Thursday, June 2, 2016
TO VEST OR NOT TO VEST, THAT IS THE QUESTION?
He decries the fact that so many Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and lectors dress so poorly for their ministries. Some wear tennis shoes or flip flops. He saw some wearing tee shirts with slogans. And worst of all, there are those who are scheduled who don't show and the priest has to ask someone to come forward.
I have experienced all of these things in my soon to be 36 years as a priest. I am particularly jaded by those who don't show up for Mass when they are scheduled. They not only wear flip flops; they don't give a flip.
I have at situations where there were no EMHCs available and thus one or two chalices remained on the altar and had to be consumed after Mass. This of course is unacceptable and contributes to the sorry state of affairs with our Ordinary Form Mass and its solemnity and reverence.
So Father Mannion is suggesting that EMHCs and Lectors, be vested in a nice alb. They should process in and out of Mass and sit together as a group.
He backs up his suggestion with the Ordinary Form's Roman Missal GIRM:
“In the Dioceses of the United States, acolytes, altar servers, readers, and other lay ministers may wear the alb or other appropriate and dignified clothing” (No.339).
Fr. Mannion concludes his article by listing five reasons why lay ministers wearing albs would be a good thing for the Ordinary Form Liturgy:
First, since the clergy and altar assistants are vested, why not the EMs—and the lector? Surely there should be some consistency regarding dress.
Second, the fear that liturgical ministers will be clericalized is not in my experience borne out. Besides, a clericalist attitude is a matter of how one thinks and acts, not how one dresses. I have never found EMs regarding themselves as superior to the congregation. Indeed, most approach their ministry with humility.
Third, the alb is not primarily a clerical robe; it is a baptismal garment. As the basic baptismal garment, the alb is the normative vesture for all liturgies. Thus EMs wearing robes at Mass are manifesting their baptismal status.
Fourth, the alb brings a sense of dignity to the Mass, which is meant to be glorious, splendid, and beautiful. While this aim will never be fully expressed this side of heaven, we are nevertheless called to prepare and celebrate the liturgy in a way that already points to heaven. As we reach toward the heavenly, all ministers should appear to have a great sense of reverence for their ministry. Wearing an alb will assist with this.
Fifth, the alb covers a multitude of sartorial sins. In parishes that do not vest their EMs (only about 40% do), there seem to be no rules of dress at all. At the parishes at which I have served, I have observed EMs wearing tennis shoes, jeans, shorts, and flip-flops. At one parish an EM was wearing a Bryce Canyon sweat shirt. In most non-alb wearing parishes, the majority of ministers were not dressed professionally or as if for an important occasion. Wearing an alb would solve this problem.
We live in an age in which everything is viewed in a functionalist, utilitarian, and pragmatic fashion. We shy away from the formal and the ritualized. It is natural in this environment for the liturgy to be celebrated in a manner that manifests these qualities.
Ministers wearing albs would be a major step forward.
What do you think and do you experienced vested lay ministers in your Ordinary Form Parish?