Posted tagged ‘veil’

Under the Veil

May 3, 2012

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).

Overdose of Glory?

July 12, 2011

I built a model of the Old Testament Tabernacle recently. Every time I give the RCIA presentation on the Exodus I wish I had one & this year I found a printable that made it feasible.

(The covering needs help, but there’s only so much I can do with printer paper)

I tweaked a few things & made my own version of the ark of the covenant (complete with flowers, leaves & ripe almonds on Aaron’s rod!).

Passages I usually skim came to life before my eyes. It was striking just how many things lined up with the way we worship today, with special vestments for priests, water for purification before worship (holy water fonts, Father washing his hands before consecrating the Eucharist), the veiled Tabernacle where God was present to His people with the lamp burning constantly before it–and the showbread, most holy to the Lord (another foreshadowing of the Eucharist), etc.

That experience was on my mind as we prayed before the Tabernacle after Mass. It made me appreciate just what a privilege it is to be so close to the Holy of Holies, unveiled (and that’s not even touching Holy Communion!!!). It brought to mind what happened when people in the Old Testament didn’t honor that separation, especially Uzziah touching the ark (2 Samuel 6). That juxtaposed with a bit I’ve been reading out of Mystical Body, Mystical Voice: Encountering Christ in the Words of the Mass, by Christopher Carstens & Douglas Martis (on the new translation of the Mass) about our need to learn the language of Heaven through the liturgy in order to be happy in Heaven. They quote John Henry Cardinal Newman:

Now is it not plain that those who are tired, and wearied, and made impatient by our sacred services below,
would most certainly get tired and wearied
with Heaven above?
Because there the Cherubim ‘rest not day and night,’
saying,’Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.’
Such as this, too, will be the way of the Saints in glory,
for we are told that there will be
a great voice of much people saying,
Alleluia; and again they said, Alleluia;
and the four-and-twenty elders said Alleluia.
Such, too, was our Lord’s way,
when in His agony
He three times repeated the same words,
‘Thy will, not Mine, be done.’
It is the delight of all holy beings,
who stand around the Throne,
to use one and the same form of worship;
they are not tired,
it is ever new pleasure to them to say the words anew.
They are never tired;
but surely all those persons
would soon be tired of hearing them,
instead of taking part in their glorious chant,
who are wearied of Church now,
and seek for something more attractive and rousing.
(Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 8, Sermon 1).

Mystical Body, Mystical Voice also references C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, in which people from hell travel to the outskirts of Heaven, only to find that they’re not real enough to walk on the grass or to endure the drops of rain–the grass is like swords that go right through their ghostly feet & the raindrops like bullets that wound them.

Heaven is overwhelmingly glorious for those who are prepared for it–but not for those who aren’t (which is why God mercifully provided a place for those who don’t like Heaven).

The upshot was a question: what if the reason Uzziah died by touching the ark wasn’t because “God went after him,” but rather because he connected with Power beyond his ability to bear–like touching a downed power line? What if he died of an overdose of divine glory? And what if he ultimately went to Heaven?

Saints who’ve had ecstasies have said they would’ve died from such proximity to God if He hadn’t sustained them, and I’m reminded of
Bl. Imelda Lambertini who kept asking how anyone could receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and not die of happiness (and then she did–both–in a miraculous First Communion).

God is all-powerful. He makes an atomic bomb look like a lightning bug. People fell down terrified at encountering an angel, never mind God Almighty Himself. There are constructive ways to approach such power, but there are destructive ways too (I shudder to think of all the sacrilegious and careless Communions!). But since the God doesn’t often reveal the spiritual destruction in a physical way, we don’t notice–this side of the veil. He makes Himself SO available to us here!

Life here is our training for Heaven–not just to see if we can be “good enough” to squeak into a celestial amusement park, but rather a program of discipline in humility and caritas that will enable us to do the spiritual equivalent of running a triathelon with exhilaration instead of agony–to be radiant with the power of the Almighty instead of being fried by it–forever.

It gives a whole new dimension to the necessity of Purgatory!

God’s purpose is to build us up, to ennoble us, to make us real. He wants to empower us to stand before His glory in overflowing exuberance. Some things fulfill that purpose and some detract from it–and He knows better than we do which is which!

I want to be in on this training!

God’s Veil

February 4, 2011

The sun was in my eyes
as I walked to Mass/Adoration
this morning…
for the better part of a mile & a half.
Of course, since I’m not facing east when I leave the house,
I didn’t think to grab sunglasses until it was too late.

God had my attention…

…for a good long time!

If the sun, merely His creation and not even the brightest of His stars,
is so bright that I can’t bear to look at it, so bright that it hurts my eyes,
how much less would I be able to stand the full brilliance of His glory!

Yet I was on my way to spending hours in His Presence,
hours in the radiance of His glory.

I was reminded of Moses veiling his face after talking with God
because it shone so brightly that people couldn’t bear to look at him (Exodus 34:29-35, II Corinthians 3:7).

I thanked the God who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb
(cf. Lawrence Sterne),
Who humbles Himself so profoundly and veils His glory so powerfully
that I can not only gaze upon Him,
but even receive Him, unite myself with Him,
without suffering so much as the discomfort I feel facing into His sun.

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