Thursday, October 04, 2007


I don't particularly have time to address this topic this morning, but it has been on my mind and I want to throw out a question for consideration. (I'll tack on some qualifications at the end of this short post so I don't lose my female readership overnight [and they have the lion's share of it].)

Now, for the question: What do you think about women wearing veils during Mass?

I love icons and after seeing Mary veiled for so long, I've begun to consider the idea. I have never seen a woman with her hair covered at Mass, so if veiling during Mass is a requirement, I'm at a loss for words.

Anyway, I'd like to address this topic more fully later. Lash away as you see fit. But before you do, let me jot down a few considerations and qualifications in order that you still might love me as a brother in Christ.

  1. I haven't made any decisions about this issue as of yet, and I would certainly not condemn anyone who disagrees once I do "come to a decision" - however permanent or temporary that might be for me.

  2. I'm not talking about top-to-toe burkas (though some burkas and saris are beautiful and give a woman more dignity than advertising themselves with ... well, I'll stop there). In fact, I'm not advocating anything. Just thinking out loud.

  3. I understand the "rights issues" this immediately brings to mind for many women. I am not advocating the subjugation of women in any manner, and hope I would never do so. This is not about that.

  4. Let me make it abundantly clear, I am not advocating anything at this point.

  5. Please be patient with me, I'm just thinking out loud about this issue due to some experiences in my life recently, which I'll talk about more later.

  6. I haven't talked to Laura about this issue, so all my thoughts can and probably will change on the matter after such a discussion.

The picture is of Iraqi (or Jordanian?) Catholics worshiping.


Scott Lyons said...

Apparently, women wearing veils during Mass is no longer a requirement. The question, however, still stands.

And an added question, for those versed in such matters: Why is this practice required for so long and then, in the 80s, done away with? Is "cultural teaching" really relevant at this point?

Don't mean to be brusque, just in a hurry because of school.

alison said...

Haven't really thought about it. I'm curious about your recent experiences that got you thinking.

Scott Lyons said...

Also, please don't feel as if you need to be Catholic to answer the question - I'm just curious about the issue.

I certainly don't want to be seen as a fundamentalist or uber-traditionalist or even a biblical literalist (in the fundamentalist sense), necessarily. But I do wonder sometimes about how we have been affected by modernity and how we are being affected, now, by post- or hyper-modernity.

And, Alison, I'll try to post my recent experiences tomorrow or Saturday. It's actually quite complex for me at the moment - and, perhaps, somewhat of a mystery even to myself. It's something of a feeling more than of a thinking, though I wouldn't call it irrational. Maybe arational.

truevyne said...

My husband has an extremely conservative friend who said of me without me being present, "Your woman's libber wife would never wear a head covering if you asked her to." To which my husband simply replied, "I believe my wife would if I needed her to."
And my husband is correct- I would if he or I felt that conviction.
I cosider my hair and modest dress to be adequate covering in this culture. I would have no trouble wearing a burka as a sign of respect in the middle east.

Hope said...

I used to wear a head covering at one point in my journey. So much I could write about the experience. It was something that divided us in our home because of my husband's experience of it growing up.(he was raised ultra conservative fundamentalist) I didn't have his blessing to wear one. I know, I know, how warped is that - wearing it in submission to God but not in submission to my husband. But done in reverence I still believe it can be a beautiful practice. For me I have to fight an us and them mentality with just about any practice so I'm not sure I could go back to it. I don't have any personal experience with any group of people who practice head coverings who don't also look down their noses at others who aren't as enlightened. I've been just as guilty of that mentality in so many areas and I hope one day to be free of it.
I have long said that if a sari was appropriate to wear in our culture I would wear one.

Ouiz said...

I don't find the issue of hats/veils to be demeaning at all. It's just never struck me as being "offensive"... probably because, like you, I've seen the Blessed Virgin Mary wearing a veil all my life,

When I first started asking why we didn't follow St. Paul's injunction to cover our heads, I never got a good answer as to why a headcovering was no longer "required," so I simply chose to start wearing a hat to Mass out of reverence for the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

For me, it's pretty simple. It doesn't hurt me to wear it, so if it pleases God, great. If it's not required, it hasn't cost me all that much (other than hat hair).

I love the look of veils, but I would get some REALLY weird looks at my parish... plus my small children would find it a great toy to play with.

Just my two cents...

kkollwitz said...

I'm 50 and well remember when all women wore veils to church, and even today a few women do so at our Sunday solemn Mass.

I think it's a terrific way to draw a distinction between what happens at Mass, and our daily life on the 'outside.'

Mary Poppins NOT said...

I would love to wear a veil at church, but I know it would be perceived as "holier than thou". I already get accused of that because I have seven children and homeschool (thought those facts actually contribute greatly to my sinfulness).

So, I will wait for the day when I know that covering my head will not cause any hard feelings, and I believe God knows the desire of my heart to offer Him my reverence.

I am so glad you brought this up!

Scott Lyons said...

I didn't realize how much people actually thought about the issue. I suppose it only makes sense.

I appreciate all your comments on this post. I'm not wanting to build fences here, separating the dedicated from the nominal, but it does strike me as a beautiful thing. And I realize it may not strike everyone that way.