Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wearing the right thing

A friend of mine is going to be the Chaplain to the High Sheriff of one of the Home Counties next year, a very English thing. Nothing to do with guns and that American stuff. If anyone can put something in the comments on the functions of such an exulted personnage it will be of interest.

The conversation turned to what does the Chaplain to the High Sheriff wear; important he wears something and that it is the right thing. I actually believe the old adage, "If he doesn't wear; it shows he doesn't care". My friend is known for his caring. The proper thing is a feriola, a light very full cloak with a stiffened flat collar, and perhaps a saturno, or a Roman hat, in beaver of course not felt.
For those of you who want to know more, there is a very useful book Costume of prelates of the Catholic church, according to Roman etiquette (c1909) . Best viewed on a laptop or widescreen
I am hoping that someone will do an update.
There is a very interesting bit (for some people) about the clerical collar, apparently it isn't the white sweatband but actually the coloured thing underneath, black for a priest, now purple for a bishop, red for a cardinal.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that if your friend adopted archaic Roman dress during his term as the Sheriff's chaplain he will make the Church a laughing stock and be mistaken for an Anglo-Catholic poseur. Few, if any, will be impressed. Why can't he just wear simple choir dress? He will be fulfilling a largely civil, rather then ecclesiastical, appointment.

Peter said...

Civil function? Therefore feriola. Choir dress will indeed be rediculous, a suit would also show a lack of respect and gravitas.

hilary said...

Fr. Ray,

I know a guy who knows a guy who makes real beaver Roman hats. If your friend wants, I can put the two of youse together. Your friend ought to be ready with the old VISA card though.

Anonymous said...

I love a Catholic priest to dress like one. If his dress says he stands apart from secular values so much the better.

Anonymous said...

The Church visible by James-Charles Nolan: Viking Prss, 1996, is the book you need. You know the constant bitter little attacks on Catholic Anglicans by some of your commentators do tend to reveal some mesure of insecurity.A ferila would be most suitable, and this Anglican priest certainly wears his, when appropriate. Beaver hats are still available from Barberconi.

John H said...

Catholic Anglican? I met a women who described herself as a Catholic Baptist makes as much sense.
I don't think a disdain for this group shows insecurity anymore than attacking Catholic Liberals does. It is simply an attack on falsehood and on pretence and on what the Pope wopuld see as the "theology of relativism" ultimately an ascertion of Lex credendi, lex orandi, what we pray is what we believe.
I think most Catholics have very serious difficulties with the Anglo-Catholic movement because it is valueless, in the sense that it lacks substance. My local Anglo-Catholic Church is full of Catholic apostates (congregation of 35) who are unable to accept the Catholic Church's teaching on the indissolubilty of marriage, its condemnation of same sex partnerships and homosexual acts, it is essentially liberalism dressed up.

Anonymous said...

I was very impressed last year in Brighton seeing a Catholic priest dressed in a cassock, with a rucksack dishing out soup to people sleeping in doorways on one of the coldest nights of the year.

Fr Ray Blake said...

How eccentric! I bet it doesn't happen often.

Anonymous said...

Peter's absolutely right, what was anonimo[1] thinking? Really, imagine choir dress for a civil appointment! Besides which if a's worried about someone looking like an Anglo-Catholic poseur, then choir dress leaves more than enough scope; he could arrive dripping in fur, lace, pom-poms and fiochi, mozzettas mantellettas, decorations and gold-trimmed fourpointed biretta - what caring fun to be had!

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with a black suit and collar?

Fred said...

Black suit and collar! Really! Anglo-Catholic poseur is one thing but a Baptist or Methodist poseur is surely even worst. A Catholic Priest is a Catholic Priest and should like one, he should look like what he is. We still believe in the ontological change don't we?

Veronica said...

Catholics never, as far as I know, feel insecure in relation to Anglo-Catholics. The situation is invariably the reverse. Why Catholics are often irritated by seeing Anglo-Catholic clergymen dressed as Catholic priests did once upon a time is because it is so pretentious. My impression is that in these circles externals are seen as a form of validation whereas in reality it is little better than dressing up. I wonder how many of your readers know the story of Mgr Ronald Knox, in this Anglican days, staying with Lord Halifax. He came down to dinner in cassock and watered silk feriola only to find that another guest was the Jesuit, Fr Martindale, who was wearing a shabby clerical frock coat, as Jesuits did in those days. This pulled him up and he saw in this a sign of authenticity for which no amount of dressing up could compensate. Something that unsettles me a little is seeing a few younger Catholic priests also adopting archaic dress. It was acceptable when most priests dressed the same because it was normal. Times have changed and I cannot help thinking it rather effeminate. What I have always loved about the old Catholic priests is that they were so robust, they had a reassuring lived in look. I am not so sure about some of the more recenrly ordained and, frankly, sometimes find them off-putting.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Clothes always seems to attract a lot of comments, please refrain from using "anonymous" even if you adopt a pseudonym. I helps people refer to your comment.

simon said...

Watered silk, Veronica, only for members of the Papal court! others wear stuff or woollen cloth.

marc said...

From they grey shirt and grey suit, Lord deliver us, because it tends to represent grey theology. The black shirt tends to make a priest look like a waiter or barman. In a cassock he is unmistakeably a priest.
We need priests today who are confident in their priesthood.

Eamon said...

I can hardly believe what I'm reading. Whenever the subject of clerical dress comes up on your blog, Fr Ray, it gets people over-excited about trivia. Don't you realise that in Ireland, where I live, you hardly ever see priests or religious dresed in collars and habits on the streets because they are afraid of being abused as a result of the recent poedophile scandals. They've made the Church invisible. I wish some of the geeks who comment on your blog would get a grasp on the reality many of their fellow-Catholic have to live with in other countries. Your're fiddling while Rome burns and the congregations of churches get older and emptier. Why do you think the Holy Father admonished the Irish bishops recently on their ad limina visit? The damage these scandals have done here is incalculable.

Pastor in Valle said...

Cassock and ferriuolo for formal occasions, black suit for informal (frock coat if he has one and wants to look a narner, worn with plain, not 'tonsured' stock). I don't think the saturno should be worn with a ferriuolo, because a saturno is outside wear, and a ferriuolo is inside wear. A biretta would work, if desired. But probably best bareheaded.
So glad that the essentials of our holy religion are being upheld with such enthusiasm!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Of course you are right Eamon, and I am afraid this post is a bit of a tease, everything is true, but I know that when I put something on about clothes people will comment. It is the one thing about which people have something to say.
I really am interested in why, my thought is that the first impression of a priest, the first sign of religion is what the priest is wearing.

It was a visit to Ireland that made me decide to always appear in public wearing clerical dress, it is far too easy not to. In past I had been rather lax about it.
I am also interested in why habits and cassocks seem to attract young people.


Maybe people might like might to comment on that.

JP said...

Fr Ray,
I was pleased you joined the anti-Iraq invasion protests wearing your cassock, such a good and obvious sign of the Church's concern and appreciated by many.
It gave the few of us young people with you the opportunity to talk about the Pope's views on the Invasion.

JP said...

It was that that brought Kate back to Mass.

Anonymous said...

In a Church where fewer and fewer young people attend Mass, a minority of the residue will enjoy the fun of seeing some priests dress up. There is nothing wrong with the cassock, but the rest? For most it is a matter of indifference and many are unimpressed. For an older generation it is frequently a source of irritation. Given the few serious comments that have appeared so far it amazes me that people should continue to make absurd ones. The decline of the faith in Europe is one of the tragedies of the last forty years and no amount of clerical tayloring will put it right. The religious crisis in Ireland is a tragedy, given its heroic past. I fear that the Anglo-Catholic mentality is alive and well in the Catholic underworld and I share Veronica's opinion that it is off-putting. She did not say, however, that, after his conversion, Mgr Knox embraced Catholic austerity to the point of external minimalism because he saw in it a more authentic Catholic spirit. And for those who will jump at the word 'spirit', he died long before Vatican II.

Hebdomadary said...

Nothing justifies a bit of sartorial pretence, Veronica, like the Roman Catholic Church. It's an acknowledgement of submission to tradition and to an other than worldly way of life. It's a uniform, and deserves the same respect and obligatory observance of a Marine in parade dress...all the time! :-)

Hebdomadary said...

Anonymous, whether a young person is either impressed or unimpressed by clerical costume depends largely on how the cleric in question wears his habit. If he wears it with authority, he'll gain respect; if he wears it with apology, he'll gain derision. The same can be said of his clerical office, the way he presents and exercises it, and the results he gets. Of course there are always going to be those who eschew any kind of authority, but really whatever impression he makes is beside the point. It's just another way of identifying onesself as a priest or religious, a burdon one is either willing to accept or not.

igor said...

I am a Greco-Catholic Ukrainian, now living in England. Throughout the times of oppression the Church in my country priests appeared in public dressed in their traditional clothes, it was the only way they had of publicly proclaiming the Gospel and testifying to the Church being still alive.
Maybe in secular Britain priests should think about wearing more than a little piece of Fairy liquid bottle and pushed into what Marc calls the waiters shirt.

Fr Pancras Cluny said...

Fr Ray, you actually ask us to comment on the funtions of the chaplain of a high sheriff, and nobody has....

Robin Hood said...

Presumably the role of a high sheriff's chaplain is to stand around looking decorative at civil functions and perhaps say a public prayer or two, grace at boring banquets, that kind of thing. It sounds a bit anachronistic for a Catholic to occupy this position in a Protestant country. Speaking for myself, I've got Friar Tuck.

maid marian said...

My partner, Robin Hood, and his merry men are getting their bows ready to shoot arrows through beaver hats when the Assizes start. They'll then go on to sort out Hebdomadary. So watch out, traddies, we're on our way. Friar Tuck's making a pottery chalice for the thnaksgiving afterwards, and I'm leading the choir for the gathering song. Kum ba yah and see us sometime.

Anonymous said...

This anlican cleric does own a battered Frock coat and two black suits, but does not often wear them for fear of being thought to dress up like a Roman Catholic. His daily wear of Cassock and birreta, with Sartuno and doullete worn out of the parish and a feriola for formal events, ensure that no such mistake is ever made.Please now feel free to have an atomic level of English Roman Catholic sense of humour failure, after which we can, perhaps, have an online shared moment, gathering round Ut Unum Sint.

Therapist said...

You've certainly given free rein to all departments of the asylum as a result of this post. It makes quite a study of the psychopathology of religion. As for the last anonymous Anglican contributor: we can do crazy better than you lot any day. What else have you got locked up in your closet?

A sortiorologist said...

Hearing from Anglicans is great, but you only ever have them here when clothing is mentioned.
By the way Gammerelli's beavers are better than their near neighbours.
Why doesn't someone start a blog on church clothing - we could all have fun then.

live and let live said...

I don't know why your commentators keep going for the Anglo-Catholics. I can understand that their caricature of Catholic worship and clerical dress might be seen as offensive by some but they have become such a spent, insignificant force that they're hardly worth attacking. The best have become Catholics and most have settled happily in the Church. Let the residue stew in their own juice, what's left of it.

The Rev. Ann ****** said...

"Why doesn't someone start a blog on church clothing - we could all have fun then."

And it could indeed be ecunmenical, someone could introduce ideas from "Et in Unum Sint", but I don't think that would be of as much interest as posts such as "Copes We Have Loved" or "Soprano Sightings in the Eternal City".

ps What is a doullete?
pps Why do Anglican curates wear mozetti, when they have no jurisdiction?
You see, ecumenical and fraternal.

The problem is, of course, as ecumenical as it might be my fellow Anglican clergy wouldn't want me involved, except to talk about sewing and embroidery.

Fr Ray Blake said...

If you aren't charitable to one another and behave properly we shall have no posts on liturgical soft furnishings until after Lent!

Anonymous said...

The soooner this clerical knitting circle comes to an end the better.

luke said...

"The soooner this clerical knitting circle comes to an end the better."

I agree, let him dress like my parish priest, in lumber jack shirt, jeans coloured socks and sandals, so appropriate, especially at a wedding or a funeral, when people do actually care.

John Pullen said...

I was very interested in the post about the soup run and trying to restart the SVP, when I grew up in South London this would have been precisely what Anglo-Catholics would have been interested in, and certinly would have commented on. Then the whole idea of Incarnational theology was of tremendous importance. Canon Diamond of Deptford (is that the right spelling?) had that extra-ordinary idea - common among men of his ilk, that "the Glory of God was revealed in a stable."
It is the idea of those two things was the genius of Anglo-Catholic theology. It is now lost.
I fear it is becoming lost in the Catholic Church.

convert said...

John Pullen has raised an important point about Anglo-Catholicism in its best days. It had a powerful social conscience that did a great deal to transform Britain's understanding of life and society. It wasn't confined simply to running soup kitchens but spear-headed an understanding of social justice. In the last thirty years or so this evaporated, the Church of England changed course, the Evangelicals have no social dimension whatever, and what is left of Anglo-Catholcism is largely confined to an obssession with ceremonial and externals with no sound theolgical or doctrinal content. Veronica pointed out that Catholic priests of an older generation were robust in comparison with many of their modern counterparts. To a great extent this was true of the older type of Anglo-Catholic clergyman at his best. The spooky ones were the extremists, the 'papalists', and their present counterparts in the Catholic Church, here and abroad, share the same peculiarities. I love being a Catholic and never stop thanking the Holy Spirit for leading me into the Church but I am saddened by the palpable divisions that have appeared in the Church in England which are as divisive as the sectarian mentality that permeates the different schools of churchmanship in Anglicanism. The comments on this blog are living proof of what I mean. Roman Catholicism is real, that's its greatest strength arising from its being true. It would be a tragedy if some of these integralist groups and poseurs made it artificial.

Fr Ray Blake said...

John Pullen,
I couldn't agree more. I knew Canon Diamond slightly, he was admirable.
And Convert, yes Churchmanship is an increasing part of English Catholiscism. I must think about it a bit.

Anonymous said...

Its fascinating to see the ramifications of these comments but at last something serious is emerging. The social teaching of the Catholic Church is one of its greatest treasures, but how often do we hear about it? Speaking from my own experience, its rarely, if ever, mentioned in homilies, its seldom (actually, I really mean never) used as a basis for parish instructions or groups. The Bishops scarcely refer to it, despite pink pronouncements that emerge from Ecclestone Square from time to time which are not the same thing at all. Yet in the past it was in the forefront of Catholic action and instruction. Within the Church the Jesuits, Franciscans and Dominicans are involved with social justice in different degrees of commitment. But even among Jesuits the emphasis is no longer as strong as it was and Faith and Justice Offices have closed all over Europe. Plater College is no more. Since Cardinal Hume's death Westminster has been silent. There is, of course, CAFOD and the wonderful work done in London at the Passage and on many good parish soup runs but the fundamental principles that lie behind these ventures lie unexplained and undiscovered. John Pullan is right to point out its waning force. From Pope Leo XIII onwards the Church's social teaching has been at the spearhead of justice in an unjust world. Yet now many of the younger clergy seem to be retreating into the sacristy. This is not what Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, wanted, nor, I suspect, what the Holy Father desires.

Paulinus said...

From Pope Leo XIII onwards the Church's social teaching has been at the spearhead of justice in an unjust world. Yet now many of the younger clergy seem to be retreating into the sacristy. This is not what Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, wanted, nor, I suspect, what the Holy Father desires.

I think you need to lighten up. I think the Catholic Church maintains a very strong presence in issues of justice and social conscience, but is trying to recover some of her spiritual treasures. Quite what special insight you have into the thoughts of either the late or the current pontiff I do not know.

There is a lost generation of Catholics for whom a Catholic education took the form of pseudo-Marxist indoctrination by (in my case) an ex-priest and an ex-brother. The ex-priest's work since then has involved multi-cultural dialogue with the community that produced two of the 7/7 bombers - truly inspiring and effective.

All sense of the sacred was expunged in this parallel universe - along with any sense of cultural Catholicism. Those younger clergy are not retreating into the sacristy - theiy're doing valuable maintainence work after years of neglect. They deserve some support and a lot of prayer.

As for a discussion about clerical dress - it's harmless enough on one level, it is absolutely essential in maintaining a visible Christian presence when our enemies are becoming all too visible

Anonymous said...

'Quite what special insight you have into the thoughts of either the late or current pontiffs I do not know.'[

Paulinus, you don't need telepathic powers when you can read 'Centesimus Annus' (1991) and 'Deus Caritas Est' (2006), paras 26-29. Peter has spoken.

As for clerical dress, there are some amusing comments currently on 'Roman Miscellany' attached to a post on Pope Paul VI which describe the new generation of sacristy priests as 'frockies'. Apt. Check it out.

Paulinus said...

From Pope Leo XIII onwards the Church's social teaching has been at the spearhead of justice in an unjust world. Yet now many of the younger clergy seem to be retreating into the sacristy. This is not what Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, wanted, nor, I suspect, what the Holy Father desires.

You misunderstand me. I don't accept your thesis that younger priests are "retreating into the sacristy" just because they're not chaining themselves to the gates at Greenham Common. Perhaps they have a more mature understanding of political engagement rather than the rather self-indulgent demo mentality of the aforementioned pseudo-Marxists.

As for clerical dress, there are some amusing comments currently on 'Roman Miscellany' attached to a post on Pope Paul VI which describe the new generation of sacristy priests as 'frockies'.

I was brought up to show the clergy some respect. Clearly that's not in the "spirit of the Council"

Anonymous said...

Are you saying, Paulinus, that if priests wear frocks they are respectable, but if they have a social conscience they are not? Anyway, whose talking about Greenham Common? I thought we were discussing the Church's social teaching as promulgated in papal documents.

Paulinus said...

Are you saying, Paulinus, that if priests wear frocks they are respectable, but if they have a social conscience they are not?

No. I've never met a transvestite priest in my life (to my knowledge).

I thought we were discussing the Church's social teaching as promulgated in papal documents.

We were, or at least I was. My point, if you care to listen to it, was that there are different ways of expressing commitment to social justice than the rather outmoded and IMHO self-indulgent manner of the 1970s/80s

BTW I have no idea who I'm addressing if you daren't come out of the cloak (frock?) of anonymity

Anonymous said...

What makes you think that I espouse those causes? My social conscience is formed by the Church.

plater said...

This new breed of frockies are more interested in trying on vestments at Luzar's or going on shopping sprees to Rome than dirtying their hands in the social apostolate. Thank God for the religious orders who still continue this vital work. The preferential option for the poor is the preferential option of Christ and lies at the heart of the Incarnation, as the Gospels abundently prove.

Paulinus said...

Are you really saying that wearing a cassock and/or decent vestments for saying Mass in some way precludes a concern for social justice?

Paul Morton said...

I am sure some priests are just into transvestitism but that is most probably a minority. There was a document out by the Conf of Bishops entitle the Sign We Give. I think there is something entirely noble about a priest on a demonstration or feeding the hungry wearing and giving a very visible sign of what he is and what the Gospel is about, it preaches more eloquently than any words he might utter.
I think one of the problems with the whole Justice and Peace thing in the Catholic Church is that it can just descend into words rather than visible signs.
In the city here we have Buddhist monks, Orthodox Priests, Orthodox Jews, Imans, hijabed women, the occassional veiled Indian female religious, the give a sign of the presence of religion in a rather secular city. I would like to see more cassocks here, somehow the plastic under a scarf is a rather meaningless sign. The Church needs to be clearly a sign of contradiction to the very worldly values of today.

Revd. SLF said...

As an Anglo-Catholic priest (who has just celebrated my 1st anniversary) I would like to put my tuppence in.

Yes, within Anglo-Catholicism there is a lot of interest in externals, not all of it for the right reasons.

However as external signs of inward graces and as marking a priest as a priest, they are invaluable.

Else the wearing of a scarf on a cold day might otherwise obscure one of the best known symbols of the Office.

I am also young (late twenties), and the wearing of what many see as archaic garb often opens up conversations on the reasons for it which can then also develop into greater things.

The work of Anglo-Catholics on a social level who follow the path set by Fr's Dolling and Coles in the slums of Portsmouth in the 1800's and carried on by their descendants does go on, albeit on a much smaller scale.

As do house visits and masses, hospital visits to parishioners, viaticum etc...

This painting of all Anglo-Catholics as a bunch of white gloved clergymen who do nothing, hide in a hole and are parodies of Roman propriety is a great disservice to those of us who despite all attempts by (schismatic if not down right heretical) members of our own church are attempting to live the Gospel, keep the faith once delivered to the saints and are trying to Evangelise a country which as Fr. Aidan Nicholls has rightly said is back in a missionary state.

We have our reasons for being Anglican nor Roman, facile attempts at making them seem nothing more than an inability to submit to authority as opposed to theological and personal conviction is neither fair nor particularly useful to the saving of this country from a threat greater than a few misguided anglo-catholics.

Try meeting some of us who do fervently pray the Prayer for England, who truly hope to one day be united back with the Holy See, but who will not lie or deny our consience, becasue in so doing such a union would be a bigger joke than a few idiots who believe that a dressing up box is equivalent to sound doctrine, theology (moral and otherwise) and conviction in the Church and its Sacraments.