Cassock alone for Non Clerics?

Please read the post before voting.

Please don’t turn this into a cassock/alb debate! Wearing an alb is out of the picture, for the sake of this discussion.

I serve quite a bit, and consequently, have bought my self a nice surplice that includes some lace. One dilemma I have is what to wear when doing “utility work” (terrible choice of words, but all that I can think of) around the sanctuary, such as setting up the 10+ servers chairs.

Here’s the main part of my question. I don’t want to wear my surplice while doing things like lifting chairs. Understandably, I don’t want to wreck it. That is a nonnegotiable. The real question is: What should I wear? Another factor is that there are some (not many, but enough to want to make sure there is a proper decorum) in the church at the time in question.
My two options (that I see) are:
*]Cassock alone (a black one, btw)
*]Street clothes" (ie, dress shirt, tie, sometimes sport jacket).

My thoughts are that since I’m in the sanctuary, I should be wearing something “special”.

Your thoughts?

Also, please vote in the poll.

Are you talking about before Mass? Then what does it matter?

To drill down a little further, as you are a non-cleric (and I assume a non-seminarian), my quite untutored view would be that you should not be wearing a cassock except when you are serving. That said, if you are doing this right before Mass, bringing things out from the sacristy and setting them up, that type of thing, then it is close enough to serving that the chance of causing confusion and creating misimpressions about your state is lower than if you just walked around the church on a general basis clad in cassock. I also do not think there is any call for you to have to bring and put on a collared shirt and tie just to do setup, if you would not be wearing them otherwise.

No, It’s not during Mass. Should have said that before…
I agree that outside of Mass, cassock is for seminarians and up. No brainier.
Also, I’m already wearing the dress clothes before Mass, so it’s not like I’m bringing them just for this.

The dilemma is, when I can’t wear a surplice for some duties (outside of Mass, but not long before Mass), should I wear a cassock alone, or my dress clothes?

Cassock? (because I’m in the sancuary)
Dress Clothes? (because the cassock alone smacks of “cleric”)

I think you know the answer. Servers are allowed to wear the cassock/surplice through long-held custom. No such custom exist for the cassock alone. Presentable street clothes are quite proper for set-up work. A cassock would in no way be “more proper.”

I sometimes wear a cassock and surplice when I serve Mass. I had just finished buttoning the last of the 33 buttons on my cassock when I had to enter the church to deal with an immediate problem concerning the gifts for that day just before Mass. I momentarily considered putting on my surplice or removing the cassock and decided instead to just get it done wearing the cassock.

I entered the church, took care of the gifts issue and someone almost immediately took my hand, kissed it and said “father bless” in front of about 250 people. My mind raced and it hit me. With my old beard and no roman collar a visiting easterner mistook me for a visiting eastern priest. That was a very embarrassing lesson.

As far as the set-up, when I am responsible for it, I do it long before people in the pews could see me. A tie/coat certainly isn’t required.

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Ok I’m in the minority at the moment, where I grew up the Sacristan and the alterboys, (occasionally) always wore their cassocks before Mass while doing the “household chores” as you mentioned. The altarboys would go and put on their surplices before returning to light the candles.

A boy would never be confused or a cleric either…

When you enter the sacristy put on your cassock and if you have to set up and prepare the sanctuary put on a simple surplice and after you have finished preparations for Mass then switch your surplices.

What could be the reason for a layman to wear cassock? What good result comes out of that?

In the good old times clerics wear cassocks to show that they are set aside to God. The religious wore their habits for the same reason.

Layman is for the world, for his present or future family. Why he should wear cassock?

Laymen and boys may wear the cassock while serving for Mass or other liturgies. Here’s one reason why:

Originally, only clerics where allowed in the sanctuary, and so all the servers would be clerics as well, so they would wear their proper choir dress, cassock and surplice. After a while, there were not enough priests to do this, so it was opened up to boys and men, who would be “fill-ins” for the clerics, hence they wear the cassock and surplice (but no collar and faccia).

That’s one reason why servers can wear the cassock and surplice, not to mention that it’s allowed by the church for males.

Since you are coming to the church in your dress shirt, do the set-up wearing that, and make sure you allot yourself time to get into the cassock. Peace

Sounds like a good idea. While I won’t be able to always do this, I’ll try.

I agree with this during the Mass.In the US this is the customary for the servers.

The question was cassock alone and outside the Mass or liturgies.

Altar servers wearcassocks and surplice during the Mass as they are serving the role of acolyte. Acolytes were a minor clerical order (now it is an instituted ministry) so they dressed as clerics in cassocks and surplice. This is shown by a priest who comes to distribute communion but is not concelebrating or otherwise involved in that Mass, he should wear the cassock, surplice, and stole.

The alb (I know the OP doesn’t want a discussion of the alb but…) is the baptismal garment of the laity.

For outside of the Mass a server should not be wearing the cassock, especially if there can be confusion regarding his state (laity, religious, clergy).

So my advice would be to do whatever setup that needs to be done in the cloths you come to Church in then just before the Mass is to start change into the cassock and surplice.

If I saw a man or a woman wearing a cassock and surplice while setting-up chairs, I would presume that the task was forgotten until the last minute. Matters like setting up chairs (and cleaning/maintaining the sanctuary) are functions that have long been done by people (not just males) wearing nothing more than street clothes

Unless you are ordained or are a seminarian, you should not wear a cassock other than when you are serving for a liturgy or some other function where you should be vested to serve (such as while serving for a Eucharistic procession).

This is what I was trying to get at in a softer tone in my reply earlier.

I would add, that if you are a seminarian then you should follow your dioceses guidelines as to dress. Some dioceses do not allow their seminarians to wear clerical dress.

Also, non-ordained religious (who may or may not be seminarians) may wear a cassock as that is the habit for some religious communites.

Looks like I have my answer! Thanks everyone!

Well, I will dare to talk about the Byzantine side of this matter. In the Byzantine church after being tonsured there are several levels of ordination before the priesthood. They are as follows: Candle-Bearer, Lector, Cantor, Subdeacon, Deacon, and finally the Priesthood. So, originally all servers would be ordained Candle-Bearers. If you are tonsured Nd ordained to any of these levels you are permitted to wear a cassock. So all servers in the Byzantine church didn’t have that problem. Yet, as time went on men weren’t ordained to the level of Candle-Bearer and that was it, but rather they were ordained to that level for the sole purpose of becoming a priest. In our church, actually, tonsure, the orders of Candle-Bearer, Lector, Cantor, and the Subdiaconate are often all done together. Serving than became a discernment system for young men and they would be permitted to wear a cassock on the altar, and only on the altar. So, for both the these reason can serve on the altar, but as I stated it is only for the altar. Thus, if you have work such as filling cruets, lighting candles, lighting charcoal for incense, ect. It is fine to wear a cassock, but if your doing prolonged menial labor I would advise against it. Now, if you were preparing for a mass and someone needed help moving something and you had time to spare then it would be fine to wear cassock and help, but to see they need help THEN to put on your cassock to help them, that would wrong. I hope this helped…thank you.

Since you are new, you might not have realized that this is an old thread and, according to forum rules, should not be resurrected. :slight_smile:

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