From a reader…
Is the cassock required for a priest to wear a cassock under his vestments when celebrating the Extraordinary Form Mass?
I did not think so, and I know other priests who celebrate the 1962 Mass without it, but I was kindly told the other day it was a defect to go without it. I could not find an official determination of this question. Obviously a thorough-laced alb would look funny over anything but a cassock, but my question is about what is actually required.
I am a newly ordained priest, still figuring many things out and I appreciate your help!
First, congratulations for your ordination. Be brave and be prudent. Ad multos annos.
The Ritus Servandus in the front part of your traditional Missale Romanum has a section entitled De Præparatione Sacerdotis celebraturi… “Concerning the preparation of the priest who is going to celebrate (Mass). In paragraph 2 of that section we read:
Quibus ita dispositis, accedit ad paramenta, quæ non debent esse lacera, aut scissa, sed integra, et decenter munda, ac pulchra, et ab Episcopo itidem, vel alio facultatem habenti, benedicta; ubi calceatus pedibus, et indutus vestibus sibi convenientibus quarum exterior saltem talum pedis attingat, induit se, dicens ad singula singulas Orationes inferius positas.
Once these things are arranged, he goes to the vestments, which must not be ripped or torn, but undamaged and decently clean, and beautiful, and also blessed by the Bishop or by another having the faculty; whereupon, his feet being shod, and having dressed himself in appropriate attire which outwardly reaches at least to the ankle, he vests himself, saying with each (vestment) the individual prayers given below.
Latin talus means “ankle”. One Latin term for the cassock is habitus talaris. In Italian we say “talare” for a cassock.
So, from the Ritus Servandus we see that it is foreseen that the priest should wear the cassock for Mass.
However, I admit that I often dispense myself from the cassock when it is hot. In that case, I always use a plain alb with no lace. Even when I do have the cassock on, I usually wear a plain alb unless it is a feast, but that’s another matter.