Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Obligatory Head-Covering-For-Women-In-Church ... Thing

Is the canon law that women's heads must be covered in church still in force?

The short answer is ... NO.

The almost-short answer is ... for the Ordinary Form of the Mass (the "Novus Ordo Missae"), NOT EXPECTED; for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (the "Traditional Latin Mass," the "Tridentine Mass," or the "Old Mass"), CUSTOMARY. Further, the original requirement did not narrow the head covering to a mantilla, nor was there a requirement regarding color. A woman's head covering could be an Easter bonnet (you know, with all the frills upon it), any sort of hat to match your outfit, or simply (believe it or not) a facial tissue held on top of your head with a bobby pin.

The longer and most definitive answer is ... at JimmyAkin.org.

In any case, men may NOT wear a head covering when in church, except for specific clerical headgear (biretta, mitre, zucchetto), and then only under specific circumstances.



Gail F said...

When I went to the TLM Good Friday observance here over the weekend, only a few of us women did not have anything on our heads. I did not feel uncomfortable -- I was a visitor and I felt fine. Most women had lace things like the ones in your picture -- some of which stayed in place and some of which fell off. A few had on those little doily things. But a young woman near me had on the most beautiful 1920s-style cloche hat! She looked great in it. But if you start wearing lovely hats then I suppose you get into the vanity issue, like the wacky Orthodox Jewish women who wear wigs made out of their own hair. Why is long hair in a wig not vain, but actual long hair on your head vain? People find a way around every rule...

artmaster2010-mail said...

Before I learned that we even had a traditional Latin Mass here, I would wear a veil at the novus ordo mass. Thanks be to God, we now have 3 Latin Holy Masses here! Growing up the women/girls had to have their head covered for mass. As St Paul tells us in 1Cor 11. Many Latin American, Asian, Spainis etc wear the lace mantilla. Before God and His holy angels we should have our heads covered. We should imitate our Blessed Mother!

David L Alexander said...


When you come down off the clouds, try actually reading the Jimmy Akin article. The issue is not over the merits of women covering their heads in church, but what canon law says about it. A seller of mantillae claims that the law is still in effect, which gives the appearance of misrepresentation for commercial gain. This writer considers it a laudable custom, one to be encouraged.

In most cultures, and through most of history, women (especially once they were married) covered their heads in public. This would hardly have been unique to our Blessed Mother.

Gail F said...

I like Jimmy Akin's comment that: "Failure to use [head coverings] could be cause for puzzlement, even if it is not legally required." I like the legal sound of "cause for puzzlement."