ASK FATHER: Father says Mass in alb and stole

From a reader:

A new pastor to our church celebrated the Sacrifice of the Mass dressed only in a white alb with a green stole this Sunday. It is my understanding a priest is always to wear proper liturgical vestments when carrying out his priestly function. The heat and humidity may have prevented him and I would like to give him the benefit of a doubt but he seems to be a maverick, if you get my drift, refusing even to purify the sacred vessels after communion or after Mass. Can the bishop give special dispensations for priests who may have health problems and simply can not bear the heat of wearing a chasuble?


Put more money in the collection so that the parish can get – pace Francis – an air conditioner.

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  1. Elizabeth D says:

    Or maybe get chasubles that are not voluminous and allow for better airflow, for instance Roman chasubles, worn for many centuries during un-air-conditioned Roman summers.

    While this hardly solves the contemporary Sunday Mass situation, at least on weekdays celebrating Mass early in the morning before breakfast is another traditional practice that makes good use of the coolest part of the day.

    [Good idea.]

  2. benedetta says:

    Perhaps it was merely liturgical Casual Day?

    Of course in some places it is liturgical casual every day, like in the movie groundhog day…

    I am reminded of those theme days very popular in nursery schools called “Come to School in Your Pajamas” and so on…

  3. I went to an OF Mass yesterday at a different church than usual. The church was closed however, because of asbestos, so Mass was held outside. It was unfortunately, 100 degrees outside, so the priest was vested only in alb and stole (same with the deacon, but in this diocese, it’s rare to see a deacon in dalmatic). The priest did everything, including purifying the chalices, and the deacon vested in humeral veil after Communion to bring the Eucharist to the tabernacle at their chapel. Should the priest have vested fully, or are there exceptions when it comes to weather?

  4. frjim4321 says:

    Or maybe the reader could engage in “full and active participation” by engaging in the prayer of the liturgy. And if that does not satisfy find another parish which does not agitate as many pet peeves.

  5. I believe the only exemption is if one does not have one.

  6. Scott W. says:

    “Father says Mass in alb and stole”

    What did he steal?


  7. Imrahil says:

    For the record, airconditioning does not feel like the thing to do in a Church. That’s not even an ecologic statement (though, yes, Churches have lots and lots of volume of air, and, unless side-entrances are used as in Cathedrals, big portals that are always opened and closed), but one of the same kind as “votive lights in a Church, and altar candles, should certainly not be be electric imitation-wax candles” (which I would most firmly opine!). You just don’t do that kind of thing in a Church. It’s not a shopping mall. (By coincidence, why do we do airconditioning in a shopping mall? But that’s another story…)

    I found this nice article, btw.:;art768,8775975

    English translation:

    Heard that? American thinks there’s airconditioning in church

    At 35 (i.e. 95) degrees of summer warmth, these days, seven members of the family Bruckner from the USA walked in the footsteps of their ancestor Franz Maximilian Brückner from Gemünden [Franconia]. A sightseeing tour of two hours led them, in the end, out of the heat into the cool parish-church of the town. But for one of the genealogists, neither the history of the house of God, nor the images of its patrons Peter and Paul were an attraction. He was interested, most of all, what kind of „air condition“ [orig. English] was installed there. That it’s the two meters of thick Church walls that caused the pleasant cooling was news to him. But obviously, he was much ingratuated to his forebears for them.

  8. jeffc says:

    The priest at my parish does the opposite…he wears an alb and a chasuble, but no stole!

    The only time I’m used to seeing priests in an alb an stole at Mass is at a monastery where I was briefly in formation in my early 20’s (marriage turned out to be my vocation). The priests in the monastery who were concelebrating the daily conventual Mass would wear an alb and stole while the principal celebrant would be fully vested. Every year in my hometown there is a Mass celebrated outside at the local Catholic cemetary on, or near, Memorial day and the principal celebrants there were always fully vested.

  9. Veritatis Splendor says:

    I really don’t understand why priests in these situations don’t just wear Roman vestments.

  10. Mary Jane says:

    frjim4321, you never fail to disappoint. Maybe the priest in the reader’s question could engage in “full and active participation” by wearing what he’s supposed to wear and doing what he’s supposed to do. Say the black, do the red. Verrry simple.

  11. Supertradmum says:

    Sigh, and what did holy priests do for the first 20 centuries in the Church before air conditioning?

  12. A.D. says:

    Well, I guess I need to ask this rather delicately. Do priests HAVE to wear all their regular clothes under the alb, especially when it’s hot? Also, may a religious priest wear only his habit under the chasuble and stole and skip the alb? One of our helper priests seems to do this all the time.

  13. christulsa says:

    My wife can help Father. She makes traditional vestments, and can make very light ones that breath easily. We are the only vestment business on the internet that provides both high quality, traditional vestments and online Vestment Fundraising, so that the priest or church can receive a completely donated set of vestments, especially for offering the traditional rite!

  14. JerrytheYTPer says:

    I know how the reader feels. When the chaplain celebrates Mass at my college’s chapel, more often than not, he will simply wear one of those hideous “concelebration” albs ( and a stole over it. When we have big celebrations (ie: Christmas, Easter, Palm Sunday, homecoming, Mass of the Holy Spirit), he will vest fully and it usually looks good (unless he throws the stole over the chasuble in which it just looks lazy). I asked him about this and he simply said that the “Bishop gave him permission due to problems handling heat”. I don’t buy it too well, but when it is the only option for Mass on campus, I guess I have to take it, horrible music and all. Otherwise, my only other options are:
    a) walk to the nearby other Catholic parish with even worse music, but correct vesting
    b) spend $20 on a taxi each Sunday at 8 AM for the Latin Mass on the trouble side of my school’s city
    c) walk two blocks North to the Byzantine Catholic Church.
    I have been taking C.

    Out of curiosity, could a priest, in a way to avoid the heat but still vesting fully, wear decent shorts and t-shirt underneath the alb, stole, and chasuble provided none of it showed up? I suppose that could get around the whole heat thing and still follow the rubrics to my understanding.

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