Thursday, 8 March 2007

More On Mantillas

I was emailed this blog-post on mantillas, in case I hadn't spotted it. I hadn't. It is an excellent summary of why a woman should wear a mantilla in the presence of Our Lord - pretty much what I've said before, (Mhari seems to have drawn on the same sources I did when looking into the issues surrounding the mantilla) but well-worth revisiting...

Here's a quote I've seen before. It really resonates:

When a woman veils her head she is shielding her heart to be wooed by the love of God in the Blessed Sacrament. This is a mystical ‘country’ that only the Eternal Father may enter. Her veil is like the lighted lamps of the virgins waiting for the Bridegroom, an indication that she is prepared to receive Him at a moment’s notice; an aureole of her spiritual love for the Bridegroom. Wearing the veil is an act of love of God.

It really is an outward sign: both for the wearer and for an observer. It isn't a way of attracting attention - far from it - but it does make me stop and think each time I enter a church. I can't just march straight in; I have to pause on the threshold of God's house while I put on the veil (it doesn't take long - I don't use a mirror or hairpins - just a few seconds to check it's the right way round before it covers my head) and those few seconds are a time of reflection: I enter into the presence of God and leave the world behind.

And then, in church, I can't rush around - I have to move carefully and gently, or the "flying nun" effect creeps in (or, given the absence of hairpins, my veil flies off!!)

Since I started to wear the mantilla, I have only forgotten it twice: once I got to the church porch, and felt that I was missing something, so went back to collect it from the car. The second time I was visiting a priest friend and hadn't expected to go straight into the church from the presbytery (the mantilla was again in the car, but going out to get it would have been awkward) - I felt intensely uncomfortable, almost "undressed," even though I was just being shown around the church.

Mhari says that she feels single women should wear white veils rather than black... for me, I think black is better: for a start, I nearly always wear black clothes, so sticking a white veil on top would really draw attention to me... but really, the important thing is to feel comfortable. If you are toying with the idea of trying a mantilla, I would heartily recommend it.

17 comments:

Brendan Allen said...

Mac, if you ever go to Russia, bring your mantilla with you. The custom in Russian Orthodox churches is for women to cover their heads, either with a hat or scarf.

Joee Blogs said...

That girl looks rather... lifeless, I hope that's not an effect of the mantilla?

Mac McLernon said...

Brendan, I now don't go anywhere without at least one mantilla (I have three in the car)

Joee, Joee, Joee... "that girl" is actually a manequin, for display purposes...

;-)

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Hi,

i know some good Catholic mothers who have decided against wearing the mantilla, after years. the reason they give is that it draws too much attention to them, & can work against humility, in thinking one is more holy, or at least giving others the opportunity to think you are more holy..i contemplated it but like to remain hidden in the Church, whereas if i put a mantilla on my head i would immediately become conspicuous. Some might think that's a small price to play, for showing more reverence, but i'm not so sure.

God bless

Mac McLernon said...

Fair enough, Jackie, but if you really believe something is right, then no amount of whispering or pointing should change what you do. I wouldn't condemn someone for not wearing a mantilla, but neither would I condemn them for choosing to wear one.

...if people want to talk about you and "accuse" you of wanting to appear more "holy" then they'll find any excuse...

...like using lowercase "i" for example...

(*grins* Just a gentle leg-pull!!)

Simon-Peter said...

"the reason they give is that it draws too much attention to them, & can work against humility, in thinking one is more holy, or at least giving others the opportunity to think you are more holy"

I've heard that before. It is the same reason given for not kneeling for communion, not praying the rosary in Church, not kneeling during adoration.

puella said...

I wear a white mantilla to Mass on Sundays (only at the moment I just wear my normal head covering, even on a Sunday wearing a white mantilla feels a bit extravagant - although there are cultural things going on too), mainly because I have no problem with my marital status (have completely lost count of the number of times I've corrected Ms to Miss) and because I don't usually pay any attention to whether my colours match anyway :)

But that's Sundays. The rest of the time I have a triangle of dark blue material tied around my head. It doesn't have to be fussy and it doesn't have to draw attention to you. You're completely right when you mention that should people want to talk you down for something, they'll find a way to do it no matter what, so I'd rather they did so for something that I'm (hopefully) doing right than anything else.

Mhari said...

What a nice post :)

I read this, by someone called Hilary who I don't know, when I was searching the net about mantillas in the first place:

Here's a little thought from St. Philip Neri and Francis de Sales. What if you wore a mantilla because you want to do honour to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and people thought a lot of nasty spiteful things about you? What if, furthermore, some small seed was planted in the hearts of some young girl about modesty, womanliness and the sacredness of the Mass? What if by this your own devotion grew and you began to inwardly more closely conform to the outward appearance (we often become on the inside what we try to look like on the outside, it's mysterious but true.)

You cannot do anything but win. When you are unkindly gossiped about, you win because you are suffering persecution for the love of Christ. If you go a step further and do not try to respond or correct of defend, you have an opportunity to climb up on the Cross next to Christ and whisper your love for Him directly into His ear. By being taken for a holierthanthou type, you suffer one of the great spiritual gifts, being misunderstood for your love of Christ. An enormous privilege.


...it's given me great consolation when faced with the odd snide remark from people who don't understand. I find in most environments veiling is a small humiliation, which I guess must be good for the soul.

Re: the comment on remaining hidden, it's one of the things I like about a mantilla, no one who isn't directly facing you can see your face when you pray, people notice you for a while, but they can't see you, so it's just you and God, which is a nice side effect :)

I didn't mean to imply that I felt anyone should wear any particular colour of veil, I simply explained why I choose to wear white. I wore black a couple of weeks ago because I was in Rome and had an audience with the Holy Father. As I understand it, the colour is a tradition with a small t, and no one really cares much.

Mac McLernon said...

I wore black a couple of weeks ago because I was in Rome and had an audience with the Holy Father

Mhari, you lucky, lucky woman...

Kasia said...

I don't know...I've often considered veiling (even before I decided to convert), but decided against it at the time for the same reasons as Jackie. Also, I tend to be prone to pride, so I don't know whether covering my head would help or hinder in my struggle against that sin.

Do you have any advice on choosing a size of veil? I hate to buy something like that online, as I can't try it on and see how it fits...

Mac McLernon said...

Kasia, the size is really a matter of personal preference. The one I usually wear is a triangular piece of lace with the longest side (ie the bit that frames my face) at about 36 inches (95 cm approx) but it depends on what you feel comfortable with, and how you wear your hair, and what material the mantilla is made from.

One of my friends wears a mantilla only for a Latin Mass (even if it is a Novus Ordo, but not an English one, which I can't quite understand) and it is a lot smaller, but then it looks a bit like a handkerchief rather than a veil...

Try cutting tissue paper to a size which you feel comfortable with, and then measure it.

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

hi Mac,

Take the point about the 'i. i thought it would draw more attention..so i suppose you're right re the mantillas..but another thing stops me. Some people with bi-polar disorder can suffer from religiousity
& go a bit over the top. With me having this disorder i'm more careful to remain 'normal'& avoid fanaticism like the plague.

Please note i am most definitely not saying all those wearing mantillas are 'mentally ill' but let me just say i've seen a fair few.

Mac McLernon said...

Jackie, I don't think there is any danger of you going "OTT" and fanatical. You're part of Miles Jesu, and they're a brilliant bunch - I'm sure they'll let you know if the mantilla is too conspicuous.

Just go with your heart... if you're wearing a mantilla, it's because you want to show God you love him. He'll make it clear if it's the wrong thing to do!

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Well personally i would wear one but what about all my kids & my husband, who would refuse to sit next to me?

4HisChurch said...

I've been thinking of covering at Mass for some time and had some of the same concerns as Jackie. Last night, I finally went ahead and ordered a triangular headcovering from a non-Catholic site that makes head coverings of various types--including lace mantillas.

I ordered 2 reversible kerchief type head coverings. I figured if they were plain, simple and matched what I was wearing, the danger of "standing out" and embarrassing my dh and ds would be lessened.

Oh, the site is www.headcoverings.com .

God bless.

Mac McLernon said...

4HC, good luck. Let us know how you get on (but remember you need to persevere a few times until you've had a cance to settle down!)

4HisChurch said...

Thanks! I think it will take a while for the coverings to be made and shipped, but I can't wait for them to get here!

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