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!


Anonymous said...

Wearing the mantilla is as you say Mac, an outward sign of humility before Jesus our Lord and our God truely present in the Blessed Sacrament. In Spain and Italy from my experience the mantilla is fairly standard for the ladies in Church, but in England this practice has all but declined.

Instead, from what I have observed here over the years is that the ladies 'dress-down' for Mass. Skimpy dresses and shorts, belly-buttons and tattoos on show, knicker thongs hanging out where they shouldn't be, bare shoulders and bare nothing left to the imagination! It's just awful and must be sad for our priests to have to see this lack of respect week in week out.

Add chewing gum to the mix and I think that's a fair description of Miss/Mrs/Ms 'catholic pew' 2006.

'She' may as well be dressed for the beach, the gardening or Sainsbury's. Were 'she' dressed to meet with the Queen of England I am sure no expense would be spared in the best boutiques for an expensive frock together with a £££'s-hat!

So, why oh why is there so little reverence, respect or thought given to meeting with the King of Kings in Church for Holy Mass???

Mac, please carry on wearing your mantilla. It is a sign for all of us, it doesn't go unnoticed and perhaps acts as a little prompt for some who might suddenly 'see' themselves improperly or under-dressed and change their ways in future.

Wearing the mantilla when no-one else is, can also become a 'little humiliation', a small 'suffering' which can be offered up to Jesus.

The men don't get off scott-free on this one. Shorts, flip flops, flappy tee-shirts with stupid logos, open shirts with hairy chests on view, vulgar tattoos on show and yes the dreaded chewing gum - ye gods, some of you would think you were at a beach BBQ or in the pub, not in God's House in the presence of the Most Holy Sacrament.

OK maybe not suits and ties (although why not?), but certainly smart trousers, a shirt/tie, tee-shirt with collar, proper shoes, smart pullover or jacket when it's cooler.

Again, I can't imagine these guys going for a job interview the way they sometimes dress for Church.

Perhaps we should have a competition for the smartest and most reverently dressed parish in the diocese.

OK - all outward signs, but when you do it for God, that's different.

There - that's one of my favourite rants! Keep blogging Mac, loads of subjects out there to poke fun at, prod, expose, enlighten and teach.

Anonymous said...

I applaud you, Mac !

Reverence and humility have "left the building!"

Keeping you in my prayers...

Kasia said...

Mac, do you have any idea where one can purchase mantillas in the U.S.? I've found a few on eBay, but that's it - even online Catholic supply houses don't seem to carry them. They seem to be available as wedding veils, though generally at prohibitive prices...

Any ideas?

Mulier Fortis said...

Kasia, I'm afraid I don't know of any U.S. suppliers... I sympathise with your plight though.

I had real problems getting good mantillas (the material is really important if it is just to sit on your head without the need for pins or distraction) until a trad priest I know put me in touch with a woman who makes them herself, but she's here in the U.K. The Latin Mass Society have a source they recommend, but again, it's a U.K. based supplier.

If you know a trad priest, he would probably be able to put you in touch with older trad women (the sort who go to the Old Rite Mass) because word of mouth is often the most reliable way of getting hold of one.

Alternatively, find a parish which holds Old Rite Masses and check out their repository...

If you still have no luck, email me. The postage won't be that much!

Genuine Lustre said...

For mantillas in the US, try www.modestyveils.com.

Anonymous said...

Would you happen to have any advice for securing the comb in the hair?

I have a giant comb (about a foot tall) that won't stay in my hair no matter how I braid it.

(The problem might be with my lace - it's heavy.)


Erika Ahern said...

For great mantilla selection, try www.halo-works.com
They have a great, big selection!

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