church (The Primitive Church, TAN). Our Lord warns us to obey His commandments: “He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19).

 

Conclusion

In summary, the reasons that St. Paul advises women to cover their head in the church are:

—Our Lord commanded it

—It is a visible sign of an invisible order established by God

—The Angels at Mass are offended if women don’t use it

—It is a ceremonial vestment

—It is our heritage

Christian women around the world have other reasons to wear a hat, mantilla, rebozo, gele, scarf, shawl or veil. Some wear it out of respect to God; others to obey the Pope’s request, or to continue family traditions. But the most important reason of all is because Our Lord said: “if you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). We should always be ready with our bridal veils, waiting for Him and the promised wedding (Apoc. 22:17), following the example of our Blessed Mother, Mary, who never appeared before the eyes of men but properly veiled. To those who still think that the veil is an obsolete custom, remember that: “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today, yes, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

 

 


 

 



 

 

Veil

http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/fs/viewanswer.asp?QID=2174

July 8, 2012

What other headwear is suitable or acceptable for the Traditional Latin Mass apart from a veil. For example: berets, beanies… etc. -Bertha

A veil or scarf is best, but any head covering that is humble will be okay. You do not want to wear stylish hats as this is supposed to be an act of humility. For this reason there are some veils (mantillas) that are gaudy and elaborate, which in my opinion does not bode well for modesty and humility.

A simple veil can be purchased at Immaculate Heart Mantillas. Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM

 

Could we re-learn respect and modesty by covering our heads at Mass?

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2011/05/25/could-we-re-learn-respect-and-modesty-by-covering-our-heads-at-mass/
with interesting comments from readers

By Francis Phillips on Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Now that the bishops have reinstated fish on Fridays, the tradition of wearing a head covering at Mass could also be revived

Having now read some of the blog posts at the (new) Association of Catholic women bloggers, I must apologise to the good lady who asked me to join it. At the time I saw it as a kind of breakaway movement from the proposed Guild of Catholic bloggers which has been discussed on the Herald blog site, and felt that we needed to be united, not divided. What I did not appreciate, in my haste to reject the proposal, is that it is not a question of ‘Either/Or’ but of ‘Both/And’. The Church is rich, diverse, and we Catholics have a multiplicity of different ways of communicating our common faith; thank God for it.

There are obvious difference between the posts on the Catholic women’s blog site and the Herald’s: the former is more personal in tone, less engaged in politics, less disputatious and argumentative, more concerned with sharing stories of conversion or ‘reversion’ and how faith is lived in family life and in adversity. In short, it points to the difference between men and women.

A remark on one of the posts has triggered this blog: “I [now] cover my head at Mass.’ I have sometimes debated this question with women friends. I grew up in the days when women always covered their heads at Mass, with scarves or hats; if I or my sisters emerged from the house on a Sunday without an appropriate head covering, my father would send us straight back indoors to find one. It came as a shock after Vatican II to see that this ‘rule’ was now totally disregarded. Even the elderly gradually stopped covering their heads.

The exception was and still is those who attend the Extraordinary Form of Mass. There you observe a sea of black mantillas. Keeping to the Old Rite meant keeping to the old respectful form of head attire. This makes me ask: is it disrespectful for a woman not to cover her head in church? St Paul, naturally, says ‘Yes’. Cardinal Raymond Burke says ‘No’ – but he makes a careful distinction between women who attend the New Rite, for which head covering is not obligatory, and the Old Rite “where it is the expectation.”

Fr Zuhlsdorf, quoting Cardinal Burke, agrees that in the Latin Church “women are not bound to do so” but interestingly, he admits he “wants the tradition to be revived, even though it would not be obligatory.”

For myself, attending the New Rite, I cover my head for at least nine months of the year.

This is for the same reason that Pope Benedict gave when asked why he was once spotted wearing the camauro: “I suffer from sensitivity of the scalp.” i.e. I feel the cold. I have a friend who attends Mass in both forms; for a time she wore her mantilla to both; then started to feel that at the Ordinary Form she was drawing undue attention to herself and looking ‘too pious’, so she now keeps it strictly for the EF. The blog post that triggered these thoughts suggests that its author always covers her head at the OF.

Now that our bishops are reinstating the rule of ‘fish on Fridays’, I rather wish, as Fr Zuhlsdorf does, that the tradition of wearing a head covering could also be revived. Just as the bishops have argued that we need to remember Christ’s suffering on Good Friday by a particular observance, could they not argue that the modesty and respect that scarves once symbolised has now often been lost by participants at the OF, and that restoring the practice might help to remind us that casual dress is not appropriate?

 


 

 

Head Coverings for Women

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/head-coverings-for-women

Rome, May 22, 2007 Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: A friend of mine told me that according to the Scriptures a woman should cover her head in the presence of Our Lord (holy Eucharist/during Mass). In our churches this is not practiced. Can you please write and tell me as to how and when the practice of women covering their heads came to an end, or is it that we are doing something which is not proper? — J.M., Doha, Qatar


A: The Scripture text referred to is probably 1 Corinthians 11:4-16: “Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head. But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil. A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God. “Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given (her) for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God.”
A full treatment of this text is beyond the scope of this column. But we may say that this passage contains some elements that have perennial theological value and others which reflect transitory social mores which apply only to the specific time and place of the Corinthians. For example, during the course of history there were times when it was common for men, and even clerics, to wear their hair long; and none felt that St. Paul’s words considering the practice a disgrace applied to them.
Likewise, liturgical norms tell bishops to keep their skullcaps on during some of the prayers during Mass, and they may use the mitre while preaching, without falling under St. Paul’s injunction that this practice brings shame upon his head. The norms, however, do ask him to remove his head covering for the Eucharistic Prayer and when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. Apart from bishops, and some canons, custom still dictates that all other men should uncover their heads in church except for outdoor Masses. During St. Paul’s time it was considered modest for a woman to cover her head, and he was underscoring this point for their presence in the liturgical assembly.
This custom was considered normative and was enshrined in Canon 1262.2 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law alongside the recommendation that men and women be separated in Church and that men go bareheaded. This canon was dropped from the new Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983, but the practice had already begun to fall into disuse from about the beginning of the 1970s. Even though no longer legally binding, the custom is still widely practiced in some countries, especially in Asia. It has been generally abandoned in most Western countries even though women, unlike men, may still wear hats and veils to Mass if they choose. Sociological factors might also have been involved. The greater emphasis on the equality of man and woman tended to downplay elements that stressed their differences. Likewise, for the first time in centuries, not donning a hat outdoors, especially for men, ceased being considered as bad manners, whereas up to a few years beforehand it was deemed unseemly to go around hatless. This general dropping of head covering by both sexes may also have influenced the disappearance of the religious custom.

 

Follow-up: Head Coverings for Women

http://www.zenit.org/article-19799?l=english, http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/masses-for-the-living-and-the-dead

June 5, 2007

Several readers asked for further clarifications after our article on women wearing head coverings (May 22).
One reader said he was told that the new Code of Canon Law did not repeal the former obligation to wear hats and veils, but simply did not mention it. Although some canonists might accept this hypothesis, it is not the most probable interpretation as it is unlikely that the legislator would have left the faithful in doubt as to the existence of an obligation. By no longer mentioning the custom, the legislator removed it from the realm of obligation while leaving intact the possibility of its remaining as a custom in some places or contexts.
A reader from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, mentioned a particular case: “We have a small group of traditionalist parishioners who come for Mass with their heads (especially women) veiled. Most parts of the Mass they are seen kneeling when everyone else is standing. During Communion they would receive kneeling and will only receive Communion if distributed by a priest and not by lay ministers or religious. There are instances where they refused to come out for Communion because the priest who celebrated the Mass would only give Communion to communicants who are standing. This resulted in them moving from church to church, searching for priests who would give them Communion kneeling. What is the Church’s norm on this?” Other readers mentioned similar cases of women being actively discouraged by priests from wearing hats and veils because they “cause distraction.” The principal reason why St. Paul mandated women to cover their heads was to foment modesty during the liturgy, especially because in the cultural context of the time a woman who did not cover her head conveyed a message of impropriety. Since modesty is the primary reason, a woman is free to cover her head for the sake of modesty, or simply out of respect for long-standing custom.
While modesty would also advise against using elaborate hats and veils that tend to draw attention to oneself, there is no authority in canon law or in common-sense social mores that would allow a blanket prohibition or discouragement of all head coverings. Priests should be flexible enough to accommodate the various spiritual sensibilities of their flock, except in the case of clear incompatibility with the nature of the sacred rite.

 


A similar point could be made regarding the so-called Malayan traditionalists. These faithful should be encouraged to participate in the common gestures of the celebration which express unity of prayer and purpose.
Although the priest should try to educate them as to Church norms and genuine piety, it is usually pastorally advisable to be patient and avoid creating unnecessary divisions regarding points that are not always clearly defined in liturgical law.
At the same time, the Holy See has made it clear that even when the bishops’ conference has established the practice of receiving Communion standing as a general norm, the faithful who wish to, may kneel down to receive the Host. It has also emphasized in very clear terms that under no circumstances may the faithful be refused Communion simply because they kneel. Such members of the faithful, however, should also be careful lest their practice cause any disturbance to the flow of the Communion lines and if necessary they should, for example, wait until the end to receive kneeling. As one version of the classic spiritual adage says, “In important things unity, in less important things liberty, in all things charity.”


 

No pantalons in Paris, and other archaic laws… [Veiling]

http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7240&Itemid=80#jreactions

By
Zoe Romanowsky,
November 18, 2009

Two-hundred years ago, Paris’ police chief banned French women from wearing pants… and the law is still on the books. The Daily Telegraph says that despite numerous attempts to change it, the law remains:

The 1800 rule stipulated than any Parisienne wishing to dress like a man “must present herself to Paris’ main police station to obtain authorisation.”

In 1892 it was slightly relaxed thanks to an amendment which said trousers were permitted “as long as the woman is holding the reins of a horse.”

Then in 1909, the decree was further watered down when an extra clause was added to allow women in trousers on condition they were “on a bicycle or holding it by the handlebars.”

In 1969, amid a global movement towards gender equality, the Paris council asked the city’s police chief to bin the decree. His response was: “It is unwise to change texts which foreseen or unforeseen variations in fashion can return to the fore.”

The latest attempt was in 2003 and it didn’t work either. The strangest part of it all? Pants are mandatory for Parisian female police officers. 

Of course, there are many unenforced laws on the books in our own country. Here in Maryland — a blue state if there ever was one — ten years in jail is recommended for any “unnatural or perverted sexual practice.” Not only that, but the state can indict you without naming the act.

In Massachusetts, adultery can land you three years in state prison. And North Carolina has numerous laws against fornication.

There are laws about all kinds of things that aren’t enforced… In Minnesota, for example, growing a barberry bush can land you in jail for 90 days. Anybody know why?

I can’t help but wonder about Church laws, too. As I understand it, the Church has never removed the requirement that women cover their heads at Mass. But I’ve never heard this mentioned or enforced in a non-Traditionalist North American church. I’m glad for that, but it still seems to be one of those laws “left on the books,” yet ignored.    

Selected out of 18 comments:

(1) The Church has never removed the requirement that women cover their heads at Mass. —Zoe

An altar server friend of mine was instructed by the priest during the middle of mass to quietly instruct the young man wearing a ball cap to remove his hat in church. She made her way around the church, told him to remove his hat, came back to the priest and reported that it was a young woman wearing a hat. The priest then told her to go apologize on his behalf to the woman and tell her that she could put her hat back on, so she had to creep around to the other side of the church again to deliver the second message. –Joshua

(4) Interesting post about Paris and pants. But, I wonder, where in Church documents is it required that women must wear head coverings in Church today? In almost four years of seminary, I had never heard of this! I assume you are not referring only to St. Paul, the proper understanding of which does not require women today to cover their heads. –Scott

(7) Where in Church documents is it required that women must wear head coverings in Church today? In almost four years of seminary, I had never heard of this! I assume you are not referring only to St. Paul, the proper understanding of which does not require women today to cover their heads. -Scott

So the New Testament isn’t a Church document? And I would guess that after four years of seminary, I could also learn that a “proper understanding” of “Pray ye thus …” does not oblige us to pray to “Our Father”?
Don’t laugh. I’ve heard the argument before. From pretty much the same people. –Richard A

(10) The covering is actually supposed to be a veil, something more than mere symbolism. “He that made me rested in my tabernacle” is an Old Testament (Isaias?) prophecy of Our Lady. The tabernacle is dressed with a veil, as it represents the Mother of God. Of course this is not dogma, but I think it is one reason why the Jewish custom was adopted by the Church, in addition to, as the Holy Spirit teaches through St. Paul, it’s being a sign that the woman be subject to her husband.
You never see a man wear a cap in church. They would take it off before entering, almost by instinct. –Joe

(11) It is from the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1262. Now, I know someone will come on here and point out that it is not in the new 1983 Code of Canon Law. However, Canon 1262 was not repealed or explicitly overturned or overruled by a Canon in the new Code (veiling simply was no mentioned), so I do not understand why it would not be in force. In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, Canons 20-21 ARE rather explicit that an earlier Canon is abrogated ONLY IN THE EVENT of a latter Canon EXPLICITLY mentioned. In any case of doubt, it should NOT be presumed that revocation was intended.

 

Therefore, on the basis of Canon Law, women are violating Church law if they do not cover their heads while approaching “the Holy Table.” Also, it would not seem prudent to try and argue for this law being abrogated simply because it is not enforced. We only have to look at the modern practice of the Mass and its many, many unenforced errors to see that this is a hollow argument. From blatant disregard for instructions regarding extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, to who preaches sermons, to the placement of tabernacles, etc., there are many things that go unenforced. They are all instances of breaking Canon law. –Okie

(12) Sorry, the following sentence should read as thus:
“Canons 20-21 ARE rather explicit that an earlier Canon is abrogated ONLY IN THE EVENT of a latter Canon EXPLICITLY mentioning this fact.”
To give an example in the case mentioned above, the 1983 Code of Canon Law would have to say “It is no longer required of women to veil themselves when approaching the Holy Table.” I would even imagine that, if not in the text, a footnote would be given as a reference to the particular Canon that was countervened in such a pronouncement. –Okie

(13) The last sentence is off. The statement is not quite correct. Many of the liturgical abuses are not necessarily Canons of the 1983 Code (perhaps none of them are… I’m not going to look them up if you don’t mind). However, they do disobey explicit rulings of the Church, whether that be the GIRM, the 1983 Code, or elsewhere. –Okie

(14) Women are NOT required to wear head coverings.

See the following posts by Catholic Answers apologists:
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=4222,
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=19141
(See below –Michael)
Jenn

(15) Can. 6 §1. When this Code takes force, the following are abrogated:
1/ the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917
Swing and a miss, Okie. If that doesn’t count as being specifically overturned or repealed by a canon in the new code, I don’t know what else could. –Aaron

(16) Okie, From where are you getting your information? Your comment makes me wonder. No offense, but it sounds a little like something that someone who is clever but who has never actually studied canon law might put together.
Have you read canon 6 of the 1983 Code? It says, “When this Code comes into force, the following are abrogated: 1. the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917.”
Abrogate here means to authoritatively abolish completely. The 1917 Code was completely redone and transformed by the new Code. The canons 20-21 you mention apply to the current code–the 1983 Code, in its relationship to itself, and as to the relationship of post-1983 Code legislation in its relationship to the Code itself. It has nothing at all to do with the 1917 Code. –Scott Johnston

(18) The chapel veil and other such traditional items are no longer required, but they are still permitted. Likewise, all that recommended them in the past remains true today. So, no, the church attaches no requirement to the practice, but there is a long tradition of suggesting it is a right and good custom.
Similar to this is the Friday penance practice of abstaining from meat. This used to be required every Friday. Now it is only required on Friday’s in Lent. However, the universal law requires SOME penance on all Fridays. The particular law in the US suggests abstaining from meat, or some other fitting voluntary practice, but makes no specific requirement. Some argue this means in the US you can skip it, and this may be true from a legalistic point of view, but it is certainly the intent that everyone performs some form of penance every Friday. –smf

 

Must women wear veils in church?

http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=19141

Q: I was recently at a Marian Eucharistic Congress and many women were wearing veils at Mass. I found the modesty and obedience demonstrated in the wearing of the veils to be beautiful. I have heard that women quit wearing them after Vatican II and also heard that women are still supposed to wear them. What is the Church’s position?

 

A: The 1917 Code of Canon Law required women to wear head coverings in church, especially at Mass:

§1. It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church.
§2. Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord (canon 1262, 1917 Code of Canon Law).

There is no canon in the 1983 Code that parallels this older requirement. Since the 1983 Code expressly abrogates (i.e., abolishes, annuls) the 1917 Code (cf. canon 6, Code of Canon Law [1983]), women are no longer required to wear head coverings in church or at Mass.
Certainly, those women who choose to wear head coverings in church are allowed to do so, but it is no longer a canonical obligation. –Michelle Arnold, Catholic Answers apologist

 

The Vatican and Women’s head coverings
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=4222

Q: Does anyone know if the Vatican ever published a document stating that women are not supposed to wear head veils to Church anymore? The reason I ask is because I saw Barbara Bush wearing a head veil during her recent visit to the Pope. And if I remember correctly, so did Princess Diana etc. I know that head veils were not included in the Catechism but only because they felt that it was not necessary to mention as it has always been a tradition of the Church.

 

 

A: The Holy See has never published a document forbidding women from wearing veils to church. Women are free to wear a head covering to church if they so desire. It’s just not required.
The document Inter Insigniores by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (October 15, 1976) stated that the 1917 Code of Canon Law (Canon 1262.2) requiring women to wear a veil on their head was a custom of the period, and that such ordinances, “probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance”, thus the “obligation imposed upon women to wear a veil on their head (1 Cor 11:2-16) no longer has a normative value.” However, as a sign of respect, women should wear a veil when meeting the pope.
The full text of Inter Insigniores is at http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFINSIG.HTM
–Peggy Frye, Catholic Answers apologist

Head Coverings at Mass

http://www.jimmyakin.org/2004/07/head_coverings_.html
To view the readers’ responses, click on the link

By Jimmy Akin

The question of whether women still have to wear head coverings at Mass and, if not, how this can be documented, periodically comes up, so I thought I would deal with it here.

Under prior canon law, women were required to wear some form of head covering at Mass. Here is the relevant canon from the 1917 Code of Canon Law:

 

Canon 1262

§1. It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church.

§2. Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.

The Code of Canon Law is a document that for the most part does not deal with liturgical law (see canon 2 of both the old and the new codes). As a result, whenever the Code does say something of a liturgical nature (like canon 1262), there tends to be an echo of it in the Church’s liturgical books. This means that, when the liturgy was integrally reordered following Vatican II, the head covering requirement may have lapsed at that time since it was not repeated in the new liturgical documents. The promulgation of the new liturgical law may have overridden the liturgical provisions of the 1917 Code, just as many provisions of the Code were being overridden in the years leading up to the promulgation of the 1983 Code. While this is a possibility, I have not been able to verify it.

Nevertheless, it is certain that the legal obligation ceased with the release of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. The reason is that the new Code expressly abrogated the old Code, stating:

 

Canon 6

§1. When this Code takes force, the following are abrogated:

1° the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;

The legal requirement made by canon 1262 of the 1917 Code thus lapsed with the abrogation of the 1917 Code itself. For the head covering rule to still be in force, it would have to have a different legal basis. However, the revised liturgical documents do not contain it, and neither does the 1983 Code. In fact, the new Code has no canon that parallels the old Code’s canon 1262 (meaning that at Mass men and women no longer need to sit apart, men no longer need to remove their hats as a matter of law, and women no longer need to wear them).

Some recently have tried arguing a different legal basis for the head covering rule by appealing to custom. Canon law does provide for the possibility of customs obtaining force of law, but for this to happen several requirements must be met, as you can see from the following canons:

Can. 23 Only that custom introduced by a community of the faithful and approved by the legislator according to the norm of the following canons has the force of law.

Can. 25 No custom obtains the force of law unless it has been observed with the intention of introducing a law by a community capable at least of receiving law.

Can. 26 Unless the competent legislator has specifically approved it, a custom contrary to the canon law now in force or one beyond canonical law obtains the force of law only if it has been legitimately observed for thirty continuous and complete years. Only a centenary or immemorial custom, however, can prevail against a canonical law which contains a clause prohibiting future customs.

The argument that is made appears to be that the mandatory wearing of head coverings by women is an immemorial custom and thus obtains force of law per canon 26. The problem with this line of argument is that it involves a category mistake. Though we might colloquially speak of the “custom” of women wearing head coverings, this matter did not belong in the legal category of custom prior to its abrogation. It was not a matter of custom but a matter of law. The 1917 Code expressly dealt with the subject, so it was not a custom but a law that women wear head coverings in Church. That law was then abrogated.

One cannot appeal to the fact that, when a law was in force, people observed the law and say that this resulted in a custom that has force of law even after the law dealing with the matter is abrogated. If one could say this then it would be impossible to abrogate any long-standing law–or at least any long-standing law that people generally complied with–because mere law keeping would create a binding custom that would outlive the law.

This means that, following the abrogation of the head covering law, the faithful of the Latin church (the community supposedly still affected by the head covering rule) would have to introduce the practice as a matter of custom, intending it to gain force of law (per canon 25), following which the legislator of the Latin church (the pope) would either have to specifically approve the custom or it would have to be observed for a thirty year period.

 

Those things have not happened. The faithful of the Latin church did not introduce head coverings after the abrogation of the law regarding them. In fact, even when the subject was a matter of law, it was widely disregarded–so much so that the disregard is probably the reason the law was abrogated. The Latin faithful certainly did not introduce a head covering custom with the intent to bind themselves to observe it, so the requirement of canon 25 is not met. Further, the pope has not specifically approved this non-existent custom, nor has it been observed for a thirty years period, so the requirements of canon 26 are not met.

Also, canon 28 provides that: “Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 5, a contrary custom or law revokes a custom which is contrary to or beyond the law.” Since the matter of women’s head coverings at Mass is not dealt with in present canon or liturgical law, a custom involving it would be beyond the law and hence would be revoked by a contrary custom, which is what we in fact have had in the Latin church for the past thirty years.

The argument from custom thus does not provide a basis for a continuing legal obligation for women to wear head coverings at Mass.

 

Sri Lankan lay Catholics call for dress code

http://www.ucanews.com/2011/01/20/sri-lankan-lay-catholics-call-for-dress-code/

Short skirts, halter tops, low cut blouses and shorts not appropriate for Mass

January 20, 2011


Colombo Cathedral requires women to use a veil during Mass

 

The Catholic National Association of Laity (CNAL) in Sri Lanka has backed calls for people of all faiths to dress modestly in places of worship.

CNAL is worried about the wearing of increasingly revealing clothing during church feasts, weddings and Sunday Masses.

In an appeal to worshippers, Victor Silva, secretary of CNAL, noted “with great sadness and dismay the unfortunate trend among some Catholic lay faithful to be dressed in an immodest and most disrespectful manner when participating in liturgical services, with scant attention to the sense of the sacred.”

Sri Lankan authorities have already ordered the pulling down of billboards featuring women showing extra cleavage or exposing thighs to advertise products or services.

The call by CNAL comes as part of a drive to have churchgoers dress appropriately during religious ceremonies.
Many Catholics have complained that churchgoers in Colombo turn up for services in short skirts, halter tops, low cut blouses and shorts.

The Sri Lankan government has set up a panel of different faiths to prepare a dress code for places of worship.

 

Head Coverings in Church

http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/head_coverings_in_church.htm

EWTN, April 28, 2011

Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, responded to an inquiry on this subject. While not a formal judgment of the Signatura, it reflects the opinion of the Church’s highest canonical official after the Pope. Note in his answer that there is neither a canonical or moral obligation for women to use a head-covering. Even in the case of the Extraordinary Form there is merely “an expectation,” whose failure to fulfil does not entail sin.

Image of original letter

4 April 2011

Dear ________,

Thank you for your letter postmarked January 5, 2009, regarding the custom of the chapel veil. I offer you my sincere apologies for failing to respond to your letter, in a timely manner. I had placed your letter with some other papers and have only recently discovered that I never responded to it.

 

The wearing of a chapel veil for women is not required when women assist at the Holy Mass according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. It is, however, the expectation that women who assist at the Mass according to the Extraordinary Form cover their heads, as was the practice at the time that the 1962 Missale Romanum was in force. It is not, however, a sin to participate in the Holy Mass according to the Extraordinary Form without a veil.

I wish you an abundant share in the strong graces of the Lenten Season.

Thank you for the assurance of your prayers for me. As a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, I have need of your prayers, now more than ever.

Invoking God’s blessing upon you, while confiding your intentions to the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I remain

Yours devotedly in Christ,

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis
Prefect, Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

Original FAQ from 2004

Canon Law

The 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 1262, stated,

1. It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church.

2. Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.

When the 1983 Code of Canon Law was promulgated this canon was not re-issued; indeed, canon 6, 1, abrogated it, along with every other canon of the 1917 Code not intentionally incorporated into the new legislation.

Canon 6
1. When this Code goes into effect, the following are abrogated:
     (1) the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;
     (2) other universal or particular laws contrary to the prescriptions of this Code, unless particular laws are otherwise expressly provided for;
     (3) any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See, unless they are contained in this Code;
     (4) other universal disciplinary laws dealing with a matter which is regulated ex integro by this Code. 

Thus, there is no longer any canonical obligation for women to wear a head-covering, much less the more specific veil.

Moral Law

Given St. Paul’s instructions in 1 Cor. 11:3-16 is there a moral obligation for women to wear head-covering, despite the revision of canon law?

Certainly, the moral obligation to dress modestly according to circumstances (e.g. approaching Holy Communion) has not been set aside. Modesty, however, can vary from place to place and time to time. As St. Thomas Aquinas explains, modesty concerns four areas of human behavior,

First, “the movement of the mind towards some excellence, and this is moderated by “humility.” The second is the desire of things pertaining to knowledge, and this is moderated by “studiousness” which is opposed to curiosity. The third regards bodily movements and actions, which require to be done becomingly and honestly, whether we act seriously or in play. The fourth regards outward show, for instance in dress and the like” [ST II-II q160, a2]. 

 

 

Dress, external behavior, mannerisms, etc. are signs of the person, and become so in the cultural context in which the person lives, and in which it indicates something to others. The Christian conforms to the culture in such matters, unless sin is intrinsically involved (clothing which will have the general effect to tempt the opposite sex). Modesty is humility in dress and mannerisms, an outward sign of the disposition of the inner man. By not standing out the Christian assumes a humble posture toward his neighbors.

Whether men and women sit on opposite sides of the church, men wear a skull-cap, and women a veil, as the Jews of St. Paul’s day did, is therefore ultimately a matter of modesty, and thus of custom. St. Paul even alludes to this in the Corinthians passage (v.16). When the “approved mores of the people” (1917 CIC, c1262, 2) change, the Church, desiring to be “all things to all men” (1 Cor. 9:22), can conform to those customs. Only the Magisterium is competent to determine which customs can legitimately be practiced, and where custom leaves off and divine law begins. We are always safe in following the Church, rather than our own judgment, for even if the Church makes a prudential error, it is “bound in heaven” (Mt. 16:13-18).

A Sign of Subordination

Even if wearing head-covering is not a moral obligation, isn’t it a fitting sign of the subordination St. Paul speaks of in the passage in Corinthians?

First, let’s look at what subordination is. It means to be ordered (directed in an orderly way) toward a particular goal or end, sub (under) some other person’s direction. A worker is subordinate to his supervisor, the supervisor to his manager, the manager to the owner, all in order that the company run smoothly to achieve its purpose. As persons, as citizens, as Christians, and in many other categories of existence, worker and supervisor are equals, but in working toward the goal of making the company’s product they are not.

Consider the examples St. Paul gives as to why women should be covered.

1 Cor. 11:3 But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ.

1 Cor. 11:8-12   For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; [9] nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; [10] for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. [11]

In Christian marriage the husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is head of the Church. This is also St. Paul’s message in Eph. 5:21-33, in which he enunciates the supernatural meaning of Christian marriage as a sacramental sign of Christ’s union with the Church. St. Paul then goes on in Corinthians to recall the creation of man and woman, pointing out that woman was taken from man, not vice versa. As Pope John Paul II so clearly taught in his catechesis on Genesis, marriage is not only a Christian sacrament, it is a natural sacrament of the Communion of Persons within the Trinity. What this tells us is that the equality of persons within a communion does not destroy the hierarchical order of the nature in which it exists. In the divine nature the Father is the head, in the Church it is Christ, and in marriage it is the husband. Indeed, in the Christian order the natural order is perfected, since love becomes, or should become, the motive force of all relations. No doubt this is why St. Paul, in his Ephesians discourse on marriage, begins it by saying, “defer to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph 5:21).

Why, then, would the Church drop the practice of such a fitting sign of the natural order? While, it is certainly still true that the husband has the headship in marriage and the family, I can think of several possible reasons. 

1. Lost significance. As explained above, signs are culture specific. A particular gesture, clothing, expression, conveys a meaning which is widely understood by people of a particular culture. When the culture no longer sees the significance the sign loses its meaning, except to those who have retained the understanding of it. Certainly, the practice of an important sign can re-introduce a particular understanding into a culture, and so an argument can be made for retaining a sign, like women wearing a head covering in church, and teaching its significance. Indeed, this MUST be done in the case of the matter of the sacraments. Rice cakes cannot be used for the Eucharist, even where rice and not wheat is the staple food. The Church must simply teach the meaning of the sacramental sign. The wearing of a veil or other head covering is not a sign of that significance, however, and so when and where it has lost its meaning it can be set aside, as the Church has evidently done.

2. Conflict of meaning. A sign, while remaining valid, may nonetheless suggest a meaning that would be an obstacle for people in a particular culture. Take the case of white vestments. For Western Christians they convey joy and celebration, but in the Far East white connotes mourning and sadness. Should the Church hold onto her custom because of its longevity or conform it to the understanding of Oriental cultures? She chooses to make her liturgical signs understandable in the culture in which they must be “read.”

In the particular case of head covering, while the truth intended by this sign remains valid, properly understood and in union with other truths, it is easily misconstrued today as a servile subordination of wife to husband or even all women to all men. In the contemporary world, in which the equality of men and women as persons is emphasized, this is a legitimate consideration. We must not use our Christian freedom to hinder souls (1 Cor. 8). Since there is no intrinsic moral obligation to this practice, it can be set aside. As the last canon of the Code of Canon law reminds us, the salvation of souls is the highest law of the Church (salus animarum suprema lex).

3. Liturgical theology. Among the doctrinal truths manifested in the Mass is the hierarchical nature of the Church. The Church, the Mystical Body, is composed of Christ the Head and those who have been baptized into Christ, His members. The visible distinction of offices in the Liturgy, between the ministerial priesthood on one hand and the people on the other, are the sacramental sign of the Mystical Christ, Head and members. Within that liturgical, sacramental order, except for the fact that those who represent Christ the Head must be male, the natural distinction between the sexes and within marriage is not liturgically significant. In baptism “there is no longer male or female” (Gal. 3:28). Thus, we find that in all areas of the Church’s life not requiring a distinction of sex, men and women today participate equally in the Church as baptized persons.

Personal Piety

While it is absolutely clear to me that there is no canonical or moral obligation for women to wear a head-covering in Church, women are certainly free to do so as a matter of personal devotion. They should, however, see it as a sign of subordination to God, as that better suits the liturgical context. Those who wear a covering or veil, and those who don’t, should not judge the motives of the other, but leave each woman free in a matter that is clearly not of obligation.

 

Wear your mantilla with pride

By Catholic Knight: I am a husband and a father. I am faithful to the Bible, the Pope and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That’s all that matters. View my complete profile
(catholicknight.blogspot till page 32)

http://catholicknight.blogspot.in/2006/09/wear-your-mantilla-with-pride.html

September 12, 2006

Why Wear the Veil?

In ancient traditions dating back even thousands of years, the “veil” represented purity and modesty in many religions and cultures. A veil, or head covering, is both a symbol and a mystical sacrifice that invites the woman wearing it to ascend the ladder of sanctity.
When a woman covers her head in the Catholic Church it symbolises her dignity and humility before God, not men. It is no surprise women of today have so easily abandoned the tradition of the chapel veil (head covering) when the two greatest meanings of the veil are purity and humility.
The woman who covers her head in the presence of the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is reminding herself that she must be humble before God. As with all outward gestures, if it is practised enough it filters down into the heart and is translated into actions that speak volumes. The “veil” covers what the Lord calls, in Holy Scripture, “the glory of the woman”, her hair. Covering her hair is a gesture the woman makes spiritually to “show” God she recognises her beauty is less than His and His Glory is far above hers.
In doing this she is reminded that virtues cannot grow in the soul without a great measure of humility. So she wears the veil to please God and remind herself to practice virtue more ardently.
There is no other piece of clothing a woman may wear to serve this function. The veil symbolically motivates the woman to “bow” her head in prayer, to lower her eyes before the great and mysterious beauty and power of God in the Blessed Sacrament. By the bowing of her head and lowering of her eyes, she is more able to worship God in the interior chapel of her heart and soul.
The veil or head covering a woman wears gives a beautiful sense of dignity to a woman. When she wears it, she identifies herself with God’s greatest creation, the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God. There was none on earth that loved and loves the Lord Jesus more than the Blessed Virgin Mary. In her love, her humility breathed forth like sweet scented incense before God. The veil she wore symbolised her purity, modesty and of course her profound humility and submission before and to God Almighty.
Those women who love Jesus must come to realise the imitation of His Mother in wearing a chapel veil (head covering) and in other virtues is a small sacrifice to make in order to grow in spiritual understanding of purity, humility and love.
The covering of a woman’s head in Church is a striking reminder of modesty, something old but lost in the society of today. Modesty and purity walk hand in hand.
When a woman veils her head she is shielding her heart to be wooed by the love of God in the Blessed Sacrament. This is a mystical ‘country’ that only the Eternal Father may enter. Her veil is like the lighted lamps of the virgins waiting for the Bridegroom, an indication that she is prepared to receive Him at a moment’s notice; an aureole of her spiritual love for the Bridegroom. Wearing the veil is an act of love of God.
Why should a woman wear a head covering or veil in church? Not to be praised, not to go along, not for tradition’s sake, not to stand out in the crowd, not because you say or I say or anybody says…But because she loves our Eucharistic Lord Jesus and it is another small sacrifice she may offer for her soul’s sake and for the sake of many souls who have no one to offer for them. Amen. (Sr Patricia Therese, OPB)

Marylike Standards of Modesty in Dress

1. Marylike is modesty without compromise, “like Mary”, Christ’s Mother.

 

 

2. Marylike dresses have sleeves extending at least to the elbows (because of impossible market conditions quarter-length sleeves may be tolerated temporarily) and skirts reaching below the knees, even when seated.

3. Marylike dresses require full coverage for the bodice, chest, shoulders and back, except for a cut-out about the neck not exceeding two inches below the neckline in front and in back, and a corresponding two inches on the shoulders.

4. Marylike dresses do not admit as modest coverage transparent fabrics – laces, nets, organdy, nylons, etc. – unless sufficient backing is added. However, their moderate use as trimmings is acceptable.

5. Marylike dresses avoid the improper use of flesh-coloured fabrics.

6. Marylike dresses conceal rather than reveal the figure of the wearer; they do not emphasise, unduly, parts of the body.

7. Marylike dresses provide full coverage, even after jacket, cape or stole are removed.

Marylike clothing is designed (as is inherent in the very definition) to clothe the body, not to reveal it. These guidelines, therefore, automatically exclude such fashions as tight sweaters and skirts, sheer blouses and sleeveless dresses. Note that, contrary to the vogue of the last fifty years, men’s attire is not appropriate for women and girls who emulate the modesty and purity of Our Blessed Mother in their dress and demeanour.
Marylike standards of dress are a guide to help instil in the hearts and souls of our youth a “sense of Christian modesty”, that beautiful fruit and flower of holy purity, the awareness of one’s integrity as a Child of God. A young woman who follows these guidelines, and who looks up to Our Lady as her ideal and model in all things, will have no problem with modesty in dress. She will never be an occasion of sin or source of embarrassment or shame to others. On the contrary, she will realise in herself the prayer of so many young women who have taken Our Lady for their model and mother: “May all who see me, see thee, O Mary!”

Younger Nuns Are Getting Back Into the Habit

http://catholicknight.blogspot.in/2006/11/younger-nuns-are-getting-back-into.html

By Tracy Schmidt and Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, November 15, 2006

For the iPod generation, it doesn’t get more radical than wearing a veil. The hijab worn by traditional Muslim women might have people talking, but it’s the wimple that really turns heads. And in the U.S. today, the nuns most likely to wear that headdress are the ones young enough to have a play-list.
Over the past five years, Roman Catholic communities around the country have experienced a curious phenomenon: more women, most in their 20s and 30s, are trying on that veil. Convents in Nashville, Tenn.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and New York City all admitted at least 15 entrants over the past year and fielded hundreds of inquiries. One convent is hurriedly raising funds for a new building to house the inflow, and at another a rush of new blood has lowered the median age of its 225 sisters to 36. Catholic centers at universities, including Illinois and Texas A&M, report growing numbers of women entering discernment, or the official period of considering a vocation. Career women seeking more meaning in their lives and empty-nest moms are also finding their way to convent doors.
This is a welcome turnabout for the church. As opportunities opened for women in the 1960s and ’70s, fewer of them viewed the asceticism and confinements of religious life as a tempting career choice. Since 1965, the number of Catholic nuns in the U.S. has declined from 179,954 to just 67,773, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. The average age of nuns today is 69. But over the past decade or so, expressing their religious beliefs openly has become hip for many young people, a trend intensified among Catholic women by the charismatic appeal of Pope John Paul II’s youth rallies and his interpretation of modern feminism as a way for women to express Christian values…

 

Prayer Shawls – A Sign of Class, Beauty and Courage

http://catholicknight.blogspot.in/2006/12/prayer-shawls-sign-of-class-beauty-and.html

December 21, 2006

In a previous article, I demonstrated why a Catholic woman should wear her mantilla with pride! Indeed, nothing says “I’m Catholic and not ashamed of it!” better than a mantilla. This Biblical custom was recommended by the Apostle Paul (1st Corinthians 11:1-16) and codified in the Code of Canon Law for centuries. Vatican II did not rescind the custom, nor did the New Code of Canon Law. Rather, they left the matter open, for Catholic women to decide for themselves how they would express their humility and devotion to God.
The head covering is part of Christian tradition all over the world. It is only in English speaking countries (particularly the United States) where this Catholic and Biblical custom has fallen by the wayside. As a Caucasian boy, growing up in Southern California, I found myself surrounded by Hispanic communities. I still have very fond memories of my childhood home, and for a white man, I’m not the least bit embarrassed to say I find myself more “at home” and “at ease” in Hispanic culture than my current Anglo-Saxon surroundings of the American Midwest.

My grandmother was Swedish, but she was raised in Cuba – go figure! She spoke fluent Spanish, and didn’t know a word of Scandinavian. She was also a Roman Catholic. Growing up in Southern California, with my Spanish-speaking white grandma, got me in pretty close with the Hispanic-Catholic culture of the area. The older women of those parishes were staunchly conservative in their religious practices, and to be quite honest, I’ve never seen a more modest and classy group. These women knew how to be Catholic, Spanish, classy and at the same time absolutely beautiful. Their Spanish shawls served a double purpose. Inside the Church they frequently used them as a type of mantilla, while outside, they dropped them down over their shoulders to create a elegant wrap, useful for social gatherings in the cool outdoors. In all my years since childhood, I’ve never seen a more impressive and stunning display of feminine Catholic beauty.
My wife also grew up in the same neighborhood as I, and she (like my grandmother), is a Scandinavian who identifies more with Catholic-Hispanic culture than her own. (Guess what I’m getting her for Christmas.) If only more Catholic women across America would pick up this particular tradition. If they did American Catholicism would benefit, Catholic women would be known for their classy style, and I would start to feel at home again. Sigh!


Wearing the Chapel Veil

http://catholicknight.blogspot.in/2007/07/wearing-chapel-veil.html

July 22, 2007

It is revealing when one considers how Catholic women all over the world still keep this custom. Unveiled women during mass is a phenomenon mostly seen in the West — particularly English speaking nations. In a way, we could consider this custom a barometer of sorts. A society’s Liberal decadence can be measured in part by how few women veil themselves during mass…

Rest as in Tradition – The Veil http://catholicplanet.com/articles/article51.htm, pages 10, 11

 

The Chapel Veil – Veiling or Head Covering – Fully Explained

http://catholicknight.blogspot.in/2007/12/chapel-veil-veiling-or-head-covering.html

December 22, 2007

Unfortunately, something as simple as a chapel veil has become somewhat of a controversy in the modern Catholic Church. To be more accurate, it’s not so much a controversy in the “modern” Catholic Church as it is in the “western” Catholic Church, particularly in English-speaking nations. One would not find so much of a controversy if one were to visit a Catholic Church in the third world. There one would find the chapel veil used by many Catholic women almost universally. Eastern Orthodox women also veil in these regions. While here in the western industrialized world, eastern Orthodox women (along with eastern Catholic women in the Byzantine Rite) have kept the custom a bit more faithfully than western Catholic women in the general Roman Rite. Yes, veiling in some form was even common in most Protestant communities for many centuries prior to the 1960s. In some Protestant groups the custom evolved into large elaborate hats, which one can still see practiced in the Methodist Episcopal denomination. The custom is also still practiced in the form of lace mantillas and/or bonnets among the Amish, Mennonites, the Apostolic Christian Church, some Pentecostal groups, which includes the ‘Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith,’ and the stricter Dutch Reformed churches. Though most Protestant denominations have no official expectation that women veil, some individual ladies choose to practice the custom according to their understanding of 1st Corinthians 11.

The chapel veil was the custom of all Catholic churches (eastern and western), everywhere in the world (including English-speaking nations) for nearly 2,000 years. The custom only fell out of use among western Catholic women, particularly in English-speaking nations, in just the last 30-40 years. Why is that?

 

A movement was introduced to western culture at around the same time that explains a lot of it. The movement was called feminism. Like most social movements born in the 1960s, some good did come out of it. But at the same time, some not-so-good things came out of it. On the positive side, feminism pushed for equality for women in the workplace and in government. On the negative side, feminism saddled women with burdens they never bargained for, and in some ways made their struggle worse than it was before. The long term effects of feminism (positive and negative) will be debated for decades to come, and that is not the purpose of this article. So for now, we’ll leave the sociology to the sociologists.

What concerns us is feminism’s effect on Catholic women in western cultures, particularly those in English-speaking nations. The most noticeable effect in such nations was the rapid disappearance of the chapel veil from mass. Almost overnight the veil was gone. This was accompanied by the release of the new Code of Canon Law in 1983, which no longer mentioned chapel veils. Since the new Code of Canon Law abrogated the older code, it was assumed by many that the custom of veiling was also abrogated, simply because it was no longer mentioned. That combined with feminist influences on Catholic women in western nations led to the popular misconception that veiling is now optional, and women are no longer required to do it. As a result, it came to be the norm for older traditional women to keep wearing the veil, while younger Catholic women discarded it completely.

The feminist transformation of western Catholic women was accomplished mainly though propaganda. It was propaganda that fit the feminist mindset very well, but actually mischaracterized and falsely represented the Catholic mindset. Women were told that the veil represented male oppression, and that a male controlled Catholic Church sought to dominate women by forcing their subjection through the symbolic act of veiling while in Church. (Now none of this is true, and if it were, yours truly would be against the chapel veil as well.)

 

The tide of feminism was overwhelming in western culture, particularly in English-speaking nations, and as a result most Catholic women simply accepted this propaganda as truth without ever questioning it. Thirty years have gone by, and one can easily find Catholic women who still accept the propaganda without question, having never even heard a rebuttal.



 


It would appear the Vatican listened to the feminist movement, and did find a potential problem in the Code of Canon Law that could be made as a case to bolster the erroneous feminist argument. It was possibly for this reason the Vatican dropped the chapel veil requirement from the Code of Canon Law. Under the old Code of Canon Law, women could theoretically be forced under penalty to wear a chapel veil against their will. The problem with this was twofold. First, this canon could be used as a case to bolster the erroneous feminist argument against the chapel veil. Second, this canon actually defeated the authentic Catholic reason for veiling in the first place.

The authentic Catholic reason for wearing the chapel veil is the Biblical reason. It’s just something that all Christian women (regardless of denomination) are supposed to do, not because they have to, but because they’re supposed to want to. The Catholic Church has decided to no longer enforce this Biblical custom through Canon Law, and in doing so, the Church is saying it does not want to be our nanny. The chapel veil is a custom for women to do voluntarily, because they want to, not because they are being forced to. The idea is that women are to read what the Scriptures have to say, and be convicted according to what is contained therein. In order for a chapel veil to be an authentic sign of humility and holiness, it must be voluntary. Indeed, Christian women are supposed to wear one, but it is never to be forced.

The Scriptural case for the chapel veil…

1st Corinthians 11:2-16
I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you…

 

The tradition of the chapel veil comes from Christ, by way of the Holy Spirit, through St. Paul, for Paul mentions later in this same epistle: “What I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. If any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” – 1st Corinthians 14:37-38 St. Paul commends the Corinthians for keeping the chapel veil tradition, among other traditions, and then he continues in chapter 11…

….But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God…

Here we have the central point of misunderstanding. This verse has been misused time and time again as a means of male superiority. Not only is this a misreading of the text, but it completely misses an important theological point Paul is trying to make. This chapter of Corinthians is entirely Eucharistic, in the sense that it centers on the Eucharistic celebration (or the mass). The following verses (17-34) deal entirely with the celebration of Holy Communion. When Paul says the head of every man is Christ, what he’s saying is that Christ came in the form of a man. He’s making a statement about the incarnation. He’s saying that Christ came in human form, and because of this, the man becomes a physical representation of Christ — particularly if he is a husband. When he says the head of every woman is her husband, he is not saying that women are inferior to men in any way. What he’s saying is that if a husband becomes the physical representation of Christ’s incarnation, than his wife becomes the physical representation of Christ’s spouse — or the Church. When Paul says “husband” here, he is referring both to earthly husbands, and to Christ himself. That being the case, wives take on the symbolic role of the Church. Paul continues in chapter 11…

…Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head…

 

 

Again, this goes straight back to the incarnation. All of this is a symbol of what we Catholic Christians believe about Christ, his incarnation, and the Eucharist. Paul tells us that if a man covers his head during mass, he dishonors his spiritual “head” which is Christ. In other words, a man who covers his head during mass dishonors Christ, because his action of veiling himself sends the physical statement that Christ was not incarnate as a man. The woman, on the other hand, representing the Church, ought to cover her head because if she believes that Christ is truly incarnate, she should veil herself as a sign that the Church has been made holy by Christ as his spouse. In doing so she honors Christ as a symbol of his sanctification on the Church. She also honors her husband with a physical sign that he represents Christ, because Christ came in the form of a man. The chapel veil is a sign of holiness because Christ has made his Church holy, and women represent the Church as the “bride” of Christ. It is a sign that the Church is covered and under Christ’s protection. This is the symbolism of the Church’s relationship to Christ. It is not so much a statement of a particular woman’s holiness, but rather the Church’s holiness. Paul continues…

— it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil…

Here Paul is really laying it on think, and he has good reason. He’s trying to convey a big theological point. Customs in the church are not the result of random happenstance. These things exist for a reason. Under the Old Covenant, both Jewish men and women covered their heads during worship, but the early Jewish Christians changed that custom for a reason. They wanted to make this practice of veiling a symbol of Christ’s incarnation, like they did with so many other Jewish traditions, and as Paul mentions in chapter 14 (cited above) these things are not trivial man-made customs, they came from the Holy Spirit Himself. Here Paul is telling us that it is shameful for a Christian woman not to cover her head during mass, and he is using an illustration from antiquity that has to do with punishment. In ancient times, women would have their heads shaved publicly as punishment for lack of modesty. It was a form of public humiliation. Here Paul is not advocating the shaving of a woman’s head for refusing to wear the chapel veil, but rather, he is trying to convey the seriousness of the imagery. When a Christian woman refuses to do this, she is in effect saying (though perhaps not intentionally) that Christ was not incarnate in the form of a man. Granted, in modern times this is almost certainly not the intention of any woman who refuses to veil during mass, but what Paul is telling us here is that every custom in the Church has meaning, and because of that, failure to keep those customs also has meaning, whether one intends to convey that meaning or not. It’s sort of like bowing, kneeling or genuflecting before the Eucharist for example. Catholics do these things in mass for a reason, and that reason is to stress the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. In practice, we are bowing, kneeling and genuflecting before our God and King, whom we profess to be really and truly present in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. That being the case, if one fails to bow, kneel and genuflect, what kind of signal does that send to those around him/her? One may not intend to send any signals of disrespect, but invariably one can, whether one intends to or not. The custom of the chapel veil has similar significance. Paul continues….

…For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels….

Here we have another commonly abused passage. Again, Paul is not trying to bolster male dominance here. Remember, we have to keep the context of this chapter in mind, and the context of 1st Corinthians 11 is the Eucharistic celebration. Paul calls man the “image and glory of God” for one reason and one reason only — because Jesus Christ (who is God) was made incarnate as a man. Then he expounds on this by pointing out that the woman is the “glory of man” (or mankind). This is meant to be a complement. Of the two human genders, women are far more “glorious” then men in their appearance, beauty, voice, fashion and general gracefulness. The hair was considered a woman’s crowing glory in Biblical times (Song of Songs 6:5). Beyond that, women bear the special gift of motherhood. In that, God touches them in a way no man has ever experienced. The Scriptures tell us that God Himself fashions the unborn child in the womb, and plants a living human soul inside the body of a women when she becomes pregnant (Psalm 139:13-16). In this way, God touches the body of a woman in a way he never touches a man’s body. This makes the woman’s body a sacred vessel of God’s creative powers. It is something that is particularly holy, and must be respected as such. It is no wonder why women are called the “fairer sex.” Paul is agreeing with that here. However, Paul is also reminding women not to get too prideful. He reminds them of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, where the woman is made to complement the man, and not vice versa. Now we learn that the chapel veil is also a sign of personal humility in addition to the Church’s holiness. The woman not only covers her head as a sign of her belief in a incarnation, not only to show how Christ has made his Church holy, but also to cover her “glory,” as a sign of humility to show that she is not vain or overly proud of her womanhood and beauty. The veil or head covering is a symbol of the woman’s acceptance of her role in society, the family, and the Church, in accordance with God’s will. It is an imitation of the Virgin Mary, who wore such a head covering.

 

Then St. Paul says something very curious. He says the woman ought to veil her head during mass “because of the angels.” Paul tells us that the angels participate with us during mass, and this is reinforced by the writings of St. John: “And another angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense that he might offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne.” (Revelation 8:3; see also Matt. 18:10). The angels watch everything that is going on during mass, as they participate in the same liturgy we do. They are also well aware of the customs of the Church and what they mean — even the custom of veiling. Angels are offended when we ignore or refuse to follow any liturgical custom, whether it be failing to kneel or veil in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord.

…(Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.)…

If ever there was a verse to counter the abuse of male dominance, this is it. If ever there was a verse to prove that St. Paul was not a male chauvinist, this is it.

 

 

Paul follows his previous verse, reminding women to be humble, with this verse, reminding men to be humble too. He doesn’t want the men to use what he just wrote as a means of beating down the women in a form of male superiority. He is reminding the men that they are not superior to the women, but rather fully dependent on them, and that both genders come from God. One cannot be “better” than the other. Then he continues with some rhetorical questions to back his point…

…Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering….

Paul is not prohibiting hair styles here. To focus on hair styles is to miss the point. Paul is simply asking a few rhetorical questions based on popular culture. In most cultures women have longer hair then men, and when they do, it usually looks better. He’s saying that when a woman has long hair it usually looks beautiful, and when a man has long hair, it usually looks a little odd. In some cultures, long hair is considered a sign of femininity. So if a man has long hair, it looks feminine in those cultures, and that is “degrading” to him. What Paul is doing here is he’s appealing to nature. He’s saying; “Look, even mother nature teaches us the same lesson. She gives women long hair as a covering and it looks good and proper on them.” Then he concludes with this interesting verse…

…If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.

Some Bible versions have mistranslated this verse to say “we recognize no such practice, nor do the churches of God.” This mistranslation is often used to negate the previous first half of the chapter. In other words, those who abuse such mistranslations say that Paul spent half a chapter, explaining a deep theological principle pertaining to a custom he applauds the Corinthians for keeping, only to say in this last verse that they really don’t need to keep it. Such interpretations are silliness. The proper translation is rendered here as “we recognize no other practice.” Here Paul is telling the Corinthians not to get too contentious over the chapel veil custom, because he’s not going to burden them with anything else beyond that. He’s not going to tell men and women how to dress. He’s not going to tell them what kind of a veil they should wear, or how they should wear it. He’s simply saying that this is the custom as it is practiced in the “churches of God” and they recognize no other practice beyond this.

So the chapel veil has nothing to do with male dominance. It has nothing to do with subjecting women under male authority. It has everything to do with Christ’s incarnation, and the real presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

 

The Bible is very clear about this. Women are supposed to veil in the presence of the Eucharist and in prayer, but at the same time, they are to take it upon themselves to do it. They are not to be forced into it by men, nor coerced into it by the Canon Law of the Church. Coercion actually defeats the whole purpose of veiling. (Which may be one reason why the custom of the veil has no place in canon law) It has to be voluntary, if it is truly to be a sign of holiness and humility. This is why the Church removed it from Canon Law. It was not to send a signal to women that they need not do it anymore. Rather, it was to tell women that when they veil themselves, it is not because men told them to. It is a sign and symbol coming from them, voluntarily, not as a grudging requirement against their will.

Furthermore, the chapel veil is a sign of the incarnation, illustrated in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Women are supposed to veil in the presence of the Sacrament and in prayer before God. They are not veiling in the presence of men, nor has the tradition of the Church ever required this. The feminist propaganda was wrong. If the chapel veil were a sign of male dominance, than it would have been required in the presence of men, but it is not. Nowhere in Church history, Canon Law, or the Bible, are women required to veil in the presence of men. They are only expected to veil in the presence of our Lord.

 

Though the custom has generally lapsed in western cultures, particularly English-speaking nations, it is not erased entirely from the conscience of western Christians. For example; what’s the first thing a Catholic mom does when her daughter is preparing for first communion and confirmation? She goes out and buys a veil. Likewise, what’s one of the most important accessories to a bridal gown? Why it’s the veil of course! Finally, when a baseball game or community event is opened in prayer, regardless of the religious denominations of those in attendance, what’s the first thing everybody does? The men all remove their hats, and the women do not. Funny how that works, isn’t it. This doesn’t just happen by accident. It all goes back to the ancient Christian custom of veiling.

Yes, Christian women are supposed to veil during worship, and this is especially true for Catholic women who understand the incarnation of Christ and His real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. According to the Bible, this is not optional. All Christian women are expected to do it, but it is to be done voluntarily, without force or coercion. The custom was removed from the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, but it was never abrogated as a Biblical custom of the Faith. To veil properly, women must do so voluntarily, and they must do so with proper understanding of the custom and what it means. Hopefully this article has been helpful in this.


 

Chapel Veil Retailers

http://catholicknight.blogspot.in/2008/01/chapel-veils.html

January 29, 2008

This information is for the ladies who wish to participate in the ancient Catholic and Biblical custom of veiling (1st Corinthians 11: full explanation here). Canon Law no longer requires women to wear veils, but the custom is quickly returning to local parishes all around North America.
The following is a short list of online retailers who specialize in chapel veils and prayer shawls for women….

—Chapel Veils from The Knight’s Armory – everything you need to battle the “tyranny of relativism.”

—Head coverings By Devorah Pretty and feminine! Modesty does not mean frumpy! (This site markets primarily to Jewish women but the products are identical to those worn by Catholic women, since this Catholic custom originally comes from Judaism.)

—Fashion Scarves & Shawls
(Beautiful shawls make the ideal veil, but also serve a practical purpose as a shoulder wrap when not in prayer.)

—Halo Works – Veils

—Halo Works – Shawls

—Vintage Chapel Veils

—Modesty Veils

 

Does Veiling Bring Respect?

http://catholicknight.blogspot.in/2008/02/does-veiling-bring-respect.html

February 25, 2008

A reader of ‘The Catholic Knight’ recently posted this remark:

Interestingly, I have noticed that men treat me much more nicely and respectfully when I am veiled.
Perhaps at its deepest level this response springs from gratitude for the restoration of the other half of the eschatological sign.” – source

She mentioned that she often wears her veil in public on the way to and from mass. I am curious about this phenomenon. Are there any more women who have had similar experiences?

 

Overwhelming Support for the Chapel Veil!

http://catholicknight.blogspot.in/2008/05/overwhelming-support-for-chapel-veil.html

May 26, 2008

Dear ladies, please take note of the chapel veil poll above. You’ll notice immediately that the results indicate an overwhelming support (among men and women) for the chapel veil. The poll has significant responders, and represents a pretty good cross section of Catholic readers. From it we can conclude that an overwhelming MAJORITY of both men and women in the Catholic Church support the chapel veil. They want to see it! They want to bring it back! If ever there was a blinding indictment against the anti-veiling peer pressure so many of you lovely ladies have been subjected to, this is it. It seems that those who oppose the chapel veil are a very small (albeit very loud) MINORITY.
‘The Catholic Knight’ brings this poll to you lovely ladies as a service, and to let you know that YOU ARE LIBERATED! You are free to veil if you so choose, and you can do so knowing that the overwhelming vast majority of men and women in your parish will silently support your doing so. The opponents to the chapel veil may be loud and obnoxious, but they are a very tiny minority. You can now feel free to regard them as such.

 

Feminist Bullies in the Catholic Church

http://catholicknight.blogspot.in/2008/05/feminist-bullies-in-catholic-church.html

May 28, 2008

A dear Catholic sister recently commented on this blog, stating her intention to wear the chapel veil after her daughter is born this summer. She said it was after reading this blog, talking with her husband, and much prayer, that she was able to overcome the peer pressure against the chapel veil in her parish. I responded in support of her decision as follows…

As you can see by the poll at the top of every page on this blog, the chapel veil is supported by the overwhelming majority of Catholics – both men and women (approx. 56%). While about 5% are unsure on the matter, a small minority of just 34% are dead set against it. (I assume these are mostly feminists, and are probably older women.)
However, because of this mere 34%, the overwhelming majority of Catholic women (nearly all), in the English-speaking world, no longer practice veiling. Why? Because they’re afraid. They’re afraid of what others will think. Yet I’ve proved on this blog that those who disapprove are a small (albeit loud) minority. They are vastly outnumbered by those who do approve.
This is what we call “the tyranny of the minority.” It’s when a small group of people are able to control an entire population simply through peer pressure. That’s what’s going on here. A small minority of “feminist” Catholic women are coercing nearly all Catholic women, by means of peer pressure. They do it by being loud and obnoxious. Put on a veil, and they jump all over you.
That’s just WRONG, plain and simple. It’s a form of bullying, and it violates what the Bible says on the matter. This small minority of women, are not only behaving as bullies, but their borderline heretics, because in pressuring women to remove the veil, they violate the plain teachings of Scripture on the matter.
I put the chapel veil poll at the top of every page on this blog so women who want to veil will see that they have nothing to fear. Those who support them are in the MAJORITY – a large majority.

 

Only a very tiny minority oppose them, and they do so in violation of Scripture.
Women who wish to veil must take courage. They must understand that they’re doing the right thing. And most importantly, they must understand that the few women who oppose this are not only a tiny minority, but they’re acting as bullies and heretics when they do so.
It’s time for Catholic women to be strong. It’s time for them to stand up to tyranny. How dare any woman pressure another to ignore the plain teachings of Scripture on this matter! If that tiny minority wants to refuse the veil, then so be it. Nobody is making them wear one, and nobody is ever going to. But how dare they try to pressure another woman to refuse the veil. Who do they think they are!?!

Let it be known from this time forth that ‘The Catholic Knight’ will boldly defend the right of any Christian woman (Catholic or otherwise) to veil for prayer and worship. Furthermore, I call upon all Christian men (Catholic or otherwise) to boldly and passionately defend their wives and daughters who make a similar decision. Our women are being bullied by a tiny feminist minority that is hell-bent on peer pressuring them to ignore the plain teachings of Scripture on this matter. A call goes forth from here to all Christian men – “Be a man, and defend your women against the tyranny of the minority.”

 

Christian Dignity of Women

http://catholicknight.blogspot.in/2008/12/christian-dignity-of-women.html

December 4, 2008

The following are some writings from Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand – one of the great minds of the modern Church. No blog composition on the Chapel Veil would be complete without giving proper attention to the Christian dignity of women…

(Priests4Life) – My dear young friend:
I know that young girls like secrets, and I am going to share one with you. God has chosen your sex for you; He made you to be a girl. You know that girls today are often told by feminists that the Church is “sexist” and has “discriminated” against them from the very beginning. She is accused of having treated them as “inferior”, less talented, less gifted, made to be man’s servants. She has denied them power in the Church, and prohibited them from receiving the highest honor, to be ordained to the priesthood and so on.
No doubt, you have heard this siren song, because the media are good when it comes to spreading this negative message. And this is why, to rebut these false claims, I would like to make you realize that women – far from being discriminated against – have been granted a unique place by God in the work of redemption. The beauty of their mission is already hinted at in the Old Testament, but it finds its fulfillment only in the New, that is in the sweet Mother of our Savior; in Mary, the gentle Maid of Nazareth who was chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the Redeemer.
Let us take off our “secular” eyeglasses, and then we shall be able to see that women, far from being “discriminated” against, are in many ways privileged. And this is the “secret” I wish to share with you. The body of every little girl born into this world is mysteriously sealed by what is properly called the “veil of virginity”. That is to say, a “secret” is entrusted to her body, and a secret is always “veiled”. According to Christian teaching, this veil closes the entrance to a mysterious garden which belongs to God in a special way, and for this reason cannot be entered into except with His express permission, the permission that God grants spouses in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Any little girl aware of this “mystery” will feel that her body is to be modestly clothed, so that its secret will be hidden from lewd looks.
Little girls, of course, grow up. How beautiful when a bride can say to her husband on their wedding night, “I have kept this garden virginal for you, and now, with God’s permission I am giving you its key, knowing that you will enter into it with reverence”.
Moreover, when a wife conceives a few hours after her husband has embraced her, God creates the child’s soul in her body, (as you certainly know, neither husband nor wife can produce the human soul; God alone can create it.) In other words, there is a personal “contact” between God and the woman which, once again, gives to the female body a note of sacredness. Don’t forget that He whom the whole universe cannot contain, was “hidden” in the womb of the Holy Virgin for nine months. Once you realize this, you will be awe-filled for the double mystery that God has confided to you: to conceive a human being made to God’s image and likeness, and to give birth to it in pain and anguish. Do not forget that it was also in pain and anguish that Christ re-opened for us the gates of paradise – which had been shut by sin. To women has been granted the awesome privilege of nobly suffering so that a new human being, made to God’s image and likeness, might come into the world. Meditate upon this for a moment, and you will feel a deep reverence for your body. It belongs to God, and is not a “play thing” that you can dispose of as you please.
If you ever study pagan art, you will discover that it pays tribute to the male reproductive organ, representing it in various sculptures and paintings as a symbol of strength, virility, creativity, power. But from the very moment that the Catholic Church became a recognized religion, she fought relentlessly against this pagan cult. But the Church introduced a prayer uttered millions of times every single day in which the female organ par excellence, the “womb” is mentioned. “Blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus”. I am sure, my dear young friend, that if you meditate on this, you will understand that it is a privilege to be born a woman, and will respect the mystery that God has put in the female body.
Thank God that He has made you to be born a woman; I am sure now that you understand that it is a great privilege.
Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand
source

 

 

 

(Casorosendi)Woman’s religious mission
But let me turn to the question of feminism which has been one of my great concerns. Feminism started as a sort of revolt against sometimes very unfair and unjust treatment of women and one of my delights at City University, day after day, was how stupid my colleagues considered me. For a long time I was the only woman in the Department. And they used to say “A woman, how can you teach philosophy?” It’s very tragic, but what can you do? There is a history of male accomplishments.
If you read the Gospel, women play a very secondary role. Even the Holy Virgin is mentioned very rarely and speaks very little. The very moment that you put on supernatural lenses you are going to come to the strange conclusion that it is a privilege to be a woman. It is a privilege precisely because, to be in the background, from a secularistic point of view, to be humiliated, which often happens, is a tremendous supernatural advantage.
This is something St. Teresa understood so profoundly. It is not true that to be humiliated is to be inferior. It is not true that to be subject to one’s husband is to be inferior. If you read the Gospel of St. Luke when Christ was found in the Temple in Jerusalem and then went back to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph, it is said “He was subject to them”.
Would you like to be in the situation of St. Joseph or in the situation of Mary? St. Joseph had original sin and was a creature. Mary had no original sin and was a creature. And the Child Jesus was God. And Who was subject to whom? God was subject to these creatures. It’s not a comfortable position to give orders to someone who is Divine. Therefore to be subject does not mean to be inferior, but it means simply the supernatural outlook that to accept humiliation is to come very close to God, because that is our way to Paradise. It’s a blessing. But I claim that women have a particularly religious mission.
Why a religious mission?
Because women, by their very nature are more receptive than men. You see this in the mystery of the sexual sphere. The woman is receptive, which doesn’t mean passive. That was one of the dreadful confusions made by Aristotle, that he identified passivity and receptivity and then declared the male superior to the female, which is a pagan nonsense.
The woman has a great advantage over the human male, she is receptive and religiously speaking, receptivity is a crucial virtue. The Holy Virgin taught us that when she said at the Annunciation “Be it done to me according to Thy Word”. She wasn’t doing, she said “be it done”. In other words she was receptive and her receptivity enabled the Holy Spirit to fecundate her and at that very moment the Son of God was made incarnate in her womb.
St. Teresa of Avila and St. Peter Alcantara say that many more women than men receive extraordinary mystical graces, and if you study the history of mysticism you will be amazed how many more women than men were mystics. Why? They are more receptive and you see, towards God we are all females. A saint becomes a male saint because he learned to be receptive to God’s grace. “Give it to me, O Lord, I cannot do it by myself”.
The mystery of femininity
The woman is in a very particular way the guardian of purity and in the world in which we live, the world of sexual perversions and disaster, maybe it can be said this is because women have failed in their mission to stand for purity.
And why do I say she stands for purity and for virginity?
There’s something very interesting. If you look at the liturgy there are special Masses for popes, for apostles, martyrs, non-martyrs, confessors, non-confessors and when you turn to women, you have only two categories, virgin/non-virgin, martyr/non-martyr. This is something extremely interesting. There is no Mass for celibates, none, but there is a Mass for virgins.
This indicates very plainly that there is something extraordinarily great and mysterious about femininity. And why do I say it is so great and so mysterious? Because you all know that every little girl that is born, is born with a seal, so to speak, protecting the mystery of her femininity, which is the womb. There is a seal and if you understand, a seal always indicates something which is sacred. The seal, which doesn’t exist in the male body, is profoundly symbolic and says this belongs to God in a special way. This is a sphere which is so beautiful and so profound that it cannot be touched upon, except with God’s permission, in a Catholic marriage.
When a girl or young woman is permitted to give the keys of this mysterious domain, this closed garden, to her husband-to-be, she says: “Up until now I have kept this garden virginal, now God has given me the keys and is allowing me to give them to you and I know that you will penetrate into it, with trembling reverence and gratitude”. The moment that a woman is embraced by her husband and a few hours afterwards she conceives, in this very moment, something absolutely amazing happens which once again illuminates the greatness of femininity. Neither husband nor wife can create a human soul. God alone can.
Of course there is the male seed and there is the female egg. These are material realities that God has put into the bodies and when they are united, an amazing thing happens. God creates a new human soul, totally new, which never existed before. Where? In the mystery of the female body. This is where the soul is conceived. It has nothing to do with the husband. The husband is out of the game at this point and the very moment that God creates a soul he implies that there is a special contact between God and the female body, so to speak, touching it in creating it. Once again, what an extraordinary privilege.
Sacred veiling
And this is why the female body should be veiled because everything which is sacred calls for veiling. When Moses came down form Mount Sinai, he veiled his face. Why did he veil his face? Because he had spoken to God and at that very moment there was a sacredness that called for veiling.


Now the stupid feminists after Vatican II suddenly “discovered” that when women go to Church veiled, it is a sign of their inferiority. The man takes off his hat and the woman puts on a veil. My goodness, how they have lost the sense of the supernatural. Veiling indicates sacredness and it is a special privilege of the woman that she enters church veiled.
You see the Church recognises things so profoundly that in some way you can say she has always recognised the special dignity granted to women. You cannot be a Christian and not recognise the privilege that it is to be a woman, because the most perfect of all creatures, the only creature born without original sin, is a woman and therefore once again you understand the extraordinary privilege of being one and having this image of the Holy Virgin, who was both Virgin and Mother and the two go beautifully together.
Virginity and maternity
It’s not so that if you remain a virgin you are going to have no children. The women who have most children are virgins. Mother Teresa of Calcutta had millions of children. You know in the best of cases women can have 18 or 20. Today they no longer do that, but it used to be the case. But if you are a virgin and you give yourself completely and totally, you become a mother to millions of people, begging for your help and begging for love because basically, what is maternity? Maternity is so holy, because it is to accept to suffer that someone may be born and therefore there is a beautiful parallel between maternity and the sacrifice of the Cross.
Christ accepted to die that we may be re-born to Eternal Life. In some way you can see this charism of women. Either virginity which can be combined with maternity or maternity without virginity are so sublime and are so beautiful that these two charisms are incompatible with the priesthood. They just don’t go together. The moment that you realise you have a maternal vocation, the moment that you realise you are called to virginity, it excludes the priesthood. They don’t go together. You cannot have all the charisms and what a blessing that men have the priesthood, because otherwise they could develop complexes of inferiority which would be a catastrophe because they don’t like it. As a matter of fact I think they would be very disturbed suddenly to realise the greatness of femininity.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta said “A woman cannot become a priest. There was only one creature on earth who could say with truth ‘This is My Body, This is My Blood’, the Holy Virgin and she was not chosen to be a priest.” Therefore let us accept and realise to be a priest as St. Paul says quite explicitly, God chooses who is going to be a priest and he happens to have chosen the male sex. However, some stupid women would like to sell the privilege of their femininity, the mystery of their femininity, the sacredness of their femininity, their maternal vocation, to become priests and to steal it from men who have received it from God Himself. The Church has always honoured women in an extraordinary way.
Overcoming the evil of feminism
If you study pagan art, you will see that the pagans glorified the male genitals. The male organ was considered to be the symbol of strength and power. If you go to Pompeii or to Athens, to pagan countries, the male organ was always the one that was honored.
When the Church took over, she waged war on this pagan cult. She eliminated it, she fought against it. Sometimes you find remnants in pagan cultures, but the very moment the Church came it was officially eliminated and what did she do? She replaced it by a prayer, prayed by millions of people, day after day, century after century, which makes an explicit reference to the female organ par excellence, the womb: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus”. That is the place that the Church gives to women in the Church.
Therefore let us realize the tremendous greatness of the mission women have received and make them realize that they have to wake up to the greatness of this mission, to fight for it and to overcome the catastrophe and evil of feminism.
I have not chosen to be a woman, but the more I meditate on the Christian message, I am grateful I am one.
Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand

Are You Shy About Wearing the Chapel Veil?

http://catholicknight.blogspot.in/2009/01/are-you-shy-about-wearing-chapel-veil.html

January 12, 2009

 




 

 

Since first posting on the subject of the chapel veil, ‘The Catholic Knight’ has received many emails from modest women who have expressed their desire to keep the Biblical custom, but simultaneously feel apprehension, embarrassment, or worry about the potentially negative reaction they may get from fellow parishioners. The common thread in all of these emails seems to center around not wanting to draw attention to one’s self.
This is very commendable, because by not wanting to draw attention to one’s self, the woman who veils demonstrates that she fully understands the purpose of what the veil is all about. A more recent email inspired me to post on this topic directly.
First and foremost, if you’re a woman who fits the description above, know that you’re not alone. Your desire to “not cause a scene” is commendable and demonstrates that you fully understand the purpose of the veil to begin with. That means of all people, you are probably the most ready to keep the custom.
Second, we often tend to associate the chapel veil with the pretty lace mantillas made popular in recent times by Traditional Catholics in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Many of the beautiful veils are white, or some other stunning color, which do grab attention, especially if nobody else is veiled. Certainly there is nothing wrong with wearing such a lovely prayer cloth, but at the same time, it is not necessary either.
Third, to properly veil, women must understand the reason behind the chapel veil, and this can be found in 1st Corinthians 11. To review let me just outline some highlights of this custom…

 

—The chapel veil (head covering for women) is a Christian custom that comes to us from the Scriptures (1st Corinthians 11).  Saint Paul outlined a deep theological purpose for keeping the custom that transcends all local and cultural reasons.  Therefore all Christian women are Scripturally encouraged, by Saint Paul himself, to keep the custom. 

—The chapel veil was part of the code of canon law for centuries within the Catholic Church.  Under this canon, women were compelled to wear a head covering whether they wanted to or not.  The Church eventually decided that this custom had no place in canon law, and so it simply deleted that particular canon.  The Church DID NOT remove or reverse the custom itself.  It simply deleted the canon.  This made it so women could not be disciplined for refusing to wear the veil.  There is much debate as to whether this canon should have ever been part of the code to begin with.  As the Biblical instruction should be enough.

—The chapel veil is a voluntary custom, but that doesn’t mean it’s optional.  By this I mean Christian women cannot ever be compelled to keep the custom against their will, but at the same time this does not mean it’s okay for women (or anyone for that matter) to “pick and choose” which apostolic customs to keep and which to ignore.  The word “Catholic” means universal, complete and whole.  To be Catholic is to accept ALL of the customs of Christianity, not picking and choosing customs, as if Christianity where a salad bar.  The term “Cafeteria Catholic” is an oxymoron.  If one approaches Christianity with a “cafeteria” (pick and choose) mentality, one cannot be “Catholic” by the very definition of the word.  Catholic women should keep this in mind.  Refusing to wear a veil (head covering) in no way harms one’s status in the Church, because women can no longer be disciplined for refusing to veil, now that the code of canon law no longer requires it.  However, it does reflect a mentality which “might” become potentially harmful to one’s Catholic faith eventually. If one chooses to “pick and choose” on such a little thing as the chapel veil, it’s not a far step from “picking and choosing” on other more important issues, such as artificial birth control, modest dress, gossip, complaining, mass attendance, regular confession, etc. etc. etc…  Please don’t misunderstand, the chapel veil in no way “protects” women from these other issues, it’s just that refusing to keep one apostolic custom, “could perhaps” lead to ignoring other more important customs.  Both men and women should consider this carefully.

—The exact same Biblical regulation that commands women to cover their heads during prayer, is equally compelling upon men as well.  Don’t think for one second that men are getting out of anything.  The same Scripture that commands the chapel veil for women also commands that men keep their heads uncovered during prayer.  That can sometimes be a burden to some men accustomed to wearing ball caps and hats all of the time.  The custom remains in place for men, even when prayer is done outdoors in the hot sun.  Men must remove their hats for prayer, even when the sun beats down on them, and even if their self conscience about their hair — or lack thereof.  The clergy teach us by example.  A bishop always removes his mitre during various points of prayer in the mass.  A priest always removes his biretta before mass, (if he has one), and always puts it back on at the end of mass, just before leaving.

—Christian veiling (head covering) is not the same as Muslim veiling (head covering) by any stretch of the imagination.  Those who make such accusations are ignorant of both faiths.  In Islam women are commanded to veil in the presence of men.  In Christianity women are only commanded to veil in the presence of the Lord.  Nowhere in the Bible can any command be found instructing women to veil in the presence of men.  It’s just not in there.  Nor is there anything in the 2,000 years of Christian history and tradition in which women are instructed to veil in the presence of men.  That’s because the presence of men has absolutely NOTHING to do with a Christian woman’s veil.  The whole thing centers on God and God alone.  Men have nothing to do with it.  So Christian veiling and Muslim veiling have virtually nothing in common.

—Nothing about the Biblical instruction to veil commands women to call attention to themselves either.  In today’s western world, especially in English-speaking countries, the practice of the chapel veil has virtually disappeared from everyday Catholic life.  Only in the traditionalist communities does one still see the practice alive and well.  However, it doesn’t have to be that way, and it shouldn’t.  Many modest women, who want to keep the custom, are self conscious about what might happen if they attempt it.  This is truly a sad situation, but understandable.

There is more than one way to veil.  Keeping the custom doesn’t have to mean drawing attention to one’s self, and there are so many ways a woman can do it inconspicuously. Here are some suggestions…

Sit in the back of the Church, instead of the middle or front. Almost nobody will notice you there, and the only way you can draw attention is if people actually turn around to look at you. That is not likely to happen. So the back of the church is a good place to start.


The most simple way to keep the custom is with a hat.  Below we have an example of a simple beret.  It’s cute and fashionable, but at the same time doesn’t stand out much.  In this case below, the beret actually matches this woman’s outfit quite nicely.  Many people would probably be unaware she is even keeping the apostolic custom of 1st Corinthians 11….

 



 

Another way to keep this custom is with a simple scarf or shawl. It doesn’t have to be brightly colored or ornate.  In fact, it’s probably better if it’s not.  This can be worn around the neck or over the shoulders when entering the church, inconspicuously, as you seat yourself in the back of the church quietly, outside of most people’s view.  This young woman below gives us an example with a warm shawl she wore on a cold day.  Thin light weight shawls could similarly be used on warm days…

Then, when upon kneeling for prayer, or when mass begins, the scarf or shawl can simply be lifted up over the head without anyone noticing…

After mass is over, while the priest is recessing back down the aisle, the scarf or shawl can be dropped back down over the shoulders before everybody leaves. Thus the woman who does it this way can exit the chapel the same way she came in, with most people being completely unaware of her keeping the Biblical custom.

There is only one time when there would be an exception, and that is during communion. When for a brief time you would be at the front of the church instead of the back. However, when this happens, everyone’s eyes are supposed to be downcast and contemplating the real presence of the Lord. If there are people in the pew staring at you, than SHAME ON THEM, not you. You didn’t do anything to attract their attention, they are supposed to be contemplating the Lord. The only person who is supposed to look at you is the priest, or the Eucharistic minister, and those people are supposed to be knowledgeable of the veiling custom and not judgemental about it.  Again, you’ve done nothing to attract attention to yourself.
In almost every case where woman have actually kept the custom, they report to me that they were surprised how little reaction they got all together. They were expecting more, either positive or negative, and what they got was nothing — literally nothing. It’s as if the vast majority of people there didn’t care, and most of them didn’t even notice. If you’re shy, or self conscious about keeping the Biblical custom of veiling, you may want to keep this in mind. Chances are you’re far more conscious of it than those around you.
There have been rare cases (very rare) when veiled women have been confronted by other women who disapprove of this practice. If by rare happenstance this happens to you, know that you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong, and the woman confronting you is acting in an uncharitable, and dare I say unchristian, sort of way. There are people like this. They’re called feminists, and they’ve embraced a philosophy and mindset that opposes the church on so many levels. Often these very same women advocate artificial birth control, believe women should become priests, and think of the male Catholic hierarchy in a negative way. They’ll sight all sorts of erroneous reasons why women should no longer veil. If you should find yourself in this rare and unlikely circumstance, here is the proper response…

1. Smile

2. Then say: “You know, I would never try to force my own personal views on another parishioner.”

3. Then tell her: “And it’s really none of your business how I choose to reverence the Lord.”

4. End with; “God bless you.”

5. Then walk away.

If you handle it this way, you can be assured that your reward in heaven will be great.  You’ve just received a bit of persecution for reverencing the Lord, and you handled it with charity and civility.  Meanwhile, the feminist woman who harassed you will be looking very foolish at this point.

If on the EXTREMELY RARE chance that a man actually confronts you over wearing the veil, and I’ve never heard of this happening, the way to deal with it is virtually identical….

1. Smile.

2. Tell him: “You know, I would never try to force you to wear a hat during mass.”

3. Then say: “And it’s really none of your business how I choose to reverence the Lord.”

4. End with: “God bless you.”

5. Then walk away.

I only outline these responses to be thorough. In all reality you will probably never be confronted with ANY of these situations. Of course there are always those who might have honest and sincere questions about the chapel veil, simply because they don’t know anything about it.  You are far more likely to run across someone like this. If anyone asks you for a reason why you wear the chapel veil, simply cite 1st Corinthians 11 and leave it at that. If someone sincerely wants more details, direct them to this website.

 

The Chapel Veil Campaign

http://catholicknight.blogspot.in/2007/12/chapel-veil-campaign.html

June 7, 2011

Starting in Advent 2011, the U.S. Catholic Church is to begin its long awaited, and much anticipated, liturgical reforms of the English mass. The new translation, demanded by the Vatican, will reflect a much more accurate rendering of the official Latin version of the Novus Ordo liturgy issued by Rome nearly 40 years ago. (You can download a PDF of the new English mass HERE.) This marks a major shift in the American Church toward a more traditional and orthodox approach to the liturgy. You can read more about the coming changes here.

Some women have expressed to ‘The Catholic Knight’ a desire to return to the time honored custom of wearing the chapel veil during mass, and see the coming liturgical changes as a perfect opportunity to do this. Returning to this tradition will serve to further reinforce the message that the Catholic Church is the same today as it was yesterday, and the time honored customs of the Church have not died out, but on the contrary, live and breath through a new generation of Catholic women.
Sacred Scripture presents several reasons for wearing the chapel veil. St. Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians (11:1-16) that Christian women must cover their heads because it is a Sacred Tradition commanded by our Lord Himself and entrusted to Paul: “The things I am writing to you are the Lord’s commandments” (1 Cor. 14:37). “That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels” wrote St. Paul (1 Cor. 11:10). The invisible hierarchy should be respected because the angels are present at all Christian assemblies during worship, offering the Holy Sacrifice with us according to the honor due to God. St. John the Apostle wrote: “And another angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense that he might offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne.” (Rev. 8: 3, see also Matt. 18:10). They are offended by a lack of reverence at mass. The women of Corinth, beset by modern sensibilities, started coming to church without their heads covered. When St. Paul heard of their neglect, he wrote and urged them to keep the veil. According to St. Jerome’s commentary Bible, he finally settled the matter by saying the head covering was a custom of the primitive communities of Judea, “the Churches of God” (1 Thess. 2-14, 2 Thess. 1-4) which had received this Tradition from early times (2 Thess., 2:15, 3:6). The “veil” represented modesty in many religions and cultures, especially in Judaism which was the cradle of the early Christian Church. A veil or head covering is both a symbol and a mystical sacrifice that invites the woman wearing it to ascend the ladder of sanctity. When a woman covers her head in the Catholic Church it symbolizes her dignity and humility before God. It should not surprise us why so many modern women have so easily abandoned the tradition of the chapel veil (head covering) when the greatest meaning of the veil is modesty. It is purely an anti-Catholic culture that frowns on modesty. Do not be deceived, it was Secular feminism (a militantly anti-Catholic movement), that shunned Catholic women for wearing the chapel veil, telling them that a male dominated Church seeks to repress them. Such lunacy was nothing more than a lie straight from hell. If it were true, women would have been instructed to veil in the presence of men, but that is not the case at all. Both Sacred Scripture and previous canon law instructed women to veil in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (not men), and particularly during the public prayer of the holy mass. The veil is a sign of modesty before our Eucharistic Lord. It is NOT a sign of male dominance. You can learn more about the custom of the chapel veil and what it means here.

‘The Chapel Veil Campaign’ is accompanied by a survey poll which can be viewed at the top of this blog. ‘The Catholic Knight’ requests that all you Catholic ladies out there review this material and prayerfully consider it. Then cast your vote in the accompanying poll to express your support for The Chapel Veil Campaign. Your vote of support will help other Catholic women muster the courage to do the same. The idea is to encourage young Catholic women all over the English-speaking world to put away the rebellion of the 1970s “hippy” generation, and start wearing the chapel veil again.

In the United States, the new English translation of the liturgy is currently scheduled to go into effect in Advent of 2011. That’s because the US Catholic bishops no longer have permission from the Vatican to celebrate the “defective” English translation of the Novus Ordo mass we’ve been using since the 1970s. Since permission to celebrate it has been revoked, the US Catholic bishops will be unable to delay the transition anymore.

The return of the chapel veil, along with the liturgical renewal in the English translation of the mass, will send a clear and definite signal to the world that English-speaking Catholics have not lost the time-honored traditions of our sacred Catholic faith.
Please pass this message on by sending a Chapel Veil Campaign link to friends and family…
http://catholicknight.blogspot.com/2007/12/chapel-veil-campaign.html

 

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MODESTY-AND HOW CATHOLICS MUST DRESS FOR MASS

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/MODESTY-AND_HOW_CATHOLICS_MUST_DRESS_FOR_MASS.doc


 

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Categories: Liturgical Abuses

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EPHESIANS-511.NET- A Roman Catholic Ministry Exposing Errors in the Indian Church Michael Prabhu, METAMORPHOSE, #12,Dawn Apartments, 22,Leith Castle South Street, Chennai – 600 028, Tamilnadu, India. Phone: +91 (44) 24611606 E-mail: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net, http://www.ephesians-511.net

EPHESIANS-511.NET- A Roman Catholic Ministry Exposing Errors in the Indian Church

Michael Prabhu, METAMORPHOSE, #12,Dawn Apartments, 22,Leith Castle South Street, Chennai - 600 028, Tamilnadu, India. Phone: +91 (44) 24611606 E-mail: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net, http://www.ephesians-511.net

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