Saturday, January 21, 2012

Headcoverings, Latin Mass, and All that Jazz

Here's my confession: I love headcoverings. Love 'em. It's really what makes Orthodox Judaism tempting to me (and the fact that they speak another language and seem to be secluded from the world), but of course I resist because of that whole Jesus issue. A while ago, I made a friend who makes headcoverings - and I thought, yeah I like those. So I started wearing them. Then I started wearing them more. Then I started not leaving the house without them. Then my neighbors started staring.

To be fair, my neighbors do not include 1950s housewives

I liked wearing them. They're comfortable, they protect my hair from dust, dirt, and pollen - which gets all over me when I am working out in the yard and digging through my garage. I have a ton of hair, which takes a lot of time to wash and dry, so I don't like unnecessary hair washing. To Mass, though, I like to wear a chapel veil. 

Something like this, although I think mine is even smaller. 

My friends here in Naples took this all in stride. They know that I am a little peculiar anyway, so a few of them made some polite inquiries when I brought it up and then just went on. I joked about looking Amish, which seemed to break the ice, and everyone moved on. I got a couple of compliments on the snoods from some guys in my parish, including an older gentleman who said "Very granola, I like it!" His sentiments are shared by those at my grocery store. I shop at Whole Foods, so lets be honest, nobody even bats an eye - they're all crazy hippies there who wear long skirts and funky scarves. I haven't really gotten more than a few negative reactions and I know that doing this attracts attention, so I am prepared. Also, to be fair, I wear headcoverings with some rather unusual outfits: with jeans, tank tops, etc. I'm not exactly walking around looking Amish...that only happens on baking days. 

I may look something like this on baking days. 

This all doesn't bother me. And I have met other Catholic women that cover, although most of them don't do it full time. I get excited - I want to chat with them about it. Who do they like the best? A Snood for All Seasons? Liturgical Time? Garlands of Grace?? So many great stores to choose from! What always makes me laugh, though, is that as soon as they know I cover they say something along the lines of, "I've never seen you at Latin Mass!" In our area, there aren't a lot of Latin Masses, so they probably know everyone who goes to them. I smile and share that I sing at the 5pm Mass with my husband. Their brows wrinkle in confusion while they try to smile, and it's understandable: for Catholics, we connect head covering to the Latin Mass, not the Novus Ordo. 

I have no problem with the Latin Mass. I enjoyed a few in Virginia and Alabama, when I lived in those places. I'm all for freedom to worship in whatever tongue you like - Latin, Spanish, English, French! Long live variété, mes amis. Yet I do have a teeney, tiny problem: the idea that Latin Mass is better. I've met a few folks now who say they're reverts or converts, really getting into their faith, talk about going to confession every week, adoration, and...Latin Mass. Like it's a natural progression: the holier you get, the more you want to go to Latin Mass. This really bugs me. If you just prefer it, great! Have at it. But there's no value judgment to be put on it, and to say that there is, is to be borderline schismatic and also theologically incorrect. The Mass is always awe-inspiring, a miracle, the "source and summit of our faith" - always! Whether it's celebrated with guitars or chant, in English or Latin, reverently or irreverently. The Mass remains the same. 

Am I being overly sensitive? I hope not. I know in religious circles, people are especially sensitive about others being "holier than thou," even though it's usually just everyone trying to be the best servant of God they can. I don't think these people are trying to put me down so I don't take it personally. But I take it personally for Jesus, who is truly present at my 5pm praise and worship Mass just like He is at their noon Latin Mass. He would meet them in any Mass, no matter how much they disliked the music or their fellow Catholics manner of comportment and dress. As much as they are free to prefer that Mass, I hope they would also extend respect for those who prefer a different kind of worship. 

Deal? Deal.


  1. Have people actually said something to you about Latin mass being "better" or are you just inferring that from how they speak of it? To me, it seems like people should (as you said) equally appreciate both, but there is nothing wrong with someone preferring one and choosing to attend that. I know for many people, they grew up when that was the ONLY mass option, and find it comforting. For others, like myself, I want to go simply for the experience of it. I love hearing my dad talk about what mass was like when he was little and, until fairly recently, didn't even know the Latin form existed. But I certainly hope that no one is saying things to you for your choice of mass!

    1. It's funny because the large majority of people I see at Latin Mass are young. Older people seem to be the most liberal in my area, wanting guitar Masses where liturgical heresies are celebrated.

      You'd be surprised the things people say. Mostly on the internet...I think anonymity helps!

    2. Very true. As I said to Cam with the combox mess the other day, that's a major downfall of blogging... people say things to others that they would NEVER say in person!

  2. I think when most people (not all, but most) say "the Latin Mass is better" what they mean is that they find the structure of the Mass more conducive to meditation and prayer. I don't think they mean one Eucharist is *better* than another. I do know some who won't receive Communion at an OF mass, but I don't think that applies to most.

    Personally I'd like to see a Mass that is kind of half and half.....readings in English, Prayers in Latin, priest faces away from the people but waits for people's responses....that is just me though. :)

    I'm new to head-covering and wear a chapel veil to Mass. I'm usually the only one because I generally go to an OF Mass too. I don't do it outside of Church though. It took me months just to wear it to Mass. lol.

    1. I know this is hard to believe, but I have met not just a few, but many people, who want to go back to Latin Mass ONLY and would never attend or receive at an OF Mass. These people tend to believe that only if we do that will the reverence return to Mass and everything will turn around in the Church. I am the first to say that I think fixing liturgical abuses will help the Church, but I don't think that necessitates what they're suggesting...

      It's funny, Katherine, because I too would like a half and half Mass! I love the Mass parts in Latin, I don't mind the priest facing away...and I really do like more traditional music too, it just happens that my husband needs my voice in the 5pm Mass!

      How do you like wearing your veil to Mass so far? Have you found it helpful?

    2. Sorry I'm stalking your blog right but I just got really excited to see that others are half-and-halfers like me! xD I have heard many of my friends say that the Mass in Latin is "better" and that we should go back to it only being said in Latin. It drives me crazy. I love the Latin Mass... but Mother Church had good reasons for doing what she did when she changed it to the vernacular. Part of the beauty of the Church is liturgically correct diversity... that's what I think anyway :")

    3. I think there are a lot of half-and-halfers out there!! We should unite!!

  3. I have tried Latin mass and just don't think I get as much out of it because I can't understand the words and don't know how to respond. I am glad that others agree that they have equal value. I think it is all about finding what works best for each person as an individual.

    That being said, there are some college students at the local Newman center who wear the coverings at morning English mass. I've wanted to ask them about their choice but am not sure what to say that would be curious but not nosy or rude. Are there theological reasons to choose to cover as well as practical and stylish? Where does a gal with no friends who make them get some? Alternatively how does a crafty person make them? Finally, how are they attached to the head so as to not blow away?

    1. Hi Sashah!
      There are some theological reasons that women give for covering their heads - I think the best blog to explore on that topic is:
      As for where to get them, there are lots and lots of places! The blog above, run by Cammie, links to her shop on Etsy. You can also get them here: or here: .
      As to how to make them, I've no idea! I believe if you search 'mantilla pattern' or 'snood pattern' you could find some, but I've never made any, so I wouldn't know!
      Many of the veils above are attached with a clear comb, but I secure mine with bobby pins. Since you only wear mantillas inside the sanctuary, you shouldn't really have to worry about them blowing off...and head coverings worn outside the church building itself usually tie, like head scarves and the like.

      Also, as to your comment about wanting to ask about them, I think questions asked in good faith and politely would be well received! Something along the lines of, "excuse me, I noticed you are wearing a head covering, and I've always been curious about them. I know this might be too personal, but would you mind telling me a bit about why you choose to veil?"

      Thanks for reading!


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