The Post-Dispatch has a story today on the scriptural basis that women cover their heads in church. This requirement, though observed more often in the breach in the typical Catholic parish, is still legally binding upon Catholics today. The excerpts from the article which I post below provide an interesting perspective on the issue by a group that, without recourse to the Canonical arguments, takes its cue from the scriptural mandate–and, ironically enough, as a woman in the article points out, from “tradition”, or as I would rephrase it for a Catholic audience, “immemorial custom”.
As an aside, high-quality mantillas are generally much less expensive than a high quality hat. It doesn’t matter what type of respectful head covering one wears.
If, after reading the two linked articles above, you ask why it matters, check out the follow-up posts to my original “truth unveiled” piece, and the comboxes on all of them.
From the full story by Tim Townsend:
When the apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the Christian church in Corinth 20 years or so after the death of Christ, it’s unlikely he had the $599 Satin Ivory & Black Crystal Tower from Shellie McDowell Millinery in mind.
“Any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head,” Paul wrote to the Corinthians. “It is one and the same thing as having her head shaved.”
It’s a fragment of Scripture that Christians have variously ignored and revered in the 2,000 years since it was written. On display this week in St. Louis — as 40,000 members of the Church of God in Christ gather downtown for their Holy Convocation — is an exuberant reverence for Paul’s words.
“When you come before the Lord, we think you should be as well-dressed as when you come before the president or any dignitary,” Blake said, adding later that the hats are part of a celebration “of what God has done for us, and who God is in our lives.”
But it’s not only Protestant African-American churches that adhere to a head-covering ritual.
Some streams of Judaism believe that wearing a head covering in a synagogue signals a reverence for God above. Traditionalist Catholic women sometimes wear lace veils on top of their heads during Mass. Head coverings are a well-known practice for some Muslim women. A Sikh’s turban is a reminder of his connection with God.
The hats on display in St. Louis this week are about adhering to biblical principals, but they’re also about tradition in the century-old Christian denomination.
“I was born in this church, and for as long as I can remember, women had their heads covered,” said Delores Peterson, 55, of Houston. “That’s what you do when you’re in the house of the Lord.”
Diane Johnson, minding her daughter’s booth, “Diane’s Hats,” said she had been wearing hats to church since she was 18.
“I remember being a little girl, and seeing my grandma wearing a hat and thinking, ‘I can’t wait until I’m old enough to wear a hat,'” Johnson said. “An important part of this church for women is to educate younger women. We’re supposed to train the next generation of women, and passing on this tradition is part of that.”