How to Make Priest Vestments

First Mass of a Priest

 

 

When my son was getting ready for Ordination to the priesthood, I decided I could make him his priestly vestments.  I am a fairly experienced sewer and I looked forward to the challenge.

 How hard could it be?  The chasuble is just a big circle right?  Not really!

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

 

Making the vestments was very difficult but it enabled me to take part in a mystical way in my son’s preparation for ordination.  I was able to “offer up” all of the frustrating moments and torn out stitches for his vocation.  On the day of his First Mass, he was so happy to have had the beautiful (but imperfect) vestment that was personally made for him.  It was a moment I will never forget and for which I will always be grateful to God.

 

In this post I will concentrate more on the tricks and hints that I learned about making vestments more than the actual sewing and patterns.

firstmass2

 prayingbyapriest

First, I had to wrap my head and heart around what I was doing.  This wasn’t the same as making a Halloween Costume or curtains.  Here is what is written in the Old Testament about this task:

 

Exodus 28:2

For your brother Aaron you will make sacred vestments to give dignity and magnificence. You will instruct all the skilled men, whom I have endowed with skill, to make Aaron’s vestments for his consecration to my priesthood. These are the vestments which they must make: a pectoral, an ephod, a robe, an embroidered tunic, a turban, and a belt. They must make sacred vestments for your brother Aaron and his sons, for them to be priests in my service. They will use gold and violet material, red-purple and crimson, and finely woven linen.

 

The Holy Sacrifice of the MassOk that is a tall order for a home sewer isn’t it?

Design of the Vestment

The priestly vestments are meant to raise the hearts and minds of the faithful to the importance of what is actually happening at the Mass.  The ordained Catholic priest is acting as another Christ when he changes the bread and wine into the body blood soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  What more important event could possibly occur in this world?  This moment is a moment in time that is the same as the moment in which Jesus died on the cross – giving us his body and blood to save our souls.  God continues to feed us with this heavenly food so that we may have eternal life within us.

 

Jesus told us over and over that we needed to eat his body in order to have eternal life.

John 6: 48-68

“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

 

Before Beginning the Vestment:

So I really tried to keep in mind the importance of what I was doing and the sacred moment at which the

St Michael the Archangel

St Michael the Archangel

vestment would be worn.  In order to do this I had to try to keep praying the entire time I worked on the vestment.  I didn’t have the tv on, I tried to keep praying the Hail Mary and other prayers as I worked.  This practice was confirmed to me one morning.  I had been having the hardest time with one part.  I couldn’t even get the iron to go over the fabric without trouble.  It was a Saturday and I went to confession and morning Mass.  I came home and the iron slid right over the fabric and all of the problems I was having disappeared immediately!

The other prayer that became important was the prayer to St. Michael.  I was constantly plagued with thoughts of “you can’t do this”, “this is a joke- it looks really bad”,  “you will embarass your son and yourself”.  There were so many times I was going to give up.  But I would tell the devil “ Get away from me or I will call my mother and she will stomp on your head”  And she did.

Top Ten Hints for Making a Priest’s Vestment:

  1. Prayer &  Confession
  2.  No TV
  3. Pick Style
  4. Make a Pattern
  5. Places to get Fabric
  6. Wonderful Wonder Under
  7. Right side Up not Upside Down
  8. French Seams
  9. Ping Pong
  10. 1Cardboard Tube

Here are some practical tips that I learned from trial and error.

Pick a style:

Many American priests turn to companies like The Holy Rood Guild and Granda Liturgical Arts ~ Sacred Art, Church Interior Design … to purchase vestments.  There are also Sisters that make vestments  like Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles and a few small sewing businesses such as Altarworthy Handmade Vestments  which make new vestments for priests.  Some can be custom.  All are expensive.

Paper Pattern

If your priest can pick a style and perhaps borrow another vestment that is the right size you can use that vestment to make a paper pattern.

Ecclesisatical Fabric

Ecclesisatical Fabric

 

Fabric and Trim:

Joann’s Fabric is not the place to go for the vestment fabric.  Although I did get satin lining, tassels for stoles and sewing notions from Joann’s.  You need to find a distributor of “ecclesiastical fabric”.  It is important to get samples of the fabric before you buy it online or over the phone.  Not all fabrics are cut from the same cloth so to speak.  Some foreign made fabrics have the religious designs on them but are of inferior quality.

 

I primarily use La Lame in New York city. La Lame, Inc. – Specialty Fabric & Yarn Manufacturers

They will send you a dvd with their catalogue, a paper catalogue and samples of fabrics that you request from them.  You need to talk to them by phone as they don’t have a website from which you can purchase. They have superior fabrics, trims and embroidered motifs to embellish the vestment.

Another good company is Eastern Christian Supply .

Since good ecclesiastical fabric and the trims are expensive it is best to practice with less expensive fabric first.  For this I used sale priced rayon and polyesters from Joanns to make a mock vestment.

 

wonderwonderWonderful TIP:

Place the pillars and contrasting fabrics and trims on the vestment by ironing them on using products such as “Wonder Under” and a similar product in a tape form.  You can place and replace the pieces until you get them right and then go back and sew them.  This helps to prevent puckering and keep pillars straight on the vestment.  Trim and hems can be fused using the tape version.

 

Top and Bottom:

If you use a coordinating fabric with a direction i.e. top and bottom, you need to be sure to have it in the right direction on the front and back.  In other words you can’t just run the fabric straight up and over the front and continue down the back.  You will end up with upside down symbols on the back.  In these cases you need to make a front and a back and connect them at the shoulders.

 

French:french seam for priest Vestment

I learned a lot about vestment making by taking apart some old and unusable vestments and salvaging the trim.  I was able to see how the seams were made by the old expert seamstresses and tailors.  Google and learn about French Seams. It was always an awe inspiring experience to handle old vestments that had been used over and over at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  I thought of the people who made the vestments and all the priests who had worn them.  I thanked God for the gift of their vocations and prayed for their souls.

 

Ping

I used a ping pong table to help me because the entire garment ends up being so large.

 

Cardboard Tube

I ended up hanging the finally finished vestment over a long cardboard tube saved from a previously purchased bolt of fabric.  My husband suspeneded it from the ceiling.  This kept the garment from hanging with folds and getting wrinkled before my son’s First Mass.

I will try to make another post which has more sewing information in the future.  But that is probably going to be a big undertaking.  Maybe a You tube video would be more helpful?  I wish you the best if you go ahead and try to make a priest vestment especially if you have the honor of making the vestment for a new priests First Mass.

First Mass of a Priest

When was the Rosary not a Catholic Tool?

 

Our Lady of the RosaryPopular piety went by the wayside after the Second Vatican Council, but the USCCB Bishop brought it back in their manual on the New Evangelization last year.   In Disciples Called to Witness, the United States Bishop outline 7 ways to bring Catholics back to practicing the Faith and living in a relationship with Jesus Christ. These are 7 effective practices that every parish must implement, but we are going to only focus on one.

7 Key Components to a Culture of Conversion in the New Evangelization

  1. Discipleship
  2. A commitment to the Christian life
  3. Parish life
  4. The liturgical life of the Church: popular devotions and piety
  5. The Christian family
  6. Catechists and teachers of the faith
  7. Human experience

How about we take a look at what the Bishops are instructing us to do with the Liturgical Life of the Church and popular devotions (ie the Rosary.)

The USCCB on Popular Devotions

The active participation and practice of the liturgy, prayers, devotions, and popular piety of the Church
provide a powerful witness to the faith. Participation in Mass should be encouraged, as the Eucharist is the heart of the Church’s life. By participating in Mass, learning common prayers, and practicing devotions, a person appropriates the teachings of the faith. The prayers, popular devotions, and liturgies of the Church form the basis of “Catholic culture”; they allow for the community to pray together in a common language and contribute to one’s continuing faith development.

Bishops praying the RosarySo how do we begin to spread devotion to the Rosary in a Catholic parish and follow the directives of the United States Bishops?

10 Ways to Spread Devotion to the Rosary in a Catholic Parish

  1. Start Praying the Rosary Everyday
  2. Pray Everyday for the Parish Priest and Ask the Blessed Mother to Instruct Him (Yes this is a hard one)
  3. Invite your spouse to pray the rosary with you.
  4. Invite a friend to join you after The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Pray the Rosary.
  5. Share the Bishop’s document on Evenglization with your parish priest, staff, school, and everyone who makes decisions and invite them to promote the rosary.
  6. Invite your parish priest over for dinner and show him how you pray the rosary.
  7. Invite someone after Mass to pray the Rosary with you.
  8. Buy booklets on the rosary and ask the priests at your parish to hand them out.
  9. Ask your parish priest if you can purchase a vestment in honor of the Blessed Mother.
  10. Volunteer at your parish school and pray the rosary with classes.

The rosary is old school, but it just works.  It costs little, but gives much.  We have seen so many parishes transformed by true devotion to Mary.  Don’t give up, just keep trusting.

 

Starting Praise and Worship at Your Catholic Church

Adoration is powerful, but getting people to come is hard.  Many parishes have found great success in introducing people to adoration through praise and worship music.  This approach draws people of all ages in, helps them pray by singing, and is very enjoyable.

However, we know it’s not for everyone.  We really respect those how would rather spend an hour in silence, with the rosary, or with sacred scripture.  At the same time, we have seen the fruits of Praise and Worship at Franciscan University of Steubenville and many other parishes across the country.

Recently we were asked this question:

I’m looking to start a praise and worship adoration at my Catholic church about once a month. Is there any specific way or order I should do it? Or any prayers that are recommended or required? Thanks. :)

Great Question!  We have two previous posts, that answer the question, but we will add a few more.

Previous Resources:

In addition to leading Praise and Worship, here are a few guides on Exposition and Benediction.

Just because this type of adoration involves youthful music, it still needs to follow the guidelines for correct worship.  That is, what governs exposition and benediction is still necessary.  We have seen this done in many different ways, but the best way is what incorporates great music and correct liturgical actions.

Poster for Praise and Worship

This is probably our best resources.  A word document poster you can edit and make your own.

Praise and Worship Adoration Poster

Praise and Worship Adoration

When the Homily at Church Stinks

homiliesHow often does your family get back in the car and say, “What was Father talking about?”  Maybe you’re at a parish with fantastic preachers who explain Sacred Scripture with holy eloquence.  Or maybe your parish is about an 8 minute comedy show and everyone goes home laughing.  Or maybe you just keep going to Church because you believe in the Real Presences of the Eucharist, despite any heretical teachings that come from the pulpit.

 

Maybe your none of the above and just want more from the Sunday homily.

 

Preaching is definitely an art form that requires practice, preparation, and prayer.  After asking a number of clergy, we have found this little axiom true.  At the same time some priests and deacons are just better preachers, than others.

If the priest or deacon has to practice, prepare, and pray, maybe those who listen might benefit from the same equation of success.

Preparing to Listen to a Sunday Homily

Practice

  1. Practice going to Mass Sunday to stay in touch with the liturgical season.
  2. Practice monthly confessions to keep your soul free from mortal sin and detached from venial sin.
  3. Practice reading the Sunday readings a few days before Sunday, so the words are in your mind.

Preparation

  1. Read a commentary on the readings for Mass (http://thedivinelamp.wordpress.com/
  2. Read the Pope’s Wednesday Angelus message because it often interprets the Sunday readings.
  3. Read the Salt & Light blog because they give great sermons on the Sunday Readings

Pray

  1. Pray individually or as a family for your parish priests.
  2. In your daily prayer, ask the Lord to open your ears so you can hear Him speak through the priest.
  3. Ask the Lord to send more priests to your parish to preach and be heralds of the Gospel.

We hope these little insights might help you get the most out of the homily on Sundays.

The Importance of Praying for Each Other

cultureWe are still recovering from the shocking behavior of Miley Cyrus at the 2013 video music awards. Along with the public demonstration on live television, Miley has published a hit music video with her wearing nothing. Is this the fruit of her years working for Disney?

Miley isn’t the only modern day performer to build a multi-million dollar legacy through publicity about her body.   Lady Gaga performs in a similar manner.  Even more shocking, Japan now sells a life-size doll of Lady Gaga for men.  It’s better that we don’t explain.

Both performers are raking in millions of dollars. This industry knows what they are doing, but do they know what they’re doing to our families, children, souls?

What has our culture come to? What are our teens experiencing?

Parents face a daunting task raising children today.

There is a current addictive substance added to a large majority of entertainment.  Movies, like the recent Hunger Games, mix scenes of violence and lust, planting graphic images into the minds of children.  Pop icons sell records by blurring the line between the bedroom and the stage.  Even best selling books keep the reader engaged by adding little sprinklings of regular adultery.  (I am trying my best to watch my language).

It would be cliche to say our current culture is filled with sin.  We are beyond that and almost immune to sin.  Instead, we could say that our culture is satisfied with illusions to the true good.

Theology of the BodyBlessed John Paul II, in Theology of the Body, speaks volumes on the beauty of marital intimacy and the human body.  However, today beautiful bodies are used to make money, rather than making themselves truly happy.

Instead of blaming the Pop icons and entertainers who feel it is necessary to reveal their bodies for money, why not criticize the bankers, producers, managers, and directors who encourage this behavior.  Behind every celebrity, pop singer, or movie star, is very large supporting cast.

Where were the virtuous men and women around Miley at the VMA awards encouraging her to act with prudence, rather than act vulgarly?

Often when one person falls into sin or acts in a way contrary to the common good, you find that person surrounded by strong influencers.  If multiple people can lead a person into sin, then maybe it takes multiple people to help that person return.

Do we influence those around us to to good and avoid evil, or sink away from truth and into evil?  Secondly, when those around us are wallowing in the filth of evil, do we stay silent and let them sink or reach down and help them up?

Through Baptism, our Lord shares with all of us the incredible power of the Holy Spirit.  This powerful advocate is always with us.  Do not be afraid to influence those around you to do good, walk away from sin, and return to Jesus.  Likewise, when someone is in serious sin, pray, pray, pray, because your prayer might be what helps them return from the grasp of the devil.

Deliverance Prayer against the Devil