Hats? or Chapel Veils? Or no head covering at all?

IMG_20151213_112855Over at the Anglican Ordinariates Informal Conversation Forum on Facebook, a discussion began today about chapel veils, with a link to an article about how millennial women seem to like wearing them.

I chimed in:  “I think hats are more patrimonial.”

Here’s the hat and jacket I wore last year (and will probably wear again this Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday.  We also sometimes try to wear liturgical colors, especially on the two Sundays of the year our priest wears the pink, er, rose vestments.

I do try to wear a hat when I go to church, but if I forget it, that’s okay.  I’m not legalistic about this.

Chapel veils are lovely and welcome, but I think hats are more in tune with Anglican patrimony.  Of course, we should be careful not to have such huge hats as to obstruct the view of those behind us, or, as one priest observed in the forum, make it difficult to administer the Chalice if he can’t see the face underneath the brim.

_MG_895076I also try to wear a skirt or a dress to church to reflect the complementarity of the sexes.  Again, if I happen to have slacks on and it’s time for Mass and I can’t change, it’s not a big thing.  I would also like it if men and boys would wear a  jacket and tie to church, or at least a jacket or a nice sweater.  But the last thing I would want is for people to feel pressured or judged or unwelcome if they chose to come in more casual dress.

Many years ago, one of my relatives who is not at all religious, decided to go to a Russian Orthodox church in her west coast city for Christmas Eve.   She wore a long dressy coat over equally dressy black slacks.  But she was turned away at the door for not wearing suitable attire, i.e. a dress or skirt.  Well, she never darkened their door again, I’m sorry to say.

In Rome, signs tell you not to enter St. Peter’s with bare shoulders or skirts or shorts that are too short.  It would be good to bring back a sense of decorum, or giving our best to God on Sundays in our dress and our comportment, our observance of silence before and after Mass and so on.  But let’s have it happen organically, in freedom.

Christopher Mahon observed over at the Forum fascinators are also patrimonial.  Our little Anna Trolly has some pretty headbands.


7 thoughts on “Hats? or Chapel Veils? Or no head covering at all?

  1. I got turned away from an SSPX chapel for not wearing a tie and coat. I hate ties and won’t ever wear one again, not even dead. If my clothes are clean and cover most of my body and they object, I will never grace them with my presence – EVER! Such rules are rediculous. Hats on women? Dumb. And ugly. and dumb. Just my opinion. Chapel veils forever.


    • I can’t help but look at those who turn those away from the Mass as a white sepulcher. Would they have turned Jesus and disciples away with dirty hands? Would they have turned the Baptist away? Or St. Francis and his friars? If they didn’t know them, the answer is yes. And if he answer is yes, I suggest those to reread the Gospels.


  2. Back in the 1970’s, a joke emerged about the difference between a “Computer Programmer” and a “Software Engineer” — the former goes to work in a business suit with a necktie while the latter goes to work in jeans and a “T” shirt.

    But, seriously, societal norms have changed. When I was a lad, I wore a suit and tie to church every Sunday and so did all of the other males in the neighborhood — but that was also the norm of professional dress in the 1960’s, so most men owned a business suit, dress shirts, and several neckties. But when I entered the civilian workplace in late 1984, the norms had changed substantially. In the world of research and development, so-called “business casual” had become normative. Professional research staff normally wore shirts with open collars (either a “sport shirt” or a “polo” or “golf” shirt; short sleeves were okay and turtlenecks also were acceptable) with slacks, socks, and dress (leather) shoes. By the mid-1990’s, many men did not even own a suit or even a “sport coat” (a dress coat worn with slacks), dress shirts, and neckties and many professional workplaces no longer required them. Does this affect how people dress for church? Of course — people can’t wear clothes that they don’t possess!

    But, that said, I somehow came to a spiritual awareness in the midst of this transition. The scriptures say that there’s a familial relationship between each of us and God and between each of us and each other. If we are God’s children by adoption, that makes us siblings. I doubt that very many of us feel compelled to don our “Sunday best” to go to visit our biological parents or our biological siblings. So why should we feel compelled to do so to visit our spiritual dad and our spiritual siblings? I’m not suggesting that we should go to church dressed as slobs or dressed in a manner that’s immodest, but I do think that it’s possible to dress neatly and still be comfortable. The “business casual” standard of dress seems appropriate. And for women, the custom of covering one’s head with either a hat or a church veil while in church went out the window decades ago.

    As to the churches of Rome, Italian culture is very different from American (and Canadian) culture. In Italy, the cultural norm is that one does not show one’s knees, one’s shoulders, or even the slightest of “cleavage” in any church. This means that “Capris” and “knickers” are acceptable, but shorts and skirts cut above the knee are not (unless worn with opaque tights or leg warmers). When in Rome, do as the Romans!



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