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'Quick Help' Page: Women / Covered Heads (Veils)

 

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Arrow Question / Issue:

"Are women still required to cover their heads when attending Mass?"

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

[click link(s) below, as applicable]

As Scripture says... (emphasis added) [NAB Translation]

"But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head. But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil. A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given (her) for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:3-16) [Note that the "exemption" indicated by St. Paul is for those women who wish to be argumentative. Surely holy, humble women wouldn't have been argumentative with St. Paul (who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit!)]

Also, the requirement for women's head coverings is ancient and was specifically stipulated in Canon Law until recently. The new 1983 Code of Canon Law does not specifically mandate a veil, however the 1983 Code of Canon Law states...

* Can. 21 In a case of doubt, the revocation of a pre-existing law is not presumed, but later laws must be related to the earlier ones and, insofar as possible, must be harmonized with them.

* Can. 28 Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 5, a contrary custom or law revokes a custom which is contrary to or beyond the law (praeter legem). Unless it makes express mention of them, however, a law does not revoke centenary or immemorial customs, nor does a universal law revoke particular customs.

Therefore, the new Code of Canon Law does NOT revoke the previous law or custom since the new Code of Canon Law...

* Does NOT revoke the pre-existing law

* Does NOT institute a contrary custom or law

* Could NOT revoke it since it makes no express mention of the immemorial custom (which has been a law in the Church since it was decreed by the second Pope - Pope St. Linus, who reigned after St. Peter himself)

Besides, of course, there is no "expiration date" for Scripture which clearly says women should wear a veil for prayer.

So the short answer is YES, women are to cover their heads in church. The fact that many don't (at least at Novus Ordo Masses) is very unfortunate and should most definitely be corrected.

Did you know? It is still possible – thanks be to God! – to lawfully attend the Traditional Latin Mass (a Mass in which 'many'/'most' women typically know to wear veils). The Traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Mass differs from the 1960's Novus Ordo Mass in many & significant ways (try here for more information). To locate a Traditional Latin Mass in your area, try here.


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