Much controversy surrounds this beautiful act of humility before the Lord; this age-old custom/tradition of our faith. Many claim that the Church mandates the covering of a woman's head when entering the presence of God in His Tabernacle. They say that "Vatican II" did not "do away with" the teaching...the "mandate" and that all who do not wear the mantilla (veil) are in disobedience to the Church.
This post is not about the validity or lack thereof of such argument/debate/opinion/accusations.
This post is about another topic: Pride.
I've been pondering this whole thing lately because a dear friend of mine, whose family DOES wear the mantilla, has started her own online business where she is selling lovely handmade ones in a personal effort to restore this humble devotion in the Church community.
When I was a child (and, having been born in 1964, I am a *post* Vatican II child, but nonetheless) the mantilla was still commonly worn at Mass. I LOVED it. What little girl doesn't enjoy placing a veil atop her head?
In fact, when we were young and played "Church" or "Nun" as we often did, we used anything we could get our hands on to become a veil...bath towels, dish towels, sheets, blankets...you name it, we tried it.
I have been asking myself why I haven't encouraged my girls to return to this custom?
I have shamefully decided that the answer is "pride" (and a tad bit of a lack of courage).
My "good" motivation in raising godly children has always been to try to inculcate the idea that we are not to attract attention to "ourselves" but rather, to CHRIST, within us...mainly through our example of godly-living and Christian JOY. This has always been my answer to "But what exactly is WRONG with blue hair, Mom?"
It is "wrong" because it draws attention to "us" instead of to CHRIST, within us. (That was a general example to make a general point...not meant to evoke a debate on hair style choices and/or color).
Continuing in that line of thought...I have hesitated to return to donning a mantilla because we have been without one for so long (none of my girls have ever worn it) that I fear that if we suddenly start showing up at Mass with veils on our heads...it WILL draw attention...and I don't want that! (Several families in our parish DO wear the mantilla).
However, I hang my head as I type this...because I realize that even THIS is "pride". It is a lack of courage, as well...
Should I not be willing to have a few looks thrown our way...a few whispers here or there...a few questions or comments after Mass...if, in my heart, I feel that this truly is a lovely act of humility and devotion to bow before the Lord and "cover" ourselves in His presence?
My pride always makes me worry about "what others think". I wouldn't want someone to think we were just wearing veils to be "part of a holy crowd". Believe me, I have heard MANY awful things said (EVEN BY CLERGY) about those who don the mantilla; and have, on several occasions, risen to the defense of people who choose to show their humble devotion to the Lord in this way.
Do I fear such backlash?
Do I worry that some would "think" that I am trying to be "holier than thou".
(Although, as my friend has said...better *holier than thou* than *worldlier than thou*!)
My thoughts reach out to the wider congregation...as a whole.
Why won't ALL of us women return to this beautiful tradition/custom if we, in our hearts, believe that restoration is in order if we are to combat the ways of the world and rise up for Christ in an anti and post Christian society?
Why would we NOT want to take part in something so good, so lovely, so humble?
I am asking myself these things.
Part of my own, personal answer, I know...is that I don't wish to associate myself with that certain "sect" of people who actually DO claim that we are sinning NOT to wear a veil...that the NO Mass is not valid...that the current Pope and many Popes back to whomever are not valid, etc...Though this group is a minority in the Church...it DOES exist...and many of those who subscribe to these mindsets DO wear a mantilla...
So, again...PRIDE/LACK OF COURAGE...I, who do not wish to associate with that type of person, fear participation in this lovely act of devotion because someone "MIGHT THINK" that I "am ONE OF THEM".
Pride and lack of courage.
My girls would readily, eagerly, and wholeheartedly don a mantilla tomorrow if I handed them out and said, "Let's wear these as a sign of our humility and devotion before Christ's presence in the Tabernacle".
Perhaps, I will learn from my children...and do the same.