¡VIVA LA SOTANA! A video about …

A reader sent me a a link to a video trailer for a Spanish language documentary about the cassock.

Yes, the cassock.

While the video struck me as being perhaps a little saccharin. I’ll give them a pass for being a bit romantic about the cassock. I place it in the context of a country and culture where, within living memory, men were put against the wall and shot for wearing one.

In these USA it hasn’t been the custom to use the cassock as regular, daily street dress. This stems from the time of the Councils of Baltimore, which are no longer in force. They were reacting to virulent anti-Catholicism. The Council’s did establish long-standing clerical decorum in these USA. Younger men are using the cassock more often as street dress. I guess I am a little old fashioned, in that I don’t. Ironic.

Also, I remind the reverend clerical readers out there that the new edition of the Directory for the Ministry and the Life of Priests issued by the Congregation of Clergy places the cassock in the FIRST place for clerical dress. Other forms of clerical dress are the exception… approved exceptions, but exceptions nonetheless.

There are lots of problems today that really ought to be discussed in terms of decorum.

So, here is the trailer, which is in Spanish.

The cassock. Tool of the New Evangelization?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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43 Responses to ¡VIVA LA SOTANA! A video about …

  1. iPadre says:

    How timely. Last night I had an awesome experience and posted it on Facevook. Almost 200 likes and a number of comments, all in the positive. Having been Granciscan for 7 years, I wear the cassock almost as a habit.

  2. Kerry says:

    Along with “Less talking, more processing!”, I say “More priests in cassocks, more nuns in habits!”
    Right out there in the public eye!

  3. Gregorius says:

    yeesh, that spaniard lisp! (that is the ‘th’ sound on ‘z’, ‘ce’, and ‘ci’)

    I notice some priests wear a sash (fascia, is it called?) and some, like in the video, do not. Are there any rules governing its use?

    [Not anymore. Rules concerning details like that went out the window, or perhaps out through some crack or fissure, when all the “fresh air” was supposed to be coming in.]

  4. JARay says:

    Actually I like to see priests wearing a cassock. Over 50 years ago I was a Seminarian in Portugal and I wore one out in the streets. It was our normal dress. I must hasten to add that I left before becoming a priest.

  5. “The cassock. Tool of the New Evangelization?”

    Apparently so. Numerous times I have witnessed a cassock-wearing priest approached in a public place by someone “raised Catholic but not practicing recently”, and in some cases I understand that cassock-caused encounter has resulted in the person returning to the sacraments.

  6. FrMJPB says:

    The cassock. Tool of the New Evangelization?

    YES!

  7. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    Let’s have less anthropology, more about holiness. Teach us to pray, teach us to love, as He did.

  8. NBW says:

    Awesome video! The poem he read about the cassock was beautiful. I’ve heard of many instances where the priest was wearing a cassock and people approached him to come back to the Church.

    Wearing a cassock = the real deal

  9. Papabile says:

    So, Father…. since you are a little more old fashioned, could you please post a picture with you in a frock coat? ;-)

  10. elijah408 says:

    I hope it becomes a growing trend. We need bold witnesses for the gospel. Most communication is visual. I got this from Wikipedia under non-verbal communication:
    “When the other person or group is absorbing the message, they are focused on the entire environment around them, meaning the other person uses all five senses in the interaction: 83% sight, 11% hearing, 3% smell, 2% touch and 1% taste.”

    The cassock is an effective tool for the new evangelization!

  11. Long-Skirts says:

    One of our sons was ordained last June to the Deaconate and he is now a Rev. Mr. This is his seventh year in the Seminary and he will be ordained an alter Christus this June. He has been wearing a Cassock for the last 5 years and I can’t tell you how many times, when picking him up at the airport or walking down the street with him many kind people come up to shake his hand and say how happy they are to see him in his Cassock. Lots of times they say things like, “I’m a Catholic, well, I used to be, but hey, I like seeing the Cassock.” My son usually tells them to come back to the Church and that he will pray for them. “Yeah, maybe.” is many times their answer. Then, unfortunately, there have been those who laugh at him and make snide remarks…he just keeps walking but I, being the good Catholic mother, I am, “I’d slap you but I don’t want to make your face look any better.” says I.
    “It’s not that the Irish are cynical. It’s rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.” (Brendan Behan)

    THE
    BLACK
    SAILS

    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.

  12. MrsMacD says:

    Cassocks are cool.

  13. JBS says:

    I must admit that it does attract the attention of fallen-away Catholics and of young adults searching for meaning in life, but manufacturers have got to start making it out of something washable other than polyester. And in the summer, it’s like wearing a solar panel (but without federal funding).

  14. The Masked Chicken says:

    It is a pity that chickens cannot be ordained. That would be quite a chicken cassock story (say it really fast for the full epicurean flavor).

    The Chicken

  15. AdTrinitatemPerMariam says:

    I love seeing priests wearing cassocks. <3 It makes my geeky Catholic heart smile. :)

  16. Nicholas says:

    You see, our dear host is so traditional he wears only what He wore, a tunic and cloak.

    What else for a self-absorbed neopelagian?

  17. Ignatius says:

    Wearing a cassock here in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires in the times of Abp. Bergoglio was a sure sign of being a sort of a “rebel”, an undesirable: a pariah in the eyes of the hierarchy. The fact of wearing one when having an appointment with the then Archbishop was like holding a ticket for a huge dose of “misericordina” of the worst kind. A priest friend of mine and my family (a very close friend, as a matter of fact) which is extremely holy, bright -a well versed Thomist through and through, with a clear vocation for teaching- orthodox and hard working (especially in the peripheries of the City of Buenos Aires) wears a cassock almost always. The fact was pointed out to him in a one to one meeting by the then Archbishop as something extremely negative… it showed my friend had “ecclesiality problems” (“problemas de eclesialidad” -SIC-)… What that does mean? My friend translated it to me: “it means that The Man does not like you; you are not one of ‘his people’ “. In practical terms, this means that my friend was never granted autorization to pursue higher studies in Rome… while some others, which were “del palo” were generously authorized to do so…
    There are a lot of well documented cases of this sort here.
    So, do not put a lot of expectations in the “sotana”… at least while it is still legal to wear one!
    Best regards,

  18. Elizabeth D says:

    That is interesting; the Holy Spirit may have had it in mind to make him do penance when He assigned Jorge Bergoglio to wear a cassock every single day now.

  19. Emilio says:

    ¡Viva la Nueva Evangelización! ¡Hagan Lío, Padres Reverendos!

  20. Random Friar says:

    ¡Y viva los hábitos también!

  21. Traductora says:

    Beautiful! Not saccharine at all, this is how the Spanish think about priests and what the cassock means to them. Unamuno described a priest wearing a cassock “color ala de mosca,” which means literally the color of the wing of a fly, that is, a shiny somewhat iridescent green-black. Good priests were known for that because that meant their black wool cassocks were nearly worn out and shiny from cleaning and the priests were poor and humble and devoted to their people.

    Of course, these were the first ones the Communists lined up against the wall and shot (or, worse still, walled up and suffocated in the walls of their parish church, usually with a few of the lay faithful).

  22. MouseTemplar says:

    Seeing the cassock always delights me and I feel a blush of pride in “my” Church and her heroic priests.

    I can see how it would be hard for a priest used to wearing his black suit to make a switch; it’s taken me years to transition back to my lace mantilla!

  23. JimGB says:

    I live in the Archdiocese of New York and honestly it has been years since I saw a priest wearing a cassock. If they are helping to distribute Communion at a Mass where they they are not the celebrant, it is always an alb and stole over the clerical shirt (short sleeved in Summer). I have also seen golf shirts with black pants and the worst was a priest who came to a wake service wearing a clerical shirt with the collar open ( it was a hot night). I can understand this mode of attire on a day off, but when performing ministry functions they should “put on the gear.” By contrast, I went to a family baptism in the Diocese of Arlington VA last year and the priest celebrating the baptism wore cassock, surplice (with lace no less), stole and cope. Quite a difference!

  24. Bea says:

    Ignatius said:
    “So, do not put a lot of expectations in the “sotana”… at least while it is still legal to wear one!”

    Interesting story, Ignatius, why am I not surprised?
    I guess “expectations” in the sense of careerism, in the spiritual sense, I would side on “great expectations”.

    Loved that poem in the video, especially on the priest’s end; being buried in his “sotana” and as they both become dust, they become as “One”.

  25. Bea says:

    PS, Ignatius:
    Los aires de Buenos Aires no son tan buenos.
    Necesitamos un abanico.

  26. Latinmass1983 says:

    The video does make a good point: that the use of the Cassock by priests when in public is a sign to people of the presence of the Church in the world.

    One only has to see at protestant nations like these USA ( “the land of the free” no less) and nations under persecution … they make it their point to forbid the use of the Cassock!

    The fact that in the US the use of something other than the Cassock has been tolerated (not the rule, but tolerated) when in public says a lot about the protestant persecution (even if not as violent as the ones on Mexico and Spain) does lead to some type of elimination of what Catholic practices should really be.

    I would say that now that not even Protestantism can lay a claim to these USA as their territory, it might be a good time for the Cassock to make a comeback and be the flag that will claim it back to the original evangelizer of these USA (after all, the Catholic Church reached these lands before the protestant revolt made a mess of it!

  27. Polycarpio says:

    I grew up in Latin America. There are definitely three gradations of clerical decorum one observes there. One is priests who wear cassocks. When I was a kid there in the 70s, they were “a throwback” to the way things used to be. It was considered the proper form, if not necessarily the universally observed form. But if you saw a priest in a cassock, you felt encouraged. Priests who wore cassocks were the opposite of the new breed of priest, the hipster priests who went in casual lay clothes–or, occasionally, in business attire. These priests stood for a clerical ‘avant garde’, who advanced the most “forward looking” positions, and you took your chances on whether their views were orthodox or not, approved and in line with the magisterium or not. Somewhere in between were the Roman collar-honoring priests who nevertheless did not wear a cassock. One got the impression that they were trying to straddle the fence and not offend the old fashioned priests or the new avant garde priests or their constituents. Now in retrospect, I suppose some of them could have been missionaries from the U.S. who had entirely different reasons for their attire, but this is how they were read.

  28. Polycarpio says:

    I grew up in Latin America. There are definitely three gradations of clerical decorum one observes there. One is priests who wear cassocks. When I was a kid there in the 70s, they were “a throwback” to the way things used to be. It was considered the proper form, if not necessarily the universally observed form. But if you saw a priest in a cassock, you felt encouraged. Priests who wore cassocks were the opposite of the new breed of priest, the hipster priests who went in casual lay clothes–or, occasionally, in business attire. These priests stood for a clerical ‘avant garde’, who advanced the most “forward looking” positions, and you took your chances on whether their views were orthodox or not, approved and in line with the magisterium or not. Somewhere in between were the Roman collar-honoring priests who nevertheless did not wear a cassock. One got the impression that they were trying to straddle the fence and not offend the old fashioned priests or the new avant garde priests or their constituents. Now in retrospect, I suppose some of them could have been missionaries from the U.S. who had entirely different reasons for their attire, but this is how they were read.

  29. Peregrinator says:

    I think it is wonderful that more and more priests are wearing the cassock on the street, especially in this day and age when (1) many Protestant ministers, at least in my part of the U.S., wear a black suit with Roman collar and (2) the faith is under attack from many sectors within and without the Church. The faithful have a right to know who their priests are. I doubt very many non-Catholic ministers are going to wear the cassock in public!

  30. ASPM Sem says:

    Is someone able to translate for those of us who don’t know Spanish? Thanks!

    A vast majority of those in my college seminary enjoy wearing their cassock at every opportunity. Last year our rector began allowing us to wear it to the Planned Parenthood down the road when we go there to pray.

  31. Uxixu says:

    Love how every time I’ve seen the FSSP priest here in LA, he always wears his cassock. The most distinct way to identify Catholic clergy as way too many protestant “ministers” wear the clerical suit and even Roman collar.

    I pray the cassock would be mandated for any area not under active persecution, at the very least on church grounds or when performing any public ministry for which vestments aren’t prescribed. This should include deacons.

  32. Gregorius says:

    One surprising thing I learned a few years ago on the New Liturgical Movement website was that the practice of wearing the cassock as ‘street dress’ really only developed over the past 150 years. So while I think more priests should be wearing the cassock, I also don’t think it bad to see priests prefer the clerical suit.
    Search for “Clerical dress in the city of Rome in the 19th century” for the (two-part) article.

  33. Haec Dies says:

    What an awesome and moving testament to the power of the priesthood. The example of alter Christus walking among the flock was edifying to say the least. What a great way to silently evangelize.

  34. IoannesPetrus says:

    Gregorius: Are there any rules governing [the use of the fascia]?

    Fr Z.: Not anymore.

    That doesn’t seem to be entirely true. I stumbled upon this webpage some years ago; it was created by a priest who did reference certain official documents for his information.

  35. IoannesPetrus says:

    ASPM Sem: Is someone able to translate for those of us who don’t know Spanish?

    Here’s a straightforward translation of everything but the poem (which I’m working on):

    LONG LIVE THE CASSOCK!

    Why a documentary on the cassock? Many will think that it is something outdated! | But the cassock was, is and will be the ecclesiastical habit par excellence of the Catholic priest.

    Many will think erroneously that, after the conciliar reform, the cassock was removed from the life of the priest. | But nothing could be further from the truth!

    The cassock, in a very special way, configures the priest to the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. It builds the faithful and makes the Church present in the world.

    We wish to show in this documentary the historical reasons, the reasons of the Church’s present Magisterium, the moral and spiritual reasons, and the reasons both current and continual for the use of the cassock. – cut to poem

    poem over – “Long live the cassock!” is a documentary that seeks to be an encouragement to those who already wear the cassock, and a stimulus to those who, we hope, will do the same. – cut to info

  36. IoannesPetrus says:

    For convenience, here’s the info at the end of the slide:

    LONG LIVE THE CASSOCK!

    NEW DOCUMENTARY
    (TRADITIO ET FIDES Collection)

    FOR ORDERS:
    agnusdeiprod@gmail.com
    Tel.: (34) 690 27 25 48*

    *Don’t forget to dial the exit code first; (34) is Spain’s country code.

  37. Bea says:

    ASPM Sem: glad to oblige
    Translation: (to the best of my poor ability)

    LONG LIVE THE SOUTANE
    Why a documentary on the soutane?
    Many will think it is anachronistic.
    But the soutane yesterday, as today and as always, has been, is and always will be the ecclesiastical wardrobe par excellence of a Catholic priest.
    Many will think, erroneously, that after the conciliar reform, the soutane was abrogated from the life of a priest and from the Church, but nothing is more contrary to reality.
    The soutane of in specialized way prefigures the priest and the priesthood of Our Lord, edifies the faithful and makes present The Church in the world.
    We wish to demonstrate in this documentary the historical reasons, the reasons of the magisterial of the actual Church, the moral and spiritual reasons, and the actual and perpetual reasons for the use of the soutane.

    POEM: (apparently as from an elderly priest meditating on his soutane)
    There it is, that fascinating item
    That dazzled my infancy
    That fed my dreams and I drew with tenderness in my candid imagination
    That serious soutane
    That captivated my childhood pupils. (pupils of his eyes)
    That beloved garment dreams of my childhood
    And motor of my destiny and garment that will culminate my life
    There it is, solitary and silent
    Austere and interpolator
    My old Soutane of advanced solemnity
    (couldn’t get this phrase, he spoke so fast/something like became crystalline )
    Shiny from it’s constant use.
    The soutane , the coat , and shelter of the saints.
    Soutane, living reliquary,
    Soutane that outlives the centuries
    Traditional soutane
    A thousand times attacked and always victorious
    My dreamed of goal
    May I be buried with in a mortal holiness
    Redressed with the holy soutane
    Thus shall not be of my life but of my Faith.
    And with it The placid dream of the Just
    And when my dried up bones become dust
    May it be forged
    With that holy habit
    Garment of resurrection and of a plentitude that never withers .

    Viva La Sotana is a documentary which We wish to be an stimulant or those who aleady wear it, and efficacious for those who we hope will wear it.

  38. Bea says:

    last sentence correction
    “a stimulant for those “

  39. Reginald Pole says:

    I just contacted Agnus Dei Productions and ordered a copy of ¡Viva la sotana! The DVD was 7 EUR and shipment was 9.76 EUR a total equivalent of about $21.50 USD. I didn’t ask but assume that the DVD is coded for region 2, so unless you have a multi-region DVD player you won’t be able to play the disk.

  40. ASPM Sem says:

    If you have a Linux computer, you should be able to bypass the region code.

  41. The Masked Chicken says:

    How, by clicking on the actual video data? VLC, the Swiss Army Knife of video players might do it, but it is illegal to use to play certain movies because of Microsoft’s codex restrictions in the U. S.

    The Chicken

  42. ad Deum says:

    Fr. Fryar, FSSP English speaking chaplain, wrote in FSSP Confraternity newsletter that his cassock is used for envangelization!

  43. ASPM Sem says:

    If we ever get a message from aliens, VLC could play it.