Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Headcoverings: The Agony and the Ecstasy

Jen has an interesting discussion about head-coverings for women in church. Here is the way I see it: if it helps your devotion in Church, then wear a hat or veil. If it does not help your devotion, then don't wear one. Such things are not meant to be a torment to the soul.

Wearing a head-covering is based on Scripture and Tradition. It was mandated by the Apostles and by Pope St Linus and was 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.

I have worn a veil for about twenty years; it 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.

But if it makes you uncomfortable and self-conscious, so that you are tense in God's house, then don't worry about it. At least not for now.... Share


Anonymous said...

I'd asked elderly Mary in her religious shoppe to order a mantilla for me. I still had a black lace chapel veil somewhere, but "Where?" is an ever growing question here. She tried, but the company said it would take weeks to arrive, and she thought the expense prohibitive. She gave me her own--a long tan one--which was great, because on blond hair, it wouldn't instantly stick out like a sore thumb (whatever that originally meant!). Well, I hadn't counted on my young daughters at my sides, being absolutely mortified by my wearing a veil, and had to put it away.

At least for now, yes. I liked its feel of humility and quiet swish of anonymity. I think most of us do. I'm so tired of all the pre-Mass schoozing and glad-handing et al. What can I say.. I spent many of my early years in a High Mass.

elena maria vidal said...

A discreet little hat serves the same purpose as a veil-- a simple beret, or something like that, might make people feel less conspicuous.

Anonymous said...

lol -- I've thought every Sunday of a beret, thanks to reading of yours here a while back! Aye, you're right.. and I shall join the bereted.

Anonymous said...

That is an excellent point that it is not about our personal holiness, but about showing reverence for the Holiness of God.

Kimberly said...

Well said!

Veiling (hats or veils are fine, btw) is such a lovely outward expression of an interior reality.

That said, I do not force my daughters to veil. My teenage daughter has struggled with the issue for several months and will make that decision on her own. I wouldn't even begin to suggest veiling to my two toddler girls...when they are old enough to receive their Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, they will veil. After confirmation, the decision is theirs.

I have seen many little girls, beautifully veiled...mind you, they were well-pinned on. Throughout Mass, several mothers spend a good deal of time making sure that veil stays "well-pinned". It can be a little distracting, but I do understand the desire to continue/pass on the tradition.

elena maria vidal said...

I agree, Kimberly. Someone should not wear a mantilla until they are at peace with the idea.

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Thank you for these thoughts!

Also, would you mind if I asked you a few questions about the etiquette involved in wearing one? Since I'm a new convert I have some specific questions about the logistics, and I have no idea who to ask! Would it be OK if I post a few questions here for you and your readers to take a stab at answering?

elena maria vidal said...

Certainly, Jennifer!!

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Thank you so much!

OK, here are my questions about wearing a mantilla:

- Are "chapel veils" and "mantillas" the same thing?

- When do you put it on? Just before you step into the sanctuary, or do you wait until you're inside?

- If you should need to briefly step outside the sanctuary (e.g. taking a toddler out, urgent trip to the restroom, etc.), you should take off the mantilla, even if you're going to quickly return, right?

- At what point after the service do you take it off? As soon as you step into the narthex? Or do you wait until you're physically outside the building?

- Our church has a nice "mother's room" located inside the woman's restroom. In it there's a television where you can watch the Mass. If I were to need to go in there to nurse the baby, I should I take off the mantilla, correct?

My ultimate guide is what would seem to me to be most respectful to God, but I also want to make sure that I don't unintentionally commit some faux pas that would unnecessarily call attention to myself. Again, thank you for answering my questions!

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, chapel veils and mantillas are the same thing. Some ladies wear head scarves, tied under the chin. Hats are fine, too.

Jen, honey, do whatever you want-- whatever is more convenient. You can put on your veil/hat/scarf in the car on the way to church if you want, it doesn't matter. Or you can put it on after you get to your pew and get the children settled. Whenever. It is totally up to you.

And the same goes for the other questions. You can leave your veil/ hat/ scarf on as long as you want, it does not matter. No, you don't have to take it off in the ladies' room or when nursing the baby. The head piece is part of your overall attire; just leave it on the whole time. Covering the head is about devotion to God and prayer and recollection, not about tying yourself up in knots.

Some people have trouble with babies grabbing the veil, so I would recommend a beret or tam if you have a babe in arms. Always, let common sense and serenity prevail-- which gives honor to God. Trust Him and don't get tied up in knots. AND keep a sense of humor. There are a lot of funny stories about babies and mantillas that I could tell.....

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Thank you so much, your response was very helpful!

Anonymous said...

well expressed - thank you.