From a reader…
I heartily agree with you regarding cassocks and surplices on “altar girls”. [More on that HERE] But I have another concern, and I wonder if I am right. I also do not believe that “Baptismal Stoles” or “Confirmation Stoles” should be conferred on those receiving these Scaraments. This happens in my parish at the Easter Vigil when several adults are Baptized and/or Confirmed. The following is from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
The stole is worn only by deacons, priests, and bishops. For deacons and priests it is the specific mark of office, being the badge of the diaconal and priestly orders. The wrongful use of the stole by subdeacons, therefore, would imply the usurpation of a higher order, and would constitute an irregularity. (…) As a liturgical vestment, the stole signifies the “yoke of the Lord” whose “burden is light.”
If the wearing of a stole by a subdeacon (which order is now suppressed) constituted an “irregularity” how much more so does it constitute an “irregularity” for a lay person to wear one? The wearing of the stole by a lay person. regradless of age, it seems to me would demonstrate a confusion of roles. The argument is presented to me that this just a manifestation of the “common priesthood of the laity”? I emphatically say, NO! There must remain a clear distinction of roles, and wearing a stole in the manner of a sacramental priest simply confuses those roles. But I get shouted down on this issue and also regardiong our “altar girls” attire, which is, ugh, the cassock and surplice.
It seems to me that the “confirmation stoles” and “baptism stoles” are an even more egregious error than young girls in cassocks and surplices.
The use of these stoles confuses the royal priesthood of the faithful with the ministerial priesthood of the ordained.
Since bishops possess the fullness of the priesthood, shall we give little miters to the newly baptized? Of course not!
The mark of the royal priesthood of the faithful is the anointing, which is already done in baptism and confirmation.
Furthermore, putting stoles on laypeople like that just seems… condescending. It is as if the cleric is saying, “Aren’t you cute, you good little lay people. I’ll dress you up like me!”
The baptized and confirmed laity have their own dignity.