Reader attire


#1

I tried to search the forum but to no avail. I refer to the proper attire of an installed reader for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. I have read the following is the norm in the US:

In the dioceses of the United States of America, acolytes, altar servers, readers, and other lay ministers may wear the alb or other suitable vesture or other appropriate and dignified clothing.

Unless the pastor specifies / allows / requires the wearing of the alb:

  • what qualifies as "appropriate and dignified clothing"? Strict business attire? A long-sleeved shirt and pants?

I've seen and heard all sorts of things :shrug: I do think I have common sense on this matter, but I wonder if there's anything specific? Any guideline? I mean, someone who ordinarily wears business attire for work could see it as elegant, but is it considered dignified in a liturgical context? :shrug:

Thanks!

(P.s.: I'll ask the priest if an alb can be worn. Some say it's not proper for lay faithful wear clerical vestments, and I sort of agree, especially since in the OF the reader is not a lector but a "lay minister" (:o) but in context an alb would add a bit of reverence, I guess...)


#2

[quote="R_C, post:1, topic:309678"]
I tried to search the forum but to no avail. I refer to the proper attire of an installed reader for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. I have read the following is the norm in the US:

Unless the pastor specifies / allows / requires the wearing of the alb:

  • what qualifies as "appropriate and dignified clothing"? Strict business attire? A long-sleeved shirt and pants?

I've seen and heard all sorts of things :shrug: I do think I have common sense on this matter, but I wonder if there's anything specific? Any guideline? I mean, someone who ordinarily wears business attire for work could see it as elegant, but is it considered

[/quote]

An alb is proper attire for any baptized person who is exercising a liturgical role...It's not necessary that the person be instituted or a member of the clergy. But I don't believe it is required that instituted readers or acolytes wear an alb.

As far as what is proper attire... I don't think you are going to find any specific guidelines unless they are put out by an individual diocese or individual parish.


#3

I'm a lector and have been in two parishes but in any parish I've ever visited but one, I've never seen a lector wear an alb. Men usually suite and tie. Women nice dress/shirt or pant suite. I'm not sure what you are looking for but if the lectors in your parish are not wearing an alb, I think that trying to start this would cause more controversy that is not needed. You should discuss this with your priest.


#4

[quote="robwar, post:3, topic:309678"]
I'm not sure what you are looking for but if the lectors in your parish are not wearing an alb, I think that trying to start this would cause more controversy that is not needed. You should discuss this with your priest.

[/quote]

I am just trying to understand. Since I am more on the side of the traditional liturgy (where acolytes wear cassock and surplice) I was puzzled by the lack of specific guidelines for the attire of the lay ministers in the ordinary form, which (at least in my area) means you see many things, from albs to shirts to suit&tie.

I appreciate these comments and advice, and I indeed know almost for sure that no alb will be worn since it's not common in this parish.


#5

[quote="R_C, post:1, topic:309678"]
- what qualifies as "appropriate and dignified clothing"? Strict business attire? A long-sleeved shirt and pants?

I've seen and heard all sorts of things :shrug: I do think I have common sense on this matter, but I wonder if there's anything specific? Any guideline? I mean, someone who ordinarily wears business attire for work could see it as elegant, but is it considered dignified in a liturgical context? :shrug:

Thanks!

[/quote]

What qualifies as "appropriate and dignified clothing" is defined by the parish's pastor. One priest at our parish never allowed denim of any sort/color to be worn by those serving (readers, cantors, EMHC). Someone mentioned in another thread that their priest didn't allow women to serve unless they wear a skirt/dress.


#6

[quote="R_C, post:4, topic:309678"]
I am just trying to understand. Since I am more on the side of the traditional liturgy (where acolytes wear cassock and surplice) I was puzzled by the lack of specific guidelines for the attire of the lay ministers in the ordinary form, which (at least in my area) means you see many things, from albs to shirts to suit&tie.

[/quote]

Are you looking for the USCCB or the Vatican to set a universal dress code for lay ministers?


#7

[quote="Catholic_Wife, post:5, topic:309678"]
What qualifies as "appropriate and dignified clothing" is defined by the parish's pastor. One priest at our parish never allowed denim of any sort/color to be worn by those serving (readers, cantors, EMHC). Someone mentioned in another thread that their priest didn't allow women to serve unless they wear a skirt/dress.

[/quote]

Unfortunately, that means that some parishes have no dress code and it's left up to the individual minister -- other than, usually, the altar servers. I've seen teen readers wearing tight low rise pants with skin showing, middle-aged women serving at the altar in shorts and t-shirt, immigrants in all ministries in their native dress, which I must say is usually nicer, neater and a lot more modest than what is usually up there.

While a dress code can avoid problems, it can also create them. Would my immigrants be allowed to wear what is, for them, go-to-church clothes or would they be told that a suit and tie is required? Albs can avoid that sort of problem and I think parishes could invest in adult albs in various sizes. Heck, I'm short and would be willing to buy my own since it would save me the headache of wondering what to wear. In no way am I interested in "playing priest".


#8

When this priest first arrived we had a no jeans in church sermon though it wasnt totally clear whether he minded or not. Our Church parishioners as a rule do not wear jeans to chuch. But I am not slow, and realise that we are an ageing church... Though all those who do wear jeans and wear them underneath their robes, coincidentally wasn't there that Sunday. So they still never got his message if he was trying to say 'no jeans'. We were none too sure why we received such a sermon since only three people do wear jeans in church in our whole congregation. All three Serve on the Altar, though one wears Jeans at other times... Our priest does have his own way of saying things but can be subtle at times. I guess he has decided long ago he isn't going to worry about what folk wear as a rule. I think he is more concerned that we are there rather than what we wear.

I would wear what you normally wear for church unless it is a bikini top and shorts set up :D I believe you may be able to buy an appropriate gown once you are trained or something and you can put that ontop but most of your clothes will be seen. But I think you're priest will probably say something on the lines of 'as you are, no need to change anything' But ask him anyway :thumbsup:


#9

Common sense is the order of the day, an awareness of the occasion you are attending and a responsibility toward your ministry. Our previous pastor was adamant about dress, telling the entire congregation more than once that Christ was worthy of our Sunday "Best!" Then a new pastor was assigned to us and in the subsequent lector training we were told "nobody is going to tell you how to dress." So now we have some EMHC's in sloppy jeans and tennis shoes standing with others who are in more appropriate "church" attire.

I'm quite proud of our lector ministry, however....we, by example, are "shaming" the others into respectful dress and very seldom do we ever see anyone in sloppy clothing doing a reading. All most all of the men wear dress trousers and shirt; most often a tie and sport coat. We, the women, usually wear a suit, or skirt with dress shoes, or dress pants. The only problem now is that some younger readers have entered the ministry and we are seeing skin way above the knee. I would think if this doesn't stop, our pastor will have to issue a statement since this is an area of modesty regarding the 6th/9th commandments, and even certain bishops are speaking out.


#10

At our parish we wear a black cassoc with a white surplice over it. We wear the same as the altar servers, acolytes & EMHC.
It's a beautiful sight to see when we process into church with our simple black & white vestments followed in by Father in his wonderful colored vestment (depending on the liturgical season).
I went to a Lutheran service recently & the reader was wearing a polo & khakis while the Pastor & Altar server wore vestments. It was not real impressive. :shrug:
I think if my parish did not want us to wear vestments to read, I would wear a sports coat & tie. :thumbsup:


#11

[quote="kcbk, post:10, topic:309678"]
At our parish we wear a black cassoc with a white surplice over it. We wear the same as the altar servers, acolytes & EMHC.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:

I'm sure you have a great pastor!


#12

I've never heard of readers wearing an alb. My church is a mostly small rural parish and for the most part, people just wear nice clothes. Usually it is a suit and tie, but for me its just a nice dress shirt and some khaki pants. I know that I and other men should dress better, but sometimes living out here in the boonies, we don't really wear suits or ties unless we really have to. Although Mass is probably one of those situations


#13

[quote="R_C, post:4, topic:309678"]
I am just trying to understand. Since I am more on the side of the traditional liturgy (where acolytes wear cassock and surplice) I was puzzled by the lack of specific guidelines for the attire of the lay ministers in the ordinary form, which (at least in my area) means you see many things, from albs to shirts to suit&tie.

I appreciate these comments and advice, and I indeed know almost for sure that no alb will be worn since it's not common in this parish.

[/quote]

If you don't see it happening, then I won't worry about it and just dress in a suite and tie when you lector. Maybe at some point, you could speak to your priest about this and your concerns. Generally, I've seen lectors dress the best out of all the different ministries. i know with my boys who altar serve, we make sure that they are never in jeans and sneakers but dress in polos and khakis even though they are covered up with an alb. Sadly, though I do see too many altar servers dress in jeans and sneakers serving. One time, there was an altar server shortage and one of my sons was tagged to help. I felt bad because he was wearing jeans but they were so short and he was covered up with the alb the sacristan said don't worry, but that is not our standards.


#14

I’ve seen it only once and that was at the Oratory at Ave Maria Florida.


#15

[quote="Phemie, post:7, topic:309678"]
Unfortunately, *that means that some parishes have no dress code and it's left up to the individual minister *

[/quote]

-- other than, usually, the altar servers. I've seen teen readers wearing tight low rise pants with skin showing, middle-aged women serving at the altar in shorts and t-shirt, immigrants in all ministries in their native dress, which I must say is usually nicer, neater and a lot more modest than what is usually up there.
If we were talking politics, this would be a "local government" concern (parish level) instead of a "state government" (diocesan level) or a "federal government" (Vatican) concern. If the priest has a problem with something that someone is wearing, it is up to him - as the pastor - to correct them in private and address the issue publicly. Our former priest made a point of making "appropriate dress" a yearly sermon, usually around May when the weather starts getting really warm.

While a dress code can avoid problems, it can also create them. Would my immigrants be allowed to wear what is, for them, go-to-church clothes or would they be told that a suit and tie is required? Albs can avoid that sort of problem and I think parishes could invest in adult albs in various sizes

. Heck, I'm short and would be willing to buy my own since it would save me the headache of wondering what to wear. In no way am I interested in "playing priest".
Not all parishes can afford a variety of albs for adults. If this concerns you so much, maybe you should talk to your priest about this and ask if you can wear an alb when you read? If he agrees that readers should wear albs, maybe you could offer to raise money for the albs that would be needed?


#16

[quote="Tigg, post:9, topic:309678"]
Common sense is the order of the day, an awareness of the occasion you are attending and a responsibility toward your ministry. Our previous pastor was adamant about dress, telling the entire congregation more than once that Christ was worthy of our Sunday "Best!" Then a new pastor was assigned to us and in the subsequent lector training we were told "nobody is going to tell you how to dress." So now we have some EMHC's in sloppy jeans and tennis shoes standing with others who are in more appropriate "church" attire.

[/quote]

Somedays my "best" is having barely enough energy to drag myself out of bed and throw on the nearest clothes, which is usually jeans and a sweater. Other days, my "best" is going to Mass straight from work wearing my uniform when I am so tired that I have trouble staying awake to drive and would rather go straight home and crawl into bed.


#17

[quote="Catholic_Wife, post:16, topic:309678"]

Somedays my "best" is having barely enough energy to drag myself out of bed and throw on the nearest clothes, which is usually jeans and a sweater. Other days, my "best" is going to Mass straight from work wearing my uniform when I am so tired that I have trouble staying awake to drive and would rather go straight home and crawl into bed.

[/quote]

Well, yours is a circumstance where we would be well advised not to judge the outer appearance, but I do believe those serving in ministries which require one to be "up front" should dress respectfully for the King.


#18

[quote="Catholic_Wife, post:16, topic:309678"]

Other days, my "best" is going to Mass straight from work wearing my uniform when I am so tired that I have trouble staying awake to drive and would rather go straight home and crawl into bed.

[/quote]

I have a friend who is a nurse and for a few years she worked a 12 hour shift on Saturdays and Sundays (7:00am to 7:00 pm). There was a parish not far away from the hospital that had a 7:30 p.m. Sunday evening Mass. She would usually come in her scrubs, mostly because she didn't have time to change. I always thanked her for making Mass on Sunday, because I knew it was hard for her to make it there.

There's a lady that comes to my parish who is a nurse. I sometimes see her at the 5:30 pm Sunday evening Mass in her uniform. She starts a shift on Sunday evening at 7:00 pm that goes to 7:00 a.m. Oftentimes, she works the Saturday evening shift from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., so she goes home to sleep and makes sure she wakes up early afternoon to make the Sunday evening Mass at 5:30 pm. I complimented her one day thanking her for making the time for Sunday Mass, and told her that she was always welcome at our parish.


#19

[quote="Tigg, post:17, topic:309678"]
I do believe those serving in ministries which require one to be "up front" should dress respectfully for the King.

[/quote]

Like some of the other posters have said, I do think that those in ministries such as ushers, choir members, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should be dressed in a way to set an example. I've noticed at my parish since the men in the bilingual choir started wearing black suits complete with a white shirt and black necktie, and the ladies in the same choir started wearing black skirts with long sleeved white blouses, the congregation has been a little more careful about what they wear to Mass. The example works.

I also know of some other parishes in my area where all ushers are required to wear blue blazers.

Believe me, I've gone to my share of Masses where Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion have been in shorts and sandals. It may have been 90 degrees outside, but please, remember this is a church. I do think the pastors and associates do need to put their foot down. I know a pastor who said something to my little brother because he would sometimes show up to sing at Mass in blue jeans and tennis shoes.

I know I'm not Mr. Perfect either. I sometimes wear decent blue jeans and a polo shirt to a Saturday or Sunday evening Mass. There are some men in my neck of the woods that do show up in collared checkered shirts that are clean and pressed, decent jeans (no holes, not faded), a belt, well groomed hair, and boots - after all, I do live in Texas, and most of these guys are "clean cut".

However, if I was scheduled to serve in a ministry at a Saturday or Sunday evening Mass in August, I would at least show up in slacks and a long sleeve button down shirt. I do teach CCD on Sunday morning, and to set an example for the kids, I still have not shown up in blue jeans and tennis shoes.

I will now close this talking points memo.


#20

[quote="R_C, post:1, topic:309678"]
I tried to search the forum but to no avail. I refer to the proper attire of an installed reader for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

(P.s.: I'll ask the priest if an alb can be worn. Some say it's not proper for lay faithful wear clerical vestments, and I sort of agree, especially since in the OF the reader is not a lector but a "lay minister" (:o) but in context an alb would add a bit of reverence, I guess...)

[/quote]

[quote="robwar, post:3, topic:309678"]
I'm a lector and have been in two parishes but in any parish I've ever visited but one, I've never seen a lector wear an alb. Men usually suite and tie. Women nice dress/shirt or pant suite. I'm not sure what you are looking for but if the lectors in your parish are not wearing an alb, I think that trying to start this would cause more controversy that is not needed. You should discuss this with your priest.

[/quote]

Hmm, I see a lot of terminology confusion here. In the Roman Rite you can either be an instituted lector or a lay reader. Instituted lectors are lay men with a commission from the bishop. Lay readers are any Catholic in good standing, including women.

I guess this confusion is even more widespread than the "Eucharistic Minister/EMHC" gaffe. I corrected the latter in my parish... now I may have to correct the former.


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