WDTPRS POLL: Color of Advent Vestments – Wherein Fr. Z rants

Here is my annual rant on blue vestments for Advent (see the POLL results about that).

"But Father! But Father!", you might be saying.  "Aren’t the confused liberal dinosaurs dying off?  Aren’t blue vestments
cliché?

Yes and yes.

Nevertheless, there are still some liturgical abusers out there.  Therefore, my annual rant.

But first a poll… let’s see what’s going on.

n
{democracy:35}

Post comments about what you see in your parish for Advent.

Now for my rant:

Blue is not an approved liturgical color for Advent or any other time.

Sorry, I am not making this up.

Not that I have anything against blue, of course. It is simply liturgically illegal right now.

When the Holy See approves the use of blue I will happily put it on!

Instead of agitating for women priests, I wish the agitators would agitate for blue vestments… without breaking the law, of course.

Imagine! Traditional priests, deacons and subdeacons putting on blue maniples, blue dalmatics and tunics, covering chalices with blue veils and blue burses, hiding patens under blue humeral veils.  I believe some groups use blue for Marian feasts on the justification that in Spain and Spanish territories there was a special indult, etc.  I find that argument a little weak unless you actually in Spain and it is 8 December and you are using the Novus Ordo.  The Spanish bishops conference in its ordo (cf. pp. 21 & 30) lists blue as a possible color for 8 December for the Novus Ordo or in Puerto Rico, etc.   I think in the Basilica at Padua there is a permission to use blue vestments.  I suppose those of the Anglican Use do and will use blue, with permission of the Holy See because that is part of their liturgical tradition.

The point is that Advent has its color: violet/purple.  Let it be, if you want, a shade closer to blue than to red.  But it is purple.  You need a special permission to use blue.  You don’t just decide for yourself as pastor or liturgy director of St. Ipsidipsy in Tall Tree Circle because its so nice.

This whole liturgical blue issue always brings to my mind a parody song made years ago by one of our participants here, the Timothy the Parodist, now the official WDTPRS parody songwriter. 

Sing this to the tune of O Come, O Come Emmanuel:

O come, o come liturgical blue;
out with the old, and in with the new.
Let’s banish purple vestments from here,
the color blue is very HOT this year.

REFRAIN:

Gaudy, gaudy, gaudy chasubles,
in baby, navy, powder-puff and teal.

Since Advent is the Blessed Virgin’s time,
we’ll wear blue, though it’s a canonic crime,
and in the third week, we’ll wear white.
Although it’s wrong, we’ll say that it’s alright.

R.

Around the wreath we’ll place blue candlelight,
and in one corner, we will place one white.
We’ll drape blue over our communion rail,
and use blue burses with blue chalice veils.

R.

 

 

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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62 Responses to WDTPRS POLL: Color of Advent Vestments – Wherein Fr. Z rants

  1. Brian Day says:

    The vestments at my parish are a Roman Purple (very much on the reddish side).

    Two years ago, our bishop (Tod D Brown) came and celebrated Mass at our parish on the first Sunday of Advent. His vestments were definitely blue. After Mass, I had to give a presentation about Advent to the RCIA class. +Brown really torpedoed by presentation on the liturgical colors of Advent. :(

  2. pelerin says:

    I have seen blue vestments worn in Lourdes so I presume that this is a special exception to the rule in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes.

  3. Will D. says:

    Violet, although the priest’s chasuble and the deacon’s dalmatic clashed.

    And, under the heading of “Brick by Brick,” one of the altar servers brought out a prie-dieu before communion, and about a half-dozen people communicated kneeling.

  4. An American Mother says:

    I should be more thankful for our nice, orthodox, straight-up traditional parish. Everybody was definitely in violet today.

    Just as an aside, in the old Sarum colors, blue was used for the feast of St. Michael – but NOT during Lent or Advent (or any other time for that matter).

    Advent and Lent called for BLACK vestments.

    I’m afraid some vestment maker started the rumor that ‘blue is for Advent’.

  5. Father S. says:

    I think that the fact that some priests wear blue is a good support for a tongue in cheek saying of a priest friend of mine. He says, “If you want to know what the Church teaches, never ask a priest.” His point is that anyone who can read is capable of reading the Catechism or the GIRM, for that matter.

    I wore two different violets today (not at the same time, mind you). I have a deep violet Roman vestment with gold trim that is very fine. I also have a Sisters of St. Francis Roman vestment that has a gold and dark violet trim, very much in the pseudo Art Deco style that was popular in vestments from that time.

    I would like to know where this nonsense about blue during Advent comes from. I heard a priest very recently tell me that he was taught that the violet of Advent should be more blue than violet and we were in the seminary at the same time with the same teachers and I was never taught such a thing.

    Also, as it happens, I will be wearing rose (not pink) next weekend. It is likewise Roman. It is difficult to find a good rose these days, though mine is about sixty years old.

    Anyhow, full speed ahead for the wearing of the correct colors!

  6. Flambeaux says:

    In the last 5 years of my involvement with the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite I’ve never seen blue vestments at our place or any of the other places. Not to say it wouldn’t/couldn’t happen once the Ordinariates are erected. But given the character of many already looking to take advantage of the new Apostolic Constitution, I’d be very surprised.

  7. ssoldie says:

    Down with all ‘special indults’ from the last 45 years, get rid of them. Recover our Catholic Culture (Identity) yeah!!!!!!!

  8. Father Zuhlsdorf, the “abusive option” might get more votes if you call it “indigo.”

    By the way, I attend an SSPX chapel. No blue or indigo!

  9. Virgil says:

    How blue is blue? Or how purple is blue?

    I rather like the idea of separate colors for Advent and Lent. In the books, what are the colors, exactly? Same color for Advent and Lent, or different shades? Do the rubrics call for purple or violet or puce or indigo?

    When I grew up, the priest had two sets of “purple” vestments. He wore the more royal purple for Lent, and wore the darker, more bluish purple for Advent. That seemed to me correct.

  10. wanda says:

    St. Ipsidipsy? ROFL

    Is that where blue vestments are worn and the big puppets are? Just askin’.

  11. Hamburglar says:

    I’m trying to figure out where people get the idea that Advent is a “bluish purple” and Lent is a “reddish purple.” Even the calendars I’ve seen in Parish classrooms have two different colors for Advent and Lent, but I can’t find anything to support the two different color theory.

  12. 3D says:

    The Institute of Christ the King uses blue vestments on Marian feasts. Some of the vestments have enough gold in them that they could be called gold vestments, but others are certainly blue.

    Using blue vestments for Marian feasts would have been a nice development. But, as Monsignor Klaus Gamber lamented, organic developments in the Roman Rite essentially ended after the Council of Trent and the release of the Tridentine missal. The missal was necessary to combat outlandish changes in the Mass by some during that period, but it also solidified the rite from any respectable development.

  13. sekman says:

    Our associate pastor wore a splendid vestment today, very deep purple in color with a rich golden color brocade. I never in my life have seen two different colors for advent or lent or even heard of the use of blue vestments except in the anglican use.

  14. Ef-lover says:

    The EF mass I attended in the Bronx the priest used purple , but the TV mass for shut ins by the Passionest here in NY the priest wore blue vestments

  15. Francisco Cojuanco says:

    EF Mass, priest wore purple, of course.

    At my usual, OF parish, they’re pretty good with the vestments, too – it’s always been purple. They may have some liturgical liberals in the choir loft, but not in the sacristy.

  16. James Locke says:

    well the primary celebrant at the Cistercian Monastery in Dallas used purple but the other priests wore their white Cistercian mass robes with i think a purple strap thingy, sorry father i do not remember what its called. But thats always a good mass with a ridiculously long homily. I love it!

  17. jfk03 says:

    Blue vestments are used in the Byzantine liturgy for feasts of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Mother of God.

  18. 3D says:

    jfk03: Byzantines don’t distinguish between colors, only shades. So vestments are considered to be either light or dark. Beyond that, a priest may choose a light or dark color (as was told to me by a priest who uses the Byzantine rite). So it seems appropriate to wear a blue vestment as a “light color” for Marian feasts in the Byzantine rite.

  19. beez says:

    My Liturgy professor prefers a lighter violet at Advent with a darker violet at Lent, since Lent is a penitential season. Here in the seminary, and at my home parish, I have never seen “blue” vestments, though I have seen both violet and white vestments with blue trim for Marian feasts.

  20. Davidtrad says:

    In all fairness royal violet can be mistaken easily for being blue. There’s an interesting discussion here:

    http://saintbedestudio.blogspot.com/

  21. FrCharles says:

    We are violet all over, but a priest came to do a baptism the other day with his bright blue stole. He also blessed the font while standing by the front pew, twenty feet away from the font and facing the other way.w

  22. my kidz mom says:

    Today’s bulletin column from the Director of Music and Liturgy from my former parish, Saint It’s All About Us:

    “Advent was originally a time of fasting and penitence, much like the season of Lent, and that’s why the two seasons share a color. But we know the two seasons are different, and that’s why we use a different shade of purple for each. In Lent, our vestments and decorations use a red-violet shade of the traditional purple. Whereas the deep purple you see around you today leans toward blue, which emphasizes the hope and anticipation of Advent. Blue is the color of the night sky, which we watch in anticipation of the Light of the World. Blue is also the color of water, the waters of creation and the waters of the new creation in Christ.”

  23. Geoffrey says:

    What about white vestments with blue line art, designs, etc.?

  24. dcs says:

    My Liturgy professor prefers a lighter violet at Advent with a darker violet at Lent, since Lent is a penitential season.

    Advent is also a penitential season (though not quite so penitential as Lent, I suppose – but then even Lent admits of shades of penitence: the first few weeks of Lent are not as penitential as Passiontide!), hence the omission of the Gloria at Mass. Also, if the Mass parts are chanted, the same chants (Mass XVII) are used during Advent as are used during Lent.

  25. dcs says:

    What about white vestments with blue line art, designs, etc.?

    They would be fine on days on which white vestments can be used.

  26. chcrix says:

    I thought blue vestments during Advent was an Anglican custom. Specifically Sarum Blue.

  27. Random Friar says:

    Just thought of something: instead of calling the vestments “black” vestments for funerals, call them “Navy blue.” Then, folks will line up to celebrate funeral Masses in this new, innovative color!

    (For the color or fashion impaired, “Navy blue” is often essentially black. Think of the naval officer outfits. Those are “Navy blue” — but even the Navy says they’re really black, not blue.)

  28. Nerinab says:

    We have purple vestments, but this is a recent development. For years our church used obviously blue vestments (almost a blue-teal color) saying that it was in honor of Mary (ironic since our church gives little notice to Mary any other time). Anyway, through the persistent action of a few members on the liturgy committee and parishioners, the church purchased beautiful violet-purple vestments with gold embroidery. The advent wreath now has purple candles, too!

  29. vernonq says:

    My only concession to blue vestments are that they are preferable to female ‘clergy’!

  30. medievalist says:

    Oddly, the only blue vestments I have ever seen at a NO parish are, like the rose vestments, liturgical leftovers from the days before the council. This makes them the most beautiful vestments in the parish!

  31. Mary Bruno says:

    I didn’t answer the poll since our vestment is blue and purple it is striped,but the stripes are hardly noticeable it’s a dark blue next to a purple. From a distance it looks blue.

    The Deacon wore a nice shade of purple/violet today. I’m not sure what to call it, but my daughter noticed the color right away and I don’t think we’ve ever seen anyone at our parish wear it before.

  32. zgietl says:

    On the weekends they have been purple. This past week was the re dedication of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, IL. Here the bishop and deacons wore a whitish chasubles and dalmatics while the diocesan priests and visiting bishops wore the diocesan chasuble which is white with a blue strip in front and back along with the diocesan crest. For some reason on deacon who presented the sacred relics which were placed in the Altar wore some sort of orangish dalmatic which clashed with everything else.

    All in all, the building is glorious, and this was the first major changes since 1927 when it was built. As a member of the committee, I was very pleased by the word that was done and they even kept the communion rail.

  33. ipadre says:

    Burlap! I’ve never seen a burlap vestment in Advent, maybe on Thanksgiving. At least they could have a matching burse, maniple and chalice veil. lol. I thought the 70′s were dead and buried. At least they are here – no burlap, no blue! Black, yes!

  34. What do I want for Christmas?
    Well, I’d like the season of Advent to return to a penitential season in preparation for the Nativity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This shift that has taken place (discarding the Ember Days of Advent) and the liturgical “diversity” that is in opposition to what is the norm (violet vestments except on the Third Sunday of Advent which may be rose) at this time in the rubrics is, in my humble estimation, not an appropriate way to prepare for Christmas. Fasting and penance before great Feasts, such as Christmas, should be restored in the Roman Rite.
    There used to be a Saint Martin Fast which began on November 11th in the Roman Church, which was abrogated a long time ago. I don’t think that was such a bad custom, however. But that’s just my opinion.

  35. Nan says:

    They’re purple unless there’s a reason to go to another liturgically correct color. There are uninspiring weekday vestments and beautiful Sunday vestments.

    I anticipate for the Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and on the Feastday itself the vestments will be white with blue trim.

  36. chonak says:

    We’ll drape blue over our communion rail,

    If you can find one, let us know! :-)

    Anyway: the other day, I read a forum post by a respected professor, who wrote that there is a distinction between violet and purple.

    In his explanation, violet is more bluish and has a penitential element: therefore it is suited to Lent and Advent. Purple, the more reddish color of bishops’ attire, has no penitential aspect.

    Does this square with your understanding?

  37. catholicmidwest says:

    How is it justified to have a reddish set of purple vestments and a bluish set of purple vestments? I’m not kidding. The Roman Missal clearly lumps the two sets together as one set. Having both is a waste. Don’t we have better things to spend the money coming in through the collection plate than buying vestments we don’t need?

  38. catholicmidwest says:

    Ipadre, the 70s aren’t dead yet. Get a load of the “music.”

  39. TomB says:

    Fr. today wore a new, very beautiful chasuble, made by a former parishioner of his. It’s truly a work of love and of art, and it’s most definitely purple/violet (not sure of the distinction). I guess I’d call it purple.

  40. My university/college’s St Joseph’s Chapel, served by Basilians, has purple/violet vestments.

    I did attend a Ukrainian Catholic Divine Liturgy this summer at an historic church in the museum I work summers at (the government acts as custodians for the 3 Church bodies: Ukrainian Catholic, Ukrainian Orthodox and Russian Orthodox). The priest definitely had almost teal vestments, although they were beautiful in the subtle designs in the fabric. they also had a beautiful icon of the Theotokos on the back. I am wondering if then the Eastern Churches have a different set of approved liturgical colours? (As far as I could tell, there was no special feast day).

  41. Melody says:

    I went to the Norbertine parish today and Father wore a nice violet vestment.

    However, I’ve been to Norbertine masses on Marian feast days when a beautiful blue heirloom vestment is brought out. It has an embroidered image of Our Lady of Fatima on the back.

    Off-topic, but we sang a hymn that should be the theme of WDTPRS: “People Look East”

  42. No such nonsense in Denmark.

    But à propos the thing with traditional priests wearing blue: This is also an indult for Marian feasts in Bavaria. On the link below you will find pictures of Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith celebrating Pontifical Solemn Mass at Wigratzbad in some exquisite traditional blue vestments, maniples and all:

    http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2008/05/mgr-ranjith-pontifical-mass-blue.html

  43. Fleeb says:

    Hey Father,

    While on your rant, can you make a future comment about the use of “ordinary time” in today’s calendar? Is it possible to promote a return to the old usage (eg: “________ Sunday after Pentecost”) or that an impossibility? I’ve always wondered about the term “ordinary”…

    just a micro rant on my part

    You may now return to your previously scheduled comment line…

    My pastor wore violet. However, he literally speeds through the Eucharistic Prayer (usually #3). Sunday’s entire consecration easily took less than 60 seconds…reminded me of this guy from the 70′s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeK5ZjtpO-M

    Have a nice week.

  44. Grabski says:

    I think that blue is acceptable for dioceses which once comprised New Spain for Marian feasts, though I could be wrong.

  45. irishgirl says:

    At the TLM chapel I went to yesterday, it was purple all the way, with a little gold and white trim!

    Ha ha, Fr. Z-love the ‘parody hymn’!

  46. ghp95134 says:

    I attended a Japanese-language Mass at Santa Clara, California which has a community of about 15 people. The father praying the mass is a retired Maryknoll priest who visits every other week to pray Mass in Japanese. Father wore a white vestment — but his stole was purple. My Japanese is not what it used to be, but during Father’s homily he touched his stole and explained about the color of “murasaki” (purple) for Advent. I’m sure if he or the chapel possessed vestments, he would have worn purple.

    –Guy Power

  47. catholicmidwest says:

    Wait a minute! At the present time, the survey says that 8 priests wore *burlap.* B-U-R-L-A-P????? Why? Where did they get burlap as an option?

  48. catholicmidwest says:

    Might as well wear….plastic garbage bags or newspaper. I think those people had better find a real parish and a real priest, not some oddity wearing burlap.

  49. lofstrr says:

    Our pastor has been wearing a half purple, half pink parachute. Well, I guess he couldn’t find a blue vestment that was ugly enough. The deacon was wearing an old purple vestment that looked like it was once used to upholster a sofa from the mid 70s. I am not even kidding or embellishing these descriptions. These were really my first impressions. Believe it or not, I switched to this parish because my geographical parish was much more liberal. I am not sure I would have made it to becoming Catholic if I had stayed in their RCIA program. Every week there was at least some reference to how bad things were before VatII but now things are better. And I never returned after the teaching about prayer because the handout had illustrations of all the different kinds of prayer that were out there. That is to say it had illustrations of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians praying. Didn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out where that train was heading.

  50. chatto says:

    Never even seen, or heard of, blue vestments! There’s an interesting photo over on the NLM site of Newman’s room in Birmingham, with his Roman chasubles still hanging in the wardrobe, and one of them looks blue! Someone has commented that it’s just the light in the room and it’s actually his black chasuble (which is just as remarkable).

  51. onesheep says:

    Two years ago, our bishop (Tod D Brown) came and celebrated Mass at our parish on the first Sunday of Advent. His vestments were definitely blue. After Mass, I had to give a presentation about Advent to the RCIA class. +Brown really torpedoed by presentation on the liturgical colors of Advent. :(

    Brian, that’s not unusual for Bishop Brown or this area in general. What parish are you in? Definitely purple at the Mass I attended but I don’t attend Mass at the parish I geographically belong in and I don’t attend the same parish all the time.

  52. Mary Ann says:

    Was some low quality cloth, thin, navy blue to purple.

    Sadly, liturgy included not ONE familiar song or response. Of course we did give thanks to the Lord in a song for supplying us with dance and laughter.

  53. Mary Ann says:

    [Just above I was referring of course to the the musical composition of the responses and a total lack of traditional advent songs.]

  54. Marq says:

    Yesterday, both my bishop and the parish priest where properly clad in purple/violet (kind of difficult to say where the one begins and the other ends). Two candles burning in the advent wreath, triptych of the high altar closed, and the Rorate Caeli after Mass. One would almost say it was Advent ;)

  55. uptoncp says:

    Some mediæval English uses for Lent (according to the Parson’s Handbook):

    Sarum: red on Sundays, unspecified on ferias
    Lichfield (c. 1240): black
    Exeter (C14): violet
    Wells (c. 1340): blue

    In the CofE I have only very rarely seen anything other than purple used.

  56. Laurinda1230 says:

    Okay, I’m a little shy of knowing what is going on with the colors of vestments.

    (1) So when our priests wear blue on Saturdays that they are saying Mass dedicated to Marian feasts that is a liturgical abuse?

    (2) What about white? Today on the feast of Saint Ambrose two priests offered Mass and were wearing white with gold.

    (3) I have been surprised at our Advent colors. Blue wall hangings behind the altar and the main altar cloth is blue with a large gilded purple stripe (1 foot across) down the middle and the priest wears a matching blue vestment with a large purple stripe down the middle. So that must be wrong, right? I don’t recall this blue during Advent before.

    My fiance and I just recently started going to daily Mass and that is the vernacular, of course.

  57. Agellius says:

    At mass this past Sunday, the priest wore purple but there were huge blue banners hanging behind the altar.

  58. eulogos says:

    My Byzantine parish uses blue for Marian feasts. Including a blue sanctuary candle. The vestments are a beautiful light blue with silver embroidery.
    My impression is that yesterday the priest was wearing a white and gold vestment, chiefly gold, and I thought that must have been for the Bishop saint Nicholas.
    For feasts of the Holy Spirit, to my surprise, my Byzantine church uses Green, including a green sanctuary candle, emphasizing the life giving aspect of the Holy Spirit rather than the tongues of fire which are emphasized by the red in the west. The parish has beautiful black and silver vestments for Good Friday.

    My husband’s Anglican parish has hokey homemade blue vestments and altar hangings, which the priest told me they “have to use” because someone in the parish made them and would have her feelings hurt if they didn’t. They aren’t too bad; I have seen much uglier things in Catholic churches. In any case, the Episcopal diocese stole (legally,via court action) all the beautiful old vestments this parish owned from when it was AngloCatholic, including the purple and the rose, and they now have only what was left behind by the Catholics who vacated their current church structure, the cheap polyester ones.

    Last time I was at my territorial parish during Advent everything was blue. I think blue is the color of advent for the diocese of Rochester NY. Which, really, is the least of its problems.

    Susan Peterson

  59. eulogos says:

    Well maybe I should peek in and see, since Nerina’s parish actually has purple now.(comment above) Believe me, that is a brick by brick for Rochester.
    Susan Peterson

  60. An American Mother says:

    Melody, we sang “People Look East” also.

    Interestingly enough, the writer, Eleanor Farjeon, also wrote “Morning Has Broken” (but in her defense she was already dead and gone when the soi-disant Yusuf Islam perpetrated his version on the world).

    She also wrote some nice books, including “Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard” and “The Little Bookroom”. She was quite an interesting person in her own right as well.

  61. Hamburglar says:

    Laurinda:

    (1) Blue is not permitted. I think in the Phillipines, they are permitted to use blue for feasts of the Virgin Mary.

    (2) The color for feasts of non-martyred saints is white, so this is okay.

    (3) Yes, this is wrong. The liturgical color for Advent is violet. All the vestments and wall hangings must be violet.

  62. cl00bie says:

    Ok, Father. I have to object to your lyrics. I don’t believe anyone who celebrates Mass in a church that still has an altar rail would use liturgical blue.

    Just saying….