Should I Mantilla?

Lately, I’ve been debating with myself (and my family) about whether or not to wear a mantilla at Mass.  Part of me wants to veil and the other part of me is too chicken and self-conscious. The style of my parish church is very modern and minimalist and doesn’t lend itself to inspiring any woman to cover her head.

“Why do you want to wear a mantilla?” My older daughter asked me this question yesterday when I brought the subject up again.

Why indeed.  I’ve read this blog, Will You Mantilla With Me?.  It makes a strong case for covering up, reasons which I like:  reverence, respect, humility, purity, solemnity, imitation of Mary. A reminder that I am participating in something much bigger than myself.  An external representation of my belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. (And maybe I want a reason to wear a lovely piece of lace).

So why am I still hesitating?  Pride and fear.   I’m worried about what other parishioners will think.  My inner teenager is causing me angst over this.  Really, I need to get over myself and just do it.

My beloved thinks it’s a great idea.  My kids say that if I want to do it, I should.  #5’s response when I said I would feel self-conscious was, “Who cares.  Wear one if you want.  No one’s gonna call you out on it.” How’d you get so wise, #5?

Famous women have worn a mantilla when meeting Bl. John-Paul II and Pope Benedict. The late Princess Diana, Laura Bush, even Michelle Obama have all donned the head covering.

I should ask Wise Friend what he thinks, although I’m pretty sure I know what he’d say.  After all, he’s always wearing his cassock.

A few years ago, my mother gave me her beautiful black lace mantilla.  At the time, it held no significance for me other than it belonged to my mom.  It was a beautiful piece of rectangular lace.  I’ve been looking for it over the last couple of weeks but I can’t find it.  Even St. Anthony hasn’t been able to help.  Maybe it’s providential that a seamstress friend who wears a mantilla at Mass has offered to make one for me.

The most important reason for wearing a mantilla is to humble myself before the Blessed Sacrament so I should just get over my self-consciousness and fear of others’ opinions and focus on what’s important –  the solemnity of Holy Mass.  What better way is there to profess, like John the Baptist, “He must increase; I must decrease”  than by covering my head in humility before God.

Here are some questions I hope you can answer:  Do you wear a mantilla?  Did you feel self-conscious at first?  What would you say to someone like me who’s hesitating?  How do you keep it from slipping off?

Related post: To Wear or Not to Wear: Mantillas and Church Veils

Deo Gratias

Do you wear it like this young woman does?

This entry was posted in Catholic, Catholic woman, faith, prayer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Should I Mantilla?

  1. lamehousewife says:

    Good questions, some I have often pondered myself. More and more women our age are beginning to wear these in our parish. It is said that they were never really supposed to go away, that some prominent woman had misinterpreted a document from Vatican II. As you said they evoke the same images of the Blessed Mother, the covering of the Holy Eucharist during the Eucharist prayer, amongst other things…I think women have lost how important they are as women–to provide that beautiful witness in flesh and blood of the Sacred!
    This is one of the things that holds me back, though–I don’t know what color to wear…

  2. dgcree says:

    Do you wear a mantilla? No; but there again, I am a man 🙂
    What would you say to someone like me who’s hesitating? She who hesitates is lost ! Go for it !
    How do you keep it from slipping off? Use hair grips, two should do the job, placed in the front, same colour as the mantilla.

    Lamehouswife in answer to your query “What colour to wear.?” If your blonde, wear black, it tones down your hair. If your hair is dark, wear white otherwise it looks a like a mourning veil, . Only my opinion.!

    • dgcree, you bring up a good point about black lace looking like a mourning veil with my black hair. Thanks for the input. And you’re also right about going for it. I think if I don’t at least give it a try, I’ll regret it. LH, are you with me?

  3. averagecatholic says:

    My advice is not to worry what other people think. If you want to wear a mantilla, I say go for it.

    You may even start a trend, or spark faith in someone’s heart through your wearing the mantilla. I read once, I don’t remember where, never to be afraid to make the Sign of the Cross before praying in a restaurant. The article had mentioned that this gesture could be the spark to bring someone back to the Catholic Faith. You never know the results of even the smallest gesture. 🙂

    • I did think of that, but what a great point. My family and I always start a restaurant meal with a prayer, no matter if we’re eating as a family, alone, or with friends/colleagues. I don’t even think twice about it. Maybe my wearing one will be the impetus other hesitant women need. Thanks!

  4. I love wearing a mantilla.

    I remember one time I wore it in a Novus Ordo church, and afterwards the person I was with said, “why do you wear that? Can’t you see no one else is doing it? You are the only one.”

    I stubbornly held my mantilla in my hands, and said “I wear it because I want to witness to what I believe. When I wear this, everyone that sees me knows that I believe in the Church as it has stood for centuries. I believe in old fashioned values, and I believe in saving this as the only way to save our Church, our culture, and society. I wear it because by wearing it I am a silent voice witnessing to this, and everyone knows it when they see it. I am keeping that voice alive without saying a word.”

    The next week, she noticed that there were other people in the parish wearing one, she just had not seen them. Eventually, she started wearing one too at the Extraordinary Rite.

    If you want to wear one though, go for it. You are witnessing to something powerful. People will know that in you the Church they tried to destroy is still alive. It is a voice that may resonate with others, who may feel saddened by that loss but do not think many other people care. When they see you they will know someone cares, and it may give them hope, and maybe there are other women who want to wear one too but are just afraid as well.

    Keep the symbols alive and you will help keep the Church alive 🙂 Thats my lil’ ol’ opinion anyways. Like your priest in the cassock, you too will be witnessing powerfully.

    Let me know how it goes if you do!

  5. Ohhh interesting!!

    When I started going to mass, I felt called to do two things I’d never done. 1) receive Holy Communion on the tongue and 2) cover my head. It took me a while but I totally do both now! I was quite self-conscious and umm and ahh over all the same things. And it’s a relief and just feels so right. 😀

    I just wear a beret-kind of thing and because it’s winter here, no one would notice at all. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing but it certainly makes it easier to begin with!

    I think for me, it was realising that if I received the Blessed Sacrament from the pope, I would do so with my head covered. But my run-of-the-mill mass was no less exalted. In both cases, I am receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist. That’s certainly an exalted occasion!

    So if you feel called, I say do it! Mantilla up! 😀

  6. second in command says:

    I am reminded of the arguments of nuns wearing or not wearing habits, from years ago.
    The mantilla makes a statement, and it seems like if you want to do it, because of the meaning to you, then you should do it. As a personal preference.
    I don’t think I ever will wear one again. It seems more prevalent in the Latino community, and of course I remember it from childhood. We wore mantillas or chapel veils to Mass at our Catholic school services and also on Sunday.
    Mary was simply wearing the current clothing of her culture and time. It was not a statement or gesture of particular respect, it simply was what was worn.
    When Jesus called his disciples, they were fishing, fixing their nets, sitting with their boats on the mucky shore. They just got up and “came as they were”, no doubt smelling like fish, covered with fish blood and scales, sweaty and dirty.
    Which is not the way I would want to go to Mass, but I am just thinking that the clothes, the headcovering, etc, do not matter. It is what is in the heart.
    The clothing rules or influences in any area of life seem to me to be more about conformity, peer pressure, status, or societal control, or things other than a heart coming to worship and give itself to the Lord.

  7. vftmom247 says:

    Oh gee! Yeah, have had this conversation with myself too! Hairpins work to keep the mantilla on, btw. I think a great deal depends on what Mass you go to. At 10:30 High Mass, I see mantillas. I also see Sunday dresses. At the LifeTeen Youth Mass…jeans, casual-er dress, and not sure if a mantilla wouldn’t put distance between me and the teens, which as a LifeTeen missionary would not be cool. Of course, in Vatican City I think it’s required, and out of respect, I would do it anyway. Thank you for the food for thought. Sigh…mantilla in my future too?

  8. nateaddington says:

    I’m on the fence here. I get the argument and the gravitation towards wearing one but then part of me wants to come up with an argument about how approaching God is not about what we have on our bodies but what is in our hearts…..still thinking….

    • nateaddington says:

      even in the last 15 minutes as i drink my morning coffee I am leaning more and more towards being a supporter….

  9. Hmmm…personally I don’t but I still occasionally go to a “Traditional Latin Mass”. God judges the heart. So my very humble advice is to seek in prayer the questions of your heart and go from there! 🙂 Prayers and all the best!

  10. Daniel Undem says:

    Do what is on your heart. I was at daily mass last year during vacation bible camp and the priest said that it is proper to kneel and pray after mass. I went to mass that weekend and knelt after it was over, there was only a handful of people doing it and I will admit that I felt weird and out of place. I have continued to do it and over the past year it has become an integral part of my faith. I now feel weird if I don’t do it. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are feeling compelled wear a Mantilla, try it you never know where it could lead. God Bless.

  11. Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions. I appreciate everyone’s response. I do feel compelled to wear one, but I think I’ll take it slowly. I have the opportunity to attend a Latin Mass at another church in August so I think I’ll wear it to that and see how it goes. By then, I should have a mantilla or at least have been able to find my mom’s.

  12. Musings says:

    As a Greek Orthodox, I wear a veil at church as well. At first I had a hard time reconciling whether I should or should not wear a veil. After I heard an incredible homily I finally made the commitment to veil anytime I pray. The priest had said during the homily a few things that stayed with me, in making my final decision. One thing the priest had said was the angels find it hard to bear, being in the presence of a an unveiled woman. The head covering is part of a woman’s liturgical garment, it’s how a woman shows the angels that she adheres to God’s commandment and her position in the church and that she understands her authority.

    I then looked back on my life and remembered all the times when I would praying the most. Those were the hardest times of my life. At those times I distinctly remembered needing to “find a hat” that I could wear all the time. I was not christian then, I was not orthodox then, I was merely faithful in my heart. This evidence alone was enough for me to believe that I should wear a head covering in church and now I do.

    I find it brave that you are considering doing it as well. I am one of only 5 women that veil on a regular basis, not including my daughters. All my daughters veil as well. Hope this helps! You have such a beautiful journey. God Bless.

  13. OK, I’m a guy, but I think this falls into a range of other issues that I like to call “preference.” I do not take issue with women covering the head at all if that’s what they feel called to do. I do take issue with people who propose that it is quite nearly a doctrinal issue. What often happens is that someone decides that they are called to do it and are comfortable doing it and now it becomes their mission to “convert” all the less pious about them to do the same, even if it is not demanded of us.

    I’ll be honest, I see no particular need for it. The original requirement/recommendation/exhortation for it was because women were very prideful about their hair, and thus in humility they were told to check that pride at the door. As it became custom, wearing a veil did not in any way draw attention. Today it does. And because it does, there runs a certain risk that what on the surface is an act of humility becomes one of pride.

    So here’s what I would say:
    1) If you feel called, in humility and reverence, to wear the veil, then do it
    2) If you EVER start to feel morally superior to those around you because YOU wear the veil and THEY do not, then ditch it as quickly as humanly possible, because you have just missed the entire point – instead of humility, you have now taken on a spiritual pride about you
    3) If you choose not to wear the veil because you feel conspicuous and uncomfortable and it will distract you at Mass as opposed to help you focus at Mass, then don’t wear it and don’t apologize for it.

    My 2 cents.

    • Thanks for your 2 cents. Actually your comment is worth much more than that. One of the things I worry about is appearing to be holier-than-thou since that is not my intention. Good advice about making sure the veil is about humility, not superiority.

      • Aliy Mayer says:

        This has always been my hesitation as well with many things I have begun as I deepen my faith and understanding of it. As someone said above, God knows the heart.

  14. Catholic Mom says:

    I totally agree with Diatribe Guy. I’ve worn a veil to a high and low Extraordinary Mass. The high Mass was at an all-Latin church, where they had veils in the vestibule to borrow for Mass. I noticed there that younger girls and teens wore white, but it seemed all the married women wore black. That might just have been a cultural thing – not sure. At the low Mass, there were only a few women wearing veils, and all of them wore black. I have a black veil, and I don’t see it as mournful at all. I don’t wear it to the ordinary Mass though, as no one else at my church does. I don’t feel called to wear one (at present), but I wore it to the Extraordinary Masses because I didn’t want to be a distraction, as others were wearing one.

    Living in California, pretty much anything goes in terms of what you can wear to Mass – flip-flops, cut-off shorts, strapless tops. All of these things are extremely distracting, and I would say in a negative way. The veil might distract some, but it should send their focus Heavenward. If someone is distracted by a veil, to such a degree that they miss out on the blessings of Mass, then they have other problems going on, and the veil is just a scapegoat.

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  16. Janette says:

    Almost every orthodox Bible based religion the women cover their hair. It is biblical so their hair is not a distraction to themselves or others. It is in both Old Testament and New. Genesis/ Numbers where the Islamic culture derives their use. Through Isaiah and the tznuit for the Jews and last to Corinthians in the for Christians. Many of our Church Fathers wrote about modesty.
    I enjoyed wearing a mantilla when I was younger. It put me more in the state of prayer—maybe more like the prayer shoals that Jewish men wear.
    If the simple act of hair covering helps you in piety (which I see as a good thing, not bad) then you should do it.

  17. Wow–I’ve thought of this too 🙂 Lovely to come across your blog! And yes–if you want to wear the mantilla, go for it! My mom went to Catholic school, and every day when they went to mass, if the girls forgot their hat, the nun was right there to pin a tissue on their heads! They were NOT allowed in the church without something on their head! That was only in the 60’s, so we’re not that far off from wearing mantillas or other veils in church! 🙂 Besides…it’s spiritual…and pretty 🙂

    • tapinu33 says:

      Hi I have black hair and wear a black mantilla only because I Was told that married women should wear black and single women should wear white.

  18. Nathalie says:

    I felt self-conscious at first… then I thought “Wait a minute… I was REQUIRED to veil when I was a child, we all were. Why am I self-conscious about it NOW?!”

    I get a stare or two from time to time, as only 3 or 4 of us veil anymore, but I have been a member of the same Catholic Cathedral since my Baptism at age 9 months. I figure if it’s natural for anyone, it would be natural for those of us who are old enough to remember when it was mandatory. I even veil when attending concerts in the church, at times other than Mass. The Blessed Sacrament is still in there, right? So my head is covered 🙂

    Very good blog… thank you.

    • You’re welcome Nathalie. It’s been a few years since I wrote this and now I veil regularly at Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. I notice there are a few women at my parish who also veil.

  19. Nathalie says:

    Oh! I almost forgot… the easiest way to keep a veil on (and I mean through a hurricane, if necessary) is to go to Veils By Lily online, and buy the little snap clips they have, that you can sew in yourself… They cost about $3 dollars apiece, and there is a video to teach you how to use them. They are the greatest thing ever!

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