Unveiling the Mantilla!

Moira talks about unveiling the beauty behind something a little different… the mantilla.

Moira wearing the mantilla and speaking at Westminster Cathedral
Moira wearing the mantilla and speaking at Westminster Cathedral

Unveiling. A word that illustrates one’s journey with the Lord as a Christian. A constant unveiling – whether it be unveiling the divine reality within the sacraments, unveiling the word of God, the unveiling of our natural state of being through the eyes of God or, probably the most common, the unveiling of a bride by her husband.

* Before you continue to read, it’s important to note that this blog post serves to provide a glimpse into beauty of this outward expression and in no way aims to suggest that a person who is veiled should be deemed better than one who isn’t.

Veiled for the first time…

Prior to Lent in 2013, I was pondering what I should give up. For many years, Lent meant giving up chocolate, McDonald’s, TV… etc. I never really understood the purpose of “letting go.” As an 18 year old Catholic without much formation and struggling in my first semester of theology at a secular institute, there wasn’t much out there for me in terms of direction; so I did what most young people would do and, instead of asking God, I turned to the internet.

I remember reading something along the lines of “Lent is about letting go and letting God”, essentially meaning over time we become who God created us to be. I instantly fell in love.

I then came across a post on Mary’s mantle. Intrigued by this, I decided to look up why Mary covered her hair; from there I entered the world of lace and haven’t looked back.

The Mantilla?

If we have anything in common ladies, perhaps it’s the desire to one day be fully veiled before the altar of our God, being witnessed by friends and family, making vows to the man that will lead you to heaven. For some, this is the sacrament of marriage; for others, this is articulated through religious/consecrated life. In this case we’ll discuss marriage.

Our faith is modelled on the sacrament of Holy Matrimony – For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you, Isaiah 62.5 – a sacred union between the Lover and his Beloved. The Church is literally bursting with images of God’s love expressed through ‘married love’. The veil, a symbol of a bride’s purity, is but one of many.

Wearing a veil humbles me, it has allowed me to focus on what really matters – my relationship with him.

Saint Paul writes that a woman’s hair is her glory in his first letter to the Corinthians. It would make sense then for a woman to come before God in the Mass and cover her own glory in order to focus on His. When one reads St Paul in our current context, it is possible to be offended by it. Although there are no specific rules in canon law or in liturgy suggesting that veils are imperative, it’s still a beautiful opportunity to have.

Customarily, women would cover their heads all the time, even outside of liturgy, sharing their glory only with their husbands. Although the culture has now changed, veils are still very relevant in Liturgy as when one enters into liturgy one witness’s heaven – existing outside of time.

The Roman Pontifical quotes: “Receive the sacred veil, that thou mayst be known to have despised the world, and to be truly, humbly and with all thy heart subject to Christ as His Bride; and may he defend thee from all evil, and bring thee to life eternal” (Pontificale Romanum, de benedictione).

“You must ONLY attend Latin Mass…”

Yeah… no! I hear this far too often and it’s simply not true. Whilst a lot of women who attend Latin Mass wear it, it’s also common for women who don’t attend. Mantillas are not bound to a particular rite; it’s a beautiful tradition that has been passed down.

What about coloured Mantillas

There aren’t any specific rules regarding colour. Traditionally, single women would wear white and married would wear black. I love this tradition; it’s simple and poignant – much like the veil itself.

In terms of coloured veils, they are beautiful and there are certainly days where I’m tempted to purchase a pink French lace veil, but in my personal opinion it could potentially draw the focus away from the reason why a women wears it, indicating the veil is nothing short of an accessory.

The person I am in prayer… that’s the kind of woman I want to be…

After a lot of prayer and contemplation, I decided to purchase a veil and it arrived just in time for Lent. Wearing a veil humbles me, it has allowed me to focus on what really matters – my relationship with him. It’s better to be a good person than to look good in front of others.

I veil myself during Mass and Adoration to show reverence and submission to God. Something that I want to be able to integrate into my daily life, so that I can be formed into the woman I am in prayer. It’s an outward sign of an inward desire.

Women have this beautiful invitation to veil themselves; it is in no way demeaning to women, and in fact in liturgy all that is holy is also veiled. Look at the Altar, the Tabernacle, the Chalice… You are holy; He created you to be holy.

It’s an honour to be veiled before the altar of our Lord.