Well, I did it. I bought a mantilla. I am still full of many questions, however. A friend of mine who is half Mexican, (Alena) pointed out that here, people wear mantillas "backwards," at least compared to Mexico. They are worn like a bandana, but in Mexico, the point goes in front, so it doesn't slip off as easily. I tried it on both ways, and analyzed it in the mirror. Having the point in front really only affects the slippage when the point is so far forwards that it is almost to ones eyebrows, and looks a little silly, I thought. Otherwise, I think they are equally slippery. Does one pin it up? Or just tug at it regularly during Mass? However, I am still undecided about the actual prospect of wearing one myself. I shall certainly wear one when A and I drive to Assumption in Detroit on Friday, (for you-know-what!) I shall probably eventually begin wearing one to daily Mass, but I do want to ask my boss what he thinks of it. Because it is not cultural for us to wear one, I suspect that many people view women who wear mantillas as waving their piety around. (is that the word I wanted?) But I think that the kind of people who go to daily Mass wouldn't care so much, usually someone else there is.
But that brings me to the question of actually wearing one at St. P's during Sunday Mass. To begin with, I don't think I would, simply because of my visible (not literally,) position in the parish as the music director. I think our parish would have to take some more steps in a certain direction before I would feel alright doing that.
But...that brings me to consider, interestingly, the history of the choir loft.
This was discussed at the CMAA colloquium by Dr. Mahrt, and while he certainly wasn't talking about mantillas, it makes me think about them. I remember (correct me, or fill in info if I'm wrong,) that he talked about how originally the "choir" was designed specifically to remove the laity from the sanctuary? and, to extend that line of thought, then wouldn't I be, while in the choir loft, physically removed from the rest of the church in a way that no one outside the choir loft is? So wearing a mantilla would actually LEAST apply to me, in that sense.
And actual reasons TO wear one?
It was recently pointed out to me (and this in particular is really what got me thinking about this,) that the Code of Canon Law of 1917 or whatever did specifically say women should have their heads covered while in church, and that was never actually abrogated, so of course all of us liturgical snobs know that it still technically applies. However, it could certainly be pointed out that there is SO much of that stuff that we actually don't follow any more, this is really quite a small thing.
So we go back to the original reason that women were supposed to have their heads covered?
Of course, we know that men are more easily distracted by women's physical appearance than vice versa, (just go ahead and try to argue with me if you don't agree with that statement...go ahead...I dare you...) and I have noticed in everything from my own observations to classical literature, that hair is quite seductive, and therefore it seems helpful for men for women to cover it for the sake of modesty and less distraction for men during Mass. That seems like quite a plausible explanation to me. but...these mantillas that you buy? really, they are sooo lacy and sometimes even extravagant, it seems to me that kind of defeats the purpose! shouldn't we just wear like a simple black cloth?
After talking to A more last night, it seems that my mantilla is specifically designed to be worn with the point in back, because the Mexican mantillas have a much softer "point," so it doesn't look weird at all for them to be worn in front.