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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

1 Corinthians 11, 1-16

Take me as your pattern, just as I take Christ for mine.

I congratulate you for remembering me so consistently and for maintaining the traditions exactly as I passed them on to you.

But I should like you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

For any man to pray or to prophesy with his head covered shows disrespect for his head.

And for a woman to pray or prophesy with her head uncovered shows disrespect for her head; it is exactly the same as if she had her hair shaved off.

Indeed, if a woman does go without a veil, she should have her hair cut off too; but if it is a shameful thing for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, then she should wear a veil.

But for a man it is not right to have his head covered, since he is the image of God and reflects God's glory; but woman is the reflection of man's glory.

For man did not come from woman; no, woman came from man;

nor was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man:

and this is why it is right for a woman to wear on her head a sign of the authority over her, because of the angels.

However, in the Lord, though woman is nothing without man, man is nothing without woman;

and though woman came from man, so does every man come from a woman, and everything comes from God.

Decide for yourselves: does it seem fitting that a woman should pray to God without a veil?

Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him,

but when a woman has long hair, it is her glory? After all, her hair was given to her to be a covering.

If anyone wants to be contentious, I say that we have no such custom, nor do any of the churches of God.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

After the question about sacrificed meat, which needed to be answered because of the problems it caused Christians in their relationship with the pagan majority of Corinth, the apostle takes on other problems that are more internal to the life of the community: the way women dress in the assembly, the proper way to celebrate the Eucharist, and the order of the charisms. One problem came from the fact that when some women spoke in the assembly, they did so with their heads uncovered. At that time, this practice could be seen as a sign of immodesty, just as it was inappropriate for a man to stand in the assembly with his head uncovered. Paul finds a meaning for this custom that is rooted in the insights of the Bible, but he does not make it into a sort of dogma. And, in order to settle the question, which evidently had caused no small number of problems, he chooses the path of prudence. What was most important to him was to maintain the good reputation of the Christian community. Once again, prudence is at the service of the edification of the community, which more and more appears to be the disciple’s most important responsibility, just as it was for the apostle. In fact, the most important duty for believers is not to fulfil themselves or exercise their personal rights, but to build up communion among all. This is the first and most fundamental responsibility to which we are called. With a touch of sarcasm, Paul adds, “But if anyone is disposed to be contentious—we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God” (v. 16). The changes that are necessary from time to time should always start from the heart and then reach the exterior. Nonetheless, the choice to be prudent about changing does not mean that the apostle accepts the disparity between men and women. Indeed, he underlines the equal dignity that they share: both men and women are children of the Lord. This affirmation is what undermines every presumed inequality.

Sunday Vigil