Friday, February 11, 2011

Something Is Going On: More on #Catholic Women and Head Coverings

The topic of women adopting the tradition of a head covering while attending church is always a controversial one. It was a long-held tradition in the Catholic Church until Vatican II. Then, with all of the changes, the custom of women wearing a veil to Mass was suddenly tossed out the window.

My last post directed you to Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blog, where he is taking a poll from both men and women regarding this tradition and if it should be a obligatory or voluntarily practiced.

Here is what I find fascinating: women all across the United States are being drawn to return to this tradition -- without any direction whatsoever from men.

That's huge.

In fact, some women who have returned to a head covering (whether it is wearing a hat or a lacy veil), have been confronted not by men, but by older women who think this custom is "throwing women back" 40 years, and dismantling all the victories of feminism. I find it fascinating that younger women are adopting this custom in spite of others trying to dissuade them.

I think this issue has a deeper implication than first meets the eye.

First, as American women, we live in the most liberating time in our history. It is culturally frowned upon for men to try to control women by either telling them how they should act or think. Feminism did indeed play a role in this. I only point it out to prove that the atmosphere now existing in churches across our country is much more free and yes -- liberal, than ever before. Many churches have ordained women as pastors and bishops. Many churches are sensitive to the needs of women and women's issues.

Secondly, men have looked at women as equal partners more so than not. Family decisions are weighed carefully and men have become more open to communication with their wives. (Chalk that up to all the Marriage Encounters that have flourished; saving many marriages from divorce.) In other words, very few men would tell their wife that she needs to put on a head covering for church.

So we have something mysterious going on. Something that hasn't been orchestrated by a central figure (Like the Pope.). Something akin to the Tea Party movement. Groups of women all across the nation are feeling pulled toward wearing a head covering to church and it has come about as a result of their own private prayer life.

Now if that isn't amazing, I don't know what is.

What does it mean? I am not saying I know the mind of God or His plan, but I will say I am someone who notices patterns. When you have younger women asking their mother if they can wear a veil to Mass (even though their mother does not), something in the spiritual world is afoot. When you have that same mother allow her daughters to do so, and then eventually joining them (so it didn't look like she "forced" them to do it) and then, being asked to leave the parish by a priest who didn't appreciate it, something in the spiritual world is afoot.

When you have women who tell a similar story -- how their spiritual life was expanded with a richer understanding of the relationship God has with His Church; something most definitely is happening and I am getting chills just typing that.

Just this past week, I met with my friend, Tara. (Hi, Tara!) The topic of head coverings came up. Tara attends the Traditional Latin Mass at my parish and also wears a veil. We talked about how our friends and family may not understand why we do it and how at times, we do feel like we stick out like a sore thumb, especially if we veil during a Novus Ordo Mass. (And especially if it's a parish that has a fondness for folk Masses.) We both agreed we weren't doing it for any other reason than reverencing the Lord.

I shared with her that the one ministry I was more involved with, and more consistently than any other ministry, was intercession. Intercession is basically praying for other people's needs and praying for the church as a whole. And all the intercession groups were predominantly comprised of women.

So how can a "culture of death" be turned around? How can families be restored? How can sexual purity and chastity be brought back into the Church? There are many ways this can happen but I guarantee you that women praying will be a part of it. And now, I am suspecting that women are being called, both individually and in small groups in their parishes in two's and three's, to drop the pebble in the water (which we know will have far-reaching effects) by doing something as simple and completely radical as wearing something on their head.

Some may think I'm making too much of it. Maybe. But all I know is that it only took one young woman to make the decision to submit to God and trust Him completely. She ended up bringing the Messiah into the world and crushed the head of the serpent who sought to destroy her and her offspring. One woman changed the history of the world. One woman endured the doubts of others around her and persevered. One woman, who today has inspired millions to follow her Son and yes, is a heavy-duty intercessor for the Church.

Is not our Blessed Mother the one who continually calls the Church into reverencing her Son in so many ways? Is she not the one who lovingly reminds us of chastity and modesty? Does she not call us to "do whatever Jesus says to do?"

I think something is going on with women in the Church. I do believe that God is calling all women to a deeper interior life, whether they wear a head covering or not. But I cannot help but think that a return by so many to this custom -- apart from anyone preaching it to them or telling them they "should" do it, has purpose.

What exactly that purpose is, may never be fully revealed here on earth. But I trust in God that all things work together for good, including this seemingly odd development of women suddenly wanting to wear a veil at Mass after it's been mostly absent for over forty years.

Meanwhile, here are some links on the topic. If you have time, read some of the comments. Those at The Catholic Knight's blog are especially interesting.

National Catholic Reporter: Chapel Veils? You've Got To Be Kidding (The story about the woman being asked to leave her parish because she and her daughters veiled is in the comment section. Look for the comment titled "I am so proud of you for." She was responding to the comment above that had a younger 18-year old woman say, "To the author's implication that veiling is submission to male dominance: I completely agree. It is humilty and respect for the greatest man of all time, Jesus Christ." Wow! Well done, young lady!)

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