QUAERITUR: Dalmatics on deacons! Maniples all around!

From a priest:

I enjoyed reading your post a month or so ago about how the use of maniples is really a sine qua non for the New Evangelization.  [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] As a relatively-new, hip, young priest, I have a few matching solemn high vestment sets, complete with maniples, and at my parish, we have 3 permanent deacons who are all quite active. [For the love of all that is holy… teach them the Extraordinary Form!] Therefore, at most Masses, even daily ones, we have at least one deacon, and sometimes two. My question is this: although the maniple is allowed but not required in the OF, if I’m going to wear one, should I have the deacon(s) wear one too?  [YES!] After all, it is proper to all the ordained, not just the priest, and it seems that I could potentially cause some confusion if only I wore one and not the deacon(s).  [I don’t know how much confusion it would cause, but surely the angels would weep.] Of course, another factor to consider is that the other priests in my parish, including the pastor, [the plot thickens] would definitely not wear a maniple, and so that could also cause confusion when the people see me wear one and not the other priests, and the deacons wearing one only when I’m the celebrant.  [Show ’em how it’s done, sonny.]

Another question, slightly related, has to do with dalmatics. We have two dalmatics of each color (including rose and black!), but the general practice is that they’re only worn on Sundays and feasts, and so at weekdays the deacon(s) just wears an alb and stole. Should they wear the dalmatic everyday? And would it be inappropriate for them to wear an alb, maniple, and stole, without a dalmatic? [Yahhhh… I can’t see them wearing the maniple without the dalmatic.  But it seems to me that the proper vestment of the deacon is the dalmatic, all the time.  If you have the dalmatic, use the dalmatic.  ]

I am reminded of a parody song the official WDTPRS parodohymnodist made up years before … I think before the internet.

Dalmatics on deacons and cassocks on priests,
habits on nuns and immovable feasts,
bishops in soutanes with big, gaudy rings –
these are a few of my favorite things.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Mariana says:

    “Dalmatics on deacons and cassocks on priests,
    habits on nuns and immovable feasts,
    bishops in soutanes with big, gaudy rings –
    these are a few of my favorite things.”

    That, too, would look good on a mug!

  2. bmccoy says:

    “Dalmatics on deacons and cassocks on priests,
    habits on nuns and immovable feasts,
    bishops in soutanes with big, gaudy rings –
    these are a few of my favorite things.”

    Do I sense a Fr.Z music video? *snickers*

  3. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    One problem a deacon has is that many parishes still do not have dalmatics of various colors–even those that have deacons assigned to the parish. Whenever I assist a priest (usually for a funeral of a relative or close friend) at another parish I bring my own dalmatic. Usually it is good that I have done so–for many parishes have closets and closets full of chasubles for visiting priests to use, but frequently no dalmatics. Yet Rome has said that deacons should wear dalmatics and not just alb and stoles.

  4. In the traditional Dominican Rite the dalmatic is not worn by the deacon on simplex (IIId Class) feast and ferial days. He wears only the stole and maniple over the alb. The subdeacon wears only the maniple with the alb. This is also the practice during the Asperges (when the priest as well only wears the stole and maniple–the cope is not used for this ceremony in the Dominican Rite). I rather like the “progressive solemnity” of this practice.

  5. AJ says:

    “Dalmatics on deacons and cassocks on priests,
    habits on nuns and immovable feasts,
    bishops in soutanes with big, gaudy rings –
    these are a few of my favorite things.”

    May I borrow this Fr. Z and try to finish the whole song? Great for a mug or a shirt!

  6. Centristian says:

    Fr. Z saith: “For the love of all that is holy… teach them the Extraordinary Form!”

    Yes…in order to impress upon them a more worthy and dignified way of celebrating Mass in any form; in order to familiarize them with the all but lost art of the proper execution and presentation of the ceremonies of the Mass of the Roman Rite. I’m thrilled, however, to read the words of a young priest who understands that the Ordinary Form of Mass may be celebrated with as much Roman dignity and majesty as may the Extraordinary Form and therefore makes a point of doing so. Thank God–I don’t say that vainly but very sincerely–thank God for priests like you (and Fr. Z, of course). If only there were so many more. In today’s Church, your decision to publicly uphold the liturgy’s dignity when celebrating Mass in any form makes you a hero.

    Few things confound me more than priests or prelates who will lavish reverence and excellence upon their celebrations of Mass in the Extraordinary Form but cannot manage to do the same when they celebrate Mass in the Ordinary Form. They seem to imagine that only when celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form can the traditional expressions and externals of the Roman liturgy obtain, and that’s such utter nonsense. It’s the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite of the Latin Church we’re talking about, for heavens’ sake; of course its celebration should be at all times characterized by the dignity and splendor that has graced the Roman Rite of Mass from time immemorial.

    So, yes, put your deacons in dalmatics and maniples when celebrating Mass in the Ordinary Form, even on weekdays. If they’re acting as deacons of the Mass, then the dalmatic is their proper vestment, be it Sunday or Tuesday. It’s marvelous that you have three (!) permanent deacons at your disposal who stand ready and willing to cooperate with you in your efforts to present the Roman liturgy properly. What a blessing permanent deacons are to any parish.

    If you really want to be liturgically “hip” (to use your word), you might from time to time employ one of the two deacons to assist you at the altar and proclaim the Gospel, &c, in dalmatic, stole (maniple), and alb, just as a deacon normally would, but have the second deacon (and third, if all three are there) on stand-by to emerge from the sacristy or choir at the time of Communion, in cassock, surplice and deaconal stole, in order to assist with the distribution. You don’t see deacons in that ensemble very often. Perhaps, I don’t know, your extra deacons assist in cassock and surplice as MCs. If not, there’s an idea. At Communion, the deacon-MC could don his stole over his surplice and assist with the distribution.

    At any rate, young, new, hip Reverend Father, thank you. Thank you for being part of the solution and not part of the problem.

  7. Centristian speaks most graciously, and I second his words. Kudos to young, new, hip Reverend Father! As for the lack of maniples and dalmatics: surely there is one parishioner who still remembers the ladylike art of sewing; those of us in our fifth decade and above learned in school if not at home. Maniples are not difficult to sew; dalmatics are a bit more complicated, but with patience can be done. Patterns for traditional vestments can be found at http://www.churchlinens.com/vestment-patterns.html, whose proprietor, Ms. Morgan, is most helpful. Second from the bottom of the referenced webpage is a publication entitled Vestments Required for Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which contains patterns for every vestment item (including maniples) except a surplice; the set of patterns costs $5. Ms. Morgan also carries traditional fabrics for vestments, will gladly help you match fabrics from pictures or recommend fabrics that would complement the existing priest’s vestments.

  8. MominTexas says:

    “Of course, another factor to consider is that the other priests in my parish, including the pastor, [the plot thickens] would definitely not wear a maniple, and so that could also cause confusion when the people see me wear one and not the other priests, and the deacons wearing one only when I’m the celebrant. [Show ’em how it’s done, sonny.]”

    Regarding the above, as a lay person, I’d just assume it was preference. Some priests bring their vestments, some borrow ours, etc. Not sure why it would cause confusion *shrugs. * We have visiting priests ALL THE TIME, though, and often from other countries. So we see all sorts of neat vestments.

  9. Phillip says:

    Fr. Z, I like maniples as much as the next guy, but why do you consider them so important for the New Evangelization?

  10. spock says:

    First off, please forgive me if this question was already answered, I honestly don’t remember.

    I thought the signification of the maniple was that its removal implied a stopping of the Rite of Mass (cf. Father Chad Ripperger FSSP, sensustraditionis.com) since the homily and readings in the vernacular are not, strictly speaking. part of the rite in the Traditional Mass. Of course, it is re-installed at the conclusion of that portion. In the new rite of Mass, those items are a part of the Mass. So, in the new form, the cleric(s) would put it on and not remove it at all throughout the rite which to me implies a lessening of its significance. Am I understanding this correctly ? I am uncertain.

    Peace and Thanks,

  11. (One caveat: Ms. Morgan is an Episcopalian, so some of the things you will find on her website do not apply to us, such as females in vestments. She works in conjunction with Catholic and Orthodox friends and I have found her most generous and helpful.)

  12. MyBrokenFiat says:

    I’m gonna go ahead and send my fondest wishes to this young priest… :)

    My heart just about burst in order to fit more love and admiration in there for him. What refreshing hope for our Church. Christ still knows how to pick ’em, huh? :)

    Blessings, blessings, blessings to him and all he shepherds!

  13. Mitchell NY says:

    What an uplifting post and letter from this Priest. Please Father, teach others, even if they choose not to use it at this time, what the maniple is about and the use of the rose and black vestments. Some will eventualy choose to follow you. This post made me happy this evening.

  14. scaron says:

    AJ – it already *is* a complete song – and one of the greatest WDTPRS posts of all time. Maybe, as a Christmas treat, Father Z will bring back the entire post, and serve it up with a slice of the Christmas pudding. “Which, wittles is up!”

  15. I would offer this to the priest who wrote about the maniple:

    In my opinion, when you are the vicar, you do well not to do no more than truly necessary to distinguish yourself from the pastor. I personally believe the vicar should only publicly part company with the pastor when truly necessary; and I mean not only on “policy” but also in anything the allows folks to form parties–which they will.

    Now, I think any priest, especially a new priest, needs to celebrate the Mass as he believes he must, and a new priest moreso, because he’s forming his ars celebrandi.

    That said, I think if a distinction with the pastor need not be drawn, I’d hesitate to draw it.

  16. AJ says:

    Scaron – Thanks for the info. I do hope it will be re uploaded!

  17. Centristian says:

    Father Martin Fox wrote:

    “In my opinion, when you are the vicar, you do well not to do no more than truly necessary to distinguish yourself from the pastor.”

    I think that’s good advice. However, given the state of affairs in this Church of ours, it seems to me that this associate is, in fact, doing what is truly necessary.

    It may be that the days when the pastor was the mentor and the curate was the protege’ are over. Everything is upside down in today’s church, such that pastors reared in the school of the upheaval have more to receive than to give, more to learn from their traditionally-minded curates than to teach them. I’m not suggesting this young priest be obnoxious about the distinctions that will necessarily be drawn between him and his pastor but I think they they cannot help but be drawn. Such is this Church and such are these days.

  18. Supertradmum says:

    As to the laity being confused, I disagree. Most of the lay people I know would like to see more of the traditional vestments, even though they do not understand the significance or even the history. I would state emphatically that young people love the symbolism and want to learn more about such things. We are living in a particularly symbolic age, where such things as avatars, physical identifications, and costumes are more important than ever. It is only the people in their 50s, 60s, and up who I have met who prefer the laid-back, under-dressed hippy priest look of the 1970s. And, I am convinced that there is a direct connection, and I have heard priests and young men stay this, between the priest who objects to the traditional vestments and other, more serious sins.

    Father, these type of posts are very very important.

  19. Shoshana says:

    Maybe these “quite active” deacons and “hip” priest could say a few prayers for the deacon on salary at my territorial parish. He sits in the pew at daily Mass and lets the EMofHC’s distribute communion (why?). He also gives Rolheiser articles to the catechumens as required RCIA reading. Thanks.

  20. jbas says:

    I agree with the advice of Fr. Martin Fox. Although number 111 of the GIRM says, “the priest who presides at the celebration, however, always retains the right of arranging those things that are his own responsibility,” if the Parish Priest does not respect this, it is better to tone things down to the basics of faith and morals in preaching and observe the stricter rules of liturgical celebration, at least until we have more proactive bishops of the “Continuity” sort. Remember, in practice Church law only means what the local bishop interprets it to mean.

  21. Maltese says:

    If a priest needn’t have the permission of his Bishop to pray the EF mass, I daresay he needn’t he didn’t ask his parish priest to use a maniple, or be afraid to use one because the latter doesn’t. So what if he has a hissy-fit!

    Listen, as the past has proven, Tradition is only going to be restored from the bottom-up!

  22. Veronica says:

    “It is only the people in their 50s, 60s, and up who I have met who prefer the laid-back, under-dressed hippy priest look of the 1970s.”

    Supertradmum: Amen sister! LOL!

    Jocking aside, I love the new fresh air coming to the Church with new priests being ordained that trully want to bring back the beauty and splendor to the Holy Sacrifice. When in College in my home country, there was a Church in campus administered by Jesuits. I just hated all their lack of reverence when celebrating Mass (they would celebrate only in alb and stole during weekdays *roll eyes*) and all that 60’s Liberation Theology mentality.

    When I came to the USA, I was happy to find out a Catholic Church precisely in the town where I came to live. This is a very small parish (70 families) in a small town in SC. For many years we only had priests staying for a couple of years and then being moved to bigger parishes. Most of them were either from India or various places in Africa. Finally two years ago came a pastor to stay (we are still praying that would be the case!). He is 40 years old and has such a love for the Church and the solemnity due when celebrating Mass. He says that when his time comes and he stands in front of the throne of God one thing that he will be accountable for as a priest is how well he celebrated the Liturgy. He takes care of pronounce the words carefully, prayerfully.

    Currently, we just have the Mass in the OF, but he is slowly introducing more Latin in the celebration. When he came to the parish he immediately told the congregation that we would say the Kyrie in Greek, we would say Agnus Dei and sing several parts of the Mass, and he told us that he would used the dismissal in latin, so for a couple of years now the dismissal in Latin with its “Ite Missa est” is so familiar that when I visit other parishes I miss it.

    His vestments are beautiful and so dignified! And being part of the choir, I was so happy when he banned some songs from the GIA hymnals (makes the sign of the cross) from being sung (almost the whole hymnal). When the new translation of the Mass came he took the ooportunity to buy new hymnals and get rid of the GIA ones. I’m almost sure I saw a grin on his face when he was throwing them in the trash!

    He told few people (including my husband and I) that he wants to start celebrating the EF! It’s coming, but he doesn’t want to shock some parishioners with so many changes at once.

    I will keep in my prayers this young priest that sent the question to Fr. Z . We really need a renewal of the liturgy going back to basics and erradicating all those novelties introduced by a wrong understanding of Vatican II.

  23. ALL: Fr Fox has made a good point. Priests have the right under law to do x, y and z, but in reality they have to watch theirs backs. An assistant needs the good will or at least tolerance of the pastor/parish priest. Keeping ones head down a bit when first starting out could result in a good parish assignment later. Brick by brick and maniple by maniple doesn’t have to be accomplished all at once.

    Rome wasn’t destroyed in a day, and won’t be rebuilt in one day either.

  24. Christo et Ecclesiae says:

    My Cathedral always uses dalmatics. And at espisopal masses, we have two “deacons at the chair” and two priests, every five with amices and vested properly! It is a comforting sight. :)

  25. dominic1955 says:

    Fr’s Fox and Z make excellent points. It is often not in the best interest of the curate/vicar/associate to go against the opinions of the pastor unless it is absolutely necessary, and even then it is better handled as low-key as possible (i.e. mano e mano). In the present ecclesiastical climate, an associate would be a fool to ruin his career (and by that I mean potential to save souls and make a long-lasting positive impact on his local church and presbyterate) to insist on traditional minutiae that is now (unfortunately) optional. If the pastor is cool with it, great but often that is not the case. It seems to me that the victory is forseeable even if right now everything isn’t what it should be. In 10 or 20 yrs., when the priests of the Father Questioner’s generation are pastors and are saying Solemn High Masses as a matter of course with permanent deacons who are like fish in water with the TLM, they will look back on their associate days with amusement that they contemplated getting Rev. Mr. Social Justice shoehorned into a dalmatic!

    As to celebrating the TLM and NO differently, I think it makes perfect sense. The TLM is mandated, there is really not much room for personal preferences. You simply go by the book, no matter where you are or who you are. With the NO, one can go from tradded-up to silly season with BOTH being “acceptable” in the sense that they are really following the GIRM. In the NO, liturgical tradition and liturgical innovation are both just options from amongst to choose, often for all practical purposes with the nod given to innovation. Then, it goes back to what I’ve said before, even if Archbishop So-and-So decides he’s going to celebrate the NO as traditionally as possible and even mandates the same throughout his whole Archdiocese, he’s basically just made the “Rite/Usage of the Archdiocese of Such-and-Such” and liturgical Neo-Gallicanism reigns again (as if it hasn’t already been for the last 50 years…).

  26. Let me expand my thought, if I may…

    I have two reasons for my recommendation to the vicar, one of which our genial host explained.

    But I have an additional reason beyond that, having to do with a suitable docility to the pastor.

    In my opinion (and I say this not as a pastor, but as a former vicar), the vicar owes as much support to the pastor as he can give. And that support is tangible not only in what he says or doesn’t say, but also–even moreso sometimes–in any other ways he communicates (intentionally or not) that he’s “with” the pastor, or not.

    Let me be concrete. Any pastor (including me) has folks in the parish who don’t like him, or don’t like his policies. They will seek allies; especially the vicar, if they can enlist him. And that ally-seeking won’t be explicit. They’ll want to see if he’s sympathetic, if he’ll lend an ear, etc.

    I can tell you from experience that if one is not careful, it can be a trap. It happens to people who work for me; folks will seek them out and try to win them to agree with them, and not the principal, or not another employee, or me. The psychologists call it “triangulation.”

    During my two years as a vicar, I had a good pastor–extremely supportive, he and didn’t see eye-to-eye on everything but he never gave may difficulties, nor asked me ever to do anything I couldn’t do in good conscience. Really an ideal situation if there are to be differences, and there always will be.

    I made it my policy to do what I described. I don’t mean on liturgy, I mean in all the other stuff. If anyone tried to get me to voice disagreement with a policy of the pastor or the parish, I declined. I told people what his policy was, and what he reasons were. (And I don’t think I actually disagreed so much as I was still learning his reasons. I understand better now than I did as a rookie.) I always figured, first, that I had the right to tell him what I wished (and I did); and I would have my chance as a pastor soon enough–and I did!

    Now, the one place where differences were apparent was at Mass. I sung prayers, he didn’t; I had a different approach. And people latched onto that. To my great sadness, even relatively small differences were highlighted to mean I was–in some eyes–the better priest.

    I *really* didn’t like that and I was sorry that happened. Whatever differences I might have had with that pastor, I didn’t deserve to be deemed a better priest; but then I knew a lot more that spoke in his behalf, and told against my apparent merits. In my own opinion, he was and is the better priest, even if he doesn’t offer Mass the way I do.

    As far as I know, I didn’t do anything to foster and–and now you understand why I am glad I took the approach I did. I’d have felt even more a heel if I’d more consciously distinguished myself from the pastor.

    My role as a vicar was not to put myself in contrast to the pastor. It was to support him; to stand for him. Of course I can’t help what others do, but I can avoid giving them any help.

    Of course, not all vicars are as blessed as I was, and if I’d had to take a stand, I would have. Hence my emphasis on what’s truly “necessary.”

  27. Boniface says:

    A seminarian I know said his classmates gave their professor (who celebrates the EF) a “Children of the World” maniple as a joke present. I still chuckle just thinking about it.

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