Why do the altar boys hold up the back of the priest’s chasuble during the Consecration?
I have never seen that before.
I am referring to the Tridentine Mass when after the priest says the words of Consecration he genuflects, then raises the Sacred Host/Precious Blood. While the priest does this the altar boy will not only ring the bells but he will also lift the back of his chasuble. My question is: what is the significance of raising the back of the chasuble. Thank you.
I’ve always thought that it was for a practical reason. Traditional vestments, particularly those made in olden times, are made of stiff and heavy fabric. Holding up the hem would stop the chasuble bunching up round the priest’s shoulders when he raised his arms, and possibly not setting properly back again when he lowered them.
That was my belief when I I did it as an altar boy in the 40’s. Don’t remember ever encountering an official explanation.
Note that when the priest is back to the people he must lift his arms to their full extent.
Somehow I think that there must be a reason different from preventing the bunching of the chasuble around the priest’s shoulders. Does anyone have any other thoughts on the significance of this practice? Or is it a rubric? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
Once the vestments were heavy and it took some of the weight off of the arms.
Thanks so much. I guess I had forgotten how heavy the old vestments could be. Makes total sense along with prevention of the bunching of the chasuble around the shoulders.
Funny how these simple acts have such meanings. Thank you!
Yes, as one person suggested, it is for practical purposes:
“Then, when the Celebrant elevates the Host, the Minister elevates with his left hand the posterior fringes of the Chasuble, so it may not hinder the Celebrant in raising his arms…”
From Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae,
VIII. The Canon of the Mass up to the Consecration, number 6.
Thank you! This site really has a knowledgeable and courteous group of members. So helpful too!
There was a thread on this some time ago. Aside from the practical reasons having to do with the roman chausible, it has spiritual and symbolic meaning with regard to Christ’s yoke.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Maybe someone can dig up the thread.