Q. I have often wondered about the difference between the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit immediately after the Resurrection “on the evening of that first day of the week” (Jn 20:19-23) and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Are these two different accounts of the same event, or did they receive the Holy Spirit in two different ways on two different occasions?
A. Generally scholars of scripture read this as two different events, with the gift of the Holy Spirit being offered for two different purposes. In the first incident (Jn 20), the Spirit comes to the specific group of disciples gathered on the night of the first Sunday of Easter; the Spirit gives them the power to forgive sins.
In the second account (Acts 2), the Spirit descends with force on the whole community of believers, empowering them to preach the gospel boldly, even though Jesus will no longer be physically present with them. (Note that this event of Pentecost, after the Ascension, allows the disciples to be understood in many languages, and that Pentecost is commonly considered “the birthday of the Church.”)
This interpretation seems to fit better with John 7:37-39, which suggests that the Spirit will not be given in its fullness until Jesus has been glorified, and Luke 24:49, where Jesus, immediately before the Ascension, instructs the disciples to “remain in the city until you are endued with power from on high”.
Q. Recently I was “condemned” to wear a veil in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament — both when I am at Mass and during my hours of adoration in our parish’s Perpetual Adoration Chapel. Several other women in the parish also felt led to do so.
However, I am told that some of these women have been “discouraged” by our pastor that he does not wish it and that he considers wearing the veil a point of pride. As a child, of course, I wore a veil to my first communion and even for a few years afterwards and I never thought it was pride. I would like your opinion.
A. The custom of women wearing a veil in church finds a basis in the early days of the Church, as evidenced in chapter 11 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. This custom, however, may have reflected the cultural bias of the time, for the same chapter says, “For man came not from woman, but woman from man; and man was not created for woman, but woman for man.
The 1917 Code of Canon Law (at no. 1262) stipulated that men in church should have their heads bare while women “must have their heads covered”. (This same canon also said, “It is desirable that, in accordance with ancient discipline, women should be separated from men in the church.”)
But in 1976, an instruction issued by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that this 1917 directive was no longer in effect. (The CDF says: “It should be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the time, concern little more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed on women to wear the veil on their heads. . These requirements no longer have normative value.”)
In the current Code of Canon Law, published in 1983, the canon on head veils has not been reissued. Clearly, women today are not required to cover their heads in church.
Does that mean they are not allowed? Of course not. Within the limits of modesty, people are free to wear what they want – and the only one who can judge the motivation is the wearer.
If you are using a mantilla, or chapel veil, out of vanity – to draw attention to yourself – then you are wrong. But if you wear it out of reverence, out of respect for the dignity of the Eucharist and our unworthiness before it, then it is a laudable choice. It is your call, left to your discretion in prayer.
Father Doyle writes for Catholic News Service. A priest of the Diocese of Albany, New York, he previously served as director of media relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Questions can be sent to Father Doyle at [email protected] and 40 Hopewell St., Albany, NY 12208.
Category: Ask Father Mike