OK Hon, let’s talk about vestments for a minute. Let me tell you, every priest should have a woman talk some sense to him about his dress sense. These guys don’t have a clue what to wear. OK, most of them get the colors right, but they’ve got a book that tells them that, so big deal.
What I can’t stand is these vestments that preach at you. You know what I mean? One time I saw this stole with lots of little children’s faces embroidered all over it. Little black children, little Chinese children. Little Eskimo children. All of them smiling. Yucch. It looked like a UNICEF poster. See, this vestment was preaching to me. It was singing that little song, “Red, and yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight, all the little children of the world.”
Then you get these vestments that are made from day-glo polyester. C’mon darling, this fabric was designed for seat covers, not priest covers. It’s cheap. It’s nasty. Throw it out. It was never nice and never will be. Then they make matters worse and paste on some cheap embroidery of grapes and ears of corn. OK. We get it. It’s about the bread and wine right? Why don’t you spell it out? See what I mean? It’s like those felt banners for Easter with a sun that say, “Son Rise”. It’s tacky hon. It’s just tacky.
You know what? I think maybe its a little bit heretical too. What do you want grapes and wheat on your vestment for? It’s not bread and wine, at least it’s not going to be so for long. It’s the body and blood of Christ right? So if you want to put something on there which reminds you of the truth of what is going on why not put on an Alpha and Omega or a picture of the Lamb of God or maybe the IHS symbol for Jesus. After all, what does the bread and wine matter. Get rid of the grapes and wheat pictures. They’re a mistake.
Every kind of symbol that is preachy is a mistake. All these vestment makers want to be clever and do something smart. Forget it hon. Here is a good rule of thumb: too clever is dumb. When I was doing my degree in Ecclesiastical Haberdashery at Salamanca University I learned something every seminarian should learn: “Vestments should not preach, except by the quality of materials used and the skill and prayerful dedication of the craftsman.” Yes hon, that’s right. Vestments don’t preach. Priests preach. You see, the vestment should complement the divine liturgy. It should beautify and reflect the beauty of the divine sacrifice.
If someone goes away from Holy Mass and says to me, “You know Mantilla, those vestments were simply gorgeous–so creative!” I say to myself, something is wrong. It’s okay for vestments to be gorgeous, but creative? I don’t think so. They get too ‘creative’ and they draw attention to themselves, you know? They should not do that. They were probably made by someone who was trying to show off. That’s not good. Listen, hon, Low key is the thing. Low key. Keep it dignified. Keep it classy.