From a reader:
I am a transitional deacon on pastoral placement. Please include me in your prayers for thorough preparation for the priesthood. [Will do.] The Parish Priest has said that I should not wear the dalmatic for weekday Masses. When pressed, he says that the people do not understand the symbolism of the dalmatic, but would understand the stole worn as deacons do.
The GIRM indicates that the dalmatic may be omitted for reasons of necessity or lesser solemnity (GIRM 119b, 338), but seems not to indicate who regulates the permission for the dalmatic to be omitted.
To the best of my knowledge, the local bishop and episcopal conference has not specified anything on the question. Can you or your readers help?
Could it be that the pastor is worried that greater liturgical decorum will be required if there is … greater liturgical decorum? What next? Gregorian chant?
First, do what the pastor says.
Second, the pastor’s reason – at least the reason you say he gave – is ridiculous.
Having a transitional deacon available for weekday Masses is a spectacular opportunity for a little catechesis. This doesn’t mean I that I think there should always be sermons at weekday Masses. Not at all. But, there could be very brief comments which teach people about:
- the sacrament of holy orders
- the difference between deacons and priests
- what deacons did in the early Church
- how the first deacons were chosen and why
- deacons who were saints
- what the word "deacon" means
- what a deacon’s ordination is like
and… wait for it…
- what a dalmatic is!
If the pastor thinks people won’t understand what a dalmatic is, then he must either have a low appreciation of their intelligence or his own ability to teach.
But… no… hang on… deacons can preach at Mass, can’t they.
I bet that a newly ordained deacon might has some of this stuff fresh in his mind, too.
And were the pastor to say, "Okay, sonny, read the Gospel and then preach for no longer than 5 minutes. Any more than 5 minutes and you’ll be sleeping in the basement in a cardboard box with a little piece of lettuce."
Now for the Latin texts from the GIRM:
119. In sacristia, pro diversis formis celebrationis, parentur sacræ vestes (cf. nn. 337-341) sacerdotis, diaconi et aliorum ministrorum:
a) pro sacerdote: alba, stola et casula seu planeta;
b) pro diacono: alba, stola et dalmatica, quæ tamen, ob necessitatem vel minorem gradum sollemnitatis, omitti potest;
So… the dalmatic can be omitted because of necessity (which probably means there is no dalmatic or that it is 130F degrees), or because it is a weekday Mass, which is of less solemnity for sure. It can be omitted. That doesn’t mean that it should be omitted.
So… we know what the GIRM says. But what about a more reason document of the CDW, Redemptionis Sacramentum?
[125.] The proper vestment of the Deacon is the dalmatic, to be worn over an alb and stole. In order that the beautiful tradition of the Church may be preserved, it is praiseworthy to refrain from exercising the option of omitting the dalmatic.
Soooo… John Paul II tells the Congregation for Divine Worship to prepare a document dealing with liturgical issues, especially liturgical abuses. The CDW prepares and the Pope commands it to be promulgated.
It states that, yes, you can omit the dalmatic, but if there is no good reason to don’t omit it. This is a good and beautiful tradition. It is praiseworthy to use it.