Liturgical Seminars

LITURGICAL VESTMENTS

PDDM Liturgical Formation Seminar:   “Enriching Liturgical Life”

Prepared by:  Sr. M. Claire Espiritu, pddm

22 September 2007

 

Introduction:

 

The heart of the Church’s liturgy is best expressed in an atmosphere that is beautiful, solemn, and conducive to sacred worship where the people of God can be in touch among themselves and with their God. Vestments are part of a meaningful and enriching ritual experience in a festive liturgical celebration. The use of appropriate vestments provides beauty, solemnity, and visual sensory experience to the ritual action of the worshipping community.

 

The use of liturgical vestments is an important symbolic component of Christian worship. Liturgical vestments are garments worn by different ministers during liturgical celebrations in the Catholic Church and in some other Christian Churches. One of the most noticeable things in a liturgical celebration is the vestment worn by the presider of the worshipping community. Many of the Catholic faithful, however, do not fully understand the origin, purpose and nature of liturgical vestments. There is, therefore, a need for a more intense catechetical approach to the use of vestments in Church worship.

 

Liturgical Vestments is seen in Western Europe –

            as vestments that, according to the rules of the Church or by ecclesiastical usage, are worn by the clergy when they carry out the religious services or ceremonies of the Church, such as the celebration of the Mass and the sacraments, the rites of blessing, the solemn celebration of the liturgy of the Hours, the public services of prayer, the processions, etc.

 

            The Pre-Vatican II Development of Liturgical Vestments

 

The pre-Vatican II history of vestments can be delineated according to its four periods of development:

 

  • PERIOD OF SPONTANEITY: the First Period starts from the first and extends to the fourth century;

  • PERIOD OF DEFINITIVE DIFFERENTIATION: the Second Period begins in the fourth century and extends to the ninth century;

  • PERIOD OF ALLEGORICAL INTERPRETATION: the Third Period covers the ninth to the thirteenth century;

  • PERIOD OF RUBRICAL EVOLUTION: the Fourth Period commences in the thirteenth century and extends until before Vatican II.

 

Types of Vestments

                       

 The main liturgical vestments and other articles of clothing used in the Roman rite:

  1. the vestments for all ministers,

  2. the vestments proper to the ordained,

  3. the insignia of the Bishops,

  4. special vestments to mark festivity, and

  5. the vestments for various liturgical seasons and feasts.

 

A. The Vestments for All Ministers

The liturgical vestments that may be used by ordained and non-ordained ministers at liturgical functions are the alb, amice, and cincture.

 

1. Alb

 The alb, a straight garment with close-fitting sleeves, extends to the ankles.          

The alb has often been referred to as the robe of glory. The choice of white for its color has biblical foundations: Jesus’ clothes became “dazzling white” at the Transfiguration; the angelic herald of the resurrection was arrayed in white; the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation described the Ancient One in white, like the singing multitudes in the New Jerusalem.

In number 298 of the second typical edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (March 1, 1985), we read: “The vestment common to ministers of every rank is the alb, tied at the waist with a cincture, unless it is made to fit without a cincture.”

This corroborates W. J. Grisbrook’s contention that the alb is the ministerial garment of the baptized. The 3rd typical edition  of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal adapted for the U.S.A. indicates that this is not the case for in GIRM n. 339 we read: “In the dioceses of the United States of America, acolytes, altar servers, lectors and other lay ministers may wear the alb or other suitable vesture or other appropriate and dignified clothing.”  

 

Liturgical-Pastoral Note

A.   The Vestments for Minister

1.  ALB          

 

An alb is used by the main celebrant of the Mass, with a stole and chasuble over it. When there are too many concelebrants and the vestments are not enough, the concelebrants may leave off the chasuble, but must always wear the alb and the stole. Approved by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in January 1990, the Guidelines for the Eucharist, number 74, asserts: “For a concelebrated Mass, it is enough that concelebrants wear an alb or white cassock with a stole on top of it.” An alb and a stole for concelebrants make for a certain simplicity, but at the same time respect the dignity and sacredness of the liturgical celebration. 

It is often asked whether the cassock or soutana is the same as the alb, and if not, whether the cassock can be used as a substitute for the alb. These are questions frequently asked in the past, especially in the Philippines. As the General Instruction of the Roman Missal did not mention the cassock among the liturgical vestments for the Mass, the Bishops of the Philippines, at their meeting in July 1969, asked about its implications. Rome was consulted and on August 5, 1969, the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship (SCDW) answered that “the cassock is not by itself a sacred vestment, but since it is derived from the alb and is much like it, the white cassock may be used as alb in the Philippines, provided it is a clean one and not worn for street dress during the day” (Prot. n. 820/69 of August 5, 1969). According to Fr. Florencio Testera, this matter on the cassock was taken up again at the meeting of July 1970 and hotly debated as to its interpretation. No decision was published, but later it was left to the interpretation of the Ordinary of the diocese.

           

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, n. 304, allows adaptations in the form of vestments with the consent of the Holy See. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines requested the use of the so-called “chasuble-alb” already approved for some countries by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship via the concession, La Sacrée of May 1, 1971. On April 3, 1973, the SCDW included the Philippines in the permission to use the chasuble-alb but under the following restrictions: only for concelebrations, celebrations for special groups, celebrations outside a place of worship, and some other similar occasions where this usage seems to be suggested by reason of the place or the people involved.

 

Symbolic Meaning and Vesting Prayer

           

The alb represents purity, innocence, and divine grace. This symbolism will help us remember that it should be a white garment.

The following prayer may be used when the minister wears the alb: “Purify me, O Lord, and make me clean of heart, that washed in the blood of the Lamb, I may possess eternal joy.”

 

  1. Amice

 The amice is a rectangular piece of linen or cotton strings at the upper corners by which the priest fastens it to the shoulders (over the cassock or clerical shirt) by crisscrossing the strings around and under his arms and waist. The word amice is derived from the Latin verb amicire, which means ‘to cover.’

 

Liturgical-Pastoral Note

            A modern adaptation of the traditional amice without the strings is now popular. The amice either buttons or snaps as it closes at the upper chest and neck. The purpose of the amice is to completely cover the cassock or street dress of the minister so that they are not visible. The amice is optional if the chasuble covers the minister’s inner garments.

 

Symbolic Meaning and Vesting Prayer

            In wearing the amice, the minister may recite the following prayer, which is replete with meaning: “Place upon my head, O Lord, the helmet of salvation for repelling the attacks of the evil one.”

 

  1. The cincture, cingulum is the girdle that is worn with the alb.  It was originally a flat band, secured with a clasp or buckle, and made of leather or cloth

 

The cincture or cingulum girds the alb. It was originally a flat band, secured with a clasp or buckle, and made of leather or cloth. According to H. Norris, the cincture was recognized as an ecclesiastical vestment by the eighth century.

 

Liturgical-Pastoral Note

            It is preferred that the cincture be made of white cord, symbolizing chastity, and simple in design, avoiding unnecessary ornamentation, such as excessive tassels or colorful embellishments.

 

Symbolic Meaning and Vesting Prayer

            The cincture evokes the cord that bound our Lord to the pillar when he was being scourged. It symbolizes modesty and readiness for hard work in the service of God. The prayer that the minister may use when he girds himself with the cincture is the following: “Lord, gird me about with the cincture of purity, and extinguish my fleshly desires that the virtue of continence and chastity may abide in me.”

 

B. The Vestments Proper to the Ordained Ministers

            The liturgical vestments that are specifically connected to ordained ministers are the stole, chasuble, dalmatic and maniple.

 

1.  The stole is a liturgical vestment consisting of a long, narrow scarf falling into two equal strips of cloth over the front. The stole is the distinctive mark of the power of Orders, worn by those who have received the episcopate, presbyterate, or the diaconate. The stole was first known as sudarium, orarium and stola.

 

Liturgical-Pastoral Note

            The stole connotes the sacramental role of the cleric and, therefore, requires a design that exhibits dignity. The stole may never be worn by the non-ordained. It is reserved to the clergy as a mark of their specific office.

Symbolic Meaning and Vesting Prayer

            The early writers of the Church have seen in the stole the symbolism of Christ washing the feet of the Twelve with the orarium, an act that signifies the call of the ordained to service and the jurisdiction of the priest over the faithful. It also resembles the yoke of Christ, a liturgical sign bestowed only on those who have been sanctified to wear it. The stole represents the robe of immortality lost by our first parents and restored by Christ. Above all, it is the badge and symbol of priestly authority and dignity.

            The prayer that may accompany the vesting of the stole is the following: “Lord, restore the stole of immortality which I lost through the collusion of our first parents and, unworthy as I am to approach your Sacred Mysteries, may I yet gain eternal joy.”

 

2. Chasuble

The chasuble was decreed as a presidential garb for all bishops and priests, deacons, and minor clerics at the Council of Toledo in 633 A.D., but a later restriction in the eighth century limited the chasuble to bishops and priests, while the dalmatic was designated as the official vestment for deacons.  The Council of Ratisbon in 742 A.D. decreed that the chasuble be the outside garment worn by the clergy.

 

John Laurance remarks: “With the return by Vatican II to early liturgical sources, chasubles in recent times have been fashioned as real clothing again..” Recent attempts to simplify liturgical clothing have resulted in combinations of alb and chasuble forms in a single vestment, called “chasuble-alb” that has become popular.

 

Liturgical-Pastoral Note

            There is no liturgical law prescribing the decoration of the chasuble. It may be left unadorned. Like the other liturgical vestments, the chief merit of the chasuble lies in its outline, the richness of its folds, the beauty and suppleness of its silken material. Today, the chasuble remains the vestment proper to the Bishop and priest-celebrant at Mass. However, concelebrating priests are allowed, for a good reason (e.g. a large number of concelebrants or a lack of vestments, etc.), to wear only an alb and a stole. The chasuble may replace the cope during the sprinkling of holy water at the introductory rite of the Sunday mass, for the distribution of ashes at the beginning of Lent, and while performing the funeral absolution.

 

 Symbolic Meaning and Vesting Prayer

            An indulgence is attached to the sacred vestment if the Bishop and priest don them solemnly and prayerfully, silently reciting the proper prayer assigned to it.  The vesting prayer is: “Lord, you said, my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Grant that I may be able to wear this vestment so as to obtain your grace. Amen.” Indeed, with the grace of the Lord, the priestly ministry is transformed into a “yoke that is easy” and a “burden that is light”.

 

  1. The dalmatic is the outer garment worn by the deacon and subdeacon It was derived from a woolen garment originating in the Greek province of Dalmatia. Only in the eleventh century was it definitively described as liturgical garment for all bishops and deacons.

 

Liturgical-Pastoral Note

            The deacon’s dalmatic should normally be of the same fabric as the celebrant’s chasuble. In churches where several deacons minister, at least two dalmatics should be provided to match each of the chasubles used in solemn mass. In cathedrals, more matching dalmatics are required because when the Bishop presides solemnly, three deacons should assist him.

 

Symbolic Meaning and Vesting Prayer

            When putting on the dalmatic, the deacon may use the following vesting prayer, which indicates that the dalmatic symbolizes the gift of salvation, joy and justice: “Lord, endow me with the garment of salvation and the vestment of joy, and with the dalmatic of justice ever encompass me.”

 

  1. The origins of the maniple were both practical and ceremonial: practical, because it was a cloth worn on the arm by women to wipe their faces; ceremonial, because it referred to the ceremonial napkin used by person of rank in pre-Christian times. Maniple, an item of personal luxury, was used by officials to signal the beginning of public events.

 

The maniple was intended to cover the hand of the acolyte or priest during the moments when he touched the consecrated species. In this way, the human hand did not touch the sacred object. With the reform of Vatican II, the maniple is no longer a required liturgical vestment.

 

Liturgical-Pastoral Note

            Pope Paul VI, in his Instruction, Tres Abhinc Annos, dropped the maniple for liturgical purposes, asserting that “it served no practical or aesthetic purpose, and its meaning is no longer understood”. The Pontifical Council, Ecclesia Dei, however, granted the use of the maniple to the members of the Fraternity of St. Peter, which still retained the liturgical vestments in 1969.

           

Dom Martin de Jesus Gomez remarks: “Before the reforms of Vatican II, the maniple’s ornamentation was expected to match that of the stole used in the same celebration. They were also supposed to agree in shape. Therefore, if the stole was widened out at the ends, the maniple also was supposed to widen out somewhat at the bottom. The maniple was, of course, made to match the stole and chasuble in material and form.”

 

Symbolic Meaning and Vesting Prayer

            The symbolism of the maniple as “sheaves of wheat” referred to in Psalm 125 and consequently, the bunch of flowers, grass, stems, or vine shoots, has certainly inspired the formulas of investiture for the sub-diaconate: “Receive the maniple which symbolizes the fruit of good works.”

           

The origin of the mappula and the symbolic meaning, which the maniple acquired, both seem to be recalled in the formula which the priest recites when placing it on his arm. The vesting prayer is: “Grant, O Lord, that I may be worthy to wear the maniple of tears and sorrow so that I may joyfully receive the reward of my work.”

 

 D. Special Vestments to Mark Festivity

            To enhance the solemnity of liturgical functions and to mark festivity, the following vestments are used: cope, humeral veil, and surplice.

 

  1. is a long semicircular cloak with an open front reaching down to the heels and fastened at the breast with a clasp. The cope is the second most recognizable of the sacred vestments. Originally, the cope was worn over the chasuble by clerics in procession so that the clerics would be protected from rain and chilly weather.  This custom explains its Latin name, pluviale, which means ‘rain catcher’. Like the surplice, the cope was a vestment deliberately introduced to give solemnity to the offices of the Church.

The initial use of the cope is towards the end of the eighth century.

 

Liturgical-Pastoral Note

            While all the Mass vestments are blessed, the cope is not; and it is not solemnly given during ordination ceremonies. All members of the clergy, including the Pontiff, may wear this ceremonial garb at various occasions. The priest or Bishop may don it, with or without a stole, for solemn offices other than the Mass, e.g. Vespers, Lauds, funerals, processions, etc.

The Bishop may also wear a cope for the celebration of sacraments, such as Baptism and Marriage, and when assisting at councils and gatherings of his rank.

           

J.C. Noonan, Jr. cites Pope Paul VI’s directive in 1969 concerning the cope: “The cope should never be used over the chasuble. It must always be worn by a priest, deacon, or Bishop whether over the alb, a cassock, and surplice, or over the rochet. It should always be worn by these ministers over the stole as well. The cope should be fastened at the breast by a device simple in design. The more is an elaborate metallic ornament of large design used by persons of Episcopal rank.”

 

Symbolic Meaning and Vesting Prayer

            There are no symbolic meaning and vesting prayer assigned to the cope.

 

  1. Humeral Veil

            The humeral or humeral veil comes from the Latin word, humerus, meaning shoulder, around which this large, scarf-like veil is worn. C. Mayer-Thurman enumerates the functions of the humeral veil: “As a liturgical vestment it is a wide oblong veil or scarf worn around the shoulders at High Mass by the sub-deacon at the time when he holds the paten between the offertory and the Paternoster. It is also worn by a priest at the moment when he raises the monstrance to give Benediction. Furthermore, the humeral is used to cover the celebrant’s hands while holding a sacred vessel, be it a chalice, paten, the pyx, or the monstrance.”

 

Liturgical-Pastoral Note

            Dom Martin de Jesus Gomez gives us excellent liturgical-pastoral insights concerning the humeral veil:

 

Ornamentation that will make it difficult for the humeral veil to handle the sacred vessels should be avoided, no matter how beautiful the desired embroidery may be. Even the two pockets of the same material as the lining, which have been placed in some instances in the past for the priest’s hands, are not really necessary and only compromise the simplicity of this liturgical vestment. Ribbons should be avoided as the means of fastening the vestment since they have always been proven to be impractical and tend to make the priest feel awkward in manipulating them. All humeral veils can be white although, traditionally, red can be worn on Good Friday. In the past, humeral veils were once used at all solemn high Masses except funerals; that is why we could find in many places humeral veils in all the liturgical colors except black. At present, humeral veils are worn by the following: a deacon or priest at Eucharistic exposition, benediction, or in Eucharistic processions, while holding the monstrance at the blessing and while carrying the Eucharist from and back to the chapel of reservation; a priest or deacon bearing the Eucharistic vessel for transfer at the end of the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and at the Holy Communion of the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday. More than one minister may use a humeral veil if there are multiple vessels; ministers bearing relics in solemn processions and ministers assisting with Episcopal insignia may also use a humeral veil.

 

  1. The surplice derives its name from the Latin superpellicium, meaning “a cloak worn over the skins or fur” and its origin is traced back in eleventh century as a choir vestment that was worn over a fur-lined cassock. Originally, this white linen garment had the shape of a conical chasuble fashioned with short, wide sleeves. Gradually, the surplice was shortened, squared at the shoulders and sometimes highly decorated with lace. Today, the surplice is worn over a cassock. It is allowed to substitute for the alb, except when a chasuble or dalmatic is called for, or when one wears the stole to replace the chasuble or dalmatic.

 

Liturgical-Pastoral Note

            Dom Martin de Jesus Gomez remarks about the style of the surplice: “The diversity of temperament and mental outlook that differentiates the nations so profoundly is recognized by the Church. Thus, not one cut or style of surplice has been imposed, any more than she imposes any one style of architecture or church furniture. The surplice may have either a square-cut neck or a rounded one.

 

            J.C. Noonan Jr. remarks: “The most preferred or popular style surplice at present is known as the Vatican style, so-called because it is the style utilized by the Vatican’s Master of Ceremonies. The Vatican style is longer in length reaching just below the knees. It has full or bell-shaped sleeves. Some subdued embroidery as well as other emblems such as the cross are usually worked into each of the bottom regions and the sleeves. Well-defined pleats are also usually characteristic of this simple, elegant, and dignified style.”

 

 Noonan Jr., delineates when the surplice is used or not used: “The surplice is required of all priests and seminarians who are vested in a cassock during liturgical functions, except in the case of a priest who is vested as concelebrant and dons an alb. It is also worn during processions, while administering sacraments, in choir, and basically at any function when the alb is not prescribed. At Mass, it is also used by the acolytes. A master of ceremonies always wears the surplice over the cassock, unless he is vested in an alb. It should be noted, however, that although the alb is a more common vestment in some regions, it should not be donned by a master of ceremonies unless he serves also as concelebrant.

 

Symbolic Meaning and Vesting Prayer

            The sign of the cross is made and the surplice is kissed, after which, the following prayer may be said: “Clothe me, O Lord, with the new man created according to God in justice and holiness of truth.”

The Insignia of Bishops

            In addition to liturgical vestments, there are certain articles of clothing or insignia, which are worn by Bishops. Strictly speaking, they are not vestments. Nonetheless, they are used in the liturgical rite. According to Thomas Ryan, they are as follows:

 

  1. The , which expresses the Bishop’s fidelity to the local Church. He wears it always.

  2. The (crosier or crozier), a symbol of pastoral office, is used at many, but not all, liturgies. The Bishop decides whether or not to use it, based on such factors as the level of solemnity and whether he is in his own diocese.

  3. The , a traditional hat and a mark of liturgical presidency, is worn at many, but not all, liturgies – usually at the same liturgies where the staff is carried, based on similar determinations.

  4. The () is worn at almost all liturgies. It began as a practical covering worn by all tonsured clerics over their bald spot. In most countries, Bishops are the only ones who have kept the custom, even though tonsure long ago fell into disuse.

  5. The , worn by the Bishop is placed under the liturgical vestments, not over them.

  6. The is worn only at Eucharistic celebrations of great solemnity and only by residential Archbishops, that is, Bishops of dioceses designated as metropolitan centers with certain jurisdiction over neighboring dioceses. The pallium is a narrow band of white wool. It forms a circle around the neck with stripes extending down the front and back, and is worn over and pinned to the chasuble. Each pallium is given by the Pope as a sign of the metropolitan’s communion with Rome. This sign is made all the more potent by the traditional manufacturer of a pallium. It is made from the wool of sheep blessed in Rome on the feast of St. Agnes, an early Roman martyr with a name that sounds like , the Latin word for lamb. On the night before the feast of St. Peter, the pallium is placed on his tomb, and it remains there until the next day. It is then blessed and presented personally by the Pope to the Bishop.

 

Vestments for Liturgical Seasons and Feasts

            The General Instruction of the Roman Missal prescribes specific vestment colors for various celebrations and seasons of the Church year. The purpose of using different colors for vestments is twofold: to express the specific character of the mystery of faith being celebrated and to highlight the faith journey of the Christian faithful.

 

            The five colors (white, red, purple, green, black) used in the Roman Rite were formally prescribed by St. Pius X, who made obligatory the use of colors common in the local Roman Church during the later Middle Ages.

 

 Catechetical Character of the Color of Vestments

 

An important contribution of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal is the assertion that the color of liturgical vestments has a pedagogical and catechetical character. According to GIRM n. 345: “The purpose of a variety in the color of the sacred vestments is to give effective expression even outwardly to the specific character of the mysteries of faith being celebrated and to a sense of Christian life’s passage through the course of the liturgical year.” Indeed, the colors of the liturgical vestments reinforce the specific character of the liturgical season, festivity, and occasion. Moreover, the change of colors give a dynamic movement to the unfolding of the various aspects of Christ’s paschal mystery celebrated through

 

            The vestment colors have symbolic meanings. J.C. Noonan Jr. reports them below, together with their usage.

 

  1. , a color symbolizing joy and purity of soul, is worn during the liturgical seasons of

    1. Christmas and Easter.

    2. White vestments are also used for feasts of our Lord (except those pertaining to His passion),

    3. the Blessed Virgin Mary, and

    4. the saints who were not martyrs.

    5. White vestments are also worn on the feasts of St. John the Baptist,

    6. the Chair of St. Peter, and

    7. the Conversion of St. Paul.

    8. White may also be used for Masses of Christian Burial and Masses for the Faithful Departed to signify the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and His triumph over sin and death, sorrow, and darkness.

 

  1. indicates the shedding of blood and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. It is used on

  1. Palm Sunday (when Christ entered Jerusalem to prepare for His death),

  2. Good Friday, any other commemoration of the Lord’s passion,

  3. the votive Mass of the Precious Blood,

  4. the days marking the martyrdom of the apostles (except St. John), and

  5. the feasts of other martyrs who offered their lives for the faith.

  6. Likewise, red vestments are worn on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and tongues of fire rested on their heads;

  7. for the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation; and

  8. for the Votive Masses of the Holy Spirit.

 

  1. , which is used during the Ordinary Season of the liturgical year, symbolizes hope, fidelity and everlasting life.

 

Violet or purple is used during the Advent and Lenten season as a sign of penance, sacrifice and repentance. Purple vestments may also be used for. Masses of Christian Burial or Masses for the Dead.

 

 Old Rose is used in place of purple, on the third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) and on the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday), symbolizing subdued joy.

 

  1. : Although not seen very frequently today, black vestments may be worn for Masses of Christian Burial as a sign of death and mourning. Black may also be used on the Feast of All Souls or for any Mass of the Dead, such as the anniversary of a faithful departed.

 

On solemn occasions, vestments made of real cloth of gold or more precious materials may be used, even if not of the color of the day.

 

Symbol of Ministerial Function

GIRM n. 335 underlines more clearly the symbolic function of vestments to indicate various ministerial functions in the Church: “In the Church, which is the Body of Christ, not all members have the same office. This variety of offices in the celebration of the Eucharist is shown outwardly by the diversity of sacred vestments, which should therefore be a sign of the office proper to each minister.”

 

GIRM n. 347 further delineates the colors of vestments for use in Ritual Masses,

Masses for Various Needs, and for Votive Masses.

  • Ritual Masses are celebrated in their proper color, in white, or in festive color;

  • Masses for Various Needs, on the other hand, are celebrated in the color proper to the day or the season or in violet if they are of a penitential character, for example in the Roman Missal, no. 31 (in Time of War or Conflict), n. 33 (in Time of Famine), or no. 38 (for the Forgiveness of Sins);

  • Votive Masses are celebrated in the color suited to the Mass itself or even in the color proper to the day or the season.

 Towards Inculturation

            In light of the principles laid down by Sacrosanctum Concilium regarding the possibility of adaptation and inculturation in the area of liturgical vestments, GIRM n. 342 and 343 follow this orientation.

 

GIRM n. 342 states: “Regarding the design of sacred vestments, Conferences of Bishops may determine and propose to the Apostolic See adaptations that correspond to the needs and the usages of their regions.”

 

 Likewise, GIRM 343 states: “In addition to the traditional materials, natural fabrics proper to each region may be used for making sacred vestments; artificial fabrics that are in keeping with the dignity of the sacred action and the person wearing them may also be used. The Conference of Bishops will be the judge in this matter.”

 

Admittedly, the field of adaptation is limited only to the design of sacred vestments and the types of fabrics used. For the moment, however, this is a challenge that could interest those who design, sew, and prepare liturgical vestments.

 

Blessing of Liturgical Vestments

            Finally, the 3rd typical edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal introduces an element not found in the previous editions, i.e. the recommendation to bless the sacred vestments to be worn by priests, deacons, and liturgical ministers. It is to be remembered, moreover, that the blessing of liturgical vestments was introduced in the Second Period of the historical development of Church vestments, i.e. during the Franco-Germanic epoch.

 

According to GIRM n. 335: “It is appropriate that the vestments to be worn by priests and deacons, as well as those garments to be worn by lay ministers, be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual before they are put into liturgical use.”

The prayer of blessing for liturgical vestments is centered more on the ministers wearing the vestments, rather than on the vestments themselves. The blessing of God is invoked upon ministers who have been set apart by God and prepared by him for the liturgy so that they may wear the vestments with reverence and honor him by the holiness of their lives.

 

 Clergy is the collective name for the clerics in the Holy Orders namely deacons, priests and bishops who are set apart by ordination so as to become leaders in the Church. Cf. J. Lang, Dictionary of the Liturgy, New York 1989, 115.