Sunday, June 23, 2013

Musings: wearing a headcovering

A few days ago Cari Donaldson put up a post about veiling (that is, wearing a headcovering during mass) which I had every intention of leaving alone, even though I am one who covers my head at mass. I do it because I believe that God has shown me that I personally need it to remind myself that my (as my priest describes it) fierce intellect needs to be under the discipline of love. That's my personal reason which certainly doesn't apply to everyone.

However at mass today we were subjected to the part of the liturgy known as "today's joke" (we're in the U.S. for a couple of weeks). I hope you all realize is an American phenomenon and not practiced in the rest of the world. Anyway, the joke was a long one about the 10 top reasons why God created Eve. The reasons included such things as that without Eve, Adam would get lost in the Garden because he would refuse to ask for directions, and that without her he would wear the same old fig leaf until it disintegrated, etc. The #1 reason was that when God was finished making Adam He stepped back and said to Himself, "I can do better than that!".

Now I have to admit I thought the joke was funny (although out of place at mass), but I was immediately reminded that this is another example of how our culture continually denigrates men and exalts women. And that reminded me of the question of "why veil?" that Cari had brought up. And I'm wondering if veiling might be a visible way that Catholic women can show humility in place of the arrogance that our culture almost demands of us.

I don't think this reasoning would hold up in every culture in the world - I certainly don't see the same arrogance derived from feminism in my home country of Mexico. But here in the U.S. we who seek to follow Jesus and imitate Mary cannot deny that our culture is our enemy in that regard. And as more and more catholics in America are remembering and embracing the rich and ancient traditions that were too easily thrown off in the past generation, the issue of women covering their heads might be worth a second look. I don't believe that wearing a head covering has been only a matter of fashion for the past 2 millennia. It seems by St. Paul's mention of it that it was/is a visual representation of a spiritual truth, just as statues of saints or holy water or countless other seemingly silly or meaningless things are.

I'm not one to preach that everyone should be veiling. I don't see the need for everyone to pray before statues or cross themselves with holy water either. But it seems to me that the more we all know about the meanings behind the symbolic acts that the church has encouraged through the ages, the richer our understanding of the character of the One whom we worship, and the virtues that He wants to establish in us.

Perhaps rather than arguing among ourselves, we might look for the underlying virtues that are strengthened by the wearing of a headcovering and determine, each for ourselves, whether these virtues are ones that we need help in cultivating. Not all virtues are equally lacking in every person; and Mother Church has provided many resources for the specific ones that a person may need extra help with. Let's not reject a specific help that the Church has provided simply because its adherents speak with perhaps a bit too much fervor of the help that they have received.

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