Tuesday, 25 January 2011

To Veil Or Not To Veil...

Vincenzo has posted an excellent article by Mgr. Charles Pope about Colombo Cathedral's mandate that women should be veiled in church. It seems, from the original piece, that concerns were being expressed about standards of dress, and so the Cathedral authorities decided to get everyone's attention with the head covering rule. Personally, although I would like the practice to be reintroduced, I think Colombo Cathedral's approach is a little heavy-handed...

This might surprise a few of you. But it all boils down to the reason for wearing a head covering. Mgr. Pope gives the main ones, and promptly demolishes them...

Canon Law no longer insists on women covering their heads in church. If that is the case, then I find it hard to understand why the cathedral in Colombo is insisting that women must be veiled. If, as they say, there are problems with dress standards, then I believe that those are what need to be dealt with. Sticking a veil on top of a woman's head will not make up for the fact that she is wearing an all-too-revealing crop top.

I choose to wear a mantilla - for a few reasons.

Firstly, I like the traditional idea that a woman's hair is her crowning glory, and as such it is veiled in God's presence as a sign of humility. I also like the fact that I have to stop on my way in to the church to put my mantilla on - this helps me to avoid treating the place as just another building - I put the mantilla on and in doing so I get the chance to recollect where I am and with Whom I am about to converse. This is the strongest argument (for me) about not exchanging the mantilla or veil for a hat. Hats are generally worn outside as well, and so there is no special indication that one is entering the house of God. Finally, the mantilla helps me to avoid distractions - it shields my face from those around me, and, rather like the nun's veil, encourages me to ignore whatever is happening at either side, encouraging me to turn my gaze towards the altar.

Many women feel self-conscious about wearing a mantilla or chapel veil. I would encourage them to give it a go - it feels strange at first, but you soon get used to it. I now would feel very odd indeed if I were to enter the church without my head covered.

17 comments:

Jane said...

Good post Mac. Thanks. Agree totally with your reasons. I'll try it out next time I go to Mass here in France. ( And believe me, one needs to be shielded from what's going on to the right and left!)Always been afraid to wear the mantilla so far, afraid to be 'singular'. Getting to the age where I'm sick of all that concern about what others do and what others think, current practice pushing me into things I'd rather not do. Maybe they won't notice. If they don't I've been worrying unnecessarily. If they do, 'tant pis'.

Left-footer said...

Hmmm. I like mantillas for the same reason that I like Polish headscarves, and the now extinct Maltese faldetta.

They look very charming on women - much better that hats.

Sorry! (Shuffles off, blushing profusely)

Patricius said...

As a chap I am accustomed to removing my hat upon entering a church! My memory extends back far enough into the 60s to recall my mother (and other ladies) wearing a headscarf to mass. Anglican women, by contrast, would generally be seen wearing hats that looked quite silly even then. By the late sixties the custom appeared to have been waning. I remember visiting a church in Ireland c1969 where a notice in the porch reminded ladies that they were expected to cover their heads- which suggests that headcovering was going out of fashion even in remote areas. It is not a matter that really bothers me- not as much as people who, dressed scruffily, serve as readers at Sunday mass.

SoaringSoprano said...

Good post, Mac!

However, I am under the impression that the Church Law regarding the mantilla was never actually changed... It was omitted from the new Canon, but never actually revoked. I may be wrong; if someone knows for certain, please let me know.

Interesting topic, however, because our priest spoke about this in a recent homily. He likened the mantilla to the Tabernacle veil. The Tabernacle veil is a "protection" or "shield" of our most precious Treasure. He then went on to say, that so too, is woman a great treasure. Husbands treasure their wives, Fathers their daughters, etc., etc.. And so, because we are treasured, we are veiled. In a certain sense it's an honour to wear the mantilla... certainly not something to be prideful about, but it's a different way of looking at things.

And, I've gone on too long... :p

~SS

Sixupman said...

Slightly off-topic, from a sermon or old CTS pamphlet:

A man who had not been to church for years collpased in the street. A non-Catholic householdee tended to him and called both an ambualnce and a priest from the nearby church who administered the Last sacraments, the man subsequently died.

The householder when asked why they had called the priest, said that they had often witnessed the man raise his hat when passing the church and assumed he was a Catholic.

Annie said...

Wearing a mantilla can certainly make you feel as though you are sticking out like a sore thumb Mac, especially if you're the only one in one!

Wearing a veil is very important to me, and for me it is very much the right thing to do. But I'm not sure it's a practice that can be successfully imposed upon anyone. It isn't an easy thing to do in most parishes, and even now walking into a non EF Mass I still squirm a bit until I'm sitting down and focused!

Here's a site that can make you feel less, er, odd!
http://mantillawithme.blogspot.com/

voxinrama said...

Ooooooh, I should blog about covering my head too :D

Julie said...

Mantillas are also helpful for new people who aren't sure of the postures... monkey see monkey do ;)

I like a hat because I have a long public transit journey to mass, and it does help to focus on where I am going and why.

Genty said...

I love wearing a mantilla and always do for the EF. But I'm not brave enough to be the odd woman out at the OF (especially at my parish).
One other good reason for wearing a head covering is that it would stop the infernal hair-flicking that goes on!

Patricius said...

I would rather women didn't wear trousers in church...

Annie said...

Depends on the trousers I think, Patricius.

catholicofthule said...

SoaringSoprano, I am under the impression that the problem with that theory is that the current code of canon law explicitly abrogates the entire 1917 code unless otherwise explicitly stated.

'Can. 6 §1. When this Code takes force, the following are abrogated:

1/ the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;

2/ other universal or particular laws contrary to the prescripts of this Code unless other provision is expressly made for particular laws;

3/ any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See unless they are contained in this Code;

4/ other universal disciplinary laws regarding matter which this Code completely reorders.

§2. Insofar as they repeat former law, the canons of this Code must be assessed also in accord with canonical tradition.'

It is possible that some might find a way to argue around that to older canons, I guess, but I am under the impression that it is indeed abrogated.

I find it night impossible now to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, whether exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, without covering my head. If I forget my mantilla when I for some reason have temporarily removed it from my customary handbag or am using something else, I would resort to a scarf which I am either wearing or buying somewhere on the way. Thankfully, I have not yet been caught without being able to get my hands on something or other, because I would feel very 'naked' indeed.

catholicofthule said...

Patricius, I would agree with Annie that it depends on the trousers, but not least what one wears with the trousers. Some women would wear only long tops/tunic/short dresses etc over trousers, which I think make them perfectly modest by most reasonable standards if that is your concern.

Anita Moore said...

I wear the mantilla. In addition to the reasons you articulate, there is another reason to wear it, perhaps less admirable, but there nonetheless: because the feminists don't want me to wear it.

gemoftheocean said...

Catholicofthule: Remember to keep a Kleenex around too in your handbag, then if you're really out of luck you can smack that on your head and look as dumb as girls/women were expected to look in the 50s and 60s when similarly caught out.

Patricius: ...okay, so you're not offended by the sight of thongs in church..would never have guessed.

-Karen (not at gunpoint)

catholicofthule said...

Gemoftheocean, I think I prefer not to be caught out to that extent, thanks. :)

Zephyrinus said...

" I would rather women didn't wear trousers in church...", said Patricius.

Bit distracting !!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...