I Wore A Mantilla To Mass and No One Cared…

Mantillas. I hate ‘em. They are fussy and bothersome, and last time I checked, lace is a fabric that doesn’t do much concealing, so why even bother? They make the wearer, me that is, feel conspicuous. And really, who am I fooling, trying to look all pious and junk?

But then I wore a mantilla, and much to my shock, no one cared. Not a single eyelash was batted or a tongue clucked. The ground did not open and swallow my hypocritical, how dare she, heathen soul. The mass went on.

That’s really why we don’t wear them, right? Because they are fussy and imply of the wearer a pretense of piety, that may or may not exist. And we’re all about “keeping it real” because being a hypocrite is the worst thing in the world to be, next to being a racist that is. So I’ve been keeping it real at mass, in my jeans and bare head, instead of getting over myself and my fear that everyone is staring at me. Which they aren’t, because no one cares. Imagine that. Wearing a mantilla for mass was much less of a big deal than I anticipated. I don’t know why I was making such a fuss, really. Silly, self absorbed thing that I am.

Related Links:
Leah Libresco’s, Costumes, Constraint, and Chapel Veils
Veils by Lily, Rediscover Reverence

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • Emily Davis

    I am unsure if you like Mantillas or not. Or if you are implying people who wear them are hypocrites. To be honest, I don’t really care who notices me in my veil because that is between our Lord and I!
    Lots of us care. VERY MUCH! In fact, veiling is coming back and it’s an awesome experience for those of us who love it.
    I wouldn’t wear Jeans or a bare head in Mass, because I have different feelings about it than you.
    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your veiling experience. But don’t discount it.
    I’m not sure if you did frankly.. because your post was all sarcasm.


  • joannemcportland

    Read it again, Emily. The sarcasm was self-directed.

    • Emily Davis

      It’s the first time I’ve ever read her posts, so I had nothing to base it off of.
      But thanks. Perhaps she could answer for herself.
      Take care.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

        It was self directed. I’m the butt of my own jokes.

        • Emily Davis

          Ahhh. I’m pretty literal and don’t always “get” sarcasm.
          Thanks for the response.

  • Hilary Jane Margaret White

    The solution to the sliding off problem is to buy a big one. With enough weight hanging down on each side, they tend to stay put better. Also, the cheap ones slip more. Go large. The mantilla is actually a symbolic garment, so you’re right to feel uncomfortable. Wearing it means something, and if you don’t mean with your brain what you’re saying with your clothes, there’s going to be what the shrinks call cognitive dissonance. This dissonance will be lessened the more your insides conform to your outsides (which will probably mean no jeans, which are also a symbolic garment… in the other direction).

  • Barbara Fryman

    I love seeing others wearing them! Much like I love seeing any form of piety. I don’t wear one only because I never have. I suppose some day I may feel the yearn to do so. Awesome! I’ll jump in feet first (head first?).

  • Christian LeBlanc

    It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood.

  • http://connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com/ CT Catholic Corner

    Congrats! I don’t own one, but I am thinking that one day I will get one and wear it. I love to see others wearing them- but that only happened once so far in my parish.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Give it a whirl. You’ll be surprised how little people care, and the ones that do give away more about themselves than you. Who knows, I might give it another go this Sunday.

      • Almario Javier

        Yep. I’ve seen about one parish where it’s even an issue. Any ethnic parish, no-one but you and God cares, except when the gossip brigade of the parish tries to conscript you into the choir.

  • MeanLizzie

    First time I wore one to mass, the priest gave me the hairy eyeball, like “oh, why?”

    • http://connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com/ CT Catholic Corner

      Don’t worry, I bet the Mother of God was smiling on you. :)

  • Deacon Jason Schalow

    We have a significant number of mantilla-wearers at our parish and I have noticed that some wear it very naturally and others look like pretenders to piety. I think that it has little to do with the veil and all to do with why it is being worn. The same goes for the choice to regularly receive communion on the tongue and/or kneeling: with some people you can almost feel the love and devotion in what they are doing, while others seem to be making a ‘political statement’ of some kind. With these and every other external devotion, it is good to examine our consciences to make sure we are doing it for the right reasons.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Just curious, how can you spot the pretenders? Maybe they are just naturally awkward folks– I can sympathize being awkward at times myself — who really do have the best intentions in mind. I guess…. how can we ever know and at least their trying, right? No offense, Deacon, but it was exactly this attitude (a fear of being perceived a certain way) that kept me from giving the practice a go.

    • Julia

      I would think a deacon would be thanking women regardless of perceived reasons for making the effort to veil. It is hard when you put yourself out there so to speak. You do get over it and it is done out of reverence. It is a distraction at first but people get used to it. The thing is that it helps you focus on what you’re about. Trying to gauge piety seems wrong especially since we don’t do that to the unveiled. Just a thought.

    • http://awomansplaceis.blogspot.com/ Cam

      I was wondering the same thing Katrina said above. How can you tell? How can you so accurately pinpoint the intention of someone’s heart? Some people are naturally more awkward than others. I’ve covered my head for years and hardly think about it now, but I’m also pretty naturally awkward in general and extra super awkward in Mass where I’m trying to juggle three kids (including a three year old with autism that draws more than enough attention even though we spend pretty much the whole Mass standing in the narthex) and I’m wondering how you can so clearly spot the intention of someone’s heart in their choice to veil or kneel or receive on the tongue.

    • http://connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com/ CT Catholic Corner

      “for the right reasons” – which would be what?

      Would merely wanting to “give it a try” be a “right reason” or one you would slap a pretenders bumper sticker on?

      If a Joe Biden or a Nancy Pelosi knelt for communion I’d jump for joy because at the very least, they were using their bodies to show reverence and perhaps that simple act would one day crack their hardened hearts to the Truth the Church teaches.

      Who knows what wearing a mantilla would do for each individual person or those they witness to by that simple act?

      Do you feel and do things different in your clergy garb then out of it?

      I honestly don’t understand your comments.

  • http://coucoumelle.blogspot.com/ Jeanne Chabot-Baril

    I have a Spanish mantilla, that looked awesome on the girl in the photo on the site I ordered it from, but in reality is actually a bit too stiff for it to lie very well on the head, (a few washes may take care of that) and looks nowhere near as good on me…

    Needless to say, I have not worn it anywhere. Yet.

    No one wears these things anywhere in Québec, so It’d be a huge novelty. Not sure I’m up for that.

  • michicatholic


  • Rebecca Duncan

    I started wearing things over my hair. Sometimes a mantilla, sometimes a scarf, sometimes a beanie. Nobody cares. A couple people asked me about it, but there was nothing negative. I’m the only one who wears one at my parish.

  • http://awomansplaceis.blogspot.com/ Cam

    Great post (and I’m always amazed at how often sarcasm is missed…)!

    I’ve found that it’s only online that anyone has ever has anything passionately mean to say about wearing a veil. In real life I’ve seldom had anyone say anything (and never anything unkind). Online sooooo many people have opinions about it that they’re only to happy to share.

  • Caroline Moreschi

    OK, sincere question from a Protestant: why do Catholics not dress up for church? Most Protestants don’t even believe in the Real Presence, but they still dress to the nines. African American Protestants especially take great care to dress up for church. Did Catholics use to dress up? Why did they stop? (I ask sincerely, I’m not trying to criticize or be sarcastic).

    • Nan

      I think it depends on who you are, where you are and which Mass you attend. Of course Catholics used to dress up for Mass; then the 60′s came in, hats, gloves, mantillas and dressup went out. At my parish, people dress up more at 10am and Noon Mass; 7pm vigil Mass and 8am Mass attract many who work on the weekend and 5pm Mass attracts travelers who have just returned home, many from parishes who don’t have a Mass later in the day on Sunday. Another factor may be that we know our true home isn’t on Earth.

    • Iota

      I can’t really tell you why Catholics as a group don’t dress up. I can tell you why I don’t really do that (I do dress semi-formally, by my culture’s standards, but not fully formally). If you’d like, that is.

    • Chrysoprase

      When I was a boy in the fifties, we dressed up to go to Church. You’re right to ask. When did we stop and why? Is it just that we live in a much less dressy age now?

  • Neal

    Katrina, come to STL and visit St. Francis DeSales oratory. 3 things are in abundance. Mantillas, children and liturgical lace.

  • Almario Javier

    Well, at least in my experience, most people don’t really care what you wear on your head at Mass. If it brings you closer to God, knock yourself out. What does seem interesting is the women who usually wear it are

    a) old women who look as if they’re about to hit someone with a birch rod
    b) young twenty-somethings who you suspect are recent converts
    c) middle-aged moms with a vanful of children (which is OK, I guess).

    As to communion on the tongue, I do it because it’s how I was taught, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth (or the 1990s, but same thing). Sure I know I could receive it in the hand, and I don’t begrudge anyone doing that. But I’m just not used to it… it’s instinct.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      a-c … doesn’t this pretty much cover everyone then?

      • Almario Javier

        No. Per ejemplo, there are young twentysomethings who are not converts, middle-aged women with no children, and old ladies who don’t make you feel ill at ease in church.

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    Perhaps it’s worth recalling what St. Paul was recommending:

    “Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head. But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head.” (1 Cor 11:5ff)

    Further, he adds: “whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory.” (1 Cor 11:15)

    Women are the fairest sex, beautiful to behold. Women’s hair adds to their beauty. However, in this fallen world, women compete with each other, not necessarily for mates as for vanity’s sake, in their beauty, of which their hair is part of.

    Men seek respect. In this fallen world, men compete with each other by flaunting their rank in society, then indicated by their headgear.

    What I think that St. Paul meant was that men should not pull rank and women should not flaunt their beauty to each other when adoring the Lord, the One Who outranks all and is Beauty Himself.

    Though in the West men don’t usually wear hats anymore, hats are still used to denote one’s function in society. At church, it’s therefore more than proper for policemen or construction workers, for example, to be mere, equal men before the Lord by taking their hats off. But in many parts of the world hats still indicate one’s rank in society, where St. Paul’s recommendation for men to uncover the head couldn’t be more appropriate.

    As for women, their beauty is their pride. Men appreciate beautiful hair and it does attract our attention, but I think that women notice each others’ hairs more critically than men. For ugly hair just doesn’t get any attention by men, but women make mental notes of how many women their hair is more beautiful than. A woman’s pride is inflated roughly at the rate of one pound-per-square-inch per woman with uglier hair.

    In both cases, men and women uncovering or covering their heads has therefore more to do with others. In other words, it’s an act of charity towards other men and women before the Lord to uncover or cover their heads. And this charity is what brings one closer to the Lord, not the obligation or the vanity of doing so.