Monday, May 12, 2008

Wear a Maniple, save the Priesthood


Fr Z, twice and Fr Tim both talk about maniples. Sets of vestments I have bought recently, even startling modern ones all have maniples. Nowadays they are not in the list vestments for the ordinary form, neither have they been abrogated. In the last few months if they are there I occasionally tend to wear them. They are irritating, dangling on your left arm, flapping away throughout mass.
When I wore one on Holy Thursday a server asked me what it was, I told him, he misheard and said, "Oh a manacle". In a way Joe was right.

The origin of the vestment seems to be related to the ancient magistrates nappa, a sign of office, but still a towel or napkin, stylised yes. It seems to be more ancient than the stole. Sub-deacons were vested with it at their ordination, the prayer that accompanies vesting with it speaks of labour, drudgery even:



Grant, O Lord, that I may bear the maniple of weeping and sorrow, so that I may receive the reward for my labours with rejoicing



Its connection with the subdiaconate (abolished by the Council) would suggest it was a vestment denoting servitude. The modern secular equivalent would be the waiters cloth. In France, at one time in the best restaurants every junior waiter wore a white one over his left arm. It should be seen as the foot washing slave's towel. In terms of John's Gospel therefore it is, as I have said before on this blog, it is the sign of "the one who came to serve, not to be served".
It is an interest comment on the priesthood that the irritating stylised towel suggestive of servility is only worn by eccentrics, whereas the sign of priestly power, the stole, is often the only vestment worn by many.
Let's rediscover the servant and wear a maniple! I am being a little frivolous but we priests do need to identify with being servant, slaves even of Christ and his Church, wearing his "manacle".
So to parody Fr Zuhlsdorf "Wear a Maniple, save the Priesthood".

9 comments:

Fr Richard Biggerstaff said...

When I was an Anglican teenage server I remember the old Bishop of Rochester, Dr Say, discarding the maniple from the prepared vestments on the press with the words, 'Up with this I cannot put'. I got the impression he didn't really like St Francis, Petts Wood. We had never seen a clergyman celebrate The Holy Communion Service without a maniple.

Laurence said...

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg'd maniples I hear.

Henry said...

I have noticed that your choice of wearing a maniple has altered all your movements and postures, making them slower, more precise and more dignified.

gemoftheocean said...

Henry, that does it! Now for sure Fr. Blake will wear it more often. :-D

A good friend of mine says that the church IS hierarchically structured as a pyramid. But an INVERTED one, with the pope at the *bottom&.* I.E. he is the "servant of the servants of the people of God."

In essence his work supports that of the bishops whom he serves, the bishops serve the priests, and the priests serve the people, who serve each other.

[It's also why I can see the Holy Thursday commemoration of the washing of the feet as done with either all men (as a historical representation of the last supper) OR as a mixed group of men/women, young, old etc. -- the priest takes the injunction to "go and do service likewise" i.e. be the servant of the people. Just my take.]

You're right about the stole being worn by people who really shouldn't wear it. A while back they tried to tamp down this stole business for the non-clergy -- i.e. sometimes you see it at confirmations, etc. I really don't think it should be worn by anyone not in Holy ORders. I see it as both a sign of office and someone who is supposed to have accountability.

Henry said...

On a related issue, Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, if we really must have them, should wear suitable ecclesiastical clothing for the same reason - it constrains their movements and gestures in an appropriately dignified way.

gemoftheocean said...

Henry, I wear an alb when doing that service.

On the side of the angels said...

Well When I did weekly communion services in the US I was expressly forbidden from wearing even an alb [then again it was Bishop Trautmann's diocese and he'd already banned both Latin and kneeling].
In my UK parish placement [I cannot reveal where it was for the following reason] They had Golden Vestments made from a certain famous historical Royal's wedding dress [given to them after a certain Royal's deathbed conversion to catholicism [sealed register page etc] ] - from what I remember the Maniple was half the length of the one photographed; so should it ever crease or fold it would not pass farther than the elbow.
I've rarely seen maniples apart from the odd black one worn on Holy souls; but are the majority that length ?

On the side of the angels said...

sorry meant coronation robe not wedding dress...

Fr Ray Blake said...

OTSOTA
Like stoles the length varies.

p.s. When are you returning?