15 April 2008

On the Veiling of Women in Church

Oh no... I hope I don't stir up too much controversy with this post. Regardless, it's something that has been on my mind recently, so I decided to write about it. So here goes...

From the New International Version (haha, just kidding):

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. 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?

- 1 Corinthians 11:4-13 (Douay-Rheims Bible)

Prior to the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's and the rewriting of the Code of Canon Law in 1983, women were required to cover their head in church. Since the current Code of Canon Law abrogated the 1917 Code, women are no longer requried to cover their heads in church. Also, since the wearing of a veil is no longer required, I do not dare to say that women who do not veil their heads are disrespecting God or necessarily less pious than women who do choose to veil.

Now that I have thrown those few disclaimers out there, I hope to share why I think it is an admirable and beautiful thing for women to cover their heads in church. There are several reasons why I think women should cover their heads: including reasons for modesty, submission, and for humility.

The veil is a beautiful expression of modesty. Unfortunately in today's culture, we have seen modesty fall by the wayside. Short shorts and mini skirts have given men cause for temptation and as a result, women have become viewed more and more as objects of lust. The offense of immodesty is much aggravated when in church. When a woman wears a veil to Mass, however, she is showing great modesty. Saint Paul says that a woman's hair is her glory. As an 18 year old male, I can attest to the fact that there's just something about hair. When I see a girl, I look for her eyes, smile, and then her hair. By covering her hair, a woman is keeping the focus on Christ, and not on her hair. Admittedly, in the short run a veil might be a bit distracting since it is such a rarity these days. Given a few Masses, though, people will stop wondering what on earth that girl is doing with a veil on and accept it!

By wearing a veil, the woman also shows submission to God. This is not about submission to man- a debate I do not want going on with this post. By covering her hair, a woman is showing submission and her respect to Our Lord. In the Jewish tradition, the wearing of the yarmulke is done because the Divine Presence of God is thought to be always over us. Going back to 1 Corinthians, we can simply say that God ordained that women should wear a veil to cover themselves. By following this exhortation of Saint Paul, women are submitting to God's wish. Again, since this no longer carries the force of law in the Catholic Church, women who do not veil are not disobeying God, as long as they carry the same modesty, humility, and submission in their hearts. Still, God is pleased when women do cover their head at prayer!

The fruit of humility coming from the veil is somewhat connected to the idea of submission. She who covers her head does so humbly. This is especially true in this day, when she might be looked at as strange or retroactive, or God forbid, a "rad-trad"! Also, since the hair is a woman's glory, the willing covering of her crowning glory is a sign of great humility.

So those are the main reasons for a woman to veil. There is another lesser reason that I suppose does not bear much weight, but might be a comfort to women. Some might think that people will be put off by their covering, and indeed some might be. I find, however, that the majority of opposition to the veil comes from the far-left "progressive" section of the Church. And what kind of good Catholic girl would want anything to do with that type!? The majority of good, orthodox Catholics will be happy to see you with your head covered. Again, as a man, there's just something about a woman in a veil. I was having a discussion with a good friend of mine the other day, and he told me about what a beautiful thing it is to see a woman in a veil. We know that the veil is not about being enticing to traditional men or anything like that; as I have said, it is about modesty, submission, and humility. It is definitely true, though, that there is something incredibly attractive about a woman who is modest, submissive, and humble. It is a pure and innocent beauty that is very rare today. But do not let this be the only reason to veil. That would be counter-intuitive. It is merely a by-product.

So, if there are any women who are interested in a veil, there are several places online that sell them. They are not expensive at all, and of course they can be reused over and over and over again! Here are some stores online that sell them. Also, you can just search "chapel veil" or "mantilla" in Ebay.

Ebay store- Catholic Traditions
Modesty Veils

Also, if any poor college students are reading this and are interested in a veil, I will gratefully cover the cost! ;)

God bless you always!

In Jesus and Mary,


Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...

Another beautiful reason for the veil (courtesy of Fr Fr) is that we cover up those things that are sacred and beautiful, particularly vessels. In this way, a woman wearing a veil is inviting men to respect and venerate her as a woman, for who she really is. For example, once upon a time the tabernacle was always veiled (as in the Holy of Holies). In the traditional Mass the chalice is covered. Even the Mass itself is covered by the sacred place or vessel that we call the church building. A woman is covered because she is, in a way, a sacred and living vessel bearing the capacity to give life and to care for the young, which is a really big deal.

I think that a woman who covers herself is really attractive, too, as she is unveiled only for the one to whom she commits her heart in marriage, just as we are all unveiled before the Lord, who sees inside all of us.

April 15, 2008 11:19 AM  
Blogger Cliff Notes said...

As a man, I dont know what to make of this post.

For serious though, women who wear the mantilla should be happy to do so. I agree with Anthony, there is nothing more beautiful than a veiled woman. Moreover, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman of chastity and humility. Our blessed Mother is never shown without a veil on, because she is always in the presence of the Lord isnt she? Who among all women is more beautiful than Mary herself, the archetype of humility and grace?

April 15, 2008 12:18 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Very good point, Cliff Notes (and Anthony)! Our Blessed Mother is always shown veiled, and there is no better role model for women than the Virgin!

April 15, 2008 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Ashley said...

I agree with everything that was written as you know I have started wearing a veil and now i just dont feel right not wearing one in the presents of christ. I think it is something that should be brought back in to the church. As Anthony said it should not be see as a bad thing but as something beautiful.

April 15, 2008 11:10 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Thanks, Ashley, for the input! It is so awesome to see you wearing a veil, and I hope several other young ladies at UF start to wear one as well.

April 16, 2008 12:03 AM  
Blogger Cliff Notes said...

I was in my beautiful beautiful parish, in the beautiful beautiful diocese of St. Petersburg this morning. For daily mass. Followed by first Friday 3-hour exposition. The mantillae were everywhere. I thought of you.

May 02, 2008 1:15 PM  
Blogger Lucia Rosa said...

Congratulations on your Confirmation and First Communion Jonathan!!! Kind of late, because I haven't been here in a while, but sincere!

I'm curious; what does your roommate at college (if you have one) think of all your Catholic stuff? It sounds like you have a great group there; are all the people who say the Rosary on a plaza students? (And why not in a church before the Blessed Sacrament, if you can?)

About veils, do you know the story about St. Elizabeth of Hungary not wanting to wear her crown in church? I guess wearing a veil is the same thing, for the rest of us.

As B. Robert of Molesmes' father told him, "Burn on till you burn out!"
PS. The parting quote comes with a book recommendation: you should read "The Family that Overtook Christ" by Fr. Raymond, and if you can find it, "Three Religious Rebels" too.

May 04, 2008 11:40 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Thank you so much, Lucia! Now I am late getting back to you.

My roommates were cool with all the Catholic things- but how could you not be cool with such beauty? As for the Rosary, we like to think of praying on campus as part of our witness.

I had actually never heard of St. Elizabeth of Hungary until a couple days ago, when I read about St. Elizabeth of Aragon. I will definitely find that story, as well as look into those book recommendations!

June 05, 2008 12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad I happened upon your blog. I was inspired to veil a few months ago. I had come upon the passage in 1 Corinthians and began research online regarding the wearing of the veil. I was conviced to veil and purchased a mantilla for myself and my 10 year old daughter.

The first time I attended Mass with my veil I had a profound experience. I felt so "beautiful" inside. I felt likened unto the Blessed Mother. When I approached the Body of Christ I smiled so deeply, took Him in my hand and kissed Him before taking Him into me. It was the most beautiful Eucharistic celebration I had ever partook in.

I came upon a quote from St. Ambrose to St. Monica, "When I am here, I do not fast on Saturday, but I fast when I am in Rome; do the same and always follow the custom and discipline of the Church as it is observed in the particular locality in which you find yourself." This quote caused me concern. I began to question whether my veiling was right in the eyes of God or not. I do not want to cause those around me to be distracted by my veiling. I also do not want to go against the customs or disciplines of my church. I know that the veiling of a woman was never "taken out" of the church, but was automatically "assumed" when there was a misquote of a Bishop during the Women's Lib movement.

Thus I will pray and seek the will of the Father, continue to veil, and pray for those around me to be touched by the Holy Spirit to seek and find the truth for themselves. God bless.

October 06, 2008 11:17 AM  
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