19 August 2011

The Cassock Again

There is an insightful little post at Rorate Caeli, in furtherance of my previous posts on the cassock or other suitable clerical attire here and here.  This comes from an Italian outlet writing from the perspective of the Church's enemies-- even they acknowledge the importance of the cassock:

The Cassock
The Church has been for quite some time strenuously defending herself from a media-driven movement that has turned on the lights on the phenomenon of the erotic activities and aberrations of the clergy. And it is not only about the horrors of pedophilia, but also red-light feasts, orgies, and clandestine sorties of every kind. Abandoning the cassock and wearing civilian clothes, many priests have gone from the sacred onto the secular in no time. I ask a friend who writes for this paper, Father Filippo Di Giacomo, if it would not be more appropriate, for him and for his jolly colleagues, to renounce walking around in civilian clothes and go back to wearing the long habit of the priest. It would not be embarrassing to wear it, on the contrary, it would be a sign of respect for the Catholic community and would even have the power of eliminating any ambiguity. It is hard to recognize a priest from a fellow in a shirt: we are in the presence of a deception, at least at the semiotic level. My friend Di Giacomo should throw his "lay" habits out of the window and launch an appeal to all priests in the world that it be forbidden to wear anything except for two cassocks: one of wool for winter, and one of cotton for summer. This will certainly not deter the truly possessed from eros, but will keep at bay the profusion of numerous, small daily corruptions. It is said, in general, that "l'abito non fa il monaco" ["the habit does not a monk make"], but it is not thus for the Church: the habit must make the monk. Catholicism, as other religions, lives off of symbols, of rites, of chastity, of foundational and unrenounceable values, of faithfulness to doctrine, of rigorous obedience to priestly rules. The cassock, at the simple sight, conveys to us all this: much spirit and little flesh. A priest who replaces his cassock with plain clothes gives up the spirit, as it were.  

August 15, 2011
 [Vincenzo Cerami]


Anonymous said...

You do know, though, Timman, that the clerical suit is the approved public attire for clerics in the US, and has been since the 19th century? The cassock is permitted at discretion. Even that was a fairly late development, though, good as it is. Check the NLM blog for more info.

Anonymous said...

Recently I was in the presence of a priest in cassock in a little neighborhood sandwich shop just down the street from a Catholic West County Parish. People take immediate notice, smile or wave. Everyone straightens up, I believe the priest is not even aware of a change in the crowd.I was frankly amazed and encouraged at what reaction can come from an otherwise normal mundane scenario. How many priests are there in the St. Louis area who wear cassocks? ---I know 3 downtown...

Anonymous said...

1 here in WashMo

Cassocks said...

The Cassock is wonderful as it is modest, promoting chastity in the men wearing them and the onlookers who might otherwise be attracted to the priests. Unlike any other clothing in the secular society. Just walking with seminary students in cassocks evokes respect in others. What if someone was dying and wanted last rights they could be approached if they look like a priest.

Anonymous said...

"The cassock, at the simple sight, conveys to us all this: much spirit and little flesh. A priest who replaces his cassock with plain clothes gives up the spirit, as it were." That really says it all. As a child, I recall my uncle, who is a priest, embarrassed at being referred to as 'Father' when out in public, and wore little more than a black shirt.

Anon 16:14 nails it. One can say that the attire itself is an unspoken testament to the Faith, no less so than statuary and stain glass artwork is in our cathedrals, but in flesh and blood.

The other side of this article of course are our nuns who wear what amounts to not much more than a business suit.


Long-Skirts said...

"It is said, in general, that "l'abito non fa il monaco" ["the habit does not a monk make"]:

...but the soul often follows the body.


The power of the cassock
Is to lure
Like fishermen
To nets secure.

The power of the cassock
Ebony shine
A hull of hues
On deck Divine.

The power of the cassock
Anchors the man
Dead to the world
In his sea-span.

The power of the cassock
Weighted strength
Before the mast
It's linen length.

The power of the cassock
Sails your soul
To greater depths
From shallow shoal.

The power of the cassock
Captains' pure
The fishermen
Our land-locked cure.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the seminary recently put more restrictions on the seminarians with regard to wearing the cassock?

Anonymous said...

I heard that it was said that wearing cassocks in the seminary was "divisive". Where is the PC principle of "diversity" in this decision?