Alana Zimmer for Numéro May 2007 ''Immaculée''
Photographer Miles Aldridge
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The Importance of Veiling
The number one question I tend to get is, "How did you find the Eastern Orthodox Church," with the expected answer always being something like research or someone else told me to try it. However, my actual answer is, "I wanted to find a church to start practicing veiling."
I grew up your typical Midwestern, Evangelical Protestant in Southern Ohio. I went to church every Sunday with my grandparents up until I was about 13, around the time I realized I was unsatisfied with my church. I did my research on and off for a few years of different denominations and joined a Methodist-based Christian sorority in college, dabbled in Buddhism like every Gen-Z high schooler has, and even was a self-proclaimed Atheist for a few years. Senior year of college and the pandemic forced me to start looking a little deeper and suddenly, I was hit in the face with veiling for Christian women.
Veiling was NEVER something I had ever considered up until this point in my life. If you asked me what my opinion was several years ago, I would probably make a comment on how restricting and oppressive it was, women shouldn't be forced to wear a piece of fabric on their heads if they want to attend church! It seemed foreign and insane to me.
I can't remember exactly how I came across veiling, but all I remember is watching some video on Jewish Orthodox women and the importance of the tichel and the sheitel to them. I was fascinated by this, that something that seemed so restrictive actually gave them a freedom in God's grace. For the next few weeks, I couldn't stop thinking about it and what it meant for a Christian. Could I wear it too? Would someone mistake me as an Orthodox Jew or Muslim? Is this something Protestants even do?
I suddenly was drawn to it, the beauty in this sign of humility before God, as well as a reminder of the bridal relationship between Christ and the church. Every time I now wear a head covering in church, I know I am in obedience to God’s command in Scripture, and being respectful for the holy traditions of the Orthodox Church. "Head coverings encourage humility. Godly women come to church to focus on worship, not to draw attention to themselves. A girl may be tempted to show off an attractive hairdo. When a woman wears a headcovering, this temptation is removed. She can focus on prayer, instead of on hair."
St. Paul said in the first epistle to the Corinthians, "Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head.” (1 Corinthians 11:5). A beautiful article I read as well quotes looking up to the Theotokos and the Saints as examples, "Virtually every icon of an Orthodox woman displays her wearing a headcovering. As far as I know, the only exception is St. Mary of Egypt, and she was a solitary saint who lived alone in the desert, far away from any people. Among the female saints who participated in society, all of them wore headcoverings, and their headcoverings are shown in icons. Even Mary the Mother of God–the most blessed woman in the entire universe–is shown in icons, wearing a headcovering. Can you think of a better role-model for women?"
I encourage each and every women to at least try veiling in church, especially when there are so many options to stylistically pick from!
A beautiful quotes and some visual examples of how to wear a veil to finish, "My wearing a head covering is not only a symbol or sign that I am in agreement with His order, but that I visibly, willingly submit to it. With submission comes blessing.” (Christa Conrad)
Man's headcover for High Holidays, late 1800s-early 1900s.
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My thoughts on Veiling are complex, so I want to start Journaling is out here.
1 Corinthians 11:1-16 - Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
I was always taught growing up in my Southern Baptist church that the laws from the Old Testiment were fulfilled by the Sacrifice of the Cross and no longer had to be followed, but the New Testiment rules were what Christians were to follow.
1 Corinthians is FIRMLY in the New Testiment, so why don't we follow this?
Excuses I've heard so far are:
It no longer applies to culture
We no longer see hair as a promiscuous thing (why the Christians were taught to cover, to look different than the prostitutes of the time)
Jesus says come as you are (uh, where??)
It would make Christians look weird
What?? What I'm hearing is we aren't going to follow direct orders to cover our head (at least in prayer and worship) because it's an outdated practice and we no longer need to be separated from those of the world...
Something sounds SO wrong about that.
Based on that alone, here are my current reasons TO cover:
Give Glory where Glory is due
We are called to stand out from the World
It's a New Testiment command
Jesus says, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15)
I have other, more personal reasons as well...but for now, these are the basics.
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Ermanno Scervino f/w 2013 rtw
Creative Director Ermanno Scervino
Photographer Francesco Carrozzini
Hello! How are you? I have been interested in veiling during prayer and church services (and possibly all the time), but I’m not sure how to start. Do have any suggestions? I’m Catholic.
Hello friend! This makes me so happy to hear!!
My #1 recommendations would be to start slow if you've had no experience and find what style of veil works best for you and your lifestyle.
For me, I alternate between a few different styles for church, a loose fitting chiffon or linen long scarf tied similar to a hijab, a square satin scarf folded into a triangle and tied underneath my chin, or a handkerchief style tied under my hair. Depends on my mood and the temperature for the day, but there's also several other styles, like turbans, snoods, the mantilla (which is primarily used in Catholic churches/Latin masses) or even just really cloth thick headbands.
For church, start with the something subtle, like the handkerchief style. That way, you can build yourself up and get used to the feel of it on your head when praying, crossing yourself, participating in the Sacraments without attracting too much attention to yourself, it looks like a normal thing that women wear today. Also, it's tied onto your head, so there's a slim chance of it slipping down or falling off. Then as you get more comfortable, if you want, move to a different style! I prefer the almost hijab style as it has the most coverage while being very lightweight.
For everyday, it's a similar process but it's important to be mindful of security and temperature, even more so than in church. Invest in something, no matter the style, that won't fall off all the time and discourage you from continuing or something that won't make you sweat to death.
I typically get my head covers from Amazon or Shein, however another wonderful website to find particularly amazing everyday veils is Garlands of Grace. There's also a few wonderful FaceBook group dedicated to veiling Christian women who are wonderful resources, Veiled Wives - Traditional Catholic Wives and Headcovering Christian Women
I hope this helps and God Bless you!
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What was the predominate view on 1 Corinthians 11: 2-16 throughout church history?
What was the predominate view on 1 Corinthians 11: 2-16 throughout church history?
Henry Alford (1810-1871)
“1 Corinthians 11: 2-16 – The law of subjection of the woman to the man (vv. 2-12), and the natural decency itself (vv. 13-16), teach that women should be veiled in public religious assemblies.The women overstepped the bounds of their sex, in coming forward to pray and to prophesy in the assembled church with uncovered heads. Both of these the Apostle disapproved, as…
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