A question from the internet:
I first want to say thank you for your great work for the Lord and the Church!!! Many thanks. My question is whether or not a seminarian is allowed to wear the biretta? I live in Philadelphia, but want to remain anonymous to the superiors, because some are not open to continuity with tradition. If a seminarian is allowed to wear one, when would it be appropriate? I am looking forward to attending a Mass in the Extraordinary Form also. Thank you in advance for help.
First, you are welcome. But I remind you that the participants here are really what help WDTPRS to be influential. The more people who read, the better the stats, the more the milestones, the greater impact we can have in shaping the conversation.
And it is all about shaping the conversation, isn’t it?
Second, yes, seminarians can wear birettas. They always could in years past, so I can’t see why they can’t now.
Distinction: Once upon a time seminarians were given first tonsure and vested with the cassock as a sign of their clerical state. That is when they would start using the biretta as part of their choir dress.
Now, the clerical state begins at diaconate.
However, since the ministries of lector and acolyte substitute for those old minor orders, some suggest that the biretta shouldn’t be used until the man is "installed" in one of those ministries. Aside: I find that "installed" thing rather amusing. It makes a man sound like a spark-plug.
So, I suppose we could approach this a couple ways.
Either reserve the biretta to men in major seminary, or reserve it for those who are in major seminary and who are lectors and/or acolytes.
No matter what… and this is important… be careful to gauge prudently what sort of reaction there might be from the faculty of the seminary.
Don’t get yourself scrutinized more closely because of a hat. It just ain’t worth it.
In the meantime, be sure to study what I call "birettiquette", so that you know what to do with the hat once you are sure you can use it.
I don’t know how many times I have seen clueless priests fumble around with the thing.