Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Head Coverings for Women

I found these remarks by one priest on head coverings for women to be interesting if incomplete. His commentary is based upon the following text :

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."
Father McNamara says:
A full treatment of this text is beyond the scope of this column [Very True. Emphasis added]. 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.
I would like to add that many cultures other than the Corinthians have valued the veil as a sign of being a bride. Even our contemporary culture sees a veil as a bridal symbol. And are not all women called to symbolize the Church, the Bride of Christ?

Father goes on to say:
...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.
I thought it was not a matter of men's hair, but of women's hair being a distraction for men. That is why St. Paul specifically mentioned women being veiled, not men. Many men in St. Paul's time had long hair, but the men are not to be symbols of the Bride.

The best statement is here:
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.
Very true. Women are no longer humble like Our Lady. Many women think it beneath them to take care of children and do menial household tasks. Women want to be on the altar next to the priest. So of course, the sign of humility, obedience, and bringing forth life, which is what head-coverings represented, falls by the wayside.


Anonymous said...

I hope in my lifetime (I am 63,) the headcovering returns. By some miracle we raised a daughter who is a wonderful Catholic (we were all evangelicals before), who has four little kids, and is delighted by homemaking. Contrasted with her is my niece (her age) the "sassy, sexy, career-girl", continuously unhappy with life. My daughter and I love the beauty of the headcovering and how it is a little quiet prayer room around the head. And once again, almighty Style dictates our actions, since we wouldn't dare wear the veil in church!! Maybe we aren't that much different from my niece. Should we start a movement? Real Women Wear Veils?

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, definitely. "Real Women Wear Veils" That's a good idea.

Anonymous said...


I like the commenter's description of the mantilla as "a little quiet prayer room around the head." I've been wearing one in church for four years now. :)

elena maria vidal said...

I agree, Enbrethiliel. Thank you for mentioning it because I like that description, too. That is exactly what wearing a mantilla/hat in church is for me.

Kitchen Madonna said...

Let's start an internet firestorm movement and see who else in our parishes gets the message! I'm hesitant myself but you all are embolding me.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, we should, Kitchen Madonna.