While the lay female Catholic blogosphere begins to spiral into the annual discussion of whether or not one should wear head coverings in church, I answer, “Of course, if one has a cute winter hat like mine. You can wear it at work also, and everywhere else outside the home. Spread the cuteness!”
And as we begin the new offshoot discussion of whether or not one should wear head coverings at home to pray (mostly because the Anchoress does it, though I’m sure there’s plenty others), I say that this is obviously a valid but non-standard way to go about Christian prayer as a woman. In both the Eastern and Western traditions, you don’t wear hats and head coverings at home, unless you are expecting guests for dinner or your house is really cold inside. My apartment generally has adequate central heating, so I don’t wear a nightcap when I sleep or a hat when I’m inside. If I wore a hat all the time, I’d wear it when praying, too. But I don’t.
I’m not really a romantic at heart, you see. Not really. I’ve worn a headrail and two layers of dress 16/7 during the height of summer and in the chill of night in the mountains, and that teaches you to think of such things as functional sun-guards and head-warmers, and secondly as fashion semantics statements. They do not keep you from being distracted. (Well, maybe they do you, but not me!) They do not wrap you up like a precious gift. They do not veil you like a monstrance. They are clothes.
(And I’m really glad I was in a medieval recreation group from before lace, because lace not only snags instantly when I touch it, but gives me hives if it’s made of nylon. We will say no more, because there were lacemakers and people who did tatting in my family and they will kill me for disrespecting their craft. Fear the crafters!)
The ancient tradition was to wear head coverings in church to maintain certain formality levels, so that we don’t presume too much on the fact that it’s the family house of our clan, the clan of God. We wear them for the sake of the non-adopted people in the house — and our family friends and bodyguards, the angels — instead of going bareheaded like a woman in her own home with nobody but family. We don’t wear our pjs and fuzzy slippers to church, either.
Everything else is a happy pious thought. And of course, it’s not bad to have happy pious thoughts, or individual prayer techniques and devotional practices. Half of the coolest stuff we have started as happy pious thoughts. And not everybody thinks that you wear a linen headrail in summer mostly because linen is incredibly slow to dry, especially after you dunk it in that nice cool Pennsylvania crick in back of the woods campgrounds and make your head happy.
But I just can’t see substituting “this is the way I think of it” for “actually, this is what it says in scripture and tradition”. (Also, no creepy stuff about angels falling for the children of men because of their hair. The Byzantines only thought this way because they had eunuchs and creepy stereotypes about them.)
Y’all do what you want, of course.
What is freaky is that we women actually tend to care what other people think about this stuff. Parenting posts get very strange when mothers actually worry about what Mrs. Q down the street says she does with her little Johnny and that they aren’t being good mothers because they don’t do the same. Unless I paint myself blue and show up to cantor, I’m fairly sure nobody in my parish cares what I wear on my head. Only on the Internet do people make comments about this stuff.
(Okay, maybe a giant bandage would get comments. Or something super-cute, like my new winter hat. But other than that, no.)