costume or uniform?

In Halloween costume or Baptismal uniform?

Today’s a day to get dressed up. The best costumes are strong on details that give the impression of authenticity and, at the same time, hide our identity. I am of an age that remembers when parents were resourceful in using things at hand to costume their children so that the kids might go through the neighborhood trick or treating. The best costumes were those that gave little or no idea about who was under the mask or makeup. That’s the nature of costume. It tells the self and others who we are not and often hides from others who we really are.

Not so with uniforms. Uniforms reveal who we are in specific roles. My Norbertine habit is not a costume. It reminds me who I am within the Body of Christ and within an 882 year old tradition. So too when I vest for the celebration of the Eucharist. I am not pretending to be a classical Roman on my way to the forum. It reminds me that I have been called to lead the Body of Christ at Word and Table. The most basic uniform I wear is the long white alb and it is a uniform that every baptized Christian has the right to wear. Coaches of anxious public speakers sometimes advise them to imagine every member of their audience sitting before them in their underwear! I can imagine that, if we coached one another to imagine observing one another as always walking around in our white baptismal garment, we might find ourselves and others acting as more compassionate and forgiving people.

Of course, the worst of all possible worlds is when those who wear their uniforms live and act in a way that contradicts the manner of life revealed by the uniform they wear: biased judges, racist cops, abusive priests, careless physicians, and mediocre Christians in their invisible baptismal robes devalue their professions and the Creed they profess; thus turning their hard earned uniforms into signs of disgrace rather than preserving them as badges of honor.

Happy Halloween all you baptized and white-robed saints of God.