Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Other Side of the Veil

I guess you could call this my "coming out" post, in a sense.  Because I have been struggling with something for many years, and have finally decided to go public with it all.  I am not prefacing my article this way to poke fun at anyone.  It is simply the best way I know to introduce a decision that has made a big impact on my life.  It is a controversial issue among some in the Catholic Church.  Rest assured, though, I am very sure of the path I have chosen, for I was guided there by the Holy Spirit.

Ready?

Holding your breath?

I wore a veil to Mass last Sunday, which was the first Sunday of Advent.

This is where you gasp and say to yourself, "You know, Joni had already gone pretty far off the deep end when she became Catholic.  But now?  Now she's trying to take us back to the time of women held under the tyranny of men.  Doesn't she know Vatican II liberated us from all that?  Poor, poor Joni!"

Okay, maybe that's a bit overboard.  Maybe you're just thinking, "Why in the world would she want to do that?"

I'm so glad you asked!  ;o)

For many years, I have puzzled over the passage in I Corinthians 11.  Most people who are familiar with it will recognize that reference as the "how to celebrate the Lord's Supper" passage.  Yes, it is.  But there are several verses preceding that part, which address the appropriate way for men and women to come to the table.

"I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.  But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.  Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head,  but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head—it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil.  For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.  (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.  Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.)  That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman;  for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.)  Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?  Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him,  but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering.  If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God."


Many will stand firm on the notion that Paul was simply reiterating a cultural practice.  It was something for that time, and not necessary to be continued in modern worship.  I always had a bit of a problem with that theory, though.  When does Paul stop being cultural in this passage?  When he begins telling them not to have divisions among themselves?  When he says the Lord's table is not a place for gluttony and drunkenness?  When he restates the words of Christ when He said it was His Body and Blood?  When he tells them to examine themselves before receiving the bread and the cup?  Where does that happen?

I am saying these things only because they were the mental struggles I faced.  I could not reconcile the premise with the actual text, or even with the way the Church lived it out.  Women wore head coverings to Mass throughout the centuries, even into the late 20th century.  (See this insightful article, taken from a book by Jackie Freppon.)  Yet today, most parishes are filled with bare-headed women.


So did I give in to "peer pressure" and just do it because other women were doing this?  Hardly.  In the time I have been Catholic (since 2007), the only places I have seen women wearing head coverings have been Latin Masses and a few, rare souls at what we call Novus Ordo (the English Mass).  In our parish, I have known only two women who wore veils:  an older woman and a beautiful, younger woman who attends daily Mass.  No woman has ever tried to convince me of the necessity of wearing a veil or the "liberation" of not wearing one.  It simply hasn't come up!

As I have studied the history of this practice though, and spent a lot of time praying about it, I have sensed very strongly that it is something I should do. Over the past 2-3 months, several things have occurred that confirmed this.  And so, I have begun.  To the question of "Why?" I would simply answer, "Because I want to walk in obedience to whatever God is speaking to me."

Was it an easy decision?  Obviously not.  Is it easy to walk in wearing this lace on my head, when, especially on Sunday, no other woman is doing this?  NO.  I feel very nervous and self-conscious.  But do I feel in my heart that I have gained a new sense of reverence as I approach the Lord's table?  Absolutely.  Do I feel that every woman should cover her head when she enters a church?  Honestly, no.  I feel this is something I have been led to do.  If other women do not feel that sense in their spirit, then I have no problem with that.

I offer you the following two articles which give even more insight on the matter.  
And, as always, I welcome your questions.  I am never offended by questions!

The #Veil Project:  A Movement to Encourage 
To Veil or Not to Veil




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