Back To The Cassock

Works fine more often than you'd think: the Cassock

Rorate Caeli has an interesting article mentioning Cardinal Siri’s take on the abandonment of the cassock.

I have written about it in the past, but would like to make some points again:

1) It is not true that the habit doesn’t count. The habit counts a lot. The habit reminds the priest all the time of who he is. This happens by all kinds of “uniform”, at the point that “to wear the uniform” is strictly identified with, say, military identity. You are, therefore you wear, and when a priest tries to look as if he wasn’t one, I wonder how much he wants to be one.

2) The clerical habit (specifically: the cassock; the real, authentic clerical garb of the Catholic priest) is also a form of social control for the priest. If a priest has the habit of going out without his, well, habit, and no one really notices, it will be much easier for him to go unnoticed in the wrong places, or to frequent the wrong people (like prostitutes, or so-called “gay saunas”). If the public expects to see him in cassock everytime he is seen at all, all this will become a much more difficult exercise, and in case of discovery there will be no defence possible:whoever sees the priest in “plain clothes” in another part of town will have strong reasons to suspect the man is up to no good.

3) The clerical garb (best of all: the cassock) reminds everyone (not only the priest) that his wearer is detached from the world. The priest wanting to be seen as “one of the others” is ipso facto betraying his role as a priest, even in those cases (which I assume will be a minority) in which his refusal to wear clerical garb is due to a well-intentioned, if ill-thought pastoral zeal. The priest is not of this world. He is there to remind us of the other one. The more he identifies himself with this life, the less will be able to do his job concerning the next one.

Not only must the Church insist on the priests wearing clerical garbs, but if you ask me the Church should insist on the Priest wearing the cassock whenever practicable. Don Camillo rode a bicycle and a light motorcycle with a cassock, and it worked rather well.

Besides, no priest is so despised as the one who wouldn’t want to be one.


Posted on April 29, 2012, in Catholicism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Totally correct.

    Many priests who take up the cassock once again relate how often people come up to them to ask about the Faith, and lapsed Catholics approach them – in the street, in airports – and ask them to hear their Confessions.

    • I am not surprised, Ben.

      Another things I have always noticed is that the Catholic church fascinates, and in a way attracts, even her enemies, unless these be mortal ones.

      What today is called “branding” was understood by the Church many centuries before the name existed, because the Church was run by people actually caring for the flock. Today we read a lot of unnecessary words, but I wonder whether anyone cares about the flock. If they did, Nichols would be in Siberia by now, or well locked in a monastery for many years.


  2. Fascinates the lapsed, the enemies — exactly right.´

    Very soon I will be living and working in Nairobi, Kenya. When we get the Pope who will (as one of his first week’s acts) send His Grace to a more “isolated” spot, I do hope he doesn’t choose my particular locale.

  3. I was there Mundabor for three weeks just a short time ago, and there is an SSPX Priory (the Holy Cross) in Nairobi with three excellent priests and a large number of faithful, particularly the young and very young.

  4. Reblogged this on Mundabor's Blog and commented:

    Reblog of the day

  5. No, not yet. I know the Church overall is growing fast, but what are the state of the Masses for instance, I have no idea.

    • Let us hope the SSPX priory remains on the straight and narrow…

      Something tells me neither of us might like the local NO, which I imagine (biased as I am) “enriched” with dances and local songs…


  6. Africans do tend to be very “pentecostal” with lots of arm-waving, yes.

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