Wherein Fr. Z copes with his new paranoia

I am worried.

Given that Pope Francis has declared war on clerical new cars, I am concerned that other things will soon be in his cross-hairs.

For example, what could be more worrisome to the poor than the sight of cuff links on the clerical sleeves of those shirts beneath clerical garb?

In anticipation of the incipient Franciscan War on Garb, I formed a Plan about which I can now make some off the cuff remarks.

One of many pairs of Fr. Z's evil cuff links exactly like those which Benedict XVI wore.

I have shirts which – I confess it – are made for the offending links. They are even Roman. But, hey, I was in Rome for a long time and we didn’t yet know that “gemelli” are bad things.

Once upon a time, I used to go to thrift stores and buy seconds, those cast off, rejected, anawim of dress shirts for men, remove the collar, stitch up the collar band, and sew my own button hole into the back for the stud to hold the clerical collar in place.  A lot cheaper than shirts from clerical shops, I can assure you.  Yikes.

So, if then why not now?

I went to one of those stores where you get stuff cheaper and bought – from your donations –  a couple regular men’s white dress shirts without the offending cuffs for links. Some call them “French cuffs”, though I don’t know why.  It seems to be an American term.

I took them to a nice Vietnamese lady with a little tailoring shop along with one of my evil Roman shirts so that she could copy the collar onto the less evil anawim shirts possessed of the barrel cuffs.

Today I picked them up!

She got them just right.


First, the evil link shirt so you can see the model.



Now, las camisas que no tienen los gemelos malos.  Sorry, I am starting to do that more and more.

One of the new shirts, with its button-down collar excised and the button hole added in the outer part of the band of the collar, a space allowing for the insertion of the stud.


So, camisas sin gemellos for under my cassock or my suit.


HA!  Take that Pope Francis!  I’m way ahead of you.

Seriously, there are ways to get around the cost of clerical clothing and the shirts will be far more comfortable as well.

And for the record, I have absolutely no intention avoiding cuff links.

For the enemies of decorous clerical garb I will only say,  “I have cuff links and I’m not afraid to use them!”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Brick by Brick, Lighter fare, Priests and Priesthood, What Fr. Z is up to and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. netokor says:

    Will these thoughts be among the Holy Father’s ponderings?:

    “¿Usa gemelos? ¿Conduce un Batimóbil? ¿Quién es ese Padre Zeta?” :)

  2. dominic1955 says:

    I still wear cufflinks after my stint in the seminary. I never paid more than $30 for a French cuff shirt, usually more like $1 or 2 at the thrift store. Most of my links are thrift store finds, hand me downs or gifts. The kind of shirt you wear saying nothing about being spendy or wasteful, I always just thought it showed you had a bit more class.

    It seemed not much drove liberal priests and laymen more batty than seeing French cuffs, of all things, peaking out of a clerical suit or cassock. I loved it.

  3. APX says:

    I dunno about all this. Dress shirts??? That sounds a little excessive. It’s my understanding that if you’re wearing a cassock, you don’t actually need all that fancy schmancy garb underneath. An old t-shirt or Hawaiian shirt, some old gym shorts and a collar are supposedly sufficient according to a priest friend who was told by another priest of a traditional leaning…

    But more serious things now. What if the Pope starts to go after…water silk fascias??? Surely you don’t think, he’ll insist on replacing them with satin fascias??? Oh! The horror!!

  4. rodin says:

    You don’t have to be male to use cufflinks. As a young girl I often had long sleeve blouses that required cuff links. However, when I did not have cufflinks I just sewed two buttons together on a long thread and ran those through. With the buttons who would notice? Don’t really believe Francis cares–unless they are diamond-studded flashers.

  5. BarefootPilgrim says:

    Look Fr. Z – I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.
    – HAL 9000

  6. medievalist says:

    I wear cufflinks daily to the office. But because the shirts cost more than regular shirts, I buy fewer of them and make them last with proper care. No cheap throwaway clothes which also means bo showy labels or brands. Quality and durability over quantity.

    And environmentally friendly! Same reason I use fountain pens. Haven’t bought a cheap throwaway or contributed to landfill for over a decade.

  7. StJude says:

    I’m a girl and one of m favorite shirts has cuff links. Love it.

  8. OrthodoxChick says:

    Those are pretty spiffy cuff links in the photo. Do my eyes deceive me, or do I spy a pair of faceted ruby cabochons? Very nice!

  9. iPadre says:

    My French cuffs are here to stay. I was ridiculed as a deacon for wearing them. My dad was a dry cleaner, from a line of dry cleaners. From a family of dry cleaners, presentation is very important. I wore creased jeans before anyone had creased jeans. As a young man I worked in both my father’s shop and my aunts. By the way, I prefer the butter fly collar pins!

  10. mamajen says:

    I think your cufflinks are safe for now. Pope Francis wore some (gold!) when he was introduced on the balcony. I’ve also found pictures of him with cufflinks at at least one mass.

  11. Bea says:

    Thanks for the laugh, Fr. Z.

    Florsheim Men’s Imperial

    Shall we take up a donation for your next pair of black sandals?

    [Not at all. Those Imperials will be fine, thanks. Shall I put them on my wishlist?]

  12. Elizabeth D says:

    Hey I like that. If Fr Z gave up cufflinks though, he would hardly be Fr Z anymore.

    Fr Z has some awesome beautiful chasubles too, they have such a dignity and proportion. It is too bad he may very well have to switch over to FrJim4321’s castoffs in the Pope Francis Era. [Ugh. You have a point.] it makes me sad. But he can sew his heraldric shield onto the back of FrJim4321’s old Autom chasubles and it will look less “oriental trading company”. Some of them may be able to be cut down to a roman chasuble form–like, maybe, the one with the children’s faces tapestry panel?? or the one with the gold emroidery of chi rho and grapes and wheat and chalice and host and flaming dove??–and backed with some kind of heavy curtain material or quilt or blanket from St Vincent de Paul.

  13. tioedong says:

    Father, you are like my artist relatives, who sees that visual beauty (and in your case, reverence and beauty in ceremony) can be a way of praising God. [In praising God we don’t use JUNK.]

    However, as an ex missionary who is now retired in the third world, could I point out that there are other issues for us? Cufflinks don’t seem like much of an issue when your people are malnourished, out of work, the politicians steal everything in sight, and the government is obeying Obama and implementing the “culture of death”….

    However, there is a good argument for priests to wear clerical garb.

    Years ago, when Idi Amin was persecuting the Christians, and some Anglican priests were asked what should the church in the UK send them, and they said “clerical collars….so that when the soldiers come to shoot us, they will know their priests are with them”. [OORAH!]

  14. frjim4321 says:

    Hard to keep them white. They tend to go yellow or gray.

    I really like the broadcloth but they are expensive.

  15. pedantic_prof says:

    I think that cufflinks are part of our Catholic identity, but I confess to being a little biased (my blog is devoted to said item: http://cufflinkcatholic.wordpress.com/)!

    [Cool blog.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  16. StWinefride says:

    You put me to shame, Father!

  17. Lin says:

    Clerical garb is very important! In the past year, our pastor has worn it only once on Christmas day. [Lemme guess: Is that the day he gets to keep the collection?] Other than that, it has been turtlenecks and golf shirts even at funerals. Most of us have the greatest respect for priests and want to know when one is in the immediate area. One never knows when a priest will be needed. I, for one, would rather have a priest at my side than a doctor.

  18. Supertradmum says:

    Well, lovely and much better than the mauve, olive green and pale blue shirts worn in England by some priests-I call them Proddie Shirts. [Blech.]

    I am in awe of your excellent taste. Wish more men, priests or not, had such good taste.

  19. cpf says:

    But Father Zed!

    Don’t you think it could be a conspiracy?! Just look! Most of the SSPX priests wear ONLY barrel cuffs underneath their PLAIN cassocks. Perhaps Francis and Fellay have a game plan!

    [Wow! I suspect you might be able to tune into radios stations the rest of us can’t find. But… I must admit…. We’ll have to keep an eye on those cuffs.]

  20. wmeyer says:

    I cast my vote in favor of cuff-links and the cuffs for which they are intended, regardless of nomenclature. The foundation for this is that I am opposed to priests joining the currently fashionable slack and sloppy look. [You must hate Vatican II. o{];¬) ]
    But the, I dress for Mass. At weekday Mass, I confess to a less formal approach, but never sloppy.

    Had I the time–or if my parish offered a 6:00 AM Mass–I could be more formal there, too, but more often than not, I am dashing from my desk to the door, so that I can have my 10-15 minutes of prayer before Mass. And if something must give, then I will settle for clean but unjacketed on weekdays, but with time for prayer.

    And as I have drifted close to a pet peeve, I’ll add, if I am running late, I don’t enter after the procession, I simply attend a later Mass. Though honestly, that has only come up once. If we can be on time for work, for meals, and for our favorite entertainments, what excuse can we muster for not arriving at Mass in a timely fashion?

  21. mamajen says:

    Who’d have thought that Father’s post would turn up a (very interesting) blog about a cufflink-wearing Catholic? I love the internet. [And commentators here!]

  22. JARay says:

    When I was 21 I was given a pair of gold cufflinks. Sadly it is many years since I wore them. When I was a boy every shirt came with two collars and one needed both a front stud and a back stud to fix them on. How long ago was that? Well I served two years doing National Service in the R.A.F. and the shirts I was issued with were exactly like that. I’m talking about the 1950s but they did not require cufflinks. They had ordinary buttons. I don’t think that I have any studs amongst my bits and pieces. I do still have the cufflinks. I do remember seeing front studs with a diamond for dress wear. Since I am into nostalgia, those were the days when gold was $25 per oz! Now it’s about $1500 per oz.

  23. Gaz says:

    My first reaction is motivated by my membership of a trade union. Make sure that your purchases don’t deprive the maker of your clothes of a just wage! Secondly, I have some nice purple silk knots which I use instead of cufflinks during Lent. I have some nice looking cufflinks but the best of them are silver.

  24. Gaz says:

    P.S. I need some new shoes. Black ones are the same price as red ones; I’m thinking of buying the red ones. I probably won’t do it, just say it!

  25. JARay says:

    Dare I add just another bit of nostalgia?!
    In the 1950s anyone could buy 1 oz of gold from the United States. That country maintained the gold standard throughout the world. Hence, gold was $25 per oz.!
    Every fountain pen had a gold nib. It was not Hall Marked but the regular Karat was 14 karat. I still have a fountain pen and I also have ink to put into it. Occasionally I still use it. Wedding rings were quite cheap at that time. The usual karat was 24 karat. My mother and grandmothers all had 24 karat wedding rings.

  26. JARay says:

    Sorry to have messed up. The nibs on fountain pens were hall marked, usually at 14K. I have just checked mine.

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