Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Comments on: "On the hermeneutics of fittingness: head coverings for women"

Archived comments to the post: "On the hermeneutics of fittingness: head coverings for women" (Musings, April 8, 2006):

Still Binding? The Veiling of Women and Meatless Fridays:

Women, Veils, and the Mass: A Word from the Vatican in 1969


This is an important question. It's right on the knife-edge of the hermeneutical questions that are most significant--the ones that are tearing the Anglican Communion apart right at this moment.

Personally I hate hats. Don't look good in 'em, don't like the way they feel on my head--nuthin good about hats (or even mantillas).

But I'd be willing to wear one to Mass everyday if it meant we'd all read Romans 1 the way it was written.

My question is: is the rule about the wearing of hats more time-bound than the rules about homosexuality?

(BTW, I think the gloves look nice! But that's not in the Bible.)
Kathy | Homepage | 04.08.06 - 3:56 pm | #

Along with this question is: can men wear hats in church now? Thankfully, I still rarely see this.
As for the head covering for women, I tend to agree with the arguments of reverence and also an imitation of Our Lady.
Living in the South, I find it more important that women wear modest clothing, period. Many young women in the South tend to cross the limits of modesty nowadays.
CaesarMagnus | 04.08.06 - 7:29 pm | #

Well, okay CaesarMagnus, but none of those arguments strike me as theological. Except for the one about Our Lady--but I didn't know she wore hats especially.

I think we need to dig a little deeper here!
Kathy | Homepage | 04.08.06 - 8:57 pm | #

Just stating what I think. Please don't infer that I am stupid enough to think Our Lady wore hats.
I am just comparing the fact that the norms about head coverings for men (ie that they should not wear hats in church) are still generally followed, as compared to the change in discipline of head covering for women.
And I don't think this topic was started to get into a "is this or homosexuality" a bigger issue. That comparison is moot in this topic. Let's focus on head coverings. I think most people with a brain know that the issue of homosexuality is more improtant than this.
CaesarMagnus | 04.09.06 - 12:16 am | #

Sorry, I think I got us off on the wrong foot.

What I mean is that the problems at stake here seem to me to be much more important than social mores. Those change with the times.

What is at stake is how to read the Bible. (I Cor. 11)
Kathy | Homepage | 04.09.06 - 12:20 pm | #

My 2 cents:

My wife never used to wear a mantilla, but now she does. I suspect that this is partly a result of the fact that she knows it is expected of those who do know that the rule exists (our family Mass, every week, is the Missal of Pius V). She insisted on wearing SOMETHING at the one Tridentine Mass we went to years ago, long before I ever knew that there was such a rule.

Theologically speaking, though, I would guess that it's a matter of right-minded humility before God. Notice also that Father doesn't say Mass in his civilian clothes, but puts on a specific set of clothes deep with ritual meaning. Here's one more thought: where would Veronica have been without her veil?
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 04.09.06 - 4:29 pm | #


And the biblical reference to Veronica's veil is??
Realist former Convergent | 04.10.06 - 12:08 am | #


Even if Chris could produce a biblical reference, you (or Crossan) would assign it a stratum and an attestation category, and inform us of its dubious authenticity. What's the point?
Dave | 04.10.06 - 12:44 am | #


Can you and Crossan please run a database check on The Gospel of Judas? Let us know if we need to assign our Lord's betrayer a feast day. Thx.
Dave | 04.10.06 - 12:49 am | #

I have a theory (which you are free to precede with "half-baked") on why the requirement for women's hats was eliminated.

It's all an issue of fashion and of blurring the distinction between the sexes. (That's right ... SEX, not "gender.") When Kennedy was innaugurated, he didn't wear a hat. Similar to the way that undershirt sales plunged when Clark Gable was seen without an undershirt in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, American men by and large stopped wearing hats.

Since the early sixties in the general culture (many many decades before among the artistic elite) women have been trying to be men. Since men don't wear hats, women shouldn't wear hats or they can't be men. Ergo, wearing hats in church is both a sign of being dominated by our patriarchal and oppressive culture, and an indication that a woman isn't a man, and able to get in a few licks of oppressation of her own.

I am so embiggened by my thought that I'll even admit that it may even be a quarter-baked.
A. Nonymouse | 04.10.06 - 8:19 am | #

I would be happy if any priest would simply explain the importance of dressing up at all, versus re-introducing veils. Catholics in my experience are the absolute most lax in terms of dress at services and general demenaor in the sanctuary. Windbreakers far outnumber suitcoats, tennis shoes do dress shoes, etc.
Joe | 04.10.06 - 8:38 am | #

Wearing hats has gone out of style completely.

(Has anyone here tipped his bowler to a lady lately?)

So why should women wear a hat to church?
Kathy | Homepage | 04.10.06 - 11:58 am | #


The point about Veronica's veil is that there is no biblical reference so using the story to promote women covering their heads has no biblical foundation. Traditions being traditions change with time.

With respect to the Gospel of Judas:
(also posted on Jimmy Akin's blog)

As with all Gospels, the later it is written the more unreliable and the more it is embellished.

The Gospel of Judas does have some verifying facts though if you want to "Crossanize" it. First it verifies that Jesus was an actual person. Many still don't believe this but see Crossan's list of first and second century historic biblical documents. These plus the publications of Josephus (as noted by Crossan in his The Historical Jesus) , Jesus lived and was crucified. See Crossan1.rtf and Jos...sephus_on_Jesus

The Gospel of Judas would be placed in Crossan's FOURTH STRATUM [120-150 CE/AD] along with the Didache etc.

The attestations of the Crucifixion as per Crossan: Crossan2.rtf 5+. Crucifixion of Jesus1) 1 Cor 15:3b; (2a) Gos. Pet. 4:10-5:16,18-20; 6:22; (2b) Mark 15:22-38 = Matt 27:33-51a = Luke 23:32-46; (2c) John 19:17b-25a,28-36; (3) Barn. 7:3-5; (4a) 1 Clem. 16:3-4 (=Isaiah 53:1-12); (4b) 1 Clem. 16.15-16 (=Psalm 22:6-; (5a) Ign. Mag. 11; (5b) Ign. Trall. 9:1b; (5c) Ign. Smyrn. 1.2. 6. (the Gospel of Judas?????)

Crossan's analysis of the conduct of Judas was already rated as non-historic so the story as told in the Gospel of Judas would definitely be rated the same. Being a single attestation from the Fourth Statum would also result in the same rating. Crossan2.rtf
267-. Judas Promised Money: (1a) Mark 14:10-11 = Matt 26:14-16 = Luke 22:3-6, (1b) John 13:27a jdb267.html

269±. Jesus Arrested: (1a) Mark 14:43-50 = Matt 26:47-56 = Luke 22:47-53, (1b) John 18:1-12,20

380-. Suicide of Judas: (1) Matt 27:3-10, (2) Acts1:15-20a;

489-. Matthias Replaces Judas: (1) Acts
1:20b-26 jdb489.html

Apparently, Judas whoever he was sure "ticked" off someone in the early Church. Fictional "satanical" character? The analogy of Judah/Judas who sold his brother Joseph for 20-30 pieces of silver?

Some added Crossan commentary about Judas: exclusive.html

"As the Gospels continue from the year 70 to the year 95 there is a rather steady escalation of the culpability of Judas and an attempt more or less to explain it at least by saying, well, he wanted the money," says John Dominic Crossan, professor emeritus of religious studies at DePaul University and the author of WHO KILLED JESUS? "But that's the classic reason that is given whenever you're trying to describe someone who did something bad. We do not know the motivation of Judas."

As for the theory that Judas acted to force
Realist former Convergent | 04.10.06 - 12:29 pm | #

I agree with Kathy: "This is an important question. It's right on the knife-edge of the hermeneutical questions that are most significant"

The hermeneutics illustrated by this issue are indeed significant. The traditional hermeneutics seem pretty straightforward. St. Paul is clear about the matter: "For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head" (1 Cor 11:6).

The apostle deploys three arguments to support his command:

1) An argument from nature-"Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her?."

2) An argument from theology-"For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. Therefore the woman ought to have [a symbol of] authority on her head, because of the angels."

3) An argument from universal custom-"But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God."

I think one would find a unanimity of Fathers and Doctors upholding the abiding nature of this practice and the gender distinctions it symbolizes. And as Dr. Blosser indicates the Catholic Church's law and practice has been consistent with this apostolic tradition right up until the 1960s. This includes all of the apostolic communions separated from Rome (Eastern Orthodox, Armenians, etc.)

Add to this the general principle laid out by Pope Leo XIII: "[I]t is not the part of prudence to neglect that which antiquity in its long experience has approved and which is also taught by apostolic authority." (Leo XIII, Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae)

Pretty clear, traditionally.

So why did Catholic women doff their head coverings? What factor(s) got us from almost 2000 years of consistant practice to almost total non-compliance?

I can't help but agree with A. Nonymouse that this has much more to do with sexual revolution than new theological insights that render headcoverings irrelevant. I agree too with Chris G-V that there is a matter of humility involved.

"But that's just a time-bound custom" is the common counter-"argument".

Well perhaps, although that argument has an uphill battle. But even so, is it not more than a little strange that the anti-custom came about right at the time that gender distinctions were fiercely under attack in the culture at large? And if this particular expression of gender distinction is culturally conditioned, then why at the very least wasn't an equivalent custom put in its place?

My wife was similar to Chris G-V's. I never said a word to urge her to cover her head at Mass. She read, thought, then acted.
ThomistWannaBe | 04.10.06 - 6:11 pm | #

I always understood it to be an act of humility for a woman to cover her hair. (I'm just coming back to the Church, so bear with me!) I vaguely remember a Bible verse about a woman's hair being her "crowning glory." By covering your head in church, you humble yourself before God's Glory.
Anonymous | 04.10.06 - 6:20 pm | #

TWB, I think you've laid everything out very well. Let the parsing begin!

My first question is, what does St. Paul mean by the natural law argument? How does nature teach that men should have short hair and women long hair?
Kathy | Homepage | 04.10.06 - 6:28 pm | #


Unlike non-Christians, I can rely on the authenticity of Sacred Tradition. Therefore, since Tradition tells us about Veronica, I needn't argue it.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 04.10.06 - 9:01 pm | #

"(Has anyone here tipped his bowler to a lady lately?)"

I DO offer my seat to women on the train and bus, but even that simple act of gentlemanliness brings in its train a whole HOST of problems...

We have a general problem with codes of behavior and politeness. With codes of ACTION, in fact. What about how to dress in church, for heaven's sake? The question of women's hats and the way the sexes relate to one another is just part of the general collapse of civility and the loss of the sense of what human beings ARE and the fact that they have value.

My wife mentioned the other day that she was reading the English Romantics and all our troubles are there already. But what is REALLY scary, she said, was how MUCH FURTHER we have come along the road to losing any sense of reality, metaphysical, moral or social. We are deeply lost. Women wearing hats, men giving up seats, people kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, all these things are drops in any enormous bucket. But they can't hurt, they can't hurt.
Jeff | 04.10.06 - 9:11 pm | #

Jeff, I agree that there is a lot of empty living, and I for one would be honored to accept your seat if you offered it.
Kathy | Homepage | 04.10.06 - 9:44 pm | #

Still, on the subject of hats in particular: when the Church legislates something it is for a good reason.

We should have a good, theological reason for any Church law. Not just social or even "traditional," if what we mean by that is what Mary or Veronica used to wear.

(The disciples wore...)
Kathy | Homepage | 04.10.06 - 9:46 pm | #

On the meaning of life ... [Deleted for content irrelevant to the thread of commentary on this post. --ed.]
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 04.10.06 - 10:01 pm | #

Remarkable, Spirit. You really run the gamut.

Anything the Catholic Church stands for, you fight.

What's up with that?
Kathy | Homepage | 04.10.06 - 10:07 pm | #

Fr Joe sometimes reminds me of an older Hazel Motes. But then again he can still grind out some good stuff, like that essay about Newman or his new one:

How are we to look at things? this is the question which all persons of observation ask themselves, and answer each in his own way. They wish to think by rule; by something within them, which may harmonize and adjust what is without them. Such is the need felt by reflective minds. Now, let me ask, what is the real key, what is the Christian interpretation of this world? What is given us by revelation to estimate and measure this world by? The event of this season,—the Crucifixion of the Son of God.>/i>


Some credit where a little credit is due. We all wish he adopted the policy. Or the Magisterium...
A Reader | 04.10.06 - 10:20 pm | #

oh, wait a minute, i think the above was actually written by Cardinal Newman. :: blushes ::
A Reader | 04.10.06 - 10:23 pm | #

I really would like to understand this:

1) An argument from nature-"Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her?."
Kathy | Homepage | 04.10.06 - 10:32 pm | #


Really long hair on a man makes him look like a sissy.
ken | 04.10.06 - 11:47 pm | #

Gosh, being confused with the saintly Newman, master of English prose, must give me many reasons to blush.

The Catholic Church is not against Margaret Chamberlain as quoted above. That is a dire confusion.
Spirit of Vatican II | 04.11.06 - 6:04 am | #

See http://www.commonwealmagazine.or...? id_article=854 for light on the PVS question.
Spirit of Vatican II | 04.11.06 - 6:14 am | #

I'm sorry, I do not wish to allow "Spirit" to hijack the conversation in this comment box to his extraneous purposes. "Spirit," please desist.
Pertinacious Papist | Homepage | 04.11.06 - 7:47 am | #

Really long hair on a man makes him look like a sissy.

Not on Mel Gibson.

What is St. Paul talking about? I'm really interested to know. Any idea?
Kathy | Homepage | 04.11.06 - 8:34 am | #

Where does that quote from Paul come from? My understanding is that in the ancient world, Jewish men were expected to wear their hair long.
Dave | 04.11.06 - 9:14 am | #

1 Corinthians 11:14.

Ok ... that is a bit unsettling. I'm not sure about anyone else, but when I picture Jesus, I see him with long hair.
Dave | 04.11.06 - 9:51 am | #

Obviously, my last comment has no theological bearing. Unless we want to discuss the hermeneutics of fittingness regarding traditional representations of our Lord in painting and sculpture.
Dave | 04.11.06 - 9:54 am | #

Kathy et al,

See JD Crossan's In Search of Paul (pp. 112-114) for commentary of 1 Corinthians 3-16.


"Paul takes for granted that both women and men pray and prophesy in liturgical assembly. That is not the problem of this text. Its problem concerns the proper head covering for each of them in that situation. But why was that such an important issue? At Corinth, presumably as a defiant challenge to the inequality and a dramatic statement of equality, men and women had reversed modes of head covering in prayer, so that men worshipped with covered heads and women with uncovered heads. In other words, Paul was confronted with a negation not just of gender hierarchy, but of gender difference, and he stutters almost incoherently in trying to argue against it. Of course, women and men were equal "in the Lord" and "from God", but there should be no denial of ordinary dress codes or standard head coverings. The difference between women and men, however that was customarilly and socially signified, must be maintained, even while hierarchy or subordination was negated. The passage in 1 Corinthians 3-16 is the best Paul can do on that subject. But the text is emphatically not about hierarchial inequality, but about differential equality. Paul presumes equality between women and men in the assembly, but absolutely demands that they follow the socially accepted dress codes of their time and place. Differnce yes. Hierarchy, no. That interpretation of a very difficult passage is strongly confirmed by the next section for, if women are silenced in the assembly, who can they be prominent in the apostolate??"

After reading Crossan' book, it appears Paul had to walk and talk a fine line to appease the Gentiles if he wanted their spiritual and economic support.

And in a sense, the problem of inequality between women and men continues to be the myth of creation as written in Genesis. It is now obvious that women and men fell from the forest trees of Africa as a team at the same time. It is therefore time to put Genesis on the myth pile where it belongs.
Realist former Convergent | 04.11.06 - 11:08 am | #

RfP, could you come up with a quote from an authority I might acknowledge? Crossan isn't going to convince me of anything.
Kathy | Homepage | 04.11.06 - 11:38 am | #

Plenty of women wear veils and hats at our parish. Mostly for the tridentine mass but also the novus ordo in Latin. No big deal.
Marc | 04.11.06 - 1:34 pm | #

**But the text is emphatically not about hierarchial inequality, but about differential equality. Paul presumes equality between women and men in the assembly, but absolutely demands that they follow the socially accepted dress codes of their time and place. Differnce yes. Hierarchy, no.**

I'm sorry, but this is just stupid. Just a short ways on in the very same letter St. Paul writes: "The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church." (1 Cor 14:34-35).

What's Crossan going to do, dismiss 1 Cor 14 as a later interpolation just so he can maintain his "thesis"?

**And in a sense, the problem of inequality between women and men continues to be the myth of creation as written in Genesis.**

Indeed, it always comes down to this. The sacred text must be rejected so that modern myths can be affirmed. I'm with Kathy--enough of Crossan.

Kathy asked about St. Paul's argument from nature, "Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her?"

I'll take a swag at this; perhaps somebody else can do better. I really think it's pretty fair to say that womens' thicker, more luxurious hair has in many (most?, all?) cultures been taken as a special sign of feminine beauty. Whereas its rather polar opposite, male pattern baldness, has been seen as a thing of at least a certain amount of shame. I think it's St. Paul's weakest argument, but there is some there there.

But let's not lose sight of the fact that this argument from nature is only one of several that St. Paul deploys. He also argues from theology and universal custom. And the universal custom might be easy to dismiss if its observance had remained in the first few centuries, but it spans almost twenty centuries until falling apart in the twentieth.
ThomistWannaBe | 04.11.06 - 1:39 pm | #


Colin B. Donovan, STL, offers this quite traditional Vatican II reading of the passage at the EWTN website: " ... let's look at what subordination is. It means to be ordered (directed in an orderly way) toward a particular goal or end, sub (under) some other person's direction. A worker is subordinate to his supervisor, the supervisor to his manager, the manager to the owner, all in order that the company run smoothly to achieve its purpose. As persons, as citizens, as Christians, and in many other categories of existence, worker and supervisor are equals, but in working toward the goal of making the company's product they are not."

Then he says "Consider the examples St. Paul gives as to why women should be covered," and quotes 1 Cor. 11:3, and 8-12, and continues:

"In Christian marriage the husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is head of the Church. This is also St. Paul's message in Eph. 5:21-33, in which he enunciates the supernatural meaning of Christian marriage as a sacramental sign of Christ's union with the Church. St. Paul then goes on in Corinthians to recall the creation of man and woman, pointing out that woman was taken from man, not vice versa. As Pope John Paul II so clearly taught in his catechesis on Genesis, marriage is not only a Christian sacrament, it is a natural sacrament of the Communion of Persons within the Trinity. What this tells us is that the equality of persons within a communion does not destroy the hierarchical order of the nature in which it exists. In the divine nature the Father is the head, in the Church it is Christ, and in marriage it is the husband. Indeed, in the Christian order the natural order is perfected, since love becomes, or should become, the motive force of all relations. No doubt this is why St. Paul, in his Ephesians discourse on marriage, begins it by saying, "defer to one another out of reverence for Christ." (Eph 5:21)."

He says a good deal more, considering canon 1262 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law specifrically abrogated - a debatable point, discusses whether in 1 Cor. 11:3-16 there is any moral obligation for women to cover their heads, and concludes that there is not, due to what he judges to be the lost cultural significance of the symbolism of head coverings, etc., though he has no objection to individuals wearing coverings as a matter of personal piety. Like I suggested, fairly predictable.
Pertinacious Papist | Homepage | 04.11.06 - 1:44 pm | #


So remain subject to the "Thomaswannabees" of the world and be silent. He and those like him relish selecting music for the Masses/masses, speaking for God, always being paid more and being members at Augusta. Crossan addresses all the Paulian issues in his book to include 1 Corinthians 14: 35-34. You will have to read the book (p.119) to see why you can now shout with joy whenever and wherever you please.
Realist former Convergent | 04.11.06 - 2:18 pm | #

I agree with Kathy, (and most Catholics, I presume) that the Church should have a good moral or theological reason for any law/rule. I also think, though, that looking to [t]radition, through what the Blessed Virgin Mary wore, is not entirely without merit. When we consider her attire, we should think "why"? Why did she cover her head? The answer to this is probably very similar to the MORAL/theological reason for the canon law, which (in my limited understanding) has to do with giving visible proof of one's acceptance of the proper order of women in relation to man, and in relation to God. I guess my point is that "imitation of Mary" is not necessarily a less worthy reason to wear a veil before the Eucharist than if one understands all the theological implications of it (which, in my opinion, are hard for us cultural Americans to grasp). Mary understands the theological implications perfectly, and so is a worthy model.

That being said, I wear a veil before the Eucharist. For alot of reasons, humility and an attempt at imitating Mary being two of them. I'm trying to understand St. Paul's reasons (1 Cor. 11), and the quote provided by PP was very helpful!

Also, a thought about St. Paul's words, "Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her?" Considering that at the time women wore their hair REALLY long, saying "long like a woman's hair" meant probably something close to waist length. I don't think that men's chin- or shoulder-length hair was considered "long", and it isn't, compared with waist-long hair. (Maybe they didn't have the tools to cut it close to the scalp, but not shaved?) Now, picture a man with thick, flowing, waist-long hair. Doesn't it seem pretty feminine?
Megan Z | 04.11.06 - 3:48 pm | #

Great thought, Megan, regarding Paul's teaching against long hair for men. I can continue without scruple to think of Jesus with shoulder-length hair. Not that it really matters theologically, of course, yet ours is an incarnational faith, and the fittingness of images is not unimportant.

It is interesting, that as Catholics we are so quickly drawn to tradition (Veronica) and images (Mary's head covering, Jesus' moderately long hair) in sorting out these issues. Not a bad thing.
Dave | 04.11.06 - 4:36 pm | #

I guess what confuses me about the natural law argument is that natural law seems usually to apply to those, how shall I say, body parts that take and keep a certain form. Hair is not like that. I was thinking that maybe St. Paul was indicating something about hair in reference to another part of the body or something.

I don't think that one can take a supra-cultural stance that long hair "looks feminine."

In any case, there are two more arguments, the strongest being (I think) 2) An argument from theology-"For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. Therefore the woman ought to have [a symbol of] authority on her head, because of the angels."

That's probably saying something very mystical that I don't understand.

Guess I'd better just take up golf.
Kathy | Homepage | 04.11.06 - 4:54 pm | #

I think it was Alice von Hildebrand who said (I'll paraphrase): ask what she was wearing. If the seer proclaims that she was in a tasteful polyester leisure suit, listen no further, for you know it is not an authentic aparition.

If I may be forgive for turning the question about head coverings around for a minute, what is the rush to do away with the practice of women covering their heads in Church. I put it to the assembled masses here that EVEN IF WE DON'T KNOW WHY it started, we should be extremely cautious about abolishing it. The burden of proof should be on those who wish the change.

We should not have to have teenagers wrapped around telephone poles in drunken stupors to know that rules against drinking and driving should remain in force.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 04.11.06 - 5:00 pm | #

Chris, Jackie didn't wear a pretty little hat only to Church. She wore a pretty little hat everywhere she went that was dressy. Every woman wore a hat when she dressed up.

So did men. Church pews used to be built with a little hanger-deal for men's hats to hang on till it was time to go outside again and put their hats back on.

People don't wear hats to dress up anymore. I haven't seen a hat box since I was a little girl--except in the house of an elderly lady I knew.

Hats are no longer in fashion. "Abolishing" women's hats in church doesn't have to mean any more than that.
Kathy | Homepage | 04.11.06 - 6:08 pm | #

(I meant Jackie O., of course.)
Kathy | Homepage | 04.11.06 - 6:09 pm | #

"Jackie didn't wear a pretty little hat only to Church. She wore a pretty little hat everywhere she went that was dressy. Every woman wore a hat when she dressed up....Hats are no longer in fashion. 'Abolishing' women's hats in church doesn't have to mean any more than that."

The problem with this argument is that women started taking off their headcoverings at the very time when Jackie O was continuing to make it very fashionable to wear hats.

The National Organization of Women knew that the head covering wasn't just style, but a symbol of gender distinction. That's why NOW agitated in the 60s for Catholic women to take them off. I don't think most women did it for that reason; I think they just got caught up in "Times in the RCC they are a'changin" mode. But they were violating the Church's law, not to mention the Apostle's command, in doing so. And fashion just doesn't enter into his argument.
ThomistWannaBe | 04.11.06 - 7:52 pm | #


As much as I dislike the pro-abortion stand of NOW, your comment about them being anti-head covering needs a reference to complete your commentary.
Realist former Convergent | 04.11.06 - 8:15 pm | #

I realize that lots o' things were changing in the 60s.

One of them was climate control.

It became possible to go from A to B without a parasol or straw hat, without a bowler or scarf. All in comfort.

Not that this is necessarily the only reason, but it's a real change that occurred about that time. In any case, TWB, I would appreciate it if you would at least address the question of WHY MEN STOPPED WEARING HATS.
Kathy | Homepage | 04.11.06 - 8:22 pm | #

"Read carefully the following quotes from the NOW Handbook. It has some very interesting information that you truly need to know and seriously ponder. We read under A. Religion Resolutions, 'Because the wearing of a head covering by women at religious services is a symbol of subjection with many churches, NOW recommends that all chapters undertake an effort to have all women participate in a “national unveiling” by sending their head coverings to the task force chairman. At the Spring meeting of the task force of women and religion, these veils will be publicly burned to protest the second class status of women in all churches. (Dec., 196.'" ("Why the Veil?",

I agree with you, RfC, that this quotation warrants tracking down and verifying. But it really wouldn't be out of character for NOW, would it?
ThomistWannaBe | 04.11.06 - 8:28 pm | #

Link doesn't work. That's nineteen sixty eight for a date and there's an eight on the end of the Web address.
ThomistWannaBe | 04.11.06 - 8:29 pm | #


Danke Schoen!! veil.html
Realist former Convergent | 04.11.06 - 11:19 pm | #

Um, TWB, I don't mind arguing with you. In fact I think it's fun, and you help me to think through things.

But please, don't make me argue with the Fatima Family Apostolate. Anything but that.
Kathy | Homepage | 04.12.06 - 8:45 am | #


"But please, don't make me argue with the Fatima Family Apostolate. Anything but that."

I am not familiar with this Apostolate. Is there a problem?
Realist former Convergent | 04.12.06 - 9:52 am | #

Ummm ... let's not go there.

Google it, RfC. Controversy abounds.
Dave | 04.12.06 - 9:59 am | #

I'm not really hip to these movements or anything. I don't know about any problems.

But I just have better experiences arguing with people live and in person, rather than when they have the force of a group's opinion behind them.
Kathy | Homepage | 04.12.06 - 10:31 am | #

** But please, don't make me argue with the Fatima Family Apostolate. Anything but that. **

LOL! No Kathy, I won't. I have no idea what they are or what they stand for (besides Fatima in some way, obviously.) I just found the article there--and it's a pretty good one.

"In any case, TWB, I would appreciate it if you would at least address the question of WHY MEN STOPPED WEARING HATS."

I would say that it was creeping utilitarianism. The trend of modernity in general has been away from formality, toward that which is comfortable and common. If you see photos from one hundred years ago you'll often see men digging ditches and shoveling out the barn with jackets and sometimes ties on. My father wore coat and tie to work. When I started in the work force I wore shirt and tie, but no jacket. Now the policy is "business casual" and folks are lobbying for more and more "jeans days". Of course the trend in church has been the same, the downward spiral from one's "Sunday best" to jeans and a t-shirt.

It is a topic all unto itself, but there are philosophical and theological implications to how we dress as individuals and in society. Clothes matter......and so do head coverings.

Now, a question for you. Let's say I conceded, for the sake, of argument, that head coverings are a purely cultural expression of gender distinction and could, in another culture, be replaced by something else. So suppose society in general no longer saw a head covering at Mass as a fitting symbol for gender distinction and female humility. But these remain a fixed part of the Christian revelation. So wouldn't the Catholic Church have been obligated to replace this symbol with something else, if it truly didn't meet modern needs? (Please note I don't really concede that--the NOW seemed to know perfectly well what female head coverings mean.) Is it prudent, right at the height of modern rejection of gender distinctions, that the most obvious physical symbol of this at divine worship is simply dropped, with nothing put in its place?
ThomistWannaBe | 04.12.06 - 11:50 am | #

"2) An argument from theology--'For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. Therefore the woman ought to have [a symbol of] authority on her head, because of the angels.'"

I don't pretend to know the answer to this question, but thought I would just throw out some of my own ruminations. As I recall, "because of the angels" has often (traditionally?) been interpreted as a reference to shame or embarrassment experienced by our angels on account of Eve's role in original sin and women behaving in ways that go counter to their dignity. (I'm probably botching that, but hopefully I'm at least somewhere in the ballpark in summarising that interpretation.) I don't believe the Church has ever officially endorsed such an interpretation, even if it's been quite popular.

I'm not sure why our angels would be more embarrassed by uncovered women's heads than by men behaving in ways that go counter to their dignity. Anyway, St. Paul's reference to the creation of man and woman, and the natural roles of man and woman that derive from the way in which (and the purposes for which) we were created, might indicate that St. Paul wants us to think about how our natural, God-given roles must be reflected in the liturgy. Adam was made first, and Eve was made from Adam, indicating mutual interdependence and mutual servanthood -- the husband providing for and protecting the wife, the wife assisting and cooperating with the husband in the creation and maintaining of the microcosm of the family.

But with the original sin, Adam failed his wife, and Eve failed her husband -- neither did for their spouse what God intended them to do. Where was Adam when Eve was being tempted? After she was deceived, why did Adam, who knew better, just accept the forbidden fruit from her?

As I said, the common interpretation of "because of the angels" has been that the angels experience shame on account of woman's role in bringing original sin upon the human race. I suppose that's possible, even if, as I said, I'm not sure why the angels would be more ashamed of woman's role in the original sin than man's role.

Dissatisfied with that approach, I've toyed with an alternative and very speculative interpretation of "because of the angels." In the Old Testament, there are several occasions when God has spoken or appeared to individuals as "the Angel of the LORD." Some early Christian writers interpreted "Angel of the LORD" not as a literal angel, but as a theophany. Thus, the physical manifestation (often a human form, but we also have examples of the burning bush or the pillars of fire and cloud) through which God appears and speaks is an "angel" or "messenger," not in the sense of a created spirit being separate from God,
Jordan Potter | 04.12.06 - 12:44 pm | #

not in the sense of a created spirit being separate from God, but in the sense of a means or medium by which God delivers a message to His servants.

Now, usually "the Angel of the LORD" appeared to men, but there are several occasions when "the Angel of the LORD" appeared to women alone -- Ishmael's mother Hagar, the mother of Samson, etc. Could it be that St. Paul was referring to such occasions, and thereby concluding that women in liturgical settings, that is, in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, should cover their heads out of humility on account of the great honor bestowed on them when God appeared and spoke to women individually and directly?

I don't know if that bit of speculation is any more helpful than more traditional interpretations, and even if it is helpful in any way, it still needs to be developed or "unpacked." It still seems to be subject to the same apparent weakness as the traditional interpretation -- that is, why should women have to cover their heads on account of those theophanies, but men must keep their heads uncovered even though men also have experiences theophanies?

About the only answer to that apparent weakness that I can think of is to point to St. Paul's reference to a woman's hair being her glory. Since a woman's beauty can be distracting, especially in a liturgical setting when all attention should be on God and not ourselves or each other, it is necessary for women to cover their heads out of humility and respect, to show that she is willing to "decrease" so that God may "increase," for her sake and for the sake of those around her who also desire to worship the Lord. But perhaps a man's covering his head during liturgy would signify something entirely different -- not humility, but an attempt to hide from God, as so many men have done through the ages in response to God's presence or God's call, starting with Father Adam.

Like I said, I'm just speculating, thinking out loud. I don't know the answer, and I don't know if any of this will help us find the answer.
Jordan Potter | 04.12.06 - 12:50 pm | #

Hey, it is simple. Men stopped wearing hats because they messed up there $25 haircuts. Ditto for women and their $75 cuts, shampoos, perms and whatever else they have done to their hair.
Realist former Convergent | 04.12.06 - 2:55 pm | #

You're right about that, RfC. Vanity does seem to have a lot to do with it.
Jordan Potter | 04.12.06 - 4:05 pm | #


From Fr. Cornelius Lapide's commentary I found that the prevailing historical interpretation of this passage is that the angels are guardians of the churches and so they are offended when there is anything done that lacks propriety. And so women worshipping with heads uncovered, which would tend to imply a certain rejection of the created order, ought not to be done "on account of the angels." (The angels must weep at the immodesty and irreverence in your average Catholic parish today, eh?) This ties in somewhat to the interpretation you outlined concerning the angels and original sin.

As for your second, more speculative option, it parallels an interpretation advanced first by Dr. Morna Hooker (professor emerita of Cambridge) in the journal New Testament Studies back in the 70s, I think (I can get the full reference at home if anybody is interested) in which she theorizes that the woman having "authority" on her head [the Greek text says just "authority", not "symbol/sign of authority" as many translations have it] means **her** new found authority under the New Covenent to pray and worship in the same assembly as men. As you probably remember, men and women were wholely separated in Jewish worship. I think Hooker's is an interesting interpretation, but it doesn't have a Catholic pedigree at all.
ThomistWannaBe | 04.12.06 - 7:17 pm | #

Well, I have worn a veil on the few occasions when I have attended the Tridentine Mass- and it detracted from my ability to concentrate on the liturgy. You see, my veil kept sliding off my head periodically. This was despite the fact that the thing was anchored by more than six bobby pins.
Apparently veils aren't made for women with very fine hair....
Donna Marie Lewis | Homepage | 04.12.06 - 10:57 pm | #

Might have to try staples next time.
Jordan Potter | 04.12.06 - 11:10 pm | #


Staples would not do it either. You offended your guardian angel somehow. Pray after me, "Angel of God my guardian dear.......". Do they even teach that prayer in Catholic schools anymore?
Realist former Convergent | 04.12.06 - 11:26 pm | #


My wife wears a beret when, as is the case now, we have a small baby that will tend to haul her mantilla off during Mass. And don't mind RfC. He's just grumpy because his "historical Jesus" can't even save himself, let alone anybody else.
ThomistWannaBe | 04.13.06 - 8:57 am | #

Our one-year-old also likes to yank on mom's mantilla.
Jordan Potter | 04.13.06 - 10:14 am | #

heheh I see that ours is not the only family in which babies and mantillas collide! I ended up getting a large mantilla that I tie under my hair at the back of my neck. The lady that had trouble with pins b/c of her fine hair (I never did have much luck with them, either, even before children) might try something like that if she wishes to give the head covering another go. For this, one doesn't even need a "mantilla", per se. Just a fairly generously sized triangular cloth/scarf.
Megan Z | 04.13.06 - 11:12 am | #


The historical Jesus showed a great way of life. We save ourselves. And there are other great ways for leading a good life besides the teachings of Jesus and his embellishers or are you condemning Hindus, Moslems and Buddhists to Hell?

And don't go on and on about the baptism of desire/blood. That is just Vatican "speak" to keep us the "one and only" Church/religion.
Realist | 04.13.06 - 3:09 pm | #

** We save ourselves. **

I confess that my propensity to sin is such that I am not capable of this. I need a Savior.

I say this with no malice whatever--it truly saddens me that you have abandoned any semblance of Christian belief, let alone the Catholic Faith. Let all here note well the corrosive effects of the books and authors that Realist touts.
ThomistWannaBe | 04.13.06 - 4:31 pm | #

A holy Triduum and joyous Easter to you all!
ThomistWannaBe | 04.13.06 - 6:14 pm | #


You seem like a good-natured person and I wish you well. I am sorry that you seem to have abandoned the Christian faith. Please at least have the intellectual integrity to admit what you are doing.
Dave | 04.13.06 - 6:18 pm | #

And please desist from any further references to "our" Church.

I make no judgment concerning the present or future state of your soul, but you have no business advising Catholics on issues of liturgical reform. You have no stake in the discussion.
Dave | 04.13.06 - 6:24 pm | #


Perhaps it is worth quoting from this evening's collect? To wit:

O GOd, from Whom Judas received the punishment of his crime, and the thief the reward of his confession, grant us the effect of Thy clemency, that, as Jesus Christ, our Lord, in His passion dealt according to their deserts with the one and the other, so, putting away from us the error of the past, He may bestow upon us the grace of His resurrection. Qui tecum vivit ... Amen.

It is not Dave, or ThomistWannaBe or anyone else on this earth who condemns any Buddhist or Hindu or non-Catholic Christian. It is God Who allows us to choose to love Him or not, to do His will or not, and therefore, WE CONDEMN OURSELVES if we have the chutzpah to remove ourselves from God's Church or, knowing her to be so, refuse to enter into her number. The rest is in God's hands.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 04.13.06 - 8:56 pm | #

In one of the other comment boxes, Chris writes (to Realist):
'I take seriously your claim that you loathe the lies told by the authorities of our Church. Would you care to name, say, 5 or ten of your favorite lies?'

I'm afraid that the answer to that question is now painfully obvious: we need look no further than the Apostle's Creed.
Dave | 04.13.06 - 9:10 pm | #

I checked the fatimafamily web reference.
Personally I find it perfectly fine if all those who wish should indeed express their reverence to the Lord with a veil.
It seems however not clear to me at all how spotting something tastefully descibed the following way:
"Beautiful black or white veils made of Rebecca lace and bordered with Venice lace may be ordered.." expresses amoung other things most certainly also a bit of the latest catholic fashion trend.
I also find it telling that rather attractive young women are depicted in the pictures here and at fatimafamily.
Both pictures certainly do not convey the desired prime intention particularly well IMHO.

I find it otherwise amusing how the catholic right continues to get bogged down in trivial outward expressions of faith.
grega | 04.19.06 - 11:12 am | #


No one on this blog qualifies as the "Catholic Right" -- we're all well meaning liberals.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 04.19.06 - 4:31 pm | #

Look, part of the reason why veils make sense to me is this: when was the last time you heard a woman compliment another woman on her hair, or read a magazine about hair, or buy hair products? Most women (including my fiancee) are culturally-conditioned to be obsessed by their hair, and this cultural aspect seems to be universal (i.e. in every society and time). The hair is an extreme sensual thing. As a man I can testify to that. Covering the hair seems to be one of the most sensible things as an act of humility before God. If men were as concerned with their own beards as women have ever been with their hair, then I would not be surprised had Paul enjoined that men wear face-masks during prayer. Women's hair is a lovely thing and I am happy that they style it so beautifully. However, this just makes it more fitting that they cover it beautifully in mass.
George | 04.21.06 - 5:41 pm | #

George, that's a very sensible suggestion. Come to think of it, I can't tell you how many times I've caught my mind wandering at Mass to "Gee, I wonder if my hair would look that sleek if I had it cut straight across like hers," or "that's a nice ponytail" or "I wonder if that's a perm, and if so, how it's done."

It's very hard for me as a woman not to be considering hairstyles, and in a vain way.

I hear in what you're saying a reasonable explanation of what it means to say that a woman's hair is her glory, and why it should be covered.
Kathy | Homepage | 04.21.06 - 6:28 pm | #

So I was out shopping with my girlfriends for mantillas, and they thought I looked better in the gold color one, but I wanted a black one so I could look like Jackie O. So I bought both of them.

(Vanity goes back and back.)
Kathy | Homepage | 05.01.06 - 10:02 pm | #

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