Q: Why do cardinals and bishops wear different colors?
A: Many wonder why the cardinals, bishops and priests wear specific attire. For one, the color of the attire indicates one’s office in the Church.
For instance, you will see me wearing a magenta (a type of purple) cassock for liturgies. This color has ancient roots, royal origins. The color magenta illustrates my role as a successor of the Apostles, as I have been entrusted with the sacred tasks to teach, to sanctify and to govern as Jesus instructed the first Apostles.
You, also, will see me wearing from time -to-time a black cassock with a magenta sash and red buttons and piping. The red, of course, is a witness to Jesus Christ’s passion and death, while the 33 buttons on the front of my cassock are for the 33 years of Jesus’ walking on this earth. The five buttons on each one of my sleeves are for the five wounds of Jesus Christ at his crucifixion.
Members of the College of Cardinals wear red, bearing witness to the passion of Jesus as well as to the sacred nature of martyrdom for Jesus Christ and his Church. The cardinal red is a striking reminder of the Apostle’s reception of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Q: How long can you stay a priest?
A: When a man receives the sacrament of priestly ordination the gift he receives is an indelible gift, namely, it is permanent. He has been configured to Christ in a sacramental way to represent Jesus Christ.
For those who have attended a priestly ordination, you may remember the “laying on of hands,” in which the communication of the gift of the Holy Spirit is imparted upon the candidate. At this point the priest is configured to Christ sacramentally and he shares in Jesus Christ’s mission and is made one with him.
The priest’s work is to share the kingdom of God, which one would say is here and not yet namely the eschatological mission of reconciliation of the world to Jesus Christ continues.
Please pray for all our priests who have been entrusted with the gifts to preach the Gospel, to shepherd the faithful and to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries.
Q: Why do we have both the Nicene and Apostles’ Creed?
A: This is another excellent question, for those familiar with the Roman Missal, which we use at Mass, recognize that either creed may be an option for us to profess, depending on the circumstances. Make no mistake, neither creed is in conflict with the other.
The Apostles’ Creed is more ancient, for it is attributed to the era of the Apostles themselves. We must recall that in the early Church it was necessary to articulate the gift of the deposit of faith (treasury of faith), that Jesus entrusted to his Apostles and, in turn, they shared with their successors. So we begin the Apostles’ Creed with the acknowledgement that there are three persons and one God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This truth is fundamental to our Christian identity. While the Apostles’ Creed enjoys ancient roots to the early days of our Church, we also profess the Nicene Creed.
The first Council of Nicaea (in present-day Turkey) occurred in the year A.D. 325. The principal reason for this council to be convened was to address the heresy of Arius, who denied the reality of the truth of Jesus Christ’s divinity. The council itself expressed quite pointedly that Jesus is consubstantial, or one in being with God the Father, sharing the same divine nature. Jesus Christ is begotten, not made or created. Furthermore, as Our Lady, Mary, received the gift of the Holy Spirit and became pregnant with Jesus, we have also the truth that Jesus Christ became man. Therefore, Jesus is both God and man.
The Nicene Creed was formulated in order to confront the Arian heresy and other misconceptions about Jesus’ identity. Unfortunately, even now there are those who mistakenly believe that Jesus was just an angel or a super-human being when, in fact, it is because of Jesus being both God and man through which humanity realizes its true identity and its eternal salvation.
As we begin our season of Lent, may we find consolation that it is our Lord Jesus who walks with us as we climb the Easter Mountain.
May this season be a source of grace to you and your family.
To “Ask the Bishop,” direct questions to, Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools – P.O. Box 969, Steubenville, OH 43952; (740) 282-3631.