V is for Vestments
Some time ago, one of my evangelical friends said, “you catholics continue to crucify the Lord time and time again in your Mass.” The Mass is the memorial, remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross who died once and for all. Here, we are only limiting ourselves to the context of the Eucharistic sacrifice or the Mass as a memorial of the sacrifice of our Lord.
When we speak of the Holy Eucharist as a sacrifice, we do not understand any repetition of the Sacrifice of the cross, or any renewal of Christ’s sufferings or death. His sufferings and His death took place once for all, and can never be repeated. Neither are we to suppose that anything is wanting in His sufferings or Sacrifice, which the Eucharistic Sacrifice supplies. But we mean that in the Holy Eucharist we plead before God the One Sacrifice offered once upon the cross, even as Christ Himself presents the same Offering in Heaven. Thus the Fathers spoke of the Holy Eucharist as “the unbloody sacrifice,” The Eucharistic Sacrifice is not so much on a line with the Sacrifice on Calvary, as with the pleading of that Sacrifice in heaven.Our Blessed Lord’s Sacrifice upon the cross is ” a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world,”-not only for birth-sin, but for all actual sin. “The Sacrifice of the Mass” must be distinguished from “the sacrifices of Masses” (Staley 251,52)
The early church’s worship included: listening to God’s Word and Apostles teaching and the Breaking of Bread (Acts2,20). Through the sacred tradition of the church, the worship assumed greater significance in commemoration of the singular sacrifice of Christ on the Cross as it liturgicaly evolved. The priests, wearing the vestments, was an imitation of the Old Testament priesthood while appoaching the Holy of Holies. They also signify the passion of Christ.
Another evangelical friend asked about the dresses that I wore during the Mass and what they meant.
The priest puts on the Eucharistic vestments – symbolic of the singular sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, now being remembered in an unbloody manner. These vestments are basically similar to the street clothing which was worn at the time of our Lord‟s incarnate life. The apostles used their best clothing when they led in the celebration of the Holy Communion. When styles of street clothing changed, the clothing worn for the Eucharist remained the same, and has remained basically the same throughout the centuries. Thus the celebrant at the Eucharist now, who is acting at the command of Christ, is clothed in the same way, as a reminder that the real celebrant (Jesus) is no human being, but our Lord himself. As the priest vests he prays for himself and for all the people that they may worthily celebrate these Holy Mysteries.
THE FIRST VESTMENT is the Amice:a white napkin that reminds the priest of our Lord’s Crown of thorns:
Vesting Prayer: “Place, O Lord, on my head the helmet of salvation, that so I may resist the assaults of the devil.”
The priest then secures it by wrapping the strings around his torso and tying them mid-waist.
THE SECOND VESTMENT is the alb which was the basic garment in the Palestine of our Lord’s Day. This is the “coat” referred to when our Lord says, “If a man ask of thee thy cloak give him thy coat also.” It represents the robe of mockery which was put on our Lord before his crucifixion. Being of white linen, it symbolizes innocence, chastity, purity, joy of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Savior.
Vesting Prayer “Make me white, O Lord, and cleanse my heart; that being made white the Blood of the Lamb I may deserve an eternal reward.” Symbolizes purity of mind, heart and body. It goes over the amice.
THE THIRD VESTMENT is the cincture with which the alb is girded. It holds the stole in place and represents the rope with which Christ was bound to the pillar during flagellation. It symbolizes chastity, temperance, and self-restraint.
Vesting Prayer: “Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity, and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence, that the virtue of continence and chastity may abide in me.”
THE FOURTH VESTMENT is the MANIPLE – the chains that bound the Lord to the pillar during scourging Vesting Prayer: “May I deserve, O Lord, to bear the maniple of weeping and sorrow in order that I may joyfully reap the reward of my labors.”
THE FIFTH VESTMENT is the stole, or scarf, which today symbolizes the yoke of Christ and the office and work of the priest – symbolic of our Lord’s Cross.
Vesting Prayer: “Restore to me, O Lord, the state of immortality which I lost through the sin of my first parents and, although unworthy to approach Thy sacred Mysteries, may I deserve nevertheless eternal joy.”
THE FINAL VESTMENT is the chasuble (which the priest normally puts on after the sermon). Originally, it was an outer coat issued to Roman soldiers in cold weather. It represents our Lord‟s coat without seams for which soldiers at the cross casts lots and the purple cloak Pilate ordered placed on Christ as King of the Jews. It represents protection and charity from St. Paul’s injunction “Above all things put on charity.”
Vesting Prayer: “O Lord, who hast said, ‘My yoke is sweet and my burden light’ grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace.”
V is for Vestry: the local administrative body that takes care of the needs of the local church.
The Vestry is known in law by the title of “The Rector, Churchwardens, – and Vestrymen.” Together they form a corporate body in civil law, when duly incorporated by the State, and posess the usual powers to take and hold real estate, to manage all the property and temporalities of the body, to have succession, and the other powers attendant upon the formation of a corporation aggregate.
“These are to control and regulate the expenditure of the Parish funds, to decide as to altering or enlarging the parochial Churches or Chapels, and as to adding to or disposing of the’ goods and ornaments.’ The Vestry also elect -some of the parochial officers, either wholly or in part, and has, either directly or indirectly, a superintending authority in all the weightier matters of the Parish. (Baum, Henry Mason,The rights and duties of rectors, churchwarden and Vestrymen Philadelphia 1879).
Here speaking of the duties of the churchwarden or senior warden, Baum further addresses: ” The active duties of the office are” chiefly those of providing necessaries for Divine Service, maintaining order during its performance, keeping the Church and its accessories in proper condition, and taking charge of the benefice during vacancies.
The Duties of Churchwardens.
1. To provide for the Churches of which they have the care, a Prayer book and Bible of suitable size at the expense of the Parish.
2. To make the collections which are usual in the Parishes.
3. To provide, at the expense of the Congregation,a sufficient quantity of fine white bread,and good, wholesome wine, for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
4. To provide a proper book, at the charge of the Parish, in which shall be written by the Rector, or, in case of vacancy, by one of the Wardens, the name of every person baptized, married,and buried in the Church, and the time when such baptism, marriage, and burial took place.
5. To present to the Bishop of the Diocese,or, if there is no Bishop, to the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Church in the State, every Priest and Deacon residing in the Parish to which they belong, who has voluntarily relinquished his sacerdotal office, and uses such employments as belong to laymen.
6. To take care that the Church of which they have the charge be kept in good repair, well glazed,and free from dirt and dust, as becomes the house of God; that the Churchyard be decently fenced, and to cause that order be preserved during service. 7. To diligently see that the parishioners resort to Church on Sundays, and there continue tne whole time of Divine Service; and to gently admonish them when they are negligent.
8. To prevent any idle persons continuing in the Churchyard or Forch during Divine Service, by causing them either to enter the Church or depart,and to prohibit the sale of anything in the yard.
9. To give an account to the corporation of the Church, if it has no treasurer, at the expiration of each year, of the money they have received,and what they have expended in repairs, etc. ; and. when they go out of office to give a fair account of all their money transactions relative to the Church, and deliver up to their successors the Church property in their possession. (279-80)
V is for via media: the midway between protestantism and catholicism- the Roman additions and Protestant subtractions to the faith once delivered unto the saints. Reformation questioned the Roman excesses or additions and in the process protestantism was born. They began to abhore anything catholic, throwing the sacramental worship as if throwing the baby with bathwater. In truth the word catholic according to St. Vincent of Larins “that which is accepted everywhere and by all” what else could be other than Christ the word incarnate and the salvation He offers. While evangelicals sought the authority from the Scriptures and Roman catholics in the magisterium and tradition along with scripture, Anglicanism rests on the three legged stool of Scripture, Tradition and Reasoning. Anglicanism is able to embrace the strength of God’s word which the evangelicals have nurtured so far and the worshipping God in the beauty of holiness that the catholic tradition has offered over the centuries. Anglicanism is able to embrace both and draw strength from both in continuing on the Great Commission of our Blessed Lord until His second Coming. Check us out