Me, in a mantilla veil.

3 years ago

Since the early days of Christianity, wearing chapel veils has been a common practice among faithful women. Chapel veils, also commonly called mantillas, which comes from the word manta, meaning cape, are typically circular or triangular shaped pieces of black or white lace that are draped over a woman’s head when attending Mass, or in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The white veils were worn by young girls, or unmarried women.


             Throughout the centuries, the use of the mantilla by women has had many purposes.  The wearing of the Mantilla is an act of veiling a woman's physical beauty, so that the beauty of God may be glorified instead. It is also a way of emulating, Mary, our mother, who is the archetype of purity and humility.   Moreover, the mantilla, or chapel veil, signifies the role of women as a life-bearing vessel.   The chalice holding the blood of Christ is veiled until the Preparation of the Gifts, and the tabernacle veiled between Masses. Both of these vessels hold the Eucharist – the very life of Christ. In a similar fashion, woman was endowed with the gift of bearing human life. 


Before the Second Vatican Council, 1962-1965, the wearing of chapel veils was required for a woman when attending Mass, as a symbol of her modesty and humility before God.  Although this practice is no longer required, it is still very much supported and encouraged by the Church as a sign of reverence and piety while in the presence of God.

~~~This description is so antiquated but I found it to be interesting~~ 


I was raised Catholic. From early on I have vivid memories of "getting ready for church". Putting our veils on was the last thing before walking out the front door. I can still feel the bobby pins being jabbed into my skull to secure the white lace veil. Eventually we stopped wearing the veils. Church became a chore. My sisters and I devised numerous ways to stay awake during mass. Finger cheering was popular as well as saving all loose teeth for during mass pulling. That guaranteed us an excuse to go to the restroom.

As our family dissolved, my sisters and I started going to the Saturday evening "folk mass". This was usually more casual and the music was performed by guitar players and cool, young singers. "Getting ready for church" no longer involved a dress and patent shoes and gloves....jeans, green eye shadow and a cute shirt was more like it.

I received all the Catholic sacraments. First Communion, Confession, Confirmation...I always enjoyed the rituals of the Catholic Church. That is probably a super controversial statement in today's world. I did readings for mass several times. Well-rehearsed and fully memorized at my Wednesday night CCD classes. I was a good Catholic student.

A few weeks ago, I attended a mass at a Catholic Church. It was a special mass for a friend. The entire service was in Spanish. The cadence of the words brought me right back to being a child. I know there have been small changes to the mass. The responses are a bit different but the essence is the same.

I do not attend Catholic Church anymore. I go to a progressive Christian church. The music is hip and lively. I have always received my messages via music. I love a good Christian rock song.

Attending a funeral or a wedding or any type of religious service is welcomed by me. I like to see how other people worship. I think the rituals and the feeling of hope that I see in religious settings has a calming influence on me. My spirit gets renewed even if the language or the actual "scripture" isn't familiar to me.

Sometimes I think about how conservative my formative years were in the area of religion. The irony is not lost on me. Once my parents divorced my mother actually felt like she COULDN'T go to church. That's how closely we followed the doctrine. I remember saying that my parents had committed a "Mortal Sin".

Typing that makes me laugh. As if their divorce was the biggest sin they committed. Ahem.

The prompt was to write about my opinion of attending religious services. I started with the veil and ended with the sins of my parents. That covers all the bases. Through this blog I have unveiled all of their sins and I have mentioned my prayerfulness countless times.

The "Our Father's". The "Act of Contrition’s". The "Hail Mary’s". Endlessly repeated. Comforting me with the rhythm of the words. I am comfortable in my faith. It is much more of a shawl for me than a veil. It has covered me my entire life. I don't see that changing.

On that note, I shall end.


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