From a priest reader:
I recently spoke with the permanent deacon in our parish after he saw me hanging up my cassock after hearing confessions. He asked me, is the cassock again being proposed as normal attire for priests in the seminary? Of course, not having been in the seminary in 14 years, I don’t know the answer to that, but it seems many younger priests choose to wear it. He then proceeded to lecture me [?!?] about how wearing a cassock is not pastoral, and scares the people, who see it as a throwback to the “old” Church with its “doom and gloom” and “long list of rules.” Again, its the Church of Nice against the Church of Christ…Hermenutic of Rupture against the Hermenutic of Continuity. While the wearing of cassocks is becoming more widespread among younger priests, the older “generation” still tries to shame the younger out of wearing it, and it seems that the people also do not understand what the wearing of the cassock is about, and what it means, since many leave parishes where the pastor wears one, at least around here. I wish I could find a way to explain to people, including our deacon, in a way that they can relate and understand that the “new” church isn’t new at all, and that the “long list of rules” still exists, and that they protect the deeper values and principles of the Gospel that Jesus preached for us all, in every time and place, and that the wearing of a cassock in no way means that the priest is any less pastoral or caring for his flock than a priest who chooses not to wear one. It does make me wonder what the deacon and the people think “pastoral” really means…rightly shepherding, or anything goes.
Soooo many thoughts and responses.
What flashes through my head is:
- “Reverend Mister X, when you hear confessions, wear what you want to wear. Oooops! No, wait! You can’t hear confessions, can you. So, how about BUTTING OUT?”
- “If you have a problem with the cassock, send a complaint to the guy whose name is on the signature line on the bottom of the check I give you each week.”
- “O dear deacon, I’m sure that people are not so shallow as all that. If someone is ‘scared’ by a cassock, then surely there’s a need for some psychological counseling, wouldn’t you say?”
- “May I remind you, cleric, of the canons about sexual continence for all clerics, including deacons?”
- “Stick it. Get back to work.”
- “Yawn. Did you say something?”
The generation to which I presume your deacon belongs has been long accustomed to scare techniques – and largely successful at using them.
Does this sound familiar?
- “If you don’t allow guitars at Mass, communion in the hand, felt banners, and liturgical dance, then…. *sputter*… dogs and cats! living together!… people will be leaving the Church IN DROVES!”
- “If we don’t soften the academics in our seminaries, if we continue to exclude the same-sex attracted, if we demand that they spend time each day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, we’ll drive out the best and most ‘pastoral’ candidates!”
- “If we sister keep wearing our habits, our strict community life and discipline, our common apostolate, no young girls will want to join!!”
It’s time to call their bluff. They were demonstrably wrong in the past. They are demonstrably wrong now.
Perhaps the best explanation to the people and to the deacon is simply to wear the cassock whenever and whenever it pleaseth you to wear it.
Also, I remind you of what I wrote here: Who are these ‘c’atholic liberals? Young Catholics don’t know and don’t care.
Aging-hippie liberals interpret everything within the Church still through the lens they formed during the anti-authoritarian civil-rights and anti-war protest movements.
When we try to uphold hierarchy and authority or rubrics or the older form of Mass or obedience to the Magisterium or decorum in liturgy and sacred music, or in the clerical life, an involuntary subconscious switch clicks in their heads. They take your faithful Catholic position of continuity to be an attack themselves and on Vatican II, on … niceness… on bunnies … on the poor… on the Democrat Party….
Vatican II cannot, in their minds, be separated from the protest movements they have idolized until they are actually paradigmatic, iconic, even mythic.
A myth that is now itself dying, and they don’t like it one little bit.
I am pretty tired of this B as in B, S as in S. I have been tired of it for decades. Yes, the Biological Solution is working on these aging hippies, but… sheesh! Patience is called for with most lay people, but with a cleric… and from your deacon… and in your sacristy…?
Every young priest who has toyed with the idea of wearing a cassock, but has been intimidated by the nattering nabobs of negativism (or blustering Boomers of bellicosity?), should make a New Years’ resolution in 2014 to wear his cassock in public one day a week – or every day! Or maybe band together. Steal a liberal hippy Boomer technique and stage a sit-in, a “cassock-in”, somewhere really public and visible.
Furthermore, former-Father Greg Reynolds is still excommunicated.