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Victoria
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« on: December 22, 2010, 08:17:23 PM »

I’m sure most converts ask this question at some point but I’m sort of getting conflicting  information. There is only 2 OC churches in my town-very conservative Russian one and more liberal Greek. I’ve been to both but people were more friendly in Greek church so that’s where I’m going now. However noone covers their hair there(in Russian church EVERYONE covers their hair).
That wasn’t an issue for me until I realized what Corinthians teaches about women covering their hair at church and ever since then, I had desire to do it for that reason. However, I feel weird about it because I will be the only one there with the scarf on my head. I also don’t want to come across as”more holier than thou” type. I was told by others its more of a “choice” thing-if I want to do it, its fine but if I don’t, its fine too.
Also(and this is really more of a fashion question)-I have lot of scarves but they are all in bright colors/patterns. I have the feeling it may not be appropriate. Am I right?
Any advice is appreciated Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2010, 08:23:34 PM »

A couple of recent threads on the topic of head coverings are here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,31627.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,27613.0.html

I'm not sure what to advise about the Greek parish you want to attend.  For some reason Greek women seem to have dropped this particular tradition.  Perhaps someone from the Greek Church can advise you on whether it would be a really big deal if you came to liturgy with a scarf.
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2010, 10:08:03 PM »

I’m sure most converts ask this question at some point but I’m sort of getting conflicting  information. There is only 2 OC churches in my town-very conservative Russian one and more liberal Greek. I’ve been to both but people were more friendly in Greek church so that’s where I’m going now. However noone covers their hair there(in Russian church EVERYONE covers their hair).
That wasn’t an issue for me until I realized what Corinthians teaches about women covering their hair at church and ever since then, I had desire to do it for that reason. However, I feel weird about it because I will be the only one there with the scarf on my head. I also don’t want to come across as”more holier than thou” type. I was told by others its more of a “choice” thing-if I want to do it, its fine but if I don’t, its fine too.
Also(and this is really more of a fashion question)-I have lot of scarves but they are all in bright colors/patterns. I have the feeling it may not be appropriate. Am I right?
Any advice is appreciated Smiley


Follow your conscience, and not just what everyone does.  You know what the Scriptures say.  Maybe you actually care what they say and that is why your heart gives you that desire.
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« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2010, 10:16:30 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I’m sure most converts ask this question at some point but I’m sort of getting conflicting  information. There is only 2 OC churches in my town-very conservative Russian one and more liberal Greek. I’ve been to both but people were more friendly in Greek church so that’s where I’m going now. However noone covers their hair there(in Russian church EVERYONE covers their hair).
That wasn’t an issue for me until I realized what Corinthians teaches about women covering their hair at church and ever since then, I had desire to do it for that reason. However, I feel weird about it because I will be the only one there with the scarf on my head. I also don’t want to come across as”more holier than thou” type. I was told by others its more of a “choice” thing-if I want to do it, its fine but if I don’t, its fine too.
Also(and this is really more of a fashion question)-I have lot of scarves but they are all in bright colors/patterns. I have the feeling it may not be appropriate. Am I right?
Any advice is appreciated Smiley


Never feel dissuaded from practicing your worship in the way in which God has been tugging at your heart.  If God is pushing you to want to worship with your head covered, then don't let social etiquette get you on the wrong track, do exactly as God makes you feel to do.  If you focus on other people during liturgical worship you miss the point entirely.  Focus on your own internal, spiritual self. You are going to liturgy to stand directly in the Real Presence of our God and King Jesus Christ, don't worry about what other people think.  Especially if it is only a matter of splitting hairs over Orthodoxy.  I would say go with a white prayer shawl in the spirit of sincere humility and worship.  More than likely, the other women will actually be impressed and in the terms of the Apostle Paul, it might even provoke them to spiritual jealousy (not to be confused with envy) and get them back on track to their own conscience.  Many people at my own Church often come to me and tell me exactly how I inspire them in the correctness of my worship in the service, which I in turn learned from the inspiration I received watching others worship in this stricter manner.  We each teach and build each other through example alone, not condemnation or finger pointing. 

You are not inherently pointing the finger at the other women simply by doing what you feel is right. Now then again, if that becomes part of your intentions I would say that is greatly inappropriate, but if indeed you feel the need to worship with your head covered do it! It is not foreign to Orthodox at all, generally it is the norm across the board and you may just in the Holy Spirit spark a revival Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2010, 10:22:18 PM »

Depends upon your heart. When a friend of mine asked a priest if she should start wearing a kerchief to church, he said "If you do it to honour God, then do it. If you do it so old men won't stare at you durring liturgy, than don't. If everyone is wearing one, then go ahead. Either way, you are here to honour God, not drown yourself in culture." Just a thought.
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« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2010, 10:26:26 PM »

i attend an OCA church with roots in the Russian tradition- very small congregation...but no one covered their hair....like you, i had very strong feelings toward covering so i spoke with my priest who heartily endorsed it...to get around the "holier than thou" problem, at coffee hour i shared with a few of the ladies how i felt and why....another time i asked if they would have a problem if i started to cover and they were all gracious and agreeable to it....since i started, one other young woman has started to wear a scarf- i understand that she did at one time but stopped when she was only one...started again after i did....

i have several scarves as well and try to choose monochromatic ones of simple fabric over the more involved ones- not wanting to attract attention to myself....

hope this helps...

btw, i also cover when i say my evening prayers at home at my icon corner...it reminds me that i am covered by my Lord at all times...

love and prayers, lynn
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« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2010, 10:28:44 PM »

Thanks for your input, Lynn Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2010, 10:42:48 PM »

In our church very few women cover their heads, yet my wife will not enter the church without some sort of head cover, usually a hat - not a babushka/scarf. I suspect that the use of such scarves probably declined in use among many of the Slavs because of the desire to 'become American' in the mid-century rather than being some sort of religious statement. Let your heart guide you and remember, that it is better to be in church than not to be there and don't judge others by what they wear - as long as it is respectful and in good taste. (Don't judge them anyway.....I think I was just expressing a 'fashion' statement there within my opinion.)
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« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2010, 11:09:06 PM »

While it's never been common in any Greek parish I've attended, I've also never seen anyone who did wear one be treated poorly.  While Greek women here don't wear them generally, they usually are quite aware that in their "homeland" villages the head-covering is the norm.  I'll echo what others have said - if you're moved to wear it, and for the right reason, then wear it.
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« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2010, 03:23:32 AM »

In my Church I have only seen a couple of women cover their heads on a regular basis, but interestingly, several put on a scarf before receiving communion, then remove it after returning to their seats.  Even those ladies are in the minority though.
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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2010, 03:10:26 PM »

In my church, every female wears a head covering when taking communion.  Some leave them on during the Liturgy.  Most are white in color and have a lace type pattern or have a picture of St Mary, St George, St Mena, or HH Pope Shenouda.  I am a convert to the church and before being baptised it took me some time to get used to seeing this.  However, now that I am partaking of this Holy Sacrament wearing a head covering is very important to me. It reminds that I am humble at the feet of my Lord and that He is "covering" me.   
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2010, 03:44:30 PM »

When I first began inquiring into Orthodoxy, I asked an Orthodox fellow I know some questions. One of the things I had heard was that women can't wear pants in the church. So I asked about it. He gave me the answer to my question, but then also told me of women veiling.

Now I gotta admit my jaw just about hit the floor when he mentioned that. I was like "they DO?" and the unspoken part was "like the MUSLIMS?" (conveniently forgetting that women in the RCC also covered their heads until about 1970.)

Well, the thing that helped me understand was when this fellow in a very kind and non-judgmental way said to me, think of Mary, the Theotokos. Have you ever seen a picture of her without a head covering? Of course the answer was "never"...even in portraiture that's meant to mock her, the head remains covered. Then the light came on. I liked the idea of being in imitation of the Theotokos, plus I have a great deal of respect for this individual so if it's that important to him to mention it to me, well...

So I've happily worn a headcovering almost from the start of attending the OC, but now I wear it for my own spiritual benefit vs pleasing that other fellow. I see it as my "veiled treat" as it were. Men don't get to do that.

Of course each person must make up their mind regarding headcovering but I encourage it because it really does put you in a different headspace at worship...at least it does for me.  At the risk of sounding "convert crazy" I feel like when I have on my headcovering, I go from being the somewhat "sassy", boisterous, and some say "intimidating" large sized Afroe'd sistah I am to being a virtuous, gentler more 'feminine' woman like in Proverbs 31.  I definitely feel more feminine in my scarves. Kind of like the spiritual version of the mild mannered bespectacled Clark Kent entering that phone booth and emerging as the very powerful and decidedly virile Superman with that cape (no disrespect intended but you get the idea).  

Ok, so maybe this may sound a bit prideful to some, but this past October, I got the best compliment ever in my life. It was at a GO church I visisted in another city (about 150 or so in attendance at Liturgy, but only 5 women in the entire place veiled) and after the Liturgy a guy came up to me and said to me "you look like a good Orthodox girl." It was the best compliment ever since I'm not even chrismated yet!
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2010, 04:13:32 PM »

When I first began inquiring into Orthodoxy, I asked an Orthodox fellow I know some questions. One of the things I had heard was that women can't wear pants in the church. So I asked about it. He gave me the answer to my question, but then also told me of women veiling.
Now I gotta admit my jaw just about hit the floor when he mentioned that. I was like "they DO?" and the unspoken part was "like the MUSLIMS?" (conveniently forgetting that women in the RCC also covered their heads until about 1970.)

The Muslims copied the practice from Christians, and then took it to a rather unhealthy extreme.

Well, the thing that helped me undertand was when this fellow in a very kind and non-judgmental way said to me, think of Mary, the Theotokos. Have you ever seen a picture of her without a head covering? Of course the answer was "never"...even in portraiture that's meant to mock her, the head remains covered. Then the light came on. I liked the idea of being in imitation of the Theotokos, plus I have a great deal of respect for this individual so if it's that important to him to mention it to me, well...

So I've happily worn a headcovering almost from the start of attending the OC, but now I wear it for my own spiritual venefit vs pleasing tht other fellow. I see it as my "veiled treat" as it were. Men don't get to do that.

Of course each person must make up their mind regarding headcovering but I encourage it because it really does put you in a different headspace at worship...at least it does for me.  At the risk of sounding "convert crazy" I feel like when I have on my headcovering, I go from being the somewhat "sassy" and some say "intimidating" large sized Afroe'd sistah I am to being a virtuous woman. I feel more feminine in my scarves. Kind of like the spiritual version of Clark Kent enering that phone booth and emerging as Superman (no disrespect intended but you get the idea). 

Ok, so maybe this may sound a bit prideful but this past October, I did wear my headcover at a GO church I visisted in another city (about 150 or so in attendance at Liturgy, but only one of only 5 women in the entire place veiled and after the service a guy came up to me and said I looked like a "good Orthodox girl." It was the best compliment ever since I'm not even chrismated yet!

In a really cold church I've sometimes wished I were a monk or a woman so I could wear a hat.

In my Church I have only seen a couple of women cover their heads on a regular basis, but interestingly, several put on a scarf before receiving communion, then remove it after returning to their seats.  Even those ladies are in the minority though.

I saw a lot of women do that in Greece.

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« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2010, 04:31:54 PM »

These are all very interesting stories concerning the wearing of scarves.  While very few in my church actually use them, I personally like to see women wear them.  I think it is both feminine and adds to the sense of devotion during the worship.  Like the holy icons, the candles, making the sign of the cross, and the beautiful singing of the choir, the headscarves add to the whole liturgical worship experience.  It gives one a greater sense of being in a holy environment. 
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« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2010, 04:43:32 PM »

These are all very interesting stories concerning the wearing of scarves.  While very few in my church actually use them, I personally like to see women wear them.  I think it is both feminine and adds to the sense of devotion during the worship.  Like the holy icons, the candles, making the sign of the cross, and the beautiful singing of the choir, the headscarves add to the whole liturgical worship experience.  It gives one a greater sense of being in a holy environment.  

Exactly. The priests' hats and vestments add to this holy environment also. As a layman, I try to dress nicely, but without ostentation, so that even my clothing will be part of the beauty and order of the church. It seems to me that women, like male monastics who also cover their heads, are a sort of special order within the church. Women can be great exemplars of humility, like the Theotokos and Christ Himself. And in the Church, the one who is most humble is most exalted. I don't feel women should be forced to wear head coverings; but those who do so should be proud to cover their heads, because it seems to me to be a special privelege.
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« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2010, 09:43:23 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!



The Muslims copied the practice from Christians, and then took it to a rather unhealthy extreme.



As I pointed out on the Virgin Birth thread, the Muslims borrowed quite a lot of practices from the Orthodox, including collective fasting, ritualized prayer, and a tendency towards pilgrimage.  Orthodox and Muslims used to be quite good friends, and we have had our moments.  Unfortunately we have had our mutual tragedies as well Sad

Stay Blessed,
Habte Selassie
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2011, 10:31:01 PM »

Someone once said that women should cover their heads while praying. If that is so, and we are to be in constant prayer, then that would mean wearing it always!?
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« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2011, 10:50:16 PM »

I have never taken the verse about praying constantly literally, though I understand that in some works, such as "the Way of the Pilgrim" it becomes automatic through constant practice.  For most people, I don't think it is possible to pray every second.

From the OCA website:


"In his letter to the Romans St. Paul instructs Christians to "be constant in prayer." (Romans 12:12) In his first letter to the Thessalonians he says simply, "pray without ceasing." (I Thessalonians 5:17)"

"These two commands of the apostle have been interpreted in the Orthodox tradition in two different ways. The first way, mentioned by St. John Chrysostom and St. Dimitry of Rostov, is that Christians should have regular times for prayer which they never skip - "in the evening and the morning and at noon day" (Psalm 55:17) - and then in between they should always remember God and do all things to His glory (cf. I Corinthians 10:31), offering up supplications and petitions as the need may arise, praising and thanking when the occasion requires it. Such is the normal way that all Christians must live."


"The second way of interpreting the teachings about unceasing prayer is that men should actually pray with conscious awareness at every moment of their lives, and even in their unconscious selves while their bodies are sleeping. This understanding of "unceasing prayer" was developed in the monastic tradition, but then spread rapidly throughout the whole membership of the church. It became very popular in recent times, mostly through the appearance of the book by the anonymous Russian peasant called The Way of the Pilgrim."

I am not sure about the concept of "unconscious" prayer, or even the feasibility of being really aware of what one is praying when engaged in activities such as balancing the books, entertaining guests, loving one's spouse, etc.  I try to be fully aware of what I am saying to God rather than reciting a memorized prayer that I can think or say without really paying attention to it.
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« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2011, 12:42:18 AM »

I’m sure most converts ask this question at some point but I’m sort of getting conflicting  information. There is only 2 OC churches in my town-very conservative Russian one and more liberal Greek. I’ve been to both but people were more friendly in Greek church so that’s where I’m going now. However noone covers their hair there(in Russian church EVERYONE covers their hair).
That wasn’t an issue for me until I realized what Corinthians teaches about women covering their hair at church and ever since then, I had desire to do it for that reason. However, I feel weird about it because I will be the only one there with the scarf on my head. I also don’t want to come across as”more holier than thou” type. I was told by others its more of a “choice” thing-if I want to do it, its fine but if I don’t, its fine too.
Also(and this is really more of a fashion question)-I have lot of scarves but they are all in bright colors/patterns. I have the feeling it may not be appropriate. Am I right?
Any advice is appreciated Smiley

I cover in church, but no bright colors.  I use lace veils like the Catholics, they're light enough and go with anything.
To me, covering is not a big deal.  It's just something you do in church if you're a woman.
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« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2011, 02:31:53 AM »

Wow, I thought all women in Orthodoxy covered their heads....I am going to Vespers at a Skete, it's a very small group in attendance, and the first time I went into the chapel Father asked me to cover my head ( I had a scarf on..just for fashion - how fortunate!) and now I take a scarf every time.  We also say prayers with incense in the studio before beginning our icon writing lessons, so we follow the same practice there.

We also take our shoes off before going in to the chapel, it is of course full of icons.  If I do go and attend a liturgy at a regular OCA church - do I take my shoes off there as well?  Or does that vary by location too?

I love the scarves....I was raised RC before Vatican 2 so I vaguely remember my family wearing the lace head coverings, it feels very natural to me.
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« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2011, 02:45:58 AM »

You don't take off your shoes in most Orthodox churches. You'd probably get some funny looks if you tried.

We do it at my church, but it is a blending in of some pious Ethiopian customs. It in the norm, I think, in their churches.

Head-covering varies from parish to parish. Almost all of the women do it at mine, but not at many of the others I've visited in my city.
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« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2011, 02:49:47 AM »

Wow, I thought all women in Orthodoxy covered their heads....I am going to Vespers at a Skete, it's a very small group in attendance, and the first time I went into the chapel Father asked me to cover my head ( I had a scarf on..just for fashion - how fortunate!) and now I take a scarf every time.  We also say prayers with incense in the studio before beginning our icon writing lessons, so we follow the same practice there.

We also take our shoes off before going in to the chapel, it is of course full of icons.  If I do go and attend a liturgy at a regular OCA church - do I take my shoes off there as well?  Or does that vary by location too?

I love the scarves....I was raised RC before Vatican 2 so I vaguely remember my family wearing the lace head coverings, it feels very natural to me.

The lace ones are my favorites...  light and pretty.  The only thing is that if you tie them under the chin (you have to if you're going to bow), some of them will feel uncomfortable on the skin, the lace will itch.  But I live with it...  it's not as bad as putting on a silk or chiffon headscarf and fixing it every five minutes as it keeps sliding off.
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« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2011, 10:42:06 AM »

My friend was in Malasia and there they took shoes off (it was an EP Mission).
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« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2011, 11:59:37 AM »

I am not sure about the concept of "unconscious" prayer, or even the feasibility of being really aware of what one is praying when engaged in activities such as balancing the books, entertaining guests, loving one's spouse, etc.  I try to be fully aware of what I am saying to God rather than reciting a memorized prayer that I can think or say without really paying attention to it.
From what I understand, the prayer of the heart is not supposed to be a sort of automatic pilot where you can "set it and forget it" and not "pay attention" while doing other things. It's about the human being living in a state of constant prayerful communion with God, noetically. It's unconscious in the sense that John the Baptist didn't have a fully developed brain or adult consciousness when he leapt in his mother's womb before Christ and His Mother. However, the nous or spiritual faculty can be aware of and know God and pray to Him without such consciousness. This doesn't mean less attention or awareness, but really more.
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« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2011, 03:39:33 PM »

The lace ones are my favorites...  light and pretty.  The only thing is that if you tie them under the chin (you have to if you're going to bow), some of them will feel uncomfortable on the skin, the lace will itch.  But I live with it...  it's not as bad as putting on a silk or chiffon headscarf and fixing it every five minutes as it keeps sliding off.

My favorite head covering is one my daughter made for me out of one of those pashmina scarves you can find in bulk at craft stores and such places.  They're very, very soft and she cut it into the triangular shape that ties under the chin (hemming the edges). Once it's tied on, it doesn't slip around, and since there's no rough lace it's very comfortable.
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