Monthly Archives: January 2011

Some (Perhaps Many) Thoughts on Veiling

I belong to a Catholic forum and read a fair number of Catholic blogs. Since they’re of an orthodox bent, the topic of wearing headcoverings at Mass comes up relatively frequently. The cast of characters is always the same, though, no matter what the venue. Here are some of the most common sentiments expressed (none of these are actual direct quotes):

The head coverers

The Rad-Trad: “I am a veil-wearing warrior! If you don’t wear one, you are disrespecting Jesus. 1917 Canon law TRUMPS ALL!!”
The Rules Lawyer Who Might Also be a Conspiracy Theorist: “I wear a veil because we’re secretly still supposed to. The 1983 Code never said we should stop wearing them. [Lectures at length on what all Canon 6 may or may not cover; conversation becomes extremely technical.] Also, my veil may or may not be made out of tinfoil.”
The Researcher: “I wear a veil because of XYZ personally compelling objective reasons. Even though we are not obligated by explicit canon law to cover our heads anymore, I think every woman should prayerfully consider doing so.”
The Contemplative: “I wear a veil because of XYZ personally compelling subjective reasons. If I knew another woman were pondering whether to wear a veil, I would gently encourage her with my personal testimony.”
The Rugged Individualist: “I wear a veil because I like being counter-cultural. I would never recommend wearing a veil to another woman. That would ruin my unique position.”

The non-head-coverers

The Nervous Nellie: “I do not wear a veil because of imagined negative societal pressure.” aka “I think someone might look at me funny.”
The Peer Pressure Pawn: “I do not wear a veil because of a perceived hostile environment.” aka “My church is progressive and intolerant.”
The Pragmatist: “I do not wear a veil because I do not feel personally drawn to it.”
The Avoider: “I do not wear a veil because I have never allowed myself to seriously consider it, and I’m sure not going to start now.”
The Red Herring Historian: “I do not wear a veil because it is an anachronism. Headcoverings merely mirrored the fashions of the times, and we don’t do that any more.” (There is a sister argument to this which misses the point in a different way. I will describe it later.)
The Starry-eyed Hippie: “I do not wear a veil because it’s totally against the whole spirit of Vatican II. Plus they don’t come in tie-dyed burlap.”
The Affronted Feminist: “I do not wear a veil because we are liberated women who no longer need to don any symbol of subservience. No woman should wear a veil! Down with the patriarchy! By the way, I may or may not actually be Catholic.”

This usually leads to lively debate, where almost everybody winds up defensive. The non-head-coverers tend to think the head-coverers are accusing them of being impious, and the head-coverers tend to think the non-head-coverers are accusing them of being holier-than-thou. Not to mention the ENORMOUS, tangled, tedious discussions of Canon law.

Well. Being the queen of this blog, I will tell you what I think about all this.

Continue reading