Coping with copes

From an Anglican satiric blog, “The Low Churchman’s Guide to the Solemn High Mass”: 

Most Ritualist vestments have extremely specific guidelines for their use. The maniple may only be worn by the sacred ministers during the celebration of the Eucharist, and at no other time; they must remove the maniple when giving a sermon, while leading a procession, or when attempting to catch a frog that has become tangled in the lavabo towels. The dalmatic may only be worn by a Deacon or his duly appointed representative; if an unauthorized priest or subdeacon attempts to wear a dalmatic, the garment will self-destruct. Loyal churchmen, of course, have no need to master such arbitrary regulations, since they see no reason why anyone would wish to wear a maniple or a dalmatic in the first place.

The principal exception to the complex rules surrounding Ritualist vestments is the cope. While only the privileged few can wear a maniple, and then only under certain circumstances, almost anyone can wear a cope. In form, the cope is a semicircular cloak, often decorated with an ornamental hood and fashioned at the throat by an ornate clasp; in function, the cope is an all-purpose vestment that can be worn by any rank of clergyman, or by a layperson fulfilling some sort of ceremonial role, on any occasion for which another vestment is not prescribed. In theory, this means that Ritualists would wear copes in processions, at Benediction, at solemn Evensong, and so on. In practice, this means that Ritualists wear copes while doing the dishes, going to the grocery store, or reading blog posts on their home computer. The elaborate embroidery on the cope fills the Ritualist’s heart with cheer, and helps him to forget that he is a traitor to his country.

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