Thursday, December 18, 2008


blogging has been light as of late...(partly due to the fact that I've discovered "the forum.")

and, note that Christmas is a week away, so blogging comes in quick spurts while I'm eating dinner before choir rehearsal!

at some point, I want to write a post on how I wish I could wear a head covering (maybe not while I'm at work in the choir loft, but for daily Mass at any of the 4 places I regularly attend.)
but I don't...because I am afraid of what people would think of me...of being judged.
once I wear a headcovering (except to a few select churches where it is completely acceptable which are far away,) then I am afraid of being lumped into the group of "oh, Mara is one of those...super-traditionalists!"

at one place I like to attend daily Mass, everyone receives communion on a prie-deux (sp?) and on the tongue. while there are several reasons I do NOT like going to this place, I LOVE that that is the NORM and no one will judge you or think you're weird for receiving communion in that way!

ok, maybe that was enough of a post to elicit some feedback!


totustuusmaria said...

An handful of my friends (I can especially think of two) struggled very much with head veils. One of them called me up and talked with me about them for a few hours. The major reasons why all of them didn't want to wear the head coverings -- even though they all loved them -- was because of what other people would think. The first of them broke down a year and a half ago. She now covers her head whenever she enters a Catholic Church. But the lady who called me, even though she became the leader of a traditionalist movement and decided she wished to study liturgy, continued to resist the inevitable. Last August, however, we received a phone call from her telling us that she had finally made the decision, and if she didn't back off she would start at the following Sunday Mass. So she did, as my own eyes have attested to.

I know people who are very involved in the cause of restoring head coverings. All of them speak about the initial self-consciousness that it brings about, about sticking out like a soar thumb. In fact, one person I know wants to sponsor a talk on head coverings at my school. The movement is so small. Even women who assist at the TLM many don't wear them. I wonder at this, since it has been mandatory in the Western Church for all women (and at least for married women in the Eastern Churches) for 2000 years. I have heard that it is not popular anymore because it was based on modesty or cultural norms, etc. This is patently false. St. Paul, indeed, makes no reference to modesty when he commands it (unless you take the reference to the "angels" as a reference to modesty, which I emphatically do not!). Furthermore, his commandments were seemingly not based on cultural norms.

St. Paul gives only theological reasons, to wit that our sexes participate in our worship sacramentally. When we worship, the manhood of the man proclaims God's omnipotence, and the gratuitousness of his self-offering to His Church, and the femininity of the woman proclaims the Church's submission to God, that she is ordered toward Him for Her fulfillment. Since the head is the lord of body, headship represents authority (properly understood...not tyranny by any means). By ordering the covering of the female head St. Paul indicates that the Church is to be obedient to Her Divine Lord, and by ordering the bareness of the male head, St. Paul indicates that the Lord is not under any power or any compulsion, but that it is to Him that the Church is ordered and in Him that She finds fulfillment.

It isn't any wonder that, since we no longer consider our sexuality as having any part in our public worship, we would neglect this tradition. I still think it's funny, though, that it is a scandal for a man to have his head covered, but no one things anything of a woman having her head uncovered. Recovering the sense of headship and of the sacramentality of masculinity and femininity would do a lot, in my opinion, to restore Christian community. The content of Ephesians 5 is, surely, very foreign to us today.

totustuusmaria said...

I phrased a part of that wrong. I said:

"and the femininity of the woman proclaims the Church's submission to God, that she is ordered toward Him for Her fulfillment."

I think that those things are bettered indicated by the covering the head, i.e. the "being under" a power, another's head. Femininity itself proclaims bridehood -- the openness to receiving the initiative of the divine bridegroom and bearing life to the world. It is when this potential is properly ordered (i.e. by "being under the headship" of the divine lord) that the femininity bears fruit. I would say that the head covering symbolizes the powerless of man to do anything without grace. It is a very good anti-Palegian statement and a very nice remedy for Jansenism. Plus it makes women look really hot.

I'm a fan.

Anonymous said...

I commented at Musica Sacra, but I thought I'd leave a note here too: don't be afraid. Just do it. It's beautiful :)

Gavin said...

"at some point, I want to write a post on how I wish I could wear a head covering..."
And this post is...? :P

I totally disagree with Totus Tuus. The chapel veil is SO not hot. My mom tells me how in grade school she used to get a piece of toilet paper and put it on her head so it looked like she had her veil on. If you're wearing something on your head that can be mistaken for toilet paper, you're just being silly. And it's the height of "doing the very least I have to" to cover 4 square inches of your head and say that makes you pious.

Mind you, I thought head coverings were stupid because I had only seen the Catholic versions. At the Orthodox churches I've been to, many women cover their heads, but with a fuller veil. I don't know the term for it, but it's just a very large piece of fabric over the hair and tied off in some way, often with a modestly decorative fabric. That I find to be very dignified. And I think lots of women would be cute if wearing them - and it's a good way to look ethnic if you're just a "boring white person". Again, I don't know the term for it but you probably know what I mean. Just please don't wear a lacy 3" diameter fabric on your head.

Getting to the substance of my post and away from totus and my worthless male fashion advice :P I understand what you mean, and I'm glad I don't have to put up with that as a man (although I always feel overdressed at a Catholic Mass). I would say just do it for two reasons:

1. It's an expression of personal piety, and no one really has a right to dictate to you what that must look like. I suspect most people won't complain, and for those who do you can just say "how about if I make fun of how YOU pray for a bit?"

2. You're in a position of leadership at your job, so you should as much as possible project devotion as a Catholic, part of which in in the Roman tradition is a head covering. It's a good example to those in your choir, and to some extent even a sign of authority.

There's lots of options too besides the above:
Big floppy hat
hoodie with the hood up
a bowler
cowboy hat
paper bag with eyeholes (not recommended)

Just please, please don't get the tiny dumb looking things.

Gavin said...

Headscarf is the term. It's dignified, and kind of ethnic. Also, I don't mind the fuller mantillas, but I wouldn't pretend something that lacy is about "humility" :P I just despise those tiny ones that look like they're covering up pattern baldness. ((shudder))

Mara Joy said...

a) I totally agree that a tiny little piece of fabric completely misses the point.

b) I probably wouldn't do this at my job, both cuz I'm in the choir loft, and cuz I am not sure it would be appropriate in my official position

c) I forgot to mention (and no one else has brought it up,) about how I've had discussion with at least one man who has talked about how distracting it can be at Mass to sit behind a woman and be staring at her hair and neck, and how a covering of some sort can help that. hey, I'm all about helping my brothers in Christ to be chaste!

Mara Joy said...

see for a continuation of this discussion

totustuusmaria said...

I must defend my opinion.

First a qualification, I do not describe all head-coverings as attractive. There are good ones and bad ones, and they can be worn well or worn terribly. Nevertheless, I find a full blown mantilla properly worn terribly attractive. I am not the only man who holds these opinions as well. I could name other men by names and have heard like opinions from people I could not name by name. Since attraction is a very subjective thing, it's legitimate to say that tastes vary; but I don't think it's any more legitimate to say that mantillas aren't hot because some people wore toilet paper than to say the older Mass can't be experienced as reverent because some priests offer it in fifteen minutes!

There! I have vindicated my opinion! (for the time being)

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I say go for it, worry not, there are excellent reasons behind why you should. There's one thing I'm not worried about, it's what others think of me at Church...I do what is right with love and devotion :)

Lisa Joy said...

I'm a woman who agrees with Totus Tuus that mantillas worn well are quite pretty (and that head coverings for women should be done). However, I've had a hard time "wearing them well." Plus, living in Europe (at least Austria), NO ONE wears mantillas. Acutally, no one covers their head period, but mantillas look especially out of place.
However, scarves are very "in" over here, and my sister-in-law and I have decided we want to bring this style back in the States. Whether as a head covering or not, just always have a scarf on, and it's very easy to slip it on your head when you enter a church. If you always wear one, in different ways, who's going to think it odd that you're wearing one on your head?

Mara Joy said...

I like the scarf idea, but I just can't picture it. Every form of scarf seems to have some sort of character attached to it. see:

maybe I could pull this one off, but I can't see it from the back!

or there's the old lady look:

or the muslim look: