ASK FATHER: Deacons vesting in dalmatics for concelebrations

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

Father, I know priests are allowed to vest for Mass (chasuble, stole, etc.) together and concelebrate. It’s not a good thing, but it makes theological sense because many priests can consecrate one host as St. Thomas Aquinas says.

However, at an ordination and chrism Mass (OF), all of the Diocesan deacons vest. Why are they vested? Is there some theology behind this, a concelebration of deacons of sort, or is it a bunch of liturgical hodgepodge?

Without getting into the question of concelebration (which I think should be safe, legal and rare), deacons are deacons and deacons have their proper vestment, which is the dalmatic.

What’s with the vestimentary and liturgical stinginess when it comes to deacons?  Deacons are clerics, but NO! they can’t wear clerical clothing unless its gray or in some other way altered.   Deacons are liturgical ministers, ordained for service at the altar, but NO! they can’t put on their proper vestments.

This is absurd.  Deacons should be able to wear the dalmatic when serving at the altar.

Consider this outside of the context of concelebration.  In the traditional way of doing things, when there is a procession, as for example in the case of the upcoming Corpus Christi, priests and deacons would wear, respectively, their chasuble and dalmatics over their choir dress.  You put on an amice and you put on the chasuble or dalmatic and off you go!

Let’s not be pusillanimous when it comes to our deacons.

As far as deacons at a concelebration are concerned, if they don’t have specific liturgical roles as sacred ministers, then in the Roman way of doing things they should – just as priests or bishops would – attend in their proper choir dress, which is cassock and surplice with biretta.  They would need a stole (worn in the manner of a deacon) if they are going to receive Holy Communion.    Priests and deacons don’t wear their stoles if they are in choir, unless they are going to have something to do with the Blessed Sacrament (e.g., receive or distribute or translate). This is not to pick on deacons, of course.  As I wrote, that would apply to priests and bishops as well: proper choir dress.

We must bring back these distinctions of roles as sacred ministers in the liturgical action and as otherwise “full, conscious and active” participants in the action.  Both modes of participation have their proper place in the sanctuary and their proper garb.

Please share!

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5 Responses to ASK FATHER: Deacons vesting in dalmatics for concelebrations

  1. Amerikaner says:

    A deacon-related question: A well-know diocese in Nebraska doesn’t have a diaconate program and won’t have it as they say that there are enough priests. Is true that the ordination of deacons is contingent upon the # of vocations?

    [The diaconate, especially the permanent diaconate, would have a special relationship with the bishop. They were in ancient times the bishop’s most immediate ministers, especially with the goods of the Church. If diocesan bishop doesn’t want a permanent deacon program, that’s his prerogative. He is not obliged to train men for permanent diaconate. It may be that the bishop wants to emphasize vocations to the priesthood.]

  2. RichR says:

    The Chrism Mass is the one time (besides an Ordination Mass) during the liturgical year when all the sacred ministers gather round the Bishop in unity. I think it is highly symbolic that deacons are there in full regalia with their bishop. As far as the OP’s question goes, they are there for a specific purpose.

    As far as a regular Sunday Mass, I know our parish has one of its four deacons at each Mass to help the priest with distribution of Communion. However, it is always disordered when a deacon shows up when not scheduled and feels pressure to sit in the pews, let Extraordinary Ministers of HC do their thing, and he receive from them during the Communion Rite. EMHCs have developed a whole warped spirituality around their liturgical roles when they SHOULD be praying for the day when a priest (or deacon) can render their deputized role unnecessary.

  3. Amerikaner says:

    Thanks for the answer, Fr Z!!

  4. Xerebrox says:

    Thanks for accepting my registration Fr. Z! Regarding this article:

    1. “As far as deacons at a concelebration are concerned, if they don’t have specific liturgical roles as sacred ministers, then in the Roman way of doing things they should – just as priests or bishops would – attend in their proper choir dress, which is cassock and surplice with biretta. They would need a stole (worn in the manner of a deacon) if they are going to receive Holy Communion.” – so clearly, deacons can wear their stole over the surplice (and cassock). [Yes.]

    2. Are there any “rules” regarding when priests can wear stole over surplice and cassock aside from what you already mentioned in this article? I have seen priests vested like so for baptisms and confessions. What about the other sacraments celebrated outside the Mass? What about stole over alb only – is this even an option? [In a sense, the surplice is the substitute for the alb. However, the surplice is proper for choir dress, unless one is a canon and has the use of the rochet, etc. I wouldn’t use the stole over the alb unless there was no surplice available or unless I was not in a cassock and I needed to do something.]

    3. What about for deacons? Preferably dalmatic-stole-alb? [cincture] When they administer baptisms or officiate at marriages outside the Mass, is diaconal stole-surplice-cassock an option? is diaconal stole-alb ever an option? [cassock, surplice and stole works for blessings that deacons can confer, etc.]

    Thanks Fr. Z!

  5. Deacon Jason says:

    If memory serves, the OF rubrics for matrimony outside of Mass also optionally allow the use of a dalmatic with the alb and stole in lieu of a cope.