Sunday was a life changing moment for me, as I entered the church of St. Michael with a headcovering. Greeting us at the door as we entered, was our parish priest, who appeared surprised that his suggestion was taken seriously. I'm sure if you knew the women in that parish, you would agree that a few tongues were going to wag. Better yet, if you knew me, a very strong-willed woman, you would have bet that this change would never happen. Yet, it did, and today I am different, somehow.
I'm not accustomed to wearing a headcover, and didn't know quite how to go about it. That worked out, the night before, I went to bed dreading tomorrow was Sunday, and praying for the courage not to back out on the decision that my husband supported me on. We both agreed it would not be easy or popular.
I'm a cantor at church, which means that I couldn't hide in the back, but am positioned at the very front, outside the doors to the side. Singing the Liturgy is what I do. I have read extensively what the bible and saints of the Orthodox Church have had to say about Christian women vs pagans, and headcoverings and how important a deal it is. I knew I was inappropriately dressed, it's that nagging feeling you get inside.
Irregardless of the outcome, I must do the right thing. I was totally opposed to it at first, not understanding, but judging initially, that I was being made to be "submissive" to men. This is the furthest thing from the truth. I have an unexplainable sense of having become more of a woman. Men are distinctly masculine and the femininity of women compliment each other. (1)"Always emphasizing the equality between man and woman Chrysostom admonishes the man "not to dishonor her who governs next to thyself." It is a question of issue, which is "order" not superiority, or inferiority.
We know there is an order to the angels, St. Michael is a Captain. More honorable than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, is the Theotokos. We get to participate in her Glory and imitate her by the wearing of a head covering. The veil, or head covering is your badge of authority, your power. I felt a sense of overwhelming joy and courage (exousia), experienced as a child of God, in my ordered place, and knew somehow that the angels rejoiced. The angels, who display in their realm, the characteristic of "obedience."
Wearing a head covering is an Apostolic tradition, removal of the veil is disobedience, pure and simple. Sunday, the angels rejoiced as I showed my obedience, saying "yes" to God, Your will and not mine.
I took my rightful place in God's ordered universe, singing to Him with the voice that He created, along with the Angels, "Holy, Holy, Holy. Rejoicing, and worshiping God wearing a head covering in the presence of all, I felt beautiful and loved.
Reference: (1) www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis miscellaneous articles
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