Built of Living Stones 164-165: Vessels and Vestments Suitable for the Liturgy

The GIRM bolsters the US bishops on

§ 164 § As in the case of styles of architecture, there is no particular style for sacred furnishings for the liturgy.(GIRM 325) Sacred vessels may be in “a shape that is in keeping with the culture of each region, provided each type of vessel is suited to the intended liturgical use and is clearly distinguished from [utensils] for every day use.”(GIRM 332) Materials used for sacred vessels such as the chalice and paten should be worthy, solid, and durable, and should not break easily. Chalices and cups used for the distribution of the Precious Blood should have bowls made of nonabsorbent material. Vessels made from metal are gilded on the inside if the metal ordinarily rusts. The vestments worn by ministers symbolize the ministers’ functions and add beauty to the celebration of the rites. “In addition to traditional materials, natural fabrics proper to the [local area] may be used for making vestments; . . . The beauty and nobility of a vestment arises from its material and design rather than from lavish ornamentation.”(GIRM 343-344)

These are sensible guidelines. We should be aware that the institutional church now prefers precious metals. As for vestments, the notion of beauty and nobility being derived from material and design refers to Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium.

§ 165 § Conferences of bishops may make further determinations regarding the appropriate style and material for sacred vessels and vestments to be used in the celebration of the liturgy.(GIRM 329; Cf. SC 128) Likewise, the diocesan bishop can make further determinations regarding the suitability of the materials or the design for vessels and vestments, and, in cases of doubt, he is the judge of what is appropriate in this regard.(The Appendix to the General Instruction for the Dioceses of the United States (1975), nos. 288 and 305)

Some of this has been railroaded off by the curia.

All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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