QUAERITUR: Deacon’s choir dress

From a deacon reader:

I assume a permanent deacon’s choir dress would be cassock and
surplice, just like a priest. But if he were to receive communion,
would he bring a diaconal stole and put it on at the appropriate time?

A deacon is a deacon is a deacon.  He therefore uses proper clerical dress when in choir.

He wears the cassock, with the Roman/military collar, surplice and biretta.

To receive Holy Communion, put on the stole in the manner of a deacon just before you receive and take it off after you have received.  Don’t wear it in the entrance procession or recessional or during the whole Mass.  Bring the stole in draped over your left arm, or put it in place at your kneeler before Mass begins.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. wolfeken says:

    Sadly it is hard to find a “permanent deacon” who vests properly at the traditional Latin Mass. I hope many of them read these directives — tossing an alb and stole over a golf shirt and khakis is not the proper attire for distributing communion.

  2. Richard says:

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is the reason that a deacon puts on a stole to receive Holy Communion?

  3. br.david says:

    I, too, do not see the reason for the stole for a deacon upon receiving Holy Communion. The diaconate does not form a collegium, hence the reason why it makes no real sense for deacons, who do not function in the Sacred Liturgy, to be dressed in albs and stoles, or in dalmatics….

  4. pitkiwi says:

    What about in a diocese where the bishop has expressly forbade permanent deacons from wearing the collar at all? (to avoid “confusion”)

  5. greasemonkey says:

    The stole is a sign of jurisdiction & holy orders. The deacon dons his stole at the appropriate time in the liturgy to function as an ordinary minister of holy communion and distribute the sacred elements and give a sign that he is doing such as a cleric in the Church. Of course if it is Solemn Mass and he is functioning as a deacon in the liturgy, he is fully vested (hence the situation where an “additional” deacon may be vested in cassock and surplice in the sanctuary and assist the ministers in the distribution of holy communion). The Ordinary Form would permit more than one deacon to function in the liturgy, so one may see more than one deacon functioning in those liturgies.

  6. Willebrord says:

    Of course, at a certain seminary *cough cough* you see all the transitional deacons in cassock, collar, surplice AND the stole at every Mass.

  7. TNCath says:

    I cannot recall one time in my life where I have seen a deacon in a cassock and surplice assisting at Mass in choir in the Ordinary Form. Whenever they are present, they are usually in a polyester alb and stole and, if they have some function in the Mass itself, a dalmatic. That said, I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen a priest assisting at Mass in choir in the Ordinary Form in my diocese. Unfortuately, this business of all priests concelebrating or, in the case of deacons, vesting for Mass seems to be de rigueur nowadays.

  8. Willebrord says:

    TNCath: that is because deacons are hard to come by. I’ve often been at parishes that had more priests than deacons, or no deacons whatsoever. So usually it seems like a swell idea for them to assist in the Mass.

    However, when there’s a bunch of deacons together (I’ve only seen this with transitional deacons, in seminary and in the cathedral), they’re in choir dress. With the stole, however.

    I would imagine permanent deacons being the same way. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them didn’t HAVE a cassock (out of all those I know there’s only one that uses a cassock with surplice; for Stations of the Cross).

  9. Animadversor says:

    The diaconate does not form a collegium

    It doesn’t?

    deacons, who do not function in the Sacred Liturgy

    They don’t? Even if you mean that while attending in choir they don’t function in the Sacred Liturgy, surely when they receive Holy Communion, they are “functioning” in a very important way. In any case, it is an unreprobated custom of long standing that the clergy attending in choir should wear their stoles when communicating, and ought, therefore, I suggest, to be observed, even if it is a custom that we might not have instituted ourselves. I wonder if this attitude comes from a feeling, perhaps not one held completely consciously, that deacons, especially permanent deacons, are not really members of the clergy.

  10. JohnMa says:

    At St. John’s in McLean, VA there is a permanent deacon who attends Mass in choro every single week. He wears cassock, surplice, and biretta. He carries his stole in in the manner prescribed by Fr. Z and then dons it prior to receiving Christ and distributing the Eucharist. He then takes it off when he is done and processes out with it on his left arm.

  11. <<<<>>> he should get down on his knees and adore, as even Padre Pio would when he wasn’t saying Mass. If you don’t believe me, check out the his photo on my blog’s front page. I have often wanted to write something about that….but really, the photo says it all!!


  12. kat says:

    The deacon already receives a part of Holy Orders, and the priestly character on the soul. The priest receives more; the bishop receives the fullness of Holy Orders. So he truly is something special, and his garb ought to signify it.

    We are blessed this year to have a resident transitional deacon (recovering from illness); it is so wonderful to have him. He also wears cassock, surplice, and puts on the stole at Communion, and helps to distribute Communion. At Benediction he assists the priest by placing Our Lord in the Monstrance and replacing Him in the tabernacle after. He also gives sermons sometimes, and sings the Epistle at the Missa Cantata. We are very much enjoying having him, and seeing how much he is able to help out our priests.

  13. kat: Deacons do not receive the priestly character. They are deacons, not priests.

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