Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Evening Reflections on the Headcovering

Today was another gorgeous summer's day - brilliant blue skies filled with soft cotton-candy clouds. I attended Mass at my "other" parish, which is to say it's straight-up Novus Ordo and hold the felt banners.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I do wear a head covering even at a Novus Ordo Mass. I was convicted about this when I read about another Catholic woman doing the same thing. (Forgive me, I have forgotten the blog's name.) She usually attended the Traditional Latin Mass but one day had to attend a regular NO. She concluded that covering her head for one type of celebration while not another was rather inconsistent with the purpose of the headcovering. So, she wore her mantilla to the Novus Ordo.

I pondered that one. I realized God was presenting me with an interesting challenge. It had taken me years to finally be open to embracing this teaching from 1 Corinthians 11. I was able to finally joyfully offer this up to God in worship when I discovered the Traditional Latin Mass on my own. It felt very right to me to do so and I was encouraged to see younger women embracing this practice.

But in a "regular" Mass? Despite being a little hesitant, I decided to do it. However, instead of wearing the mantilla draped across my head, I tie it in a little scarf. Today I tucked the end in the back to create a snood-like effect. I liked the look.

What does it do for me? I can't speak for my other headcovering sisters, but will share my own experience. It humbles me before the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 11, a covered woman honors her husband and clearly sends a message that she understands the hierarchical authority that God has ordained. Even though I was the only woman in a congregation of almost 500 with her head covered, I didn't regret it for one nano-second.

I don't cover my head for anyone's approval. I cover it because I am convicted by 1 Corinthians 11 and it is a sign to God that I'm giving obedience some thought and effort. When my head is covered, it is as though it is an intimate veil that reminds my spirit we are now on holy ground. Distracting thoughts do flit about my head, but the veil usually keeps me focused. Sometimes I'll say inwardly, "I'm not here to think about this right now. I'm hear to focus on God." My headcovering is like the lines of a highway - it keeps me on track.

It also softens me. Now some who are my acquaintances may say I'm pretty soft already, but my husband could tell you a different story. After all, the man lives with me and sees me in my good as well as not-so-good moments. When I wear a headcovering, it challenges me to reach a little higher, persevere a little longer, and give a little more. Those who wear headcoverings are already attracting attention, and much of it is critical. When you know eyes are upon you, it is certainly a strong deterrent for un-Christlike behavior. (I need to say this is exactly why my car doesn't have any Christian bumper stickers. I still drive like an idiot and I certainly don't want God to get the blame for that one.)

One thing I have noticed is a subtle appreciation from men. I know they understand the submission to Scripture in wearing a headcovering. I'm not sure though, if they understand how it breaks a woman's pride to do so. Maybe they do. All I know is that we humans are a prideful bunch. God breaks the pride of man in many ways. For women, the headcovering is part of that breaking.

But it is such a good breaking! Because only after we have fully submitted ourselves to the Potter's hands can He create anything useful of us. Being pliable is part of the process.

So this is how wearing a headcovering has affected me. I've been doing it now for four months and I feel just as passionate about it, if not more so. I know it's not an easy decision for a woman to do, but I would like to ask any woman who has questions about it to pray and ask God for understanding. I admit I'm pretty hard-headed when it comes to obedience and many times, have said grudgingly to God, "Well, okay...if You insist...I guess I'll try it." (Like I'm doing Him a favor. Yeesh!)

But thank God that He is so loving and patient with us! His generosity knows no bounds! Whenever I've given Him just a fraction of willingness, He quickly releases so much grace to not only embrace what He has called me to do, but the very passion to do it - that I can only bow before Him; humbled and shocked that He still puts up with me.

Our Heavenly Father is like that. Totally committed to shaping us into the likeness of His Son. Isn't that just the most incredible thing in the world?

I hope you had a very blessed Sunday and loved on Jesus in a big way. :-)


X said...

I am a fade into the background type so I might consider a hat at my local NO but never my veil!

Mary Rose said...

I can understand, Angela. Needless to say, I'm not a "fade-in-the-background" type...LOL! My gray hair is to make a statement. And I am making a statement with the veil, also.

Plus, I just think it's so pretty and feminine! I also have a few other scarves I'll wear on occasion. One of my favorites is a gorgeous sapphire blue and teal long silk scarf I received as a gift from some friends who visited Israel. I love the way it floats in the breeze!

It still irks me to think that when feminism was confronting our culture during the 60's, they went after a woman's headcovering in the Catholic church.

So in essence, not only am I happy to submit to my Lord - the very fact that I'm irritating some feminist blockhead is an added bonus!

Rachel said...

Great post!

I also like to see younger women (besides me) at TLMs and wearing mantillas. It puts the lie to the tired old liberal claim that the only reason anyone's interested in these things is nostalgia.

I also find that the headcovering helps me focus, and I avoid those Christian bumper stickers for exactly the same reason as you!

The mantilla gives me two practical side benefits as well: 1) Privacy. When I bow my head to pray no one can see my eyes. 2) It keeps me from fooling with my hair, or from worrying that I'm having a bad hair day.

The main reason I personally wear the mantilla is to give Jesus a tangible outward sign of love and respect. Canon law used to require that women cover their heads "especially when approaching the Blessed Sacrament," and I liked that idea of the etiquette due to a King. When I feel self-conscious, especially in other parishes, I remind myself that I'm doing it for the Lord, not the congregation.

I'm fortunate to be at an NO parish where several other women have veils, so I don't feel too odd.

Chris said...

As usual, we share some of the same sentiments- and I enjoyed your veiling post so much, I wrote my own! :D

Shirley said...

I agree; great post. I have only NO Mass to go to here, and I have been wearing my head coverings for about a year; pretty much for the reasons you state. I am the only woman in my church to do so; but every once in a while I will go to some other church in the area and see older ladies who wear hats. In one church there were three young ladies who were wearing scarves and received Communion on the tongue, kneeling. (Not so easy to do in the NO "line-up"!)
Like you, I'm not afraid to make a statement. I'm not doing this to attract attention, but I hope it gives other women the courage to follow their heart at the risk of being centered out.

Amy said...

I came across your post tonight while surfing for information on Catholic who practice headcovering. I am feeling pulled in this direction, but haven't yet worked up the nerve to do it in my huge parish- I've never seen anyone else there do it. Thank you for sharing this great post!

Mary Rose said...

Shirley, that is awesome! I am so glad to know you're encouraging women in this way. I think many women (like Amy, for instance) are wanting to try it, but yet feel self-conscience because they don't see any other women doing it. Once someone "breaks the ice" as it were, more women can feel comfortable with this practice.

Amy, I'd be very interested to hear about your experience when you finally do it. I know my first time felt "weird." I almost felt like an imposter. But I soldiered through and it was much easier the second and third time. Now I wouldn't think of going to church without it.

I'll be praying for courage. :-)

Cookie said...

I wear my veil (a medium-sized black lace one) to the TLM, and to the parish near my parents' house where I was ordained and visit whenever I am in town.

Unfortunately, I have the feeling (and I am usually correct about this sort of thing) that my veil would cause more scandal than anything else at the parish I attend when the hour-long drive to the TLM is impossible. It is a liberal parish, and I have been very outspoken about my conservatism and traditionalism. As it stands today, I think that my veil would actually be distracting, and may possibly even provoke disruption and/or gossip, so it may be some time before I can wear a veil to the NO here.

I'm sure that there are many women in my situation; I am torn about the discontinuity presented by not wearing the veil to certain Masses... but I pray that someday I can wear my veil without fear of confrontation or scandal.

Mary Rose said...

Alli, welcome home after your trip to Ireland. (One of my absolute favorite places in the whole wide world!)

I can empathize with your desire to not distract. However, I will say that if anyone has a problem with another person's approach to devotion, that is definitely their problem.

Long ago, I visited a 12 Step group. I referred to my "Higher Power" as Jesus Christ. After the meeting, some woman rushed up to me and said, "You can't say that!" I asked what she meant. She sputtered, "You can't name your Higher Power! It's just Higher Power. You can't say Jesus Christ!"

I looked at her and said, "Lady, I'm sorry but my Higher Power is Jesus Christ and if you don't like, I'm sorry. I'm not going to deny Him just because it makes someone feel uncomfortable."

It was my first and only time at that particular group but the level of alarm was way over the top, in my opinion. She evidently had issues.

I don't think many people would rush up to you and ask why you're doing what you're doing. Catholics are a pretty low-key bunch when it comes to Mass attire.

Heck, if some folks don't bat an eye at a girl with some Daisy Dukes on, why would they approach you? :-D

I still say go for it. God may use you to start some good conversations! :-)