Thursday, March 05, 2009

Salem's New Chasuble

Salem Lutheran Church has a new chasuble for Lent and Advent. Unlike my old plain white chasuble, this vestment was custom made to match our church paraments.

The chasuble is the traditional vestment worn by the celebrant over the alb and stole during the celebration of Holy Communion (Mass). The chasuble looks like a pancho, is typically adorned with Christian symbolism, and is usually either gold or the color of the season of the church year. It is an article of clothing that dates back to the Roman Empire, and has been part of Christian worship since the earliest days of the Church.

We were planning on buying chasubles from the Lutheran-owned and operated D.K. Brunner and Son. In fact, many of my colleagues have Brunner vestments, and they are beautiful. But in our case, the colors would have clashed with our paraments. So, Mrs. Hollywood did the research, ordered the fabric, and did all the sewing. We saved hundreds of dollars because of her work - some of which was done painstakingly by hand.

Sewing vestments has traditionally been the loving work of churchwomen - sometimes clositered nuns, sometimes pastors' wives, sometimes sewing circles of ladies in the church. Sadly, such work is largely denigrated today. I heard from a seminary wife recently that one of the seminary professors was saying that sem wives should be doing more "important" work than sewing vestments. How sad.

I suppose it was an inevitable result of "equality" and the "sexual revolution" that loving acts of service and devotion to our Lord and His Church, pioneered by such women as Sts. Mary and Martha, should be seen as beneath the dignity of modern women, who want to chair committees, be presidents of congregations, and even serve as elders and chaplains - all of which are done now by women in the Missouri Synod, even as most of our churches lack things like beautiful chasubles - especially those sewn by ladies of the parish (so far, the LCMS is not actually ordaining women to the pastoral office).

I am blessed to have a wife who dismisses all such demands for women in "more important" leadership roles as nonsense (of course, "nonsense" might be considered a euphemism). And, her Bryn Mawr sisters might well be appalled to see the above picture of the skirted Mrs. Hollywood sewing barefoot on the kitchen floor. Somehow, I don't think the alumnae bulletin will be interested in running such a picture.

But thanks to donations from faithful church members and Mrs. H.'s hard work, you can see just how such an object of beauty is fitting in the Lord's House and bespeaks the dignity of Christian worship. It is also a link to the antiquity, continuity, and catholicity of the Church in a way that a bandstand or a Power Point screen just doesn't cut it.

And by saving money on the labor, we were able to afford the finest silk damask for the chasuble itself, and added a beautiful lining. This chasuble is designed to last. There is no reason why a century from now (or even two) this vestment won't continue to proclaim the majesty of our very present Lord when His Holy Supper is celebrated at Salem's altar.

Scroll down for more pictures...

And note the applique of the pelican on the back of the chasuble. It was the most beautiful that Grace was able to find, and the company (Tonini) was gracious enough to make an exception and send it to her in a way that allowed her to make her own vesica (the oval part) and sew it onto the chasuble. Mrs. H. sewed all around the pelican by hand so the color would match.

Louisianians will be familiar with the imagery of the mother pelican and her three chicks - as it is part of our state flag. It is actually an ancient Christian symbol, and a nod to our state's Catholic heritage (don't tell the ACLU!). It is based on the legend of the mother pelican sacrificing her own life by piercing her own breast to feed her young. This symbolism is found in LSB 640, Thee We Adore, O Hidden Savior, stanza 3:

Thou, like the pelican to feed her brood
Didst pierce Thyself to give us living food
Thy blood, O Lord, one drop has pow'r to win
Forgiveness for our Word and all its sin.

The original Latin is here:

Pie Pelicane, Jesu Domine,
Me immundum munda tuo sanguine:
Cujus una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.

This hymn was composed by St. Thomas Aquinas (ca 1225-1274) in the thirteenth century and is to this day sung according to a plainsong melody based on ancient Gregorian chant.

Soli Deo gloria!


Anonymous said...

Stunningly beautiful. The color is perfect, too. Not only does it match, but I think it is violet, darker than the purple which has become more common today. Actually, violet is a mixture of black and purple, and thus a mixture of the themes of suffering and royalty, most appropriate for the seasons of Advent and Lent.

Congratulations to Mrs. Hollywood. That was a lot of work.

Pr. H. R. said...

Really well done! That just looks fantastic.

And thanks for the plug for DK Brunner & Son. Someday mom plans to put together and produce a book of patterns so that folks can do more of this.


Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Excellent. Beautiful. Wish I had one!

Kira said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Greg said...

To Mrs. Hollywood, Proverbs 22:29.

Pastor said...

Wow! Way to go Mrs. H!

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

It really covers up "the man."

This rocks. Very cool looking. Congratulations.

Mike Green said...

Humbug! The large sum of money it took to produce this could have been given to the poor.

Just kidding! What a tremendous testimony to the fact that our Lord is truly present in His Sacrament. Mrs. H. has truly done a beautiful thing for Him. (Mat 26:10-11)

-C said...

Beautiful work!

Rhonda said...

It's absolutely beautiful!!! I want to sew one for our pastor: I do alot of sewing, but I'm not sure about the pattern. Any suggestions? Where did you get yours, if you don't mind saying. I have talked to our pastor and he knows I plan on doing this when I figure it out.

Peter said...

The Pelikan's a nice touch.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Rhonda:

Mrs. Hollywood sent me this link to where you can buy the pattern - which unfortunately is a little expensive because it has been discontinued.

Just keep in mind a couple things: 1) The neck opening is large (Grace modified it by using a same fabric bias tape around the neckline, 2) You may need to add a couple darts at the shoulders if the fabric doesn't fall the way you want.

If anyone wants to contact Mrs. H. with specific questions, she would be happy to help you. She is at gracebeane at gmail dot com.

Rhonda said...

Thank you very much!!!!!I already ordered it.

Jeremy Clifton said...

What beautiful work!

Anonymous said...

Sadly, such work is largely denigrated today. I heard from a seminary wife recently that one of the seminary professors was saying that sem wives should be doing more "important" work than sewing vestments. How sad.

First off, Mrs. Hollywood has truly created a work of ecclesiastical art! Kudos!

Secondly, the beautiful kneelers, banners, vestments etc. that church women have traditionally created glorify the image of God in us -- the gifts He gives us to create we give back in service to Him in the Church.

The symbol of the Pelikan feeding her young from her own breast is truly an apt one for the Eucharist.


Past Elder said...

Is Mrs H a leftie?

Elephantschild said...

Wonderful work, Mrs. Hollywood! And bravo for springing for real silk - it will be more comfortable to wear in the summer (slightly!) than rayon brocade.

As a lay-lady who would love nothing more than to serve her church on Altar Guild and by sewing parameters and vestments but whose help is Not Needed, thankyouverymuch, I'm jealous of your ability to serve in this way! :)

(A friend sent me over this-a way since she knew that I love the symbolism of the pelican in the church.)

More patterns: has tons of resources for sewing vestments and paraments - patterns for cassock-albs (down to children's sizes), and even directions for changing a normal shirt into one that will accommodate a clerical.

Christian Soul said...

It looks great and the symbolism is wonderful.

Father Hollywood said...

Thanks for your kind words everyone - from Mrs. H. as well.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Past Elder:

In spite of her nationality (Canadian), Mrs. H. is not a leftie in any sense of the word. :-)

Past Elder said...

God bless me sideways if it doesn't look like she's working with her left hand!

I notice these things because I am the son of a leftie and widower of a leftie -- in the handedness sense!

Kelly Klages said...

My leftie (manual) and Canadian husband resembles that comment.

Why don't people send me these links when they post them so I can put them on my CLEAR blog??! Can I?

Thursday's Child said...

It's beautiful! I haven't sewn for a few years and even then not very well. I didn't pay the attention I should have to my grandmother. {sigh} Pictures like that make me miss my sewing machine. (And my grandmother.)

Lutheran Lucciola said...

Really beautiful vestment. Congrats!
And don't sweat the "women who sew" thing. That bias has died, almost all my generation of women friends sew or craft. Just a Boomer blip on the radar.;-)

Lauriinnc said...

My mother-in-law sewed robes for both her son and son-in-law several times now...saving their families the expense of buying them. A true gift in my opinion.

Anyway, your wife did an awesome job..a true labor of love. I know YOU appreciate her work, I hope your congregation does as well.

Thanks for the links!! I know some women who might just like to make use of them!