Re-Asserting a Feminine Tradition – Crisis Magazine

I wear the chapel veil at Mass as an affirmation and an embrace of my feminine difference. According to the ancient traditions of the Church, only women may be veiled in the presence of God…

Tradition binds us together and gives our faith a richness, mystery, and depth that the modern world finds frightening because it cannot be satisfactorily explained.

Source: Re-Asserting a Feminine Tradition – Crisis Magazine

I post about this periodically because I think that veiling – while always voluntary and optional – is a powerful symbol of femininity, and the sacred distinctiveness of women, at a time when our popular, secular society seems to be bound, bent, and determined to eradicate true distinctiveness in, ironically, the name of “diversity.” So this article is particularly powerful, for me, because the author is a woman who is saying the same thing… only much better than I could, and “from the inside,” so to speak. Here are a few excerpts:

“The problem is, the modern world is trying to liberate us from ourselves. Modern society demands that women be able to compete with men, to show that there is nothing actually different about us. The modern world, for all of its lip-service to diversity, is terrified of differences. It does not know how to cope with true differences because it can only see relationships in terms of power struggles: who can best whom, who is oppressing whom? If you are different, if you have a different nature then, the modern world concludes, it must be because some tyrannical force is keeping you from your full potential to be exactly the same as everyone else.

“But true equality is not sameness. God created us male and female and found us to be very good, but he did not ever intend to create us exactly the same, with irrelevant bodily differences that can be hacked off, ignored, or chemically altered as we see fit. God is entirely too fine a craftsman for that… The contraceptive mentality of the modern world is attempting to eradicate this difference, this distinctively feminine difference, in pursuit of its value of sameness that it has mistaken for equality. In these days, when the life of the unborn is held rather cheaply, and the family is under assault, I wear the chapel veil as an embrace of my distinctly feminine nature.”

Two other points, one specific to veiling, the other more general:

“According to the ancient traditions of the Church, only women may be veiled in the presence of God… Men are not allowed to cover their heads in church. When the bishop and the pope remove their head coverings, they are submitting themselves in humility before the presence of God, not asserting some sort of male superiority with their bare heads. When more of society wore hats, it was a much more obvious sign, but even today, we acknowledge that when a man removes his hat, it is a sign of deference and respect—and if you need a reminder, pay attention the next time the national anthem is sung.”

That is powerful. As I said, veiling is voluntary and optional. But for those who choose to participate, this is something they can do that men cannot: women alone are allowed to be veiled, to have their heads covered in the presence of God. Men, in contrast, must “uncover,” they must remove their hats in God’s presence. This is something I was sorta-kinda aware of – of course I knew since childhood that I had to take my hat off in church – but this nonetheless really rather smacked me in the face. There’s more that she shares about this in the article, and it’s worth reading.

And then there’s this, which I quoted at the beginning:

“Tradition binds us together and gives our faith a richness, mystery, and depth that the modern world finds frightening because it cannot be satisfactorily explained.”

To which I can only say, amen!

Author: The Anglophilic Anglican

I am an ordained Anglican clergyman, published writer, former op-ed columnist, and experienced outdoor and informal educator. I am also a traditionalist: religiously, philosophically, politically, and socially. I seek to do my bit to promote and restore the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, in a world which has too-often lost touch with all three, and to help re-weave the connections between God, Nature, and humankind which our techno-industrial civilization has strained and broken.

2 thoughts on “Re-Asserting a Feminine Tradition – Crisis Magazine”

    1. Interesting! That could well be. We do like to have everything all neatly laid out and precisely comprehensible, don’t we? But as Paul also says, “now we see in a glass, darkly (or in more modern translation, “a mirror, dimly”), but then face to face.” Many things will, I suspect, remain Mysteries until we are in God’s nearer presence! (The author of this piece specifically comments on the “because of the angels” line.) Whatever Paul may have meant, I tend to agree with the author of this essay, that – at least for women today, and I strongly suspect, through much of history – it represents respectful reverence. For me, in this case, it suffices to know that it is a traditional practice which is optional and voluntary, as I say, but which has a positive role in the spiritual expression of many women. As a Facebook friend of St. Bede’s comments,

      “As a woman who never actually stopped veiling – I can say that the presence of a woman veiled in the Anglican church in this day and age is still met with stares and smirks….and that from those who would consider themselves the ‘orthodox faithful.’ It is often perceived as excessive piety and a blatant bid for attention. In my most recent Anglican veiled experience, I was stunned to encounter people who had no clue whatsoever what I was doing wearing a “set of lace curtains” on my head to church. But if you deeply believe that the lit sanctuary lamp indicates something as incredibly amazing as what it indicates, then wearing a veil in the presence of Christ is just as natural as priest vesting before mass. Fr. Doe the orthodox Anglican would never dream of celebrating mass in a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and nor would his high church congregation forgive such disrespect. A woman veiling in the presence of God is a beautiful, gracious and mysterious act that only a woman can do….. and it’s a groovy thang….”

      Liked by 1 person

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