...in America. A friend, looking for Mass times on a visit, came across a parish website which told women to wear different sorts of headgear according to their marital status. I'm not inventing this. Apparently the priest wants a tradition to be established for this in his church.
Uh? I thought it was a joke at first, but no.
I can't imagine why any priest would want to force this sort of nasty humiliation on anyone - or why anyone would go along with it.
Is the idea that the unmarried ladies are expected to feel worse and worse as the years slip by and no one makes an offer of matrimony? Are they gently allowed to slip into more anonymous headgear as they reach a certain age, and their hopes fade?
While on the subject, I got an email from some one who asked if I was "veiled". This baffled me, but I discovered that it's a cult phrase among groupies (yes, I'm afraid it's the USA again) who like wearing lace mantillas in church. They don't use the word "mantilla", but prefer the notion of "being veiled" and are pushing for it to become something that Catholics feel they ought to do.
I had always rather liked the tradition of black lace worn as a decorative headgear for Mass, but this new approach isn't Catholic at all. Being at Mass is the most important and glorious thing that any person can ever do, and to mix it up with obsessions about "veiling" is just nasty.
Any woman can wear a hat - of any colour or design - at Mass and give glory to God by doing so, provided she isn't being smug or vain, and it's a joy to see an array of lovely hats for a wedding or a special occasion. God loves his daughters and good clothes can be a form of artistry and beauty just as other things can. We do NOT believe that women have to "be veiled" and our theology of human dignity, beauty and form helps us to understand why. Our understanding of these things is one of the things that makes us different from Protestants and, as it happens, Islam.