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Posts Tagged ‘priestly collar’

  1. “I need time for myself.”Priests,of course,need time for themselves, especially for prayer. Yet, a priest is a priest – always. Apart from the times as recreation,vacation,etc, there is no need to dress as a layman.  The priest should take his personal time as a priest and nothing else. Like a mother is always a mother and cannot take a vacation from her motherly vocation  just by wearing an ‘off-duty’ outfit. She never stops being a mother even when on vacation!
  2. “I want to relax.”Priests make a big mistake when they equate wearing the collar with not being relaxed, and relaxing with being out of the collar. The naturalness of the priest should include wearing the collar without constantly averting to it. We should go about our daily duties,which include relaxing,without feeling uncomfortable about our priestly garb. It should become second nature to us.
  3. “My ministerial and personal lives are separate.”To have a “split personality”is never healthy. No priest can temporarily put his priesthood on the shelf. To hide one’s priesthood may often be symptomatic of a desire to engage in something sinful,or – at the very least – disedifying.
  4. “I need diversion.” If you mean the type of diversion that you would be ashamed to be seen enjoying while in a collar,then forget the diversion,not the collar.
  5. “Those who always wear their collars are insecure and seek to hide behind their uniforms.”The Roman collar is hardly a work uniform which is removed at the end of one’s day. Rather,the tried and true wisdom of the Church has determined that such garb best represents who the priest is. The collar is the established manner in which ordained ministers live out their ecclesial vocations both in the private and public spheres. True,some may think themselves better because of what they wear. But the collar and habit should not be dismissed out-of-hand on that basis. Priests and religious are weak and tempted. Wearing the appropriate clothing can strengthen those who totter on the brink of grave sin. On the other hand,those who do not want to appear in public as they really are seem to be suffering from a type of insecurity.
  6. “I do not want to stand out in a crowd.” This is part of the glory and at times the sacrifice of being God’s chosen servant:priests stand out not because of their own accomplishments or merits,but because they represent Jesus Christ. Priests are different,but not thereby strange.
  7. “The Roman collar erects a barrier between me and my people.” Some priests have publicly stated such. (For example,a priest-tribunal official and another priest involved in ecumenical work both asserted the necessity of not wearing the Roman collar for fear that they would insult non-Catholics and those hostile to Church teaching.) Could it be that some think that what the collar signifies – Jesus Christ,the Catholic Church,the priesthood – are obstacles? Priests must relate to others as priests,never in spite of being priests.
  8. I can’t be one of the guys when I am ‘dressed up.”‘ To which we answer,“Good,because a priest is never just one of the guys.”Furthermore,wearing the collar is not “dressing up.”Rather,a priest wearing lay clothing (apart from legitimate exceptions) is himself constantly dressing up as someone he is not.
  9. “I don’t want to offend non-Catholics or be provocative in our pluralistic society.” Some took offense at Jesus as he walked the streets of Palestine. Are we trying to be “nicer”than he? Are we perhaps afraid to suffer for the sake of his name?
  10. “Clerical clothing is for a clerical Church – I believe in the radical equality of all believers.” There is no such thing as a clerical Church which will pass away. There is just one Church,and the priesthood is a constitutive part of the Church which cannot be abolished. The equality of all believers does not contradict the diversity of vocations and states of life in the Church. For priests to self-exempt themselves from one of the duties of priestly life – the wearing of the Roman collar – is a form of clericalism which denies the faithful their right to know who their priests are in order to call upon them for priestly ministrations whenever necessary.
  11. “My work with young people is hampered by the collar.” Many priests attest that their ministry to youth is enhanced,not hindered,by the wearing of the collar. Young men and women cannot help but detect the priest’s love for and dedication to the Lord and the Church. Since there is no reason for the priest to demonstrate that “I’m just like you”(because he is not) the priest can be content to wear his collar when around young people,knowing that he has nothing to prove or hide. He need only show the love and compassion of the Savior.
  12. “Clothes do not make the man – the people of God can see my priesthood by the way I live,not by the way I dress.” This statement as it stands is true. But the legitimate,Church-sanctioned vesture of the priest does not somehow mask who he is;instead,it highlights that he is indeed a priest who is required by the Church to dress accordingly as he seeks to imitate the First Priest.
  13. External symbols are not my thing – I am who I am,not what other people want me to be.” Exactly. As priests,we should be priests and happily,humbly give that clear message to others. When collars were quickly taken off a few decades ago,the common argument proclaimed was:“What’s really important is what’s inside me . . . I don’t need an article of clothing to define my priesthood.”Our lives should unabashedly display these characteristics;otherwise,we might be simply seeking our own interests and not Christ’s. We use symbols all the time,and need not be embarrassed by them. To obediently and humbly wear the collar expresses one’s submission to the authority of God and his Holy Church.
  14. “Priests who always wear the Roman collar are rigid,arch-conservative,inflexible,elitist,vain and selfish attention-seekers. I am not one of them.” The assertion is made that priests who dress as priests possess an unhealthy desire to be continually needed and recognized;they only wear the collar for adulation and to “lord it over”the laity;they are looking for “clergy discounts”and “freebies”at stores and restaurants. That is an unfair assessment of men who are trying to live as the Church mandates. The collar should mean a simplicity of life and a corresponding humility before Almighty God. For a priest to say,“I’m not like those poor guys who wear this Tridentine-imposed relic of clericalism,”is perhaps a means of easing his conscience when it rebukes him for not doing what the Church demands of her ministers.

Source: Msgr. Charles M. Mangan &Father Gerald E. Murray. “Why a priest should wear his Roman collar.”Homiletic &Pastoral Review (June,1995).

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