What exactly is the purpose of a confirmation stole? I have seen these more and more in liturgical supply catalogs. I never understood what the productive purpose of them were, but then I just assumed it was a Roman Catholic thing, because the catalogs I saw them in were predominantly Catholic oriented supplies like Autom.
I never really considered it in any detail because I had never encountered it at an Episcopal church confirmation service. I had also heard tell in seminary of bizarre customs like the priest at a Confirmation putting his stole on the confirmands for some liturgical symbolism that escapes me. But then, I am reviewing a new Confirmation curriculum that the Episcopal Church is putting out. I am fairly impressed so far with the quality and set-up of the curriculum for the most part, but one of the lesson plans actually suggests having the Confirmands make their own confirmation stole.
From what I have read so far, unless I missed it, it does not explain the liturgical purpose of such a stole. I can make some educated guesses, but I don't like any of the reasons I can think up for such a liturgical device. I'm guessing it is trying to liturgically reinforce the very Protestant "priesthood of all believers" notion fueled by lay empowerment movements. I am all for the laity taking on their own ministries and having ownership in the local parish mission, but giving them stoles or clerical collars or whatever disturbs me. The concept of having a priest-like stole for confirmation is disturbing to me on a number of levels which I won't go into here.
I would pose the question to anyone "in the know" as to what exactly the purpose for such a stole is? I do not like any of the answers I am coming up with in my head as to its purpose: liturgical, theological, or otherwise. Can anyone clue me in as to what this is about and why it is possibly appropriate?