Search This Site
  Home
  Browse New Titles
  Browse by Subject
  Browse by Title
  Author Index
  Title Index


  Ministry
   & Liturgy
  Visual Arts Awards

  FREE Ministry
  Resource
  Updates

  Online
  Subscription
  Login

  Software

  Request Print Catalog
  Print Order Form
  Reprint Permission
  Customer Service

  Authors & Writers
  Advertisers
  Bookstores
  Media

  News Releases

  Artists Directory
  Parish Resource
  Directory
  Classified Ads
  Links

  About the Company
  Employment
  Contact Us

  Discussion Forums

CHASUBLE
by Paul Turner

The chasuble is the large outer garment which a priest wears at Mass. Only a priest (or bishop) wears one. Only at Mass. The single exception is on Good Friday, when we have no Mass, but the priest who presides at the service of the Lord's Passion wears the chasuble, linking the services from Holy Thursday to Easter. Its color announces the season or feast.

This odd word comes from the Latin casula, meaning "little house." Some of these garments seem ample enough to house a family a six. Originally, the casula was an outer cloak or jacket, worn by men or women as secular dress on cool days. It was formed by two quarter-circles of cloth stitched together front and back. In liturgical usage, the seams became decorated. In time, the seams moved to the sides, but the decorations remained, making the chasuble a portable billboard of liturgical symbolism, ranging from the tasteful to the absurd.

During the Middle Ages, the priest started saying Mass with his back to the people and introduced the elevation of the host and chalice so everyone could see over his head. Fashion-minded presiders noted that the old garment did not function well for the elevation; it bunched up the sleeves and pulled at the bottom. So chasubles became sleeveless, if you will, and servers began lifting up the bottom at genuflections, like bridesmaids tending the train.

The stole, traditionally worn underneath the chasuble, is now commonly seen on top. It makes more visible the distinction between the stoles of the priest and the deacon and creates new opportunities for design, but the results do not always satisfy. A stole external to the chasuble is new in the history of vestments, so instructions on the practice are scarce.

Although designs today run freely through a variety of shapes, colors, and patterns, the basic simplicity of the vestment remains. Priests concelebrating for Mass may wear alb and stole without the chasuble if they prefer. The presider may also wear a combination alb-chasuble with an external stole for certain occasions or groups. But the principal symbolic vesture for a presider at Mass is the chasuble--a "house" the word of God inhabits, a cloak for the spiritual journey, and a sign of our leader's role.

(This bulletin insert originally appeared in MODERN LITURGY, copyright (c) 1996, Resource Publications, Inc. It may not be reproduced without permission. Send permission requests to info@rpinet.com)

(Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant' Anselmo University.)



Search liturgy related sites

Home | Mission Statement | Employment Opportunities
Contact Us | What's New on This Site | Site Guide

Copyright © 1995-2009
Resource Publications | 160 E. Virginia St. #290 | San Jose, CA 95112
888-273-7782 (toll-free) | 408-286-8505 | 408-287-8748 (fax)
www.resourcepublications.com