Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Notorious “Gala” :
Some Personal Reflections.

Ten years ago, I had the privilege of making vestments which were used by Pope Benedict at a Solemn Mass in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, during World Youth Day 2008. Probably the most humbling moment of my life was when Pope Benedict walked past me in the sacristy wearing the vestments which I had made with my own hands. I feel certain that anyone reading that last sentence will readily understand these sentiments.

Over more than fifteen hundred years, countless others have had a similar privilege of making vestments for the Pope. Such vestments are not pageant costumes or fine clothes, they are sacred robes intended for the fitting worship of God. They are not intended to glorify the wearer but to draw all who look upon them into the Sacred Mysteries, raising hearts and minds to God. I like to believe that vestment-makers over so many centuries have had these sentiments in their hearts when sewing sacred vestments, just as I do in the 21st century.

As a maker of sacred vestments, and for the reasons outlined above, I have found the recent events of the Met Gala and the exhibition accompanying it, confronting and profoundly offensive. I will pass over without much comment - since so many others have, and more eruditely - the sacrilegious outfits worn by celebrities at the Met Gala, being parodies of sacred vestments. In this highly-sexualised age, need we doubt that the title of this exhibition at the Museum Heavenly Bodies is purposely ambiguous? Bit of a give-away isn’t it? How shameful to consider the vestments worn by popes for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy of centuries past now being part of such an exhibition, intermingled with designer costumes for female bishops and popes.

Reading this post, please consider making Reparation for this blight on the sacred beauty of Holy Mother Church and that all Churchmen involved with it will regret such folly.

Michael Sternbeck
The Saint Bede Studio.