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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I’m trying to understand why it’s important to wear the veil. I came across this and I don’t understand it.

“Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head—it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. 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. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels.” —1 Corinthians 11:4–10

I kind of resent being told I was created for man. I don’t understand why that’s the reason to have a veil on my head. And what does it mean by “because of the angels”?

 

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Outline of the Answer
• Introduction
• Social Dignity
• Demonic Influence
• Social Acceptance
• Angels and Fallen Angels
• Woman is the Glory of Man
• The Example of Mary
• To Wear a Veil Properly
• Summary

 
This passage is often misunderstood. Not only will you find that many women today who wear a chapel veil at Mass cannot explain the real reason for covering their heads, but also you will find contemporary Biblical commentators trying to “explain away” this passage by saying that it refers to an ancient social custom that no longer has any relevance to today’s world; then they will say that they don’t have a clue as to what Saint Paul meant about “the angels”.

The truth is, Saint Paul was emphasizing a mystical principle here that is just as relevant today as it was in his own time; moreover, being mystical, not secular, this principle has no sexist implications.

To understand the passage, we need to distinguish two separate concepts: (a) social dignity, and (b) lust as one form of demonic influence.

 
Social Dignity

In the ancient world, even the pagans recognized the value of human dignity and used clothing to protect that dignity. Slaves may have gone around nearly naked, but respectable citizens wore fine clothes to mark their social status. Moreover, slaves may have had their heads shorn to facilitate their menial labors—or to strip them of their individuality and dignity—but respectable women kept their hair long as a statement that they had the freedom and the means to care for their beauty. Respectable women also kept their heads covered as a form of natural and social protection.

Notice carefully: protection, not mere custom.

For both men and women, head coverings protected the hair and face from natural elements such as sun, wind, and dust. Furthermore, head coverings protected women in particular from the social danger of men’s lust.

Note that, in a paradoxical twist of psychology, an ordinary veil tends to cover something only to incite the viewer to wonder what is behind the veil. When a veil is used as a head covering, however, it serves a function different from an ordinary veil. Rather than hide a woman’s head from view, the veil makes a psychological and spiritual statement about the woman’s dignity and thereby protects her from any lustful gaze.

Keep in mind here that all humans have a basic human dignity as individuals created by God, but that men and women also have a particular dignity deriving from their gender. Men have the dignity of being fathers, and women have the dignity of being mothers.

  

For the Jews, these gender roles derived from God Himself, and the male-female bond in marriage symbolized God’s personal care for humanity. Christianity heightened the meaning of this bond, pointing to its penitential, prayerful, and sacrificial nature of personal renunciation for the sake of the Kingdom of God. 

  

Consequently, a woman—whether pagan, Jew, or Christian—of Saint Paul’s time protected her social, feminine dignity by shielding her head from the gaze of men, to signify that she was, or intended to be, a mother,[1] and that she was not a slave to lust.

Saint Paul referred to this concept of social dignity when he said that a woman, like a slave, loses her dignity when her hair is shorn, but the point he makes about a woman covering her head during prayer takes us a step beyond the social level into the mystical realm of demonic influence.

 
Demonic Influence

Chapter 6 of the Book of Genesis tells the story of the origin of the Nephilim. Biblical commentators tend to dismiss this account as something borrowed from ancient mythology and therefore of no real theological value. Sadly, they miss an important point.

Nevertheless, Anne Catherine Emmerich, in her mystical visions of ancient Biblical history, brings us right to the point of the story of the Nephilim.

  

I saw Cain’s descendants becoming more and more godless and sensual. They settled further and further up that mountain ridge where were the fallen spirits. Those spirits took possession of many of the women, ruled them completely, and taught them all sorts of seductive arts. Their children were very large. They possessed a quickness, an aptitude for everything, and they gave themselves up entirely to the wicked spirits as their instruments. And so arose on this mountain, and spread far around, a wicked race which by violence and seduction sought to entangle Seth’s posterity likewise in their own corrupt ways. Then God declared to Noe His intention to send the Deluge. During the building of the ark, Noe had to suffer terribly from those people.

  

 

The Life of Jesus Christ
Vol. 1, Sin and Its Consequences, Ch. 5
as told by the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich

 

The point of this story is not just that wicked spirits—that is, fallen angels, or demons—can exert a powerfully negative spiritual influence over us, but that one primary pathway of this demonic influence is seductiveness and lust. 

  

We know that lust is a sin because it is one of the seven deadly sins [2]. Lust is a sin precisely because it makes a person into an object; that is, it sees another person in terms of whatever pleasure that person can bring to you. Whereas love wishes good to someone,[3] lust seeks your good at the use of someone. You can use a person in actuality or in your imagination, but, either way, lust, being the opposite of love, is an act of hatred.

  

 
Social Acceptance

As infants, we all need acceptance from our parents in order to receive from them the resources necessary for our survival. Moreover, throughout childhood we continue to need parental acceptance so that we can grow and thrive. But as we progress through childhood and adulthood, men and women, because of their natural God-given differences, develop different identities from which to gain acceptance from the world in general.

Traditionally, men get acceptance through their minds, using mental strategy for mastery in business and science. They also get acceptance through their bodies, using physical strength for mastery in such things as athletics and combat.

Traditionally, women get acceptance through their minds, using emotional sensitivity for success in such things as raising children, teaching, and health care. They also get acceptance through their bodies, using physical attractiveness for mastery in social status and seduction.

Notice, however, that none of these paths to social acceptance can impress God. Military power and athletic prowess mean nothing to almighty God, and business and science are trifles to the all-knowing God. Similarly, emotional sensitivity and physical attractiveness are unsurpassed in the spiritual realm. Therefore, if men and women take pride in these paths to social acceptance they give offense to God because pride is an act of hatred for the divine.

  

This is why military and police uniforms, athletic insignia, and showy jewelry cause scandal during divine liturgy.

  

As for the demons, military power, athletic prowess, business, science, and emotional sensitivity are all irrelevant, but, well, physical attractiveness is something to be noticed. The demons feed on lust. They also feed on the hatred underlying pride.

Consequently, both men and women need to present themselves before God—and to protect themselves from demons—with reverent humility. Moreover, women in particular need to protect their physical attractiveness from demons with reverent modesty. Furthermore, in church especially, where we open our hearts in deep vulnerability to Christ, women need to protect themselves from demons by covering their heads, the apex of their physical attractiveness, with a holy veil, lest their attractiveness, with its underlying desire to be accepted, become a pathway for demons to accept them and enter their vulnerable hearts.

 
Angels and Fallen Angels

The Church has always known that angels exist. The Bible recounts many stories about the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Moreover, even today in the Angelus we recall how an angel announced the Incarnation to the Blessed Virgin, and even today, at Mass, in the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) we affirm that angels carry our sacrifice to heaven. We also know that demons exist because Christ cast out demons as a regular and on-going aspect of His healing ministry.

  

Many persons today—even many priests—propagate the false idea that when Jesus cast out demons He was really curing a mental illness. But the truth is, Jesus well knew the difference between a demon and a psychological or medical problem. How could the Lord Himself not know His own creation?

  

Saint Paul, too, knew that fallen angels exist, and he knew of their demonic influence. He knew that fallen angels can take possession of women, rule them completely, and teach them all sorts of seductive arts. That’s why he warned women to cover their heads when they pray. He knew that if a woman in prayer covers her head, she protects herself from the gaze of the fallen angels and thereby denies them the opportunity to feed upon feminine immodesty and pride. Therefore, when a woman covers her head in prayer she takes a noble stand in the great spiritual battle against evil. 

  

The entire Church Militant is faced with this spiritual battle—but it cannot be fought just with a manual of prayers to recite with your lips. Christ Himself taught us that the real weapon against evil must come from deep within the heart: for the love of God, deny your desire to sin.[4].

  

 
The Example of Mary

Consider the following passage from the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich who, in the course of her extensive spiritual visions, witnessed the actions of the Blessed Virgin just before the Annunciation.

  

Anne seemed to be very busy about the household affairs, and for a time she moved about here and there, while the Blessed Virgin ascended the steps to her room. There she put on a long, white, woolen garment, such as it was customary to wear during prayer, a girdle around her waist, and a yellowish-white veil over her head. The maid entered, lighted a branched lamp, and retired. Mary drew out a little, low table, which stood folded by the wall, and placed it in the center of the room. . . . When the little table was prepared, Mary laid a small, round cushion before it and, resting both hands on the leaf, she gently sank on her knees, her back turned to her couch, the door of the chamber to her right. The floor was carpeted. Mary lowered her veil over her face, and folded her hands, but not the fingers, upon her breast. I saw her praying for a long time with intense fervor. . . .

  

 

The Life of Jesus Christ
Vol. 1, The Most Holy Incarnation, Ch. 3 (The Annunciation)
as told by the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich

 

Now, if Mary wore a veil simply for social reasons, then why would she bother to put on a veil to pray when she was alone and hidden from human eyes? Well, she wore the veil for spiritual reasons, not for human reasons, and every woman today would do well to take her as an example.

 
Woman is the Glory of Man

Still, many persons today say, “This is all ridiculous. Let’s bring Christianity into the modern world!” 

Well, in order to further its anti-Christian progressive liberal agenda, our culture of insanity has been working for decades to undermine reverence for God by defiling the natural, God-created differences between men and women. Today we are all being taunted by demonic influence to blur gender differences,[5] and even Christians are becoming blind to the pernicious cultural insanity surrounding them and slowly infiltrating the Church and the core of faith itself.

Yet in the book of Genesis we are told that the desires of man’s heart are evil from his youth—that is, from “the start” (see Genesis 8:21). In other words, men are prone to lust as a fact of (fallen) life, just as much today, in the modern world, as in the past. Furthermore, demons can “fan the flames” of that lust and then feed upon it, just as much today, in the modern world, as in the past. So from where shall come any help? Well, it comes from women.

To understand this, let’s remember that in the reproductive act, the woman receives the man. Hence when Saint Paul said that “woman was made for man.” this is a statement of logic; woman was made for man means that woman’s sexual function was made to receive the man’s sexual function. Neither function is superior or inferior, and so there is nothing sexist or demeaning about this fact.

That woman is the glory of man, then, means that when women shield their sexual function from lust they take up a God-given spiritual authority to put men in their proper spiritual place. Consequently, the containment of a man’s lust must take place especially through the help of a woman. If a woman detaches herself from worldly approval, renounces lust, dresses modestly, acts in all things with humility, and then protects herself from demonic influence by covering her head when she prays, she will be of glorious spiritual help to men.

But, although the veil is worn over her head, she must pray for it to cover her heart, as the fulfillment of her renunciation of pride and lust; thus her veil will be real protection, not just a rote obligation.

  
To Wear a Veil Properly

To wear a veil properly, wear it for the love of God, not for the sake of duty.[6] But let the veil be a proper veil, such as an elegant scarf or shawl covering your shoulders and head, rather than a flimsy piece of lace precariously balanced on the top of your head. Similarly, a cropped lace “veil” that exposes the back of your head fails in the true function of a veil. For the same reason, a hat also is not liturgically appropriate. Furthermore, a hat can just as well be worn socially to increase a woman’s attractiveness, so wearing a hat in church has no protective purpose for a woman. 

  

Nevertheless, because hats are socially acceptable for women in all circumstances, a woman of lukewarm faith might wear a hat in church to fulfill the “duty” of covering her head while comfortably knowing that she will not lose the acceptance of oppositional women [7] who refuse to wear a veil.

  

A veil of duty that looks like she plopped her husband’s handkerchief on her head.

A chopped veil that falls short as a proper veil.

A good lace veil that covers the back of her head and neck.

An elegant use of a scarf as a chapel veil.

Put on the veil before entering the church and don’t remove it until you have left the church. Why? Well, remember that Christ is physically present in every Catholic and Orthodox church, and to encounter Him with chaste respect a woman veils her head before stepping into His presence. The veil brings protection and honor to any woman’s deep, prayerful encounter with the holy; the veil is not just a “duty” of the Mass itself. 

It is also most beneficial for a woman to wear a veil when praying formal prayers (such as the Rosary) outside a church, whether in public (such as in a Eucharistic Procession or outside an abortion facility) or privately in her own home (as did the Blessed Virgin herself).

Furthermore, let the veil be a true affirmation of modesty, such that all of your clothing is modest and reverent. A woman who wears leggings or jeans or slacks (instead of a loose skirt) while wearing a veil resembles an ostrich with its head buried in the sand while its butt is pathetically exposed [8] for all to see.

 
Summary

Think of what happened in the mid-20th century: reverence for the Blessed Sacrament was lost; the beauty of Gregorian chant was neglected; devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary declined; women stopped covering their heads when they prayed—and demons frolicked in the Church.

When stripped of its divine dignity, Christianity is reduced to the intellectual nakedness of humanistic sentimentality. In that forlorn place, truth becomes nothing more than diversity. “What’s impurity?” we say. “God is love. God created everything. Everything is good and pure.” With purity diluted to the point of irrelevance, belief collapses. And where, then, does that leave faith? That’s what Jesus asked. “But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (see Luke 18:8).

So where is our help now? Well, if women dress modestly at all times, and act with reverent humility in all things, they will be a holy influence on men and society, and if they cover their heads when praying they will protect themselves spiritually from the gaze of demons who feed upon pride, irreverence, and impurity.

Women have a crucial mission—a mission of purity—in liberating themselves, the Church, and society in general from the oppression of pride, irreverence, and impurity that, day by day, are increasingly attacking us all.

Our help is in the name of the LORD, Who made heaven and earth—and Who made woman as the glory of man, to honor her and protect man from himself.

 

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Notes.

1. Nevertheless, some women may willingly renounce marriage and motherhood for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Infertility, however, is another matter.

2. The seven deadly sins are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, gluttony, sloth, and lust.

3. To love is to wish the good of another. See Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I–II, 26, 4. Saint Thomas acknowledged that this definition of love came from the writings of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. (See Aristotle, Rhetoric ii, 4).

4. Consider that Dante’s Divine Comedy begins with Dante lost in a dark woods; he tries to escape by climbing over a beautiful mountain but is driven back by three fierce animals, a leopard (symbolizing lust), a lion (symbolizing violence) and a wolf (symbolizing malice). He then has to face his inability to guide himself and, renouncing his cowardice, agrees to follow Virgil down into hell as the path to Purgatory. Allegorically, this means that in order to attain holiness we must all descend into the inner hell of a “will to sin” that lurks in the unconscious of us all and that will lead us to our doom unless we encounter it and pass beyond it with a courageous desire for purification. For more information about the psychological aspects of this healing process, see my book Healing.

5. For example, a cultural ideal for women today is to forsake feminine modesty, throw off the yoke of the “supernatural,” and adorn themselves with lust and anger. To get on the fast track of social success, women are encouraged to compete with men by dressing in the same uniforms as men, to compete with other women as sex objects, and to compete with both men and women in business by acting like hostile, cold-hearted men. 

6. In its psychological sense, duty has nothing to do with love. When you act out of duty you are trying either to gain someone’s approval or to avoid losing someone’s approval. Love, in contrast, has no ulterior goal; the purpose of love is love. Love is its own reward.
     Nevertheless, it is possible to speak of one’s “duty” to love and worship God, but when used in this unique theological sense the word duty simply points us to a need to avoid being careless about, or ungrateful for, the ineffable love which God bestows upon us. 

7. Such as women fallen under the influence of feminism. And feminism, in turn, is an ideology fallen under demonic influence. So a woman who refuses to wear a chapel veil is really wearing a Satanic “veil”: the occult veil of demonic influence.

8. It’s also pathetic for a woman because if the demons cannot make a frontal attack because of her veil they will come up from the rear to attack where her defenses are weak.

Read an opinion of dissent . . .

 


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