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The Church of the Resurrection Presents:
Rediscovering the Eucharist as the Center of Catholic Life & Living
Vestments and Various Items
Used and Why
Presented by: Fr. Frank Mitolo and
Deacon Candidate Richard Longo
The Mass and the sacrifice of Christ?
In Roman Catholicism the Mass is equivalent to The Lord’s Supper, the communion offering. The word “mass” is derived from the Latin missa. The mass is a series of rituals centered on the communion supper. It is also called the Eucharistic Supper. According to the New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, vol 2, question 357, “The mass is the sacrifice of the new law in which Christ, through the Ministry of the priest, offers himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine. The mass is the sacrifice of Christ offered in a sacramental manner…the reality is the same but the appearances differ.” Question 358 asks “What is a sacrifice?” The answer given is “A sacrifice is the offering of a victim by a priest to God alone, and the destruction of it in some way to knowledge that he is the creator of all things.” From the Baltimore catechism we can conclude that the mass is the offering of Christ, by a priest.
According to Roman Catholicism, Christ instituted the Mass when he said, “This is my body,” (Matt. 26:26) and “This is my blood,” (Matt. 26:28). Furthermore, Roman Catholicism teaches that when Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me,” he gave the apostles and hence his future priests the power to change bread and wine into his body and blood, (Baltimore Catechism, Vol. 2, Q. 354). Therefore, during the ceremony of the Mass during the part of the liturgy known as the consecration, the priest changes bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1105).
Is the Mass a re-sacrifice of Christ?
A number of Roman Catholics believe the Eucharist is not a re-sacrifice of Christ rather that Christ was offered once and for all and that the Mass is not a re-sacrifice but a “re-presentation” of the sacrifice. In order to offer clarification and an illustration of point it must be asked how it is possible for the Mass to not be a re-sacrifice of Christ when the Mass is called a divine sacrifice (CCC, 1068) that is done over and over again. The Catechism states that “the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice”; (CCC, 1367); that it is an unbloody offering that is proptiatory, (CCC, 1367); that it can make reparation of sins, (CCC, 1414); and is to be considered a true and proper sacrifice (The Catholic Encyclopedia, topic: “Sacrifice of the Mass”). Therefore it must be concluded it is a sacrifice that occurs over and over again and since it is said to be a true and proper sacrifice that is propitiatory, then logically it must be a re-sacrifice of Christ. If it is not, then how can it be called a sacrifice of Christ?
Why do Catholic priests and deacons wear special vestments during the Mass
Although there are a variety of possibilities as to the origin of current liturgical vestments, a simple explanation can be made that most vestments can be traced to the ordinary street or secular attire of Roman and Greek citizens of the early centuries of the Church. The Church has retained their use for sacred function even while secular fashions have changed. In order to distinguish the vestments used for sacred, liturgical ministry from ordinary secular use, the early Church used the finest materials and decorations for them.
We can further look to the command of God given to Moses as recorded in opening verses of Exodus 28 to see evidence of God’s desire for special vesture for His priests and other liturgical ministers.
Exodus 28:1-4 “Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests–Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 2 And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. 3 And you shall speak to all who have ability, whom I have endowed with an able mind, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. 4 These are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a girdle; they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests.”
The purpose of vestments is to give glory and honor to God and to distinguish the various clergy and laity whose liturgical roles differ.
The amice is a small linen cloth, usually with fabric strips at two adjacent corners with which to be secured to the body of clerics. It is the first liturgical vestment to be put on when vesting.
Its function is to protect the expensive fabrics of the other vestments from direct contact with the body and its sweat. In modern times, amices are not always worn, since the design and styles of albs preclude them.
Symbolically, it is the helmet of salvation.
The priest or deacon makes the sign of the cross and as he puts it on, he kisses it, touches it to the top of his head and then letting it drop to his shoulders prays:
“Place, O Lord, on my head the helmet of salvation, that I may overcome the assaults of the devil.”
It reminds us of the veiling of the Savior’s eyes when the Jews called out to Him: “Prophesy unto us, O Christ: who is he that struck Thee?” (Matthew 26:68).
The alb (taken from the Latin: “albus” meaning white) is the vestment proper to all clerical, liturgical ministers, regardless of rank and is put on after the amice. This white, linen tunic was the ordinary secular attire of the Romans and Greeks.
Liturgically, it came to symbolize the self-denial, purity and chastity demanded of the priest and other clergy. It also represents our white Baptismal Robe.
The whiteness of the linen increases with repeated washing and bleaching, symbolic of the deepening of the purity of life from repeated acts of mortification and self-denial of the person who wears it.
As he puts on the alb, he prays:
“Purify me, Lord, and cleanse my heart, so that washed in the Blood of the Lamb, I may enjoy eternal bliss.”
It reminds us of the white garment in which Christ was clothed by Herod and his court.
The cincture is a simple length of wool, cotton, or preferably linen, that is worn around the waist to draw (or “girt”) up into place the loose-fitting alb. Its length usually ends with knots or tassels. It may be white or correspond to the liturgical colors. Again, cinctures are not always used because the design and styles of albs preclude them.
Sacred Scripture often speaks of “to girt up the loins” meaning to prepare for work or make ready for combat.
Liturgically, the cincture symbolizes strength and watchfulness as the priest or deacon prepares for spiritual combat against sin. It is also a symbol of chastity.
As he fastens the cincture, the priest or deacon prays:
“Gird me, O Lord, with the girdle of purity and extinguish in my loins the desire of lust: so that the virtue of continence and chastity may ever abide within me.”
It reminds us of the cords which bound Jesus to the pillar during the His scourging.
The stole is worn by priests around the neck and falling evenly in the front.
The deacon wears his stole over the left shoulder and it drapes diagonally across the front and back, fastened mid-way down under the right arm, its two ends falling evenly.
Its color corresponds to the proper liturgical color of the day.
It is worn over the alb and under the chasuble or dalmatic at Holy Mass. It is worn visibly over the surplice for administering certain sacraments such as baptism and for presiding at Benediction and other celebrations.
It is the symbol of liturgical office and the symbol of sacramental and teaching authority of those in sacred orders. Therefore, it is worn only by deacons, priests and bishops. It also symbolizes immortality and the yoke of Christ.
As he places the stole on, the priest or deacon prays:
“Lord, restore the stole of immortality, which I lost through the collusion of our first parents, and, unworthy as I am to approach Thy sacred mysteries, may I yet gain eternal joy.”
The stole reminds us of the burden of the Holy Cross on Christ and the cross taken up by His followers.
The sleeveless chasuble is worn by the priest over the alb and stole. As the outermost Eucharistic liturgical vestment of the priest, it is to be in its entirety (and not just in its decorations) of the highest quality and dignity. Its color corresponds to the proper liturgical color of the day.
The chasuble symbolizes the charity of Christ which “covers all things” (Col 3:14).
Because the symbol of charity should take precedence over the symbol of authority, the chasuble should always be worn over the stole during the Eucharist.
As the priest places the chasuble on, he prays:
“O Lord, Who hast said, ‘My yoke is sweet and My burden light,’ grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace. Amen.”
It reminds us of the robe in which Christ, wearing the crown of thorns, was mocked by His tormentors.
Note – the amice, alb, cincture, stole and chasuble constitute the vestments proper to the priest for the celebration of the Holy Mass. The chasuble is only worn for Mass.
The sleeved dalmatic is worn by the deacon over the alb and stole. As the outermost Eucharistic liturgical vestment of the deacon, it is to be in its entirety (and not just in its decorations) of the highest quality and dignity. Its color corresponds to the proper liturgical color of the day.
Normally, it should be of the same fabric of the priest’s chasuble. All deacons assisting in the Sanctuary should wear matching dalmatics. Bishops also wear dalmatics at solemn feasts and ordinations.
The dalmatic symbolizes charity, justice, and the sufferings of Christ.
As he puts on the dalmatic, the deacon or bishop prays:
“Lord, endow me with the garment of salvation, the vestment of joy, and with the dalmatic of justice ever encompass me. Amen.”
It reminds us of the sufferings Christ endured during His Passion.
Note – the amice, alb, cincture, stole and dalmatic constitute the vestments proper to the deacon for service at Holy Mass.
Why does Church use and display certain Colors throughout the year?
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 Mary, the festivals of the Holy Angels and of those Saints who were not Martyrs.
Red is the color of fire and of blood; it is used in Masses of the Holy Spirit, such as on Pentecost, to remind us of the tongues of fire and on the Feasts of those Saints who shed their blood for the Faith. Red also signifies the burning fire of God’s love.
Green is used during Ordinary Time. This season focuses on the three-year period of our Lord’s public ministry. Green symbolizes hope and life, just as the hint of green on trees in early Spring arouses the hope of new life.
Violet or purple is used during Advent and Lent as a sign of penance, sacrifice and preparation. Purple vestments may also be used for Masses of Christian Burial or Masses for the Dead.
Rose vestments are traditionally worn as a sign of joy on the third Sunday of Advent and the fourth Sunday of Lent: we rejoice at the midpoint because we are half-way through the preparation and anticipate the coming of Christmas or Easter.
Black Vestments had traditionally been worn at all Requiem Masses including All Souls’ Day; at the Good Friday Liturgy up to but not including the Communion service. Since the early 1970’s the use of White has been allowed for Funerals, and is the preferred color.
What are the names and functions of the various items used during the Mass?
An altar is the table of the Lord, made of marble, granite, wood or another solid, attractive material. It occupies the central position in the church sanctuary. The People of God are called together to share in the offering of the Lord Jesus at this altar of sacrifice. Usually, relics of martyrs or saints are put inside the altar. This recalls the early church’s practice of celebrating Mass in the catacombs over the tombs of the martyrs.
The shrine or receptacle either round or rectangular that serves as a place for the exclusive reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. It should be of solid material, opaque, secure and inviolable, fitting the architecture of the church in a preeminent place.
Why is the crucifix placed on the altar or near it?
The crucifix reminds the worshipping community of Jesus’ sacrifice of the cross.
What meaning do the lighted candles have?
The lighted candles witness to our devotion to Jesus who is light and life with his grace.
What is a lectern?
A lectern is a pulpit from which the Liturgy of the Word is proclaimed.
What is a lector?
A lector is the person who proclaims God’s Word (other than the Gospel) at Mass.
What kind of bread must be used to celebrate the Eucharist?
The bread used to celebrate the Eucharist must be made only of wheat flour and water. Nothing else may be substituted or added. This is referred to as unleavened bread used by Christ at the Last Supper.
What kind of wine must be used to celebrate the Eucharist?
Pure, natural grape wine must be used to celebrate the Eucharist. Such wine, made for sacramental purposes, should be clearly designated as altar wine. As with unleavened bread, we use real wine because that is what Christ used at the Last Supper.
What are the cruets?
The cruets are small pitchers containing the wine and water used during the Eucharistic Celebration.
What is the chalice?
The chalice is the sacred cup in which the wine becomes the true Blood of Christ at the consecration.
What is a ciborium?
A ciborium is a cup with a matching lid, used to hold the Body of Christ that will be given in Holy Communion.
What is a corporal?
A corporal is a piece of linen cloth on which rest the vessels holding the Sacred Species during Mass.
What is a pall?
A pall is a linen card about six inches square, used to cover the chalice containing the precious Blood.
What is a paten?
A paten is the dish upon which the bread, and later, the consecrated Host, is placed.
What is a purificator?
A purificator is a small linen towel that the priest uses to cleanse the sacred vessels.
What is a finger towel?
A finger towel is another small piece of linen which the priest uses to dry his fingers after the rite of washing following the preparation of the gifts.
Large metal object (also called ostensorium) used to display the Blessed Sacrament. It is usually made of gold and often decorated with jewels
Small container (Greek meaning ‘box’) that holds the consecrated Host taken to the sick
Censor & Boat
The Censor, also known as the Thurible, is used at solemn occasion to incense the bread and wine after the offertory, the priest, and congregation. The Boat holds the incense until it is place in the censor by the celebrant.
What books are used at Mass?
Sacramentary Contains the opening prayer, prayer over the gifts, prayer after communion, and solemn blessings. Eucharistic prayers and prefaces for all of the masses including most special occasions.
Contains the scripture readings for Mass. It is carried in the procession by the lector and placed on the ambo.
Book of the Gospels Contains only the Gospel readings. It is used on more solemn occasions and is carried by the deacon if it is used.
Hymnal/Missalette Contains all the parts of the mass for a specific season in the liturgical year.
including instructions on when to stand, sit, or kneel.
Why Is The Mass Important
When we go to Mass we tell the world around us who we are and what we represent. Simply by going to Mass makes us all evangelists to our family, friends, neighbors and the community in which we live. Jesus says very clearly in his Gospels that anyone who stands up for Him before the world, He will stand up for us before God the Father (Mt.10:32). In the light of our life in eternity, what more could anyone ask, for so little effort on our part.
Attendance at Mass is not just simply joining in a social or community action taking place in a certain type of building. We are actually and formally worshipping God in a community setting. At this time we can thank Him for His many graces and favors to us over the past week and beg His indulgence for needs that are coming in our own lives and the lives of our family and community. Most of all, though, we can acknowledge our absolute dependence on Him. It is only by His grace and mercy that we get to draw our next breath, let alone anything else in our lives.
At Mass God is able to talk to us in a way that we will not find anywhere else. Through the prayers of the Mass itself, the scripture readings that change each day, and the sermon on Sundays, God is able to help, encourage and instruct us in a unique and personal way.
Unless we are ill, aged or shut-in, Mass is the only time when we get the opportunity to go forward and receive from the hands of the celebrating Priest or Eucharistic Minister, the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. This is not simply a memorial of the Last Supper. The wafer we receive is not a rite of remembrance but the most real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Once again, Jesus said very clearly in the Gospel of John: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you…. My flesh is true food and My blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in Me and I in him…. who feeds on me will have life because of Me.” (Jn.6:53,55-57).
So for those who have not attended Mass in awhile and/or those who are away from the practice of the faith, why not give the Mass a try once more. Slip into a back pew on a Sunday or attend a weekday Mass somewhere. Whatever the reason is that keeps you away, don’t let it stop you. Jesus always welcomes you no matter what and if you put yourself in his hands he will find a way to bring you “home”. Just think about it the God of the Universe sacrificed his only son out of total love so that all of us can be redeemed in and thru him. Once you come to know the ultimate gift that this is and can make the giant leap towards the truth you will be forever free!