Tuesday, 15 August 2006
Wearing the Mantilla
Recently I've been asked by a few people why I wear a mantilla. It occurred to me that it might be worth posting a few thoughts on the matter.
I have a problem with one of my knees which prevents me from kneeling. It is difficult to explain why this should cause me any distress, because it's hardly my fault, but I felt very strongly that I wanted (and even needed) to make some outward sign of respect for Our Lord, present in the Blessed Sacrament. As well as kneeling, the traditional sign of respect given by men has always been the removal of their hats, and in the same way, women covered their hair, either wearing a mantilla, another type of headscarf, or a hat.
Once I began to look into the wearing of the mantilla in more detail, I discovered that the reason why women covered their heads (or more accurately, their hair) was because the hair was seen as a woman's "crowning glory" and a sign of her beauty, and therefore to cover her hair is a gesture of humility before God.
I also find that stopping in the church porch to put on my mantilla helps to remind me that I am about to enter God's house, and that I am entering into the presence of God. Because of this, it is a real aid to prayer - we are both body and soul, so outward signs are important (though obviously they can't be the only things we focus on.)
I read in one article the suggestion that wearing a mantilla could be considered a sacramental - I'm not sure whether this is so, and would be interested to hear from any priests out there who have views on the subject.
If there are any women out there who are thinking about wearing the mantilla, but are a little self-conscious, I would really recommend it. It soon becomes second nature, and before you know it, you'll feel positively undressed without one!