Thursday, 22 May 2014

Amice? Amice?

Much of a flurry over the cassock-alb.  Somebody doesn't like them. Thinks they're too quick and easy.  For those not into the more Liberal side of Anglo Catholic things, this is a thing ministers wear. It's white.  It's a bit like one of those winter coats we used to have in the early 80s, which buttoned at the shoulder.  And it's quicker to get on and off than the alternatives. Which, in some situations, can be an advantage.

In fact, only if you're keen on "fumbling with amice strings" could this be a problem. I don't know what an amice is, or why it has strings. But if that's what you like doing, then I suppose in the privacy of your own vestry, you can fumble with your amice strings to your heart's delight.

As ever, I ask myself in these circumstances, how could the correct use of the clothing of the Roman oppressors of God's holy people - for that is what albs, cassocks and stoles and the like are - be mapped onto the way the early Church lived?
Did St Paul have to arrive at gigs early because he had to struggle with alb,  cassock and maniple? If he did there's no mention of it in Acts. Did Peter open the Council of Jerusalem with amice aforethought? Nope. Going further back - did David dance with all his might in a fiddle back chasuble? No.

Did the disciples, on the day of Pentecost, ask the Spirit to give them five minutes as their tippets weren't straight? Not in the best manuscripts, no.

No, I've checked. The sheep aren't separated from the goats on the basis of how complicated their clothing is. The Prodigal Son's depravation - even in his brother's imagination - didn't include wearing a onesie. The Sermon on the Mount doesn't include an injunction that the biretta-wearers will inherit the earth. Dives didn't wear a Spandex jumpsuit, and Lazarus wasn't in his best Gaudete Sunday rose outfit.

In short, I don't think God cares what you wear.

Apart from Lycra cycling shorts on middle aged men. MAMILs make the baby Jesus cry.


  1. Now the amice is actually a practical bit of clothing, it is worn like a back to front bib and protects the alb and the fiddleback chasubule from being drenched with sweat dripping down from the neck. However the strings are a nightmare; having washed and ironed 14 of them in one weekend, "I hates amices to pieces"....

  2. I can remember as a young catholic server, watching the priest going through the ritual of robing for mass. Each action in putting on one or other part of the rig, including the amice involved kissing the bit of cloth or whatever, praying a short prayer before donning it. With a strategically placed altar server ready to assist in the strings for the amice being handed to the priest to tie. The worst bit was the girdle rope thingies they wore/wear around the waist, sometimes they were not long enough to fit the wider members of the priestly fraternity and we'd imagined having to tie two together, but somehow we managed to get the sack of potatoes tied (I always was irreverent) so that we could actually get on to the mass.

    Off course, this needed preparation, everything laid out in the vestry in order of being donned. Woe betide you if you got it wrong. And the worst duty was when two priests were celebrating or one was deaconing? Which chasuble or whatever went where, and who was to wear which.

    I remember one day having put the charcoal into the Thurible for the verger, I neglected to wash my hands - white linen had some lovely black marks on them - and the chastisement that I received left some marks on me as well.


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