Under the Veil

I’m afraid my days of trying to be inconspicuous in a head-covering at Mass are over.

For years now,
I’ve been wearing a veil I netted
out of brown embroidery thread,
and I’ll continue wearing it for daily life…
but once I put on an actual mantilla
I was a goner ;)!
The broad smile on my prince’s face
and his words, “Keep it!” sealed the deal.

It came from my praying grandmother,
who recently died on Mothering Sunday
(also known as Laetare Sunday),
a week shy of her 99th birthday (!).
Since I knew a lady
who’d been looking for a mantilla,
Mom offered Grandma’s to me.
I never saw Grandma wear them, although she always wore a filmy scarf over her head at Mass.
They must’ve been from her younger days.

I stand corrected–when Mom read this article, she sent the following!
Had to smile when I read your veil post. It shows how mistaken archeologists can be when they tell us how people lived in the past.
When I was growing up, we had only one dresser and one “closet” for all 6 of us. (Other than the little white dresser in the summer for baby clothes.) And Mom only attended Mass on Sundays, at which time she wore a hat. I was the only one who attended daily Mass, and the mantilla’s and round head coverings were mine! Mom didn’t start attending daily Mass until all us kids were grown and gone. She had us to get up and ready for school in the mornings. She wore scarves because her head was very sensitive to wind, not as church head coverings. Mandatory headgear in church was set aside in the mid-late 60’s, so none of us wore head coverings after that. (We were led to believe that all the post Vatican II changes were mandatory.) She just never disposed of them.

I checked the fabric content
to see if there was any way I could consider wearing one
(polyester makes me itch & most drapey lace is polyester).
They all failed the burn test
(polyester melts, although so does nylon–I can’t distinguish),
but I happened to notice that one had a little tag
it was safe!
And it would be the white one–not the dark brown.
So much for inconspicuous!

The rest is history.
From the inside, being under the veil
makes me feel utterly feminine, pretty, cherished and protected.
Feeling conspicuous in the process
is just something I’m going to have to deal with ;).

Ironically, shortly thereafter I did find dark brown drapey nylon lace and cut out a scalloped brown mantilla–
but it just couldn’t compare to the lightness of the white lace
in my peripheral vision (peeking out from behind lace curtains!).
My prince prefers the white too.
I expect to wear the brown for the penitential seasons of Advent & Lent,
when white seems out of place.

I wore it to Mass the next morning
(being visitors made it a little easier to be the only one!),
reflecting on the faces I’ve seen beneath mantillas.
I’ve seen the “battle ax” (“I dare you to say anything!”),
the “scared rabbit” (“Please, please don’t say anything!”)
and radiance.
I feel for the first two, and could easily fall into either camp if I let myself.
It’s a bit intimidating to make such a bold visual statement in public.
But the statement itself is really only served by radiance.
I set about to shine :).

That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head,
because of the angels.
-I Corinthians 11:10

I’ve always found this passage confusing.
I could never figure out why the angels would care.
Looking out from beneath a veil myself brought this to mind:

Above Him stood the seraphim:
each had six wings:
with two he covered his face,
and with two he covered his feet,
and with two he flew.
-Isaiah 6:2

The angels cover themselves in the presence of Almighty God!
As God is head of the angels, so man is head of woman
(especially when men treat women
as gloriously as God treats His angels!).

Just as I appreciate the few times I’m not the only one veiling,
it makes sense to me that the angels would too!

I’m with you, angels!

And as it’s the mission of the head to protect and provide,
I reflected on the Jews’ reference
to the corners of their prayer shawl as “wings.”

Under my veil, I’m protected under God’s wings.

In the shadow of Your wings
I will take refuge
-Psalm 57:1

in the shadow of Your wings
I shout for joy
-Psalm 63:7

What a wonderful place to be 🙂 !

I like to think the lace in my peripheral vision helps me focus on the Mass (instead of being distracted by other things in my peripheral vision!).
It should.
But I’m pretty distractible internally too,
so it’s hard to tell for sure (truth in advertising!).
From what I’ve heard about men and distraction,
it sounds as though it’s easier for them to concentrate at Mass
when the women are veiled.
I’d like to encourage that :).

The mantilla certainly gives a whole new meaning to the idea
that Jesus “passed through the veil” (see Hebrews 6:19-20, 9:3, 10:20)! Yes, the Scriptures are were talking about the veil
of the heavenly temple,
of which the earthly temple was only a pale imitation,
but Jesus “passes through the veil” now
every time I receive Him in Holy Communion!

My advice to any lady (however young or otherwise)
who’s ever wondered what it would be like “under the veil”
is to get a piece of lace
and try it in the privacy of your prayer at home.
If you have easy access to a real mantilla so much the better,
but it’s not hard to cut a triangle of lace fabric
(roughly 36-40″ wide by 18-25″ tall; scalloped edges are nice).
Fabric stores often have 40% off coupons,
so the experiment doesn’t have to cost much.

I’ll leave the rest up to the angels :).

(If you’re interested in more reasons I veil,
check out the “About” page–I’ve just updated it).

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