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  #31  
Old Aug 21, '09, 1:38 pm
Usbek de Perse Usbek de Perse is offline
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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Originally Posted by BernadetteM View Post
Usbek de Perse,

Yes there are some responses that come from the 1979 BCP, of course there is much that was retained from the 1928 BCP, i.e., Prayer of Humble Access, Gereral Confession and the Thanksgiving. But if you look at the Sarum Usage there is much of that in the liturgy, some of the wording is a little different, but the context is the same. From what I saw the Latin Canon Eucharistic Prayer I is almost the same as the Sarum Use. I did compare it to the 1979 BCP too.

As I recall after Rome changed the liturgy, the Episcopal church also made some of the same changes, as I have heard the Lutherans did too. The Liturgy of the Word is how I recall it in my former Anglo Catholic parish. We used the Anglican Missal. Maybe because I belonged to an Anglo Catholic parish for so long I am not hung up on the 1928 BCP or the 1979 BCP. We had so much more in the liturgy that is not in these liturgies.

The parts that are to me very Anglican as I mentioned above are important to my Anglican heritage, but feel the Canon is much more complete in the AU liturgy.

The Pastoral Provision accepted what Rome offered in the Book of Divine Worship. There could be changes to the other rites in the BDW sometime in the future.

I have the video of Our Lady of Atonement's Mass, which is old and hopefully they will make a new one. I felt very comfortable as a former Episcopalian with the Liturgy. They use the older hymnal. Being a former Episcopalian I know that it difficult to please everyone. The AU is only for the US at this time.

If you watch the video you will see that they use both Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit as the case may be.

I am so much at peace being a Catholic and feel for Anglicans right now who aren't sure what to do. I might never live in an area with the AU Mass, but my parish is very traditional and we sing the same hymns I did as an Episcopalian (Anglo Catholic).

I will always miss the "Thees and Thous", but for me the Catholic Church is Truth and that is more important than words.

God Bless

Bernadette

Hi Bernadette,

There is a slight difference in the prayer of humble access and also the post communion prayer between the 1928 and 1979. I know this because at my church, we use 1928 at 8:00 (with modern lectionary and collects from the 1979) and 1979 Rite 1 at 10:00. Since I am occasionally called to serve at the 10:00, I know both. I have everything I need in the 1928 memorized, but I have to be careful in the 1979.

So, do you use the 1940 hymnal? So superior to the 1982. If you recall "Oh God our Help in Ages Past", that wonderful evangelical - non-conformist hymn, the line "time like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away..." has been replaced with "....bears all our sins away...." A travesty of theology, and really an unnecessary one.
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  #32  
Old Aug 21, '09, 1:51 pm
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FrDavid96 FrDavid96 is offline
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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Originally Posted by Usbek de Perse View Post
The cassock alb is marketed by companies such as CM Almy. They are typically made of a slightly thicker fabric, which makes them suitable when wearing them over street clothes with no cassock. With thinner albs, a plaid shirt shows through in a most indecorous way. The cassock albs at Almy are cut in the Anglican style, that is double breasted, rather than with a button closure up the middle.

I was in the cathedral of Lyon one hot summer day, and saw an elderly priest with an alb, but with what looked like a Hawaiian shirt underneath. Given the oppressive heat wave, I couldn't blame him. Right near where I saw him, there is the cathedral treasury, which contains a number of articles collected by an archbishop there over 200 years ago. These articles included magnificent chasubles, a fine alb owned by one of the popes, and a reliquary in a cross with a shin-bone of St. Irenaeus.
That's what I was getting at with the so-called "cassock-alb" It's properly an alb, not a cassock. A cassock would be the sort of thing a priest (other cleric or seminarian) might wear on the streets, or at some other setting like in the parish hall, or any number of other settings when an alb would not be at all appropriate. I'm not saying that a priest "must" remove the alb immediately after Mass before he goes into the hall--but that the alb is not an appropriate garment to wear except in a liturgical setting (if he does, "so what?" no harm done). There is no one style or cut for an alb. They can fasten any number of ways.

If a manufacturer wants to call something a "cassock-alb" there's nothing wrong with that. They can call it a ham sandwich if they want to, if they think that would help their sales. But it can be a bit misleading because the garment itself isn't a cassock at all.
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  #33  
Old Aug 21, '09, 1:52 pm
BernadetteM BernadetteM is offline
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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Originally Posted by Usbek de Perse View Post
Hi Bernadette,

There is a slight difference in the prayer of humble access and also the post communion prayer between the 1928 and 1979. I know this because at my church, we use 1928 at 8:00 (with modern lectionary and collects from the 1979) and 1979 Rite 1 at 10:00. Since I am occasionally called to serve at the 10:00, I know both. I have everything I need in the 1928 memorized, but I have to be careful in the 1979.

So, do you use the 1940 hymnal? So superior to the 1982. If you recall "Oh God our Help in Ages Past", that wonderful evangelical - non-conformist hymn, the line "time like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away..." has been replaced with "....bears all our sins away...." A travesty of theology, and really an unnecessary one.

HI,

Since I don't live in a state with the AU parishes, I assume from what I have been told that they probably use the 1940 hymnal.

Are you happy within TEC? Of course I don't know your background. Even when I was very young, 11 or so I was proud (shouldn't be) of the low church I attended when I compared it with my friends fundamentalist church, as all the young people, she and I included, made fun of the lyrics they sang and were not really interested in spiritual matters. Of course this is true of many young people in any church, they haven't reached a point in their lives to care about spiritual issues. Although I was just like them at her church, at mine I was very interested in the spiritual side. I always considered myself a little strange as even now I meet few people who are really interested in the study or research of religious subjects.

Also I was always a Catholic in my heart at a very young age that when all the problems started in the Episcopal church it was very easy to actually become Catholic.

Bless you

Bernadette
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  #34  
Old Aug 21, '09, 2:45 pm
Usbek de Perse Usbek de Perse is offline
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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Originally Posted by BernadetteM View Post
HI,

Since I don't live in a state with the AU parishes, I assume from what I have been told that they probably use the 1940 hymnal.

Are you happy within TEC? Of course I don't know your background. Even when I was very young, 11 or so I was proud (shouldn't be) of the low church I attended when I compared it with my friends fundamentalist church, as all the young people, she and I included, made fun of the lyrics they sang and were not really interested in spiritual matters. Of course this is true of many young people in any church, they haven't reached a point in their lives to care about spiritual issues. Although I was just like them at her church, at mine I was very interested in the spiritual side. I always considered myself a little strange as even now I meet few people who are really interested in the study or research of religious subjects.

Also I was always a Catholic in my heart at a very young age that when all the problems started in the Episcopal church it was very easy to actually become Catholic.

Bless you

Bernadette
Dear Bernadette,

Am I happy in TEC? I should say that not since they decided to call it TEC!

My story is a long one, but I have mentioned it elsewhere on CAF, so I can tell it briefly again. As a youth I had thought of becoming a priest, but at age 19, I became a Baha'i, and remained one for 30 years. I returned to the church about 6 years ago. At first I did not have a deep feeling for Christianity, but my attachment to Christ deepened, and I came to really appreciate that He is the focal point of all creation, and that all creation revolves around his incarnation. The primal point of all history is the crucifixion and resurrection. I never understood that before. Indeed, the consecration of the Eucharist is this central point of human existence.

Am I happy in TEC? I wish it had more backbone. But I don't have anywhere else to go. Catholics should appreciate that for an Anglican, the Catholic Church is not a refuge from liberalism. One should become Catholic because one want to become Catholic, not because one is dissatisfied with one's own church. I refuse to join any of the "continuing" Anglican churches. There are two churches and a seminary very close to me.

I have no real problem with women's ordination. But I have become resolutely pro-life, and joined Anglicans for Life. I hope to attend training on the Gabriel project sometime soon. I am happy to be in the same church as N.T. Wright, John Sentamu, Rowan Williams, and Desmond Tutu.

I do look forward to a time when unity between the great traditions is possible. Curiously, I accept the primacy of the Roman pontif, but not the Papacy as currently structured. The pope is supposed to be primer inter pares, but in reality, he is more primer and less inter-pares. You are not first among equals when you have the power to name your equals. So I would like to see the historic patriarchates in co-equal relationship with the bishop of Rome, along with patriarchs or primates in other parts of the world.

I enjoy our conversation.

Blessings and peace
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  #35  
Old Aug 21, '09, 4:31 pm
EasterJoy EasterJoy is offline
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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That's what I was getting at with the so-called "cassock-alb" It's properly an alb, not a cassock. A cassock would be the sort of thing a priest (other cleric or seminarian) might wear on the streets, or at some other setting like in the parish hall, or any number of other settings when an alb would not be at all appropriate. I'm not saying that a priest "must" remove the alb immediately after Mass before he goes into the hall--but that the alb is not an appropriate garment to wear except in a liturgical setting (if he does, "so what?" no harm done). There is no one style or cut for an alb. They can fasten any number of ways.

If a manufacturer wants to call something a "cassock-alb" there's nothing wrong with that. They can call it a ham sandwich if they want to, if they think that would help their sales. But it can be a bit misleading because the garment itself isn't a cassock at all.
Cassock-alb refers to an alb with a cut more like a cassock, in that it wraps on, rather than going on over the head. What is referred to as a "traditional" alb, OTOH, has a continuous bottom hem, and goes on over the head.

Then, to add to the confusion, there are the white habits of the Dominicans, which may be worn on the street. I think the Dominican priests do wear them as albs, too.
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  #36  
Old Aug 21, '09, 4:59 pm
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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Cassock-alb refers to an alb with a cut more like a cassock, in that it wraps on, rather than going on over the head. What is referred to as a "traditional" alb, OTOH, has a continuous bottom hem, and goes on over the head.

Then, to add to the confusion, there are the white habits of the Dominicans, which may be worn on the street. I think the Dominican priests do wear them as albs, too.
Like I said, as far as I'm concerned manufacturers can use whatever names they want for their products. And I don't think the Church realy cares either. But keep in mind that just because they choose to call it a "cassock alb" doesn't make it a cassock--it's still an alb.


When religious order clerics wear their habits instead of an alb, that's an abuse.
See the quote from RS 126 in post #26
And note that Rome does use the word "abuse."

That's the point I've been making about the difference between street clothes (like the cassock or the habit) and vestments. One cannot replace the other. A Dominican friar might wear his habit when attending Mass, or if he's a priest, might even wear it with a stole if he's blessing someone's rosary (just to give a few examples), but it cannot be worn in place of the alb--Rome's very clear on that.
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  #37  
Old Aug 22, '09, 4:42 am
japhy japhy is offline
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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Yes, there is a vesting prayer for the amice. I have it on a card in the sacristy, but I can't find it printed in the Sacramentary. I don't know if anyone else has a reference to these.
I know of them from Msgr. (now-Bishop) Peter J. Elliott's Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite. I'm including them in volume two of my series on the new English translation of the Mass:
I GREW UP IN NORTHERN New Jersey, and my family attended Mass at the parish of St. Luke’s in Ho-Ho-Kus. I was an altar boy there for several years, but it was only recently, while visiting the pastor, that I noticed a bronze plaque on the sacristy wall, above a sink. The words on this plaque are Latin, but I was able to piece together its meaning based on a few cognates and a smattering of Latin vocabulary:

Da, Domine, virtutem manibus meis ad abstergendum omnem maculam;
ut sine pollutione mentis et corporis valeam tibi servire.


It means, “Give, O Lord, strength to my hands, to be cleansed from all stain, that I may be able to serve you without corruption of mind or body.” These words are above the sacristy sink because they are the words of the traditional prayer spoken by the priest as he prepares to celebrate Mass: they are the prayer during which he washes his hands.

While certain elements of Catholic worship are reminiscent or evocative of daily life, they are, at the same time, set apart from secular or profane associations: they are consecrated for divine purposes, often by means of prayers and blessings. So it is with the seemingly mundane (that is, “worldly”) chore of “getting dressed” for Mass. The priest does not just wash his hands; he does not just toss on a clean alb and secure it with a rope; he does not just grab whatever stole and chasuble suits his mood. Instead, the preparatory actions of the priest are accompanied by prayers which speak of a spiritual battle and a heavenly mystery unfolding here on earth in the life of the priest.

Why does the Church “dramatize” such preliminary activities? The answer can be found on another sign on a sacristy wall in Emmitsburg, Maryland. There, in the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the priest sees these words: “Priest of God, celebrate this Mass as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass.” This is a solemn reminder to the priest to be aware of the sacred mysteries dispensed at his hands and to pay attention. Mass should not be celebrated casually, but with due reverence and devotion. The sanctuary is not a stage for the priest, nor is the altar a prop. The priest is not an entertainer and the Mass is not a show. He is a minister of Christ, the High Priest, ordained to renew and offer, sacramentally, the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Christ. The words in the sacristy of the Basilica, like the words in the sacristy in St. Luke’s church, are meant to remind the priest of this profound truth.

The Roman Missal contains prayers of preparation and thanksgiving for the priest, but at present, it does not contain the vesting prayers, those said by the priest as he puts on the sacred vestments. I think the whole Church would benefit from the use of these prayers, and if their inclusion in this book contributes to a resurgence of their use, thanks be to God!
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  #38  
Old Aug 22, '09, 7:12 am
Bluegoat Bluegoat is offline
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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In Catholic usage, there's no such thing as a cassock-alb because a cassock is "street clothes" and there's no mixing the two. However, if the designation "cassock alb" is nothing more than a marketing description, and it is in fact an alb, then there's no reason why such a thing could not be worn.
The cassock alb is not that different from an alb - it looks almost identical. They seem to be of heavier material, and I think the idea is simply that you can wear it without a cassock underneath without it looking odd.
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  #39  
Old Aug 25, '09, 6:48 am
alveolate alveolate is offline
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

pardon me if i sound a little presumptuous... but all these wrangling over the nitty-gritty of cloths - isn't it a little too legalistic and fixated on forms?

amidst the long replies i quickly scanned, i don't think i saw any explications of the meanings and purposes of the varied vestments. could i trouble someone to highlight the significances? especially the difference between a cassock and an alb - both in terms of the form (i could never really tell them apart at first glance) and their respective significance. i've heard that the stole represents the wisdom and knowledge imparted to the priests as part of their clerical office/ordination. (i don't think this is differentiated between Christian traditions - but i might be mistaken!)

tucked or untucked - what's the implication?

crossed or uncrossed - affects the eyes or affects the mind?

cassock and/or alb - a matter of deep, Christocentric tradition or just distracting judgemental legalism?

if the wording is a little harsh, i apologise. i do not mean any offense... but i can't hold back a sense of incredulity about concerns which do not seem to reach beneath the surface!
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  #40  
Old Aug 25, '09, 7:22 am
Bluegoat Bluegoat is offline
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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pardon me if i sound a little presumptuous... but all these wrangling over the nitty-gritty of cloths - isn't it a little too legalistic and fixated on forms?

amidst the long replies i quickly scanned, i don't think i saw any explications of the meanings and purposes of the varied vestments. could i trouble someone to highlight the significances? especially the difference between a cassock and an alb - both in terms of the form (i could never really tell them apart at first glance) and their respective significance. i've heard that the stole represents the wisdom and knowledge imparted to the priests as part of their clerical office/ordination. (i don't think this is differentiated between Christian traditions - but i might be mistaken!)

tucked or untucked - what's the implication?

crossed or uncrossed - affects the eyes or affects the mind?

cassock and/or alb - a matter of deep, Christocentric tradition or just distracting judgemental legalism?

if the wording is a little harsh, i apologise. i do not mean any offense... but i can't hold back a sense of incredulity about concerns which do not seem to reach beneath the surface!
Well, as far as the cassock goes, it's just not really a vestment. It used to represent a priests everyday going about his business wear. At the time it came into existence, it was not terribly different from the other clothes people wore.

A modern equivalent would be a priest in his everyday clothes for going about the parish. A few still wear a cassock.
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  #41  
Old Aug 25, '09, 8:37 am
Usbek de Perse Usbek de Perse is offline
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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Originally Posted by alveolate View Post
pardon me if i sound a little presumptuous... but all these wrangling over the nitty-gritty of cloths - isn't it a little too legalistic and fixated on forms?

amidst the long replies i quickly scanned, i don't think i saw any explications of the meanings and purposes of the varied vestments. could i trouble someone to highlight the significances? especially the difference between a cassock and an alb - both in terms of the form (i could never really tell them apart at first glance) and their respective significance. i've heard that the stole represents the wisdom and knowledge imparted to the priests as part of their clerical office/ordination. (i don't think this is differentiated between Christian traditions - but i might be mistaken!)

tucked or untucked - what's the implication?

crossed or uncrossed - affects the eyes or affects the mind?

cassock and/or alb - a matter of deep, Christocentric tradition or just distracting judgemental legalism?

if the wording is a little harsh, i apologise. i do not mean any offense... but i can't hold back a sense of incredulity about concerns which do not seem to reach beneath the surface!
Alveolate,

You are entirely correct. It is all about relatively minor issues, but sometimes, especially for those of us who don them, these are of more than passing interest. Not everything has to be sullenly serious, don't you know!

I belong to several Yahoo! groups, including Academic Dress, Ecclevest, and Court Dress. Academic Dress now has about 1,000 members and all they talk about all day long and in multiple messages is gowns and hoods. Ecclevest started mainly because Anglican members talked alot about how to wear academic hoods over surplices in choir dress. It advanced onto most issues of vesting in Western Christendom, including some discussion of John Wesley's preaching gown. Court Dress (not law courts but royal courts) gets little traffic. One other group, Anglican Music, Liturgy and Controversy also exists because members were talking about things outside the sphere of ecclesiastical vestments. You are welcome to search these out.

The Academic Dress group, the mother of all the others, was started by an English RC brother.
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  #42  
Old Aug 25, '09, 9:00 am
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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Like I said, as far as I'm concerned manufacturers can use whatever names they want for their products. And I don't think the Church realy cares either. But keep in mind that just because they choose to call it a "cassock alb" doesn't make it a cassock--it's still an alb.


When religious order clerics wear their habits instead of an alb, that's an abuse.
See the quote from RS 126 in post #26
And note that Rome does use the word "abuse."

That's the point I've been making about the difference between street clothes (like the cassock or the habit) and vestments. One cannot replace the other. A Dominican friar might wear his habit when attending Mass, or if he's a priest, might even wear it with a stole if he's blessing someone's rosary (just to give a few examples), but it cannot be worn in place of the alb--Rome's very clear on that.
All I know it that my pastor's cassock is black- (street clothes), and his albs (liturgical clothes) are mostly all white.

But he has one alb that looks like a "cassock-alb" (but not according to the definition because it is a pull over) because it looks like a lacey long surplice with black material attached to the under part of the outer sleeves and the bottom of the alb. He has some shorter style chausibles with more open sides, that it goes well with.
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Old Aug 25, '09, 12:43 pm
soflochristmas soflochristmas is offline
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It's not my intention to make this thread about the invalidity of Anglican orders.

However, this is a Catholic message forum. As a Catholic, and especially as a priest, I have my concerns that when comparisons are made between Catholic and Anglican practices, some Catholics might read these messages and fail to understand that there are essential (and unavoidable) differences between a Catholic priest and an Anglican minister. If a Catholic comes away from reading these posts with the impression that Catholic and Anglican orders are simply a matter of some slight differences in vesture, then the experience of reading this thread could cause serious misunderstandings in the mind of that Catholic reader. There's nothing wrong with the discussion, as such. However, leaving something so important unsaid can either lead-to or reinforce that misunderstanding among Catholic readers.
I for one appreciate you making the point. Thank you.
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  #44  
Old Aug 25, '09, 3:26 pm
EasterJoy EasterJoy is offline
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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pardon me if i sound a little presumptuous... but all these wrangling over the nitty-gritty of cloths - isn't it a little too legalistic and fixated on forms?

....cassock and/or alb - a matter of deep, Christocentric tradition or just distracting judgemental legalism?

if the wording is a little harsh, i apologise. i do not mean any offense... but i can't hold back a sense of incredulity about concerns which do not seem to reach beneath the surface!
In ritual, form does count. That's what rituals are...forms, and forms saturated with meaning by careful repetition, not by endless or careless variation!! This isn't an example of unhealthy legalism. It is simple anthropology. Anthropology is nothing but a scholarly description of the way God made our collective psyches. Ritual is a need, and ritual requires a form. How strict the form has to be and how much the form serves the reality is something else again, but form is necessary to ritual. That is not bad. It is human. It is how God made us.

The Mass is conducted using sacred objects, set aside for sacred use. This includes the vestments. Dedicated sacred objects are common attribute of human rituals. We naturally feel a need to set some special things aside for worship of God, and for no other use. We also need to treat sacred objects in a more reverent manner than secular objects. Objects thus set aside become invested with the power to return us to a worshipful mindset. This is how our minds and hearts work, how God made us.

Cassocks are street clothes for clergy. Street clothes, even if they look like vestments, are not to be used as vestments. Cassock-albs are albs: vestments, not street clothes. (And Grapenuts...well, let's not even go there...)

Vestments, likewise, are not to be used as street clothes. It is not allowed to wear the chasuble, stole, or alb to the coffee social after church, for instance. You wouldn't use real vestments in a secular theatrical production, either. The reason is similar to the reason why lavabo towels and purificators aren't used as kitchen towels later in the week, why a real chalice wouldn't be loaned out for a theatre production of Macbeth, or why the altar isn't used as anything whatsoever other than the altar.

The Dominican habit is very close in fabric, etc., to what is sold as a "contemporary alb", the difference being that a "contemporary alb" has a cowl-style neck, while the Dominican habit is literally hooded. (There are other differences, but let's skip over those...) If the Dominicans ever retired their habits, never wearing them for anything but liturgical use, then those would no longer really be "habits", but could concievably come into use as albs, if the form fits the other requirements of form needed for an alb. For reasons of confusion, though--and I would be interested to hear from FrDavid if I finally have this right--they couldn't choose albs that look just exactly like their current habits, just as we would not use purificators that look exactly like kitchen towels. There has to be some recognizable difference in appearance.

My understanding is that in the early Church, the chasuble itself was simply a white street cloak, with the same cut as cloaks in everyday use, but that chasubles were also set aside for the Mass. Just the cleanliness of the garment would make it distinctive. In extremity, though, if an object set aside for sacred use cannot be had then the most noble available example of an otherwise fitting secular object has to suffice. It could be dangerous to have more objects that are obviously for conducting Mass than absolutely necessary in a country where the Mass if forbidden by law, for instance. Even in the US, a Mass offered in a place outside a sanctuary would probably have to use a normal table, instead of a dedicated altar. When an especially tall or big Dominican priest shows up to offer Mass, and none of the albs available will fit him, I wouldn't be surprised if he felt forced to improvise his habit into an alb, rather than using an available alb that was so small as to look ridiculous on him. The secular would be the more worshipful choice than choosing the ridiculous. That kind of thing. When there is a choice, though, the dedicated object is used, because dedicated sacred objects are important to our sense of encountering the sacred.

I hope that helps, and that anyone who finds a mistake in it will offer correction or clarification.
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Old Aug 25, '09, 8:58 pm
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Default Re: Cassock Albs, Surplices, and all that

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Originally Posted by EasterJoy View Post
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The Dominican habit is very close in fabric, etc., to what is sold as a "contemporary alb", the difference being that a "contemporary alb" has a cowl-style neck, while the Dominican habit is literally hooded. (There are other differences, but let's skip over those...) If the Dominicans ever retired their habits, never wearing them for anything but liturgical use, then those would no longer really be "habits", but could concievably come into use as albs, if the form fits the other requirements of form needed for an alb. For reasons of confusion, though--and I would be interested to hear from FrDavid if I finally have this right--they couldn't choose albs that look just exactly like their current habits, just as we would not use purificators that look exactly like kitchen towels. There has to be some recognizable difference in appearance.

My understanding is that in the early Church, the chasuble itself was simply a white street cloak, with the same cut as cloaks in everyday use, but that chasubles were also set aside for the Mass. Just the cleanliness of the garment would make it distinctive. In extremity, though, if an object set aside for sacred use cannot be had then the most noble available example of an otherwise fitting secular object has to suffice. It could be dangerous to have more objects that are obviously for conducting Mass than absolutely necessary in a country where the Mass if forbidden by law, for instance. Even in the US, a Mass offered in a place outside a sanctuary would probably have to use a normal table, instead of a dedicated altar. When an especially tall or big Dominican priest shows up to offer Mass, and none of the albs available will fit him, I wouldn't be surprised if he felt forced to improvise his habit into an alb, rather than using an available alb that was so small as to look ridiculous on him. The secular would be the more worshipful choice than choosing the ridiculous. That kind of thing. When there is a choice, though, the dedicated object is used, because dedicated sacred objects are important to our sense of encountering the sacred.

I hope that helps, and that anyone who finds a mistake in it will offer correction or clarification.
I suppose a religious order could choose anything within reason as a habit. But even if they did choose something that looks "just like an alb" it would in fact be a habit and they would have to change into an alb properly speaking before celebrating Mass. Of course, it would make sense for them to have different designs/styles for albs vs. habits.

What constitutes an alb is more "use" than anything else--they can come in all sorts of different styles (within reason of course, and they do have to be white) but it's more the fact that this particular garment is set aside for use as an alb, than it is anything in the design to specifically distinguish it from something else.

The alb was more of an ancient Roman (and most of the Mediterranean) street clothes. The word "tunic" is usually used in modern English. This was the "everyday, walk around" garment. The toga (worn only by Roman citizens) was worn over the tunic. The cloak served more of a purpose of a modern day coat--an extra layer worn over the tunic in cold weather. From what I gather it was called a laena if it was civilian wear.

The Roman military also had something (sagum) that looked just like a modern Gothic chasuble--a big round garment with a hole in the middle, a type of cloak. This had a similar function as a modern military poncho: it was usually waterproof (with oils and wax) and could double as a blanket. That's where the chasuble comes from.

Here's a link to Roman clothing
http://www.roman-empire.net/society/soc-dress.html
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