Why Women Should Wear Chapel Veils in Church

Some may say that an issue such as this is not my prerogative to engage — being a man, and a layman at that. Nevertheless, I will discharge my mind. And I shall be brief.

Certainly it is a minor issue compared with the major ones afflicting our Church. Yet, it is symptomatic of what are latent weaknesses in certain practicing Catholic women who may be tinged with a bit of feminism without even realizing it. Ironically, some of the very same otherwise devout women who do not cover their heads in church are critical of modernist nuns for having discarded their own veil.

Again, I am addressing practicing Catholic women who take their Sunday obligation seriously and sincerely want to adore God and receive Him reverently in Holy Communion. I am not addressing those who have no scruple receiving Communion in the hand. If a woman has no problem doing the latter then, obviously, she will dismiss the former as passé.

My wife, who is ten years younger than me, explained to me that Catholic women her age were told in the 1970s (in her case from the pulpit) that Rome no longer requires women to wear a veil or mantilla in church. And that is true. The 1917 Code of Canon Law that mandated the wearing of a veil (or other head covering) for women in church, has been abrogated by the 1983 new Code, which has nothing on the subject. All prior disciplinary laws, therefore, that are not in the new Code are no longer in effect: “Can. 61. When this Code goes into effect, the following are abrogated:1. the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917; etc.” Specifically, in the 1970s, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did issue a decree, Inter Insigniores, which stated: “[I]t must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed upon women to wear a veil on their head (1 Cor 11:2-16); such requirements no longer have a normative value.”

“Normative value”? Well, in that they are no longer related to a norm or standard (which by the time the Holy Office decree was issued was the case) that much is true. However, neither was there any prohibition of wearing the veil. That would have been difficult to justify in light of First Corinthians. The question is: Why was wearing the veil in church no longer normative in the 70s? One may well ask: Why were so many other good traditions, complementing and nourishing piety, no longer normative after the post-Vatican II liturgical revolution? One could make a list. Did women just start giving in to peer pressure, “since no one else is wearing a veil, why should I?” Many straddlers simply did not want to appear to be “different.” The holier than thou complex I suspect. Nevertheless, when it is time for a girls’ First Communion, mothers still (thank God) put a white veil on the child’s head in honor of the Holy occasion. So, too, do Catholic brides still wear a veil at their wedding.

Refusal of women to don a veil in church is a western phenomenon for the most part. When you see photos of women in church in the East, Near East and Far East, they are veiled. This is so in the Eastern Rites and in the Latin Rites, both in the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary. It is the norm in the East. For that matter, women, Christian or not, have from time immemorial (until modern times) covered their heads outside the home. Although in Eastern Europe (i.e., Poland, Russia, and Ukraine), women use a shawl or head scarf rather than a veil, the covering of the hair in church is so common as to be the custom everywhere, even though in the eastern rite canons it is no longer obligatory.

Is it merely national culture? Partly. And so what if it is? It’s part of Catholic culture too. And it is a good thing. A man, on the other hand, uncovers his head in church as a sign of his respect for the divine Presence. Is there any culture in the world where this is not the custom in religious services? What a scoundrel a man would be to refuse to take off his hat when entering a church! Defiant Communists in China wore their red-starred caps in churches to mock the faithful, while performing other blasphemous outrages. These were of course atheists. Buddhist men uncover their heads in their temples. On the other hand, Jewish men, at least the Orthodox and Reformed branches, cover their heads with a yarmulke in the synagogues, although some Jewish exegetes claim that this custom was introduced for laymen only in the 17th century and that on account of the Talmudic prohibition not to imitate the heathen customs.

Let’s cut to the chase.

For if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn. But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn or made bald, let her cover her head” (1 Cor.:11:6).

I am certain that any devout Catholic woman would affirm with the Church that the Bible is inspired by God. Therefore, what is written here by the hand of Saint Paul is divinely inspired. And the Church has always maintained this discipline for women (as well as that of keeping silence in church — 1 Cor.:14:34). That is, up until the liturgical revolution post Vatican II.

Saint Paul explains why women ought to cover their heads in verses 7-10, continuing with the passage just quoted: “The man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. For the man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man.Therefore ought the woman to have a power over her head, because of the angels.”

I have seen women smirk — I am referring to practicing Catholic women — with the reading of these verses.

Saint John Chrysostom is not unique among the Fathers of the Church in noting that the veil is a “sign of subjection” to the man, as Saint Paul clearly teaches, in that Eve came from Adam and was to be his helper and mate, as well as the mother of his children.

Because of the angels!”

The holy angels are present at Mass. They take note of the reverence and modesty of the worshipers. The exterior sign of a woman’s humility as well as her modesty in covering the glory of her hair is pleasing to God, the angels, and, especially, each faithful woman’s guardian angel.

Saints Ambrose, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas interpret “angels” in this verse as the priests and bishops, the latter of whom are called “angels” in the Apocalypse.

A man uncovers his head in church because, as Saint Paul says, “he is the glory of God.” It would be a distraction to elaborate from the Fathers concerning this verse; suffice it to say that, as Cornelius a Lapide notes, “[M]an is the image of the glory of God, or the glorious image of God, in whom the majesty and power of God shine forth most clearly. He is placed on the topmost step in nature, and is as it were God’s vicegerent, ruling everything.” The glory of God then ought to be manifest in the man and hidden in the woman, especially during the holy sacrifice. If someone objects that a priest or bishop has his head covered when he enters the church for the liturgy, be it noted that he removes his biretta or mitre for the holy ritual. The biretta and mitre, let me add, are symbols of the priestly office. The mitre, in fact, goes back to the attire mandated for the priestly function in the Old Testament.

In a certain sense, the woman participates in the liturgy in a more visible way than the layman because her veil is an outward sign, not, of course, as part of the rubrics, but certainly as her part in the ceremony which includes so many other visible signs performed by all the worshiping faithful.

Protestants, as we know, have no liturgy, no divine Presence. Even still, the principal heresiarchs of the Revolt, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Wesley, and Knox, all kept the biblical mandate for female head covering. This changed somewhat in the early twentieth century in the Anglophone West. Veils were deemed too Catholic. So, leave it to the Protestants to find a solution: bonnets. But that was only for a time. Now they rarely even wear hats during their services, except perhaps at Easter time. Amish and Mennonite women still wear a long, tied in the back, kerchief head covering by rule. Today, Bible begone, Catholic women have joined with Protestant women in baring their heads in church.

Why is this important liturgically?

Prescinding from First Corinthians, the woman is a figure of Our Lady. Our Lady is almost always veiled in art, as she was in life. Women should do their best to imitate Mary especially in their modest dress at all times. In church, “because of the angels.” There are two points I need to make here. They are liturgically related:

First, there is the tabernacle.

Tabernacles are covered with a veil. In the Old Testament, the tabernacle, or Holy of Holies, was separated from every other place in the temple by a gigantic veil. So, in the New Holy of Holies, (the Sanctuary), the Tabernacle is veiled. The veil symbolizes Our Lady. As Our Lady’s Heart was rent on Calvary, the veil of the tabernacle in the temple was ripped in two by an angel when Jesus died.

There is more to ponder.

It is written in Jeremias and in capital letters: “[T]he Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth: A WOMAN SHALL COMPASS A MAN.(31:22). And, again, “ [H]e that made me, rested in my tabernacle” (Ecclesiasticus 24:12). Even when we pray the Hail Mary, Mary compasses Jesus, for she is invoked before and after the Holy Name. Therefore, she is the Veil of the Tabernacle; she is the door through which we pass to Jesus: Ad Jesum per Mariam.

Second, only a woman can imitate Mary in this way. She is veiled in honor of the Veil of the Tabernacle. A woman hides her beauty under a veil, for, especially in God’s House, “All the glory of the king’s daughter is within in golden borders” (Psalm 44:14). “O Lord,” the priest prays at the Lavabo: “I have loved the Beauty of thy House, the place where thy glory dwelleth” (Psalm 25:8). Many holy commentators attribute this verse to Mary. And how wonderful that is!

Finally, as an aside: How is it that even to visit the pope, who, although the Vicar of Christ, is a sinner, a woman wears a veil and then, before God Himself, she does not? Melania Trump, God bless her, wore a modest black dress and a black veil when she accompanied her husband to greet Pope Francis. Even Michele Obama did the same, and so did Laura Bush. Mrs. Trump, granted, is Catholic, but the only other Catholic First Lady was Jacqueline Kennedy, who, by the way, not only wore black with a mantilla for her private audience with Pope John XXIII in 1962, but genuflected before him and kissed his ring. (When John, as president, met with Paul VI a year later he did not kiss the pope’s ring but gave him a hearty handshake.) Even Elizabeth II, the Queen of England, wore black and was veiled when she met Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. When she visited Pope Francis she at least wore a hat, a blue one. I think I have made my point.

More important than the chapel veil issue is that of the brown scapular. How few practicing Catholics, men or women, wear the brown scapular! This is tragic indeed. What an insult to the mercy and generosity of the Mother of God! And what is the excuse given by some practicing Catholic women, especially younger ones, for not wearing the brown scapular? It’s unsightly! Yes, I am sure many of you have heard that, or certainly many mothers have heard it, from their daughters. Seems that, in their vanity, they would rather exhibit their scapulae than wear a scapular.

Well, that is an issue for another time.

  • M.

    This is an excellent column, Mr. Kelly. As a practicing Catholic woman, I’d MUCH prefer my mantilla to a bonnet! Thank you for the fine points made here. God bless.

  • You are welcome. Thank you for the comment.

  • Beth Van

    Jesus, when he met the woman at the well, was much kinder and open than you. He treated her as someone just as deserving of salvation as he did men. The Apostles were surprised to see Jesus talking to a woman. That would be because of the culture at that time. But he didn’t avoid her because she was a woman. Are there not great Catholic Women Saints? There is too much in the article that seems to demote women from also being “Children of God”. I keep my head covered in Church, but not with a mantilla. Those who wish to certainly have the right to do so. You are right, in view of all that is going on in the Church, this was not something worth concentrating on.

  • Please cite one passage that…

    …seems to demote women from also being “Children of God”

    …as you say the piece has “too much” of.

  • This piece has received numerous positive comments on social media, the majority of which were from ladies.

  • Alyosha Karamazov

    Someone posted these quotes on social media…

    Fr Richard Heilman

    January 23, 2017

    “Taking our cue from the use of veils in the sanctuary, we can say that every woman who embraces the ancient tradition of wearing a veil creates a wonderful harmony between herself as a vessel of life and the vessels that hold Life itself.” -Fr. Robert Fromageot, F.S.S.P.

    God’s glorious creation began with things such as dirt, then vegetation, then animals, etc. … it just kept getting better and better. God then created His great love interest … His adopted children … human beings. Yet man was created only second to last. Woman is the crescendo … the last and greatest of all of God’s creation!!

    More than a beautiful sunset or starry night or any cascading waterfalls or picturesque mountain range … God has created nothing more beautiful, more loving, more tender-hearted, more nurturing. That is why women are perfectly positioned to be wife and mother. And, because women are the pinnacle of all God’s creations, they too, like the Blessed Mother, should be esteemed as sacred. They have been given the special role of being the tabernacle of God’s next love interest. That is why many women veil at Mass. We veil sacred things. Woman is sacred.

    Fr. Robert Fromageot, F.S.S.P. writes …

    “The leading lights of our age often claim to champion the rights of women, and in certain respects the claim is legitimate. At the same time, however, our age has clearly not sought to protect and foster the sacred dignity of women. On the contrary, society would have us remove our wedding garment, divest ourselves of Christ, and put on the “old man” and make ample provision for the flesh. Men are practically encouraged to treat women as mere objects of pleasure, and women are encouraged to seek this degrading form of attention and accept it as normal and compatible with their dignity. Men and women, but especially women, have become desensitized to using contraceptives, choosing abortion, and embracing sterilization. In short, our society no longer respects or values the gift of fertility; society no longer honors the unique privilege of being a woman. Consequently, it no longer cultivates the responsibility that necessarily accompanies this gift, this privilege. This collective failure on the part of society has wreaked havoc, and it is far from certain that we shall recover and escape dissolution and destruction.

    Sadly, some forty years ago millions of Catholics decided to put on the old man when they rejected the teaching of the Church concerning contraception. Around the same time, the ancient tradition of wearing veils or head coverings of any sort was likewise abandoned. Knowing what the veil stands for, it is difficult to not to regard that these two events — the rejection of the Church’s teaching on contraception on the one hand and the liturgical practice of wearing veils and head coverings on the other — as wholly unrelated. Indeed, many took both events as a step forward in the emancipation of women from so-called male dominance.”

    Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand writes …

    “And this is why the female body should be veiled because everything which is sacred calls for veiling. When Moses came down form Mount Sinai, he veiled his face. Why did he veil his face? Because he had spoken to God and at that very moment there was a sacredness that called for veiling … You see the Church recognises things so profoundly that in some way you can say she has always recognised the special dignity granted to women. You cannot be a Christian and not recognise the privilege that it is to be a woman, because the most perfect of all creatures, the only creature born without original sin, is a woman and therefore once again you understand the extraordinary privilege of being one and having this image of the Holy Virgin, who was both Virgin and Mother and the two go beautifully together.”

  • Beth Van

    The entire tone is negative, towards women and especially those who do not wear the veil. “Again, I am addressing practicing Catholic women who take their Sunday obligation seriously and sincerely want to adore God and receive Him reverently in Holy Communion”. So, if I do not wear a veil (I did write that I wear a hat) I am not one of those? Trust me, what I see at Sunday mass at various churches shows that there is a much greater problem with attire of both men and women. Would a woman be more devout if she chose to wear a veil with her shorts or leggings and tank top or tight or low cut top? Is a man in faded jeans or shorts and a tee shirt more devout because he doesn’t wear a cap or hat in Church? Of course not. That is why, along with other parts of the article, I simply cannot take the assertions in this article seriously. Do you really think that, when a woman who has not worn a veil in church or some other head covering, stands before God, he is going to hold this against her along with her other “sins” and see it as a reason for damnation or extra time in Purgatory? What commandment covers that? I am sincere in that question. There is a wonderful, uplifting article about “Jesus’ Extraordinary Treatment of Women” at https://www.franciscanmedia.org/jesus-extraordinary-treatment-of-women/“. I sincerely hope you read it, Brother, as well at the author of this article. By the way, women are not of one mind and opinion on everything. We are individuals. Perhaps there were a lot of positive comments from women because there just happened to be several women of similar mindset who do wear the veil who were on the site and chose to comment. That would be an act of chance, not something more meaningful. The title of this article would certainly attract their interest. I read it because I was sincerely interested. Even though I only wear a hat.

  • I asked you for a passage that “seems to demote women from also being ‘Children of God.'” The passage you provided was the author specifying who his audience was. It was not in the slightest demeaning or derogatory of women’s divine adoption.

    Maybe your reading into the article things that are not there.

  • Beth Van

    That is all you got out of my reply? I think you are being stubborn. There is a lot in that article that places males before females and clearly expresses their inferiority and thus reflects that women, by their status, are not equal children of God. There are the actual words written and then there is the overall meaning. Paul’s cultural statements about women are not the same as his beautiful and meaningful writing that promotes and explains the teachings of Christ. It is important to be familiar with the treatment and limitations imposed on women of his time. Jesus turned this upside down by the way he himself treated women. And he never mentioned veils. Did he? That was Paul speaking as a man in a patriarchal society. Perhaps you are unable to see things that are there because you don’t have the same lens of history and experience to look through. This is an age old problem between the differences in perception between men and women and I don’t expect us to solve it here. It seems clear that you have rejected the invitation to read the article I recommended. Your choice.

  • Matt

    Beth, your comments and assertions actually prove the merits of this article. Sacred Scripture is the inspired Word of God. That wasn’t Paul speaking it was the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul. Men and women are equal in dignity not in authority. This is the proper teaching and understanding of the Church. Secular feminism perverts this truth. Yes, Christ did honour and respect women equal to men. Did He appoint any woman as one of the 12 disciples? No. Have women ever been bishops or priests in the Church? No.

    I recommend you study the Council of Trent Catechism specifically the section on the Sacrament of Marriage. Then read the current Catechisms section on the Sacrament of Marriage. Then you’ll have a much better understanding of how this should be properly interpreted in the light of Tradition. Both are freely available online with a simple internet search.

    Men and women are psychologically and biological different. God created us to be complimentary not to be exactly the same. That’s why man are expected to reveal their face at Holy Mass and women (according to Sacred Scripture) should be elegantly veiled. There is a complimentary beauty and harmony to this sacred tradition that you’re presently missing due to the influence of our secular culture.

    Matthew 23:12 (DRA)

    12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

    Good day and God Bless.

  • Beth Van

    Thanks for condescendingly “mansplaining”. Interesting how no one is willing to read the article I recommended in the first post. I am not a ” secular feminist. You choose to categorize.

    I do know that Jesus chose men to be apostles, but I don’t think it had anything to do with their qualifications.. Peter was hot tempered, matthew a tax collector. I certainly don’t argue against his decision and accept that due to this example women won’t be priests. In fact, if Jesus said it I believe and accept it. Do remember that the apostles were humans. Paul had to correct peter.one would think that the holy spirit would have helped peter not get into that situation. Perhaps it should be used as an example that church hierarchy made up of men, can be in error and there are times they need to be corrected.

  • Matt

    A genuine response is simply dismissed as “mansplaining” and “condescending.”

    You’re comparing Paul’s letter to his correction of Peter? The Scriptures make clear Peter was in error. They do no such thing in relation to Paul’s letter.

    You don’t have to identify as a secular feminist to be influenced by secular feminism (as this article also states). Secular feminism permeates through our entire culture today whether on the tv screen or in our classrooms, or even in the laws of our society.

    The Catholic Faith is a patriarchal religion hence our exclusively male clergy. When it comes to the family in Catholic teaching, the husband is the head of the home and the wife is the heart of the home. This is how God designed the genders and intended the male and female natures to compliment each other.

    You can deny this until you are blue in the face. It won’t change the Truth inscribed in Sacred Scripture, Tradition, and even Church teaching. The present Catechism continues to assert our roles are complimentary (not the same), and the Council of Trent Catechism explains exactly what this means very clearly.

    This truth is even expressed in the story of Adam and Eve. It was Eve who was seduced by the serpent and Adam who followed her lead (sacrificing his role as head of the relationship). What followed? Original Sin.

  • Beth Van

    I don’t doubt your sincerity. I do, however, reject your assertion that my posts in any way reject Catholic teaching. I do not reject the complimentry nataure of the genders. That is your interpretation. If you can take the time to read the following, perhaps you will have a better idea of the points I am trying to get to, because I also reject your assertion that my beliefs and opinions are only a result of SECULAR feminism. Perhaps you will accept this from then Pope John Paul II, now Saint John Paul. Compare your statements to his and perhaps you will see why his
    statements are more in line with the teachings of Jesus himself than
    your assertions and reliance on St. Paul as your ultimate authority.


    I greet you all most cordially,
    women throughout the world!

    1. I am writing this letter to each one of you as a sign
    of solidarity and gratitude on the eve of the Fourth World Conference
    on Women, to be held in Beijing this coming September.

    Before all else, I wish to express my deep appreciation
    to the United Nations Organization for having sponsored this very
    significant event. The Church desires for her part to contribute to
    upholding the dignity, role and rights of women, not only by the
    specific work of the Holy See’s official Delegation to the Conference in
    Beijing, but also by speaking directly to the heart and mind of every
    woman. Recently, when Mrs Gertrude Mongella, the Secretary General of the Conference, visited me in connection with the Peking meeting, I gave her a written Message which
    stated some basic points of the Church’s teaching with regard to
    women’s issues. That message, apart from the specific circumstances of
    its origin, was concerned with a broader vision of the situation and
    problems of women in general, in an attempt to promote the cause of
    women in the Church and in today’s world. For this reason, I arranged
    to have it forwarded to every Conference of Bishops, so that it could be
    circulated as widely as possible.

    Taking up the themes I addressed in that document, I would now like to speak directly to every woman, to
    reflect with her on the problems and the prospects of what it means to
    be a woman in our time. In particular I wish to consider the essential
    issue of the dignity and rights of women, as seen in the light of the word of God.

    This “dialogue” really needs to begin with a word of thanks. As I wrote in my Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, the
    Church “desires to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the
    ‘mystery of woman’ and for every woman-for all that constitutes the
    eternal measure of her feminine dignity, for the ‘great works of God’,
    which throughout human history have been accomplished in and through
    her” (No. 31).

    2. This word of thanks to the Lord for his mysterious
    plan regarding the vocation and mission of women in the world is at the
    same time a concrete and direct word of thanks to women, to every woman,
    for all that they represent in the life of humanity.

    Thank you, women who are mothers! You have
    sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy
    and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the
    newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it
    to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the
    journey of life.

    Thank you, women who are wives! You irrevocably join your future to that of your husbands, in a relationship of mutual giving, at the service of love and life.

    Thank you, women who are daughters and women who are sisters! Into
    the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the
    richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and

    Thank you, women who work! You are present and
    active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and
    political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the
    growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life
    ever open to the sense of “mystery”, to the establishment of economic
    and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.

    Thank you, consecrated women! Following the
    example of the greatest of women, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the
    Incarnate Word, you open yourselves with obedience and fidelity to the
    gift of God’s love. You help the Church and all mankind to experience a
    “spousal” relationship to God, one which magnificently expresses the
    fellowship which God wishes to establish with his creatures.

    Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through
    the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the
    world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and

    3. I know of course that simply saying thank you is not enough. Unfortunately, we are heirs to a history which has conditioned us
    to a remarkable extent. In every time and place, this conditioning has
    been an obstacle to the progress of women. Women’s dignity has often
    been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have
    often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to
    servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it
    has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity. Certainly it is
    no easy task to assign the blame for this, considering the many kinds of
    cultural conditioning which down the centuries have shaped ways of
    thinking and acting. And if objective blame, especially in particular
    historical contexts, has belonged to not just a few members of the
    Church, for this I am truly sorry. May this regret be transformed, on
    the part of the whole Church, into a renewed commitment of fidelity to
    the Gospel vision. When it comes to setting women free from every kind
    of exploitation and domination, the Gospel contains an ever relevant
    message which goes back to the attitude of Jesus Christ himself. Transcending
    the established norms of his own culture, Jesus treated women with
    openness, respect, acceptance and tenderness. In this way he honoured
    the dignity which women have always possessed according to God’s plan
    and in his love. As we look to Christ at the end of this Second
    Millennium, it is natural to ask ourselves: how much of his message has
    been heard and acted upon?

    to read more: http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1995/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_29061995_women.html

  • Rebecca

    Beth, I do wonder why you read the article in this manner. I almost feel that you already had made a decision about the article before you read it. It also bothers me that you would make presumptions on the female readers of this site to being of a particular “mindset” almost thinking we are automatons who are not individuals and have no opinions of our own. I would guarantee that would not be the case. I also noticed you seem wrapped up in how Jesus treats women. Jesus has given us more than we (all sinners male or female) deserve and we should not be so concerned about how He treats women but how women treat Him. I don’t always veil but reading this article has made me reconsider my decision for the times I do not veil. What a simple, lovely, and dignified gift to give Our Lord to participate in the liturgy this way. I would ask that you reread this article with the thought of treating Jesus with the understanding that the scriptures are Divinely inspired. If you still read it that way I would appreciate statements from the article that gave you this “demotion of women” impression for I sincerely would like to understand.

  • susan

    Mr. Kelly; beautiful, BEAUTIFUL essay. I began veiling about 3 years ago, and my only regret is that I didn’t do it much, much sooner. It has been a great boon to my spirituality, and has brought a greater understanding of the great Mystery in the middle of which I stand (in the very presence of God). I would recommend for Beth to visit “Veils by Lily” website and read the essays on veiling. I was once as hardheaded and stubborn as she (sorry, but that’s how she comes across); but in letting go of a little pride and stepping over a threshold I never thought I’d cross, much beauty has opened up to me.

  • Beth Van

    I indicated that it would make sense that there would be several positive female comments to this article because those women who were drawn to the title most likely had a positive experience of wearing the veil. I still think that is the case. Editors are very careful in crafting titles to draw in the people they think would want to read an article. No, I went in openly. Actually, I went in hopefully, looking for information about it. However, the male writer expressly stated that the article was intended for women who wear the veil and the writer took it upon himself to attribute a deeper sense of devotion and faith to women who wear the veil. I disagree with that judgement. How Jesus treated women is extremely important to me. Would that more men would follow his example, but it seems that there is not too much interest in what Jesus, instead of Paul who was obviously influenced by the traditions of his time, said and did. The behavior of Jesus towards women during his life totally turns upside down Paul’s assertions. That you basically toss it off is amazing to me, as is your assertion that I somehow don’t show Jesus heartfelt devotion. It is not perfect because I am a sinner, as are we all. It will never be perfect in this life, but I have an obligation to try to make it so. I have not written one word that was in opposition to the faith of those who wear the veil. I have not at all indicated that my interactions with women who wear the veil would be derogatory towards them. I see it as a choice a woman is free to use as ONE way of expressing her faith and love of God. I take exception to the claim of the author. Perhaps it is a difference of knowledge about the treatment of women in past and current times, and your own experience compared to mine. And you attribute to me an error in pointing out how Jesus treated women. I think too many men don’t know about it. The male respondent to my posts have done nothing to change my mind because it seems that they see St. Paul’s comments on women as the final word on their “authority” in the Church and over women. I think there is an error in what having authority in this instance means. I have been accused of things I never stated or implied and “spoken down to” as if I were simply the cliche silly woman who knows nothing. The letter of St. Paul, which has seemingly been confused by one of my respondents as a Gospel, has been used to claim an authority to men that God never stated. You can read my previous posts to understand my position. I will also invite you to read the letter written by St.John Paul to perhaps understand even better what my point of view is since I have also been accused of being a “secular feminist”, which is not the case at all. Here is the link http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1995/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_29061995_women.html You may also want to acquaint yourself with the canon law of 1917 which required women to wear a head covering, and Pope John Paul II 1983 revision of that cannon, which abrogated the requirement of women wearing head coverings in church. Finally, as I wrote earlier, I choose to wear a hat to Church. That is my choice.

  • Beth Van

    I have not written one word against veiling. I took issue with the author attributing a greater level of faith and devotion to those who do, ” I am addressing practicing Catholic women who take their Sunday
    obligation seriously and sincerely want to adore God and receive Him
    reverently in Holy Communion” as if a woman who does not veil could not possibly do that. He goes on to cast his disdain upon women who – gasp – receive the Eucharist in the hand and judge them in a bad light. What about all those bareheaded men who are receiving the Eucharist in the hand? Personally, my practice is to receive the Eucharist on my tongue, but I have never judged negatively those who follow the Church authorized practice of taking communion in the hand. I have not expressed any doubts about the sincerity of those who veil, yet doubts are expressed about me, and actually, my own faith. I didn’t come to this web site to make anyone stop veiling. I was genuinely interested in learning more about it. My argument had to do with the author’s assertions, especially seeing St.Paul letter relating to his beliefs about women vs. how Jesus himself actually treated women and talked to them during his life. What Jesus did totally upends what Paul wrote. If you had actually read and comprehended you would not be writing to someone else about ME and talking about ME about MY pride. You are exhibiting plenty of your own in your assumptions about me.

  • susan

    First of all, your defensiveness is pretty extreme. You read things into the piece that twist the meaning….the author in no way said that a woman who does not veil could not possibly want to adore God and receive Him reverently in Holy Communion. Your take is wrong, and your accusation unjust.

    Second of all, Your assertion that “What Jesus did totally upends what Paul wrote” is simply unscriptural and unchristian……Paul wrote infallibly under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; if you see a dichotomy between him and Jesus, then your sight is badly skewed. Christ led the erring women into the light of orthodoxy…..pretty much a guarantee that if St. Paul laid down rules for behavior in church, that’s what Christ led them to beforehand, and Paul is reiterating.

    No one is telling you you have to veil….you’re massively defensive and rudely argumentative on the whole issue. Various people have expressed their personal experience with this beautiful practice and all you want to do is rail at everything, which tells me that you were far less than “genuinely interested in learning more about it”.

    Again…as a once-fellow “I’ll never veil!”er, I would urge you to go to the site I mentioned previously and read some of the beautiful testimonials……that is if you’re truly “genuinely interested in learning more about it”.

  • susan

    tell ya what….I’ll just make this really easy;

    one of the best homilies I’ve ever heard, and the tip of the fulcrum for me….

    a cornucopia for one who’s really interested….

    lots more over there.

  • Matt

    Beth, I appreciate the respectful tone of this reply. Thank you.

    I’ll refrain from responding to the content of this particular message because it will lead us off track. I’ll simply reaffirm everything I’ve already written above and note that St. JPII expresses his own personal opinions in this letter. He doesn’t redefine anything with regards to Church doctrine.

    This is a quote from the Church’s dogma on papal primacy that you may find helpful:

    “The Roman Pontiff – like all the faithful – is subject to the Word of God, to the Catholic faith, and is the guarantor of the Church’s obedience; in this sense he is servus servorum Dei. He does not make arbitrary decisions, but is spokesman for the will of the Lord, who speaks to man in the Scriptures lived and interpreted by Tradition; in other words, the episkope of the primacy has limits set by divine law and by the Church’s divine, inviolable constitution found in Revelation.33 The Successor of Peter is the rock which guarantees a rigorous fidelity to the Word of God against arbitrariness and conformism: hence the martyrological nature of his primacy.”

    Source: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19981031_primato-successore-pietro_en.html

    These are my parting words regarding this particular discussion. If you have anything further to add I’d be happy to read it (as I have your other messages).

    God’s best to you.

  • Beth Van

    Goodness. We are just never talking about the same thing so it is best that the conversation end after this. JPIIs letter was not intended to have anything to do with redefining doctrine. I honestly don’t know why you would assume that it would. I thought that if you read the letter it would give you a better idea of what I was trying to express about your claim that my opinions were only based on secular feminism if you read something by a future saint, for goodness sake, who, as far as I know, was seen as a figure to be respected, highly intelligent, devoted to God and his Church and the Blessed Mother, and most of what most people might want in a pope. I didn’t want my previous assertions treated as though they were just something I made up on my own. JPIIs letter had many points that corresponded with my ideas. Again, you quote things as if you think I have no idea of them. Please stop doing that when you communicate with women. it only feeds into the stereotype of “mansplaining”. I still think that you WANT to believe strongly that St. Paul’s writings are somehow Gospel, which they are not. He wrote letters and certain parts reflect that he was very much a MAN of his times. Unlike Jesus, the Son of God, St. Paul was only human in nature and subject to the mores of the culture of his time. That you cannot even bring yourself to admit that the “authority” of men is often gravely misinterpreted and misused by a large contingent of men over the centuries is profoundly disturbing to me. But so be it. May God’s will be done.

  • Beth Van

    You would never be so condescending to a man. Women can certainly be sexist against other women. It is actually a well known stereotype that led to phrases such as “Cat Fight”. You respond to my words as if I am making them up off the top of my head without knowing that they are based on other authoritative sources. Just because you never heard of it does not mean it is not true. Paul did not write Gospels, he wrote letters, and some parts of those letters clearly indicate that he was, unlike Jesus, only possessed of a human nature, and so he was influenced by the mores and influences of the culture of his time, including his attitudes and beliefs about women. He was a teacher who also addressed the challenges of his flock and he did so brilliantly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but he did not write Gospels. You read but you do not comprehend. AGAIN I HAVE NEVER WRITTEN ONE WORD AGAINST VEILING yet you repeat that like a broken record. If you do not have the perception to see what I saw in the authors words then so be it. Based on my experience at this particular site I sincerely doubt I will pursue more information about veiling. I understand much better why the author wrote early in the article,

    “Certainly it is a minor issue compared with the major ones afflicting
    our Church. Yet, it is symptomatic of what are latent weaknesses in
    certain practicing Catholic women who may be tinged with a bit of
    feminism without even realizing it. Ironically, some of the very same
    otherwise devout women who do not cover their heads in church are
    critical of modernist nuns for having discarded their own veil.
    Again, I am addressing practicing Catholic women who take their
    Sunday obligation seriously and sincerely want to adore God and receive
    Him reverently in Holy Communion.(here he means those who wear the veil) I am not addressing those who have no
    scruple receiving Communion in the hand. If a woman has no problem doing the latter then, obviously, she will dismiss the former as passé. (here he means the unveiled irreverent superficial female Catholics).

    I sincerely believe that the author, by being so clearly dismissive of
    those who do not veil early on, missed a great opportunity to be
    welcoming and to lead more to it.

    I imagine you felt a great deal of self-satisfaction, even pride, because of the praise you as a woman received in this article due to your decision to veil.

    God’s will be done.

  • Matt

    Beth, I really didn’t want to be drawn into responding to another message. I thought we’d at least reached the point of civility. Apparently we haven’t. It seems your momentarily politeness was merely a mask to continue shoving your own personal sense of gender victimisation down everyones throats.

    I didn’t want to specifically comment on JPII’s bullet points because I knew it’d spark the exact reaction you just displayed. It seems not commenting had the same impact as commenting would have.

    We all know exactly what you are saying. You are portraying women as the perpetual victims of men, including Catholic men, who have supposedly lorded over them since time immemorial.

    We live in a matriarchy today not a patriarchy and look where it’s gotten us? Women get paid maternity leave (thanks to the taxes taken from men). Women use artificial birth control in order to be free to have numerous sexual partners and chase careers instead of committing to husbands and children. Women are given preference in job placement programs to promote “diversity” in the workforce. Men who assert hard truths are slammed as bigots and male chauvinist pigs. It’s all about women, women, women. You do realise this is all rooted in Marxism, right? Look up “Russia” and “womans liberation movement.”

    I’m stunned (though I shouldn’t be given the general state of decay in faith among Catholics today) that you continue to assert Paul’s letters were simply letters as though they are completely insignificant and don’t belong in Sacred Scripture (which is literally the inspired Word of God).

    You do realise suicide is much higher among men today, right? You do realise that modern women, statistically speaking, are miserable (and you sound like you’re one of them)?

    Women, as a collective, were much happier in the Christian “patriarchy” than they are under this communistic “woman’s liberation” matriarchy we have today that is completely disordered and anti-Christian. Women were happy in committed relationships with husbands who loved and appreciated them, and children who adored them. Women were much happier complimenting men instead of trying to compete with them. Men were much happier too.

    I’ll make this my final response quoting directly from the Catechism:


    105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”69

    “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”70

    106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. “To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.”71

    107 The inspired books teach the truth. “Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”72

    108 Still, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the book.” Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, a word which is “not a written and mute word, but the Word is incarnate and living”.73 If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, “open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures.”74

    All the best to you.

    God Bless

  • susan

    The entire Bible is inerrant and written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit….not just the Gospels….the ENTIRE Bible. There is NO dichotomy between what Jesus does and what Paul writes. To say otherwise is to expose yourself as something other than Christian. Period.

    As to the rest of your rant…..Q.E.D. You made my points more definitively than anything else I could have written

    God’s will be done indeed.

  • catholicgirl54

    I started veiling about 18 months ago, after being invited by the Holy Spirit for sometime and constantly brushing aside the invitation. My reverence and sense of sacred humility have increased exponentially, I have gotten nothing but positive feedback from others and another woman in my parish was so excited to see me in my veil because she had been considering it but was hesitant until she saw me. I gave her a card from Veils by Lily and she now veils as well. I think Beth has totally missed the point, she already ‘covers her head’ so what is the problem? Same thing, different head covering.

  • Mary Sue Madrigal

    I find this article very interesting and informative. The Bible is clear on this subject. To me it is an honor to wear a veil even if I’m the only one in church. To imitate Our Lady and wear one like she did is so beautiful!
    We have Our Lord present on the altar. It’s simple respect for the Blessed Sacrament to wear a veil. We adore Him ! Then when we leave church we can show everyone our new hairdo ! This makes me want to wear a long veil not just a chapel veil ! How beautiful is the innocence of a child who is making her first communion. She can’t wait to wear a beautiful veil. Also to receive the scapular and wear it. What’s the matter with adults ? I find such comfort and would’nt be without one!
    My 24 year old son died suddenly and was wearing a scapular . Our Lady promised us salvation! Our faith is so simple. And as a mother, I am so greatful that she was with my son God Bless You Bran Kelly!

  • Luke Peto

    There is no possible reason born of good will and proper faith for a woman not to wear the chapel veil. None. Deliberately choosing to not wear the veil when one has the right as a woman to do so comes either from a false understanding of the equality of the sexes with its spiritual roots in the ideology of feminism, or is just plain old bad will.

  • Luke Peto

    “What Jesus did totally upends what Paul wrote.” Everything St. Paul wrote in the New Testament is God-breathed, straight from the Holy Spirit (de fide), and it is impossible for the Holy Spirit and Jesus to act contrary to one another, as the persons of the Trinity act as one in all things (de fide) and Jesus’ human will was in accordance with His divine will (de fide). “especially seeing St.Paul letter relating to his beliefs” If you think that the Epistles of St. Paul, as divinely inspired scripture, express his personal “beliefs”, there is an egregious misunderstanding lying at the very foundation fo your faith.

  • Luke Peto

    “Paul did not write Gospels, he wrote letters, and some parts …” This is not just a heresy but one whose implications for ones understanding of the Catholic Faith are sweeping. Scripture as handed down is infallible on all matters of faith and morals and is, in its original form at least, inerrant. St. Paul was nto “guided” by the Holy Spirit in writing his epistles; he was inspired, which means that the Holy Spirit wrote through him.

  • Luke Peto

    Where does one even start with a so-called Catholic who misunderstands the very nature of the Bible as the Word of God? Where were these people catechised?

  • Luke Peto

    ” The letter of St. Paul, which has seemingly been confused by one of my
    respondents as a Gospel, has been used to claim an authority to men that
    God never stated.” The letters of Paul are every bit as much the word of God as direct quotations of Jesus Christ in the Gospels, being words of the Holy Spirit. Your ignorance is astounding.

  • Luke Peto

    I suggest you sort out your erroneous understanding of the nature of the Bible, divine inspiration, and the essential unity of the Trinity, which are Christianity 101, before feeling yourself qualified to discuss the theology of the veil.

  • Luke Peto

    I quote the infallible decree of the Council of Trent: “The sacred and holy, ecumenical, and general Synod of Trent,–lawfully
    assembled in the Holy Ghost, the Same three legates of the Apostolic See
    presiding therein,–keeping this always in view, that, errors being
    removed, the purity itself of the Gospel be preserved in the Church;
    which (Gospel), before promised through the prophets in the holy
    Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated
    with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by His Apostles to
    every creature, as the fountain of all, both saving truth, and moral
    discipline; and seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are
    contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which,
    received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the
    Apostles themselves, the HOLY GHOST DICTATING, have come down even unto
    us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; (the Synod) following the
    examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and VENERATES WITH AN EQUAL AFFECTION of piety, and reverence, ALL THE BOOKS both of the Old and of
    the New Testament–seeing that ONE GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF BOTH –as also
    the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals,
    as having been dictated, either by Christ’s own word of mouth, or by the
    Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous
    succession.” And the Fist Vatican Council: ”

    6. The complete books of the old and the new Testament with all their parts, as they are listed in the decree of the said Council and as they are found in the old Latin Vulgate edition, are to be received as sacred and canonical.

    7. These books the Church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the Church.”

    And further: “4. If anyone shall not receive as sacred and canonical the Books of Holy Scripture, entire with all their parts, as the Holy Synod of Trent has enumerated them, or shall deny that they have been Divinely-inspired; let him be anathema.”

  • Luke Peto

    The notion that the New Testament can contain commandments which are merely relative to a particular age is specious. What other examples are there? Silence of women in church? How convenient. And the comparison with Levitical civil and ceremonial laws is absurd: these were fulfilled and abrogated in a divine act, and oen of such singular importance that all of history revolvesa round it. What such divine act separates the Catholics of today from those of Paul’s time?

  • Beth Van

    So much for the end of our exchanges. All I have to say now, and ever, is Maybe you would be open to some words from Father Robert Barron:
    Up to you. It is always helpful to have a knowledgeable person who has not only read the Bible, but has the training and knowledge to interpret it.

    Deep Misunderstanding about the Bible

    Bishop Robert Barron on Bill Maher and Biblical Interpretation

    for some just a copy and paste of the link will work, others have to go to youtube and type in the title.


  • Beth Van

    I referred Luke peto to these recordings. I will do the same for you.

    Deep Misunderstanding about the Bible

    Bishop Robert Barron on Bill Maher and Biblical Interpretation

  • Beth Van

    It is phenomenal to me that, no matter how often I assert it, and the proof is in what i have written, that my issue has had absolutely NOTHING to do with the practice of veiling. My issue was, and continues to be, the attributes the author ascribes to those women who do veil, as opposed to those who do not.

  • Mara319

    I wear a hat to church. I prefer the hat over the mantilla because I don’t have to take the hat off when I leave the church. As an old woman, my hair is no longer as luxurious as it used to be. I find a hat solves all my “bad hair day” problems.

    I grew up in the Philippines and was educated by American Maryknoll Sisters in the 1950s (back when the Sisters were still wearing their habit.) Back then all us girls wore mantillas to church.

    One Sister told us that we should cover our heads when in church “for the sake of the angels.” It did not matter what you used for covering – it could be a mantilla, a scarf, a hat, a doily, and in a bind, even a clean handkerchief or kleenex. Just cover up.

    She also said that a woman’s head covering is largely dictated by the custom and tradition of a country. For example, in the Philippines and most other former colonies of Spain, France and Italy, the tradition was the mantilla. She said that among women in the northern countries, the tradition was hats. English girls, Canadian girls and American girls wore hats to church. St. Elizabeth Seton wore a cap.

    In college during First Friday Masses to the Sacred Heart, we wore academic gowns and mortarboards.

    Jewish women, too, covered their heads when they worshipped. Used to be with veils, but I am told they now wear wigs.

    Our Lady of La Salette, when she appeard to Melanie and Maximin, was not wearing a veil. She was wearing a magnificent hat – with beautiful flowers radiating brilliant rays of light all around like a halo.

    I go to the Novus Ordo Mass on weekdays and to the Traditional Latin Mass on Sundays. I wear a hat to both – “for the sake of the angels.”

  • Matt

    Luke, my advice, don’t waste your breath. As you can see by reading this thread it’s impossible to reason with a person who refuses to listen to reason. Catholics can be “free thinkers” in this day and age apparently and still consider themselves Catholics “who believe what the Church teaches”, that’s why Catholic culture is in such great shape. Sarcasm. :D

    A few of JPII’s opinions and some of Bishop Barron’s words now trump Saint Paul’s letters in the Gospel, which as you said, are literally the inspired Word of God authored by the Holy Ghost Himself.

    Basic Catholicism 101 isn’t so basic to many anymore. The more we fall away from orthodoxy as a Church (the human element) the more darkened the intellects of Catholics and the world at large will become.

  • Thank you Luke Peto. Well put. It’s very bold to criticize a man whom Jesus called so specially to be His apostle, as Beth Van does. She puts a dichotomy between Paul and Jesus, as if Paul is too tough on women and Jesus is more kind. After all, she says, Jesus broke protocol and spoke to the woman at the well. He also spoke to the gentile Syro-Phoenician woman, and much more “harshly” than Saint Paul ever did to any woman. In fact Paul is often associated with pious women who helped him in his ministry, as for instance, Lydia. These holy women, of course, had no problem wearing veils nor with his admonition (inspired by God) for women to be silent in the churches. One thing that will help her if she is humble is that Jesus will judge her and not Saint Paul. We Irish are stuck with Saint Patrick! I would rather my Judge be Jesus than Saint Patrick. May holy Padraigh forgive me.

  • susan

    Her ignorance truly IS astounding. She’s a feminist with an agenda. Notice how many times she calls others ‘condescending’ when she’s the very definition. Matt was right…..don’t waste your breath.

  • susan

    you read something into his words that isn’t there. You are unjust, arrogant and condescending, and simply spoiling for a fight. You’re a modernist with a big ship on your shoulder and try to tell everyone that St. Paul and Jesus teach different things, when in fact ALL Scripture is inspired by God; so I’ll say once again (and perhaps you’ll actually read it and see it this time)…IF YOU SEE A DICHOTOMY BETWEEN JESUS AND PAUL, IT IS YOU WHO ARE IN THE WRONG.

    And lemme add this….if ‘Bishop Bob’ sees a dichotomy there….HE IS WRONG.


  • Beth Van

    Oh, one more thing……God bless you.

  • Terrence Tuffy

    “For without truth, piety is feeble and without piety, truth is sterile and void.” Suarez