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September 18, 2006




One irony of the sitution is that many women feel disinclined to wear a veil on personal initiative precisely because of the (possibly deliberate) confusion about its necessity and even its praiseworthiness. Holy women don't want people to look at them and think: is she trying to make a scene? does she think she's better than me? and so on.

Culturally, we've dropped the ball on this just as with weekly Friday abstinence. While neither practice is canonically mandated, both are praiseworthy. Unfortunately, the faithful have scarcely been exhorted to regular abstinence and even less so to veiling.

My wife and I have talked quite a bit about veiling. She is inclined, but worries about distracting others. For now, she wears her veil internally.



A friend of mine has pointed out to me that there is this misconception that women only wore veils. They wore hats mostly! Maybe those of Spanish or Latino descent wore veils, but most women wore hats. Chapel veils were kept in the purse in case a lady stopped into church unexpectedly.

Now think about what your reaction would be to a woman who came to Church wearing a hat? Would you think she was making a scene? Would you think she thought she was better than you? Would you think she was a Protestant who came to a Catholic church? Or would you think she was a lady who just liked hats? This is my point...you wouldn't know!

I tried to wear a veil for a while, but it did become a distraction to my children and while I saw it as a sign of reverence for Our Lord, I did know some woman for whom it was a source of pride. I never worried about distracting others, but I think Mr. Akin is right. It can, not only foster scruples or "more Catholic than thou" attitudes and lay a greater burden on people than the Church does but also contribute to the sin of pride in the heart of the veiled woman.

Now, where is the nearest milliner?

Dean Steinlage

I am in a similar situation.

I've heard one lady's conversion story where the veil played a role in her coming into the church.

Matt McDonald

"Anyway, please don't misunderstand me: I'm a big fan of the textile arts, and I think chapel veils look pretty on girls and women, as do scarves and hats and those things that keep their hair in place. I'm just saying, there is no canonical requirement that women cover their heads in church today."

I tend to agree with Dr. Peters assesment of the Canon law regarding wearing of the veil, but he certainly doesn't answer the objections of those who make reasoned arguments that it is still in effect.


His condescending comment on the veil as a fashion accessory, demonstrates a distinct lack of respect for scriptural suggestions, and 1950 years of continuous custom and law in the Catholic Church. He also must be aware that there is a Church law that places long held custom to a higher order than canon law where it is not contradictory. I was wondering, would anyone say it is now OK for a man to wear a hat in Church since it's not in canon law?

Nobody serious about their faith would suggest veils ought to be worn because they are pretty, or they hold a woman's hair in place. They are worn as a sign of respect, humility and submission, and because what is precious is to be veiled (tabernacle). Read the scripture, it's pretty unambiguous. Should we be make backflips trying to avoid the clear literal intention just as the protestants do to John 6, and the last supper accounts?

Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered, disgraceth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered, disgraceth her head: for it is all one as if she were shaven.

For if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn. But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn or made bald, let her cover her head.

There are many scriptural suggestions that the Church in her wisdom does not make canonical obligation, and rightly so, we should be obedient out of love, not a obligation.

The veil change happened the same way as other post-concillar concessions to disobedience. Along with communion in the hand, altar girls, and the exclusivity of the vernacular, Church law came to allow what was imposed by mass disobedience.

I don't consider bringing back the veil to be a high priority in the Church today, it is perhaps too late to restore this venerable custom to it's rightful place, but faithful Catholics should not ridicule it's use by referring to it a fashion accessory.

ps. canon law doesn't say a dog can't be in the sanctuary either...


Please forgive me, Jimmy, if I go a little off-track here. I probably should have done this in an e-mail, but I post here because someone else might be in the same position that I am in. Since I have ZERO to add with respect to the discussion of women wearing head coverings during Mass, I'll try to be brief.

I am a guy in my early 40's. A cradle Catholic, I received all of the sacraments, but not much of in the way of a Catholic education. Like many in my generation, I was away from the Church for many years. (I almost -- and literally -- had Hell to pay for it.) Thankfully, I'm now back. I recently went to confession for the first time in decades. I now attend daily Mass. I've also been studying our faith with a passion. (Books like Catholicism for Dummies were written precisely for "dummies" like myself.) I've just now begun the daunting and intimidating task of reading The Catechism of the Catholic Church. I've also been going to a lot of different Catholic-related sites on the Internet, which brings me to the point that I now want to make:

How does someone like myself -- sincere in his desire to learn all that he can about our Catholic faith, but who is nonetheless largely ignorant about that faith -- go about the ugly business of sorting through so much contradictory information concerning what the Church does or does not teach?

You'll tell me, for example, that women are not required to wear head coverings in church. Another web site (or person) will tell me the exact opposite. Neither site comes with an "imprimatur" or some other stamp of the Church's approval. In support of your position, you reference Canon Law in your post, but at the end of the day, I am just a blue collar guy that probably wouldn't recognize The Code of Canon Law if someone hit me upside the head with it. I don't want to forsake using the Internet altogether as I go about the important business of learning what the Catholic Church teaches -- reading stuff on the Internet has helped me tremendously, after all -- but I am quickly approaching that point. I guess what I am trying to determine is this: When the Catholic bloggers are done debating, who has the definitive word with respect to what the Church teaches and/or requires of the faithful? To whom do I turn?

Again, I apologize to you and your readers for running off to Tangent Land here, but this post on head coverings was precisely the sort of opening that I was looking for in order to ask the questions that I did. Any help that you or others may be able to offer would be much appreciated. God bless.


I started investigating about head coverings in the Catholic church about a year ago and do understand that they are not mandated. I have, however, started wearing a hair covering in church. I don't wear a chapel veil per se, but I wear a knitted snood that pulls my hair up and covers all of it except the front. It doesn't mean that I think I am better or holier than anyone else.

What it does mean is that in my heart, I feel closer to God when my head and body are respectfully covered. It shows my humility to the Lord and obedience to my husband in a very open manner.

We cover the things that we respect. We are going to Mass to have a meal with the Lord. I can't think of anything more important!

It doesn't bother me that other women do not cover their heads. We have many Phillipino and Hispanic women who attend our church, and a few of them do wear the veil. Most do not.

Matt McDonald

When the Catholic bloggers are done debating, who has the definitive word with respect to what the Church teaches and/or requires of the faithful? To whom do I turn?

The Catechism, the Compendium to the Catechism, the Pope's Wednesday audiences, the Papal Encyclicals, the declarations of the Roman Curia... these are all found on the Vatican's website (http://vatican.va). Test what you see on the blogs against these "sure norms".

Another fantastic source is http://newadvent.org, the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, along with the Summa Theologia of St. Thomas Aquinas, and many writings of the early fathers can be found there.

If you want to see the actual authoritative documents behind the Church's teaching I would a suggest some version of Denzinger's Enchiridion Symbolorum "Sources of Catholic Dogma", which compiles virtually all of these into a single volume.

Kevin Miller

St. Paul clarifies at the end of the relevant section of 1 Corinthians that this is, at bottom, a custom. It can change, and it has changed.

Mary Kay

Patrick, welcome back to the Catholic Church! It's great to hear that you are "studying our faith with a passion."

Kudos to you for beginning to read through the Catechism, which doesn't lend itself to a straight read through. I did it by reading one section a day, every day. That gave me at least enough familiarity so that when a specific question came up, I could go back to it. The Compendium is also a good suggestion, but I haven't gotten it yet.

Mostly what your question sounds like is how to tell the difference between Tradition with a capital T and tradition with a small T. Tradition is the deposit of faith given to the apostles and is unchangeable. That women can not be ordained is an example. Tradition with a small t refers to the customs of the Church at a given time and they may be changed at a later time. Women wearing chapel veils during Mass is an example.

The authoritative interpreter is the Magesterium. The biggest clue that a blogger is not on target is when he or she says that the Magesterium "got it wrong" or variations of that. At one extreme, people will cite the "spirit of Vatican II" to say or do what was not in the Vatican II documents. At the other extreme are the people who blame Vatican II for everything that's wrong in the world. It indeed be a tough time for discerning Church teaching.

Hang in there and keep asking questions.

Brother Cadfael


I think your question would make an excellent topic for a post all its own, if Jimmy is listening.

Some Day

I am pro the veils, but that will not taint my analysis, and I think that the veils might not be neccesary but because of the following:

If the arguement that not mentioning a subject in a revision of law nulifies the previous law, then it is faulty, unless the revision clearly states that it nulifies all laws or certain laws of the previous code. And if that is your arguement, then you also agree that masons are now allowed in the Church and aren't excommunitcated...

Now as to forcing the veils now, that might be imprudent, because there is most probably no grace to back up the law. Remember the Law condemns, and if you bring them into knowledge of the Law and they will only revolt, that might even constitute a sin on the revealer. So signs of grace are definetely neccesary. You don't go to naked indians and tell them they are going to Hell for being naked right off the bat.

...but not becausee...


Matt --

Um, it doesn't shame a woman to shave her head. So your verse merely points out that social norms have changed. :)

Furthermore, I don't see you explaining how the Christian idea of praying with head uncovered is a deliberate reversal of Jewish reverence -- in which males prayed with head covered. I find this the much more interesting verse, and I can't wait to see this explained in as much detail and passion as the veiling thing.

Look... I don't have anything against veils. (Or hats, which are much more expressive of solidarity with _my_ Catholic hat-wearing foremothers.) (Or wigs, like the Orthodox Jewish ladies even. If Tridentine Masses were full of anime-colored wig-wearing young women, that would be trad in a very fun way.)

But the more people keep saying that Catholic women _must_ wear veils, the more I'm gonna dig in my heels and insist on my canonical right _not_ to do so. I'm not a dhimmi, and I sure as heck won't be a dhimmi to some sort of _Catholic_ religious police with nothing better to do than make stuff up and bind burdens on backs.


"If a woman is still required to wear a veil before the Vicar of Christ, why then isn't she required to wear a veil before Christ Himself in the Eucharist?"

A question I have not found a satisfying answer to...


"But the more people keep saying that Catholic women _must_ wear veils, the more I'm gonna dig in my heels and insist on my canonical right _not_ to do so. I'm not a dhimmi, and I sure as heck won't be a dhimmi to some sort of _Catholic_ religious police with nothing better to do than make stuff up and bind burdens on backs."

Well said, Maureen. I think I would be more partial to wearing a veil if some folks weren't so intent of making it seem as it it was a sure sign of holiness. Why is it that the ones that argue more loudly about women wearing veils are always men? How easy it is to put burdens on other's backs!


For those of you who are suggesting that women's heads be covered in church, let me pose the following question: Would a baseball cap do?


So... after you get up from kneeling before the King, do you also back away three paces before turning your back on Him? Do you remove your pocketknife before walking into the Presence? Do you have security guys with earbuds watching you narrowly as you do?

If we're gonna get into parallels between etiquette with temporal sovereigns and the Sovereign of All, I bet I can think of all kinds of things you don't do for the Eucharist that you theoretically would have to do at a royal audience.

Except, of course, that as Americans, we can technically call all earthly sovereigns "Mister" and "Madame" if we wish, and we are never obliged to kneel -- only to bow. That's diplomatic protocol too, and we only go beyond it out of the kindness of our American hearts.

So if you want to call on precedents in etiquette....

Sigh. It's not like I even want to win this argument. I just want people to stop saying stupid things that _don't help_ to encourage devotion and respect.

Look, why don't you just say, "Wearing a headcovering is a beautiful outward sign of a woman's respect and devotion"? The less you say "must" and "should", the more women would want to do it. Women like to dress up!

This isn't rocket science. Really. And you always catch more flies with honey.

Pat Kinsale

Scott, I believe Friday abstinence is actually still required. Canon Law leaves a substitute up to the Bishops' Conference, and I do not think our U.S. bishops have formally done anything yet. Correct me if I am wrong, please!


Apologies if this is a duplicate post. I submitted it earlier but it never showed up. Either I goofed, or it's awaiting modification...

First off, this is a great post. My wife wears a veil at Mass, and while praying. We've heard that Cannon Law did not remove this requirement, and your citation to the contrary is very informative.

It doesn't really change anything though. My Wife started wearing the veil as a show of modesty and humility. She also started wearing dresses and modest clothing in general for the same reason. Much of this is for my benefit, but it also falls under the heading of "love thy neighbor".

You see, I find provocatively dressed women very distracting. In the confessional, I mention my own impure thoughts more frequently than anything else, and I find it very distracting that women and teen-aged girls dress in provocative clothing at Mass. Mass in particular is a time for prayer and reflection and thankfulness for the presence of Jesus. I feel tremendous guilt and sorrow for my own weakness when I find myself distracted by an attractive woman whose attire is better suited to a night club than to church. I realize the sin is mine, and I certainly don't condemn anyone for their sense of fashion or propriety. I believe mostly it's due to culture and ignorance. In particular, I believe it's due to ignorance about the effect it's having on the men of the congregation.

I pray for a return to modesty in the church (and everywhere), for my own moral well being, and for the sake of men everywhere that suffer the same the same discomfort. And also as a response to Jesus' call to love thy neighbor - particularly your male neighbors.

Men are not off the hook either - we also should dress modestly for the sake of our female neighbors.

I'll get off my soap-box now. Thanks again for your very informative post.


Some Day is correct. No one has ever satisfactorily answered the argument (in the 1983 code) that the wearing of veils by women, itself a "centenary or immemorial custom" does not still have the effect of law. Jimmy tried, but despite my real admiration of his skills (and his orthodoxy for that matter-- I am not an evil "rad trad", as Michelle likes to castigate), he does not persuade. It's ok, my sisters, to wear a veil. In fact, it is required by immemorial custom that has the force of law.


What a funny topic! Maybe it's just my family and parish, but I've never heard anyone opine that ladies ought to wear veils to church. I thought it was an Italian practice.

Personally, I like hats but the new-fangled ones are expensive for what you get. My grandmother had a round blue hat that was her "Sunday hat" (it cost more than her entire wardrobe, which she made herself). My mother had a flat hat with a veil that was her Sunday hat and it, too, was a special purchase from a milliner. They both held up wonderfully.

I wore hats when I lived near Detroit because all the Christian ladies tend to get done-up for church. But my four hats fell apart after four years despite the excellent care I took to keep them from rain, snow and moths. If I had to return to wearing hats, I'd start wearing turbans with a feather or a rhinestone pin on the closure. But I suppose that would look as if I'd come to church with wet hair.


Maureen, I think it's time you gave us that link again for the fabulous medieval headgear. Remember???

Mary Kay

Maureen, bravo! My thoughts exactly.

jt, your suggestion of a baseball cap may have been in jest, but it's not too far off the mark. When I was a child, if a woman forgot her mantilla (chapel veil), she could bobby pin a Kleenex to her head. Didn't happen often, but it did happen.

Two reasons why I usually avoid this topic: for what Maureen said so well and the reminder of idiotic legalism.

Jimmy Akin

it is required by immemorial custom that has the force of law.

tim, while I appreciate your kind words, this is flatly false. It's the argument is canonical nonsense and would not be taken seriously by anyone with a canonical background who has their head screwed on straight.

I'll check the archives to see if I've addressed it at any length before. If not, I'll write a longer treatment of it.

MaryKay says:

"jt, your suggestion of a baseball cap may have been in jest, but it's not too far off the mark"

Thanks for the response, although the question was not totally in jest. It has to do with culture. In our culture, we would see a baseball cap as somewhat irreverent, although it does fulfil the letter of the law. The people promoting veils seem to suggest that culture is irrelevent in these types of decisions. So is the baseball cap ok or not ok?


I was wondering, would anyone say it is now OK for a man to wear a hat in Church since it's not in canon law?

It's OK by me. I don't see a hat as any different from a shoe, a shirt, sock, or whatever. Perhaps the wearer does, but that would be his business.


In our culture, we would see a baseball cap as somewhat irreverent

Some, but not all, people might see a baseball cap as irreverent. And some people might think a woman's makeup makes her into a Jezebel. And some people might find perfume/cologne, or bright colors, or jewelry, or whatever to simply be trying to draw attention to themselves away from God. And the list goes on.


I remember the days of 'veiled' ladies, and I do remember as a young girl visiting a convent chapel with my mother unexpectedly--she dutifully pulled out 2 clean handkerchiefs from her purse--placing one on her head, and one on mine! I'd like to see the general return of 'head covering' in church, which along with a return of kneeling for communion, etc. would psychologically go a long way in the battle to 'restore' that sense of the sacred, that has sadly been lost.

Pat Kinsale

I'd love to see a fuller treatment of the rule of custom vs. law. Another example is Lenten sacrifices. We all by custom give something up for Lent. At my rather conservative Catholic college, we often got into a discussion about doing the Lenten sacrifice on Sundays of Lent. I've since learned this whole thing is a custom rather than a law, so I'm curious what moral force is behind it. Jimmy, you've got quite a challenge in cracking this nut. There are so many related questions to this!

Tom Johnson

Here are some interesting canons:

Can. 25 No custom acquires the force of law unless it has been observed, with the intention of introducing a law, by a community capable at least of receiving a law.

Can. 26 Unless it has been specifically approved by the competent legislator, a custom which is contrary to the canon law currently in force, or is apart from the canon law, acquires the force of law only when it has been lawfully observed for a period of thirty continuous and complete years. Only a centennial or immemorial custom can prevail over a canonical law which carries a clause forbidding future customs.

Can. 27 Custom is the best interpreter of laws.

Can. 28 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 5, a custom, whether contrary to or apart from the law, is revoked by a contrary custom or law. But unless the law makes express mention of them, it does not revoke centennial or immemorial customs, nor does a universal law revoke particular customs.

I wonder, how long was the custom of veil wearing prior to the 1983 version of Canon Law?

I wonder, how long was the custom of veil wearing prior to the 1983 version of Canon Law?


In Christian custom, about 1950 years, not counting the 15 years it had been abandoned in disobedience of canon law as a result of nefarious actions by certain elements.

Matt --

Um, it doesn't shame a woman to shave her head. So your verse
merely points out that social norms have changed. :)

Furthermore, I don't see you explaining how the Christian
idea of praying with head uncovered is a deliberate reversal
of Jewish reverence -- in which males prayed with head covered.
I find this the much more interesting verse, and I can't wait to
see this explained in as much detail and passion as the veiling thing.

Look... I don't have anything against veils. (Or hats, which are
much more expressive of solidarity with _my_ Catholic hat-wearing
foremothers.) (Or wigs, like the Orthodox Jewish ladies even. If
Tridentine Masses were full of anime-colored wig-wearing young women,
that would be trad in a very fun way.)

But the more people keep saying that Catholic women _must_ wear veils,
the more I'm gonna dig in my heels and insist on my canonical right _not_ to
do so. I'm not a dhimmi, and I sure as heck won't be a dhimmi to some sort
of _Catholic_ religious police with nothing better to do than make stuff
up and bind burdens on backs.

Ms. Maureen,

I assume you prefer, as a liberated woman to be called ms.?

It's not my verse, it's Paul, writing inspired by God. As we all can agree "All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice".

I'm merely following the understanding of every exigesis from the early fathers, and virtually every authority who ever studied this verse until the 1960's. Just because canon law removes the obligation doesn't change the Church's eternal understanding of the scripture's meaning.

The fact that you object so strenuously to this suggestion belies something... why is it so bothersome to you that someone would interpret Paul's suggestion literally? Do you have an aversion to humility and submission?

If you read my comment in charity you would see that I did NOT argue that you are obligated by canon law, I argued that the lesson of the scripture is there and we need to seek it in humilty.

God Bless.

Mary Kay

Anon, at least Maureen had the guts to use her name rather than hiding behind Anonymous.

Second, you can cut out that "liberated ms." bull. It's a tactic to belittle when a woman voices an opinion.

"The fact that you object so strenuously to this suggestion belies something" I can't answer for Maureen, but since she expressed my feelings, my answer to you is that it belies that I dislike bullies such as yourself, trying to impose *your* interpretation when it is not required.

Why is it so bothersome to you that the Magesterium has not included this tradition - small t - in current canon law? Do you have an aversion to humility and submission?

Mary Kay

Okay, give the scripture verse that you claim supports chapel veils.

btw, my objection to arguments like yours is that it is so often men demanding that women submit (to wearing a veil) while not being submissive themselves. Men forcing women into submission has never been part of the Catholic faith.

Tim Brandenburg

If a woman not wearing a veil during Mass is such an egregious abuse, one that is in violation of canon law, don't you think the Vatican might have noticed it before now and mentioned it, even in passing? Or, if not the Vatican, at least one single Diocesan (sp?) Bishop?

Seriously... The successors of the Apostles get it wrong, but home grown canon lawyers get it right?

I'm an attorney (not a canon lawyer), and it is amazing how many lay people think they understand the law, when they have no clue. They read a statute and Bing! they know the law. Just reading a statute is only the beginning, not the end. I imagine canon law is similar.


Ed Peters

Tim wrote: "I'm an attorney (not a canon lawyer), and it is amazing how many lay people think they understand the law, when they have no clue. They read a statute and Bing! they know the law. Just reading a statute is only the beginning, not the end. I imagine canon law is similar."

Thank you Tim, for saving me having to point that out to several people. Some of the posts are so wrong, but it take would an article to correct the mistakes, before even getting to what is right. Oh well.


I'd like to make a public apology to Mr. Akin.

I am the originator of the most recent post on chapel veils and mantillas. I disagreed with his response on my blog and used some of those traditionalist-oriented web sites to make my point. I felt very smart that I could analyze canon law and "skewer" Mr. Akin's argument.

Now I see my arguments were flawed, and I have taken both posts down. The greatest temptation to sin on the Internet is to think you know something just because you read a few web sites.

I really sympathize with Patrick here, since I am a new convert looking for answers too. The old Church seemed so beautiful, if only because we see it through the patina of the past. I am in mourning for a Church I never knew.

We go to Mass in a converted video store in a strip mall. If I didn't KNOW for a fact that Jesus was there, there is absolutely nothing else that appeals. Thankfully we have a great priest.

I agree with Alice von Hildebraand in some of her writings where she makes the point that many of the "innovations", while legal, do nothing to help the Church. And while I believe there are many women out there who would love to wear a veil to church, out of reverence, they are held back by fear of what others will think. If veiling, as a devotion, is such a "beautiful" practice, why should this be? I do think there are other forces at work...

As for now, I am veiling in church and dressing according to the Church's modesty principles in my public life. I really believe that the time is coming when being "closet Christians" will not be enough.

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B.

Aside from "Scripture says", or "Canon law used to say"....

Veils continue to have two deeply meaningful roles in the Church.

The wedding veil and the nun's veil. In both instances the veil announces consecration to a spouse. In both instances, the veil makes the woman a symbolic sign of the Bridal Church consecrated in Baptism to Christ the King. Same with a chapel veil.

Color-- my ideas.
A white veil for general use. White is the color of Baptismal Consecration.
A black one for widows.

- - -

I'm not waving a flag to call for the use of chapel veils. I'm just trying to provide some positive meanings for those who might be interested.

The Catholic Knight

As a person recently corrected on this issue, I just wanted to say that I'm appreciative of the good apologists on the Catholic Answers Forum and bloggers like Jimmy Akin. It's nice to know there are people out there who take the time to straighten these things out.


Still waiting for Ed, Jimmy or anyone else to explain how the veil-as-custom reality doesn't acquire the force of law. I'll probably wait in vain.

The new Code doesn't specifically state that veils are NOT to be worn. If it did, only a centennial or immemorial custom would still have the force of law. In this case, veiling would still have the force of law.

If the custom is contrary or apart from the code, it would only have the force of law if it were observed for thirty years. In this case, of course the custom is far older. It still would have the force of law.

Thus, one need not even reach the argument that the new Code did not abrogate the 1917 veiling canon-- I would argue that it did not, as the general abrogation of the 1917 code would not work to specifically abrogate the veiling canon--but even if this argument fails, the two above are more than sufficient.

One poster wrote that he or she could not believe that the pastors of the Church would not have allowed such a flagrant disregard for the law to go on without comment. My brain hurts searching for the best response to that point, out of the million or so that immediately spring to mind, but I will limit myself to two: first, the list of flagrant violations of canon law allowed to fester, take root, and become the norm in the last forty years is legion; and, second, how about the complete silence on this issue from 1965 to 1983, the years following V2 to the promulgation of the new code? Where were the pastors then? Or did every woman wear veils in Church the day before the code was enacted, and then throw them away the next day?

I, too, am a civil lawyer, and can interpret a statute. I understand in today's climate that wearing a veil would seem weird and uncomfortable to some. But 2+2 still equals four.


Catholic Knight--I read that whole discussion, and I appreciated both your attitude and the general tone of the thread.


So now "veiling" is a verb???

Deep breath. One more time.

Women, in America, prior to the Second Vatican Council, did NOT primarily show up for Sunday Mass veiled in layers of that good old-fashioned humility-betoking swath of symbolic submission known as a chapel veil. Unless it was a part of a woman's culture to wear a mantilla or some other scarf-like headcovering, she wore a HAT.

Women were supposed to cover their heads in church. Hats did this, and were part of a woman's public wardrobe anyway. Chapel veils were for unplanned church visits or major millinary emergencies.

I'm afraid if one more person suggests that all pious Catholic women have an obligation to festoon themselves in wispy shrouds of black or white or even appropriate liturgically colored lace down to their ankles because this is what Catholic women in the past ALWAYS did, I'm just going to go as mad as...well, as a hatter!


"I'm just going to go as mad as...well, as a hatter!"


Just for the record, "liberated woman" has a very old-fashioned sound. I'm over 21 and an American citizen; that's all the liberation I want or need. If given it as a choice on forms (one seldom is), I prefer to mark "Miss". Around here, that's generally pronounced "Miz" and always was, but it shows willing. :)

I'm conservative in my politics. I'm conservative in my dress. I'm conservative in my way of life. I respect traditional forms of devotion, and engage in some.

What I don't respect is legalism, the creation of a false past, and people who have no Church authority over me laying down new laws. (I already have a mother and a Mother Church, and both catechized me quite well, thank you.)

Besides, if traditional folks make everything all legalistic, it will only encourage me to think of loopholes. Amusing and well-precedented ones. Whereas, by casting the matter as a free choice to do something devout (and a bit counter to our culture), folks encourage the faithful to do more than the minimum.

Giving, instead of being obliged, is the sort of thing which deepens over a lifetime. Legal obligations are shallow and stop at the drawing of a line.


I'm 55 and my father owned a department store. He sold hats among other things, and women and girls all had Sunday hats that they wore to Mass.
Chapel veils were, as many people have pointed out, things we kept in our purse or pocket in case we found ourselves in a situation where we wanted to go into a church, but our hat was at home. During the early 60's, not only the church was in turmoil, but so was the fashion world and hats for men and women fell out of favor. So women quit wearing hats to church and men quit wearing hats as a part of their daily outfit.

Personally, I don't wear hats unless it is cold and I think chapel veils look silly. I love mantillas, but they are hard to find and expensive.

Ed Peters

ok tim, in a couple words, veils were not "custom" they were "law". describing the use of veils as custom is equivocation on the use of the word "custom". it is not its canonical meaning. for the rest, consult the approved authors.


Whether or not we are "supposed" to wear veils is a subject I'm not going to touch, since I have no expertise in this matter. But as a Catholic convert of some odd years, I've noticed that when the Church wants to change something (and have it stick) you generally have to teach why before you obligate.

When Father Orthodox comes into a new parish that used to be run by Father Hoohaw, he obviously has to make some changes. If he does it with a hammer and anvil, a lot of folks go running like so many lemmings. But when he starts teaching the "why", he has folks lining up behind him to defend their obligation to do it.

My observation is that the reason that so many women stopped wearing a head covering in church is that people have lost sight of Who God is. You may call it disobedience to a law, but I wonder how many women, for a long time, were obeying a law that they didn't understand, because they didn't fully grasp Whose presence they were in.


I'm 22, and my little sister is 18. We both wear mantillas to Mass, and in Adoration. It's NOT A BIG DEAL. If a lady doesn't want to wear one, so what? My choice to cover my head has nothing to do with anyone else except for Our Lord. The majority of women at my parish do not wear a veil (although...it seems to be making a comeback, every month or so I notice someone wearing one that didn't before). NEVER would I look at another woman who wasn't covering her head and think "Hmm she is not as holy, she is not as humble...etc etc." My own mother, who is one of the holiest women I know, does not cover her head. I started wearing a chapel veil when I was going to an Indult Mass, and I found it really helped ME in focusing in Mass, fostering personal humility....is creates a nice little "personal space" between me and Jesus. :) And then I realized...the same thing that made me desire to wear a veil at an Indult were the same things that made me want to wear one to Mass all the time. I think it's fine, and probably better, that covering one's head is not canon law, but merely a choice a woman can make for herself. I choose to wear a mantilla rather than a hat because (at least in our area) it seems to me to be less distracting than a hat....I can't remember the last time I saw a hat in church. The mantilla I wear is black, so it blends in more with my dark brown hair, and I feel like this helps to keep it from being a distraction (though no one has ever complained to me, and anywayI doubt people are fixated on my mantilla when Sally Immodest is wearing a mini-skirt). Bottom line is, it's a personal devotion that just happens to be in view of other people.

I don't want to prolong this discussion ad nauseum, but my Scriptural understanding of head coverings for women is that the whole point is to COVER the hair... which a little piece of black or white lace doesn't even begin to do; rather, lace draws attention to the hair. Countless women have said they used Kleenex on their heads in the 'ole days when they forgot their mantillas. So silly! And so completely not to the point. If that's all that this edifying concept had boiled down to, then I say good riddance to the "law" and IF a woman wants to cover her head today, then great, but make it COVER! (Like the mom said above, my toddlers would spend Mass trying to pull it off my head, if I did try to wear one.)

Tom Johnson


I don't think wearing veils is an issue to fight over, yet I do tend to agree with you that the longevity of the custom is reason enough, and absent any specific statement in the 1983 law saying veil wearing has been revoked I do not see how anyone can conclude that wearing veils is not still in force.

I just think that in this modern culture women see wearing veils as a form of submission to men, rather then honoring Christ...and women today are not about to do anything that they think might be seen as submissive to men. Hence, we see the deletion of wearing veils, not on the strength of Canon Law, rather it was done on the strength of the wishes of the current culture. IMO.

Mary Kay

Maureen, again, well said.

Anne and Charlotte, this topic recurs not because there are some women, such as yourselves, who find wearing a mantilla helpful to focusing in Mass.

Rather, it's because there are people, mostly men, who post that *all* women SHOULD return to covering their heads in Mass and implies that those who do not are disobedient and/or disrespectful. To women posting that they don't intend to wear a chapel veil, makes snide remarks about having problems with obedience, humility and submissiveness.

momof6, it's true that many people have lost belief in the Real Presence of the Eucharist, but your inference that when they realize the Real Presence, everyone will be motivated to wear a mantilla doesn't hold true.

Mary Kay

Tom Johnson, your statement "in this modern culture women see wearing veils as a form of submission to men, rather then honoring Christ" has absolutely no basis as a generalization.

I made a specific statement because it is by far, say 98 percent, men who post in Catholic comboxes that women should cover their heads during Mass. My comment pertained only to those men who so adamantly want to impose their interpretation on others while unwilling to submit to current canon law themselves.

Mary Kay

Tom, in hindsight, it would have been better to ask when you started thinking that women see wearing a veil as "a submission to men instead of honoring Christ."

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B.

Let's not lose our heads over head coverings!

E. Peters is a canon lawyer. He has simply pointed out the fact that the Code of Canon Law has no requirement that women cover their heads in church.

Tom Johnson

Mary Kay,

You make my point, thank you for the assist. :)

It is interesting that you "attack" men for not obeying canon law, when in fact certain canons have been thrown away with regards to wearing veils. Modernists like to forget about that pesky and troublesome canon that tells us about long held customs having the force of law...those darn canons sure can be a pain...:)

Yet, despite all that, women wearing women veils, or not is not exactly on the top of the list of things to debate. I'd rather see higher Mass attendance, no contracepting, etc...those refar more important.

Tom Johnson

Mary K.,

It was not Catholic men who chose not to wear veils, it was Catholic women. That came about in the post V2 era, it did not exist in the pre-V2 era. Therefore, it is a no-brainer to connect the dots and se womn must have seen wearing veils as some form of submission to men because "IF" they truly saw it as honor to Christ, then they would not have ceased wearing veils.

Yet, truthfully, honor to Christ has been lost across the board. One only has to look at how people are dressed in Mass to see that is true...all people, men, women, boys, girls...and of all ages. True reverance and honor to Christ is not very popular since V2.

Tom Johnson

Mary Kay,

BTW, I am mainly being sarcastic, no insult intended at all. I really do not much care about the issue of veil wearing because I feel there are far more important issues in the Church today.

Ed Peters

Right, Father S....indeed, I pointed it out in the face of a published direct claim to the contrary. Best, edp.

Tom Johnson

Fr. Stephanos,

While there is no specific canon regarding wearng veils, there are canons about long standing customs and the point many people are making is that wearing veils is a long standing custom that was not taken away bythe 1983 Canons.


Can you really say that because there was a requirement for so long, that this grants the requirement status as a longstanding custom? If that is the case, we should never change *any* requirement.

Tom Johnson


I am merely saying that it is interesting to see people lean on the 1983 canons as being proof that wearing veils is not required, yet those same people ignore the canons about long standing customs. Wearing veils was a custom that stretched across many centuries and one can reasonably ask why is that fact ignored in all this?

Matt McDonald

Anon, at least Maureen had the guts to use her name rather than hiding behind Anonymous.

Second, you can cut out that "liberated ms." bull. It's a tactic to belittle when a woman voices an opinion.

"The fact that you object so strenuously to this suggestion belies something" I can't answer for Maureen, but since she expressed my feelings, my answer to you is that it belies that I dislike bullies such as yourself, trying to impose *your* interpretation when it is not required.

Why is it so bothersome to you that the Magesterium has not included this tradition - small t - in current canon law? Do you have an aversion to humility and submission?
btw, my objection to arguments like yours is that it is so often men demanding that women submit (to wearing a veil) while not being submissive themselves. Men forcing women into submission has never been part of the Catholic faith.

Mary Kay,

my humblest apologies for accidentally posting anonymous, I suspect most people would recognize this as my response and not call me a coward for the error.

I did not assume her to be a "liberated ms." because she voiced an opinion, or to belittle her, but in recognition of the opinion that she voiced. Whenever people balk at suggestions they should be submissive and humble to God and one another, which the Bible is full of calls for, it tells me something. "Blessed are the meek".

Calling me a bully is foundless, nothing I said suggests an obligation is imposed (other than by one's own conscience), or that I would somehow impose one, as a bully would. In fact, if you read the text of Paul's lesson below carefully it says the woman should shave her head if she doesn't want to wear a head covering, not that it should be imposed upon her. Am I a bully for arguing my point? Does that then make us all bullies for arguing? I said nothing about forcing anyone into submission, in fact that's contradictory, submission is only voluntary, it cannot be forced.

The literal interpretation is a long held interpretation from the early fathers until the mid-20th century, removing the literal understanding is something that happened AFTER the practice was dropped in disobedience. As far as WHY it was dropped, only a revisionist would say that it wasn't a misdirected application of so-called "women's liberation". It had exactly nothing to do with fashion changes, while certainly it was related to poor catechesis, which has been so obviously the prevailing state since the late 50's, and not just after Vatican II, as some have said.

That it's bothersome to me that the Holy See failed to continue this custom as an explicit canonical obligation is that it was responding to dissent rather than a reasoned discourse. This is a dangerous precedent and has no basis in Church Tradition, the Catholic Church is hierarchical, it is lead from the top, it's not a democracy. I have no disagreement with being submissive, I am humble by dressing in a respectful manner at mass, not wearing a hat (as Paul instructs me not to do), by kneeling for the consecration, and while receiving communion, and whenever in the direct presence of our Lord, except when called for by the rubrics to stand. I strive for humility in my heart, but fail, as all do at times.

1 Cor 11:6-15
For if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn. But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn or made bald, let her cover her head. The man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. For the man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man. Therefore ought the woman to have a power over her head, because of the angels.

But yet neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, so also is the man by the woman: but all things of God. You yourselves judge: doth it become a woman, to pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that a man indeed, if he nourish his hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman nourish her hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.

Dr. Peters,

Please do expand on your refutation, perhaps on your blog. From the canon law perspective, I do agree that there is no longer an obligation, but Jacob Michael makes a well reasoned argument, and it would be helpful to have the counterpoints in detail. As far as your assesment of the custom as a fashion accessory, I stand by my criticism. St. Paul thought it was important, and so should all Christians. I'm also curious why you suggest that it was only a canon law obligation, and not a custom obligation, when it was not mentioned in canon law until 1917, but it had already been practiced globally for almost 19 centuries.

What I don't respect is legalism, the creation of a false past, and people who have no Church authority over me laying down new laws.

I don't think we should be "seeking loopholes" but instead be humble and submissive.

In any event, I'm suggesting that people ought to do as scripture calls for out of humble submission, not canonical obligation... on this then we agree?

I saw this question somewhere else, and I'll repeat it here:

Why do woman wear a veil in the presence of the Vicar of Christ, but not in the real presence of Christ Himself?



Thank you Matt, Mary Kay and Brother Cadfael for the kind words. May God bless all of you.

Brother Cadfael

Forgive my ignorance, but prior to 1917, was the practice of wearing a veil mandated by custom or law?


This is a great idea Jimmy - start a thread just for the RadTrads!

Just kidding guys, I have total respect for Latin Novus Ordo and indult TLM. I do have trouble relating to mantillas however ...

Tom Johnson

What does "RadTrads" mean?

Tom Johnson

Never mind, I found the definition for "RadTrad."

1. RadTrad

In the Catholic faith, a derogatory word for "radical traditionalist." This generally involves the following things:
1) Rejection of Vatican II
2) Rejection of the non-Latin mass
3) Rejection of the authority of the current bishops and pope

It seems like a fairly blatant insult for people to refer to other Catholics as "RadTRads" simply because they want to hold on to traditions and customs that were handed down through many centuries of worship. I have seen no-one here say the Mass is invalid, or that they reject V2, or any other nonsense like that.


"Doth not even nature itself teach you, that a man indeed, if he nourish his hair, it is a shame unto him?"

You don't use conditioner on your hair, do you?!



I've only been on this site for about a month but I've seen more than a couple threads get totally derailed by folks who reject Vatican II, Novus Ordo and the last several Popes.

I don't really see anything derogatory about the moniker however. In matters of religion there is nothing wrong with being "radical". And if I were a traditionalist, I think I would embrace the name. Personally, I embrace the position of "radical orthodoxy" in the spirit of Pope John Paul II. He was conservitive on doctrine but "liberal" in regards to many social issues, such as poverty. Radical Orthodoxy indicates an "openness" or "evangelical" stance rather than an "isolated" or "protectionist" stance.

Another example is the term "neocon". Some describe it as derogatory but I think it quite accurately conveys the idea of "conservatism with a conscience".

What do you think? (Mary Jane believes I'm full of hot air and she may be right but I'm told that 100 monkeys typing furiously will eventually produce Shakespeare).

JPII has done more damage to the Church than all of his predecessors... from the innovations in the Rosary to the complete lack of oversight over the Church in America to the "anything goes" approach to dealing with charismatics and apparition-seekers... he let the Church go down the sewer while building up his own cult of personality... the fact that the world (which hates Christ) reveres him so and that the more lax one's Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxy are, the more they revere this Pope, only points to the fact that he was an unfortunate blemish on the See of Peter.


Veronica had a good point up there: why are the men so worried about this? You have your own Corinthian verses to worry about. Heck, you have to love your wife as Christ loved the Church (Who came not to be served but to serve. My husband does this, and it's a no-brainer for me to submit to that!) and make sure men aren't nourishing their hair or wearing hats, according to Corinthians. Doesn't that keep you too busy to make sure I'm completely unable to pay attention in Mass because I'm having to wear headgear?


See what I mean! "They're heeeere!"

By the way, I think Michelle Arnold describes the mentality better in her post:

Overcoming RadTrad Temptations http://www.jimmyakin.org/2006/04/overcoming_radt.html

Tom Johnson


I think labels do nothing but divide people into various camps. We--the Church--should be collectively working to define what the faith is for every Catholic, without regard to labels and such things.

While I accept and embrace what the Church formally teaches, I do think there is much to be said for the preV2 Church in terms of reverance. Today only 23-25% of Catholics attend Mass regularly, and only 30% believe the the Real Presence (etc.), and yet before V2 took hold those numbers were the exact opposite. I think that means we all should be "very" open to thinking about what we are doing.


Dear Anonymous,

Do you have a name? Do you want to share it with us? What's the matter, did someone try to shake your hand at Mass? They didn't mean anything by it, they were just following the Biblical injunction to "leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift".

Brother Cadfael

the more lax one's Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxy are, the more they revere this Pope

Absolutely delightful! Disrespect and disdain for the Pope is the mark of genuine orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

Can you say oxymoron?



You're using reason and observation to make some very valid points. I agree that we need a "reform of the reform". But these people are paranoid, irrational and dogmatic (note the one-sided tone of the anonymous post above). Ironically, the Holy Father's speak on Faith and Reason applies to them as much as to radical Islam as they share many traits in common with Muslim fundamentalists. Sadly, in fact, theirs is a position of despair and mistrust of the Holy Spirit. How else could you look askance at the enthusiasm, the conversions and vocations which resulted from our Late Holy Father's World Youth Days?

Tom Johnson

I think it is truly troublesome when Catholics start attacking other Catholics with labels like "RadTrads", etc.

It is even more troublesome that Jimmy Akins uses the same derogatory labels despite the fact that many people look to him to be a voice of reason and knowledge.

The bottom line is, people have their own views about what the Catholic faith is and should be, we are not enemies just because we disagree about certain matters. It would be refreshing to sCatholics discuss these matters, rather then throw out all manners of hidden insults.

Tom Johnson


In a general sense I agree. Yet conversions for conversions sake is not what is needed. We have millions of separated brethen who truly love Jesus, yet they believe and follow many false teachings...should we never again try to speak with them just because they have been converted to Christ?

Some Catholics remain tied to the past, yet if we look at their complaints with less emotion, we might just see they make some good points. There are many things that have happened since V2 that are not exactly "good" developments, and it would do the Church good to re-examine all issues of the faith, it certainly cannot hurt.


I think the thread's disintegrating.

Two last words -- first off, I reiterate my total support for folks who do like the mantilla/veil.

Second, the major reason the custom died out was not disrespect. It was that women ceased to wear hats, and especially to wear hats indoors. Actually, I once wore a hat to church, and felt the whole time that I was being discourteous and blocking others' view. (I suspect cartoons about women in movie theaters influenced me there.) For all practical purposes, the modern custom in suburban society is for both men and women to remove their hats on coming inside, and it takes a strong will to ignore that piece of etiquette for a more specialized one.

This is probably why chapel veils, scarves, kerchiefs, and mantillas are more commonly worn in church these days by those who wear them -- a piece of cloth is less obviously a hat, and makes the wearer feel less discourteous. It would make an interesting study for an anthropology student to see when, where, and whether women start to feel discourteous about wearing a hat or headscarf into church.

Third, there are plenty of longstanding customs which showed love for Christ which are no longer part of our Church practices today. In the early Church, it was universal for the priest to consecrate a loaf of bread for Christians to take home with them so they could communicate every morning all week. People got martyred protecting this on their way home.

In the Eastern churches, I think this custom is remembered by folks bringing home unconsecrated but blessed bread at Easter and other times. In the Latin rite, this wonderful custom is just plain gone. It wasn't because people stopped feeling that it showed respect for Christ; it was because they decided that the custom wasn't needed, as the Church was able to hold open daily Masses near most folks, and it also provided a small chance of mishap to the Body and Blood.

There was nothing bad about it; it could be reinstated tomorrow, if the Pope wanted it done. But it just didn't make sense for the times.


I forgot to add that baseball hats have become an item of indoor wear for both men and women. And indeed, we see men, women and children occasionally wearing them to church (usually being forgetful, I think).

So the question about ballcaps earlier was actually quite apropos. If they don't trip the "Take that hat off when you come inside!" reflex, and don't block others' view or get in their way, something of a similar shape but better formality and materials might be a good choice of church hat.

Tom Johnson


You said: "Wearing veils does not make sense for the times..."

Perhaps you are correct, yet I would counter that with the fact that there is far less reverance today then there was during the times of communion rails, wearing veils, etc..., and imo that is a true problem that the Church must try to address. Will wearing veils bring back reverance, probably not...yet it might be a start.

Therefore, it is not wrong to re-examine all of the issues that pertain to reverance and respect for the Lord--inlcuding wearing veils.

Tom Johnson


A fair test is this: What would any of us wear if we were invited to a private meeting with the Pope? Why?

Matt McDonald

Doth not even nature itself teach you, that a man indeed, if he nourish his hair, it is a shame unto him?"

You don't use conditioner on your hair, do you?!


Since you're interested, I do follow the suggestion, as a man I shouldn't make a big fuss about my hair. I keep it short, and clean (to be honest, it's starting to get a little thin in places). Now, I did this because nature taught me, long before I noticed the biblical support for it.

To the Anonymous radically disobedient radtrad, from a radically obedient traditionalist,

take a lesson from Athanasius, you don't see letters from him making such nasty comments about any Pope, even the one who exiled him.

the major reason the custom died out was not disrespect. It was that women ceased to wear hats, and especially to wear hats indoors

We can argue back and forth on whether the motivation was disrespect (which you haven't refuted with anything other than personal opinion), but in truth, you cannot deny that it was disobedient. Canon law of 1917 is very clear on that matter. By definition disobedience during the Sacrifice of the Mass is disrespect.

There's a reason why this suggestion of St. Paul meets such sprited opposition...."methinks they doth protest too much"...

God Bless,


Jeffrey Stuart

Thoughts in no particular order...

- The use of the "RadTrad" label really is lacking in my opinion. I've had it thrown at me and others that attend the indult Mass, or at least that attitude, by other members of the Parish. Somehow we are "crazy" or "nuts" because we enjoy a reverent Mass and don't appreciate bongos, talking in Church and other such activities. Now one might say that the term only applies to those who believe V2 isn't valid, etc but I respond with by what authority do you judge and label someone as such.

- On the topic at hand, I am not qualified to speak definitively on whether or not it is required for a woman to cover her head during Mass. I have read much on this topic and at best I am left with the opinion that while Canon law is silent on it, the requirement stands. But once again, I am not the competent authority here and read with interest the opinions of people, such as Mr. Akin, that have more knowledge than me. Makes me wish the Church would make a definitive statement on the matter but I have a list of such things.

- The charge that only men seem to worry about this topic (or that they have no business doing so) and that they only want to impose themselves on women and such, also rings hollow to me. Quite frankly it reminds me of the defense used by those who support abortion. While I am a man, I have been charged by the Lord to be the spiritual head of my family. Therefore my interest and opinion in the topic is absolutely valid. Predictably, some allusions to Ephesians 5 have been made. Yes we husbands are to “love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her” and to me that does mean taking care of and sacrificing for both her and her(my) children. But that verse is often presented in only half the light, so I think it good to read the entire passage:

"Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body.
As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband."

There is quite a bit of give and take in that verse but I see nothing that wouldn’t support a husband taking interest in this topic from a Biblical standpoint. My personal take probably comes from my background as a Naval Officer. While I am charged to lead my family, as I would be with my Sailors, being the leader more often puts me in a position of service than would we normally expect. I’m sure there are some people out there with military experience that understand where I am coming from.

- My wife and daughters wear a mantilla to Mass. I believe it to be the proper thing to do from a Biblical/traditional standpoint. Other women in Mass do not and that is their business and when my daughters come of age they then will also have that choice. The point of the whole thing is not one of submission to me but humbling ourselves in front of the Lord which is a quality for which we all should strive.

Just my thought that I felt compelled to share.

Vivat Iesus,


If it was good enough for Our Lady and this actually goes back to the OT, then like other "reforms" by the Protestants as part of the liturgy, head coverings were done away with as we all know Mary is not revered by the Protestants and to wear a head covering as she did as the Mother of our Lord they figured would be demeaning to woman as well (I still dont see where this was done away with legally by the way, but then again I still cant find where communion in the hand was formally allowed)

Just more Protestanization and throwing away one of the defenses the church has had through her history to protect her, namely tradition, unshaken and uncompromising tradition, at least until the 1960's

Mary Kay

Tom, what you call an "attack" on men is simply because there are some men who think that they know better than the Magesterium and canon law. It's not an "attack" to say what current canon law states. If you have a disagreement, ask Jimmy or Ed Peters. I go by current canon law.

Your 7:56 post shows you to hold Vatican II to blame for all of today's ills (or a view very close). You apparently sincerely believe that but sincere belief in one's views does not make them valid.

Do you believe that the Holy Spirit guided Vatican II?


Tom Johnson,
I believe in the Real Presence and attend Mass daily. Since that is more important than whether I'm wearing a hat, mantilla, baseball cap or Puffs on my head, or whether you use Rogaine, "For Men Only", or Brylcreem, you might be interested to know that it was my former pastor's preaching on matters of doctrine that brought me the rest of the way back to the Faith (more frequent Mass and Confession, no contraceptives, belief in the Real Presence, etc).

Knowing myself, I fear I would become a Pharisee about wearing headgear. It's why I stopped genuflecting before Communion and am back to just bowing. This emphasis on externals is "gnat-straining".

Tom Johnson

Mary Kay,

Yes, I definitely believe that V2 was guided by the Holy Spirit, and I believe that council was/is valid. I do, however, feel that the implemention of that council has been perverted in many cases: changing Church structures, removing communion rails, removing the Tabernacle from the main Church, etc...were all inventions done in the name of V2, yet the V2 documents do not call for any of those changes.

As for your use of Canon Law, I too feel I am using Canon Law when I site the fact that the 1983 Canon Law contains statements about long standing customs...I do not pretend to have anything more than my own opinion with regard to reading Canon Law.

My view is this: many modern changes are very good for the Church, others are not. We should not be afraid to examine these issues.

mary kay,

the canons don't say anything about wearing clothes to mass either... i think that means i'm free to go naked... no disrespect intended... i still believe in the real presence... but it's no longer considered disrespectful in our culture to go around naked in front of someone you really know and trust like Jesus!

Tom Johnson


Truly, praise God that you have found your way, I truly mean that.

I am merely challenging people to stop thinking the modern Church has all the answers, while I also agree that the old Church was insufficient in the ways of modern cultural needs.

Tom Johnson

Mary Kay,

So, will you go to Mass naked?

If not, why not?

The Canons exist that state quite clearly that long standing cutoms hold weight, why is it wrong to bring that fact up?

Mary Kay

Matt, thanks for identifying your post. When someone forgets to put their name in the box (something I've done myself), frequently they follow up with a post saying, "ooops, that was my post."

Arguing your point is not what prompted the bully description. You can argue til you're blue in the face. It doesn't change the fact that current canon law does not require women to cover their heads. What prompted the bully description was that you sound like if you did have your way, you would impose your view on others - despite the fact that you don't have the authority to do so.

As for the 1 Corinthians quote, at that time, only prostitutes uncovered their heads. Paul's saying to not look like a prostitute. Today the admonition should be against mini-skirts and cleavage.

To say that women stopped wearing hats out of disobedience is to miss - and make mistaken causality - of the huge cultural changes that happened at the same time as Vatican II.


Naval Officer Stu,
If the LtCol tells me to wear a mantilla, I will. I am not in your chain of command. If he tells me he'd prefer it, I'll wrinkle my nose at him and get one, and wear it if he doesn't laugh when I try it on.

Abortion is always a sin; the Church is very clear about that. It isn't the same. I notice that the women who posted gave reasons why they do or don't cover their heads. Most of the "pro-covering" men gave reasons why we ought to be ordered to do so. As you admitted, Jimmy and Ed know a lot more about this than you or I. If I hear BXVI tell us not to leave our heads uncovered, I'll do it. If he begins to suggest that it would be a good idea, like he is now doing with the Tridentine Mass, I'll consider it more strongly.

on judgment day (if you still believe in such a silly old idea):

Lord, yes, i helped turn your house of worship into a rock concert venue, no, i didn't object when the priest consecrated those chocolate chip hosts, and yes, i only pretended to speak in tongues so i wouldn't feel left out, and no, i didn't try to convert my protestant/hindu/jewish/islamic/buddhist friends because everyone's saved right?

well, i was only following orders... my bishop... yeah.. and like, the priests in my diocese always said that you were a cool dude, Jesus, and you'd forgive everything and you love everybody just for being themselves...

hell? there's not really a hell, is there? but sister bernadette said that that was an outdated notion back when we thought that protestants were heretics...

come on... there has to be someone else to blame... just give me a few more minutes to ... *poof*

(now imagine how much worse it will be for this poor soul's bishop, diocesan priests, and, of course, sister bernadette!)

Mary Kay

To those who insist on the custom of law, please take that up with Jimmy or Ed Peters. I'm going by current canon law.

As for the questions about going to Mass naked - I don't answer stupid questions.

Since this thread has devolved into the same comments ping-ponged back and forth, I'm outta here.


Mary Kay,

A lot of those "cultural changes" that occurred in the 1960's (particularly in the U.S.) revolved around a spirit of rebellion and the exaltation of rebelling against authority (as if it were a virtue). Are you saying that it was necessary for the Catholic Church to adopt the attitudes of the "hippie" movement? Since when do we allow popular culture to dictate Catholic practice? Especially when it is contrary to the Church's nature (contrast the spirit of submission we ought to have in the Church with the spirit of rebellion of the 1960's)... This is not a pop-culture "church" like you find in the "evangelical" world a la Joel Osteen, replete with WWJD bracelets, "Christian Gangsta Rap," and the whole rest of the circus. Yes, the Church has devolved into this in some places, but I contend that it ought not be this way. If this is indeed the Church that Christ founded and the Apostles nurtured, then there should not be such a jarring break with tradition at any point in its history. Legitimate change is organic and takes place over centuries--or out of necessity. It seems to me that certain authorities in the hierarchy of the Church "joined" the hippie movement and adapted their rebellion and its "anything goes" culture to the parishes and dioceses under their oversight.

Vatican II did not condone any of this, but for the language of compromise that it adopted and for all of the aberrant views that were aired in the media around the Council, which did not actually make it into the declarations promulgated from the Council itself, the hippies saw it as "we've won; our voice has been heard." Plus, it eroded the Pope's authority. The show was now run by the bishops, who saw it as a validation of their desire for greater autonomy from Rome. This is really where V2 comes in. V2 is not the problem. V2 was a symbol for a lot of people who wanted more radical change that change was indeed possible.

I think it's proper that when our bishops and priests disobey clear directives from Rome that we call them on it. Make it known that you will not financially support the diocese. Give your money to charities that do not contradict the teaching of the Church and the authority of the Vicar of Christ. If there is an orthodox parish within driving distance, go there and support it, and let your former parish (and the diocese) know why you left. Organize a mass exodus of like-minded parishioners to an Eastern Rite parish. Write letters, buy ad space in the local newspaper urging the bishop to orthodoxy. Unless we deal with the real problem (the bishops), we'll never get anywhere.

Jeffrey Stuart


“Stu” will do. I don’t wear my title on my sleeve. The fact that I am in the military was offered to show my perspective only. Those who wear the cloth will perhaps understand. I don’t claim that you are in my chain of command nor do I desire it. I haven’t indicated that you are required to do anything and how you treat your husband and what he orders you to do is between you and him.

I am not trying to equate abortion to chapel veils and such. So if I wasn’t clear then I apologize. My point, once again, is that stating that men shouldn’t have an opinion on this issue because it doesn’t affect them is an argument that is used by those who support abortion. Either way I find that particular argument to be hollow.

Vivat Iesus,

Tom Johnson

I keep reading advice that says we should take matters up with Jimmy Akins. Why should we take matters up with another lay Catholic? I will look to the Church, thank you very much. JA appears to be a fairly smart guy, yet he is simply another lay Catholic, let us not make idols out of people.

Mary Kay

Tom, I didn't say any of those things. Please don't put words in my mouth.



A rare view of the pre-Vatican II interior of the church. Note the women with their heads covered, and the altar so arranged that the celebrant and congregation face in the same direction. The communion rail is now the front edge of the choir loft. Folding chairs were in use until Fr. Kenny purchased the pews.

This is part of the caption from the picture I linked to above. Notice what they are using to cover their heads? Thank you.

Tom Johnson

Mary Kay,

I am confused, sincerely. What did I claim you said that has offended you?



But what if the General has issued a standing order, and even though He has issued a new order, He never revoked the existing standing order?

I think this is more of a submission to Jesus issue than a submission to one's husband issue. If the order was in effect when the 1917 Code was promulgated, and it has not been rescinded in the 1983 Code, it would seem to me to still have the force of law. Just because everyone else is disobedient isn't a valid excuse to be disobedient as well.

I'm not suggesting that priests (or, unfortunately in our place and time, more likely a not-so-extraordinary minister of Holy Communion) withhold the Sacrament from women with heads uncovered. But I do think that our pastors and hierarchs do us a great disservice by not properly informing the faithful on this and other practical matters, such as holding hands during the Lord's Prayer or inserting the "Stewardship Prayer" into the Mass or even the presence of 6 or 7 EMHCs to assist a priest in distributing the Sacrament to a gathering of only 100 or so faithful. Perhaps part of the reason is a desire to impose their own views on the faithful. It's a shame when those views are contrary to established faith and practice, however.

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