Question on canon law and change


Why did the Church change the canon law on issues like the veil/mantilla? What does the Chyrch say about this?
Veil was important only in the past but not anymore?
The Church today have women/girls serving at the altar. Why not keep it like it was before?
And the rule for the Eucharist fast changed. Why not keep the good traditions? Were they not just good but also problematic?
How did the Church reason about the changes?

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These are all disciplines, not doctrines, and are subject to change. But I would like to comment on the Eucharistic fast.

No, it was not good. It was tough on people with health conditions and I remember on a hot summer day someone fainting on the church steps because of it. If you had a tendency to hypoglycaemia, without perhaps knowing about it, it could prove dangerous.

The Church has always made allowances for health problems, but the issue is that some people with health conditions may, through pride, try to maintain a fast that is unhealthy for them.

Since these are changes in discipline and not doctrine, there’s no need for profound reasoning for the changes other than adapting to the times.



The Communion fast was from midnight until you received.

I attend Mass at 5PM. My adult son at 8PM.

From midnight might have worked when everyone attended in the morning. That is no longer the case.

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Keep in mind that if you want to wear a veil or fast longer before communion, they are not forbidden. They are simply no longer required of everyone. Feel free to do more while remembering that those who “follow the rules” are not less reverent than yourself.



And the traditions you mention replaced other, older traditions…

Fashions change. Women used to wear hats and gloves. Now they don’t. Altar servers = males only…I think (I don’t know, I’m guessing) this was a consequence of the idea that women were somehow “unclean” and not worthy to be in the sanctuary area. That idea is more than old fashioned, it’s offensive. The Eucharistic fast–any fast, for that matter–was a relatively “new” idea in the Church. Certainly fasting is well established in the Old Testament. And yes, it’s mentioned here and there in the New Testament. But I’m unaware of Jesus recommending fasting. When questioned, Jesus always told people to do something to help other people, not fast. Fasting as we know it is a Medieval idea (yes, yes, you can trace it back, but that’s not my point–the emphasis on fasting is Medieval).

Church reasoning? Common sense?



First, regarding the veil: It’s important to note that the head covering for women - and it didn’t have to be a veil, it could be a hat or a headscarf or whatever women in a particular area wore - was originally required because it was generally considered good etiquette for a woman to cover her head when she went out to do something important, such as pay a social call on someone above her station like a King…like King Jesus. It was just good manners to wear your veil, or hat, or headscarf, or whatever women in your part of the world wore on their head. It wasn’t something extra special just for church. When the Vatican removed the requirement, it was because Western society in general had moved away from the tradition of women covering their heads in societal settings. You no longer were expected to wear a hat when you paid a social call or went to lunch, so it was archaic to require a special head covering just for church. The gesture had lost the original meaning.

Second, regarding the Eucharistic fast from midnight the night before, this may have worked well when people got up at dawn anyway (as they did in the pre-electric lights era) and went out to Mass very early, after which they could eat and get on with their day. But in modern society when people no longer get up with the sun and often need to attend a Mass later in the day, such as 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 pm, it did not make sense to make people fast for almost an entire day and it created a lot of practical problems for people trying to go about their day without fainting, etc. You also have people today driving distances to church, rather than just walking there as they did in centuries when people did not own vehicles, and obviously it is a danger if you’re operating a motor vehicle and are distracted by hunger or you pass out at the wheel.

People who can handle a longer fast are still able to choose to fast voluntarily. And women who want to wear a traditional veil or other head covering are still able to choose to do these things. They just aren’t forced on everyone, which I think is a good thing.



If women dont need a head covering nowadays why are men still not allowed to wear hats inside a church?



Men have always taken off their hats when they went indoors (it doesn’t matter what kind of building) in the western culture while women could still wear their hats, scarfs etc.

Ask the ladies who are in their 80s and older, what they used to dress like in the 30s and forward. There is always at least one woman who mentions wearing a coat, hat and knitted gloves even during summer heat.



altar servers were males because it was seen as a track to the priesthood.

It no longer is, especially with the elimination of minor orders for 99% of the Western Church - so now there are girls.

It was not because women were viewed as unclean.



head coverings for women is a devotional practice, and a method of what they refer to as “affection for the Eucharist.”

I think they are cool, so if I were a woman, I would wear one. Male layman do not get a special liturgical article of clothing. I think it is cool that women get one. Either way, you, as a woman, have the option to wear one with the 1983 Code of Canon Law



Because men still are expected to remove their hats as a sign of respect. For example, in USA when the national anthem plays at a sporting event, men all take off their hat. So that custom is still in force.



Back when the fast was from midnight, Mass couldn’t be celebrated past noon.




lay altar servers are quite recent, the last century or two.

Prior to that, generally clergy in formation, which would of necessity be male.

“When you fast . . .” Not “if”, but “when.”

Even a casual look at the eastern fasting rules shows it to be in many ways an imposition of the diet of the very poor in the Mediterranean first/second century.

In fact, failure to do so would be the very same rudeness as a male wearing his hat in such circumstances . .

It’s still rude!

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Saint Paul was addressing a particular problem in a particular early Church. He in no way stated that head coverings were a command from God. The entire letter to the Corinthians was dealing with various brush fires that needed to be put out. For the most part, they were disciplinary problems, not doctrinal problems. Veiling has been a cultural practice in many times and locations, and the great news (if we will see it) is that women around the world are absolutely free to choose to veil or not veil.



Or a kleenex, in a pinch… :wink:

Right. These days, a man enters the clerical state through ordination to the diaconate. Before Pope Paul VI changed the discipline, a man entered the clerical state immediately, with ‘tonsure’. He was still quite a ways from ordination, but he was already a cleric.

Right. Fasting was a discipline that we find in the Bible (NT and OT), so it’s not a medieval practice. However, we don’t find a Eucharistic fast in the Bible; that’s a discipline of the Church, and therefore, the Church has the authority to change it.

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You miss my point. When people come to Jesus and ask what they can do to follow him/get into Heaven, etc. He never says “You must fast!” He says things like “Sell what you have and give to the poor.” I’m not saying fasting didn’t exist at the time, I’m simply saying that it wasn’t a top priority for Jesus.



Just for fun, let’s turn to Wikipedia:

" In several Christian Churches women have traditionally been excluded from approaching the altar during the liturgy. Thus The Service Book of the Orthodox Church (English translation by Isabel Florence Hapgood) states that “no woman may enter the Sanctuary at any time”.[1] In the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church the traditional rule was: “women may not enter [the sanctuary] at all”.[2]"

" In early Christianity, menstruating women were excluded from even entering the church building,[3][4] a custom still maintained today in, for instance, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.[5]"

Or try this:

" Through much of its history, especially in the West, women were considered ritually unclean .

According to Jewish tradition, a woman’s monthly flow of blood put her regularly into a state of ritual defilement.

Similar taboos against menstruation existed in pagan Greek and Roman circles .

Through their anti-sex mania, the Fathers of the Church aggravated the fears of women’s ritual uncleanness.

Church leaders were anxious that such uncleanness might defile the holiness of the church building, the sanctuary and mainly the altar.

In a climate that increasingly looked on all aspects of sex and procreation as tainted with sin, theologians considered that an ‘unclean creature’ like a woman could not be entrusted with the care of God’s sacred realities."



Exactly, the midnight fast worked or might have when everyone attended in the morning.

But we don’t do that now.

We have 5 Sunday Masses. That means that we would have to start our first Mass at around 4:30am if we had to be finished by noon.

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Even in our local monastery, when the fast was from midnight, they had Mass at 8:30 am because of it.

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No, I don’t.

You’re simply choosing one class of things he said over others. I was responding to a categorical statement which is demonstrably false.

But to put this in context: neither may any man other than a subdeacon or higher clergy!

These days, that has been relaxed.


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