At NCYC last month, Oddwalk had a couple conversations (in person, on Twitter) about the appropriateness of the young lay leaders of prayer, and specifically their vesting in albs and leading a communal blessing by signing themselves (as directed in many places in the Book of Blessings).
It could be that the folks we had conversations with (one adult, one youth) weren’t the only ones to have concerns. The NFCYM has posted a wonderful resource explaining the catechetical, pastoral, and legal reasons that what we experienced at NCYC was exactly what was needed for that time and place.
A couple quotes to draw attention to:
The question—and answer—of proper liturgical vesture involves both clear instruction from the Church and mistaken notions from many of its members simultaneously. Frankly, it is a wrongful notion to describe a lay person leading a formal prayer service in an alb as “looking and acting like a priest.” In fact, at NCYC, the youth presiders were looking and acting exactly as they should: like a lay person leading prayer.
Again, in brief, a catechesis of liturgical vesture is one that begins not with the difference of ministry or station, but on the common community shared by all in the dignity of their baptism. There is no ordination without baptism (and all the sacraments of initiation: Confirmation and Eucharist, too). There is no “priestly vestment” that does not begin first with the garment of Christian faith—laity and ordained alike—the alb with which we are all “clothed in Christ.”
As a ministry especially concerned with justice and specifically the joy we can find in our having been created by God and given a Christian dignity that is indelible, we are so pleased with how the NFCYM has addressed the concerns – as too we are pleased that there are interested people, especially youth, willing to make their voice heard about matters important to them. Please take some time to read the whole document!
Edit, 12/7/14 – new link to article: http://www.ncyc.info/2013/logistics/leaders/alb.htm