On Veiling

Seeing all the polls and discussions on women veiling in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament, I thought I’d weigh in with my thoughts.  I started veiling when K was little.  I was quite nervous at first, since most women at the parish don’t veil, and I didn’t want to be seen as trying to be holier-than-thou.  I chose to do it for various reasons, such as St Paul’s exhortation to women, and humbling myself in the Presence of my Saviour.  This is what St Paul says about it in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 (New Jerusalem Bible):
Take me as your pattern, just as I take Christ for mine.
2 I congratulate you for remembering me so consistently and for maintaining the traditions exactly as I passed them on to you.
3 But I should like you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
4 For any man to pray or to prophesy with his head covered shows disrespect for his head.
5 And for a woman to pray or prophesy with her head uncovered shows disrespect for her head; it is exactly the same as if she had her hair shaved off.
6 Indeed, if a woman does go without a veil, she should have her hair cut off too; but if it is a shameful thing for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, then she should wear a veil.
7 But for a man it is not right to have his head covered, since he is the image of God and reflects God’s glory; but woman is the reflection of man’s glory.
8 For man did not come from woman; no, woman came from man;
9 nor was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man:
10 and this is why it is right for a woman to wear on her head a sign of the authority over her, because of the angels.
11 However, in the Lord, though woman is nothing without man, man is nothing without woman;
12 and though woman came from man, so does every man come from a woman, and everything comes from God.
13 Decide for yourselves: does it seem fitting that a woman should pray to God without a veil?
14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him,
15 but when a woman has long hair, it is her glory? After all, her hair was given to her to be a covering.
16 If anyone wants to be contentious, I say that we have no such custom, nor do any of the churches of God.

I tend to wear a headscarf or a mantilla tied behind my head (rarely I’ll leave it down), though sometimes I wear a hat.  Basically, I don’t do anything fancy, and I usually make sure my children can’t easily pull on it.  I often tie my scarf in styles found on Tznius.  I think it a beautiful tradition that ought to be encouraged, or at least made known as an option, so those who wish to veil can do so without criticism (thankfully I’ve not encountered much criticism).

Having come to these conclusions, I then wondered how I’d handle it when we learnt we were having a girl.  Should I have her cover her head, or wait to see if she chose it herself?  In both cases, obviously, I’d teach her why I veiled.  I spoke with a friend who veils and has a daughter, and she said she explained it to her daughter by saying that it’s something that Christians do.  I thought about that, and then decided that once C was baptised, she would wear a headcovering at Mass as well.  She often takes it off halfway through, and I’ll just put it back on her.  If she repeatedly does it, I try to leave it and not make a fuss, since it seems silly to be distracted by it.  The bigger problem is the fact that C likes to run away and/or crawl under pews now.  Silly girl.

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7 thoughts on “On Veiling

  1. June wears a bonnet or a wide headband at Mass. 🙂 But I do like my hair short. LOL. I'm a hypocrite if my sole reason for veiling is that verse (but it's not ;)).

  2. Part of me would love to have really long hair, but I'd just wear it up, and that would give me a headache. I'm horrible with my hair, though. (and that verse isn't my sole reason, either 😉 )

  3. I had started to veil, then stopped. The criticism was too much for me, and I caved. I think "and sometimes tea" brought up a good point about the term veiling for one, and that women did it all the time when they were outside the home. It sure gave me food for thought.

  4. I wonder how many people know that with regards to the Church teachings on veiling, that women should cover their heads and men should uncover their heads. The reasoning behind this is that Vatican II or anything official since has not stated contry. It is just that people are often too scared of appearing sexist in the world's eyes. Sometimes it is best to not be concerned regarding people's criticism as concern for God comes before the values of the world.

  5. About women covering their heads every time they went out, I know that was the case in the Medieval period, as Red Cardigan was pointing out, but I'm not sure if it was during the time that St Paul was writing. Granted that my area of expertise is Egypt, and a couple thousand years before St Paul, but in thinking about my Roman & Greek archaeology classes, I can definitely remember a lot of depictions of women without headcoverings. Some in religious (obviously not Christian) contexts, some not. I'm thinking particularly of the Flavian lady busts, though I suppose since busts were normally kept in the home, that might not be a good example. It's something I'll have to research more, as I'm curious about it now. 🙂

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