MASS: AN EXPLANATION OF THE REQUISITES, VESTMENTS, VESSELS
AND OTHER ARTICLES FOR THE ALTAR AND SANCTUARY
Sources Used: THE NEW ROMAN MISSAL by Fr. Lasance Et Al,
Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, 1945; and
CONCISE CATHOLIC DICTIONARY, Robert Broderick, M.A.,
Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, 1943
SECTION 3: THE VESTMENTS WORN AT BENEDICTION AND THE COLORS OF
THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN HIGH MASS AND LOW MASS, HISTORY OF THE ASPARAGUS
The Vestments Worn at Benediction
The Cope: It is a large
semi-circular cloak, reaching to the feet and
having a small cape in the back. It is clasped in front at the breast.
The cope is worn by the officiating priest at Benediction of the
Blessed Sacrament and in processions. It is likewise used at the
"Asperges" (the ceremony of sprinkling the altar, clergy, nd people
with holy water, performed by the celebrant before the principal Mass
and permitted only on Sundays---see history below) before High Mass, at
funeral services, and in solemn
blessings connected with Mass,---like the blessing of the ashes on
Ash Wednesday and of the palms on Palm Sunday.
The Humeral Veil: As
described on the previous page, but in white, is worn by the priest
when holding the
Monstrance to give Benediction.
The Colors of the Vestments
There are five liturgical colors:
White, Green, Red, Purple, and Black.
White is the symbol of
purity. It is used on all feasts of Our Lord
except those relating to His sufferings; on feasts of Our Lady; on the
feasts of Saints that are not Martyrs.
Red is the figure of blood and
fire. The Church assigns it to the
feasts of the Martyrs and Apostles; to Pentecost Sunday; to feasts
connected with the Passion of Our Lord.
Green is the symbol of hope.
It is used on the Sundays from Epiphany to Septuagesima and on the
Sundays after Pentecost.
(The Sacred Congregation of Rites permits the use of gold vestments
instead of red, white or green, provided the material be of pure cloth
Violet, the penitential color,
is used during Advent and Lent and on the Vigils of the greater feasts.
(Vestments of rose color may be worn in place of violet on two days
during the year: the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday; and the fourth
Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday).
Black, the sign of mourning,
is used on Good Friday, and in Masses of the Dead.
High Mass and Low Mass
High Mass: that which is
celebrated by a priest, assisted by deacon and subdeacon, with all the
solemnity of chant, incense and full ceremonial.
Low Mass: is said by a priest
alone, with one or two servers, and is a shortened or simplified form
of the High Mass.
Missa Cantata: The so-called
sung Mass, or Missa Cantata,
is a modern compromise between a Low and a High Mass. At a Missa Cantata
the ceremonies are somewhat abbreviated because of the absence of the
sacred ministers; incense is not permitted, and the celebrant himself
sings the Gospel in the deacon's stead.
The Asperges, from the Latin aspergere,
to wash or sprinkle, is a rite at least fifteen centuries old, which
precedes the principal Mass on Sunday. It is performed by the celebrant
of the Mass, who sprinkles the congregation with holy water while
reciting a verse from Psalm 50: "Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop;
and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me and I shall be made whiter
than snow" (verse 8), At Eastertide there is substituted for this
versicle the Church's antiphon, "Vidi Aquam." The ceremony of
sprinkling the congregation grew out of an old custom of blessing water
for the faithful on Sunday mornings. In a ninth-century document we
read: "Every Sunday, before the celebration of Mass, the priest shall
bless water in his church and, for this holy purpose he shall use a
clean and suitable vessel. The people, when entering the church, are to
be sprinkled with this water, and those who so desire may carry some
BACK TO PREVIOUS PAGE