ASK FATHER: TLM vestments for military installation

Today seems an especially good day to post this request, from a priest:

I write with a request that some of your readers may be able to assist with. I am starting preparation to offer the EF at our military installation in ___, where I have a group that is asking for it, and others in the community who are very much opposed. Again, I wish they would learn to get along, so catechesis is part of my responsibility. In searching all of our chapels, I have found many of the things that I’ll need, including chalice veils and nurses, but we have no fiddleback chasubles [First, we know what you mean, but let’s all avoid the term “fiddleback” and call the style “Roman”.  Second, “Roman” is not obligatory. We can also use the fuller, “ample” or “Gothic” style.] with matching stoles and maniples. Because I have some leaders who are very gun-shy about my efforts to get the EF going here, I am trying to start all this up without requesting any financial support from the government or community. [What? I’m sure that Pres. Obama himself would be so pleased!] If you know of any who may be able to assist in our acquiring a complete set (white / gold, green, red, violet, and black), I would very much appreciate it.

Just last week, I had someone tell me their own funeral plans, which include a funeral Mass in the EF. I’ve been asked about the EF by new young officers, age 22, all the way to folks in their 60s.

Perhaps you readers might have some suggestions.

First, I wonder who would be the owner of such items.  A military installation, by definition, does not have a “stable group”.  That makes things a little dicey.

If there were a local group established, along the lines of the one I am involved with HERE, perhaps that group could give support to all the chaplains and priests who may be posted there and the people who come and go.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Was there a special set for chaplains back in the day? Things that were more rugged and made out of less fine materials because there was no dry cleaning in a foxhole?

  2. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Chaplain sets for the field were reversible chasubles, so you had all the colors in less space. I think Fr.Z has shown them, and maybe chaplain vessel sets too.

  3. tmitchell says:

    If you are looking to order affordable sets, is probably your best bet. You can get a whole set for around $100.

  4. tmitchell says:

    Also, thank you for making the effort to offer the EF! Be assured of my prayers!

  5. Martlet says:

    Fr Z, you might try contacting Fr. Aiden Logan, Vocations Director for the military archdiocese. A wonderful priest whom we miss so much after he left Ramstein AB – and one who offered Mass in both forms. Perhaps he could offer advice.

    [We are good friends.]

  6. Papabile says:


    how long does a group have to reside at a place to be stable? The families of the soldiers often are resident for literally years – either on or off base. The military chaplaincy provides fr all these families. I am not sure why they couldn’t be considered stale.

    Additionally, after the last BRAC, the return of the german units, soldiers are likely to be stabilize at bases for 3-4 years at a time… the days of two shorts and one long are pretty much over.

  7. jflare says:

    “First, I wonder who would be the owner of such items. A military installation, by definition, does not have a “stable group”. That makes things a little dicey.”

    As to the owner of such items, I should think ownership would be the military unit. Each chapel on every military installation will be operated by a chaplain’s staff and chaplains. Most chapels I ever saw possessed items appropriate to the various forms of services being made available. Proper vestments for a traditional Mass shouldn’t be any different from the circumstances of a typical civilian parish.

    ..Of course, if some patron wished to donate vestments to a given priest for his use wherever he might serve, I have a tough time imagining that he would say no, or that the unit could say no to his use of the articles.

    Finally, as to a stable group, I would contend that “stable” in this case would most properly be a rather waiverable requirement, such as could be provided for by Archbishop Broglio, the bishops for the Military Archdiocese. I remember being deployed to Iraq years ago; for some weeks, we only had a total of maybe 8 people attending, including the priest, but we still had Mass.

    If some fiercely oppose such an idea, well, maybe they ought to try practicing a bit more of that “tolerance” we hear so much about. I’m VERY weary of hearing that we mustn’t do that or this because some group of people loathe the “bad old days”. I might point out that the “good new days” aren’t exactly Camelot either.

  8. Random Friar says:

    I find to be good as well.

    For a shorter-term solution, or if you want to do a “trial” run, perhaps asking for a blurb in the local diocesan newsletter for priests, to see if any have vestments they may be willing to lend for the short term (or even give). If he were near me, I know we’d be willing to lend sets suitable for the EF.

  9. I had a note from the nice lady at SPORCH that she would donate altar cards.

    Let’s keep this going.

    And I still want someone to start making the military-style reversible Mass vestments. I would promote them over the moon.

  10. edm says:

    There are very good quality and inexpensive vestments sold on e-bay. They can be purchased brand new from manufacturers in both Poland and India.
    I would not recommend Veritas Polska for vestments since what they do is purchase the items from the same Polish manufacturers one can find on line and more or less quadruple the price for sale in the United States.
    Also, please realize that there is no need for “fiddleback” chasubles. There is no reason why the TLM can not be celebrated with a “gothic” chasuble which has had the other usual pieces ordered to match (i.e. maniple, chalice veil, pall)

  11. Sword40 says:

    Fr. Z,

    I have a green low Mass set that I’d donate. Its Roman (fiddleback, sorry but its the best description). Its been used for only about a year. The priest that was using it got an expensive set given to him, so my set is available.

    Perhaps, Fr. Z., you could let me know how to get it to him.
    Bill M.

  12. catholictrad says:

    Most military bases have a large stable civilian work force. At Redstone Arsenal, the daily Mass has been pulled heavily toward Tradition ( as much as the NO can be) with chapel veils and altar rail use being the norm. Given the choice, the majority (who are civilian and/or retirees) would rather have TLM.

  13. Michelle F says:

    I don’t know why offering the traditional Latin Mass on any type of military base or ship would be a problem for base officials. I went to boot camp at RTC Orlando, FL from December 1988 through January 1989, and they had a “Traditional Mass” at the base chapel every Sunday in addition to a “Contemporary Mass.” That was 18 years before Summorum Pontificum.

    Also, no one in my company squabbled over which Mass was “better.” People just went to the Mass of their choice, and that was all there was to it.

    Of course that was 26 years ago, and things do change….

  14. phlogiston says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the “stable group” requirement apply to lay people requesting the TLM? If a priest chooses to say the Mass in the EF on his own, that’s his right regardless whether there is a stable group or not. Right? (Unless of course the priest is a FFI.) Or is this a matter of simply passing on the vestments when the priest is reassigned? And how stable does “stable” need to be under SP?

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