The mass is the central act of Christian worship. The New Testament tells us that, for as long as Christian communities existed, they have followed the example of Jesus in breaking bread and drinking wine together to make his presence known among them. What we do in our High Mass is, of course, far removed in its external character from the simple meal which was the Last Supper. But at the same time, it is not radically different from the celebrations Christians have conducted from as early as the second and third centuries. A church or chapel has no purpose apart from the worship of God. It has other uses, to be sure, but no other purpose. It is holy, set apart, for God. For this reason, the atmosphere of a church should never be ordinary. Just as in worship we offer our whole selves to God, so every aspect of that worship the sights, sounds and even the smells are different, set apart. We strive to offer what the Psalmist calls the beauty of holiness.
We begin with the entrance of four servers, and three sacred ministers. Each wears a cassock, a simple, ankle length garment which goes back to the basic dress of the Roman world. Round their necks and shoulders they tie an amice, a large piece of white linen which protects the more precious vestments from sweat or staining. Above the cassock, each wears an alb which simply means white. It derives from the ordinary under tunic a citizen of the empire would have worn under his cloak or outer garment. Then each minister puts on a stole, a coloured scarf which displays his office. The celebrant puts his round the neck to indicate that in this mass his is the part of the priest. The deacon wears his over his shoulder to show the diaconal role. Above the stole, each puts on a large coloured garment: the priest wears a chasuble, the deacon wears a dalmatic, rich outer garments which would have testified to someone's importance in the ancient world. In our context, they point not to an important person, but to the importance of the liturgical function the priest and deacon have. The colours we use change according to which season of the church's year we are in.