Skip to comments.Catholic Vestment Colors
Posted on 12/26/2003 2:43:36 PM PST by NYer
Question from Sean Williams on 04-24-2003:
|Is it ever permitted to wear vestment colors other than those listed in the GIRM for a special occasion (e.g., blue for a Marian feast)? Also, on Holy Saturday, is it permitted to have a memorial service, as long as it does not involve exposition of the Blessed Sacrament?|
Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 05-01-2003:
| No liturgies, whatsoever, are permitted on Holy Saturday, prior to the Vigil Mass. Nor may Communion be given, except to the dying.
Blue is not a color recognized for the United States. This would not forbid its use in decoration of a white vestment, the proper color for Our Lady's feasts.
GIRM 346. As to the color of sacred vestments, the traditional usage is to be retained: namely,
1. White is used in the Offices and Masses during the Easter and Christmas seasons; also on celebrations of the Lord other than of his Passion, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Holy Angels, and of Saints who were not Martyrs; on the Solemnities of All Saints (1 November) and of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist (24 June); and on the Feasts of Saint John the Evangelist (27 December), of the Chair of Saint Peter (22 February), and of the Conversion of Saint Paul (25 January).
2. Red is used on Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion and on Good Friday, on Pentecost Sunday, on celebrations of the Lord's Passion, on the feasts of the Apostles and Evangelists, and on celebrations of Martyr Saints.
3. Green is used in the Offices and Masses of Ordinary Time.
4. Violet or purple is used in Advent and of Lent. It may also be worn in Offices and Masses for the Dead (cf. below).
5. Besides violet, white or black vestments may be worn at funeral services and at other Offices and Masses for the Dead in the Dioceses of the United States of America.
6. Rose may be used, where it is the practice, on Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent).
7. On more solemn days, sacred vestments may be used that are festive, that is, more precious, even if not of the color of the day.
8. Gold or silver colored vestments may be worn on more solemn occasions in the dioceses of the United States of America.
Once again, our 'pastor' went all out to celebrate the Midnight Mass at 7pm on Christmass Eve. The altar sported a floor length red altar cloth with embroidered panels hanging down (and a small white handkerchief for the chalice). He was dressed in red! Later that night, I watched the mass from the National Cathedral in Washington where everyone was vested in white. On Christmas day, I watched the bishop's (prerecorded) mass. He too was dressed in white.
According to all of my research, corroborated by this response at EWTN, the proper vestment color for the Midnight Mass is white. Reading through the EWTN response, there is that exception posted at #7.
My question to all of you - what color vestments did your priest wear at whichever Christmas you attended?
This would imply that the kneelers were previously removed, is that so?
Here in the Diocese of Albany NY, the bishop unleashed Dr. Fr. Vosko, "the wreckovator of churches" on the US, after he applied his "progressive" and "innovative" wizzardry on the local area churches. Most of those renovations included removing the kneelers. The USCCB and the Vatican have ruled that kneelers are required in ALL Catholic churches. Gradually, the kneelers are being replaced. It would seem that your church is pulling into compliance with the GIRM.
*On more solemn days, sacred vestments may be used that are festive, that is, more precious, even if not of the color of the day.*
That's his "out" clause ... lol!
That's the color I've seen.
While visiting family for Thanksgiving, we went to a church in NJ that Sunday for an Advent Mass during which the priest wore blue. The choir wore blue too, and even the lectors had clothing that featured blue in it - I mean a really strong bright blue. It almost looked consciously coordinated, something like, "We do *blue* here, so there!" (It also struck me as odd that the choir occupied the first several rows of pews in the church, with the choir conductor and piano/organ right there too).
I don't get it - why blue for the priest vestments? If it is some symbol of disobedience, then where did it come from as such a symbol to latch onto? Why would blue vestments even be made by vestment companies if the color itself isn't permitted?
Can blue replace violet as the liturgical color during Advent?
Blue is not a normal liturgical color and has only been given special use in Mexico for Marian feasts and is also frequently used in conjunction with white on Marian feast days elsewhere. Advent is a season of penance, meant to prepare the faithful for the coming of Christ. There is not any document allowing for the replacement of violet with blue during Advent.
According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:
"Traditional usage should be retained for the vestment colors.
a.White is used in the offices and Masses of the Easter and Christmas seasons; on feasts and memorials of the Lord, other than of his passion; on feasts and memorials of Mary, the angels, saints who were not martyrs, All Saints (1 November), John the Baptist (24 June), John the Evangelist (27 December), the Chair of St. Peter (22 February), and the Conversion of St. Paul (25 January).
b.Red is used on Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) and Good Friday, Pentecost, celebrations of the Lord's passion, birthday feasts of the apostles and evangelists, and celebrations of martyrs.
c.Green is used in the offices and Masses of Ordinary Time.
d.Violet is used in Lent and Advent. It may also be worn in offices and Mass for the dead.
e.Black may be used in Masses for the dead.
f.Rose may be used on Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent).
The conference of bishops may choose and propose to the Apostolic See adaptations suited to the needs and cultures of peoples."--n. 308
Came across this nifty reference guide. Never knew the proper names for each garment, and found this helpful. ;-D
Under the Jewish law every detail of the vestments used in the worship of God was provided for by divine command. The garb of the high priest and his assistants was specified most minutely as to material and form, and observance of these rules was enjoined under the severest penalties. The veneration of the Jewish people for the vestments of the high-priest was so great that they kept a lamp constantly burning before the repository of the sacred robes, just as we do now before the Blessed Sacrament.
When Christianity arose, no divine command was given concerning the dress to be worn by the priests of God. This was left to the judgment of the heads of the Church, and in the different ages of her history many changes have been made in the number and form and material of the priestly vestments.
There is no record of any special form of them during the first four centuries. It is probable that the garb of the clergy in those times was the common dress of laymen. The outer garments worn by men of those days were long and flowing, a modified form of the old Roman toga; and consequently the vestments used in the divine service took the same general form. Gradually the custom was introduced of making them of rich and costly materials, to add greater beauty thereby to the rites of religion. When the hardy barbarians of the North had overwhelmed the luxurious nations of southern Europe and had brought in their own fashions of dress, the Church did not see fit to change the garb of her ministers as worn at the services of her ritual, but she permitted them to change their ordinary dress to some extent, and forbade them to wear their vestments except while officiating at sacred rites.
The Church ordinarily permits the use of [four] colors in the sacred vestments -- white, red, green, [and] violet... Gold may be used as a substitute for white, red or green.
Each of these colors has its own meaning. The Sacrifice of the Mass is offered for many purposes and in honor of many classes of saints; and these various purposes are all designated and symbolized by the color of the vestments which the Church prescribes for each Mass.
When are these colors used? When the Church wishes to denote purity, innocence or glory, she uses white; that is, on the feasts of our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin, on the festivals of angels and of all saints who were not martyrs. Red is the color of fire and of blood; it is used in Masses of the Holy Ghost, such as on Pentecost, to remind us of the tongues of fire -- and on the feasts of all saints who shed their blood for their faith. The purple or violet is expressive of penance; it is used during Lent and Advent (except on saints' days), and also on the sorrowful festival of the Holy Innocents. [White] is the color of [the resurrection and so is used in masses] for the dead. Red is used on Good Friday and Palm Sunday. Green is the color which denotes the growth and increase of our holy Church, and is also symbolic of hope; it is used at various times of the year, on days that are not saints' days.
The black gown of the priest, called a cassock or soutane, is not a vestment. It is simply the ordinary outer garb [of a priest used frequently in the past. The Columbia Encyclopedia states: "The cassock, a close-fitting gown buttoning down the front and reaching to the feet, is not a vestment so much as the daily uniform of the Western priest."
Today a priest might be seen in regular "street clothing", or in a shirt with a Roman collar, and in a more formal setting a suit with a clerical shirt. The color is usually black. This is his normal working uniform when he is not officiating at a liturgy or performing a sacrament.]
The vestments worn by the priest at Mass are as follows: the alb, the cincture, the stole, and the chasuble; and at certain other services he may use the cope, the humeral veil and the surplice. Each of these has its own history and its own symbolical meaning...
The Alb. The long linen gown worn by the priest is called the alb, meaning simply the white garment... It is a survival of the white Roman toga. Its white color denotes the necessity of purity, both of soul and body, in him who offers the Lam of God to the Father.
The Cincture. This is the proper name for the girdle worn around the waist to bind the alb closely to the body. In some countries it is of the same color as the vestments used, but among us it is generally white. It is made of braided linen, or sometimes of wool... [Exod. 29:9 "and you shall gird [Aaron and his sons] with sashes and tie headdresses on them; and the priesthood shall be theirs by a perpetual ordinance." NRSV]
The Stole. At Mass, and also in nearly every other religious function, the priest wears around his neck a long narrow vestment, the ends hanging down in front. The deacon at ... Mass wears a similar vestment, but in a different manner -- diagonally from his left shoulder to his right side. The stole came into use about the fourth century, and was originally a sort of robe or cloak; but its form was gradually modified until it became a narrow strip. It is said by some to have been the court uniform of Roman judges, and to have been adopted by the Church to denote the authority of her ministers...
The Chasuble. The most conspicuous part of the costume of the priest at Mass is the chasuble, the large vestment worn on the shoulders and hanging down in front and behind. The rear portion is often, though not always, ornamented with a large cross.
The word chasuble is from the late Latin "casula," a little house, because it is, as it were, a shelter for the priest...
This vestment has been greatly altered during the centuries of its history. It was originally a large mantle or cloak, with an opening for the head in the center, and had to be raised at the sides to allow the hands to be extended outside the cloak. The assistants at the Mass were obliged to help the priest by holding up the sides of the chasuble...[due to its size and weight if heavily ornamented].
The Cope and Veil. The cope... was originally worn only in outdoor processions, and was considered merely as a rain-cloak, as is shown by its Latin name, pluviale, a protection against rain. The cape attached to it, which now has no use whatever, is a reminder of the large hood formerly used to cover the head in stormy weather. Our English name, cope, is from the Latin "cappa," a cape. [Click here to see a modern cope.]
The humeral veil was worn on the shoulders of the priest at the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament when he held the Sacred Host for the blessing of the people, and also when he carried the Blessed Sacrament in procession.
The Surplice. It may be well also to say a word about this vestment, which is worn over the cassock at the administration of the Sacraments and at various services of the Church. It is the special garb of clerics not in sacred orders, and its use is tolerated for lay altar-boys, or acolytes, in our churches.
In its present form it is one of the most modern of vestments. The word surplice is from the Latin "superpellicium" -- a dress worn over furs. In the Middle Ages it was allowed to the monks in cold countries to have fur garments, and over these a linen gown was Surplice worn in choir. It was later considered practically as an alb, and in the twelfth century it was usually so long that it reached the feet. Gradually it was made shorter, and about the seventeenth century the custom began of ornamenting it with lace.
The Tunic and the Dalmatic. The tunic is the vestment of subdeacons (ordination to the subdeaconite was discontinued after Vatican II), the dalmatic of deacons. They are usually exactly alike, although, strictly speaking, the tunic should be of smaller size than the dalmatic. Each is of about the same length as the chasuble of the priest. These vestments hang from the shoulders, which are covered by projecting flaps; these are sometimes connected under the arms, so as to resemble short sleeves. The color, of course, varies according to the Mass, and on the back are usually two ornamental vertical stripes, but no cross. [A deacon will now often appear in just alb and stole.]
A tunic signifies simply an outer garment. The dalmatic gets its name from a Roman garment made of wool from the province of Dalmatia, worn under the outer clothing in ancient times...
Keyword = LIBERAL! My pastor wore blue throughout Advent, hung a floor to ceiling banner in blue behind the altar - after he removed the Risen Christ statue from the wall (we're only allowed to have a crucifix during Lent). Like your parish, mine is run by liberals. When I commented about the absence of a crucifix, the pastor's response was: "Christ ONLY hung on the cross for 3 hours; He is risen forever". BTW, a canon lawyer has just confirmed my worst suspicions. The absence of a crucifix "near or on the altar" during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, renders it illicit.
Perhaps the liberal "in your face" attitude - blue during Advent, red on Christmas - is intended to be a show of defiance. That is why I posted this thread. Check the dates at the top. The question AND response are both dated this year.
The selflessness of your wife and the other women (what no men? ... just kidding!) will be richly rewarded some day. Thank you for sharing that story.
You mention that this is a new congregation. Is this in any way the result of the ECUSA decision this year?
Blue vestments were worn during Advent in the Sarum Rite, which was the most widely used liturgy in England before the Reformation. Why modern American Catholic priests would wear blue is a mystery to me.