Friday, January 30, 2015


One would prefer to have quotes, rather than paraphrases. But the paraphrases are bad enough. Surely God has given us the leaders we deserve, rather than those we need.

Poscia ch'io v'ebbi alcun riconosciuto,
vidi e conobbi l'ombra di colui
che fece per viltade il gran rifiuto.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Supposed Scandal of Proper Attire

Whiskey Catholic doesn't have a comments box, so I will make some comments on a recent post in this space.

First, the minutiae: the query posted by Whiskey Catholic contributor Michael asks about a "white tie" function and the lay perception of proper clerical attire thereat. Michael responds with a statement about "a black tie dinner." These, of course, are not the same thing. White tie is formal, black tie is semi-formal. Most American men will never again have the opportunity to attend a true white-tie function. It is our loss. In either event,* however, the proper clerical attire is not merely a cassock (as Michael says), but a cassock and ferraiolo. If a secular priest appeared at a formal function without a ferraiolo, he would be---and I would certainly think him---sloppily under-dressed. As for cuffs, one does not wear barrel cuffs with formal-wear. Laymen certainly do not, and it has been my impression (although I have not consulted an etiquette guide on the topic) that clerics do not either. So yes, a secular cleric at a formal or semi-formal affair should wear linked cuffs.

Second, the more substantial point: Michael's general take on the inquiry is spot-on. It bears noting that all of the situations inquired about by the reader involve the hypothetical priest being "on duty" or "at work," so to speak. The issue is not what does a priest wear about the rectory when reasonably secure from inquiring eyes, it was what does the priest wear when out and about, performing his sacred functions or at least appearing in public qua priest. And the laity not only expect, they desperately need, priests to conduct themselves in those moments in a manner concomitant with the dignity of their priesthood. (Frankly, we all need to conduct ourselves in a manner more concomitant with even basic human dignity, particularly in terms of dress.)

If I may diverge on one point, I can think of plenty of times it would be appropriate for a priest to wear sneakers, but they all involve athletics, or perhaps gardening. Priests, after all, can garden, play sports, and go running without giving scandal.

The risk of scandal is not from the priest who is properly attired, but rather from one who slouches about his parish in orange sneakers.

* If there is a distinction between clerical formal and semi-formal attire, I have never heard about it. But I haven't done a study. In a sane world, one would learn these things in a seminary, instead of debating whether one is expected to wear tennis shoes.