Sunday, May 07, 2006

To veil or not to veil...

Browsing the net I came across this rather acerbic response to a lady who is trying to decide whether or not to wear a mantilla to mass. The trads are commenting on her role as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, as if her descision to do that is somehow based on a desire to be important... rather than to serve in a way that she may have no idea is in anyway questionable. Unless the Church makes it clear that women should not serve in any way on the sanctuary then I feel that you can complain about it if you like, but you can't dismiss the women as disobedient liberals... having said this, the author of the trad blog does print some more charitable comments on her posting itself... and the comments are helpful, because her concerns about wearing a mantilla are similar to mine... I'm not an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, although I was last year... I'm not sure if I would be now, the church I've begun to go to doesn't do any of that(!) so I don't need to worry about it! But I am very well known, I do a lot with Youth 2000, which I think is a marvellous stepping stone to the heart of the Church, and if I started wearing a mantilla it would be noticed, and I think would reflect on y2k... Also we have issues in Manchester between the chaplaincy (where I used to go to mass) and the Holy Name (where I now go to mass)... my moving there seems to have already caused a host of problems, I don't want to make it worse by getting a reputation as an extremist.

At a recent Y2k festival I noticed a couple of the girls wore white scarves, which they used to cover their heads when in the presence of the Eucharist, it was a lot less noticable than a black lacy mantilla, but has the same effect, and was still feminine and humble... and all the things I see the mantilla as, but less ostentatious in that atmosphere.

The final reason I don't want to wear the mantilla is really the same reason as I don't want to start praying the office in Latin... because (please God) this September I'm going to enter the
Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, who don't wear a veil as candidates or postulants (and don't pray the office in latin!) so there's not much point in getting used to it, anyway, if I can find a (fairly inexpensive... saving for my visa) plain headscarf on my travels I guess I'll take it as a sign that God wants me to, and if not I don't think it's sinful not to.

A couple of comments I found from the RC Mommys post

What are the reasons for wearing a head covering? Modest, and respect for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

What are the reasons against? I don't want the world to think ill of me, and I'm too with it for something so backwards.

Which seems the better mindset?
(I'm not sure what is the polite way to reference people on Blogs, maybe someone will put me straight...)


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.

I've often felt sorry for men who cannot wear one. Thinking of it as a privileged custom custom reserved for women is a bit of a turn around, but it certainly is descriptive of how I feel about it.
And something from the Latin Mass Society's website:

The woman who covers her head in the presence of the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is reminding herself that she must be humble before God. As with all outward gestures, if it is practised enough it filters down into the heart and is translated into actions that speak volumes. The “veil” covers what the Lord calls, in Holy Scripture, “the glory of the woman”, her hair. Covering her hair is a gesture the woman makes spiritually to “show” God she recognises her beauty is less than His and His Glory is far above hers.

In doing this she is reminded that virtues cannot grow in the soul without a great measure of humility. So she wears the veil to please God and remind herself to practice virtue more ardently.

There is no other piece of clothing a woman may wear to serve this function. The veil symbolically motivates the woman to “bow” her head in prayer, to lower her eyes before the great and mysterious beauty and power of God in the Blessed Sacrament. By the bowing of her head and lowering of her eyes, she is more able to worship God in the interior chapel of her heart and soul.

The veil or head covering a woman wears gives a beautiful sense of dignity to a woman. When she wears it, she identifies herself with God’s greatest creation, the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God. There was none on earth that loved and loves the Lord Jesus more than the Blessed Virgin Mary. In her love, her humility breathed forth like sweet scented incense before God. The veil she wore symbolised her purity, modesty and of course her profound humility and submission before and to God Almighty.

Those women who love Jesus must come to realise the imitation of His Mother in wearing a chapel veil (head covering) and in other virtues is a small sacrifice to make in order to grow in spiritual understanding of purity, humility and love.

The covering of a woman’s head in Church is a striking reminder of modesty, something old but lost in the society of today. Modesty and purity walk hand in hand.

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.
Why should a woman wear a head covering or veil in church? Not to be praised, not to go along, not for tradition’s sake, not to stand out in the crowd, not because you say or I say or anybody says…But because she loves our Eucharistic Lord Jesus and it is another small sacrifice she may offer for her soul’s sake and for the sake of many souls who have no one to offer for them.
may God give you His peace!
by the way, the picture at the top is at a friends party on Saturday, where Holy Granny singled me out for looking unchaste and leaking skin and hair, and decided to make me look more modest... hence the unconventional mantilla.


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