Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Those pesky head coverings

Yes, it's time for another Catholic blogger's post about head coverings at Mass. And here you thought I would take a less obvious route after the refreshment of Easter, didn't you? :)

But, dear readers, it has come to my attention that there is quite a serious development in the discussion of head coverings at Mass, and as someone who has definitely addressed this issue before, I would be remiss to avoid discussing it now.

Oh, don't worry. I'm not going to tell you that women are, after all, required to cover their heads at Mass. They're not. Ed Peters, Cardinal Burke, and Jimmy Akin all say so (though Cardinal Burke does think there's an expectation, though a non-binding one, that women who attend the Extraordinary Form Mass will, indeed, cover their heads). It is entirely up to each individual woman to choose whether or not she would like to cover her head at Mass.

No, the issue that has me worried is a corollary to the main issue, and one that, I admit, I haven't thought much about until recently; then, having seen videos, pictures, or images of various Catholic men who are speakers or teachers or leaders, I started to wonder: how many men are carelessly committing the irregularity of covering their heads at Mass?

That men should not cover their heads at Mass is obvious. It goes all the way back to St. Paul, who wrote: "The man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man." 1 Corinthians 11:7 (And, lest any think I'm quoting some modernist translation, that's the Douay-Rheims, folks.)

And in an unbroken line of tradition since then, men have steadfastly not covered their heads at Mass***; it is a venerable practice, and should not be set aside by modernity!

Some are, no doubt, scratching their heads in puzzlement. Men aren't wearing hats at church, are they? What is the problem here?

Now, here I must be delicate, as I will not commit the sin of rash judgment, and say for certain that this man or that must be covering his head in church. Perhaps my alarm is for nothing, and perhaps I am too suspicious. It wouldn't be the first time.

But you'll notice that St. Paul says nothing of hats; he says men should not cover their heads in church. And what is a toupee, if not a covering of the head?

Sure, a man might argue that a toupee is just hair. But it isn't his hair. And many Orthodox Jewish women can satisfy their law's requirement to cover their heads by wearing a wig; what is a toupee, if not a demi-wig?

Other men might argue that the culture looks unkindly at men with bald heads, and that it is imperative that they cover their baldness with a toupee so that their professional careers etc. will not suffer. Perhaps; but do they think that God does not see their actual baldness? Cultural standards of dress are terrible, but we don't automatically approve of every garment at Mass--and a toupee is a head covering, which is prohibited for men from Biblical times.

Still other men might say that they are hardly covering their heads; their toupee merely covers a small bald patch, and represents a tiny percentage of the total of the head. These men might perhaps have an argument, but they must be willing to submit to the Vatican so that an exact percentage of head-covering that doesn't count as "head covering" for males may be determined. I personally think more than 25% is iffy, but the Vatican might go for 33%, instead, and I would bow to their right to rule in this matter.

But would toupee-wearing Catholic men similarly incline the head, so to speak, in humble obedience? I think some would harden their hearts, and continue to be motivated by their vanity and the immodest desire to look attractive to women other than their wives (who have surely seen their uncovered heads already).

The sad thing is that we've spent all this time in discussion and argumentation about women and head coverings (which are, for reasons which continue to puzzle me, synonymous for too many people with mantilla-inspired veils instead of being sensible hats or bandanas or berets or things that actual woman might actually wear out in public). Yet we've ignored the strong likelihood that there are Catholic men violating the principle of not-covering by wearing a wig, or a toupee, or some similar aid to vanity and faux-youthfulness. (And the question as to whether hair-plugs are artificial enough to count as "covering" is one I am too timid to debate.)

Still, I trust the Catholic blogosphere! Surely, now that I've raised this timely and important issue, Catholic bloggers will take up the banner and demand an end to head-coverings for men--because God has counted each hair on each of our heads, and He won't be fooled by this sort of thing.

***I speak of lay men; I believe that there are rules for when and how various clergy-hats are to be worn, and when removed, in church.

NOTE FOR THE HUMOR IMPAIRED: This entire post is a joke. I wrote it to illustrate the kind of hand-wringing that goes on here and there in the Catholic blogosphere about whether women ought to be forced to go back to covering their heads in church. Surely we have more important things to worry about! :)


The Ranter said...

bwahahahahahahaaaa Oh my goodness, I am laughing so hard right now!! Thanks for this.

LarryD said...

Ha ha! Good one, Red.

Next you'll have to put up a post about proper head coverings when blogging.

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, Larry, that's easy. Catholic bloggers should wear one of these:


Except for Jimmy Akin, who should wear this one instead:


priest's wife said...

actually....stop it with the ball caps men!!!!!

freddy said...

HA! Excellent!

Nathan said...

This is very much an appropriate posting for the Easter Octave. I'm reminded of the lyrics to the wonderful hymn "Christ, the Lord, is Risen Today," of which the second line is "Christians, haste your vows toupee."

Dosen't that make a rug liturgically appropriate?

In Christ,

Red Cardigan said...

Nathan: :) !! LOL!

Karen M. Patrick said...

Toupees in my personal opinion should be banned, but for a very different reason. Have you ever tried sitting behind a man wearing one at Mass? Resisting the urge to laugh distracts oneself from the true focus of the Mass and as I am sure you are all aware the urge to laugh at a bad toupee(although I've never seen a good one!)is not easily resisted.

Scott said...

Very funny. And of course the entire post is a joke. But the disclaimer isn't and isn't "hand-wringing that goes on here and there in the Catholic blogosphere about whether women ought to be forced to go back to covering their heads in church. Surely we have more important things to worry about!" a somewhat sneaky and premature declaration of victory?

For the record, I have no horse in the race over head covering, but I've read some excellent and well-reasoned defenses of head covering that can't be dismissed with a hand wave.

Red Cardigan said...

Um, Scott, no. Did you read the Jimmy Akin article I linked to at the top of the post?

The question is settled. Women are NOT required to wear head coverings. Whether they ought to do so out of personal piety etc. is up to each one, but there's no chance that the law will be revived requiring us to do so.

Scott said...

Women are NOT required to wear head coverings.

Didn't say they were. I meant there are good defenses for wearing them. I don't know if there are good arguments for requiring them. Rather I was more concerned with the whole "this is a peripheral issue" line which frankly, I hear too often from progressivists.

Tony said...

What I find most humorous is your obsession about what other women are doing with regard to covering their heads.

As far as my own head status goes, a long time ago I realized that God wanted me bald. About 7 years ago, I said "thy will be done" and have never looked back. I now don't worry about the head God gave me covered with anything including hair.

Hero of Cantebury said...

... wait... I'm confused.

Women can choose to cover or not...

but based on the same bible verses men are not allowed to cover? Even with a toupee?

Sense is not being made.