Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Woman is Sacred

Wearing head-coverings in church is a practice deeply rooted in Scripture and Tradition. Many people seem to have some scruple about veiling themselves when the other women in the church are bare-headed. To me, it is important to follow one's conscience, not what the people around one are doing or not doing. I do not judge the women who choose to go bare-headed and I hope they are not judging me, but if they are, that is their affair. As for imitating those around me, if I did that, I would not be living a Catholic life. Ladies often say to me: "I wish I were brave enough to wear a mantilla." Dear Ladies, it requires courage to face death and to shed one's blood for the Gospel. It does not require courage to wear a piece of lace or a beret on one's head. For some, it may be a matter of overcoming human respect. If you are drawn to head coverings, then wear one and do not worry about what other people think.

Head-coverings for women are based on Scripture and Tradition. Head-coverings were mandated by the Apostles and by Pope St Linus and were in the Code of Canon Law until 1981. If a lady wishes to cover her head, she should be at peace knowing that she is participating in an ancient tradition that supersedes the fad of the moment. Let us remember, it is not about our personal holiness; it is about showing reverence for the holiness of God. A head-covering represents the mystery of woman as bride, a reflection of Christ's Bride, His Church. Wearing a head-covering has become second nature yet remains a tangible reminder to me that I am on holy ground when I enter a Catholic church. What we wear can influence how we behave and how we think, for it reflects an interior attitude.

Most people are familiar with the injunction of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 5,6, 13 for women to wear veils in church. It is interesting, however, to reflect upon other scriptural passages in which persons or things are covered out of reverence for God, beginning in the Old Testament. In ancient times, covering oneself, and especially hiding the face, was a sign of respect and obeisance. In Genesis 24:65 Rebecca covers herself at the approach of her bridegroom. In Exodus 34:33 Moses veils himself after beholding the glory of God. Exodus 36 describes in detail the curtains which were to veil the Holy of Holies. What was sacred was generally veiled. When I was a child, the tabernacles of Catholic churches were always veiled.

In II Kings 15:30 King David ascended the Mount of Olives weeping for his sins, barefoot like one in mourning, with his head covered so that no one could see him. In III Kings 19:13 Elias covers his face with his mantle at the manifestation of the power of God. Isaiah (6:2) describes the seraphim covering their faces with their wings before the Divine Majesty. Ezekiel 16:8 describes the spouse covering the bride with his garment. In 1 Corinthians 11: 5-13 women were to cover their heads as a sign that they have an important role in the Church, but one distinct from men. In our society, what is feminine is replaced by what is immodest and yet modesty and chastity are the greatest ornament of women. Head-coverings for women at Mass are part of an ancient tradition which the Apostle St. Paul encouraged in the new dispensation as a continuation of a sacred sign of bridal holiness and reverence. All women are to be brides at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

From Fr. Heilman:
"Sadly, some forty years ago millions of Catholics decided to put on the old man when they rejected the teaching of the Church concerning contraception. Around the same time, the ancient tradition of wearing veils or head coverings of any sort was likewise abandoned. Knowing what the veil stands for, it is difficult to not to regard that these two events — the rejection of the Church’s teaching on contraception on the one hand and the liturgical practice of wearing veils and head coverings on the other — as wholly unrelated. Indeed, many took both events as a step forward in the emancipation of women from so-called male dominance.”  -Fr. Robert Fromageot, F.S.S.P.

“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 … 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.” – Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand, Secular War on the Supernatural) (Read more.)


Just Helen said...

What is the difference between this and hijab?

elena maria vidal said...

Big difference. Muslims believe that every part of a woman's body is an erogenous zone and therefore all must be covered when in public. In Christian tradition, women cover their heads in the house of God as a sign of reverence and to symbolize the Church as the Bride of Christ, as mentioned in Revelation. As it says in the post, "Head-coverings for women at Mass are part of an ancient tradition which the Apostle St. Paul encouraged in the new dispensation as a continuation of a sacred sign of bridal holiness and reverence. All women are to be brides at the marriage supper of the Lamb."