Green Vestments 1: The Basics

We are awash in looks at clergy with streaming Masses in pandemic times. Some of the looks are good. Some less so.

Inexpert liturgists don’t take surroundings into account. Early in my career, they attempted to school me in the essentials beyond the cloth, the cut, the color, and the chasuble in isolation. Take into account the lighting, the surroundings. A vestment that works in one church will flop in another.

Parish groups are often eager to sink a donation into something as visible and useful as a clergy vestment. When I was at the student center, a freshly minted alum gifted us $1000 for stoles. I can share we didn’t go for quantity, a hundred discount pieces for $9.95.

Here’s a discount piece that gives you the basic chasuble, left.

Living Grace advertises this as an “everyday chasuble,” and I think that’s about the best you can say for it. The catalogue look is nice enough, but depending on the lighting in a day chapel or the liturgical surroundings, a $40 polyester vestment can look cheap.

Another error I’ve seen clergy indulge is wearing a $1000 piece for daily Mass–the same one they will utilize on Sunday. There’s a good principle of which to take note: progressive solemnity. Most applicants of this notion look to music. But it fits for vestments just as well. The idea is that you save the very best for the most important events.

The pleasing color, the simple cut, and if there’s an eye to lighting, I would say a polyester chasuble might possibly be appropriate for a weekday Mass. Possibly. Not a Sunday though. It’s the kind of thing a cleric might pack in a suitcase when on vacation. For a Mass in a motel room by himself.

For comparison, here’s a costume vestment on the right that costs almost twice as much. A kid or a mom might overlook the scrunched neck and the golden orphrey that reminds me a bit of a snake.

The fabric is pretty nice from what I can see. It has texture. It’s 100% cotton, and hand-sewn, if advertised correctly. Sans the gold down the front and around the chest, this would be a better daily Mass vestment. A bit of gold on the hem is a nice minimal touch. A better cut for an adult, of course. But you get the idea.

More to come: vestments from livestreaming and recent Catholic history.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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