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Why do priests wear black?
Sunday Catholic ^ | October 17, 2006 | Fr Andrzej Przybylski

Posted on 10/17/2006 10:01:13 AM PDT by NYer

I have read in some biblical dictionary that black is the colour of sorrow and mourning whereas white symbolizes joy and purity. Now I am wondering where the custom of wearing black cassocks comes from? Why do priests wear cassocks and why are they black, which is not the colour of joy and hope?
Stanislaw

The day when I received a priestly dress was a unique event for me. Although I did not become a priest then (actually we received cassocks at our III year of studies in the seminary), we belonged to clergy in the eyes of the world and people. It was a marvellous day! Some people began greeting Christ when they saw me, and they began sharing their problems. Thanks to the cassock I became a visible sign of a special belonging to God. Therefore, I support the defenders of clerical clothing and although I know that it is not true that 'clothes make the man' I miss the times when wearing a cassock was a normal and daily habit. I like wearing my cassock very much.
Naturally, in the first centuries of Christianity (for over four centuries) priests wore the same clothes as ordinary people. The tunics were normal clothes. When it was fashionable to wear shorter robes some priests kept tunics, and thus they stood out from other people. The Synod of Braga, AD 572, ordered priests to wear different clothes when they went out. The tradition of wearing cassocks was established over a very long period. At the turn of the 15th and the 16th centuries there was a custom of wearing robes called 'révérend' (the word derives from Romance languages). In those times men used to wear robes, especially the gentry liked wearing long dresses: the zupan (a long coat lined with cloth of gold) and the kontusz (an overcoat with split sleeves) and belts. The clerical clothing was established in the 17th and the 18th centuries. The colour of the cassock was connected with the hierarchy of clergy, which has remained up till now: the pope wears a white cassock, cardinals wear red (scarlet) ones, bishops wear amaranth red ones and priests wear black ones. You are right that black is associated with sorrow but in the case of priestly robe this colour has another symbolic meaning. A black cassock is to remind a priest that he 'dies to the world' every day and immerses in eternity. Blackness also symbolizes giving up bright colours and thus giving up what the world brings, its glittering, honours and entertainment.
The clerical collar is an important item of clerical clothing. Our students used to ask me: why is this white belt on you neck called a clerical collar although it is not colourful (in Polish 'koloratka' means colourful)? The word derives from Latin collare meaning a collar (also called a dog collar). A white collar on a priest's neck should remind him of a ring and collar - his marriage to Christ and to the Church and giving his freedom to Christ, thus letting him control his life. We, priests, wear a collar because we want to be directed by Christ in all things. Please notice that our collars are white as opposed to our cassocks. In the background of a black robe it is a symbol of the light of resurrection. We go through the world giving up baubles and colours, living the hope of participation in the brightness of resurrection. This white collar in the background of our black dress is actually a sign of our desires and aspirations.
See how meaningful our robes are and therefore I am sad to see that priests wear cassocks less and less frequently since a cassock itself has proclaimed the most important truths of our faith. And by the way, we, priests, wear trousers under the cassock and it is not a rule that every cassock has 33 buttons.


TOPICS: Catholic; History
KEYWORDS: clericals; priest

Cassock or Soutane
1 posted on 10/17/2006 10:01:15 AM PDT by NYer
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To: Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...


2 posted on 10/17/2006 10:01:33 AM PDT by NYer ("It is easier for the earth to exist without sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. PPio)
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To: NYer

It's slimming.


3 posted on 10/17/2006 10:01:46 AM PDT by HitmanLV ("If at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking until you do succeed." - Jerry 'Curly' Howard)
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To: NYer

Both nuns and priests wore clothes that were similar to what was worn when the "clothes" where chosen, they just have never updated their clothing line.


4 posted on 10/17/2006 10:04:46 AM PDT by svcw
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To: NYer

Interesting...

Will have to fwd this to my Newman group 8^)


5 posted on 10/17/2006 10:07:06 AM PDT by rzeznikj at stout (Boldly Going Nowhere...)
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To: NYer
Nothing wrong with black.


6 posted on 10/17/2006 10:19:23 AM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: NYer

7 posted on 10/17/2006 10:22:02 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: ArrogantBustard

Funny


8 posted on 10/17/2006 10:29:55 AM PDT by NYer ("It is easier for the earth to exist without sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. PPio)
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To: NYer

We had a priest in high school who usually wore either a black cassock or a black shirt/slacks/jacket. However, one day a year (St. Patrick's Day) He wore a bright green shirt with his Roman Collar.


9 posted on 10/17/2006 11:10:40 AM PDT by CT-Freeper (Said the perpetually dejected Mets fan.)
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Comment #10 Removed by Moderator

To: HitmanLV

Nah, because it goes with everything!


11 posted on 10/17/2006 3:40:44 PM PDT by SAMS (Nobody loves a soldier until the enemy is at the gate; Army Wife & Marine Mom)
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To: NYer

Brides wear white to symbolize their innocence and purity so ................ nah that couldn't be it.


12 posted on 10/17/2006 7:29:45 PM PDT by festus (The constitution may be flawed but its a whole lot better than what we have now.)
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To: NYer

Bump for later.


13 posted on 10/17/2006 9:24:30 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: NYer

Why do some Priest wear the cassock or black shirt and pants, while some wear the brown monk type robe?


14 posted on 10/18/2006 3:16:39 AM PDT by neb52
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To: NYer

To get to the other side?


15 posted on 10/18/2006 3:19:33 AM PDT by DCPatriot ("It aint what you don't know that kills you. It's what you know that aint so" Theodore Sturgeon)
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To: neb52

Depends on their priestly order.


16 posted on 10/18/2006 3:20:52 AM PDT by Judith Anne (Thank you St. Jude for favors granted.)
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To: NYer
It's more "slimming"
17 posted on 10/18/2006 3:22:43 AM PDT by WhiteGuy (DeWine ranked as one of the ten worst border security politicians - Human Events)
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To: Judith Anne
My Parish is Franciscan, but there is a visiting Priest that wears the brown robe, would it be normal for a priest of a different Order to visit?
18 posted on 10/18/2006 3:35:35 AM PDT by neb52
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To: neb52
My Parish is Franciscan, but there is a visiting Priest that wears the brown robe, would it be normal for a priest of a different Order to visit?

The term Franciscan is used to refer to the Roman Catholic religious orders which follow the rule of St. Francis. The best known group, the Order of Friars Minor (commonly called simply Franciscans) is a mendicant religious order of men tracing their origin to Francis of Assisi and following the Rule of St. Francis. The official Latin name is the Ordo Fratrum Minorum (literally, "Order of Little Brothers"); Francis thus referred to his followers as "Fraticelli",[citation needed] meaning "Little Brothers". Franciscan brothers are informally called friars. The order has historically been known as the greyfriars. The modern organization of the Friars Minor now comprises three separate branches: the 'Friars Minor of the Leonine Union' (OFM); the 'Friars Minor Conventuals' (OFM Conv), and the 'Friars Minor Capuchins' (OFM Cap). The Friars Minor were constituted officially in 1517 and the Capuchins in 1619.

The visiting priest, if wearing the brown robe, is a member of a Franciscan order. And, sure, a priest from a different order may visit the Church.

FYI - Sean Cardinal O'Malley, is a Conventual Franciscan.
Also, there is a 3rd Order of Franciscans, comprised of lay people who ascribe to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis. This is - The Secular Franciscan Order.

19 posted on 10/18/2006 7:17:00 AM PDT by NYer ("It is easier for the earth to exist without sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” PPi)
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To: NYer
Ah thank you. Yes when I said that my Parish is Franciscan, I meant that by the fact that both Pastor and Associate are Franciscan. I was running late for RCIA last Thursday and ran into Fr. Mike(the one that was visiting) and he is the huge bear of a guy(like 6'7" and built like a NFL lineman) wearing the brown robe and it took me back a second. LOL!

What is the person that would wear a white robe with a sash at Mass? There was this gentleman the other Sunday(one that the Bishop was suppose to be attending and this guy was way younger than Bishop Van, who wasn't there)sitting next to the Pastor and gave the Homily(sp?). Deacon perhaps?
20 posted on 10/18/2006 7:56:29 AM PDT by neb52
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To: neb52
What is the person that would wear a white robe with a sash at Mass?

Yes, that would be the deacon. And, aren't you most blessed to have one at your parish :-)

I was running late for RCIA

Welome Home! - will you be received into the Church at next year's Easter vigil?

21 posted on 10/18/2006 9:51:54 AM PDT by NYer ("It is easier for the earth to exist without sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” PPi)
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To: NYer


Hey, there's a "neo" everything else, how about a "Neo" priest? :-)
22 posted on 10/18/2006 5:12:24 PM PDT by ConservativeStLouisGuy (11th FReeper Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Unnecessarily Excerpt)
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To: ConservativeStLouisGuy
BTW, here's a more reader-friendly version of the article....

Why Do Priests Wear Black?

I have read in some biblical dictionary that black is the colour of sorrow and mourning whereas white symbolizes joy and purity. Now I am wondering where the custom of wearing black cassocks comes from? Why do priests wear cassocks and why are they black, which is not the colour of joy and hope? - Stanislaw

The day when I received a priestly dress was a unique event for me. Although I did not become a priest then (actually we received cassocks at our III year of studies in the seminary), we belonged to clergy in the eyes of the world and people. It was a marvellous day! Some people began greeting Christ when they saw me, and they began sharing their problems. Thanks to the cassock I became a visible sign of a special belonging to God. Therefore, I support the defenders of clerical clothing and although I know that it is not true that 'clothes make the man' I miss the times when wearing a cassock was a normal and daily habit. I like wearing my cassock very much.

Naturally, in the first centuries of Christianity (for over four centuries) priests wore the same clothes as ordinary people. The tunics were normal clothes. When it was fashionable to wear shorter robes some priests kept tunics, and thus they stood out from other people. The Synod of Braga, AD 572, ordered priests to wear different clothes when they went out. The tradition of wearing cassocks was established over a very long period. At the turn of the 15th and the 16th centuries there was a custom of wearing robes called 'révérend' (the word derives from Romance languages). In those times men used to wear robes, especially the gentry liked wearing long dresses: the zupan (a long coat lined with cloth of gold) and the kontusz (an overcoat with split sleeves) and belts. The clerical clothing was established in the 17th and the 18th centuries. The colour of the cassock was connected with the hierarchy of clergy, which has remained up till now: the pope wears a white cassock, cardinals wear red (scarlet) ones, bishops wear amaranth red ones and priests wear black ones. You are right that black is associated with sorrow but in the case of priestly robe this colour has another symbolic meaning. A black cassock is to remind a priest that he 'dies to the world' every day and immerses in eternity. Blackness also symbolizes giving up bright colours and thus giving up what the world brings, its glittering, honours and entertainment.

The clerical collar is an important item of clerical clothing. Our students used to ask me: why is this white belt on you neck called a clerical collar although it is not colourful (in Polish 'koloratka' means colourful)? The word derives from Latin collare meaning a collar (also called a dog collar). A white collar on a priest's neck should remind him of a ring and collar - his marriage to Christ and to the Church and giving his freedom to Christ, thus letting him control his life. We, priests, wear a collar because we want to be directed by Christ in all things. Please notice that our collars are white as opposed to our cassocks. In the background of a black robe it is a symbol of the light of resurrection. We go through the world giving up baubles and colours, living the hope of participation in the brightness of resurrection. This white collar in the background of our black dress is actually a sign of our desires and aspirations.

See how meaningful our robes are and therefore I am sad to see that priests wear cassocks less and less frequently since a cassock itself has proclaimed the most important truths of our faith. And by the way, we, priests, wear trousers under the cassock and it is not a rule that every cassock has 33 buttons.


23 posted on 10/18/2006 5:13:08 PM PDT by ConservativeStLouisGuy (11th FReeper Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Unnecessarily Excerpt)
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To: NYer

You can wear it after Labor Day.


24 posted on 10/18/2006 5:13:32 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: NYer

"What is the person that would wear a white robe with a sash at Mass?

Yes, that would be the deacon. And, aren't you most blessed to have one at your parish :-)

I was running late for RCIA

Welome Home! - will you be received into the Church at next year's Easter vigil?"

Thank You, yes the plan is to be confirmed at Easter.


25 posted on 10/18/2006 5:29:14 PM PDT by neb52
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To: neb52

Depends on the Order. Franciscans wear the brown, long robe. Other orders have light grey robes, white with a cowl, etc. Diocesan priests (non-religious, often in parishes) you are most likely to see in black slacks and black shirt with collar and a cardigan sweater. Jesuits used to always be in the long black cassocks, now probably shorts and a sport shirt!


26 posted on 10/18/2006 5:42:05 PM PDT by baa39 (Quid hoc ad aeternitatem?)
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To: NYer

Not for a priest, with that color!


27 posted on 10/18/2006 5:43:18 PM PDT by baa39 (Quid hoc ad aeternitatem?)
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To: CT-Freeper

***However, one day a year (St. Patrick’s Day) He wore a bright green shirt with his Roman Collar.***

That reminded me of the movie THE WAR LORD when the priest(Maurice Evans) meets the new Lord (Charlton Heston) of the castle tower.

I think he introduces himself as “Obo du Bullion, Servant of God”. As he bows to the Lord he realizes he is wearing a pagan belt of green fronds, which he sheepishly and quickly detaches and drops it to the ground.


28 posted on 09/19/2009 8:49:03 AM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (That's reicest you dirty rat dog Reicest you! Reicest I say! I gonna cutchu boy!)
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To: neb52

The Deacon will wear the white chausible and a sash that matches the color of the day.

Green — Ordinary time
Red — for martyrs and for Good Friday
White — for saints, Eucharistic special Masses, Easter time, Christmas time
Violet — Lent or Advent, sometimes those colors differ a little
Rose — on only two days — Laetare Sunday and Gaudete Sunday — to express joy that Lent/Advent almost over.

Congratulations on being in RCIA. Let us know about you coming plans when it gets closer to the Easter Vigil Mass — in other words — WELCOME HOME!


29 posted on 09/19/2009 9:17:20 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: neb52

I forgot to mention that black vestments used to be worn by the priests for funerals. That has changed to white to signify thetransition from baptism to death and rejoicing at their entry into Heaven.


30 posted on 09/19/2009 9:21:00 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Interesting that you mention the change in color for funeral vestments.

We are lucky enough to have a TLM at our parish, and we attend every week. My sons serve at the altar, and since there are so few of them experienced enough to serve a High Mass for a funeral, they are in great demand all over the diocese.

Anyway, last May, the boys were asked to serve at the funeral Mass of one of our fellow parishoners. I pulled them out of school early in order for them to do so.

When we got there, the husband of the parishoner was there with their daughter (not a member of the TLM community). She FREAKED OUT that the priests were wearing black vestments. She demanded that the vestments be changed. She glared at her father and our priest. She stomped her foot.

Father calmy explained that this is what her mother wanted, and the he could not change the vestments. God bless the man; he has the patience of a saint.

Well, the daughter sat through the Mass, fuming away. I felt a little sorry for her, (beyond, of course, my sympathy on the loss of her mother) but honestly...she knew her mother went to the TLM. This shouldn’t have been a surprise to her.

Regards,


31 posted on 09/19/2009 9:33:50 AM PDT by VermiciousKnid (Grab your gun and bring in the cat.)
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To: VermiciousKnid

Great story. Congratulations on your sons. Has either considered the priesthood?


32 posted on 09/19/2009 9:40:21 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Well, my oldest (13) is now one of the two senior altar boys. It is he who is in constant demand for weddings and funerals. However, he has repeatedly stated that he does not have a vocation to the priesthood. I told him to wait, live a while, and always be listening for the call. He has said he would do that.

My youngest (11), had a stroke when he was an infant, and while he has always been the more spiritual of my children, it would be impossible for him to complete the academic scholarship that joining the priesthood would entail. Neverheless, he has been fairly successful in learning the responses for the TLM, and is capable of acting as crucifer and acolyte during the Mass. However, he cannot serve the Mass alone or with a less-experienced altar boy, as we cannot count on him to audibly make the responses. If he gets distracted or lost, he will not be able to recover from it; he would shut down.

I am very proud of both my boys — the one who finds things easy to do, and the one who finds them difficult. They both always give it all they’ve got.

Regards,


33 posted on 09/19/2009 10:12:34 AM PDT by VermiciousKnid (Grab your gun and bring in the cat.)
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