The priest’s traditional Vesting Prayers – Wherein Fr. Z rants

A while ago I ranted about wanting the “salt” back in the Holy Water.

Of course I bless Holy Water every Sunday, and I use exorcised and blessed salt.  What I mean by “salt” in this context, are the other elements which belong with The Clerical Thing, in the good sense.  I have had a sense that, when at times I’ve been less than diligent in a preparation before Mass, or thanksgiving after – even if it has to removed from either the beginning or conclusion by some minutes – I’ve been letting The Team down a little, not doing my share of the heavy lifting.

Save The Liturgy – Save The World … right?

I write this, because I hope that other priests will review their own practices.

My conviction is that people pick up from priests whether or not they are really into it.  They draw something out from the priest’s ars celebrandi.   Avoiding even the slightest notion of the Donatist errors about holiness or wickedness transferring physically from the priest (yes, they really thought that), it is similar to how the woman touched the hem of the Lord’s cloak and power went out from Him.  Of course, that’s an analogy for the knock on effect people receive from how the priest says Mass, how he preaches, even how he prepares and concludes.  I believe it is all tied together.

The priest needs to get ready to provide this opportunity, to be Christ’s cloak hem.  The priest needs to give thanks after providing that opportunity.

So, brothers, I know that sacristies are sometimes busy, and people pull at you, but pray before Mass.  Say your vesting prayers.  All of them.

Of course that might mean changing how you vest.

Consider the content of the prayer for putting on the amice like a warfighter’s helmet: “Place, O Lord, on my head the helmet of salvation, that I may overcome the assaults of the devil.”  If you don’t use an amice, how do you say this?  Do you?  Would it occur?

Consider the cincture and its meaning: “Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity, and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence, that the virtue of continence and chastity may remain in me. ”

I know that in the directives of the Novus Ordo it is written that, if you have an alb that is fitted, you don’t have to have a cincture or an amice (provided your collar is covered).

Fathers, do you wear one of those modernist moo moos?  Without an amice or cincture?

Think about that.  The amice prayer begs God to protect you from the attacks of the Enemy during Mass.  The cincture speaks to purity.  And what are the things that have gotten the Church in massive trouble and even bankruptcy?  Demon-fed impurity.

If you aren’t wearing these vestments, you may not be assimilating or reinforcing in yourself, for the sake of others, what they symbolize.   I’m not saying that you are bad as a result.  I am hoping that, by using them also, you will be even more amazing than you are right now.

And you bishops out there.  You don’t get a pass, gentlemen.  What about your special vestments?

Your Excellencies, do you pray when you put on that pectoral cross:  “Deign Thou, Lord Jesus Christ, to guard me, from all the snares of every enemy, by the sign of Thy most holy Cross: and deign Thou to grant to me, Thy unworthy servant, that as I hold before my breast this Cross with the relics of Thy Saints within it, so may I ever keep in mind the memory of the Passion, and the victories of the Holy Martyrs.”

Do you have a pectoral cross with a relic within?  Or is it some twisted post-modern, deconstructing nightmare of faux sophistication?   Nothing says love and gratitude, nothing inspires faith in others quite like a brutalist pretention upon the chest of a successor of the Apostles.

Talk to an exorcist about the effects of the relics of saints on the demons they have to constrain and cast out.   And then put one of those upon your breast instead of something that looks like it was scraped off the floor of a garage.

You could be shortchanging yourselves and others.  It’s not just the aesthetics, its the aptum, the pulchrum, the meaning and the message they convey, the… spécies.

If you bishops were praying these prayers for the pontifical vestments, I wonder if you would be stronger now in resisting the temptation to knuckle under to leftist civil mandarins who target our religious freedoms.

For the mitre: “Place upon my head, Lord, the mitre and helmet of salvation; that I may go forth unhindered against the snares of the ancient foe, and of all my enemies.”

Just wondering about that.

These prayers tell us who we are and they help us to be who we are.  Clothes, they say, make the man.  There is a reason why habits are called habits.

Priests stopped praying these prayers and what have we seen happen with priesthood?

We are our rites!

Look them up, Fathers, and use them.

Here endeth the rant.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Decorum, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, PRAYERCAzT: What Does The (Latin) Prayer Really Sound L, Priests and Priesthood, Save The Liturgy - Save The World, Semper Paratus, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. exNOAAman says:

    “Wherein Fr. Z Rants”
    One of the greatest click baits on the internet.
    (Yeah I clicked. But I’m always glad I did)

    Check out the bishops of the Church of England for interesting pectoral crosses.

  2. Joy1985 says:

    Amen Father.

  3. ReadingLad says:

    Genuine question – are there vesting prayers appropriate to a deacon? Anything special for the dalmatic? I’d hope that a transitional deacon would find this out or know it, but I wonder if it’s an opportunity for catechesis among permanent deacons?

  4. ReadingLad says:

    Genuine question – are there vesting prayers for a deacon? Anything specific for the dalmatic? I’d hope that a transitional deacon would know or find out, but this might be an opportunity for influence/catechesis among permanent deacons…

  5. chantgirl says:

    “Modernist Moo Moos”. LOL, sounds like a good band name.

    Seriously, though, this was the most difficult Lent for me, as far as diligence and fervor in prayer. The family took on extra prayers during the lockdown for the Church, and the end of the virus, and for the restoration of the sacraments, and I’ve never had such a difficult time concentrating during prayer. Didn’t want to pray, was angry at the priests in televised masses for rushing through them while all of their flock were at home starving for the sacraments and for grace. Had lots of mental temptations and shortness of temper. I wonder if others had similar temptations during the lockdown.

    I was so relieved to get to Mass this past week. Felt nourished again.

  6. “Clothes, they say, make the man.”

    That is something that no one understands today in our sloppy, casual, let-it-all-hang-out culture. It’s a maxim that would have been taken for granted sixty years ago but will simply generate puzzled looks at best and outright hostility at worst. I’ve long been an advocate for raising society’s gutter-level standards of dress, but I never put two and two together when it comes to liturgy even though I have come to appreciate the value and symbolism of traditional vestments.

    Also, if a priest were to say these prayers carefully and reverently while vesting in the presence of his altar servers, that would be a powerful way of imbuing in them a sense of the importance of what they would all be doing, even if they didn’t all go on to be priests themselves. Even those not in the sacristy at this time would perhaps understand better the importance of Mass if they knew, “Father is not to be disturbed while he is vesting.”

  7. B says:

    I think I read somewhere once that installed acolytes can wear an amice under their alb in order to cover their shirt collar. Is this true/proper?

  8. B says:

    I forgot to add the question… do acolytes also say vesting prayer when putting on an alb and cinture?

  9. matt from az says:

    Reading Lad,
    I asked this very question a couple weeks ago. The other readers were kind enough to point me to a shop in Britain that has the vesting prayers for deacons.

    I am pretty sure it is aimed at deacons doing the TLM, but I think permanent deacons in a traditionally-minded NO parish could get away with praying his proper vesting prayers.

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I’ve been running into some interesting material on the old Temple, and the discussion pointed out that the ancient Jewish colors of priestly vestments were the same colors as the furnishings of the Temple and the Holy of Holies.

    So basically, the ancient Jewish high priest was dressed in various ways that associated him with Adam in his unfallen glory, with Israel, and with God — but he was also walking around like he was a living part of the holiest part of the Temple, the place where God dwelled.

    I thought this was pretty interesting, both as part of the “Cosmic Temple” Jewish stuff, but also as a partial explanation for our priests’ vestments.

  11. Dcn PB says:

    Yes, I have these hanging in the sacristy where I am assigned and have since committed them to memory. I pray these every time I vest:

    While he washes his hands:
    Give virtue, O Lord, to my hands, that every stain may be wiped away, that I may be able to serve you without defilement of mind or body.

    As he places the Amice over his head:
    Place on my head O Lord, the helmet of salvation, that I may overcome the assaults of the devil.

    As he puts on the Alb:
    Purify me, O Lord, and cleanse my heart that, washed in the Blood of the Lamb, I may enjoy eternal life.

    As he ties the Cincture:
    Gird me O Lord, with the cincture of purity and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence, that the virtue of continence and chastity may remain in me.

    As he puts the Stole around his neck:
    Restore to me, O Lord, the state of immortality which was lost to me by first parents, and although unworthy to approach your sacred mysteries, grant me nevertheless, eternal joy.

    As he puts on the Dalmatic
    Endow me, O Lord, with the garment of salvation, the vestment of joy, and with the dalmatic of justice ever encompass me.

  12. iPadre says:

    I’ve been doing them in Latin for years. Started memorizing them when I went off to learn the Classical Roman Mass (EF).

  13. Sandy says:

    Excellent rant, Father, meaningful! I might add that my daily prayer time begins with the Armor of Christ. The first items are the “helmet of salvation” and the mind of Christ. I add the mantle of Mother Mary to be fully armored up!

  14. Mario Bird says:

    Re: ars celebrandi and its knock-on effect on us laity — I came across this great passage from Belloc yesterday, 95 Pentecosts ago:

    “I would advance it to be true that the soul is supported by all sacramental things; that is, by all unison of the mind and body upon a proper object: and that when great architecture and glorious colour and solemn music, and the profound rhythms of the Latin tongue, and the ritual of many centuries, and the uncommunicable atmosphere of age, all combine to exalt a man in his worship, he is made greater and not less. He is supported. He is fed.
    There is no necessity of any aid from the senses; and the greatest of those who were adepts in the search for heaven did, upon the contrary, withdraw themselves from all influence of the senses when they most desired the satisfaction of the praegustatum–the foretaste of that for which we were designed: our home.

    But I can not boast myself to be of such a kind, and on my own poor level it is landscape, the sea, human love, music, and the rest, that help to make me understand: and in their absence I am very empty indeed.”

    Belloc put his finger on human nature here. Please, feed us, O priests of God!

  15. CasaSanBruno says:

    I knew a possessed woman who was receiving help from her diocesan exorcist. She had just been baptized and, as is the case with many of the possessed who suffer such horrible afflictions, they are often offset by mystical graces from our Lord to help them sustain their suffering. She could see people’s guardian angels and was surprised that priests had two. She later found out that this is always the case. But the first time she went to the TLM she commented: “That priest is armored like a tank. What’s different about him?” When she was shown the vesting prayers, it all made sense to her.


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