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Too Hot for Vestments?

A circular thermometer dial exceeds 120 F

Photo (c) Matt Carey, from flickr. Used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Yesterday I offered water frequently to the poor electrician climbing into my attic to install a ceiling fan; the humidex was north of 45, and it was certainly hotter in the attic! He had to wear protective clothes as he was working, though he was in a Tilley hat, instead of a hard hat. It can’t have been much fun.

Reading the satirical blog of “Archdruid Eileen” today, I enjoyed her comments on what she called “thermal lagging“–the difference between vestments that work well in English winters and the current heat wave.  In one Anglo-Catholic parish I served, it wouldn’t have been a proper mass were I not wearing cassock, amice, alb, cincture, stole, maniple, and chasuble. At the same time I was the curate at Christ’s Church Cathedral, where most people seemed to think that the “Matthew Griffin Humidex Vestment Cut-Off Index” (a stole was going around my neck over my clothes if the humidex was above 30) was a wise idea. Two communities, and two different approaches. And this summer? Well, I admit to being very grateful that the parish in which I’m currently serving just installed air conditioning!

Vestments aren’t meant to be about the clergy:  really, they’re meant to obscure the people and point to God’s glory. But it is awfully difficult to let them represent what they’re meant to, if the people wearing them look like they need a glass of ice water, stat!

The summer is a different time in the life of our church. For those of us with air conditioning, vestments might stay the same–but what happens where you are? Do the clergy skip some vestments? How does the summer-time look different when you gather with your community for services?

Matthew Griffin

About Matthew Griffin

I'm a priest serving in the Diocese of Niagara, with both a pastoral and an academic interest in the relationship between liturgy and theology. I enjoy reading, cooking, and spending time with my beloved and our young son.
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