Browse Our Articles & Podcasts

The Chapel Veil and a Woman’s Rights

Photo courtesy of Fr. Richard Heilman

In my experience, it is impossible to talk about the Catholic custom of women wearing chapel veils at Mass without encountering judgment. Progressives will insist that the practice is an outdated custom to be tossed aside. Reactionaries will declare that women who do not cover their heads in Mass are sinning and that canon 1262 is still in force.

Both are wrong.

Here is what we all need to realize about the chapel veil: it is a form of devotion to God that is only open to a woman. This means that it is a strictly feminine form of prayer that excludes men. Men who cover their heads during Mass signify a rejection of Christ; it is to dishonor His spiritual head.  Even a priest who wears his biretta will remove it when in prayer: he never wears it while kneeling or while standing at the altar reciting the prayers of the Mass. Women, however, may veil at all times when in the presence of the Lord because they have a sacred role that demands their dignity be acknowledged.

Catholic people who do not understand the custom of veiling and push against it usually do not realize their own inconsistencies.  Would they say, for instance, that nuns ought not to wear habits? That a bride ought not to wear a veil on her wedding day? That a young girl receiving Communion for the first time ought not to be veiled? The veil or desired head covering in these instances is never a symbol of oppression.  It would be ridiculous to apply most arguments against the chapel veil to these instances:

“Yuck, you’re wearing a veil on your wedding day?  You look so silly. You do know you’re not a Muslim woman, right?”

“Why is that nun in a habit? Does she think she’s better than me?”

“Why are you wearing that thing on your head for your first communion? Is some man making you do that? You poor thing.”

I have encountered comments just like the ones above for veiling. I veiled for the first time as a teenager, and I was made so self- conscious by the critiques I received that I stopped doing it. It was as if I called everyone’s attention to my motives, and was suspect. I eventually reasoned to myself that since the chapel veil was also a sign of virtues like chastity or modesty, that I was only calling attention to myself for being one of the only parishioners wearing one. Therefore, since the goal was not to be a spectacle, I could conform to the customs of the parish and not wear one. It’s not a sin after all. Cardinal Raymond Burke, while he held the office as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, stated this:

The wearing of a chapel veil for women is not required when women assist at the Holy Mass according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. It is, however, the expectation that women who assist at the Mass according to the Extraordinary Form cover their heads…It is not, however, a sin to participate in the Holy Mass according to the Extraordinary Form without a veil.

Burke strikes a subtle balance here. The Church, in her traditional liturgical practice, adorns things that are sacred. We veil our altars, decorate our tabernacles with gold and jewels, and robe our priests in beautiful vestments to signify the dignity of their office. It is certainly not sinful to do away with these things, but the outward acknowledgement of the dignity due to them is laudable and conducive to humility. As St. John Chrysostom said, “Christ appears when the Priest disappears.”

Paul states in I Corinthians 11:10-12: “That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.” (RSV)

I’d like to offer some historical context to this verse. The word “veil” in the English translation above is from the Greek word exousia (ἐξουσία) or “authority.” It would be an acceptable translation to say in English, “A woman ought to have authority upon her head.” Further ancient usage of the word puts exousia in the context of might or power, or even an office like magistracy. To interpret this use of the Greek word for “authority” to mean the authority a woman is subject to would be laughable to Greek scholars.

William Ramsey, late professor of Classical Archeology and New Testament Scholar explains:

Authority or power that belongs to the wearer, such power as the magistrate possesses in virtue of his office, was meant by the Greek word exousia. So Diodorus, i. 47, describes the statue of the mother of the Egyptian king Osymandyas, wearing [literally, “having”—bt] three royalties upon her head, i.e. she possessed the royal dignity in three different ways, as daughter, wife and mother of a king. The woman who has a veil on her head wears authority on her head: that is what the Greek text says.1 William M. Ramsay, The Cities of St. Paul (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1960), p. 202.

Paul knew how his audience would interpret the word exousia. He is not talking about the dignity of women in this passage because it is implied. He is affirming a woman’s right to pray. Men and women are equal insofar as both come from God, but we are not androgynous. With this understanding we can see that a Catholic woman has a special relationship with God, and her act of veiling in His presence is centered on her relationship with Him. Contrary to popular assertions, Catholic women are not commanded to cover their heads in the presence of men, like the Islamic practice of the hijab which requires women to cover themselves from head to toe in order to ward off lustful men. The chapel veil is an affirmation of the woman’s dignity in the presence of the Lord, and of her right to pray alongside men.

I wear a veil regularly now at Mass. It took some time and prayer to feel at home in it. It helps to find a parish where half of the women wear head coverings (veils or scarves or hats, as all of these things are acceptable substitutes), and to know that people will not make it their personal mission to comment on your attire.  I can assert comfortably now that there is great solace in the practice of veiling. It is conducive to prayer, and like all acts of loving devotion, freely chosen.

Modesty, chastity, dignity. This is what a chapel veil represents, and it belongs to a woman in respect to God, not only to man. It is a symbol of her authority and of her right to communicate with God in a specifically feminine form of devotion.

Really, who are you to judge?


1 William M. Ramsay, The Cities of St. Paul (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1960), p. 202.

178 thoughts on “The Chapel Veil and a Woman’s Rights”

  1. Darn, I wish I could grasp the logic here, but (as ever) I don’t get it. I like the explanation about “authority,” and don’t contest that point at all, but then you say, “The chapel veil is an affirmation of the woman’s dignity in the presence of the Lord, and of her right to pray alongside men.”

    Is it about authority, or about prayer? If authority, then I don’t get why a married woman wouldn’t always wear one, because her husband’s authority is ever-present (and how are unmarried women different than men vis a vis God?) If it’s about prayer, then why not men and women, who are both subject to God’s authority. What is the combination of submissiveness and rights that are combined in the veil? and why just in Church?

    • Additional information is needed here. In Jewish tradition at the time of Jesus, men and women prayed differently, in different parts of the Temple, and women behind a half wall away from men in the synagogues. Greek Gentiles, both men and women, in a different cultural and ecological climate, did not wear the same clothing as the Hebrews wore. Yet Paul knew how to appeal to both cultures in “crossover” language to explain the dignity of women under Jesus instead of Zeus/Hera or Moses. Paul had to use familiar words in new ways, just as Jesus did in His Parables to get these ideas across.

      “Authority” for “exousia” can’t be an exact word for word substitution. Languages don’t often work that way. You need to include synonyms, antonyms, and shades of meaning from other words used in similar but not identical situations in order to get the flavour of the phrase. Being a Christian turned not only Jewish culture but all other cultures inside out and upside down. Being a Christian still does!

      • But if we’re pulling from that tradition and understanding, we have to consider that men needed to cover their heads as well when praying. Now, saying that only women ought to veil to indicate their special relationship with God sounds arbitrary since each–men and women–have a unique vocation and relationship to God. Seriously though, if veiling in the modern culture doesn’t speak to the deeper realities, then it becomes contrived–like Victorian manners.

        Just as “a pinch of incense” doesn’t mean anything (literally) in the 21st century, I can’t figure out what a veil means today other than an artifact from when such things carried meaning. I’d really rather everyone dressed modestly.

        [Love your bunny pic]

        • “I can’t figure out what a veil means today other than an artifact from when such things carried meaning. ”

          Paul makes three theological arguments for the significance of the veil, he is not just upholding a custom or fad of the day. I’d suggest further reading, especially: Bruce Terry “No Such Custom” An Exposition of I Corinthians 11:2-16 (Christian Messenger Publishers) 1983

          Terry does an excellent job explaining these arguments and he also uses Ramsay’s wisdom on the Greek used. I’d highly recommend the read! I believe it can be found online.

        • Actually, men do have something to do with their heads at Mass – specifically, UNcover their heads, which St. Paul does mention and which the Church even now enforces… last time I went to the St. Louis Cathedral, there was a sign requiring men to uncover their heads.

          If a wedding veil is still relevant today, then the chapel veil is too, because it’s analogous to the wedding veil. Men represent Christ, and women represent the Church, who is the Bride of Christ. I wrote more about this here:

          • I read your article and your correspondence between a wedding and the Mass as the reason for the veil would make sense IF the wedding veil were merely over a woman’s head, but it isn’t. It covers her face and the symbolism in a wedding is very clear — the bridegroom has access to the bride once the vows are said. He is permitted to uncover her — symbolically in the ceremony, for real in the bed. The bridal veil still stays on the bride’s head even after her face is uncovered. I’m not denying all the stuff about girls being dressed as brides of Christ for First Communion, the Mass being a wedding supper, or women as icons of the Church, etc. But none of that really explains what St. Paul meant or how it would pertain to us today.

          • An important reason women were veiled was to ‘cover the sacred,’ with general modesty another good reason – her body was for her husband to see – not every man walking by. Alice Von Hildebrand puts it like this “Women are actually ‘touched’ by God when he places the soul in the baby in the womb.” Their bodies are ‘sacred’ in that sense, as being set aside, special, etc. We’ve lost that sense now so we argue about the meaning of veiling. So let’s not start to argue that women who don’t bear children are not touched by God! Authority is a small aspect of this. The important point is that bodies are special in different ways.

          • Oh, Barbara, ff I could wear a veil or a tichel, or whatever and everyone simply understood that it was for reverence and because of how precious I am to God — what a wonderful world that would be! Instead, if I wear a veil, no one has a clue what it means. It might be an outward sign of some authority I think I have. Or an outward sign of not accepting Vatican II. Or an outward sign of wifely submission. Or an outward sign of rejection of radical feminism. Or an outward sign of male superiority. And guess who has loaded all that onto it?

          • I don’t understand why you would concede this ground. If people believe in it as a sign of reverence, and wear it as such, those questions can easily be addressed if they come up. And if people are quietly judging you, they have their own issues to attend to.

            As for who loaded it with this meaning? You can argue that it’s those who have tried to bring it back, but my experience of dealing with the women who do this shows this to be false. The real blame lies at the feet of those who relaxed this discipline, along with so many others, leaving faithful Catholics to try to cobble together orthopraxy in the absence of any helpful structure. We are not a grassroots faith. Movements that start in the pews are invariably going to be messier than those promulgated from on high.

          • “You can argue that it’s those who have tried to bring it back, but my experience of dealing with the women who do this shows this to be false.” I take as my witness the article above. Plus, I am in two FB groups that support headcoverings. One is Catholic. One is generic Christian. I’ll match my experience to yours and it will be at least a draw.

            “The real blame lies at the feet of those who relaxed this discipline, along with so many others, leaving faithful Catholics to try to cobble together orthopraxy in the absence of any helpful structure.” Ah — and there is where we part ways (not to mention where you contradict yourself about the meaning being freighted, since you have just dropped an anvil on its head). As a faithful Catholic it is not my job to “cobble together orthopraxis” and I am not without “any helpful structure” — and if there is any message I, by God, would NOT want covering my head to minister to another Catholic, it would be that one. But I thank you for the crisp clarification.

          • Anecdotal note-comparing only does so much good. I’m guessing you don’t exclusively attend the TLM like I do. Not sure that online forums are the most accurate glimpse of reality. And I say this as a guy running one.

            “Ah — and there is where we part ways (not to mention where you contradict yourself about the meaning being freighted, since you have just dropped an anvil on its head).”

            How is it a contradiction to say that when a thing has an inherent meaning but is then discarded, it is predominately those who discarded it who bear the responsibility for any falsely attributed meaning by those attempting to restore it? The meaning was there. It was clear. It was disposed of, and those now trying to bring it back do so not necessarily with the mind of the Church, but with their own biases. This is natural.

            “As a faithful Catholic it is not my job to “cobble together orthopraxis” and I am not without “any helpful structure”

            On the contrary, the Church decided roughly 50 years ago that orthopraxis was an entirely subjective thing, and as such, it has been treated with whimsy. Those who seek to embrace and promote reverence do so on their own initiative, not by a mandate of the Church. (See my previous comments about reverent liturgy being only one option among many.) I prefer to support priests in their attempts to give structure back to a structureless Church (thanks, aggiornamento!) rather than those who adhere only to the barest minimum in rubrics, instead favoring improvisation.

            “if there is any message I, by God, would NOT want covering my head to minister to another Catholic, it would be that one.”

            That you care about Catholicism’s historically rich symbolism and the meaning of such gestures so much, you’re not going to wait for Rome to tell you you have to do it? Because that’s what I mean by that.

            “I thank you for the crisp clarification.”

            I wish that you took my intended meaning so we could both feel gratitude for this.

          • Just a thought concerning words. There is a great drive to rehabilitate the word “feminism.” Women of faith use it after a long preface, explaining what THEY mean by the word. Is that necessary? Words change, they become muddied or simply change (like “homely,” which was previously cozy, and now means frumpy.) My strategy is just to give the feminists their word, and look for another to express my meaning.

            More important in the world of words is “Patriarchy,” which touches God himself. This has been deliberately corrupted and must be reclaimed, otherwise we lose fatherhood. Overall, chapel veils are lightweight symbols in a this dark struggle. They have a place, but it may not be the most compelling one. Can we agree to disagree on their transcendent meaning?

          • The irony here is that I’m not die-hard about this practice, but I do believe it is the better thing to do. Either way, it’s St. Paul you have to contend with, not me.

          • Couple of things: 1) why would I care what others thought? 2) when appropriate I could explain. 3) return of reverence and modesty has to start somewhere.

          • Though not its first function, modesty nevertheless has a great deal to do with what others think, Barbara. See the Catechism on it.

          • And not that it is any of your business, but I am slugging it out for modesty, too. I wear only long skirts to Mass.

          • Perhaps these ideas may be true for you, gsk, or for the women of your acquaintance. Then, as now, to hold the One Triune God in respect above life itself is counter-cultural. I am the only person who wears a veil in my parish. Not even nuns veil here. Veiling is a very personal invitation from the Lord Himself, and I will continue to veil, even requesting to be veiled for my own funeral.

      • “Authority” is nearly exact, and it is based of off the consensus of Greek scholars who have studied the ancient texts and recorded their findings. See Liddell & Scott English-Greek Lexicon. Ramsay is also considered an authority of the usage of the word as he did most of the legwork.

        • This is probably a women’s-only discussion, but I can’t imagine any man telling a woman in church to remove her veil. So I think that for a man there’s something awesome in a woman wearing a veil.

    • It doesn’t have to be either authority or prayer, it’s both.
      It’s a fact that the veil affirms the dignity of the woman, and it’s also a
      fact that the practice is conducive to a woman’s personal devotion. It is also
      not limited to marriage- unmarried women may veil by virtue of the fact that
      they are also female, and all women are sacred in the eyes of the Lord. If a
      married woman veils, her husband can view the veil as a sign of his fortune and
      privilege to be entrusted with his wife and recognize the responsibility that
      comes with being the spiritual head of the family. It’s not just for him though, and it’s common for people to think it is.

    • It is a sign of God’s authority. “Exousia” is authority which does not emanate from a specific person, but comes from a Higher Power. This is what I understand from the book “The Nazarene” by Rabbi Eugenio Zolli. St. Paul specifically was referring to married women, not single women. He used the Hebrew word “reshuth” to refer to the fact that the wife has equal authority with her husband over his lands and property, their children, etc. And he used the word “exousia” to emphasize that this authority is ratified by God. And St. Paul specified that the turban be worn by married women, not just any kind of a veil. The turban is the symbol of authority. How women, at least in the West, came to wear the sheer lace doily type of head covering, I do not know.

  2. I too wish as did one commenter that the emphasis was on dressing modestly, and I add and dressing ‘up’ for mass, Much is made in my parish regarding the veil and regarding wearing pants, and the topic often includes also statements about woman’s role in the parish and in society. There is a position, and it is most often promoted by a man whose wife encourages us to veil all the time, not just at mass, that women have certain jobs, men another, and that all the women in the church are somehow under the authority of all the men, which expresses itself in who gives orders to do anything, or acts (for example, when the fire alarm went off during mass recently–no woman rose to investigate, that would be against our custom). We women clean and cook and do any sewing, including liturgical sewing. The men do everything in the sacristy and all the heavy cleaning, and lead all prayers in the church, like the rosary before mass. No male leader, no rosary.

    The ‘veiling faction’ (allow me to call them that; I do not mean to disparage the practice and I enjoy wearing veils, and hats, for the fun and fashion of it) also promotes detailed gender codes: women must not ‘stride’ when they walk, married women’s hair should not be worn loose, skirts must be as long as possible and always full, women are permitted and rather encouraged in a kind of giddy silliness thought of as feminine. Girls from our school also are not encouraged in the classes to pursue higher education after high school, and in the school day are cautioned against appearing to be competitive with boys or men, as it is ‘harmful’ to both sexes. Most of this comes from the ‘veiling faction,’ and our pastor has at times spoken out against one or another elements of it, simply because in practice it turns out to be less than useful. Women as it turns out know a lot about plumbing and electricity and in the cleaning could ‘fix’ many items, but don’t, and in fact it was a woman who knew which fire alarm was going off, and why, but she sat quietly while several men ran about looking. That isn’t the most serious of the effects of this often unspoken culture, but I am trying to give the general sketch. Most of our mothers in fact privately encourage their girls to go to university and find a career that does not interfere with family formation (not the least consideration being that even in our traditional sites divorce happens and faithful women with numerous children need a backup source of income just as much as any other woman in our society).

    I could add paragraphs but I hope you get the picture. I am trying to present the situation as fairly as I can, because I would not change one single thing if it jeopardized in any way traditional parishes’ survival, and let me tell you, that is a fragile thing in our world today. And they are all we have–men and women alike. The fate of women in the novus ordo, ecumenical world that is dissolving the Church right before our eyes, is so much worse than having to wear a skirt on a bicycle, that I would rip out my tongue rather than speak one word against what is passing as tradition now. I truly would. And I do not speak against it at my parish, or just little ones, like maybe maybe it’s okay to wear pants under a skirt in order to go work out. : D

    But this isn’t Catholicism as I knew it growing up. We girls were encouraged to be everything we wanted to be (except a priest), in addition to being wives and mothers. We weren’t taught not to compete–heavenly days, our elementary classrooms were full of girls behaving smartly, one of my best friends has been the chair of the statistics department of a major university for forty years now and she got her start at the skirts of a School Sister of Notre Dame who you may bet encouraged her with all she had. I know they did me. There were no gender prohibitions in my Catholic grade school or high school. We covered our heads for mass, we covered our feet for school (in my family shoes the rest of the time were optional–and when I admit that, surely you must get the point how precious the education I received at those same skirts was–has been–to me). No big deal was made of either.

    No, I think many of these prohibitions came to modern tradition via via one man who learned his gender truisms before he converted from the Anglican church and its necessary response to feminism following the protestant rebellion. That man is now associated only with a hamstrung fringe, but his many pronouncements are still repeated, still circulated around the internet, as gospel. I assert his snarky teaching on the subject and its subsequent presence in our traditional chapels is against the spirit of the gospel, against the behavior and words of Christ, against the example of the women saints and martyrs whose femininity is unquestionable, and against the model of Our Mother. To support my thesis regarding the source of our practice is that I found it different in one large traditional site in Mexico. Women certainly lead prayers there.

    But I personally restrain my opinion on the subject. I veil, and wear pants only under full skirts on very cold days outside the abortion clinic or to work out, and pass on the small jobs at church to the men, who hardly ever fix them. I do not participate in any ‘veiling as a way of life’ conversations, that’s the extent of my disagreement. I think our unofficial position on these matters (I’m pretty sure it’s all unofficial–Archbishop Lefebvre says nothing on this I’ve ever seen, I think Bishop Siri might be our closest source) hurts us more than it helps us, but, whatever. I repeat: I would not change one thing about our practice now if it hinder our chance of surviving the storm that is whirling around us. Only a warning: if at some point you are tempted to split away over the issue of pants or veils from any group that is attempting to communicate tradition to the larger Church, please, stop, think. Can’t we just leave specifics to fashion, and concentrate on dressing modestly, not on some kind of enthusiastically developed but probably theologically unsupported gender regulations? In the greater struggle, I’m pretty sure any embroidering of real Catholic teaching we do in this area is going to come back to hurt us. Just think for example, of what our position will be if large numbers of people flee their novus ordo parishes if Francis goes further into syncretism? Will we turn them away over the issue of the veil? Over modestly worn pants? Or will we welcome them? (We may be turning them away now.)

    Sorry for the long comment. Sorrier if my words cause any heart-hurtings to any traditional person reading them, so sorry! And sorry before God if I speak wrongly. I haven’t written on this topic in any com boxes and I hope this particular comment doesn’t have legs. I am just speaking to those people here who have commented on this good post. The situation troubles me and I am grateful to be able to enunciate my concern.

    • Your concerns are justified. I’m convinced that the situation you describe is not as it should be. Much of traditionalism exists as a reactionary force, opposing all novelty and seeking an anachronistic ideal that has likely never existed.

      We need to recognize tradition as a living thing, like an ancient, sturdy tree that has deep roots and many branches. It is immovable at its base, but it continues to grow, to issue forth green shoots and leaves, to move always forward toward the light of the sun.

      So the Church is. We should not attempt to change the unchangeable things. We should move forward toward the light of Christ, developing slowly, organically, but always moving as a living thing. We do not chop off the top of the tree down to the point in its growth that we considered it most magnificent; to do so would be to kill it.

      Also, as a tree faces the seasons and harsh realities of its environment, so does the Church. But both the tree and the Church are themselves realities the environment must contend with, rooted as they are in time but also somehow timeless through their great age and persistence.

      Those who do the things you describe, in my opinion, do the most to undermine and harm tradition. They see it as a means to an end. A way of life which they would prefer. But the Church exists as the means by which to bring souls to God, and our worship and way of life must be oriented towards Him.

      There are things we have lost which should be restored. There are other things which we have lost which were shed as we have grown in prudence and wisdom. And there are things which never were, or never should have been, but have been romanticized back into existence in enclaves like yours by those who find themselves unable to contend with the age we live in.

      My reflections on this are a bit too metaphorical this morning, but I hope they make sense. If there’s a single point I wish to make, it’s that your instincts are correct. Do not be ashamed to have given voice to them.

      • But this is what I do NOT want to do, speculate on change. And I have not argued that we ‘have changed’ and are moving on from some past perception of the relations between men and women or the culture around them. I did not argue that. I said it WASN’T Catholic, but Anglican, come to the US via one Anglican convert (or more). I said it was an Anglican reaction to the feminism within Anglicanism from day one, almost identical to feminism today.

        No, I am sure from reading Shakespeare and Chaucer et al that the gender culture (I’m just calling it that) in Christianity was — perfect. Nothing to leave behind. Something to restore.

        I denounce the concept of us ‘keeping’ or ‘rejecting’ anything from tradition. There is no way to compromise with the use of that concept in liberalism. They use it to reject the Restoration, specifically, and I certainly do not. They use it to support Ecumenism. They will use it to destroy the concept of the Mystical Body, in the marriage initiative. The Church has never done anything to leave behind (let me refer to the current discussion regarding Father Serra’s work among the natives of the US) or move on from, or apologize for. Father Serra did the best thing he could working in a secular culture with no ‘right way’ left, only the same extremes we live with today in their early forms–he brought the full Faith to native Americans, God bless him.

        No development of doctrine. No legitimate changes to distinguish from the illegitimate. Restore tradition, that’s all. Veiling never was the identification of the Christian woman, is my thesis, against those traditionalists who think they know the number of Our Lady’s petticoats from private revelations to individuals.

        • “No development of doctrine. No legitimate changes to distinguish from the illegitimate. Restore tradition, that’s all.”

          But this is not Catholic either. Doctrine has always developed as we grew in our understanding and application of Christ’s teaching. It didn’t contradict itself, it expanded. Tradition is not a stagnant thing, it is the repository of those things which are essential, not all of which existed at all points in Church history.

          For example: In the early Church, communion in the hand was common. St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote of how it should be received with reverence and propriety. But over time, abuses and profanation of the Eucharist came about. By the time St. Thomas Aquinas was writing on the topic, the change in Church practice was crystal clear:

          “Secondly, because the priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people, hence as it belongs to him to offer the people’s gifts to God, so it belongs to him to deliver the consecrated gifts to the people. Thirdly, because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it but what is consecrated, hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest’s hands, for touching this sacrament. Hence it is not lawful for anyone to touch it, except from necessity, for instance if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency” (SummaTheologica, III, Q. 82, Art. 13).

          Another example: there was no such thing as a tabernacle until the IV Lateran Council. But a need had arisen because of the reservation of consecrated hosts to bring to the sick. They would sometimes wrap the hosts in a cloth, but rodents would find and eat them. So then they would tie a rope to the bundle and haul it up where the rodents couldn’t get to it, but this was a cumbersome solution. At last, the tabernacle became a feature of Catholic parishes. And with it, and the constant Eucharistic presence within it, arose the devotion of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

          Tradition is, again, a living thing. It grows. It matures. Catholic morality is applied to new and emerging situations all the time. In the 1500s, there was no need for Humane Vitae. In the 1960s, it was perhaps too late.

          The smaller traditions of the Church, such as those that involve disciplines that are within the juridical power of the bishops or popes to change — like the duration of Eucharistic fasts — may in fact be changed. I think it was wise to change the communion fast so that people could take water or medicine before reception of the Eucharist. 12 hours with nothing was perhaps a bit much. The Irish were known for penances that were extremely harsh, and sometimes took many months to complete. People were going almost the whole year without receiving the Eucharist because they had a penance to complete.

          You get the point. There is no point in the history of the Church that is perfect. But we must retain that which is unchangeable, while the Magisterium prudently discerns which things require development and adaptation.

          • In America, at least, different customs were acceptable in Catholicism. For example, there were ethnic parishes, with resulting difficulties when parishes combined. But even long ago, medieval variety was the rule in the Church. The important thing is to stay in the Church. As Alice Thomas Ellis, who had no use for Vatican II and perhaps did not take her own advice, said, “Once you’re inside the Church, you can shake a pretty loose leg.”

            But let a man speak: “In the Catholic religion there is an amount of freedom found nowhere else. We believe whatever the Church teaches, simply because she is the Church, and in all else she allows her children a wide liberty. I do not say she authorizes, or even approves, every popular devotion, practice, habit, or custom to be found here and there. But, as a loving mother, she tolerates what she may not approve and would not authorize.” — Fr. George Angus

          • Water and medicine have always been allowed. And mothers who were tending to sick children were allowed to drink tea/coffee and even eat a little something. We think of the past as completely harsh and unbending when that was never the case.
            To my mind we build on older traditions – there is never a reason to get rid of something and replace it with the opposite. Encouraging women to toss off veils, and to do the opposite – bare their heads – shows the lack of prudence and reason we’ve suffered for the past 60 years. By the way, head coverings used to be hats. I grew up in the Church in the 40s, 50s and 60s and I never saw a veil once. Getting a new hat for Easter, and wearing it all year was a treat.

          • The 1917 code of canon law was more strict than many realize. The key here is “natural fast” – which is described by the Catholic Encylopedia of the same year:

            A fast “may denote abstinence from all kinds of food and drink for a given period. Such is the nature of the fast prescribed by the Church before Holy Communion (natural fast).”

          • For example: In the early Church, communion in the hand was common.

            Actually, it was likely not nearly as common as some think. And when it did take place, it looked very different from what obtains now.

          • I’d be happy to have you make that case. Preferably in an article. I’ve tried to disprove this in the past, but I’ve run into too much evidence that it wasn’t as rare as I wish it was.

  3. I don’t dare get started on some of this stuff below b/c I have things to do and this could turn into an all day affair.

    When I was a Protestant the reasoning here seemed quite good: However, I simply did as the congregation did. When I visited (it was usually as an invited speaker) and they wore coverings, so did I. If I spoke where they were not worn, or when I was part of a congregation where that was not the practice, I did not do it. My purpose was to make my message the focus, not my dress. All things to all people is a Pauline principle, too.

    But I am Catholic now. No more sola scriptura. What does the Church say? It is allowed, but not
    mandated, for both NO and EF masses. It is expected for EF, but not for NO. That is it. Period.

    The sentence of this article that makes the most sense is this: “[I]t is a form of devotion to God that is only open to a woman. This means that it is a strictly feminine form of prayer that excludes men.” If women who decide to follow this as a devotion — I have a friend who will wear a chapel veil all Lent as a mortification of her vanity, for instance — would do it as a personal devotion without trying to “sell” it to everyone else, without making it a badge of holiness, etc. everything would be fine. But then I have other fantasies, too…

    The thing is that I want to cover my head sometimes. I might want to do it occasionally as a devotion. I would also like to have the option of doing it for the sake of not messing with my hair. I would like to do it sometimes just for the fashion of it – love, love, love the look of tichels, for example. But what you women pushing this have done is turned it into a suspicious ideological statement. Catholic women themselves are making true the whole “symbol of female oppression” jab that outsiders throw around about it. Wow.

    Read it, think it, live it: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” – Gal 5:1.

    • You’re correct in pointing out the optional nature, and when it is expected (or not). But I think leaving it there reduces the practice to something trivial. It’s a manifestation of reverence, and while I appreciate Rebecca’s take (one I hadn’t heard before) I have always also understood it as a sign of humility, covering the beauty of creation before God’s glory.

      My wife started veiling about ten years ago, on her own, with no prompting from me. My daughters followed suit. Later on, she got tired of the ever-present babies yanking it off her head, and she stopped. My other daughters, again, followed suit. I liked it when they veiled. It felt right. But I don’t give them a hard time about not doing it, because I understand the pragmatic reasons, and I have more important things to worry about. And, as you mentioned, this is optional.

      Still, there are many reverent practices which have become optional that are nonetheless beneficial. Genuflection rather than bows, reception of communion on the tongue and kneeling rather than standing and in the hand, the prohibition against any but consecrated hands to touch the sacred vessels, etc. Some of these should, I think, be made mandatory again. Others are perhaps better left optional. But they do matter.

      I think one of the saddest commentaries on the modern Church is that almost everything that could make our liturgies more relevant is no longer required. Martin Mosebach articulated this well in The Heresy of Formlessness:

      “I have described my conviction that it is impossible to retain reverence and worship without their traditional forms. Of course there will always be people who are so filled with grace that they can pray even when the means of prayer have been ripped from their hands. Many people, too, concerned about these issues, will ask, “Isn’t it still possible to celebrate the new liturgy of Pope Paul VI worthily and reverently?” Naturally it is possible, but the very fact that it is possible is the weightiest argument against the new liturgy. It has been said that monarchy’s death knell sounds once it becomes necessary for a monarch to be competent: this is because the monarch, in the old sense, is legitimated by his birth, not his talent. This observation is even truer in the case of the liturgy: liturgy’s death knell is sounded once it requires a holy and good priest to perform it. The faithful must never regard the liturgy as something the priest does by his own efforts. It is not something that happens by good fortune or as the result of a personal charism or merit.”

      • Steve, according to your logic, praying the Rosary is “reduced” to “trivial” b/c it is an optional devotion and to make sure WE ALL KNOW how wonderful a prayer it is, the Church should just make it mandatory. Maybe we should have to all fill out a report on how many Rosaries we prayed each week before we receive communion on Sunday. Yeah, that would do it. Why not? Jehovah’s Witnesses have to fill out reports each week about how many hours they “witnessed to someone” and guess what? They have the SAME rules regarding women and men that are delineated below by thewhitelilyblog in her parish (hint, hint). Or maybe we should just leave optional those things that the CHURCH says are optional BECAUSE we are Catholic. We should look at what others are doing and not doing and simply say, “Who am I to judge the servant of another” or more colloquially, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Good on your wife and daughters for feeling free to veil AND free to stop. Mosebach is just another man. But you knew that.

        • My logic has to do with things formerly mandatory, now optional. Apples and oranges, since the rosary was never mandatory, and always a private devotion. Take something which was once required and tell people they no longer have to, and many — perhaps even most — will stop. At the very least, everyone will think, “Well, it couldn’t have been that important if they can just change it to an option.”

          These sorts of things diminish, by their nature.

          As for Mosebach, yes, of course he’s just another man. But one with a keener insight and a clearer gift for expression of truths which should be self-evident than most.

          • But Steve, some things that became mandatory started out as optional. as you pointed out below. As for Mosebach, I don’t find his assertion “self-evident” at all. Forms can and do change. Again, you described that very thing happening below.

            And if changing wearing a veil to “not mandatory” status conveys the message that it is “not important (at least not now)”, then you know what? It isn’t important. Really. Comparatively to those things that are mandatory. So maybe we need to deal with the reality of how relatively unimportant it is.

          • “some things that became mandatory started out as optional.”

            But this is a process of learning. Of recognizing the importance of something as you come to know it, or see it in practice. The reverse (from mandatory to optional) is one of diminution. It either indicates that:

            a) Your original conclusion that something mattered enough to require it was wrong, or
            b) You don’t care enough one way or the other to stand by your earlier conclusions, which means you’re probably a bit of a wimp.

            Mosebach’s assertion is most certainly self-evident. But the crazy thing about self-evident truths is that they only appear so to that segment of the population with eyes to see. (Pick any so-called “self-evident truth” and see how many people you can find to argue that it’s actually obscure. This is why we spend so much time in circular arguments about fundamental things.)

            His assertion, put more simply, is that making reverence in liturgy optional — and dependent upon the good intentions of the priest — is a terrible idea. It subjectivizes what should be objective; it makes crass what is otherwise sublime. If a clown Mass and a pontifical high Mass are both within the spectrum of acceptable liturgies in the eyes of the Church, we’ve lost sight of something very fundamental about worship. It becomes nothing more than a matter of our personal taste, and we become little more than theater critics. Lost in the shuffle is the real question: what kind of sacrifice is most pleasing to God?

            Considering the fact that Cain killed Abel over the same question, it’s really not surprising that we spend so much commbox time duking it out over this.

            I like veiling. I think it is rooted not only in beautiful symbolism, but a scriptural basis. But if I were to prioritize it in comparison to other things made optional that are truly important (like communion in the hand and altar girls and lay ministers of the Eucharist) it falls on the lower end of the spectrum. Those things really, truly matter in profound ways. That they were made optional speaks poorly of those who relaxed the discipline surrounding them, not the reality they represent.

          • Or C. the cultural significance of it changed.

            Regards clebration of the Mass per se and role of priest I don’t even disagree with Mosebach. But what do I know. I am blind. I can’t see into the beautiful depths that you and he see into. The men in whitelilysblog’s parish would surely explain that that is b/c I am just a silly woman…

          • A change in cultural context does not change the supernatural realities these traditions represent. The Church should not conform to the world; the world should conform to the Church. Stepping outside of the mundane, the quotidian, and into the sacred, timeless space of the Catholic Mass – this should be our goal with liturgy. I can get the banal anywhere. I can only get the supernatural at the altar of God.

            And isn’t the changing of traditions which reflect the Church’s unchanging dogmas about things like sacraments, or the roles of the faithful within the liturgy, at least somewhat related to desire to change of dogma itself, as described by Pope St. Pius X in Pascendi Dominici Gregis #13?

            “But what do I know. I am blind. I can’t see into the beautiful depths that Mosebach and you see into.”

            The snark doesn’t help your argument. Do you disagree that liturgy should have objective standards by which it is most fitting as an act of worship, and thus most pleasing to God? Or that we should aspire to moving it in this direction?

            “The men in whitelilysblog’s parish would surely explain that that is b/c I am just a silly woman…”

            You’d have to speak to them about that. I’m not one of them. I do see a straw man out of the corner of my eye, though…

          • You are the one who brought up how his points can only be discerned by the elect insightful few. I had to pick among the ways to call BS on that.

            St. Thomas teaches us to resolve confusions by making a distinction. Conflating the wearing of veils with reverent liturgy is a confusion.

          • “You are the one who brought up how his points can only be discerned by the elect insightful few.”

            No, I said that his assertion – the one in question – is self evident. And that the funny thing about things we call “self-evident” is that to many people they seem to be anything but. That only a few people in any given population actually see self-evident truths for what they are.

            Objectively speaking, one needn’t have a special insight to see the truth of what Mosebach is saying. But I do think that on a subjective level, we’ve been forced into liturgical schizophrenia for so long — having to justify two forms of the same rite and pretend as though they are equal, despite the obvious propensity toward abuses of the one — that even something as obvious as “reverence shouldn’t be optional” becomes occluded.

            “St. Thomas teaches us to resolve confusions by making a distinction. Conflating the wearing of veils with reverent liturgy is a confusion.”

            I didn’t conflate. I said that the wearing of a veil is an outward sign of reverence, a humbling of the self before God. Such an act is undeniably part of an atmosphere of reverence within liturgy, though I placed it on a lower order of priority than things which would be more essential to liturgy itself.

            Personal reverence toward God in manner, gesture, and dress is to the individual what institutional reverence toward God is in the trappings of liturgy, architecture, sacred music, and so on is to the Church. They are related, but not the same.

          • Well, not to make it a news flash or anything, but I’m not in the “reverence should be optional” camp. And just b/c YOU or any other man says that “he wearing of a veil is an outward sign of reverence” doesn’t make it so. If the veil was an outward sign of reverence and if reverent liturgies so disposed Catholic people to reverence, then why did all those reverent Catholic women who were so being formed in piety by their reverent liturgies and the reverent wearing of the veil suddenly stop wearing it the minute they were permitted to stop? Apparently to the vast majority of them wearing the veil was a requirement that had no personal resonance with their interior disposition.

          • “Well, not to make it a news flash or anything, but I’m not in the “reverence should be optional” camp”

            Then we’re agreed that what Mosebach is saying is obvious?

            “And just b/c YOU or any other man says that “he wearing of a veil is an outward sign of reverence” doesn’t make it so.”

            Any other man? Like St. Paul, you mean?

            “If the veil was an outward sign of reverence and if reverent liturgies so disposed Catholic people to reverence, then why did all those reverent Catholic women who were so being formed in piety by their reverent liturgies and the reverent wearing of the veil suddenly stop wearing it the minute they were permitted to stop?”

            Because human beings have a remarkable capacity to lose sight of anything. It doesn’t change the reality. It just means we get bored of noticing it.

          • Women can do some things in ways men can’t. The woman at Simon’s house washed Jesus’ feet in a way different from the way Jesus washed the apostles’ feet. Women are also not all the same: Mary and Martha. I wonder how much pain it caused Mosebach to write obvious things.

          • Very simply put, the point of trying to be devout, however inept we are at it, is to do as much as possible as often as possible. Minimalism does not befit the love of God.

          • Except when it is an outward sign of authority. Or an outward sign of not accepting Vatican II. Or an outward sign of wifely submission. Or an outward sign of rejection of radical feminism. Or an outward sign of only men are allowed to pray around here.

          • Keep telling us what you think, Mary, please. I’ve been arguing for years about the feminist poison that has infested the minds of “conservative” Catholic women, but rarely get such clear evidence. Tell us all about women’s victimhood.

          • Hilary (still don’t know if you are the Hilary White who used to write for LSN, I so hope not), I am not telling you what “[I] think” — I am telling what assorted veiling women have indicated as their reasons and/or the reasons of their communities for requiring it. I know that it might take some humility on your part to read through all my comments, seek to honestly understand where I am coming from, and recognize how completely wrong you are about me. Not to mention extraordinary grace to apologize. I won’t hold my breathe for it, but I will hope. Please, especially if you are that Hilary, don’t make yourself ridiculous by intentional misunderstanding. It is so unbecoming.

          • No, I’m the Hilary White who still does write for LSN. And who wears a veil because it is a sign of reverence for God in the Holy Eucharist, because it is mandated by Scripture, because it is a statement against feminism, against modernism, and against the general trends against the transcendence of the good, the true and the beautiful.

            And because it just seems to really get under the skin of the kind of female in the US Church who likes to set herself up as an arbiter of what “women” do and why.

            Actually, that last thing is just a side bonus.

          • You and I are such natural friends and allies and have been for such a long time, that your misapprehension of me is painful.

            Your comment surely illustrates what I have been saying though. In a sense, in Becky’s words, you are wearing your veil “at” someone. The meaning is well past simple reverence.

          • Yes, Mary. The sole reason I’ve ever worn a veil in my entire life as a practicing Catholic has been in anticipation of this very conversation.

          • Hilary, seriously, do you think that your studied and irrational antagonism to me in any way recommends veiling, or recommends your own work and writing or recommends you as a Catholic woman? I don’t know what has happened to you, but I am sorry for it, truly. Are you unable to stop?

          • Dunno, Mary. I got to this party pretty late, after you had already posted plenty of comments attacking people who veiled as being part of the dreaded plot of the evil patriarchy to oppress women and not let them pray in Church. And as for “unable to stop” you are addressing me directly aren’t you? Isn’t it polite to respond? And would you have me say other than what I actually think?

            This crypto-feminism in conservative Catholic circles is a well documented phenomenon, but I’m always interested when I see it in action.

            Since you were the one who started talking about poor hard-done-by females whose husbands, fathers and priests had somehow forced them, God forbid!, to cover their heads in Church, I’m just wondering what the defensive tone is about now? Did you imagine that you would receive no response at all?

            Here’s a hint for you: a major trait of feminism is to presume the personal authority declare all women victims of men. All I’m doing here is a little fraternal correction… If that’s not too patriarchal a term for you. Maybe you would do better to address the substance of the matter rather than cast aspersions on me personally for putting my foot down in front of you.

          • Wow. I understand from Leo’s communication to you above that you may be ill and for that I am truly sorry. I don’t know to what extent your illness may be causing you to read things that are simply not there, but I have posted absolutely nothing like what you said. Nothing. I don’t understand why you would make this up and then attack me. I can’t help but see it as delusional in some way. It is quite impossible for me to address a substance of a matter that is completely in your imagination. It really is, Hilary, completely in your imagination. I cannot even call it a caricature b/c that would have some connection to reality. This is a delusion.

          • For over a decade I was with Catholic Exchange, Hilary. For over half that time, I was the Senior Editor and main day-to-day manager of that site, this during the time when CE was the largest and most-trafficked Catholic site online. It was while LSN was a struggling new organization with only a tiny fraction of our reach and as an avid supporter of the work of LSN, I made sure CE reprints of LSN articles, including yours, were instrumental in boosting the profile and readership of LSN. In addition to the fact that we at CE even published our own articles to recommend the work of LSN and recommend donating to it, I do believe that you and I had a small bit of friendly (imagine that) communication while I was with CE (just an email or two, so I don’t fault you for not recalling). But since I always appreciated your work, it saddens me that you have mistaken me for a personal enemy. But indeed you have.

          • Ah, now we get to talk about the generic use of “man”, which includes women, for those not conversant with it. Or maybe we need another entire article for it.

          • Come now. You can’t honestly think, based on sex-distinct nature of this entire discussion and the context of your comments, such as “only men are allowed to pray around here,” that I was supposed to take that as the generic “man.”

            I prefer the gender-inclusive pronoun myself, but in this conversation it seems worth recalling your citation of St. Thomas: “resolve confusions by making a distinction.”

          • Steve, I apologize. I should have said “person” or “individual” instead. The distinction I was trying to make was between anyone’s opinion and the actual instructions of the Church herself. I would never say “no man can tell me what to do.” I just don’t think that way.

          • And just b/c YOU or any other man says that “he wearing of a veil is an outward sign of reverence” doesn’t make it so.

            Why are you trying to invalidate an experience that women who veil assert they have? What is the point?

          • I’m not and I didn’t. I wish that were the only meaning it had — as I’ve said several times. So you might want to scroll through and see my other comments.

          • B says, “I have this experience.” M says, “No, you don’t, and even if you do, others who do what you do don’t, and still others who don’t do it might get the wrong message.” Is this what M is saying? I’ve read all (possibly misread some of) the comments so far.

          • Show a place in my comments where I denied anyone’s experience.

            And btw — experience and meaning are two different things.

          • I’m asking, because there are things about this discussion that I don’t understand. What are the differences between B and M? I don’t understand the differences, and apparently B doesn’t understand the differences.

          • I’m not sure. I said I wished that the meaning it had for her was the only meaning it had. She took that as me invalidating her.

          • So it’s ok for B to do what she does on her understanding of it, and if she can get other women to understand and do what she does, then that’s ok too, but others might do it and understand differently, perhaps wrongly, and still others might misunderstand. Is that closer to what M is saying?

          • Try this: it’s perfectly ok for B to do what she does on her understanding of it, and if she can get other women to understand and do what she does — without turning it into a requirement and burden, and without judging those who don’t follow suit — then that’s ok too and more power to her. But others are doing it and understand differently, perhaps wrongly the meaning of it (but then who are we to tell them what it means to them?), and still others who are not doing it are misunderstanding everyone who is doing it, while plenty of those who are doing it are misunderstanding those who don’t. And the misunderstandings can largely be laid at the feet of people who are trying to get woman to do it and whose arguments for it lack coherence.

          • Don’t know. I’m sure I haven’t seen everything she ever wrote on this topic though what she wrote below about women being special I agree with. It’s just that that is not our current cultural meaning of veiling, not even within the Church — we don’t have any coherent meaning. So as much as I liked her thoughts and wished they were the way it was understood by all, her expression of them is not a coherent argument for all to adopt the practice, even if it is a coherent expression of her personal view. There cannot be a coherent argument for all to adopt the practice until there is agreement on what it means NOW (not what it might have meant at some other time). Even the article above doesn’t explain it — though it makes the old college try.

          • Oops — Leo — just to add to the incoherence — I got confused between Barbara and Becky so some of what I wrote applies to one and some to the other. I’ll let you sort it out.

          • I also have only read that one article by her about veiling. I agree it could better argued. You could make that coherent argument, and you would be heard. “Oh, Barbara, if I could wear a veil or a tichel, or whatever and everyone simply understood that it was for reverence and because of how precious I am to God — what a wonderful world that would be!

          • I trust the Church. if we “need” it, the Church will provide it or mandate it or at least give it to us as a counsel. But I thank you from the bottom of my heart — you redeemed this day for me.

          • It seems invalidating because you seem to be using it as a good reason to discourage her from doing it. Why does she have to be concerned with the way her actions could be misinterpreted? She needs defenders, who will help educate those who judge her negatively out of ignorance. It also seems like you are validating the negative opinions of those people who are offended because there are some women who may trying to send social or political messages. What if they are? Don’t we all have freedom of speech?

          • If different meanings can be assigned to a particular action, then perhaps what we really need to ask ourselves is: WHO has the right to assign meaning to a particular individual’s actions? The person performing the action (i.e.veiling), or the observer of the action?

            If an action is not intrinsically evil, then I think the observer must give the actor the BENEFIT of the DOUBT as to good motives and intentions. In other words, the actor has the right to define the meaning of his actions.

            Furthermore, NO ONE should try to intimidate or instill fear in someone else that their well-intentioned action might be misinterpreted, judged wrongly, and reacted to with hostility. That is intimidation. Instead, they should encourage and support anyone who is looking for ways to show their love of God.

          • i am impressed that someone who is a graduate of the University of Steubenville and believes women should “veil” in church–language newly minted post Vatican II and the Sexual Revolution–is so hostile to men. Take a a deep breath and calm down.

            We covered our heads in Church pre-Vatican II as a sign of respect to the Blessed Sacrament. You seem to be implying that wearing the veil is an egotistical thing only women can do.

          • When the changes in the liturgy by Vatican II were implemented, it was not done in an “optional” way in the US. We were instructed to follow the changes, whether we agreed or not. I was a teenager then and followed the directives.

            Priests refused to give Communion to people who insisted on kneeling. Eucharistic ministers also had to be accepted, although a Northern Irish friend told me in the late 1980s that they were not used in her country, because the hierarchy knew the people would not accept them.

            Only about forty years after Vatican II did we learn that the changes in the 1960s we were commanded to accept had been “optional.” Puh-leeze, I was there, give me a break.

            We recognized the appropriateness of covering our heads in church; we were being reverent in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The whole stupid “oppression by men’ argument had not yet been created.

            BTW, up to Vatican II churches were places where you didn’t stay behind after Mass to chat with your friends because it was more comfortable in the church than outside in the cold or inclement weather. Silence was maintained out of respect for the Blessed Sacrament, and so that people could pray. I still miss that silence today, and I have started wearing a scarf or hat to Mass again. I also prefer not to shake hands at the Sign of Peace, although I did so for many years–and again, when introduced, no one presented it as a voluntary action–it was mandatory.

          • Again, one of Mosebach’s points is that it was better not to see (what he felt compelled to write about), because there was no doubt. Now we have lost things that we must look for.

          • Referencing gsk’s comment, then. What are we looking for? Are we looking for a way to express reverence? Or are we looking for a way to ascertain what we cannot know — what is in another’s heart? Or are we looking for a badge that tells us so and so is “on our team”?

          • “A change in cultural context does not change the supernatural realities these traditions represent.”

            No, but sometimes the cultural context is so far removed that one needs to express the realities in different forms. What would Lily’s men do with South Sea Islanders who all wear a kind of sari, or in Asia where men and women all wear a pants-like garb under a tunic? The shallowness of this approach was illustrated by 19th century Protestant missionaries, who dressed up their African converts in long white dresses (women) and suits (men) for worship. Absurd. Sometimes cultural shifts require that the supernatural realities find new artifacts.

          • Mary, nobody is wearing their chapel veil at you. Nobody is judging you for not wearing one. It’s just important to affirm that, a.) the veil is not a symbol of a man’s right to oppress a woman and order her around (as the Greek affirms), and b.) there is merit to the practice because women are still able to make it devotional and personal today- which means it’s not just a trivial custom we can toss out. If only one woman is wearing it in a parish, she’s not doing anything wrong.

          • Becky — that is so non sequitur to anything I have written. Maybe you need to read the rest of my comments here.

            I would love for all women to feel free to wear it. I would love to cover my head sometimes with veils or other things for multiple reasons not to exclude reverence/devotion etc. But (acknowledging that it used to be those who objected who did it) currently it is the people who are pushing this who have freighted it with so much junk that they make it harder, not easier.

          • “Mosebach’s assertion is most certainly self-evident. But the crazy thing about self-evident truths is that they only appear so to that segment of the population with eyes to see. (Pick any so-called “self-evident truth” and see how many people you can find to argue that it’s actually obscure. This is why we spend so much time in circular arguments about fundamental things.)”

            Self-evident truths are truths hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed to the little ones.

            The only evidence to which the Church appeals is self-evidence. To the sane and simple mind all serviceable truth is self-evident, on being simply asserted. The Gospel of Christ is merely “good news.” — Coventry Patmore

      • Let’s talk about something trivial: hats—men’s hats. The late historian Jacques Barzun was born in France in 1907. At the age of 101 he spoke with an interviewer about the old days and changes that were happening even then. Among them:

        ‘Another thing is hats. Men always wore hats. There was a famous businessman who was interviewed as he landed back from a trip to Europe and he was asked what the great movements were that he was apprehensive about. He said, “Communism and hatlessness!”

        ‘This is a very strange thing, isn’t it, to have given up hats altogether? I remember hats on the streets. Certainly when I first came [1920], everybody wore a hat. I wore a hat in college. What would you do if you met a lady of your acquaintance or of your family’s acquaintance? You must raise your hat.’

        This is what Mosebach is writing about in the quotation. Just as one didn’t have to be a gentlemen to raise one’s hat to a lady, one didn’t have to be devout or even good to do any number of things in church which showed reverence to God. Nowadays people seem to feel the need to justify themselves because they do—or refuse to do—certain things in church. Self-consciousness is probably not a good thing when a consciousness of God is desired.

        • Trivial, yes. Today, most men in the ghetto wear hats. Proudly. With particular details telegraphing important information to other men they meet. We have to call this what it is: nostalgia for a bygone culture.

          Even Fr Z admitted as much to me in one discussion: he said he loved veils because they signaled to him the content of a woman’s faith. I would say that constitutes (my term) “dog-whistle orthodoxy.” Neat and tidy — and of course with our post-modern formlessness, we always love those who signal to us a shared culture. If we would admit that great need in ourselves, we could agree and mourn the loss, rather than insisting that the “trappings” of an older organic culture must be recreated now (unorganically).

    • Hi there Mary,

      So I think after seeing the helpful exchange you had with Leo, that I might
      understand you a little better. I’m really just sharing my devotional insight,
      an insight that came from focusing on theological reasons to wear a head
      covering. I don’t think it should be a mandate, because I have a feeling that
      the Church wants women to freely enter into the practice out of love. If women
      like my observations and decide to veil because of that, then I’m flattered.
      Women can veil for the wrong reasons it is true, but it’s not our job to judge
      their intentions or just assume they mean to flaunt the veil as a ‘badge of
      holiness,’ unless they make that intention clear…in which case, that is
      certainly open to criticism.

      This is obviously a heavily politicized issue, and
      it’s a shame. Most people that are die-hard against head coverings (not saying
      you are) will sort of grudgingly admit that, “oh sure, you can wear it if you
      want,” but if you share your experience and attest that it has been fruitful,
      you’re accused of being a “veil proselytizer” (something I’ve been called before) and I don’t
      understand why the assumption is some sort of perceived ill-will on the part of the veil-wearer. God bless you, and thanks for sharing.

      • Becky (sorry for confusing you and Barbara yesterday) I can relate to it easily through my experience with deciding to wear only long skirts to Sunday Mass. I have always tried to dress modestly. Even in my daily life, when I wear jeans, I wear tunic type blouses. I found myself disturbed at Mass by the horrible state of dress (undress) of so many of the women to the point where I found myself feeling angry with them. I decided to deal with this spiritually by wearing only long skirts to Sunday Mass. I don’t like long skirts and previously wore them rarely. They are a hassle and a hazard. I have a total horror of falling down stairs. So I did it to make reparation for 1. my being distracted and angry and judgmental in Mass and 2. the immodesty of my sisters.

        Once I started, I experienced greater peace in Mass. I found myself looking at my immodestly dressed sisters with a sense of love and sorrow that they did not value themselves more as daughters of God. I learned better to enjoy the femininity of wearing them, even though I still find negotiating stairs nerve-wracking. I also make sure that I am dressed beautifully. (Goodwill, I love you!) I am often complemented on my dress. This way I can simply show by example that beauty does not mean showing a lot of skin.

        I went to daily Mass with my head covered this week twice, once with a beret type hat and once with a snood type of covering. The cold weather lets me do this without raising an eyebrow. And I intend to make this an occasional practice. When I was at Mass on Tuesday, the priest asked me to help him bless throats. I was very glad I was covered for that. But he asked another woman who was not covered, so I’m not chalking it up to that. I would prefer to be covered in Adoration, too, and sometimes do as long as it won’t attract undue attention to myself.

        I am telling you this to let you know that I understand how what we wear can influence our souls. Which is why denying anyone else’s experience would be quite foreign to my way of thinking.

        However, perhaps you might factor in that I grew up in a cult, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and worked my way backwards through the Protestant Reformation to become Catholic. I am very sensitive to legalism and cultism and spiritual abuse. Sadly this is not unknown in the Catholic Church. I recognize whitelily’s experience very well. She is in a cult. They can call themselves Catholic all they want, but that is what it is. Veiling is one of their big points and they have it all tangled up with a horribly distorted understanding of the roles of men and women. When that picture of veiling is out there, you cannot pretend that veiling only “means” what you personally think it means. It has multiple meanings some of which make opposition to it seem legitimate — or may even make opposition legitimate based on context.

        God bless you, too.

    • I was with you until this:
      “would do it as a personal devotion without trying to “sell” it to everyone else, without making it a badge of holiness, etc. everything would be fine. But then I have other fantasies, too…”
      ^^^This reads like you think women who veil think women who do not veil are less holy, simply because some women that veil talk about the reasons why they veil and their understanding of the purpose for veiling. I don’t understand this way of reasoning because it sounds like there are unspoken rules for what women can share and cannot share about their personal preferences/devotions. If I practice something in my life that has brought me blessings or benefits, then why is it wrong to talk about it and share it with enthusiasm? After all, it is up to others to decide whether they want to try it or not and whether they benefit from it, or not.

      Are you perhaps rashly judging the thoughts or intentions of women who choose to share their reasons for veiling and their enthusiasm for it?

      • Cindy, that is a great question, but it doesn’t have a simple answer because neither woman who cover their heads nor woman who don’t are a monolithic group. I’m both in conversation with a lot of other woman who do this (part of two FB groups on the topic) and an observer of even more conversations about it in which I don’t participate.

        If you look at the beginning of my comment, you will see it was made more in response to what was “below” (as I said) rather than to the article itself. When I posted my comment, this thread had just started and what I was reacting to most was the comment by whitelily (at the time nearly directly below my comment) who is very clearly part of a Catholic cult where covering the head is demanded of woman and where judgement of them regarding this and a plethora of other rules is part and parcel of their milieu. Some women have a balanced understanding, many do not. Some who are quite outspoken on the topic do not.

        Bracketing the Protestants in this movement for the moment, one of the problems is when Catholic women say that “Scripture mandates covering” and that is why they are doing it. I trust the Church to tell me what I have to do to be obedient to Scripture. There is no way for anyone, man or woman, in the Church to tell me something other than what the Church tells me is required for obedience and for that not to come across as a personal judgement that IF I don’t do what that person says, he or she will view me a being disobedient to a scriptural mandate. The logic is pretty inexorable.

        So if a Catholic woman covers her head and says, “I am doing it as a personal devotion to the Lord… to discipline my vanity… to help me be more prayerful… to remind me to be be submissive… to imitate the Blessed Virgin… because it is the customary way to show reverence in my community… because it is the customary way to express feminine modesty in my community… etc.” I have no problem with it. I empathize with all that. See my other comments to see how much.

        But if she says, “I am doing it to be obedient to Scripture” I don’t care what other excellent reasons, extolling of benefits, and testimony comes out of her mouth after that. She has crossed a line. She has in fact expressed herself in a singularly IMMODEST manner because she has created a personal legalism. Or whoever convinced her of this has done so.

        Hope that clarifies — thanks for asking.

        • “But if she says, “I am doing it to be obedient to Scripture” I don’t care what other excellent reasons, extolling of benefits, and testimony comes out of her mouth after that. She has crossed a line.”

          That is a staggering statement, considering the content of 1 Cor. 11:5:

          “[E]very woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered, disgraceth her head: for it is all one as if she were shaven.”

          You may certainly argue about what that passage means, if you so wish, but you may certainly not argue that a woman who covers her head in accordance with it has crossed a line and expect to be taken seriously.

          • So…the Church, in not requiring women to cover their heads is disobeying Scripture? I mean, I’m just trying to draw out the logical implications.

            What about women not speaking or teaching in churches? Are women theology teachers or DRE’s violating scripture?

            Either we are docile to the Church and allow her to interpret Scripture and trust her to tell us what is required or not.

            That whole Protestant thing — you know the one nearly 500 years ago — was all about how to be more faithful to the Scriptures than the Church was.

            You want to have your cake and eat it too. You want Scripture to require it in the present (as opposed to the past), but you want to say it is optional b/c you know the Church does not agree that it is required. I’m very clear. If it is required, it is not optional. If that Scripture is supposed to be obeyed by women today (i.e. it is not referencing a passe custom), then to not do as it says is disobedient AND the Church has led us astray.

            I already was a Protestant. I became Catholic. I did not become Catholic to become Protestant.

          • I can’t possibly hope to explain the Church’s deviation from any number of practices that were consistent through most of her 2000 year history and were suddenly and summarily dropped.

            Nor am I willing to say that St. Paul’s admonitions on these things were wrong. Inspired word of God and all that.

            Things made a great deal more sense in the days when the Church concerned itself with at least appearing consistent.

          • Steve, the difference between us has nothing to do with head coverings (I’ll be covering at Adoration tonight, in fact). It really has to do with our view of the Church. You hint at mistrust of the Church. I trust the Church. I don’t say St. Paul was wrong — I love Scripture and I am very conversant with Scripture — and the Church does not say St. Paul was wrong, either. She gives his words their right application and context. I trust her to do that. I trust the Church to interpret Scripture for me and tell me rightly what is required for me to be obedient and pleasing to God. I trust the Church because I trust Christ and i know Christ because of the Church.

          • I don’t trust the Church apart from the Magisterium, but I think faithful Catholics have no choice but, like Padre Pio, to obey when ordered to. Until then they can talk, and all sides have been talking in a mostly unedifying manner. I totally agree with you about not going Protestant, but many Catholics are put in that position, not by themselves, but by the Church. Consider if you were a lay Catholic or a priest and in 1969 you were told that the Mass that you had loved all your life was no longer to be celebrated. If you demur, you are putting your personal view against the Church. Then, in 2007, 40 years later, if you are still alive and not a schismatic or a sedevacantist or someone who dropped away from the Church because you couldn’t take to the new Mass or the old Mass was not available to hold you in the Church, you hear, in the press, not from your bishop, not from your parish priest, that the pope says that the old Mass “was never abrogated,” and that from now on any priest can say it without his bishop’s permission and any “faithful” can attend it without anybody’s permission, would you feel, “Well, just as I expected: I knew the Church would eventually come around to the obvious Catholic position. No Protestant, me!”

            What, in fact—if you were alive in 1969 and you thought the Church was going nuts—what could you have done? Well, some protested, mainly writers and artists, to no effect. After that, the abandonment.

            By 1969 it was too late. It was before and during Vatican II that Catholic voices should have been heard. I think this is what Steve and others are trying to do, with what success or what grace, opinions differ.

            I write casually, off-the-cuff, not attempting a scholar’s or theologian’s view, but a view from the pew. Do I make any sense to you?

            I also write in haste, because I promised to myself not to write comments on Sundays.

          • Leo, I cannot answer as to what I would have done if I had been
            an adult Catholic in 1969 because in 1969 I was a child Jehovah’s
            Witness. However, I have enough of a moral imagination and enough sympathy to understand how heart-wrenching the situation was for those involved. It seems quite clear that there was betrayal and scandal. Even before I became Catholic in 1996, I had learned to recognize what is now called the Extraordinary Form of the Mass as a treasure for the Church and the world, though I cannot possibly have the kind of emotional attachment to it that those who grow up with it have and I am in a Novus Ordo parish. During all the years I was an editor at Catholic Exchange, numerous articles explaining and supporting the Latin Mass were published. I have a number of friends who regularly assist at EF liturgies. I am making sure that my grandson, whom I homeschool, receives an education in the Christian Latin language, and it is my fond hope that the Latin Mass will be even more widely available by the time he is an adult, for I am teaching a man of the West.

            Having said all of that, my perspective on it is more historical. When I
            consider all of the chaos that ensued after Vatican II — the wreck-ovations of the churches, the un-habited sisters prancing around re-imagining God, the goofy irreverent masses, and so forth — I have to also consider WHO IT WAS that perpetrated all these things. They were done by people who were supposedly formed by the Latin Mass. Nancy Pelosi was formed by the Latin Mass. So was Mario “Personally Opposed” Cuomo. So were nearly all of the priests involved in the later revealed sex abuse cases. So were the clerical opponents of Humanae Vitae and the lay Catholic women who by droves went on the Pill. And so were the hundreds of ex-Catholics who I met in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and those merely a tiny fraction of the literally millions of Latin Mass raised Catholics who fell hook line and sinker for that insidious modern iteration of the old Arian heresy. (Speaking of which should be a reminder that the Church has been through worse and survived.)

            Bottom line: the question of whether the Latin Mass is superior as worship aside, I don’t see any evidence that the Latin Mass forms Catholics who are more knowledgeable of their faith, more steadfast in their devotion to Christ, or more virtuous than does the Novus Ordo.

            But if there’s one thing that horrified the Fathers it was schism. Having
            grown up in a deadly and dreary cult that was a natural progression of the original Protestant’s rebellion, it certainly horrifies me. So I hope, no matter what, to stay on this ship and trust God to keep her afloat however rough the seas look or however much water seems to be washing over the deck or however many guys with drills look busy at the hull.

            Anyway, this has gone far afield from the original topic and as much as I have enjoyed talking to you, Leo, I will need to make this my last post on the site and attend to other matters. I would welcome a friend request from you on Facebook if you’re there. Many blessings to you.

          • The Latin Mass was never abrogated. So who has been running the Church since at least Pope Leo XIII’s time? And when do liars tell the truth?

          • Roughly 90% of self-identified Catholics are in open apostasy. The Church is statistically in massive decline. Catholic prophecy has specifically warned about the heterodoxy of the clergy in these times. You’ll have to forgive me for being skeptical that the Church has been making wise decisions over the past half century. She still has the true faith and Christ’s promise, but she’s about as far from living it as she can get within the confines of indefectibility. I suspect this year those limits will be stretched even further…though there’s really not much room left without schism.

          • I hope to God not. Maybe in North America… I think our vision is skewed here. But if so, it won’t be the first time. May the the Lord be merciful to us and may Mary keep us under her mantle.

          • Bishop Schneider has warned about schism stemming from episcopal violation of the 6th commandment. Anne Catherine Emmerich saw a false ecumenical Church replacing the authentic Church in Rome. our Lady of Akita warned in 1973 that “Cardinal will oppose cardinal and bishops will oppose bishops…” before a chastisement would come.

            All of this is happening right under our noses.

            Now consider the following, which I pulled for something I wrote last year:

            In 2003, 35 years after Humanae Vitae, Kenneth C. Jones published a book entitled: Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II. In an article for Latin Mass Magazine, the author summarized his many disturbing findings. Among these, the numbers on sacramental life are telling:

            In 1965 there were 1.3 million infant baptisms, in 2002 there were 1 million. (In 1965 there were 287 infant baptisms for every 10,000 Catholics, in 2002 there were 154 — a decline of 46 percent.) In 1965 there were 126,000 adult baptisms in 2002 there were 80,000. In 1965 there were 352,000 Catholic marriages, in 2002 there were 256,000. In 1968 there were 338 annulments, in 2002 there were 50,000.

            Mass attendance: A 1958 Gallup poll reported that 74 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1958. A 1994 University of Notre Dame study found that the attendance rate was 26.6 percent. A more recent study by Fordham University professor James Lothian concluded that 65 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1965, while the rate dropped to 25 percent in 2000.

            The decline in Mass attendance highlights another significant fact — fewer and fewer people who call themselves Catholic actually follow Church rules or accept Church doctrine. For example, a 1999 poll by the National Catholic Reporter shows that 77 percent believe a person can be a good Catholic without going to Mass every Sunday, 65 percent believe good Catholics can divorce and remarry, and 53 percent believe Catholics can have abortions and remain in good standing. Only 10 percent of lay religion teachers accept Church teaching on artificial birth control, according to a 2000 University of Notre Dame poll. And a New York Times poll revealed that 70 percent of Catholics age 18-44 believe the Eucharist is merely a “symbolic reminder” of Jesus.

            Over a decade later, the early results are back from the Vatican questionnaire in preparation for the Synod on Marriage and Family this coming October. And they show continued erosion of core beliefs.


            In an unusually blunt report to the Vatican, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., said that even most regular churchgoing Catholics in his diocese find the church’s teaching on artificial contraception no longer relevant.

            “On the matter of artificial contraception, the responses might be characterized by saying, ‘That train left the station long ago,’ ” he wrote in a Feb. 7 blog about his report. “Catholics have made up their minds and the sensus fidelium [the sense of the faithful] suggests the rejection of church teaching on this subject.”

            Germany and Switzerland:

            [T]he German dioceses reported that “‘pre-marital unions’ are not only a relevant pastoral reality, but one which is almost universal,” since between 90 percent and 100 percent of couples who seek a Catholic wedding are already living together, despite church teaching that sex outside of marriage is sinful.

            “Many, in fact, consider it irresponsible to marry without living together beforehand,” the report said.


            “Many … expressed particular difficulties with the teachings on extra-marital sex and cohabitation by unmarried couples, divorce and remarriage, family planning, assisted human reproduction, homosexuality. The church’s teaching in these sensitive areas is often not experienced as realistic, compassionate, or life-enhancing.”

            Europe overall:

            “Belgian Catholics expect the Church to welcome everyone, regardless of differences or mistakes made. This especially true when it comes to gay people and remarried divorcees,” SIR says.

            “Belgian Catholics, inspired by Francis, are calling for a mother Church that embraces all: hence the need to grow in the faith and form lively communities,” SIR highlights. The questionnaires also placed an emphasis on the essential role women can play in Church life: “It is they who pass on the faith to children and guide them,” Belgian Catholics point out.


            According to Luxembourg’s Catholics, the Church does not offer a suitable solution to problematic family situations. “The doctrine on marriage, responsible fatherhood and the family is rejected in non-ecclesial circles (sometimes even in ecclesial ones),” because the Church is seen as a stranger and as not competent in these areas. In their answers Luxembourg’s Catholics refer to “the suffering caused by the exclusion from the sacraments, particularly in terms of reconciliation.” The rule the Church has regarding access to the sacraments appears inadequate. They urge the Church “to put the pastoral mission of mercy into practice and create environments where it can be introduced and experienced.” But Luxembourg didn’t express any precise position or offer any concrete indications as to the issue of gay couples. There was simply an appeal to the Church to “accept reality as it is and not try to change it with moral models” and to be welcoming and merciful.

            The Religious Information Service also highlights the difference in viewpoint between the German Church and its faithful on issues such as couples living together before marriage, birth control and contraception. The exclusion of remarried divorcees from the sacraments is seen as unjustified and cruel discrimination. German Catholics also ask for same-sex unions to be legally recognised and seen on equal terms as marriage “as a commandment of justice”.

            The number one request Swiss faithful made was for remarried divorcees to be granted the right to receive communion. Although Swiss Catholics fully agree on the importance of sacramental marriage and the Christian education of children, they say it is “difficult to accept the Church’s doctrine on the family, marriage and homosexuality.” “An approximately 60% majority is in favour of the Church recognizing and blessing gay couples.” There is also “strongly disagreement over with the [Church’s] rejection of artificial contraception methods.”

            Pope Francis recently said of Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae:

            “His genius proved prophetic: he had the courage to stand against the majority, to defend moral discipline, to exercise a ‘brake’ on the culture, to oppose [both] present and future neo-Malthusianism. The question is not that of changing doctrine, but to go into the depths, and ensuring that pastoral [efforts] take into account people’s situations, and that, which it is possible for people to do.”

            The idea that Humanae Vitae slowed the cultural descent is, I think, appropriate. But it is now indisputable that this ‘brake’ has failed, and the world’s Catholics have careened at high speed off the cliff of mass apostasy. They no longer believe what the Church believes, or even that the Church has any right to believe it.

            The pope says “the question is not that of changing doctrine,” which is the kind of thing one might say when one is readying to make the appearance of doing exactly that.

          • So you think the pope is going to try to change doctrine? Oh, good grief. You don’t trust the Church and you are suspicious of the pope. Maybe I am living in a little Catholic bubble, but so many faithful friends surround me. I’m a homeschooling grandmother with lots of homeschooling moms in my parish plus enthusiastic converts. A small faith group meets in my house to read Christian classics together like Imitation of Christ and works by Chesterton, etc. I’m no dummy and I see the rot around us, but I also see so much good. I don’t know tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow. And I trust.

          • This seems the more reasonable fear of people who thought the results of Vatican II were disastrous for the Church:

            I fully expect [the synod] to say something like ‘The doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage remains in place.’ What I very much fear is that this sentence will then be steadfastly ignored, even as it qualifies and should control the interpretation of other sentences, such as: ‘Bishops and priests must extend every possible sign of welcome and mercy to those in irregular unions.’ This isn’t heresy: in light of the indissolubility, it might even be common sense. But it could be taken in a quite different way.
            If a one-sided interpretation of ambiguous propositions begins to be spread abroad by the media, if it starts being implied in semi-official documents, off-the-cuff remarks by senior officials, in press conferences and in aeroplanes, we are going to be faced with a new iteration of a familiar post-Conciliar problem. That upholding the truth, the tradition and teaching of the Church, the Faith of Christ, is condemned by the ignorant, and then also by people who should know better, as resisting the will of the ‘Bishops of the World’ and of the Holy Father.

            Joseph Shaw, Why the talk about “resisting the Pope”?

          • The preponderance of evidence is that the pope currently supports, at the very least, a change in “pastoral practice.” (We can get into details if you really want, but it’ll be lengthy. I’ve been tracking this pretty closely for two years.)

            At the very least, we know that Pope Francis was in control of the synod through the players that shaped it. From his endorsement of the Kasper proposal to the appointment of Baldisseri and Forte (and Wuerl, et. al.) to his approval of the mid-synod relatio to his decision to retain the language of that same document despite it having been voted down by the synod fathers, there’s more than enough reason to believe he wants to see a change in the way the divorced and remarried and homosexuals are treated on a pragmatic basis.

            This is why Cdl. Mueller has warned “Each division between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ of the faith would be a reflection of a subtle Christological ‘heresy,’”. This is why Cardinal Burke has talked about resisting the pope. This is why the polish bishops have spoken out. This is why Bishop Lenga has come forward with his open letter. This is why Bishop Schneider said “This is the first time in Church history that such a heterodox text [the mid-term relatio] was actually published as a document of an official meeting of Catholic bishops under the guidance of a pope …This document will remain for the future generations and for the historians a black mark which has stained the honour of the Apostolic See.”

            The Church’s doctrine will not and cannot change. But if the judgment of the morality of sinful sexual relationships is subjectivized, the net effect is the same.

            The same forces that were at work in the undermining of Humane Vitae are driving the synod agenda. The two events are inextricably related. And we’re not just talking about flesh and blood enemies.

            The pope’s motivations are inscrutable. His allegiances, though, are obvious. It’s on us to pray for him to follow the path of conversion that a number of his predecessors did and disappoint his constituents by upholding orthodoxy.

          • Ah yes, [my] perception is reality.
            What do you trust? That the hierarchy is not in apostasy? Or that the apostasy isn’t real? The hierarchy is just talking about…y’know…stuff? It doesn’t mean anything in the real world, right? It’s just hierarchical talk….
            First, God helps those to help themselves.

          • Without questioning any of the statistics or warnings, I wish to say:

            1. Apostates do not ask to receive Holy Communion.

            2. American Catholics are Americans first and Catholics…somewhere after. Their beliefs and actions will be much closer to those other Americans than to Church teaching. Similarly, I think, with European Catholics.

            3. “It may be we are witnesses to the disintegration of a culture and a moral order two thousand years and more in the making.… We now confront a generation for many of whom the traditional culture of the West is simply incomprehensible.” — Robert V. Young. I think that we can strike the “it may be.”

            4. Young continues: “Cultural disintegration can be very rapid; restoration is always slow and problematic. But there are also no grounds for despair. Nations, societies, and civilizations will all perish and, in Shakespeare’s words, leave not a rack behind. Men and women, however, are immortal: their souls will live—in unimaginable bliss or unspeakable horror—forever. Each of us must strive to act and speak as a faithful instrument of grace in the hands of Our Lord. If a faithful word, a hopeful gesture, or a charitable act on our part moves a single soul to live eternally in joy, then we have accomplished something more than any election victory, military triumph, or political appointment.” The last series is somewhat lame, but you get the point.

          • Leo, I don’t know if any classical definition of “apostate” really applies here. We live in the age of narcissism. Those who leave the faith now haven’t the good graces to reject it. Instead, they stick around and insist that the faith conform to them. It doesn’t mean they haven’t abandoned all it teaches and stands for. But they certainly do come with a sense of entitlement to her sacraments.

          • The reason for definitions is to call things by their right names. For a Church based on dogmas, this is vital. “incredulity” seems right at the moment; maybe “heresy” is coming. If the phenomenon is new, then a new name is needed, or an adjective added to one of the old names. Maybe “demotic heresy”: VOX POPULI VOX DEI.

          • Fair enough. I’m the last guy who wants to contribute to the destruction of language. “Incredulity” seems somehow insufficient, and “heresy” seems too much. Perhaps you’re right, and a new definition is needed.

          • The funny thing for all the talk about “nominalism”: everybody wants the right to get married. There is a deep urge to be normal. The Church should recognize this urge and show the way to Truth. (The last sentence was just to end on a positive note.)

          • 2089

            Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it.

            “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same;

            apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith;

            schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” (Can. 771))

  4. Haw! This was hilarious. It’s like my “Women shouldn’t wear trousers” duck call. It makes the harpies come swooping out of the blue with claws extended, “Skrreeeeeee!!!! YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!! YOU’RE JUST A MAN!!!”

    G’head, wow us with your logic, hon!

  5. I appreciate this article and the discussion very much. There are two take aways I see:
    1) The loss of traditional practices in the Church has contributed greatly to the spiritual mess we see today, as well as the loss of a collective understanding of the ‘why’ we did things. Some of the comments conflate the collective understanding and practice with the individual disposition and practice of a tradition. They would have the perfect and complete expression of the tradition by all women…or none at all.
    2) Women, today, often eat their own when discussing such issues. A pity. Rebecca is to be commended for putting her thoughts out there.

    • “Some of the comments conflate the collective understanding and practice with the individual disposition and practice of a tradition. They would have the perfect and complete expression of the tradition by all women…or none at all.” I agree with you about some of the comments. I think that good done for good reasons, poor reasons, and no reasons at all is still good and also that the good that is optional should neither be enforced nor scorned. Let’s not go Protestant: “The trouble with the Protestant churches … was that they had turned to schism in a perfectionist zeal, subtly asserting their own righteousness in place of Christ’s. One of the best reasons for joining the Catholic Church … was precisely the obvious fact that above any other it is the Church of sinners.” — Fr. Anthony Ross, O.P.

  6. The word “veil” derives from a Latin word which means much the same as hijab. Do some research women, if you are unsure. Choice is ok, but forcing somebody to wear something that they don’t agree with is nasty. Oh by the way, I disagree with you all…’s a statement.

    • Are you quite sure you want to liken the wearing of a chapel veil with the wearing of the hijab (which encompasses everything from the headscarf to the burqa)?
      So, Catholic women wear a chapel veil during Mass. The reasons are well stated in the article above.
      Muslim women publicly wear a hijab in order to be covered in the presence of men and even non-Muslim women. Still, they are often accused of immodesty and in some Muslim dominated countries are routinely burned, stoned, have acid thrown on them, etc., if suspected of sexual misconduct.
      Additionally, simply because the word veil has a similar meaning to hijab is neither here nor there. It is how the covering is understood and used in a religious and cultural sense that matters. ‘Water’ in Arabic is the same as ‘water’ in English. Go figure. 😉

    • What is this with constantly implying someone is “forcing” someone else to wear something, every time they talk about why they choose to wear what they wear? This article is by a Catholic woman and I think here in the US, it is pretty evident Catholic women are not being “forced” to veil. A walk into any random Catholic Church will show that the opposite is true. Wear a veil in a typical Catholic parish, and it is the woman who veils that will likely get disapproving comments, mostly by other women, not men. A woman in this situation may foolishly claim she is being “forced” to take off the veil to avoid being the victim of mean spirited comments at church. In reality, she is not being forced to take off the veil anymore than another Catholic woman is being forced to put on the veil. The problem is she finds it hard to ignore or endure the criticism and judgments of those who find her choice silly. Any woman may interiorly not like something, but do it anyway to avoid criticism and possibly ridicule because it’s nice to feel “in” and have friendly encounters rather than exhaust yourself warding off judgments. But this is true in any situation. A woman who attends a parish where a majority women veil will instinctively feel different and may feel more at east veiling (even if she doesn’t want to), just because everyone else does. A woman who attends a parish where almost no women veil, will instinctively feel different and may feel more at ease NOT wearing a veil (even if she wants to), just because everyone else does. But none of these situations have anything to do with force. Getting beaten or stoned because you don’t cover your head, now that IS force.

  7. Thank you for sharing this Rebecca! I have read a handful of explanations on the reasons for wearing the veil but this one is a little different. I’m intrigued. Is it possible for you to share more with me? I veil but I’d like to know more about what St. Paul meant to say in his epistle. Can you share some resources with me for further study? I would really appreciate it.

  8. In a comment far below, Leo Wong mentions those who talk in “an unedifying manner.” While it is disappointing, even exasperating, to be misconstrued and falsely accused, I realize that I am guilty of taking this thread in an unedifying direction by responding in kind to insults. For every hurtful word that is mine below, I am sorry and I apologize.

    • Yes, the diocesan TLM in Newton at Mary Immaculate of Loudres, 10:30 am Mass and the SSPX chapel’s Mass in Woburn. The Mass is at 9:00 am.

  9. “The Church, in her traditional liturgical practice, adorns things that are sacred. ”

    So…women are things? How very interesting…

  10. My parish priest forbids women who read, cantor, or distribute Holy Communion from wearing veils. He tried to get the choir members to stop wearing veils but they threatened to quit. So we wear our veil into church, and remove it (and he insists it be removed and left in the pew, not dropped to our shoulders like a scarf) if we approach the ambo as readers or if we serve as EMs. Isn’t that stupid? Can he do that?

    • The obvious solution is to protest those ministries, too, and to come wearing the veil as a mere congregant.

      To be honest, there are very substantive arguments for why women shouldn’t be filling any of those roles (choir excepted), and this could be an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

  11. This is seriously misleading. Okay, dignity of women, sure. No one’s disagreeing here. Woman can pray. But what does St. Paul actually say? That it is a sign of the special subjection of their whole sex. The liberals are therefore right about veiling, and the conservatives are wrong. While both are wrong in that they refuse to admit the subjection of women as a true or good thing.

    A “symbol of her authority”? Are you serious? What translation are you reading?


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Popular on OnePeterFive

Share to...