Are veils coming back?

Are veils coming back? December 21, 2011

When  I was growing up, my mother kept a small white circle of lace in a plastic bag in her pocketbook, in case she needed to pop into church for one reason or another.  And in the 1960s, it wasn’t uncommon  for a woman to improvise a veil with a bobby pin and a Kleenex.  But those days are long gone.

Or are they?

One young woman makes her case for the return of the veil:

Why do it in the first place? I have heard many good opinions on the subject, and as long as their goal is to draw themselves closer to Christ, then more power to you! I veil at mass because it matters to me that I am in the presence of God. Veiling is a reminder that this place is holy and should be treated accordingly. It is still widely unacceptable for men to keep their hats on in church; and why? It is a sign of respect for them to remove them. While it is not mandatory for women to wear a head covering in church, if we believe Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist why not go this extra step in showing reverence? It is still a tradition for women to wear a black Mantilla when greeting the Holy Father, and talk about adding dignity to the whole occasion!

External forms of dress do orientate our minds to the focus of the event. Whether it is your team colors on game day, or the costumes on Halloween. Veiling sets apart the Mass, as sometime out of the ordinary, like the bride on her wedding day.

Read the rest.

"I think I would have been happier had the CDF handled the nuns the way ..."

Vatican challenges “interpretation” of cardinal’s remarks ..."
"Blaming "Islamics" for this is like blaming the Pope for the Holocaust Denial of Hutton ..."

One killed, 44 injured in Catholic ..."
"It smacks to me of hyper-sensitivity, a veiled spiritual and intellectual pride, with regards to ..."

Pope Francis: “A Christian who complains, ..."
"Oh, no, we never change our mind, and we always agree, even on points of ..."

Vatican challenges “interpretation” of cardinal’s remarks ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment

84 responses to “Are veils coming back?”

  1. It _could_ be a sign of _some person_ to show reverence that way, if they think of it in that way. It is not, however, universal. And indeed, it can be seen as something irreverent, for it can posit a Gnostic sensibility, one which denies the holiness possible in the flesh.

  2. I don’t remember my mom wearing the mantillas; she did wear the coolest fashionista hats, though. The veils sort of got popular in our neck of the woods in the early ’60’s just before we didn’t have to wear head coverings anymore. I regret to say that I had a day-glo Barbie-pink lace mantilla as a middle schooler. I have a pretty one, black with a silver thread, in my dresser drawer. I think it’s going to stay there. People can do what they want to, but I don’t see how it is less respectful to God if we don’t wear veils. I dress up for church and try to look decent, however I’m starting to get a bit allergic to all the retro, turn-back-the-clock stuff.

  3. To go further: as pointed out, it is not mandatory. There are reasons for this. Among them is that sometimes reverence is cultural and what one person does for reverence another person can think of as irreverent. Think of the differences between the East and West and you can see where this kind of argument leads. Sometimes people do have to accept we are no longer living in the past.

  4. They are not coming back where I live in Michigan.

    There was even a variety of opinion on Father Z’s site when he had something about this earlier in the year, so I do not see widespread support.

  5. Hi Henry,
    You are correct that, to *some* degree, anyway, gestures of reverence are culturally defined. (Though certainly, one cannot entirely relativize such physical gestures. Such would imply a complete eschewing of metaphysical biology and our animal rationality.)

    It is also true that we are not living the past. This is true by definition.

    However, as to point 1: if cultural gestures help define reverence, then cultural norms help define reverence. One would have to make the case that our current culture is so heterogeneous that the veil is not seen as a common cultural marker of reverence. I’m not sure that case could be made. That is, one would have to give evidence of much culturally defined *offense* at the wide-spread use (or even a single case of its use) of the veil.

    As to point 2: one would have to make the case that the cultural norms of the past were radically different than the norms of the present (that is, if they are not so heterogeneous after all). Precisely because current iconoclastic tomes are what they are, it is apparent that that which is considered reverent has not so much changed as it has been rejected.

  6. I am just wondering if anyone knows why a hair covering for women is a sign of reverance for God? I never really understood where that idea came from and it just doesn’t make sense to me. Does St. Paul say something about women’s hair being a temptation? I seem to remember reading that. I have to confess to being one of those Kleenex wearing girls back in the late 60’s when I forgot to bring my veil to Mass – and I wasn’t the only one. It still makes me smile to remember that. Not very reverant when you look back on it but it was done with the most sincerest of intentions!

  7. Before this thread gets too long, and people think I’m responding to something said above, let me just say, veils are perfectly fine, it’s what people SAY about veils that usually ends up being nonsense. A little blog post I did over 5 years ago,, hardly more than pointing out what the law said (or better, didn’t say) about veils, sparked a deluge of commentary on various sites, (much of it suggesting that my post was heralding the end of the West or at least the return of Arianism), and still regularly places among the top ten pages visited on my site. So, Dcn. GK, you’re a brave man to have raised the matter again!

  8. I’m not saying this means women must wear hats or veils. I’m only answering the question about where it came from.

  9. One of my favorite parts of our Catholic faith is how it leads us to Christ not only through our spirit, but also through all of our physical senses. How often have you smelled incense and have been brought back to memories of a church of your childhood? The beautiful stained glass in our old church buildings were to teach the illiterate about the history of our faith. Although I can read, these have lead me, as well, to a deeper knowledge of the Lord. Our Holy Mass and other faith practices include all sorts of physical gestures. These were designed to build reverence towards our Lord, who is present in the tabernacle in a very different way than how he is present when I pray while riding a bus. I always have seen women’s veils in church as a sign that we are not just in some other place praying. It means the same thing as a man taking his hat off in church. I don’t wear a veil, but I see it as a beautiful and reverent practice. I don’t see it as a coincidence that when the veils started to disappear, so did a lot of other outward signs of reverence, such as genuflecting properly and refraining from chatting in the sanctuary. The loss of these outward signs has lead to a loss of reverence in our hearts.

    This all reminds me of a psychological study I read. People were told to smile for a period of time, and afterwards they actually felt happier. When they were told to frown, they actually felt less happy. What we physically do affects our minds and hearts. I don’t understand the criticism towards women who choose to engage in this practice.

  10. I am seeing a lot of newer to the faith moms *wanting* to wear them. Not because they ahve to, but because, for some reason, we feel drawn to.

    Many of us are scared to wear them, actually, and are trying to work though that fear. We don’t want to seem more pious, it’s a personal thing between us and God. We don’t want people to think they have to, or turn and stare.

    We discuss it a lot, actually. And we really want to.

  11. From reading St. Paul it is not so much about covering our head as it is about covering our hair. I don’t see the relevance to our culture and time.

  12. Here we go again! Externals applauded to the point of making judgements against those who don’t follow the old trend made new. In my parish there’s a rise in ONLY the ultra-conservative, home-schooling families who need to show everyone else how holy they are. These are the same people who lack charity and sit in judgement of others less tradtional than themselves. They’re also the ones who think ONLY real nuns wear veils. Are chapel veils a sign? Sure are! They draw attention to the individual…not to God. They show who is more externally religious, and I believe the Lord is more concerned with the heart than the garment on the head. Let’s not encourage an individualistic show of piety, but a living of the law of God’s love from the heart. Those that are successful in the latter have no need to display their holiness by some cotton on the head.

  13. I’ve got to admit I laugh when I see a woman in a veil–and it’s a problem. Those women get negatively judged by a lot of us. Sadly, we judge them to be judgemental and narrow minded. Kind of ironic.
    If a woman is wearing a veil out of faith and love, who am I to think that it looks pietisitic or arian–or that she is a modern day pharisee? The new phariseeism might be saying: people musn’t wear veils, must hold hands during the Our Father, and must not use missalettes.
    We need to leave each other alone over minor details.

  14. Although I think you are a bit harsh on the conservatives, I tend to agree it is they and some new Catholics who like wearing the chapel veils. I don’t want to wear them and I hope they will NOT be mandated. Other than that, to each his own.

  15. If you want to veil and are hesitant, you can try veiling at home for prayer or to read the bible. Does it improve your prayer life in private? Then it probably will in Mass, too.

    I’m GenX and I’ve been veiling in church fer several years. It improves my prayer life. If folks make assumptions about me because of it, I’ll charitably hope they grow into a greater freedom from the burden of unnecessary opinions. But really, no one has ever made a big deal about it except in the Catholic blogosphere.

  16. Justamouse, may I humbly suggest a look at an old post of mine? It’s here:

    My suggestion there is simple: skip the lovely lace veil or even the stylish, head-turning hat, and tie a simple peasant-style scarf in a dull color over one’s hair. That way when people see you, they won’t think, “Oh, look how holy she is!” but “Oh, she must be having a bad hair day.” In that way you can have the joy both of pleasing our Lord by a voluntary act of head-covering AND of not making a pious act just for show, in case that’s a worry.

    Now, I’ve yet to pass the test myself, so I don’t cover my head in church. Given that I sing in the choir, a long and gorgeous yet pious lace veil would probably end up caught in the hymnbooks or snagging on the chair in front of me anyway. 🙂

  17. If a woman wants to cover her head in church—why not? If she doesn’t, not a problem. Someone above mentioned that men removed their hats in church, in Temple Jewish men wear either a hat or a yarmulke. Depending on how conservative the Temple is, Jewish women cover or don’t. (I think I’m right about that). My son (not Jewish) attended a friend’s barmitzvah and he was handed a yarmulke to wear before he entered the Temple.

  18. I wonder…how many of us laugh, snicker or even feel sorry, when a woman wears a mantilla (veil) in Church, would do the same of a Muslin woman, who chooses to wear a headscarf (at least in the US — other countries, norms are different)?

  19. But many of us see the headcovering as something personal, and people who think like you, are keeping us from wearing them, when we feel like we, personally, should.

    It has nothing to do with anyone out there, it has to do with a personal submission between us and God. And, I think they only draw attention because you’re sitting there looking and thinking that we must think we’re all so pious–and it’s got nothing to do with you.

  20. justamouse,
    I think that’s a very important thought, and one that perhaps links this thread with some others that we’ve seen on this blog in recent weeks. Perhaps, pace the ‘All are welcome’ thesis, the focus on community can be overstated. That Mass, while a ‘communal’ event, is first and foremost a deeply personal, nay autonomous, undertaking between an individual and the Lord. After all, I can only examine my own conscience; I can only say the creed for myself; I can only confess my own sins; I can only go up to communion for myself. Perhaps we can emphasize the social aspects of Mass to the detriment of personal holiness…and even of personal salvation.

    Perhaps the best state of affairs would be not only a return of the veil, but more importantly, the general phenomenon of not knowing, precisely because we are not paying attention to anything other than our own spiritual affairs, who is, and who isn’t, wearing a veil during Mass. 🙂

  21. “If a woman wants to cover her head in church—why not? If she doesn’t, not a problem. ” I agree with that, it’s a free country. Also with Rick that we need to leave each other alone over minor details.

  22. Or the reverse… how many snicker at Muslim women, but then suggest the best thing is for a Christian woman to be veiled and if they are not, something is wrong with their piety?

  23. On a typical Saturday/Sunday cycle of masses in my parish, there are slightly over one thousand folks that come to three masses. I have seen — at the most — one woman per mass wear any kind of head covering in the two English Language “Novus Ordo” Masses. There maybe six or so in the one Spanish Language Masses. We do not have any “EF masses” in our town anywhere so I cannot report on a observation in that environment.

    Big deal ? Not really.

  24. I wouldn’t laugh or snicker at someone that chose to wear the mantilla to mass, I do however object to those that do chose to do so trying to force their personal act of piety on others. Respect for the choice needs to go both ways and respect those that do and those that do not chose to wear the mantilla.

  25. The Easter picture of JFK and Jackie with the kids, and her veil comes to mind – So stylish and beautiful. Also, a little controversial being married to the first Catholic president. I long for things to be like they were in the 50’s and 60’s before the hippies took over. Veils are lovely, if they’re worn for the right reason, which I would think is having humility before the Lord.

  26. In my experience veils are uncommon at Novus Ordo Masses and quite common at Traditional Masses. As a 29 year old, I am encouraged to see this pious custom becoming more widespread.

    I have never seen a younger practicing Catholic denigrate the wearing of veils. It almost always comes from those between the ages of 50 and 70 who were supportive of the revolt against veiling (and many other traditional Catholic customs) during the cultural/sexual revolution of the 60’s.

  27. Lord, this is getting so tiresome! We have the same thing going on in the priesthood over cassocks, and over wearing amices with albs. A year or so ago I watched an elderly brother priest make a complete idiot of himself by cursing a very fine young priest who was minding his own business and vesting for one of our concelebrated diocesan Mass-O-Ramas. The old man went berserk when he spotted the young priest vesting with an amice before vesting in his alb. He hollered and cursed about what all the priests of his generation had gone through to make it so no one ever had to wear a cassock or an amice ever again. One of the most obnoxious things about the 60s generation (aside from their insistence on doing everything loudly, but in the name of “justice” or “tolerance” or some other hypocritical crap) is their insistence that they were the saviors of the Church. But, what they claim to have saved they seem also to despise. For once, I wish they’d just shut their yaps and mind their own business.

    Yes, I’m going to confession tomorrow. I really am.

  28. Whatever floats your boat. I go to a big urban parish so I see veils on a daily basis so I’m used to it. They don’t really stand out… it’s kind of hard to stand out here in San Francisco though. There is one lady that wears a veil that gives me hard looks and refuses to acknowledge me during the sign on peace. I don’t know why… maybe she not a fan of my body piercings or something. It’s odd because she sees me all the time at daily Mass. It has kind if backfired on her though because now I go out of my way to say with a big smile “Peace be with you!” 🙂

  29. I agree with John M’s observation. In fact, I’ve never seen or heard opposition or concern one way or the other to veiling from anyone other than people of the 60s generation.

  30. Many years ago, a Catholic priest/biblical scholar explained it to me this way.

    This letter was written to the Church at Corinth. If you check your maps — particularly historical ones — you will find that Greece has two majors chunks of land divided by a thin isthmus. Now, cargo was shipped eastward from Rome by water to Corinth, then sent overland to Cenchreae, then reshipped by water eastward to Constantinople. Corinth (and Cenchreae) were then major port cities and were “wide-open” towns. Many of the folks that Saint Paul recruited into his Christian Community in those two places were folks you expected to find in a seaport like that: prostitutes, pimps, stevedores, beggars, petty-thieves, — what later folks indelicately called “port-scum.”

    The customs at that time were that: (1) Married women kept their hair veiled but not their faces; (2) Unmarried women veiled not only their hair but also their faces; (3) The only time a woman would not be wearing EITHER a hair veil or a face veil is if she were a prostitute.

    What my priest-scholar explained, then, was that Saint Paul is essentially saying is this: “Ladies, PLEASE do not advertise in Church!”

    Makes sense to me.

  31. Fr. Frank:
    I am of the 60’s generation. My high school class celebrated their 50th anniversary reunion in September. I attended a major Catholic University right smack in the middle of Vatican II and was taking Theology courses for electives because, in that era, theology students were forced to think “out-side of the box” — which is what university education is all about anyway. Rather than studying Aquinas, we were studying Suenens; rather than listening to a lecture on Aristotle’s Natural Law by some incredibly boring professor whose Eastern European accent was unintelligible, I was studying under a pre-eminent Jewish scholar sent to our place on a faculty-exchange from a major university of that ancient tradition.

    Thus I can straddle both the “pre-Vatican” generations and the “post-Vatican” ones and that has some advantages. You see, a lot of folks — including priests who should know better — have an incredible misunderstanding of just how personally important Vatican II was for anyone who lived through that era. The Council presented a church that was surprisingly alive in a very fundamental way. Most of us youngsters at that time thought the church of their childhood was just that — the church of their childhood. Now that we have become adults (as St. Paul suggests), we put aside the trappings of their childhood and moved out into the wider world filled with a fresh confidence and zeal. The fact that most of us also were “Kennedy Kids” added to our very positive, very-upbeat, vision of the world around us.

    It was the late 60’s/early 70’s that destroyed that fundamental optimism: five major assassinations; an unpopular war; Woodstock; Presidents and Vice-Presidents who were crooks; Kent State. The fundamental optimism of my generation of Catholic college students was destroyed by the sins of a much later generation.

    Let me add another dimension here. It was only much later — after 2002 — that we realized that it was during the early 70’s that priestly seminaries lost their moorings. That story is still being unraveled but the vast majority of the Catholic Priests that have been identified by public sources as being abusers of children came from seminary formation programs of the early 70’s — not the early 60’s.

    If you want a sensible explanation of women wearing veils — go back in this blog stream to an earlier posting I did. This “casting aside of the things of my childhood” also hels explain the veil scene as well.

  32. The defensive nature of those who are promoting the veils is rather telling. They are not being told not to wear them, but they are being told others don’t have to wear them and it is not a sign of extra piety to wear them. It seems some are protesting too much because pride has been wounded. If putting on the veil becomes a matter of pride, perhaps you should humbly cast it off. Now, if not putting it on is a matter of pride, perhaps they should put it on for sometime.

  33. Yes, naked nuns are a shady bunch. 🙂

    Seriously, though, the habit is the habitual dress of community members, and almost all started life as simply a plain and humble version of contemporary dress, suited to the community’s ministry. Nuns proper, who are cloistered, generally wear more traditional habits (and if they don’t, you won’t see them anyway, so no problem). Sisters working in the world should suit their modest attire to their jobs.

  34. I have a lot of good memories from those days, but please be realistic about the problems that also existed back then.

  35. People who are 50 to 70 now would have been newborn to 20 years old in 1961, and 8 to 28 in 1969. Seems like some of them would have been kind of young to change the world. Probably not too many of them at Vatican II either.

  36. Will:
    “Probably not too many of them at Vatican II either.”

    Practically all of the bishops at Vatican II were over 40, which means that they were brought up at the end of the nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth century. So, how would you explain their openness to change, as indicated in the overwhelming votes in favor of the sixteen documents?

    I would say that (for the most part):
    1) They listened to each other and to “signs of the times.”
    2) They dialogued and gained appreciation of Church that transcends time, place, and nationality and personal preferences.
    3) They were open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

    How much we have lost!

  37. If somebody’s traditional enough to wear a veil, she’s probably also traditional enough to want the Sign of Peace put back to its traditional place at the offertory, when it was engaged in only by the priests and deacons and such. Or she may just be no fan of handshakes as the “local custom”. Smiles and nods are probably the best thing.

    Of course, it could also be argued that body piercings aren’t part of formal dress suitable for church. I guarantee that if you sat anywhere near my mom, you would hear her comments about it, because her hearing’s a bit bad and she only thinks she’s talking in a low tone of voice. On the bright side, you wouldn’t have to wonder what her problem was… or what parts of your personality she liked, or what person you dated whom she thought was wonderful, or which articles of clothing you own that she thinks one of her kids should buy something like, or….

  38. The point is that, from the earliest days of the Internet and before, there has been a strong traditional (and traditionalist) presence. Some of these people have constantly celebrated “veils” and “mantillas”; some honestly believe that it is commanded by God; but some of the most talkative are the ones who say extremely creepy fetish things about veils and skirts, or who honestly believe that all their fellow women who don’t wear this stuff are wicked, sex-crazed temptresses.

    I’m barely old enough to remember a time when most Catholic women wore attractive hats or nice kerchief-sized scarves to church. There was never a time in this neck of the woods, except maybe for a very brief Kennedy fashion season, when most Catholic women in Southern Ohio wore lace things on their heads. There’s just wasn’t enough Italian or Hispanic presence for that. So while I totally understand wearing a hat or a scarf (small, not some engulfing thing) as proper church dress, my ethnic instinct is that there’s more cuteness than piety to be seen in lace headgear.

    But purposefully wearing ugly clothes to church is an insult to Christ Our Lord, unless you’re engaging in mortification approved by your spiritual director. (And that doesn’t mean some guru you’ve picked up on the Internet.) Also, I’m pretty sure my mother wouldn’t let you out of the house, as she wouldn’t want people thinking that her Catholic girl was raised by wolves and didn’t know how to dress up in public.

  39. 1. But just because I see head lace as cutesy, that doesn’t mean you need to be hobbled by my perceptions. Ain’t gonna wear one, that’s all.

    2. I will wear a netted snood, however, as they are one of the most universally attractive and useful forms of headgear, which is why they have survived from antiquity. And if anyone wants to buy me a really expensive netted snood, the Italian renaissance kind with jewels and metallic wire would be appreciated. 🙂

  40. 3. And I do wear hats to church fairly often, although you have to be picky about what will fit, look nice, and stay on your head.

  41. 4. Oh, and my mom says she wouldn’t let you out of the house to go to church dressed in purposefully ugly scarves, because you would look slovenly, like you just climbed out of bed. (Insert implications of having been out drunk last night, possibly engaging in immoral sexual conduct.)

    Whatever you wear to church (including on your head), just make it clean, formal, and attractive. Then don’t agonize and be self-conscious. Being self-conscious is what draws attention to us; paying attention to Mass blends in.

  42. Well, but Maureen, a dull-colored (e.g., not garish) scarf that suits the attire (if you’re wearing gray or black, perhaps) ought to be okay. 🙂

    And wouldn’t it be a pious mortification for a young woman to show up with the dull scarf looking like she’d just climbed out of bed with all the implications you mention? In that way, she could glory in being thought a sinner and thus embracing in solidarity those of her sisters in the faith who were living such lives, offering her act of solidarity as an oblation for their salvation; she wouldn’t have to worry about being mistaken for a holy person; and her head covering could serve as a secret sign of humility.

    Okay, I’m kidding. Sort of. 🙂

  43. It was only much later — after 2002 — that we realized that it was during the early 70′s that priestly seminaries lost their moorings. That story is still being unraveled but the vast majority of the Catholic Priests that have been identified by public sources as being abusers of children came from seminary formation programs of the early 70′s — not the early 60′s.

    Actually, not. The John Jay Study showed that the vast majority of priests identified as abusers were educated in the 40s and 50s.

    What I remember about seminaries in the 70s is that they were yawningly, frighteningly, empty. You can argue all you want about the significance and direction of changes in the seminaries in the early 70s — but it’s a real stretch to imagine that it affected priests much since so few of them were anywhere near seminaries in that era.

    I have a convenient shorthand for what the second John Jay study says about the “typical” case they found:

    A priest, educated in the 40s-50s, who abused a 6th-8th grade boy in the 70s, and the boy was a 2nd-half-of-the-baby-boomer born between 1955 and 1965.

    No, that summary certainly does not cover ALL of the cases — girls were abused, toddlers were abused, high-schoolers were abused, priests ordained in the 1910s abused minors — but a disproportionate number of the cases that John Jay studied fell into that rough scenario.

  44. I do not quite understand your point. I do not disagree with you. I was responding to a statement that seems to “blame” people who are currently 50 to 70 for some supposed revolt against veiling in the 1960s. I am not aware there was any revolt against veiling in the 1960s. Women were no longer required to wear head coverings and, perhaps because hats were out of favor, most stopped.

  45. “but a disproportionate number of the cases that John Jay studied fell into that rough scenario.”
    Could that be because those were the right age cohorts to have been fully revealed at the time of the study or did they control for that?

  46. Perhaps if people were part of actual communities, they wouldn’t concern themselves with the impressions they were giving. Veils, like a lot of things today, are about signaling in the marketing sense. Lacking a true community identity – even community has been hijacked as a marketing term – people obsess over other things in order to signal to their extant and artificial communities.

    Traditionalism was never about choice. Traditionalism eschewed choice. In as much as people ground their traditionalism in choice, they are simply deluding themselves. It is really no different than Renaissance aficionados getting together on weekends: they aren’t experiencing the Renaissance; they are play acting. Renaissance aficionados and traditionalists are generally harmless and should be left alone. However the rest of us don’t have to play act with them.

  47. Actually they did control for that, and it is probably the most striking claim of the report. When comparing reports over 2003-2010 period to reports in 2002 and before (something like 85% of the reports made in the “2002 and before” timeframe were made in 2001 and 2002) they did NOT see that the reports were made about priests and victims born later and abuse that happened later. The reports in later years are STILL disproportionately of abuse that happened in the 70’s, with victims who were born between ’55 and ’65, who were in 6th-8th grade when they were abused, and the reported perps are still disproportionately priests educated in the 40s and 50s.

    The one factor that the John Jay report fudges is the demographic questions. The 1955-65 birth cohort is disproportionately large (the largest number of babies born in the US was 1963, a record that stood for several decades.) Also, seminaries were bulging in the 40s and 50s, with large classes of ordinands year after year. The John Jay researchers gloss over whether the abuse patterns that they saw were really disproportionate in relation to the relative sizes of birth cohorts of victims and ordination cohorts of perps.

    The argument that I was responding to, however, is the idea that the priests abused children because they were educated in seminaries that had gone seriously off the rails in the early 70s. The abuser priests who were interviewed and asked why they abused frequently blamed the inadequacies of the 40s and 50s seminaries. They said that these were places where virtually all emotional expressions were repressed, where anyone slightly interested in music or liturgy, basically anyone who showed more emotional depth than Blutto in Animal House, was suspected of homosexuality.

    In the 80s the bishops first started facing up to the problem of sexual abuse by priests. Not coincidentally, the dioceses where the bishop, the vicars, the seminary rector were excellent pastors, the seminary was one of the first place they went to try to fix things. They added explicit spiritual direction aimed at forming priests who were prepared to live out lifetimes of chaste celibacy, even in the face of loneliness, isolation, transfers from parish to parish, etc.

    So when all of the enforcers of the 40s and 50s era emotional sterility of seminaries started screaming that the seminaries were being taken over by a bunch of librul hippy touchy feely faggots — let’s just say I’m not willing to give them much quarter.

    The John Jay authors make the claim that the 80s seminary reforms were at least partly a cause for why claimed abuse fell sharply after 1980. Basically their argument was that the psychosexual integration programs in the seminaries trickled down to the older priests, and those that were abusing children confronted the fact that what they were doing was harmful, and so they stopped. I’m not sure I’m buying that argument, but it’s not implausible, either.

  48. Gnostic sensibility?
    Maybe you should read Scripture where St. Paul, definitely not a Gnostic, recommends women cover their hair.
    (I believe Orthodox Jewish women have a custom of covering their natural hair too.)
    Alice von Hildebrand has a more logical and beautiful explanation than yours. In discussing the sacredness of womanhood, she points out that the Church traditionally veils what is sacred (such as the chalice).

  49. Will,

    My statement was simply expressing my experience. I am fully aware of when the Council took place and the ages of its participants, etc.

    As a tradition minded young Catholic whose wife veils, I am telling you that the response from similarly aged young Catholics is either indifferent or friendly. The only Catholics (again, in my experience) who mock or deride veiling are those (roughly) between the ages of 50 and 70.

  50. Will stated that “[he was] not aware there was any revolt against veiling in the 1960s.”

    Of course, I was not alive at the time, but I’ve read from multiple sources that veil burnings did occur in the more liberal parts of the U.S. in the late 60’s. Others probably have more specifics on the abandonment of this practice and the role the feminist agenda played in it.

  51. @Eric so, you denounce perceived judgmentalism with your own judgmentalism?
    Interesting tactic! Not very Catholic though.

  52. What do you mean by “force?” Are women holding other women down and placing veils on them? Or do you regard it as “force” when others make arguments why they think a veil should be worn? If the arguments are not good, it is a simple matter of refuting them.

  53. Let’s not kid around. Piercings had an aura of a non-conformist not long ago. Even earings were once a sign of a prostitute.

  54. MZ:

    That reminds me of a friend of mine who teaches at a seminary. He looks at some of this phenomenon — most notably, seminarians and their affection for cassocks, lace and barettas — and shakes his head. “You know what they remind me of?,” he says. “Civil War reenacters. They weren’t there, but want to feel like they were.”

    Dcn. G.

  55. I can’t help but see in your comment that the Vatican II generation is a bit narcissistic. The whole thing about maturing and putting away childish things reeks of arrogance as if Catholics of the previous ages were simpletons who studied Aquinas with boring teachers rather until the gnostic sages got to study under non-Catholic philosophier and apparently liberated the Church from her darkness.
    I find the V II generation often embraced the world and tried not to evangelize it, but to convert the Church into a humanistic club where doctrine doesn’t matter anymore.

  56. Does he say the same thing about African Americans who wear Dashiki shirts?
    Those seminarians don’t want to re-enact. They want to reappropriate part of their Catholic heritage. Birettas and cassocks were never abrogated and, in fact, continue to be worn in countries that do not have hang-ups of American culture as your professor friend so ably demonstrates.

  57. John M.
    “I’ve read from multiple sources that veil burnings did occur in the more liberal parts of the U.S.”

    I am interested in your multiple sources. Having lived during that era and having been involved in Church structure and issues at that time, I must admit that I never saw or heard of any veil burnings by Catholic women espousing a feminist agenda. (Now, I do recall feminists, not identified by their religious affiliation, who burned a particular item of women’s underwear.)

  58. HMS…

    I think the commenter must have been kidding.

    Some of the more progressive elements of the Church can be silly, but that borders on satire.

    Dcn. G.

  59. She gives the sign of peace to others… just not me. I’m sure the issue is that I don’t happen to ‘look the part’ because of my appearance. I dress extremely modestly, but I’m sure she probably thinks I don’t dress feminine enough and has an issue with my piercings. I don’t really think about that stuff because after 15 years I don’t think about it much. You would think she might cut me a break being that she sees me regularly at daily Mass though.

    To be honest the people I know that go to daily Mass are the kindest and most accepting people I know. It’s funny… the older folks at daily Mass tend to be way more accepting than the folks in the young adults group.

  60. Around here piercings aren’t ‘non-conformist’, going to Mass is. Jesus hung out with prostitutes… so do I.

  61. Wow !
    What an incredible blog-stream!
    Let me see if I covered all the bases: (1) Mantillas could be substituted by a kleenex (very true!); (2) A prominent deacon being called “narcissistic” (say what?!); (3) Body piercings are the equivalent of veils for this new generation (or did I get that one wrong); (4) The John Jay report can explain everything (only wish that it did !); (5) Cassock wearing seminarians are really “re-enactors” (WOW! never thought of that!); (6) A Bible study on 1 Corinthians 11:5-6, 13-16 (which wasn’t very studious); (7) Comments — both pro-and-con — about “listening to a lecture on Aristotle’s Natural Law by some incredibly boring professor whose Eastern European accent was unintelligible” (must be some kind of local phenomena); and — no doubt the best of the lot (8) “naked nuns are a shady bunch.”

    Deacon Greg — you do an amazing ministry!

  62. There are protests of many things but that does not mean they represent widespread support. What bothers me the most is the stereotyping of people of certain generations.

  63. I think you misunderstood one, Fiergenholt — it’s that naked nuns need to stay in the shade. (Gotta worry about skin cancer, you know…)

  64. Notice I said “had.” Although in the minds of many they still do in the mainstream USA. I hope you can at least see beyond your own little world to admit that.
    As to Jesus, He had no piercings, except by Roman force, but you do by your own choice. So, don’t make an external a comparison with Jesus as if that alone makes you admirable.
    But, I applaud you if you hang out with prostitutes to try to get those prostitutes out of that objectively evil lifestyle. That was the Son of God’s reason for doing so.

  65. People are different and everyone has pet peeves. Some people jar us by the way they dress and some by the way they act. Why is it so important to get their acceptance? And what do we want to be accepted for?
    The main thing is to cooperate with God who wants to make us acceptible to Himself by His grace.

  66. I’ll try to see beyond my “own little world” as you put it. I have to say you caught me by surprise with… “So, don’t make an external a comparison with Jesus as if that alone makes you admirable.” Seriously? What are you reading because that has nothing to do with what I was writing. I’m really not even debating the piercings thing here because it’s a non-issue to me, but I’m thinking that may be part of why the lady in the veil won’t acknowledge me during the sign of peace. My point was… just because one isn’t in the “mainstream USA” and doesn’t fit into the mold… is it okay to treat them as an outcast and not extend the sign of peace? (that’s a rhetorical question)

    You appear to make a lot of assumptions. I don’t hang out with prostitutes “to try to get those prostitutes out of that objectively evil lifestyle.” I do it to show them love and to treat them with the human dignity they should be treated with. I’ve actually worked with sex workers for years. Did you know that the average age a sex worker begins prostituting in the U.S. is the age of 12? Now does that seem like a “lifestyle” they are choosing? It’s more about slavery, abuse, and survival sex. It’s a complex issue. So my intent in hanging out with them is to show them love… to extend a sign of peace.

  67. I think it’s important for people to make others feel welcome in the community because as a community we help each other on our journey to “cooperate with God who wants to make us acceptable to Himself by His grace.”

  68. freddy:
    So…if a woman “veils” for Mass, then, if she were to choose to wear a hat, would we say that she “hats”?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.