Getting Dressed

What will I wear today, how mundane. Maybe this activity is not as ordinary as you think it is.
by Kathryn M. Cunningham | Source:

            When you think about the activities of any day there’s no getting around it, the primary activity of any given day, special or mundane is getting dressed.  It is a singular activity and cuts across all races, religions and nationalities.  Getting dressed is the first function that we all do on a daily basis in order to prepare for our encounter with the world.  When dressing, some of us make many complicated choices and others not so much depending on our stature, line of work and/or income level.  The bottom line is, however, we all get dressed at the beginning of the day or to prepare for a special occasion at some other time.  It’s universal, quite literally.  Many of us have had the experience of dressing in a flash because of unexpected tardiness and many of us have had the experience of dressing in a leisurely fashion because we have allotted extra time.  Did you know that when a priest “vests” (dresses) for mass he needs to allow ample time because there is a prayer that he says as he puts on each piece of his vestments in preparation to serve the Lord?  This is literally the time when he is passing from the world into other realms.  This does not simply happen at the elevation as some people might think.  Before vesting the priest washes his hands while reciting the appropriate prayer, this is his first act of moving from the profane to the sacred. Next he begins to don his garments one at a time, each with the appropriate prayer: the amice over his street clothes, the alb, the cincture, the stole, the chasuble. (It should be noted that an “improper form” of dress has been popularized recently when some priests do not wear a stole when donning the chasuble.) Once he has vested and prayed he is ready for battle.  The prayer over the amice goes like this: “Place upon me, O Lord, the helmet of salvation, that I may overcome the assaults of the devil.” (An echo of Ephesians 6:17)  

            The priest prepares for the ongoing sacrifice of the Lord as he vests. We all “get dressed”.  Is there any real difference between the priest, the way he dresses and all of the other faithful?  Not really!  As the body of believers, ordained and laity, we are all people who have one foot in eternity and one foot in the here and now.  Although people who are not priests do not prepare to consecrate the Eucharist we all prepare to do battle with evil daily.  It’s part of our legacy as Christians.  “For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and the Powers who originate the darkness in this world, the spiritual army of evil in the heavens.” (Eph. 6:12 Jer. Bible)

            Sometimes we get used to the things we do with regularity and they become mundane.  Getting dressed at the beginning of the day can be an activity that we do almost without thinking, a sort of automatic pilot. From the moment our eyes open, though, we have the opportunity to take advantage of every opportunity to serve the Lord in the most effective manner possible, thus traditions like the morning offering and the idea of praying before your feet hit the floor.  Dressing is an opportunity to prepare for and ready ourselves as the Lord’s warriors.  Daily challenges will show up, whether we want them to or not.  As a matter of fact, the bible instructs each of us in the way to prepare at the beginning of the day: “That is why you must rely on God’s armor, or you will not be able to put up any resistance when the worst happens, or have enough resources to hold your ground.  So stand your ground, with truth buckled around your waist, and integrity for a breastplate, wearing for shoes on your feet the eagerness to spread the gospel of peace and always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it to put out the burning arrows of the evil one.  And then you must accept salvation from God to be your helmet and receive the word of God from the Spirit to use for a sword.  Pray all the time, asking for what you need, praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion.”  (Eph. 6:13-18 Jer. Bible) 

            There it is believer, your “outfit” for the day.  I once attended a conference workshop to hear a speaker who was one of the “originals” from the weekend that hatched the U.S. Charismatic movement at Duquesne University.  Patti’s topic was the Ephesians passage cited above. Her point was that the passage is far from symbolic.  As part of her presentation she had us stand up and physically don each piece in the passage.  “Tighten the belt of truth around your waist, picture the color of the plume in your helmet and fit it snug to your head, and so on.”  At the start of every day since then I have put on my “battle gear”.  One of the things that we need to understand about scripture is that none of it is there “just for decoration”.  All of it is instructive or supportive of what it is like to live as a Christian in a non-Christian environment.  “The word of God is living and active.”   The Ephesians passage is not “symbolic” it is instructive and schools us in the tools that we need to have with us every day.  At the start of your day, put on the armor of God and make sure all of your weapons are present with you.  You will do battle when you least expect it and you do not need to be caught naked, without the ability to defend yourself and anyone else who needs your aid. 

Copyright © 2010, Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved.  


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Post a Comment
Published by: jaime
Date: 2012-01-18 18:38:45
I think it will be a good Idea if someone is talking about some sort of vestments that they should show how it looks like better then just describing it. thank you

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