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#247192 07/31/07 02:02 PM
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Some debate whether in the Latin church the custom of women wearing head converings was menat to be lifted. It was never officially changed, but it was not reinstated in a certain release of canon law. So some debate what this means. I am nt interested in that here, though people may say what they want.
My question is about the Christian East. I do not think I see women in head coverings the times I have visited Orthodox Churches. Maybe I just did not notice. But was this a custom in the East? For how long? and when did it change and why? I do not think the Orthodox even have canon law, so I would be interested to know how this played out in their churches.

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In the Russian Orthodox parishes we have visited, not only are all the women wearing head-scarves, if a woman dared enter without one, she would receive one at the door.

After we discussed this in religion class one year, all the girls showed up the next time wearing head-scarves!

Perhaps it is considered an "old-fashioned" thing of the "old country."

But it is entirely scriptural!

Feminine modesty was and always will be a most attractive gender trait!

Alex

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Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic

it is entirely scriptural!

Feminine modesty was and always will be a most attractive gender trait!


I totally agree Alex! I have been veiling for some time. I could never go back to the practice of unveiling.

Searching East,

If you look at the latest photo (Old Believer Church) you will notice the women appear to be veiled (or maybe I am wrong and this is some other practice?) There have been other pics posted here on the forum where the Orthodox women have been veiled (and pics showing Orthodox women not veiled). I recall some pics from US and some from Russia and the women were veiled. I think it was the pics from Russia where the head coverings came entirely around and underneath the face (did not cover the face).

I will try to do a search to find these BEAUTIFUL pics. If I find, I will post.

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In my Melkite parish very few women wear head coverings (even though we supply them at the door). In the Latin Church it was always a custom (a discipline established by usage), and the discipline has fallen out of use.

Fr. Deacon Ed

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Women covering thier heads has been a custom in the Church for thousands of years. How widespread was it? I don't know. However, think of all the icons, both contemporary and ancient that depict women saints. Their heads are coved.

Women who want to cover their head should not be discouraged from the practice. If a church mandates it, women should follow the custom.

My girlfriend wears a head-covering whenever she attends paraliturgical service or the Divine Liturgy. Alternately, when we find ourselves at a Roman Liturgy, she affords that Church (it's Liturgy and other services) equal respect by wearing a head-covering.

Sadly, while we attended the Divine Litugy at the Melkite Convention, an older woman apporached her and thanked her for wearing a head-covering. The woman told us that in the old country, most of the women wore head coverings, but when she came to America, the women here chided her and belittled her for wearing a head-covering and she stopped this practice that she loved. Very sad in my opinion.

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In all of OCA churches I have attended, some women cover their heads, and some do not. I never sensed any tension whatsoever between the two groups. Also, some of those who wear scarves do not wear them through the liturgy of the catechumens, but only during the liturgy of the faithful-or perhaps only during part of the liturgy of the faithful. At the Byzantine Catholic parish I now attend, a few of the women cover their heads, though most of them do not. Again, I sense no tension between the two groups. I've noticed that all of the women who wear scarves or some other head covering do so for the entire liturgy.

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IMO, if a woman wears a head-covering, she should remove it whenever she goes up to stand "under" the Gospel (something we do in the Melkite Church when the Gospel is read) and when she recieves communion.

Just an opinion. I have only seen a few women who do this.

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In the Antiochian Orthodox churches in Australia, scarves are available for women as they line up for communion. It depends on the inidividual priest whether this custom is up to the discretion of the individual woman or is enforced. The bishop, Paul Saliba (who served in the US), does not enforce it.

In our Melkite churches, some of the older ladies and a sprinkling of the younger generations wear scarves or mantillas (throughout the whole liturgy), but they would never make more than 25% of the congregation. The church makes no comment either way.

Here, ladies stopped wearing hats or mantillas in the Latin churches in the 60's, several years after the fashion changed in society in general. (That is, the Catholic women were more conservative.) Though the fashion has returned for weddings and very formal occasions here, never more than half the women would wear hats to a nuptial mass (Latin, obviously).

By the way, if you're referring to women in the Middle East, never say "veiled", if you mean a Christian woman is wearing a scarf, mantilla, or hat in church. That term is only used for a Muslim woman who has made the decision to cover herself according to the Hadiith.

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Was the older Melkite woman discouraged from wearing a scarf because in the Middle East only uneducated or less westernized Christian women cover their heads, and when they get here it's discouraged?
Laka,I've heard the opposite, that women should be veiled while receiving communion. What's the rationale behind unveiling during communion and supporting the Gospel? I'm assuming all these women are veiling because of First Corinthians 11. If not, is it just custom?

Admittedly, orthodoxinfo can be a bit over the top sometimes, but this is the most convincing testimonial for headcovering I've ever read:
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/headcoverings.aspx

This includes all women and not just fertile, married women, like some of the Catholic apologists for head covering like to place all their attention on (as if all women are fertile 22 year old newlyweds)
Some of the church fathers interpret Paul's words to mean that women should veil all the time. Until the 1960's a good portion of the world's cultures either required that women cover their heads or bind their hair in plaits or buns (Asians and Native Americans), mainly out of modesty. Now that we're such a sex saturated culture modesty is out of fashion,the power of sexuality is severely underrated, and women's hair is no longer recognized as sexually alluring.I'm not saying that women should return to full time headcovering, but with each year I see the wisdom in it.

As for my church, no more than three women veil during services.I've talked to women who want to but they're afraid they'll be judged as trying to be holier-than-thou and. I really don't think anyone in my church would say anything negative to them. They're also worried about calling attention to themselves and that makes them feel self conscious. What think ye?

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Originally Posted by indigo

As for my church, no more than three women veil during services.I've talked to women who want to but they're afraid they'll be judged as trying to be holier-than-thou and. I really don't think anyone in my church would say anything negative to them. They're also worried about calling attention to themselves and that makes them feel self conscious. What think ye?



Indigo -- Thanks for the article, it was wonderful!

I have to agree with the article on the final motivation for veiling. It was obedience. I read many articles and knew veiling was a good thing, but I didn't think it was necessary. During Divine Liturgy, I would pray for confirmation of the veiling issue. Is this something I need to do? I came to the point of saying, GOD if you want me to veil, help me to be obedient to you. Give me the strength and courage to follow you, even when I am uncomfortable. Your will not mine.

The issue of being judged as holier-than-thou was a huge concern for me at first. But over time I got over it. Funny thing, nobody really gets bothered. I think those in Church would be shocked to see me take my veil off! Since many women don't veil in Church these days, it is hard to be different. Whenever I was in doubt my husband supported me and would ask -- why do you veil? Of course, the reasons for veiling always override the thoughts -- what will they think?

I have been asked by the older women why I veil -- we don't have to do that any longer, why do you. That is not a question with a simple answer. If I were to answer the issues would be -- humility, respect, devotion, modesty, obedience, love, protection and many more. Veiling has a profound impact on my husband and me. You couldn't pay me enough to unveil, that is how much it means to me.

I would suggest to any woman considering veiling to pray and read and pray some more. The practice of veiling has changed me for the good. It has aided my relationship with GOD, my husband, my children, etc....Wives if you want your husband to look at you with the most tender love, were a veil. At least, I have found this to be true and it has been the most unexpected result. I do wonder at times, what results full time headcoving would bring if wearing a veil during Divine Liturgy has brought such a change. But I am not there yet. After reading the article Indigo suggested, I will give it more thought.

In my opinion, women have not gained freedom and liberty in taking off their veils. When we abandon our Traditions, we are on the loosing end.

I have found veiling is an outward sign of an inward reality.

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Originally Posted by indigo
As for my church, no more than three women veil during services.I've talked to women who want to but they're afraid they'll be judged as trying to be holier-than-thou and. I really don't think anyone in my church would say anything negative to them. They're also worried about calling attention to themselves and that makes them feel self conscious. What think ye?


A woman at my parish always wears a scarf on her head in the fashion of a bandanna. She once explained to me privately that she did not want to appear to make pretense of being "holier than though" but in wearing a scarf in such a way and dressing simply "People just think I am poor, which I am!"


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I also find it interesting that "head coverings" for woman are now making a come back in evangelical/charismatic churches as well. They are worn as a sign of obedience and submission to authority.

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Corsair, I'm so glad you enjoyed the article. Sounds like you've really benefited from headcovering and I'm glad you decided to share your experience. I like your last line about the outer practice reflecting the inner reality.
Wearing a simple scarf is a way of avoiding attention or seeming holier-than-thou. That's a great idea. A screaming green chartreuse head scarf might be a bit attention-getting.

I've heard that headcovering was never abolished in the Roman Catholic church, but rather newsreporters misunderstood a Vatican representative during Vatican II and reported that head covers were no longer mandatory. In any case, there's nothing forbidding women from covering their heads. I've only seen headcovering in Tridentine Mass services. In fact, at the one I attended everyone dressed nicely and all females over 12 wore mantilla like scarves. Even some of the young girls wore scarves. Probably in imitation of their mothers and teenage sisters.
Other than a decree of some kind, does anyone think there will ever be a resurgence of headcovering in either the Eastern or Western churches in the Western countries?

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In some of the Western Churches, I would love to see a return to the practice of covering one's near nakedness. wink

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Quote

I've heard that headcovering was never abolished in the Roman Catholic church, but rather newsreporters misunderstood a Vatican representative during Vatican II and reported that head covers were no longer mandatory. In any case, there's nothing forbidding women from covering their heads.


Dear Indigo,

It's funny how the original intent, which is modesty as well as hair maybe being sexually enticing to men, tends to change in time. When I was young, girls in the RCC, would place a handkerchief on their head, and visitors such as I, would do so also as a sign of respect. No modesty in that what-so-ever. Of course when one see's the rediculous clothes some girls, and women, wear in church, crazy what matters hair as far as being sexually enticing is concerned.

In the Greek Orthodox Church, women do not wear head coverings. Considering the heat in the summer that could be understandable. Yet in the monasteries, one must wear headcoverings. I recall a time in Greece, when one must have their arms covered when entering a church. Today, they go into church in every which way. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! frown Yet in the chauvanistic Greek society of the past, I recall widows wearing black outfits very close to what one would consider a burka, even in the summer. (Well, thank heaven they weren't expected to jump into the fire at their husbands funeral.) shocked

I know this discussion has been brought up before, and I did mention that in the Byzantine Empire, they probably wore face coverings. Now I came to that conclusion ever since I saw an ancient Greek statue of a girl from Asia Minor, and she had a veil drawn from one side of her face to the other, covering her mouth. Also when thinking about the cone hats of the Middle Ages, and knowing they originated in Cyprus, figured that the veil hanging from the top of the cone, must have come down on one side, and then been drawn across the face...or it might have been see through, and covered the whole face. (Hey, I was raised in an era, when women wore see through veils covering their face.) wink I have found out since then that my assumption was true. A well known Greek dance troup when performing, had the women from Asia Minor wearing a head covering with a veil hanging from one side, and drawn across to the other side, covering the mouth.

Since then I've noticed that many of the head gear that the women wore in the Middle ages, covered the neck. That might have been drawn up higher to also cover the mouth, as well as the 'horn' head gear, which in itself must have had a veil hanging from it. These coverings must have come into style with the returning crusaders.

Gosh! It's so interesting! cool There are so many things that we don't know, or simply never realized. I also wonder if the over spiced foods eaten during the Middle Ages also came from the Middle East, as well as the Tudor houses. In Greece, the style of homes with wooden beams, and projecting themselves out into the street, are called Turkish houses.

God Bless,

Zenovia

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