Our Keeping it Catholic Monday themes continue along the line of apologetics and questions asked by our dear readers. This Monday we are sharing some excerpts on the Priests vestments at Holy Mass.
Could you Explain Catholic Practices?
Rev. Charles J. Mullaly, S.J.
VESTMENTS OF HOLY MASS
How many of our readers could explain to an inquirer the names and the meaning of the vestments used by the priest in celebrating Holy Mass? We have frequently met devout Catholics who attend the Holy Sacrifice every day and yet would not be able to tell their non-Catholic friends or their own children that there are six vestments: Amice, Alb, Cincture, Maniple, Stole, and Chasuble.
The Amice is the first garment the priest puts on in preparing for Holy Mass. It is a rectangular piece of white linen with strings attached and covers his shoulders. It was originally employed as a covering for the head and is even now worn as such by priests of some Religious Orders in passing to and from the altar. It is said to be symbolical of the helmet of salvation. Some liturgical writers say it represents the cloth with which Christ was blindfolded when He was struck and buffeted.
The Alb is the white linen vestment reaching to the ground and denoting by its color purity, or freedom from sin. Some writers see in it the white garment of the fool which Herod put upon Christ when he sent Him back to Pilate.
The Cincture, or girdle, is used to fit the Alb closely to the body, and also suggests purity of soul. It reminds us of the rope tied around our Saviour's waist when He was led to Calvary.
The Maniple, the Stole, and the Chasuble change their colors according to the feast. The Maniple is the small band of cloth worn on the left arm. In the early days of the Church, it was a strip of linen and was probably used as a handkerchief or napkin, but with the passing of the years it lost its original purpose and was made of the same material as the sacrificial vestments. It may be said to represent the cords with which Christ was bound at His passion.
The Stole is the long narrow vestment of the same material as the Maniple and Chasuble. It is worn by the priest around his neck and it reaches almost to the knees. It is used not only at Holy Mass but for Confessions, sick-calls, and the administration of the Sacraments. It symbolizes the grace of the priestly state and, according to some writers, represents the rope tied around Christ's neck when He was led to His death.
The Chasuble is the principal vestment. In its present form it is open at the sides and rests on the priest's shoulders. It reaches almost to the knees in front and is a few inches longer in back. It represents the purple garment put on Christ when He was mocked as a king by the Roman soldiers.
THE COLOR OF THE VESTMENTS
Non-Catholics attending the Holy Sacrifice in our churches notice that the color of the vestments is not the same at every Mass. On certain days it is red; on other occasions, white, green, black, or purple. Could you explain when and why the various colors are used?
In the early days of the Church the vestments were of one color, namely, white, though black was sometimes used as a sign of mourning. White vestments are now worn on the festivals of our Lord, except those of His Passion. They are prescribed also for the feasts of the Blessed Mother, and for those of Virgin's and Confessors. White is emblematic of purity and also expresses joy.
Red is the color of fire and of blood. It is used at Pentecost, to remind us of the descent of the Holy Ghost in the form of tongues of fire, and is also marked in the Ordo for the Apostles and for Martyrs.
Green is worn on Sundays outside of Lent and Advent upon which a festival does not fall. It is a symbol of hope.
Violet, or purple, is the penitential color of the Church. The Ordo, or annual calendar containing directions for the Mass and Office to be said every day, assigns violet for the Masses proper to Advent and Lent, and usually for Vigils, Rogation, and Ember Days.
Black is worn as a mourning color at Masses for the Dead and on Good Friday. The liturgy of the Church does not allow a Requiem Mass on great festivals, for our private sorrows must not take precedence of the general joy of all Christendom on these days.
Many Catholics ask why the Ordo places violet as the color of the vestments to be worn on December 28, the feast of the Holy Innocents. As these babes were martyrs, red would appear to be in order. As an expression of sympathy for the mothers of Bethlehem and vicinity, whose boys under two years of age were killed by Herod in his effort to destroy the Infant Saviour, the Church uses violet on that day.
At the funerals of children who die before the use of reason, there is no sign of mourning. White vestments are used to express the joy that Catholic parents should have at knowing that the innocent little one is enjoying the Beatific Vision of God. The bells of the church are not tolled and, if it is a day on which a votive Mass is permitted, the beautiful Mass of the Angels is said or sung. This does not mean that children become Angels after death, but that they take their place among these celestial beings. Angels are pure spirits without bodies, and the Church teaches us that the bodies of innocent children will rise on the Day of Resurrection, be united to their souls, and participate in their glory.
"O Sacred Banquet in which Christ is received, the memory of His Passion renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given."
- St. Thomas
From Catholic Life
This day is commemorative of the Last Supper, at which our Lord instituted the Blessed Eucharist. The Gospel says: "And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to His disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat: This is My body. And taking the chalice He gave thanks: and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this, for this is My blood of the New Testament which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. xxvi 26-28).
All ought to assist at Holy Mass to-day, and receive Holy Communion out of love to our Lord, Who gave Himself to us as a most previous legacy on the very eve of His death.
The circumstances under which He instituted the Blessed Eucharist reveal His unbounded love. He instituted It 'the same night in which He was betrayed" (I Cor. xi. 23), and therefore at the very time when the hatred of His enemies was at its highest pitch, and when they were actually making their preparations to put Him to death. He instituted It though He knew that there was a vile traitor among His chosen followers, and that many Christians would despise and dishonour Him in this Sacrament.
At Mass to-day the priest consecrates a host to be reserved for the priest's communion to-morrow, there being, properly speaking, no Mass on Good Friday. This host is carried in solemn procession to the Altar of Repose, where it is kept till brought back in procession to the principal altar the following morning.
No bells are rung from the Gloria in excelsis till the same time on Saturday, to express the deep sorrow of the Church for the death of her Spouse.
After Mass the altars are uncovered, to put us in mind how Jesus, Whom the altar represents, was stripped of His garments at the time of His Passion; and therefore, while the priest uncovers them, he says the twenty-first Psalm, which is a clear prediction of our Saviour's Passion. During the day devout worshippers are to be seen coming and going to pay their homage and adoration to the God of love, and to get in return the love of God.
These worshippers feel better than they can express the reality of the Divine Presence. If they are in grief, they find peace and consolation. If in danger and temptation, they feel, rather than hear, Him say, "It is I: fear not," and their troubled bosoms enjoy a calm which is a foretaste of Heaven. Above all, they feel that their love is not misplaced, that it is not fruitless, that it is not followed by the emptiness of heart which succeeds the outpourings of love on created objects.
"No art or eloquence of man
Can tell the joys of love;
Only the Saints can understand
What they in Jesus prove.
Come, then, dear Lord, possess my heart,
Chase thence the shades of night;
Come, pierce it with Thy flaming dart
And ever-shining light."
Gabriel Garcia Moreno
Example. - Don Garcia Moreno
Moreno was re-elected President of Ecuador in 1869. During his term of office marvelous improvements were witnessed everywhere- in schools, in hospitals, the army and navy, finances, roads, railways, and especially in maintaining peace.
His last autograph letter was to the Holy Father Pius IX., announcing his re-election and begging benediction. "I have," he wrote, "the more need of the Divine protection now, since the Masonic lodges of the neighboring states vomit out every kind of atrocious insult and infamous slander against me, and have actually taken means secretly to assassinate me. What a happiness it is for me, most Holy Father, to be hated and calumniated for the love of our Divine Redeemer! What an immense blessing would it be for me if your benediction obtained for me grace to shed my blood for Him Who, being God, yet deigned to shed His blood for us on the Cross."
On the first Friday in August he received, as was his custom, Holy Communion in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Some hours later, as he was passing the cathedral, he entered, and remained some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. His assassins, three in number, were dogging his steps, and, becoming impatient at his remaining so long in church, they sent in word that some persons were waiting for him on important business.
He came out at once, and had already reached his palace when the first struck him with a heavy sword on the back of the neck. The President, fearless as ever, turned on the ruffian, when the two accomplices then rushed on him, and shot him many times with their revolvers and hacked him with their knives.
The troops, hearing the noise, rushed to the rescue, but it was too late. The President was mortally wounded. He was carried into the cathedral, where, after giving signs of consciousness and forgiveness of his assassins, he expired. His dying words were,
"GOD NEVER DIES!"
Great picture book!
Free Imprimatured E-Books
We just finished previewing this wonderful book from the library. A fairy tale type story that shows how much the Sacrifice of the Mass is worth in a great way for little ones! A charming story about a baker who would not give bread to a poor lady in return for her attending a Mass for him. They get out a scale to weight bread compared to a piece of paper that says 'weight of the mass' on it and no matter how high they pile the pastries and breads the Mass is still worth so much more! In the end the poor baker realizes his folly and has more appreciation for the Mass and sacrificing his bread to the poor. Look inside this book on Amazon