June 13, 2016

Lawrence of Brindisi on the Vestments

I suppose my deficiencies as a Capuchin friar are many. For example, I like to say that my physical inability to grow a proper Capuchin beard is my Pauline thorn. Another one is that I have never really known--and nor has any confrere been able to tell me clearly--why the lone doctor of the Church of our Capuchin reform, St. Lawrence of Brindisi, should be especially a doctor of the Church.

So for a long time I have thought that I ought to read what he wrote and find out for myself. Therefore it was my delight to discover one day that the house where I find myself now has a set of St. Lawrence's works in the English translation of Vernon Wagner, OFM Cap. So as I have had time and inspiration, I have started to read some of them.

Here's a fun passage on the meaning of the priestly vestments from the sermon, "The Eucharist as Sacrifice."
But the priestly vestments of the Church are totally representative of the mystery of redemption. Do you not think that a vested priest resembles Christ? Do you not see that the thin amice that covers his head is the most pure flesh of Christ which covered the Word of God? God is the head of Christ. (1 Cor 11:3) And the alb which is totally white, can it represent anything besides the innocence and the immaculate holiness of the entire life of Christ? It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens. (Heb 7:26) Does not the cincture express what was said by Isaiah: Justice shall be a band around his waist. (Is 11:5) And does not the maniple speak to you of the indomitable patience of Christ throughout his entire life and especially in his passion? Does not that stole around his neck appear to you as a symbol of that yoke which Christ spontaneously took upon his shoulders in obedience to his Father in order to suffer and die for our salvation? For us Christ became obedient to death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:8) And does it not seem to you that the chasuble, which is a single piece of cloth but divided into two parts, one in front and the other in back, represents the Church old and new, one in faith, two by reason of various rites and customs, both signed with the cross, because both and the other are redeemed by the power of the cross of Christ and by Christ on the cross? O what great mysteries are contained in the Mass!
(St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Feastday Sermons, trans. Vernon Wagner, OFM Cap. (Delhi: Media House, 2007), 633)

It's interesting how Lawrence identifies the stole with the yoke of Christ, while the vesting prayers locate this association with the chasuble.


Judy Kallmeyer said...

Now I would have that the chasuble, in its one piece construction, was symbolic of the tunic of Jesus for which the soldiers rolled dice to see which one of them would receive it. And the maniple represents the chains with which Jesus was bound during His scourging.

Louis M said...

What a beautiful reflection , Father!
Thank you!