Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Veils in Church

Q - When my son made his First Communion, Fr. told parents the girls could wear veils if they were family heirlooms/passed down from mother to daughter. My daughter is now preparing for 1st Communion and I found out that Fr. no longer wants the girls to wear veils at all.

When I asked why, the DRE said something about women wearing veils on their wedding day to show subservience to their husbands, and since girls are not subservient to anyone on the day of their First Communion, they shouldn't wear veils...it's an old tradition and isn't proper anymore. She said that is what Fr. has been saying to parents.

Others say wearing a veil shows obedience to Christ, and therefore a veil on a girl for her First Communion shouldn't be looked on as a backwards tradition.

I am a bit torn...in one aspect, I'd like to be obedient towards our Pastor and have my daughter not wear a veil. On the other hand, I think a veil shows purity, modesty, and obedience before Christ as a child making her First Holy Communion.

A - Thanks for the question. Topics like this are quite touchy, so I will try to help you navigate several potential mines.

First of all, you need to talk directly to your pastor. But, you need to do so as someone seeking understanding, not as someone who is going to teach Fr. a lesson. The aggresive attitude doesn't work, I know this from experience. Make an appointment, don't do this after Mass.

Second, let your pastor know why this is important to you. Give him your reasoning behind it, but remain calm and not accusatory in any way.

Third, take your husband with you and leave the kids behind.

Fourth, pray about this issue. Also, pray for your pastor and for wisdom for all in the situation.

Fifth, ask your daughter what she would like to do. This is a personal devotion, not anything that is mandatory. The mantilla (veil) is worn to show humility and dignity before God, not any other human. Therefore, it should not be done for anyone else. It should be chosen by the person wearing it.

The 1917 Code of Canon law required women to cover their heads. But, it also recommended that men and women to sit in seperate areas. While the new code no longer has this requirement as a part of the Church's law, it is still allowed. So, there is no blanket prohibition on veils that a pastor should make on his flock. A good pastor should be flexible enough to allow for different expressions of individual spirituality and devotion.

I hope this helps. Peace to you.

1 comment:

timh said...

Congratulations on handling such a touchy issue so well. As someone who works in a Church Office, I'd like to especially commend you on your first 4 points and emphasize that they have general applications on many other issues as well. I'd change the 5th in that light: Both of you dress modesty and appropriately as for any other type of in-office meeting.