Tuesday, August 2, 2016

St. Paul and Capille

Since the Pater Zeddissime is syndicating bits of one Fr. Scanlon OFM.Cap., on the subject of ladyfolk and liturgy and Ecclesiology, I thought I'd put in some 2mils on the topic of head-coverings...

It's perhaps becoming cliché that, in Liturgy, beautiful and distracting things are to be veiled. The chalice and patten, before they are put to work, the Tabernacle, the ministers themselves in their Sunday finery under chasuble/dalmatic/tunic... One priest at a wedding I went to affirmed that even the words we use are veiled in Latin and Chant --- not so that we might forget that they are there or what they mean, but to protect both us and them.

And something of this principle is already clear in the exegesis Paul himself gives for his direction on head coverings (and the particular difference between men and women in this wise):
15 But if a woman nourish her hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.
which follows immediately after
14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that a man indeed, if he nourish his hair, it is a shame unto him?
(I should perhaps mention here that,... I do have long hair, and also am a "gent", or so I hope, but if you think what I do to my hair is nourishing, you've another think coming)

That is, a woman should tend her hair and keep it beautiful; and a man should not (not so much); and because a woman's hair should be beautiful the same should be covered for liturgy (and also there shall be Revolution). A man's hair, on the other hand, should not be distracting.

There are, of course, a couple of interesting points about hair in the Old Testament. On the one hand, Samson (poor fellow) was told never to cut his hair nor let blade touch his head. I kinda don't think we're supposed to take Samson as a good person (not untill, perhaps, the very end)... anyways, his hair shows forth his humiliation when it is eventually shorn off. On the other hand, Absalom... of him it is said
25 But in all Israel there was not a man so comely, and so exceedingly beautiful as Absalom: from the sole of the foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 And when he polled his hair (now he was polled once a year, because his hair was burdensome to him) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred sicles, according to the common weight.
not just a looker but eager to quantify it... and which may be how he was finally caught after his last rebellion; the Vulgate says that in the oak he was caught by his caput while his mule kept going; but others interpret this as being caught by his considerable hair! Like... stranger things do happen in the bible, but it's still hard to imagine Absalom being caught by the head not by his hair, and surviving long enough to then be murdered by the general he's been fighting all the while.

But there is one more point about St. Paul and hair and glory et.c. ... St. Paul was the first Tonsured. That is, he was forcibly shaven by some unruly folk, in Damascus I think, so as to humiliate him (and very likely there was blood shed, too); but being a humorous lot, the church inverted this sign and proceeded in time to tonsure all its clergy, certainly in solidarity with Paul, but also as yet another sign of our awaiting and being prepared for martyrdom (though, of course, not trying to provoke it either).

We don't tonsure quite so much these days anymore, and similarly don't so much insist on capped womenfolk. Perhaps hair doesn't distract us so much anymore? But in any case, the two customs go together.


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