reconciling things

“Allow it all to happen: beauty and terror…” Rilke

“Mary does not come into prominence for her own sake, but for that of her Son. Her human likeness and its psychological details is inaccessible to every historic-critical method, to the most understanding interpretation, even to the most ardent love. It rests veiled in the mystery of God… it is veiled, however, for the express purpose of disclosing itself in its religious significance, for on earth the veil is the symbol of the metaphysical. It is likewise the symbol of womanhood, and all great forms of a woman’s life show her as a figure veiled. This makes it clear why the greatest mysteries of Christianity entered the world of creation not through the man, but by the way of the woman. The annunciation of the Christmas message to Mary repeats itself in the Easter message to Magdalen, while the mystery of Pentecost reveals man in an attitude of womanly acceptance. The Church indicates the same association of concepts, when at religious services and also at the marriage ceremony she assigns woman to the Gospel side of the altar.”

“In keeping with the veil motif, the unpretentious is predominantly proper to women, which means all that belongs to the domain of love, of goodness, of compassion, everything that has to do with care and protection, the hidden, the betrayed things of the earth. Therefore, the times during which woman is crowded out of public life are not in the least detrimental to her metaphysical significance. On the contrary, it’s probably those very periods that, for the most part unknowingly, throw the colossal weight of womanhood into the scales of the world.”

“The presence of the feminine impetus means, as we have seen, that of a hidden influence, helpful, cooperating, a ministering one. The impulse of reverence belongs to woman. To determine the boundaries of a living culture by the presence of the mystery of charity means to do so by the quality of reverence, and this is but another name for the veil motif.”

“The profound consolation that women can give to mankind today is her faith in the immeasurable efficacy also of forces that are hidden, the unshakable certainty that not only a visible but also an invisible pillar supports the world. When all the earthly potencies shall have exhausted themselves in vain, and this in the present distress of the world is nearly the case, then, even for a humanity largely grown godless, the hour of the other world will strike again. But the divine creative power will break forth from heaven to renew the face of the earth, only if the earth itself responds again with the religious force, with the readiness of the ‘be done and to me.’”

All quotations from The Eternal Woman by Gertrud von le Fort (emphasis mine). They are everything I want to say when someone asks me why I veil in Church. The veil speaks of the mystery of the woman—as the eternal symbol of virgin, mother, and bride. It speaks of her protection and reverence of the hidden and despised things of the earth. The veil prophesies of a time to come when the earth will be renewed with a great fiat to the Holy Spirit.

Why do you wear that scarf?

It it an ancient impulse to embrace a metaphysical reality and the eternal symbol of the feminine. It speaks of a great mystery.

(Plus, it’s really pretty.)

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