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Reflections: Priests & Voctns. Sctn. (Dress/Cmprt.)

St. John Vianney, the Curé D'Ars (patron saint of priests)

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Priests & Vocations Sctn.:

Proper Dress / Comportment

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Against Joking by Priests

Clerical Dress / Appearance / Comportment



Against Joking by Priests

Also See: Priests (Topic Page)

"Although jokes are at times fitting and pleasant, nevertheless they are incompatible with the ecclesiastical rule" (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"Blessed is that religious who takes no pleasure and joy except in the most holy words and deeds of the Lord and with these leads people to the love of God in joy and gladness. Woe to that religious who delights in idle and frivolous words and with these provokes people to laughter." (St. Francis of Assisi)

Also See: Clerical Dress / Appearance / Comportment | Priests / Priesthood [Pg.] | Duties & Responsibilities of Priests | Preachers / Preaching | Holiness / Virtue / Purity

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Clerical Dress / Appearance / Comportment

Also See: Priests (Topic Page)

"From among the Israelites have your brother Aaron, together with his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, brought to you, that they may be my priests. For the glorious adornment of your brother Aaron you shall have sacred vestments made. Therefore, to the various expert workmen whom I have endowed with skill, you shall give instructions to make such vestments for Aaron as will set him apart for his sacred service as my priest. These are the vestments they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a brocaded tunic, a miter and a sash. In making these sacred vestments which your brother Aaron and his sons are to wear in serving as my priests, they shall use gold, violet, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen." (Ex. 28:1-5)

"Can. 669 §1 As a sign of their consecration and as a witness to poverty, religious are to wear the habit of their institute, determined in accordance with the institute's own law." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"The religious habit, an outward mark of consecration to God, should be simple and modest, poor and at the same becoming. In addition it must meet the requirements of health and be suited to the circumstances of time and place and to the needs of the ministry involved." (Second Vatican Council)

"'Watch and pray', mindful that your hands touch those things which are most holy, that you have been consecrated to God and are to serve Him alone. The very habit which you wear, reminds you that you should live not to the world, but to God. Therefore, trusting in the protection of the Virgin Mother of God, generously make every effort to preserve yourselves 'clean, unstained, pure and chaste, as becomes the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"What sad effects would not arise if that gravity of conduct which belongs to the priest, should be in any way lessened; if he should yield with lightness to the charm of every novelty; if he should deport himself with pretentious indocility towards his superiors; if he should lose that weight and measure in discussion which is so necessary, particularly in matters of faith and morals." (Pope Leo XIII, "Fin Dal Principio", 1902 A.D.)

"Let them, however, have it always present to their minds that the priest even in the midst of his people must preserve intact his august character as a minister of God, being as he is placed at the head of his brethren. Any manner whatever, in which he employs himself among the people, to the loss of the sacerdotal dignity, or with danger to the ecclesiastical duties and discipline, can only be warmly reproved." (Pope Leo XIII, "Fin Dal Principio", 1902 A.D.)

"We also enjoin that bishops as well as clergy take pains to be pleasing to God and to humans in both their interior and exterior comportment. Let them give no offence in the sight of those for whom they ought to be a model and example, by the excess, cut or color of their clothes, nor with regard to the tonsure, but rather, as is fitting for them, let them exhibit holiness. If after a warning from the bishops they are unwilling to change their ways, let them be deprived of their ecclesiastical benefices." (Second Lateran Council)

"Can. 2379 Clerics who, against the prescription of Canon 136, do not wear ecclesiastical habit and clerical tonsure are to be gravely warned; but if a month passes from the warning without results, [then] as to minor clerics the prescription of the same Canon 136n § 3, is observed; but major clerics, with due regard for the prescriptions of Canon 188, n. 7, are suspended from the orders received, and if they notoriously go to a sort of life alien to the clerical state, [then] unless, once again being warned, they recover their senses, after three months from the final warning they are deposed." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Among the various faults of clerics and prelates this one has especially taken root, namely that many of them despise an appearance of ecclesiastical decency in their dress and delight in what is unbecoming. They seek to conform to the laity and they exhibit outwardly in their dress whatever they are thinking in their minds. Therefore, with the approval of this sacred council, we renew and order the careful observance of all the laws currently in force regarding the clothing, tonsure and habits of clerics, as to both shape and color, and their hair-styles and the style and uprightness of their lives. These laws have been heeded far too little by both the secular and the regular clergy." (Council of Constance)

"Now, however, as you know, nothing instructs others more in piety and the service of God than the lives and example of those who have dedicated themselves to the divine ministry. Therefore labor so that all who are called to the vineyard of the Lord, mindful of their proper vocation and office, abstain entirely from things forbidden to clerics and from things that are not proper for them. Then they may be an example for the faithful in word, in their dealings with others, in love, in faith, and in chastity. They must wear a clerical habit appropriate to their order and dignity, and they must perform their ministry piously and reverently. Further they must administer to the faithful, with fitting piety and reverence, the holy sacrament of the Eucharist. With it all true justice begins; or if already begun, is increased; or if already lost, is recovered. They should be devoted to prayer and study, especially sacred studies, and under your guidance let them zealously serve the salvation of souls." (Bl. Pope Pius IX, "Nemo Certe Ignorat", 1852 A.D.)

"You are already aware that among priests, especially those less equipped with doctrine and of less strict lives, a certain spirit of novelty is being diffused in an ever graver and more disturbing manner. Novelty is never in itself a criterion of truth and it can be worthy of praise only when it confirms the truth and leads to righteousness and virtue. The age in which we live suffers from serious errors indeed: philosophical systems which are born and die without improving morals in any way; monstrosities of art which even pretend to call themselves Christian; standards of government in many countries which are aimed at the personal interests of individuals rather than at the common prosperity of all; methods of living and economic and social relations which threaten honest men more than the cunning. From this it follows almost naturally that there are not lacking in our times priests, infected in some way by this contagion, who imbibe opinions and follow a mode of life even in dress and the care of their person alien to both their dignity and their mission; priests who allow themselves to be led astray by the mania for novelty whether it be in their preaching to the faithful or in combating the errors of adversaries; priests who compromise not only their consciences but also their good name and the efficacy of their ministry." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.)

"And forasmuch as, though the habit does not make the monk, it is nevertheless needful that clerics always wear a dress suitable to their proper order, that by the decency of their outward apparel they may show forth the inward correctness of their morals; but to such a pitch, in these days, have the contempt of religion and the rashness of some grown, as that, making but little account of their own dignity, and of the clerical honor, they even wear in public the dress of laymen - setting their feet in different paths, one of God, the other of the flesh; - for this cause, all ecclesiastical persons, howsoever exempted, who are either in sacred orders or in possession of any manner of dignities, personates, or other offices, or benefices ecclesiastical; if, after having been admonished by their own bishop, even by a public edict, they shall not wear a becoming clerical dress, suitable to their order and dignity, and in conformity with the ordinance and mandate of the said bishop, they may, and ought to be, compelled thereunto, by suspension from their orders, office, benefice, and from the fruits, revenues, and proceeds of the said benefices; and also, if, after having been once rebuked, they offend again herein, (they are to be coerced) even by deprivation of the said offices and benefices; pursuant to the constitution of Clement V published in the Council of Vienne, and beginning Quoniam, which is hereby renewed and enlarged." (Council of Trent)

"Since he who abandons the dress proper to his order, and puts on other clothes and wears them in public, without a good reason, renders himself unworthy of the privileges of that order, we ordain by the present constitution that any cleric wearing striped or variegated clothes in public, without a good reason, is automatically suspended, if he is beneficed, from receiving the revenues of his benefices for a period of six months. If however he does not have a benefice but is in sacred orders below the priesthood, he becomes automatically disqualified for the same period from obtaining an ecclesiastical benefice. The same penalty applies to other clerics having the tonsure yet wearing such clothes in public. He who holds a dignity, a parsonage or another benefice to which the cure of souls is annexed, as also any other priests and religious, whose outward garb should reveal their inner integrity, who without reasonable cause wear such clothing in public, or appear thus with a woollen band or linen cap on their heads, are, if beneficed, automatically suspended for a year from receiving the revenues of their benefices. Such other priests and religious are also disqualified for the same period from obtaining any ecclesiastical benefices... To this penalty we add that clerics, especially those with benefices, may not wear in public chequered, red or green boots." (Council of Vienne)

"There is nothing that continually instructs others unto piety, and the service of God, more than the life and example of those who have dedicated themselves to the divine ministry. For as they are seen to be raised to a higher position, above the things of this world, others fix their eyes upon them as upon a mirror, and derive from them what they are to imitate. Wherefore clerics called to have the Lord for their portion, ought by all means so to regulate their whole life and conversation, as that in their dress, comportment, gait, discourse, and all things else, nothing appear but what is grave, regulated, and replete with religiousness; avoiding even slight faults, which in them would be most grievous; that so their actions may impress all with veneration. Whereas, therefore, the more useful and decorous these things are for the Church of God, the more carefully also are they to be attended to; the holy Synod ordains, that those things which have been heretofore copiously and wholesomely enacted by sovereign pontiffs and sacred councils - relative to the life, propriety of conduct, dress, and learning of clerics, and also touching the luxuriousness, feastings, dances, gambling, sports, and all sorts of crime whatever, as also the secular employments, to be by them shunned - the same shall be henceforth observed, under the same penalties, or greater, to be imposed at the discretion of the Ordinary; nor shall any appeal suspend the execution hereof, as relating to the correction of manners. But if anything of the above shall be found to have fallen into desuetude, they shall make it their care that it be brought again into use as soon as possible, and be accurately observed by all; any customs to the contrary notwithstanding; lest they themselves may have, God being the avenger, to pay the penalty deserved by their neglect of the correction of those subject to them." (Council of Trent) 

"The vestments of the ministers denote the qualifications required of them for handling Divine things. And since certain things are required of all, and some are required of the higher, that are not so exacted of the lower ministers, therefore certain vestments are common to all the ministers, while some pertain to the higher ministers only. Accordingly it is becoming to all the ministers to wear the amice which covers the shoulders, thereby signifying courage in the exercise of the Divine offices to which they are deputed; and the alb, which signifies a pure life, and the girdle, which signifies restraint of the flesh. But the subdeacon wears in addition the maniple on the left arm; this signifies the wiping away of the least stains, since a maniple is a kind of handkerchief for wiping the face; for they are the first to be admitted to the handling of sacred things. They also have the narrow tunic, signifying the doctrine of Christ; wherefore in the Old Law little bells hung therefrom, and subdeacons are the first admitted to announce the doctrine of the New Law. The deacon has in addition the stole over the left shoulder, as a sign that he is deputed to a ministry in the sacraments themselves, and the dalmatic (which is a full vestment, so called because it first came into use in Dalmatia), to signify that he is the first to be appointed to dispense the sacraments: for he dispenses the Blood, and in dispensing one should be generous. But in the case of the priest the stole hangs from both shoulders, to show that he has received full power to dispense the sacraments, and not as the minister of another man, for which reason the stole reaches right down. He also wears the chasuble, which signifies charity, because he it is who consecrates the sacrament of charity, namely the Eucharist. Bishops have nine ornaments besides those which the priest has; these are the stockings, sandals, succinctory, tunic, dalmatic, mitre, gloves, ring, and crozier, because there are nine things which they can, but priests cannot, do, namely ordain clerics, bless virgins, consecrate bishops, impose hands, dedicate churches, depose clerics, celebrate synods, consecrate chrism, bless vestments and vessels. We may also say that the stockings signify his upright walk; the sandals which cover the feet, his contempt of earthly things; the succinctory which girds the stole with the alb, his love of probity; the tunic, perseverance, for Joseph is said (Genesis 37:23) to have had a long tunic - talaric, because it reached down to the ankles [talos], which denote the end of life; the dalmatic, generosity in works of mercy; the gloves, prudence in action; the mitre, knowledge of both Testaments, for which reason it has two crests; the crozier, his pastoral care, whereby he has to gather together the wayward (this is denoted by the curve at the head of the crozier), to uphold the weak (this is denoted by the stem of the crozier), and to spur on the laggards (this is denoted by the point at the foot of the crozier). Hence the line: 'Gather, uphold, spur on The wayward, the weak, and the laggard.' The ring signifies the sacraments of that faith whereby the Church is espoused to Christ. For bishops are espoused to the Church in the place of Christ. Furthermore archbishops have the pallium in sign of their privileged power, for it signifies the golden chain which those who fought rightfully were wont to receive." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Holiness / Good Example [Pg.] | Duties & Responsibilities of Priests | Priests / Priesthood [Pg.] | Good / Bad Priests [Pg.] | Against Joking by Priests | Novelty & The Clergy | Those Too Indulgent Betray Their Ministry | Military Service Ill Befits the Clerical State

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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