Thursday, July 22, 2010

Colorful Catholics: Vestment Colors For Every Season

A priest in the Netherlands got in trouble with his superiors recently, apparently for wearing orange vestments - that uniform worn by priests during Mass. ("Dutch Catholic Priest Suspended for Liturgical Abuse," Christopher's Apologies (July 20, 2010))

He was showing great team spirit, since orange is the color for his country's team in the soccer World Cup. Problem was, this was a Mass.

Team spirit's okay: As long as you remember which team you're on. Those orange vestments made it look like the priest might be putting allegiance to a sports team ahead of allegiance to the Lord of Hosts. I trust that's not what he had in mind - but symbols matter.

The Catholic Church uses lots of symbols: including what colors are on the vestments worn by priests at Mass. That orange outfit roused my curiosity, so I dug around a little. Here's what the uniform colors are in America:
  • White
    • Offices and Masses during the Easter and Christmas seasons
    • Celebrations of
      • The Lord other than of his Passion
      • The Blessed Virgin Mary
      • The Holy Angels
      • Saints who were not Martyrs
      • The Solemnities of All Saints (1 November)
      • The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist (24 June)
      • The Feasts of Saint John the Evangelist (27 December)
      • The Chair of Saint Peter (22 February)
      • The Conversion of Saint Paul (25 January)
  • Red
    • Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
    • Good Friday
    • Pentecost Sunday
    • Celebrations of the Lord's Passion
    • The feasts of the Apostles and Evangelists
    • Celebrations of Martyr Saints.
  • Green
    • The Offices and Masses of Ordinary Time
  • Violet or purple
    • Advent
    • Lent
    • It may also be worn in Offices and Masses for the Dead
      • See White or black
  • White or Black
    • Vestments of these colors may be worn at funeral services and at other Offices and Masses for the Dead in the Dioceses of the United States of America.
  • Rose may be used, where it is the practice, on
    • Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent)
    • Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent)
  • On more solemn days, sacred vestments may be used that are festive, that is, more precious, even if not of the color of the day.
  • Gold or silver colored vestments may be worn on more solemn occasions in the dioceses of the United States of America.
(adapted from "The Requisites for the Celebration of Mass," Chapter VI, section IV, paragraph 346)

Those colors mean something: but it's getting late in my time zone, and that'll have to wait for another day.

Posts about symbols:More:
  • Chapter VI
    "The Requisites for the Celebration of Mass," Committee on Divine Worship, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Update (July 23, 2010)

Vestment Colors, continued:

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