Tuesday, July 5, 2011

GULP Alert: Surplices

Mocha Surplices anyone?

Hot or cold?  :)

I thought my eyes fooled me.  At first I thought the cardinal had a bunch of deacons assisting him and were wearing mocha colored dalmatics.

Note to these men and whoever made these surplices.

Surplices are always WHITE!

Ask the Catholic Encyclopedia and Wikipedia.  It's not that hard.

Laced, embroidered, pleated...


Not colored.

It was never colored in the liturgical history of the Church.  Even other denominations like the Anglicans DO NOT use a colored surplice.

The surplice is a miniature alb, which is always white because the alb and the surplice symbolizes the white garment given at our Baptism.

Remember the prayer when the white garment is given by the baptizing minister?

In the OF it is:
N., you have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.
In the EF it is:
Accipe vestem cándidam, quam pérferas immaculátam ante tribúnal Dómini nostri Jesu Christi, ut hábeas vitam ætérnam.
Translation: Receive this white garment, which mayest thou carry without stain before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou mayest have life everlasting.


Now, do these servers know about the reason why a surplice is white?  I thought RCAM has the best liturgists in the world?  World-renowned, right?  Dean of Filipino liturg....ok you get the drift.

This, my friends, is a liturgical innovation that must stop because it undermines the meaning of the White Garment of Baptism.  And in some respects, implicitly undermine the power of the Sacrament itself.

It may be out of ignorance or they just wanted something "new and innovative".  No matter the intention, it is not right.

Know first what you have in the Liturgy before you even think of injecting some of your creativities.

And I REALLY thought we have world-renowned liturgists in Manila!

Photo is from RCAM website, showing the cardinal blessing the people with the Host during the Corpus Christi procession around Sta. Cruz Church in Manila.

PS:  The cardinal is still wearing his chasuble.  He is not wearing a cope which is proper for a minister who carries the Eucharist in the Monstrance.  At least he has the humeral veil.

And I thought Manila has a world-renowned...


  1. Thankyou so much TPC!!!
    Now I know the reason behind why surplices are always white...
    Our institution uses different colored surplices, like Blue for marian feasts, White- Feast of the Saints, Ordinary Time, Corporate High Mass, Violet- Lenten Season and advent, Red- Feast of the Martyrs and Mass of the Holy Spirit.

    But as of now we prevented the use of the colored surplices and continue to use white...

    What about the acolytes that uses tunic/traditional dalmatic instead of surplice and they almost look like deacons? I hope you heard about them and any opinions about that sir?

  2. I'll blog about the dalmatic soon keb. Stay tuned.

  3. I think that sometimes, it is acceptable to wear the chasuble when carrying the Eucharist, if done immediately before or after the Mass (like what is done during Maundy Thursday). But the colored surplices are not.

  4. Liturgical laws about when to use the chasuble and cope are absolute, Macky.

    There are no SOMETIMES and MAY BE in their use.

    The chasuble is used ONLY in Mass.

    In other liturgical functions, like processions, benedictions, the cope is the outer most garment which even a deacon uses.

    If your parish priest is wearing a chasuble during the Maundy Thursday procession, then he is not following what the liturgical books say.

    Proper things at proper times. There is a reason why we have liturgical laws because we need to have order in how we publicly worship the Lord in the Liturgy.

    Why we can't follow a simple rule makes me wonder up to this day. In spite of the fact that we have a world-renowned liturgist...


    The rubrics for Holy Thursday in the Ordinary Form do not mention the wearing of the cope though, only the humeral veil. In the link, we can see the Holy Father carrying the Eucharist while wearing a chasuble (not forgetting the veil, of course). That being said, I know it is much more proper to wear copes. What irks me more though are those chasu-albs.

  6. They can really be confused with DALMATICS. My parish used to have violet surplices for lent, but thank God they disappeared this year. The Cardinal and the other ministers in this photo should be the ones wearing their chasubles in full "mocha", not the servers! If they are going to dispose of these "surplices", i'd suggest that they convert them all into dalmatics, after all, many deacons here in the philippines wear only an alb and a stole. This makes me really sick. It's just similar to "Cardinal" Mahony.

  7. I also found rubrics for Corpus Christi in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum stating that for a Eucharistic procession, "The bishop presides, wearing a CHASUBLE as at a Mass or a white COPE. When the procession does not begin immediately after Mass, the bishop wears a cope(CB 390)."

    So chasubles can be worn in Eucharistic processions in limited circumstances. Again, of course, the cope is much more appropriate at all times.

    @The Catholic Student: Great idea! Just modify them a bit, and you'd have more dalmatics for deacons :)

  8. Oh no TPC, that Dave who agrees with you is a Cahoot of that "World renowned" Liturgist!!!!!

  9. Congrats Macky!
    You have done your homework well... :)

  10. Yeah, I think Macky took the challenge seriously.

    But IMHO and as evidenced by photos, Cardinal Rosales is the last person to be a model for liturgical correctness.

    And about questions about copes and chasubles, I again reiterate my position PROPER THINGS AT THE PROPER TIME.

    Even in the Extraordinary Form, the cope is used FOR PROCESSIONS.

  11. And if I may add. Pope Benedict has also his share of liturgical horrors.

  12. Why don't we pattern or base our Liturgical Practices in the Vatican especially in Altar Server ministries.???
    Why would some diocesan liturgistss/ bishops or even priest make their own liturgical preferences??? It is like a saying that, "When the Cat (leader) is away the mice (people) will play"...