We are not God, we are not even like gods (though I might say that in some ways, we are because God has dominion over all things in Heaven and on earth – He demonstrated this to the Egyptians when He conquered, one by one, their various gods).
We are called to be humble before the Lord. Banish pride from your heart! Walk with faith and humility! Come before Him with joy, but with an understanding that He is God and we are not.
How do we make ourselves humble before God? Interiorly, we can do so, but sometimes we need more than the interior humility. Sometimes, because we are creatures who are both flesh and spirit, we need a physical sign of our humility. The sign is not for others, not to trumpet our strive to be humble. The sign is for ourselves.
The first sign I undertook was the Scapular. Invisible to everyone, the little woolen cloth sits against my skin. In the summer, it’s hot and scratchy at times. But it’s there, reminding me always: Remember Whose you are! Each day, I kiss my Scapular, not out of superstition, but to remind myself again that I belong to the Lord. I ask His Blessed Mother to pray for me when I put it on. It’s a perpetual prayer of sorts. Unless it slips one way or the other, or sticks up like a tag, most people never know it’s there. But I know, and sometimes I reach up and gently touch the spot below my neck where it sits, reminding myself again Whose I am and how I am supposed to act.
For two years, I have toyed with a certain idea: wearing a mantilla to Mass (linked article is not the best explanation, BTW). I started reading about it from bloggers who did not see it as a badge of honor, a way to SHOW THE WORLD you are Traditional and Orthodox. (I have to admit that prior to this time, I had seen plenty of those kinds of musings. I was not attracted to the idea, and, frankly, was a bit offended. Take note, Traddies.) I began to see occasional posts about wearing a mantilla, not to show others how Traditional they were, but to give themselves a way to physically remind themselves to be humble before God.
I read what I could from these bloggers, and not the former. I did so for about a year.
Last year, I went to the IHM Conference and looked over the mantillas. Pretty… But I wasn’t sure if this was for me. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself with it. I didn’t want people to think, “What’s with her? Who does she think she is?” Besides, the only other woman who wore one at our parish was so out of place – not for the mantilla, but for her behavior at Mass. Kneeling at a time when no one else did. Tsking loudly when First Communicants received in the hand or drank from the chalice. I contemplated some more, and started my own thing with humility. I always wore my hair up for Mass, pulling it back into one of those big clip thingies. It got so normal that I did this that my pastor saw me at a parish brunch (hair back down again) and couldn’t figure out what was different about my hair. But this was my first way to try to concentrate on some humility. No fussing with my hair unconsciously during Mass, no big primping…just pulled back, simply.
Then, I read this blog post, and I decided to discuss the mantilla more seriously with Travel Man. When we were on the way to IHM, I asked how he felt about the mantilla: can we check out how much they run, and can we think about me getting one? Yes and yes. Travel Man is the best.
So I checked it out. Not too much (less than I’d seen online), and I jumped in and bought it. Discovered during checkout that I’d been trying it on backwards, but no harm, right?
So Sunday will begin the great experiment: wearing my mantilla to my parish, where no one wears one.
I’ll let you know how it goes, but I think it’ll be okay.