Why do Father John, Father Linh and Deacon Michael wear vestments when they celebrate Mass? Why do we ask you to wear albs when serving? Could you not serve wearing your everyday clothes?
The vestments that Father John, father Linh and Deacon Michael wear have come down to us from the everyday dress of the early centuries of the Church. As fashions changed so the difference between ‘vestments’ and ‘everyday clothes’ grew and a distinctive set of clothes for the clergy evolved and vestments were born. Today there are three reasons why vestments continue to be worn. Firstly, the leaders of all groups tend to wear different clothes to the members. Secondly, the beauty of the robes contributes to the beauty of the celebration of the Mass. They give what happens on the sanctuary a visual focus. Thirdly, they remind us of our links to our distant ancestors in faith – of our rich and proud heritage of worship going back many centuries.
Why do altar servers wear albs? There are two reasons. First, of all the jobs that people do during the Mass: read, sing, help with Holy Communion, give out hymn books etc. only that of the altar server is directed towards the priest (and deacon). Think of the way that you face when you serve – towards the priest. All the others face towards the people. (This is why until very recently there were no girl altar servers.) So it is natural that if Father Paul and Deacon Michael wear different clothes (vestments) so do those who serve them. Secondly, altar servers do not work alone – they form part of a team – and all teams have their own uniform that shows that you are a member whether that is Manchester United or Gryffindor Quidditch!