REGARDING PRIESTLY VESTMENTS
In my studies regarding the sacred liturgy, I came across a topic dealing with the sacred vestments during the Holy Mass. Even without plunging deeply into this matter or even without an extensive research, it is very obvious that a priest wears the alb, the stole and the chasuble during performance of Eucharistic functions. At least, that is how it should be. But looking at the current state of affairs, it is quite observable that it is not what is happening. There have been a number of liturgical innovations that are transpiring and the reason of some of these is simply the preference of the priest. Not sparing from this innovation is the proper vestment during priestly functions.
It became a common and usual trend for many priests to wear only the stole over the chasuble, sometimes omitting the alb. In other cases, it is the stole over the alb omitting the chasuble. While I understand that our climate would seemingly justify such practice, I also believe in taking a stand for what is right even if it is at the expense of our comfort. Sometimes, the short length of the chasuble would expose the rugged jeans and the rubber shoes of the priest. Instead of looking dignified and sanctified at the altar, they would sometimes look like as if they are wrapped in a barber’s cape in preparation for a haircut. It looks ruggedly awkward.
Vestments are not worn for solely aesthetic purposes; each piece of them symbolizes something.
It is a garment (or robe) that is worn by the priest during the Holy Mass. It symbolizes the innocence and purity that should adorn the soul of the priest who ascends the altar. The chasuble is the vestment that is put on over all the others during Liturgical services. Originally this was a very full garment, shaped like a bell and reaching almost to the feet all the way round. It symbolizes the virtue of charity, and the yoke of unselfish service for the Lord, which the priest assumes at ordination. Roman magistrates wore a long scarf when engaged in their official duties, just as our judges wear a court gown. Whenever a priest celebrates Mass or administers the Sacraments, he wears the stole as a sign that he is occupied with an official priestly duty. When placing the stole about his neck, in vesting for Mass, the priest begs God to give him on the last day the ‘garment of immortality’ that was forfeited by our sinful first parents.
We wear appropriate dresses for different occasions. The bride wears a flowing gown and the groom a barong tagalog during their wedding and heads of states wear coats and ties during state functions. Why? Because proper attire gives dignity to the celebration. It is utterly ridiculous for the wife of a president to wear spaghetti and mini skirt during state dinners or for the groom to wear plain white t-shirt and a short pant during the wedding rite. If one is to do these things in good fate, then he should wear nothing less than what is appropriate.
In the case of the priestly vestments, aside from giving dignity it also gives sanctity to the celebration that is the summit of Christian life. The Holy Mass is the highest form of prayer and it is but proper for it to be accorded with the highest and the most dignified attention we could ever give. And when it comes to vestments, it should be nothing less than what is proper and what is required by Church instructions.
The recent instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum clearly states in no. 123:
“The vestment proper to the Priest celebrant at Mass, and in other sacred actions directly connected with the Mass unless otherwise indicated, is the chasuble, worn over the alb and stole.’ Likewise the Priest, in putting on the chasuble according to the rubrics, is not to omit the stole. All Ordinaries should be vigilant in order that all usage to the contrary be eradicated.”
Moreover, no. 126 states:
“The abuse is reprobated whereby the sacred ministers celebrate Holy Mass or other rites without sacred vestments or with only a stole over the monastic cowl of the common habit of religious or ordinary clothes, contrary to the prescriptions of the liturgical books, even when there is only one minister participating, In order that such abuses be corrected as quickly as possible, Ordinaries should take care that in all churches and oratories subject to their jurisdiction there is present an adequate supply of liturgical vestments made in accordance with the norms.”
With the above statements it is now clear that the alb- a full-length white linen garment usually tied at the waist- may never be omitted for the celebration of the Mass or for other rites in which it is required.
However, I doubt if I can voice out my thoughts with regards to this matter personally.