Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Mantilla and the Law of Unintended Consequences

I was born in the 60s, pre Vatican II 60s. Our parish had a beautiful church with a marble alter and beautiful stained glass windows. The communion rail and the marble alter are still there along with the statues and the stations. My brother and his family are still members of this parish, where my niece just made her first communion. The same church where her grandparents were married, her father and aunts and uncle were baptized and confirmed and she attends the same parish school her dad was kicked out of, but that’s not the point of this post.

One of my favorite things about church as a young girl was my little white veil and my little white gloves. I thought they were really cool. We all wore veils back then. I remember simple little chapel veils. I’ve heard other women my age talk about their Mom pinning a napkin on their head for church if they forgot their veils. Such was the importance of covering our heads back then. I don’t have a recollection of that ending, I was very young at the time.

A few months ago I began to feel a prompting of the Holy Spirit to wear a veil to Mass. When I first read 1 Corinthians 11 3, Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. 6If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 16If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God, the little veil of my childhood made sense. Just like so many other things the church does began to make sense as I read scripture. Still I thought to myself, no one does that any more, but every so often I would notice women on EWTN with veils and then I would read a blog post here and there about veils, and like so many of the other things God has shown me, the topic started to crop up on a regular basis.

So a few weeks ago I asked Hubby if he would be bothered if I wore a mantilla. I asked because I would be the only woman at our Mass to wear one, and neither of us is to wild about standing out in a crowd. He was OK with it so I’ve been wearing a mantilla to Mass for the last few weeks.

This small act of obedience has brought me more than I bargained for. My simple little veil has brought insights into the nature of womanhood as God intended. It has helped open my heart to God’s healing of my self-image as a woman who hasn’t borne children. It has opened doors to my understanding of the family and the roles of men and women in society at large.

I can be a bit dense. Often times I will sense the underpinnings of one of God’s precepts rolling around just below the surface of my comprehension, but I don’t quite get it, and I most defiantly can’t articulate the concept. During the process of my conversation I had vague notions of the illicit nature of a concept such as IVF. I could sense that all was not right here, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. During the Retrouvaille years of my marriage, I had this inkling that our marriage while important to us had much further reaching implications and to walk away would impact many lives beyond just our own, even tear the very fabric of society at large. Often times my soul senses God’s position on the matter but I can’t articulate or even identify why I feel the way I do. My solution in this type of situation is to simply back away, watch and wait for further insights into the matter. My obedience to the Holy Spirit has been key to gaining insight and understanding.

When I feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit to take action I usually stop and pray about the issue, and then, because the Bible tells us to test the spirits, I will look at how the prompting lines up with Church teaching. I’m so grateful to have the wealth of the deposit of Christian faith in the Church. With all the competing voices in the world, Christian voices or those who claim to be, even competing voices in the Catholic Church, we aren’t left to fend for ourselves. Jesus told us he would be with us until the end of time and so he is, in the Eucharist, and in the Magisterium. The teachings of the Church are available to anyone who cares to look them up.

I realize that to cover my head in Church is a minor little act of obedience, but the insights and the healing I’ve gained have far surpassed the efforts. To phrase in business parlance my ROI has been huge. My mantilla is a tiny piece of lace that carries a lot of weight.

Lord, please accept my small offer of humility. I ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.


Abigail said...

Very interesting! I've been pondering this issue for a whole year now. I even bought a straw hat to wear for the Papal Mass. I'll have to think more about the mantilla myself.

Thank you for your prayers for my friend and her husband (Pat B.). He's feeling pretty depressed. He does have some feeling in his legs, which is a good sign. In the meantime, he's on a respirator and can't talk.

Anne Marie said...

I'm kind of hoping more women will begin to wear mantillas, it can be kind of awkward to stand out in the croud, but obedience is more important to me than appearances.

Will continue to pray for Pat. Post updates on his condition from time to time!

Jennifer F. said...

I am so glad you wrote about this. It's been on my mind as well -- I have repeatedly been very clearly called to do this, and yet I still haven't.

I wish we had some sort of National Cover Your Head at Church Day so that at least we wouldn't feel like we were the only women in the world doing it. :)

Anyway, thanks for bringing up the topic. I'm probably going to write about it soon as well.

Katie said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

I covered quite regularly (and I'm the only woman at my parish to do so, I don't use a mantilla but a small, simple headscarf), then forgot my head covering a couple times and started falling out of it. Partially I think I felt self-concious, being the only woman doing it and being a convert (not wanting to appear overly scrupulous or self-righteous). I mentioned it to my husband and he said "If YOU know you're doing it for God and not to look better than other people, what else matters?" So I've been wearing it again every time I'm in the Church, and my heart feels much better! I plan on buying a tichel (
because it fits my personality and style better than a mantilla, I think.

Anyway, thanks again, and great post :)

Anne Marie said...


“National Cover Your Head at Church Day”, I like it. I wonder if we could get the USCCB to promote the idea. In the mean time, it’s interesting that there seams to be a little movement of the Holy Spirit across the nation to prompt women to cover.


I agree about preferring a scarf or tichel. Thanks for the link. I decided to go with a mantilla simply because I know it’s conventional and I figured that since I was going to be unconventional by covering at all I figured I would go with a conventional unconventional move.

Katie said...

Hehe, conventional unconventional move, I love it!