Mantilla Up!

“I know better than to comment on women’s fashions, but what’s your mom wearing on her head?”  A parishioner asked #2 that question after seeing a mantilla on my head for the first time.  Being a surgeon, I suppose he knew better than to get on the bad side of a nurse so he avoided asking me.

About three weeks ago, I knew I had to make a decision:  mantilla yes or mantilla no.  My “no” reasons were starting to wear thin on me.  It was time to commit.  So, one day after work, I headed to a Catholic store, dragging #8 with me.

The lovely Sister was more than happy to help me with my purchase.  She carefully unwrapped various veils and placed them in front of me.  She urged me to try on each one before deciding.

There were long, rectangular mantillas as well as different sizes of triangular veils, cream ones and black ones.  With #8 and Sister acting as fashion critics, I happily modeled every piece that was offered to me.  There was a unanimous “no” as the first mantilla went on my head – a beautiful cream rectangular specimen.  Thereafter, the Sister, with wholehearted approval from #8, took away all the cream mantillas.

“You don’t look good in cream, dear.”  Could  Sister have been any more blunt?

I narrowed down my choice to two black triangular veils, one a little larger than the other and both fashioned from different lace designs.  I bought them both.

The first time I wore my mantilla was to Saturday morning Mass.  I wasn’t sure whether to put it on before leaving the house (overkill); put it on in the parking lot before exiting my car (perhaps); or put it on in the washroom (I had to go anyway).

In the washroom, disaster struck.  I dropped the bobby pin meant to secure the mantilla to my head.  It was the same colour as the tile floor!  Panic!  But only for an instant.  Being a mom of 8, I know the cardinal rule of mommyhood – always bring extra – diapers, band aids, even bobby pins.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that some people stared, including the surgeon.  On that Saturday morning no one asked why but some people did look.  I bowed my head and thought, “this too shall pass.”

I wore it to Sunday Mass the next morning.  Again with the puzzled looks.  This time, three women asked why I was wearing a veil.  I uncomfortably replied that I wanted to bring more tradition and reverence into my Mass attendance.  They all seemed to like my answer.

This week, I wore my mantilla again to Saturday morning and Sunday Mass.  A few more looks, including from the visiting priest, but no questions.

Having my head enveloped by a beautiful piece of lace is very grounding.  It’s as if the mantilla is gently caressing my head and keeping me focused on Mass.   I felt greater reverence for the prayers, for the Blessed Sacrament and for receiving Jesus in Communion.

Can a piece of lace really do all that?  Well, by itself, no.  And, it’s a personal choice.   Wearing a mantilla doesn’t make me a better Catholic woman than someone who doesn’t wear one.  But personally, the mantilla  helps settle me to be more reverent, humble, focused and prayerful at Mass.  I believe my mantilla helps me to remember why I’m at Mass and who I am before God.

Deo Gratias

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14 Responses to Mantilla Up!

  1. Good decision to wear the mantilla. If it is appropriate for the angels before God it is appropriate attire: note the line from the St. James Liturgy of the 4th Century: “Before Him choirs of Angels go, clothed with power and dominion, WITH FACES VEILED, chanting the hymn, Alleluia.”

  2. Biltrix says:

    They say the habit does not make the monk. You put it very nicely:

    I felt greater reverence for the prayers, for the Blessed Sacrament and for receiving Jesus in Communion.

    That’s what counts. I like the response you gave them: “I wanted to bring more tradition and reverence into my Mass attendance.” As for any uncomfortable feelings, “this too shall pass.” (And you are also giving witness in ways you would not realize).

  3. That is a wonderful post on wearing the mantilla. I really enjoyed hearing about your journey from choosing one to wearing one.

    You express very much the same sentiments of how I feel when I wear one. When I was walking into Mass on Sunday, I already had my mantilla on from the car (sometimes I put it on when I get inside, all depends) and I was holding it to protect from the wind. Somehow I felt, like you said, more grounded in the ideals of purity and goodness. The exterior witness enhanced the interior focus. I felt more prepared for reverence and prayer.

    I also admire your courage wearing it before everyone else. I have never had comments made to me in an Ordinary Rite parish (probably because I am so quiet anyways), but I have definitely felt the looks. I know first hand that it takes a good deal of courage to do what you did.

    Thank you for sharing that. I want to go read it again now!

    • Thanks, CNG. Your comment means alot to me.

      • You are welcome 🙂

        I take that back about the lack of comments. I do recall one time being in a secular store that sold Spanish items and I tried on a mantilla. I heard some guy making what sounded like a rude comment, to the effect of “it looks like a doily on her head.”

        I do like what you said in return – nothing like having a good reply to give them something to think about!

        I am sorry you had to deal with the comments but I admire your courage. Is it not amazing that some people (after a certain age) would not even know what a mantilla is? How well they have blended the church with culture in just 50 years. 😦

  4. vftmom247 says:

    Heck. You’re going to make me go mantilla shopping. And why? Because I really like the idea of the mantilla helping me remain focused on the Mass, more grounded in what the Mass is truly about. Well-put and bravo for staying strong in the face of questioning looks

  5. lilyboat says:

    haha.. Sisters can be very blunt and they are the most outspoken people when they decide to speak up! 🙂 beautiful work you are doing! I think you will start to see more people wearing it one by one! I thought about your post at the Mass not long after your first post about mantilla. At my parish, there wasn’t a single person wearing it either.. I applaud you for stepping up and doing it!

  6. This is a great post. Can I link this up to my mantilla link up athttp://anabellehazard.blogspot.com/2012/07/mantilla-veil.html

  7. caseydeann says:

    I choose cream, as I read that black is customary for the married and widows. : )

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