Almost-five-year-old Katie and her family recently witnessed the Baptism, Chrismation and Communion of the infant Nicholas. At her request, they stood way up front where she could see the baby, instead of going up into the choir loft as usual. During the service, Katie had some good questions… so she and her mom asked Father!
Why do the priest and deacon wear white vestments
when they celebrate the Mystery of Baptism?
The Mystery of Holy Baptism is the sacrament of purification — being made new by the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. This purification occurs through the prayers that the priest reads and the immersion of the person who is being baptized into the water, which has been made holy by God. The color that symbolizes purity (cleanliness and wholeness) and the new life in Jesus Christ is white. Because of this, the priest and deacon wear white when they celebrate this holy Mystery.
Why does the priest wave the aer over the Sacred Gifts during the Liturgy?
The aer is the cloth that the priest wears over his shoulders during the Great Entrance as the Holy Gifts are taken from the table of preparation (prothesis) to the altar table. This cloth is used to cover the Gifts after the priest takes off the smaller covers (one for the discus or paten, and another for the chalice).
The aer has a great deal of symbolism. When the Gifts are covered with the aer after the Great Entrance, the aer symbolizes the stone that covered the opening of Jesus Christ’s tomb. When the priest waves the aer during the symbol of faith (the creed), it symbolizes the the earthquake that occurred when Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28:1-2). The priest stops waving the aer at the point in the creed when he says, “and on the third day He rose according to the scriptures.”
Thanks to Fr. Michael Monos, voithou of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Akron, OH, for answering Katie’s questions!
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