Saturday, March 8, 2008


The stole is typically the next piece of vesture that is put on. It is a sign of priestly dignity and of the authority or power of the wearer to act in a priestly fashion on behalf of the Church. It symbolized the yoke of Christ and the hope of eternal life.

The prayer that a priest or deacon would say while putting on the stole is, “Restore to me, O Lord, the state if immortality which was lost to me by my first parents, and, although unworthy to approach Your sacred mysteries, grant me, never the less, eternal joy.”

Finally comes the chasuble. In some ways it can be seen as the seamless garment for which the soldiers cast lots. But because it covers all of the other garments that a priest wears, its symbolic meaning is of Christian charity and protection, charity being the virtue that should cover all else.

The vesting prayer for the chasuble goes, “O Lord, You said, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden light,’ grant that I may carry it so as to obtain Your grace. Amen,”

Now, because of the symbolic value mentioned above, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal states, “Unless otherwise indicated, the chasuble, worn over the alb and stole, is the vestment proper to the priest celebrant at Mass and other rites immediately connected with the mass.” But for fashion’s sake many vestment companies have gone about producing rather plain chasubles with ornate stoles that overlay the chasuble, which can have a beautiful effect, but then messes with the symbolic language of the garments (putting dignity and power over charity.)

One might say that most people do not know the symbols anymore so why not? If that is the case, then why wear the vestments at all? They must retain their symbolic meaning or they are just “pretty”. And who needs more “pretty” without meaning? We then move into pure esthetics or art for art’s sake and that is not what we are about as Church.

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