Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Head covering and Catholic women

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. 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—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. "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....If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God." (1 Corinthians 11:3-10,16)
In obedience to Sacred Scripture, many Catholic women wear some kind of veil or headcovering. Some wear a headcovering only at Mass. Others feel called to wear a headcovering at other times during the day, as well as at Mass. Many non-Catholic Christian women also wear a headcovering. These women are following the call of the Holy Spirit.
Society discourages women from wearing a headcovering and from doing anything else which shows submissiveness and obedience. Yet these women have found the light of truth in the midst of dark times. The moral law requires all women to wear the veil on their hearts. A woman should not wear the veil on her head, until she is wearing it first on her heart. A woman who wears the veil on her heart accepts the place that God gives to women in the Church, the family, and society. Women who wear the veil on their hearts are imitating the Virgin Mary in her humility, submissiveness, and obedience to Christ. The veil should cover her head, but not her face. It is first and foremost symbolic of humility, submissiveness and obedience. When Saint Veronica saw Jesus carrying His cross, she took off her veil and gave it to Him to wipe His face. He handed the veil back to her, and it had an image of His face on it. In this way, Christ gave a special blessing to the practice of wearing a veil. Even Veronica's name comes from this event. She is called vera icon because she had a true icon of Christ, her veil with His face on it. Nearly every Catholic Church has the stations of the Cross with this event at one of the stations. The Virgin Mary wore a veil or headcovering because she understood this symbol of the different roles given to men and women. Those women who wear the veil are imitating the Virgin Mary in her humility and submissiveness. Nearly every Catholic Church has a stature or image of Mary wearing a veil.

**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.

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Milehimama said...

I read that column at Candy's and two questions sprang to mind:
Has she actually READ what St. Paul had to say about the veil?


If it is no longer the custom, the custom has only come about in the last 50 years or so. Wouldn't that make NOT covering your head a tradition of men? Only harlots, etc. ran around bareheaded everywhere - even in relatively modern times ladies wore hats when out and about!

Tracy said...

I was wondering the exact same thing!! I honestly don't think Candy does much research and what she does is pick and choose what she will say to suit her needs.
I myself don't wear a head cover but know many women who do, if I ever felt called to wear one.. I would prayerfully discern it and do what I felt the Holy Spirit was calling me to do.

Sophia's Virtue said...

Attending the Latin Mass as we do you'll find most (though not all) women covering their head with something. The head covering is usually used only while inside the sanctuary (or any place the Blessed Sacrament is kept) and for Mass but I've known of other groups of catholic women that wear them at all times. It's a beautiful custom, very lovely indeed.

Milehimama, that is a very good point you make! I've never thought of it that way.

Tracy said...

OH, how I would love to attend a Latin Mass.. my mom grew up with the Latin Mass and all the women and girls wearing the head covering.. she said it was just something amazing to behold.... sadly the only church that has a Latin Mass is close to a three hour drive for me.. but someday I will go... this is really important to me.

Faithful Catholic said...

I was somewhat amused by Candy's post on headcoverings. I even clicked on her link to her "study" on 1 Corinthians 11 from back in August and this statement from her study jumped out at me, "Without an heirarchy, there'd be anarchy - chaos." I had to wonder what she meant by that! Does she know of what she speaks?

I've read many different posts and opinions on wearing a head covering at Mass in many different places. There seems to be no end of contention about the issue. I remember the days when EVERY female wore a mantila, prayer veil, chapel veil or hat of some sort at Mass. I also remember my mother putting a tissue on my head and sticking it to my hair with an extra bobby pin whenever I forgot my chapel veil. Oh, I really didn't like that! Surely some of you also remember those days, or at least the days when every female had a new Easter hat for Mass on Easter Sunday. Yes, milehimama, LADIES always wore hats when out and about until at least the mid-60's as I recall. Maybe later than that even. But, of course when the seventies rolled in and women decided they needed to be more like men, the veil went the way of the Sunday best dress, stockings, heels and pearls. Can you imagine a young woman walking into Mass in jeans, a tee shirt, flip flops and a mantila? Anybody have an opinion on exactly what happened? I've usually chalked it up to the "spirit" of Vatican II but, that may be too simplistic. I've not found a definitive explanation. If you know of a source that explains the current understanding of the teaching on head covering, I'd be interested to know where I might find it.

Swylv said...

As a Believer who has embraced her Hebrew roots, I took offense at the wording in some of C.B.'s latest head covering adventure.

Maybe she should have said this is why I don't do such and such but you are free to search the Scripture yourself.

Sophia's Virtue said...

faithful catholic, here is an interesting article I found about head coverings. You can read it and see what you think. It was kind of long and I didn't finish it but it was interesting.

Anonymous said...

Swylv, if it isn't painfully obvious yet, it should be by now; Candy never says what "she" does and others are free to make their own choice. Candy says that what she does is correct and the only way to do it.

One of Candy's greatest faults is her lack of insight or acceptance of other people and their beliefs. Even other Christians.

That being said, I wonder why it is that so many different people come to so many different conclusions about what the bible means. Not only about what it says but what it means. (That was rhetorical for those that aren't used to my comments.)

There are so many interpretations and it seems those that want to argue do so at every given chance. Rather than seeing how much is agreed upon and focusing on that, some choose instead to focus on differences. Even differences in opinion. To me, that is a very sad commentary.

It also seems very "nit picky". Whether one covers or not seems so irrelevant to other things such as charity, love, honor and respect.

Kelly said...

I would really like to wear a head covering to Mass, but I do not. At this point, too many people in my parish would see it in a negative light. I think that I have a greater chance of success in getting people to listen to my point of view, if they don't have me written down as "holier-then-thou" or something similar.

I have hope that for the next generation, people won't have the same stereotypes, and women will be free to wear or not wear a veil as they feel called, and not be opening a big ol' fat can of worms.

I do often wear a veil when I go to Adoration, though, because only the religious fanatics show up for that anyway. ;)

Perplexity, we would say that the many interpretations of Scripture is an indicator of why we are supposed to have the Church to guide us. It is recreating the wheel to have every person study and interpret for himself. Paul himself advised Timothy to hold fast to the traditions which he had been taught.

Anonymous said...


You said:

Perplexity, we would say that the many interpretations of Scripture is an indicator of why we are supposed to have the Church to guide us. It is recreating the wheel to have every person study and interpret for himself. Paul himself advised Timothy to hold fast to the traditions which he had been taught.

And, I agree, to a degree. That was kind of what I was getting at. I can't expect everyone to remember everything I've posted in the past. But, in other discussions, I've said that I believed the reason for the Church and Priests and Scholars, etc. was, at least in part, so that every person wasn't interpreting the bible in their own way.

My attempts at ironic rhetoric only comes off if you're in my brain.

Milehimama said...

I really felt the same way. My church is not a chapel veil kinda place. I am the only one who wears one.

I thought the same thing - wondered if people would think I was putting on airs, holier than thou, etc. I even talked myself into the thought that I was actually performing an act of charity by NOT covering my head (saving them from gossip, etc! I'm helping them avoid the occasion of sin! LOL)

For a while after last Easter I wore a hat, until the kids stomped on it with muddy feet in the van.

Now I wear a veil to church. My first duty is not what others might think of me, or whether I feel they will be turned off by it, but rather, my first duty is obedience to God and I feel very strongly that I must cover my head in the presence of the Tabernacle. What other people think of me is their problem.

Of course, after giving myself that pep talk, I wore my chapel veil secretly thinking I'd bring a mantilla renaissance to my church, and suddenly everyone would start wearing them. Didn't happen.

Instead, I got a visiting priest mock the two nuns and myself who wore veils in church. Oh well. Not my problem.