Saturday, July 16, 2005

What should clerics wear (in and out of Mass) and why?

Stimulated by a thread at Amy Wellborn's Open Book, I invite a discussion of what should clerics (bishops, priests and deacons) wear, both in liturgy and outside of it.


ShadowMayhem said...

well.. in mass.. I would hope if saying mass vestments if not and just attending clericals...

when you guys are off duty... as long as you arn't parading around the front yard of the rectory in your undies... I really don't care.

Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Frankly, I think priests are someone special, and I appreciate when they dress specially.

By that I mean a cassock when out and about. Something to set you out as distinctive.

Besides, I know that it's easier to behave when I'm identified. When I was in the Air Force, when I wore a uniform. Today, if I have my "Roman Catholic" t-shirt, I'm less likely to behave like a jerk just because I don't want to be a disgrace to my church.

But if priests are supposed to be holy, and holy means set apart, I appreciate it when a priests dresses to be set apart.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is bad, but when I see a priest out and he is not in his collar, I think he must be up to something he shouldn't be (I can't help my first, gut reactions.). Actually, this turned out to be true in one case. A priest I saw out in just regular clothes at a restaurant was, several months later, was accused of sexually abusing young men and admitted to it.

Anna said...

I alternate between two Franciscan parishes, where the priests very rarely, if ever, wear the beautiful Franciscan habit or any other "priestly outfit". The younger ones wear jeans and sweatshirt, the older suit and tie. I think it's sad. To see a priest or a nun, strangers to me but recognizable by their clothes, makes me happy. It's a reminder of the existence of God. I've heard people say priests and nuns stopped wearing special clothes because they create barriers. I think it's the other way around, I prefer to talk to a man with a collar to a man with a tie. Cassock although nice is not ncessary, but I would appreciate a collar. When I pass an unknown priest in the street, I pray for him. It doesn't require much of my time in the European city where I live (with a population more than 90 % at least nominally Catholic). In Rome, however, it can get busy - why is that the only place where priests come out of their hiding?

Anonymous said...

I think it would be beneficial if the author of this blog joined in on the discussion. Blogs where the author participates generally has more commentors.

Father Martin Fox said...


OK; I wanted to hear what some folks said. As I indicated, this started with a conversation at "Open Book," where someone said cassocks are silly; I responded, why aren't chausables and albs silly, too? Why not have priests wear business suits when they offer Mass -- or golf shirts and khaki pants? What IS the value of the distinctive garb priests were, in and out of liturgy?

Rich Leonardi said...

What IS the value of the distinctive garb priests were, in and out of liturgy?

The value of wearing one's collar OUT of the liturgy is that it sends the message that our spiritual fathers, just like our familial fathers, don't get a day off. And that's a good message to send.

Valerie said...

Well, in Mass is a no-brainer to me: the appropriate vestments. Outside of Mass, I think it is important that their clerical garb be worn.

I was quite surprised to see our pastor (in his 50s, I believe) wearing his 'civilian' clothing at our parish festival recently (smoking a cigar, to boot). Now, we parishioners know Fr. is a regular guy, we know who he is. But any other festival-goer wouldn't know him from Adam. He wasn't even wearing the festival t-shirt that volunteers were wearing. Not sure why he wanted to blend in...

Father Martin Fox said...


Well, I can be sympathetic.

We just had our festival. Friday, I came in clerical dress, and I wore a tshirt they gave me--I wore it because they asked me, but I wore it over the clergy shirt.

Well, it was pretty hot. After making the rounds, I did go home and change into a golf shirt and shorts, coming back at closing to help clean up.

Saturday, I came out after Mass, again in clerics; again, it was very hot. I stayed for awhile, then headed home.

Sunday, I was there briefly in clerics; but they asked me to be in the dunking booth, and I said yes (I'm new here), so I did that in khaki shorts and a dark tshirt with the seminary name on it.

I came back, at closing, in shorts and a golf shirt, to help with cleanup.

Those clerics are hot on a July day, in the sun, and even under the tent; and even if I didn't mind, a lot of people were worried about me getting too hot.

Anna said...


If your pastor was smoking a cigar, he obviously wasn't trying to blend in. No one but a (neo tradionalist) priest would dare to smoke in the US today - everyone else is to much influenced by Puritans.

Pathfinder said...

I'm a pentecostal pastor and in my denomination most pastors do not wear the collar. But recently I have thought a lot about it. I usually wear the collar during hospital visits and also at some other times.
My orthodox brethren wear it all the time, even at home (in case some would come wanting to talk to the priest).
I think it is worth to consider wearing the collar at least when you're out among people, no matter where you're at, because if you're a priest/pastor, you are always a priest 24/7.
That way you are easily recognizable to people who may need to talk to a priest.
We should not be ashamed (if that is the case for not using it) for being servants of the Lord, but rather proud to be trusted with such a ministry.
Blessings to you!