Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wearing the Veil at Mass in Korea

One of the priests with a doctorate in liturgy, writing a weekly column on liturgy in the Catholic Peace Newspaper, has an article on using the veil at Mass. Personally he finds the appearance of women offering the Mass with veils as something very beautiful and has mentioned this often.

It is often said that for women to use the veil is discriminatory. Another criticism we often hear: in other countries they no longer use the veil why do we insist on its use here in Korea? Even though in other countries they do not use the veil is there any reason we should not if we think it a good thing ? Is his response.

The wearing of the veil is undoubtedly not a duty. There is no law mandating a woman's use of the veil. Therefore there is no reason a woman should feel guilty or have any misgivings for not wearing a veil at Mass. However, when we talk about inculturating the liturgy to the Korean way then the veil is a good example. Our custom of giving a beautiful veil to those being baptized is a wonderful practice and if we understand the meaning of the veil, profound.

In the Old Testament the wearing of the veil signified that the person was unmarried. (Gen. 24:65) In the New Testament Paul mentions that women wear the veil, it was not a liturgical law but the custom of the day. Woman's hair was the husbands glory. Adorned hair in those times was a worldly luxury and going into a sacred place it was natural to want to cover it. Therefore a person of faith attending Mass expressing simplicity and modesty would use the veil. It would also bring to mind their baptism and new birth with the white veil. Covering the hair that was adorned was also a sign of humility and modesty.

Korean women for the most part still wear the veil. It is something that they have no difficulty in doing and is a beautiful sight at Mass as the columnist mentions. It is an easy way to remember baptism and the sign value of what we do should never be underestimated. Losing the meaning of signs can be very detrimental to not only our spiritual life but to our living a fuller life.