The Priest and the Veil

I get emails and phone calls from all sorts of people all over the world asking questions and making comments and observations. Some are trivial; some intense. Usually I give a short reply and can’t say much else.

One came in the other day in which a woman said that her priest was discouraging her from wearing her veil to Mass. What did I think?

I know what Mantilla the Hon would say…I’m thinking fireworks in Spanish…

To me this is crazy. Why would a priest have any objection to a woman wearing a veil to Mass? What business is it of his? The simple rule is this, “No bishop or priest has the right to forbid what the universal church allows nor mandate what the universal church forbids.”

If the woman wants to wear a veil, she can wear a veil. What get me is that I suspect the priest who doesn’t like the veil is really objecting to the woman’s take on her Catholic faith. Maybe he thinks she is a weird traddy or a dangerous conservative or whatever.

I wonder if he makes any objection to the gals who slouch into Mass chewing gum, wearing flip flops, a spaghetti strap halter top and hot pants?

Somehow I doubt it.

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03792937108732259684 priest’s wife

    I personally find it strange when a man comments about a woman's way of dressing (except a positive "you look nice today")- and of course you are correct in that a priest cannot forbid what the Church allows.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07932665331766567610 jedesto

    If it's "all about me", what difference is there between a woman wearing spaghetti straps and one wearing a veil? Except Muslim women, of course.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03271388607886738576 BHG

    I'm astounded at the reactions that a little bit of lace can engender. Most of the time when people comment on my veil–or scarf–, it is in a positive way. When I hear comments like "holier than thou" or "out of touch" I remember that when I make strong, incautious, pejorative comments about something or someone, it's nearly always because I am, at some level, fearful–what I am reacting to has almost always shown me something I don't like, not about the other, but about myself.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16749114991813821781 CassandraW

    First Corithians 11 speaks about women covering their heads. I'm not sure I completely understand this passage, but I err on covering my head. I do so because of this passage, as well as honoring my former Protestant tradition. Some cultures require head coverings at Mass and many Europeans ladies do so. Look at our Anglican sisters at the Royal Wedding last spring; most wore a hat of some kind. It's definitely not easy wearing a head covering at Mass; I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. But I want to worship God humbly and reverently, obeying His Word as best I can.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00707611566091137431 shadowlands

    "Maybe he thinks she is a weird traddy or a dangerous conservative or whatever."Maybe she is? I need more details!Does he approach her after Mass? Does she approach him? Does she start the "Hey Father, how'd ya like my mantilla" conversation, or does he yank it as she passes by and say "Oy missis! What's that on yer head?"Is she visibly and vocally campaigning for other women to wear it, in a way that might be construed as judgmental of those who don't wear one?Or is she simply, like quiet, shy little me (!!!???) beginning to want to honour God in new ways, such as diminishing certain egoistic(s)kull traits, by covering her hair?I don't mean to judge, but you have been rather biased in your assumptions here, about the priest in question.Or maybe you haven't given us the full low down. I would like more info tho as it's making me apprehensive about wearing mine, apart from to the February Guild bloggers Mass (should I be able to attend)at Father Finnigan's Church where one might not get in without one?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01469622835449220113 Dymphna

    She should tell her priest, in the politest, softest way possible to please keep his eyes and remarks to himself. And if she has a husband she should tell him to speak to Father. A man to man chat might nip this right in the bud.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15634235894433276073 Nan

    Cassandra, in the 3rd C. St. John Chrysostom wrote that we cover our heads during Mass due to the presence of the Angels.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15486929003703710345 Hero of Cantebury

    I have had people approach me about my church hats (I always cover my head at Mass but I choose hats). Personally I think my priest likes it but older ladies in the church think it's shameful because I'm hiding my 'pretty face' and 'pretty hair'. Sometimes I want to tell them THAT'S THE POINT but I opt for just ignoring them instead. :) It's the easier approach. How I pray is none of their business and how I dress is even less so unless I show up in an outfit that's better suited for a strip club.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07841201580346971909 johninara

    building on what Nan said…the reason we must cover our heads in the presence of the angels at Mass is because they are deeply aware of the significance of it. Men's heads are to be uncovered because they are the type, or representation, of Christ (the same reasoning applies to only men being ordained…and incidentally of our custom of men taking their hats OFF when at church, at the dinner table, etc.) Jesus came as a MAN & so for us to brazenly keep our heads uncovered is to, in a sense, deny the Incarnation, as well as the natural order God himself created…which is why it offends the angels so!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00707611566091137431 shadowlands

    johninara stated:"so for us to brazenly keep our heads uncovered is to, in a sense, deny the Incarnation, as well as the natural order God himself created."Is this Roman Catholic teaching now? That women with uncovered heads at Mass are guilty of denying the incarnation and God's natural order?A person reading this might be brought under mighty condemnation, therefore I would ask Fr D to clarify this issue, according to church teaching. I already know the answer, but as a lay person, my words would just appear as opinion, whereas Father's carry the weight of the church behind them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16749114991813821781 CassandraW

    I believe Vatican II released women from covering their heads during Mass; isn't that correct? I wear a head covering because I feel it's what I need to do, (I'm sorry; in my first post I meant to reference I Corinthians. Chapter 13, which refers to head coverings because of the angels and God's order of creation), but it may not be another woman's conviction to cover her head. Some people think the covering is a woman's hair. Some ladies won't wear sleeveless tops to Mass and some parishioners prefer to kneel when receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. I have no right to judge others on their dress or practices; that's the Holy Spirit's job–either through the Church or through His personal guidance.


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