Don't expect to see this style of vestment, albs or otherwise, anytime soon again at the Vatican. To be honest with you, there is something about this photo that I think the world could misunderstand, not to mention, many loving, practicing, orthodox Catholics who love Liturgy that is more traditional than novel!
Palm Sunday last year and this year, what a difference a year makes in style!
When I was Master of Ceremonies for Bishop Raymond Lessard, I tried to move him from very simple, blah vestments to something that I thought was more fitting for the high priest of the diocese, I mean, the bishop. Having been ordained a bishop in 1974, he tended to have the 1970's mentality about vestments and liturgy. I tried mightily hard to move him into the 1980's. It was only that the High Church part of me awoke once I was transferred to the Cathedral and starting reading books about what the Cathedral liturgy should be (meaning the bishop's liturgy) and that our Cathedral at that time was far, far away from that template for not only the bishop but also the other non-bishop liturgies. So I went about "re-enchanting" the liturgy of the Cathedral, but in a 1980's sort of way that was eclectic. If I were the MC today, I would take what I began (which is still somewhat in place there as the religious brother who somewhat succeeded me is still there!)and start the chanting of the propers and not use "progressive solemnity" which I was into in the 1980's, but have a consistent "High" Mass each Sunday at the principal Mass with or without the bishop.
Like me, Bishop Lessard liked some modern vestments with the stole on the outside. So I bought a few very nice ones of that nature. But his criteria wasn't beauty, but simplicity and in Savannah's sultry, hot, and extremely humid climate, he wanted lightweight! Nothing lined would do.
But simplicity was the order of the day, supposedly noble simplicity. No brocade, no silk, no foo-foo sort of stuff! The cathedral had one set of very Baroque, Roman gold vestments in a drawer saved from yesteryear. I had never seen any of these in person and was amused by them and tempted to ask him to wear them at Easter or Christmas. There was also a deacon and sub-deacon tunic/dalmatic with real gold thread. He would have none of it and I thought these were also anachronistic.
Pope Benedict when he was first pope, in his first year or so, wore modern vestments. Only gradually then did he change from that to the Baroque and archaic. I think this would have been after he allowed broad use of the 1962 Roman Missal. I don't know how much Msgr. Marini influenced him in this, but make no mistake a good MC can have a great deal of influence!
To say that some of the cardinals, bishops and priests of the Church, not to mention some of the laity thought this was an an unfortunate turn of events, not only the pre-Vatican II looking vestments but the return of the pre-Vatican II Mass on an almost equal footing with the modern Mass, is an understatement.
The overnight abandonment (thus far anyway) by Pope Francis of these sorts of externals is telling. He took the name Francis to identify the Church with the poor and that possessions are less important than who one is and that when we die, a traditional shroud (how odd he would use this archaic term) has no pockets to bring our possessions with us.
I suspect that in the discussions the cardinals had in the conclave there were strong objections to the papacy returning to the things that the more progressive bishops would have thought Vatican II asked to simplify. This doesn't mean they are progressives in terms of Orthodoxy of teaching on faith and morals, but they wanted a pope who was more pastoral than academic and aloof and wore vestments that were less haughty and archaic.
I don't know that for sure, but I think this is a mandate for this particular pope. Another pope may bring the pendulum back to center or in the other direction.
Let me make clear, I am also somewhat uncomfortable with the lace and frilly looking stuff that we saw under Benedict's reign. It is not my cup of tea, although there is enough Italian in me that I can be duplicitous in this. There is a part of me that thinks it is cool. But then their is the stoic Canadian in me that thinks this stuff is a bit over the top!
I would also suggest with all the homosexual scandals in the Church that the more feminine looking lace and stuff is a put off to Cardinals and bishops trying to clean house and avoid making the Vatican and Church look like a gay cabal. Let's face it the lace is gay! I'm not saying that those who wear this are gay. In fact it takes (_alls)to wear this stuff. You have to be secure in your manhood in other words, but for some, maybe there is an untoward side to this.
Enjoy the pictures:
Yes, Virginia, this is Pope Benedict!
Appears to be a bit too heavy in many ways?:
Alright, I'm guilty, I had no problem parading around like this even if flamboyant. I don't know who the other is!
The question for the future: Will the next rector of Saint Joseph Cathedral, I mean, the next pastor of Saint Joseph Church, be so bold to wear this or will he be like Pope Francis and go "Back to the Future?