Teaching the Liturgical Arts in the Family

 Photo credit: OC-Travel

Twice this past year I found myself on pilgrimage in Fatima, browsing the rows of silk patterned vestment materials.  Could there be an excuse to buy blue? Alas, I could not resist.  I decided to go with blue and make a vestment set for my little nephew who sometimes plays Mass with other homeschool kids from church. The use of blue is an exclusive liturgical right or privilege held by Latin rite clergy in Spain and her hereditary colonies.  Blue is seen in church sanctuaries in Catholic countries such as Spain, Mexico, the Philippines, etc.

Although it is sometimes overlooked, the education of children in the area of liturgical arts plays a crucial role in the life of the Church.  Catechesis must begin in the preschool years; nay, it must begin from birth. The liturgy teaches -- and so do parents.  Parents are the primary teachers of the liturgy to their children.  We live in an age in which the devil is relentless in his path to sow confusion.

A work of beauty is an act of defiance.  I began to teach my daughter everything about the liturgy from the time she was only three.  Now she is five and is a veritable expert on all things liturgical. Parents are encouraged to step up to the challenge with great fervor and teach their kids the ways of beauty.  The Roman rite is an excellent teaching tool and the liturgy is a perfect teaching moment.

[UPDATE]  For methods and materials, I would recommend visiting your local fabric shop and getting chatty with someone who knows fabrics and sewing techniques.  Even better if you have a fabric warehouse in your area with a wider selection and more remnants to choose from.

A few trade secrets: search the remnants pile for the best deals and the best fabrics - these are leftovers from upholstery projects that usually end up here.  Remnants are often superior quality and more ornamental.  To make tabernacle veils, a dossal, an antipendium or even veils for the side of a chancel, also consider taking a look at the curtains section, where you will have the widest variety of the best cloth, sometimes already lined.

Pure linen and pure silk is harder to find these days.  However, many imitation materials that are available today launder better, are easier to work with and are more affordable.

For a proper sewing machine, my best advice is to search online or in thrift stores for a good used one.  The antique sewing machines from the 1960s and 1970s remain the best.  Once you purchase one, bring it to a sewing machine shop to have it serviced for a nominal fee.  Ask the employee there to thread it for you (be sure to take a photo) and to give you a quick tutorial on how to thread the bobbin and how to operate it. Some videos on YouTube are helpful. 

For vestment patterns and measurements, visit your local sacristy and ask for permission to take a look at some of the older vestments.  I find it most helpful to start by making kids vestments.  The key is to be patient and keep sewing.  You will make all the mistakes early and learn quickly.  In fact, the quicker you make the mistakes the better.  In our parents generation the nuns made these blessed items for service at the altar.  Today, there are fewer nuns and so it will have to be volunteer lay men and women who make this happen.       

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