QUAERITUR: priest in track suit for sacraments

From a reader:

Well.. a priest I know of, turned up late for a baptism and didn’t
vest before baptising this baby, he stayed in the tracksuit he was
wearing…and also he does not wear a stole while hearing confessions
at all. Im no expert on the law regarding vestmets…so I was just
wondering if that is normal, or if it makes any difference to the
validity of the Sacramant (I doubt it does…but Im slightly concerned
about the validity of the my confessions now). Any help would be much appreciated!

First, if…if… that happened, allow me to say… what a JERK.

That is not normal.  As a matter of fact, it is a dreadful abuse.  It does not affect the validity of the sacrament, but it was illicit and it was sure to affect the sensibilities of the people there.

Redemptionis Sacramentum says:

[126.] The abuse is reprobated whereby the sacred ministers celebrate Holy Mass or other rites without sacred vestments or with only a stole over the monastic cowl or the common habit of religious or ordinary clothes, contrary to the prescriptions of the liturgical books, even when there is only one minister participating. In order that such abuses be corrected as quickly as possible, Ordinaries should take care that in all churches and oratories subject to their jurisdiction there is present an adequate supply of liturgical vestments made in accordance with the norms.

Look… there may be a situation in which the regular priest is impeded from coming and a substitute dashes over from another parish, etc. etc. etc.  In that case, perhaps he could explain to people what the situation is and ask them to wait a couple minutes while he puts on the right gear.  Things happen.

But it this is regular…. well…

And also from RS,

[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

I wouldn’t fool around with this clown very much.

Send a picture of this fellow to the local bishop with a copy to the Congregation for Divine Worship.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Really now, must we be so rigid, lets get with it, you know the spirit of anything goes, the VII jive.

    Good grief what is the clergy coming to, if that was my child you better believe the priest would be vested if I had to help him myself.

  2. Philangelus says:

    For heaven’s sake. Even McDonalds requires a minimum uniform. Do we respect french fries more than we respect the sacraments of baptism and confession?

  3. TJerome says:

    When I was cantoring 25 years ago, a priest dashed into the sacristy in sweats and announced that he was today’s celebrant. I said directly to him “you must be joking.” He and I had a bit of a “discussion.” I pointed out to him that I had on a suit and tie and was showing far more respect by my attire for what was about to take place than he was. He never showed up like that again.

  4. DavidJ says:

    In an emergency, of course I wouldn’t expect proper attire. Otherwise though, it’s not unreasonable to expect the priest to vest the part.

  5. TNCath says:

    While I’m not a fan of the alb in place of a surplice, how much more time would it have taken for him to go into the sacristy and put on an alb and stole? Geez.

  6. Seraphic Spouse says:

    When priests think they can come to the sacraments dressed in almost any old way, they are participating in a very weird modern kind of clericalism. They give the impression that they are starring in their own show. And heeeeeeeer’s Father!

  7. wolfeken says:

    TJerome makes a very important point. If laymen are to expect priests and religious to dress properly, then we need to also dress properly. I wonder how many men at that baptism were tie-less, and how many women were wearing trousers instead of dresses or skirts.

    It’s a two way street, which, as noted, can be used to raise the bar across the board. A priest should always be in his cassock and religious should always be in their habits. But laymen should match their formality.

    Fun may be had with this, too. If a priest insists on wearing a short sleeve clerical shirt with a tab collar (instead of a cassock and a full wraparound collar), then a layman can wear a short sleeve dress shirt with a clip-on tie to make his point, looking like Homer Simpson. I never did understand where some of these 20th century customs came from, like tab collars and tossing an alb on over a shirt and pants. We can ask for better, but we need to do it wearing proper attire.

  8. The Egyptian says:

    from a previous post of yours Father Z

    According to one senior Vatican official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Marini sent him a page-long list of vestments he had to wear during a special ordination in St. Peter’s. “I didn’t recognize half of the things on it,” the official said. “Then I had trouble getting it all on.”

    and now track suits, a natural progression? How we have all fallen

  9. Maria says:

    Only a gut reaction Father, in three words……

    This is horrible

  10. JimGB says:

    I agree with TNCatholic. How much trouble could it have been to put on an alb and stole? That’s how priests are vested today for most baptisms in any event.

    A similar anecdote came from a funeral Mass I attended last year. The priest’s black jogging pants (complete with white stripe) and black sneakers were visible underneath his alb. At the conclusion of the funeral Mass, after he was through greeting the family at the door of the Church, he got in the car with the funeral director for the trip to the gravesite, still fully vested for Mass (alb, stole, cincture and chasuble). That was another first for me.

    My question is : what is with these guys? Do they just not care? Lazy? Overworked? The priest who went to the cemetery in his Mass vestments was a religious order priest, but black jogging pants are not part of their regular habit!

  11. JimGB says:

    An additional thought: Father Z points out that the priest’s attire does not affect the validity of the baptism, but I assume that presupposes that the priest followed the ritual as prescribed. Would the priest’s failure to wear the appropriate vestments for the rite indicate other “looseness” such as toying with the language when pouring the water over the baby’s head? In other words, is he a “Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifyer” type of guy? Only those present would be able attest to the priest’s use of the correct formula.

  12. JimGB: indicate other “looseness”

    I am not sure it is fair to introduce that into this discussion.

  13. Luvadoxi says:

    I’m all in favor of the priest dressing properly for sacraments; once a priest was sitting in the confessional in track shorts and t shirt after running and I really felt disrespected; but I have to say something. Every time I think about attending an EF mass, it seems like I run across a really disturbing attitude towards women, and it bothers me. Women wearing nice slacks to church–there’s nothing wrong with that! I rarely wear dresses or skirts because I look better in pants. It’s not like I’m wearing farmer’s jeans, for heaven’s sake.

  14. IrishCatholic says:

    Yes, thanks Father Z ! I ran away from this parish as fast as my little legs would carry me… after this gentlemen decided to laugh at my confession! This is beyond a joke… but I have no proof..so would the ordinary and/or Roman Congretations listen to me?

    *Also I don’t mind that this says who wrote to you in the first place, cos I wanted to answer….and don’t know how to not publish the name thing….soo yah!)*

  15. fwbear says:

    Father Z,

    How about a little Christian charity for a change?

    [Yah? How ’bout it? How about the sort of charity that priests ought to have for the Christian people in their charge? How about priests celebrating for them the sacraments of the Church according to the Church founded by GOD and promulgated by God’s appointed Vicar? How about some charity? How ’bout it pal? Huh? How ’bout it?]

  16. Maria says:

    I’m in agreement Luvadoxi with what you say
    “I’m all in favor of the priest dressing properly for sacraments;” as a Priest is in Holy Orders to administer The Sacraments.

    Whilst I am all in favour of women dressing modestly and with respect and tidiness, I do not see anything wrong with us girls wearing smart clean and decent slacks/ladies trousers for Mass.

    I have never worn dresses or skirts since I left my school uniform behind.

    I think its great to see a Priest wearing ordinary clothes, but there is a time and a place.

  17. Adrianne says:

    I’ve wondered about pants/slacks for women for years. The question seems to me to be: if they’re inappropriate, why are they inappropriate? The best answer I have heard to that one is that historically and across cultures, decent women have universally avoided wearing anything that visually defines their curves between the waist and the knees. The reasons to avoid drawing attention to those portions of the anatomy are obvious. But that doesn’t mean a total nix on pants/slacks–any woman wearing a long tunic or closed duster with her slacks would achieve the same effect of obscuring that area. And she would probably appear more modest than a woman whose skirt was tight across the hips. Ultimately I think that lifting focus from the waist-to-knee zone is the important thing; if that’s happening, then the skirt/slacks question is moot.

  18. No… noooo….

    This is not about women wearing pants or about skirts.

    Did you see what this was about?

  19. Supertradmum says:

    I do not think that priests who abuse liturgical norms of any kind, including dress, really believe in what they are doing. Imagine-bringing a child into sanctifying grace, taking the child out of Original Sin and making him a child of God…in sweats? How we dress reflects how we believe…despite what moderns say.

    And, as to “charity”, what about Charity to God Almighty, and to His People?

  20. catholicmidwest says:

    To a point, you are correct, Supertradmom. Really severe aberrations of clothing (like priests in sweats during baptisms) make one wonder if the person is taking things seriously. I am, however, not one of those stereotypical traditionalists who focuses on how everyone else is dressed 24/7.
    Myself, I do routinely go to mass in jeans, but they’re clean and whole and cover me up. Coverage really is the name of the game. The idea is to avoid people staring at oneself or one’s parts. It’s not really about fashion, traditional, expensive, sexy, crazy or otherwise.

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    Fr Z,
    Personally, I don’t care if the priest has sports clothes underneath his vestments or not. When he’s at the altar, he should have vestments on then, and be covered well enough that no one stares at him or notices what he has on.

    As for what lay people wear, anything modest and acceptable on the street seems fine to me. The name of the game is coverage. You shouldn’t have anything on that makes people stare, read slogans, or look at your body parts.

    PS, this “women must be in dresses crap is pointless,” and that’s not what this thread is about anyway.

  22. Pants are not basically men’s clothes. They are clothes for people performing active tasks which are dangerous to do in skirts. Trousers were invented for the purpose of horseback riding, in most cultures.

    Similarly, skirts and robes are not basically women’s clothes. They are clothing for activities which are not physically strenuous in a way which makes you kilt up your hem and/or tie it between your legs. Most cultures’ ceremonial wear or man of leisure’s clothing is a robe. Scholars wear robes, whether in China or an English university.

    This is why priests wear liturgical robes in church, but have a choice of cassocks or pants in normal life. They have various kinds of duties.

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