Tuesday, March 19, 2013

There's no mean like Church mean

And they say Trads are obsessed with clerical attire?

As Rocco notes, Pope Francis doesn’t wear cuff links... What a blessed relief this all is.
Look, I enjoy ecclesiastical splendor as much as the next reactionary, but I think Mr. Jeffrey Tucker wins that thread:

It’s the new Pope’s personal preference and that’s fine. But why a “blessed relief?” I guess I’ll never understand why all this clothing stuff is such a sensitive subject.
It wasn't that long ago that a seminarian could find himself expelled from an American seminary for wearing a cassock. The faculty would take is as a sign that he was a radical reactionary bent on rolling back Vatican II and turning back the clock to the kind of Church they grew up in the bad old 1950's. Gentlemen, sometimes cuff links are just cuff links.

It is true that clothing can be a sensitive subject. I don't expect Father to be in clericals when he's mowing the lawn or out for a morning jog, but priests should dress like priests. The Roman collar is a sign of detachment from the world, of renouncing the good of marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Granted, many priests fall short of that ideal but this is a vale of tears and all that. We do not hold ourselves up as models of virtue, but Christ.

Some priests were formed with the idea that being humble means dressing in rags, celebrating banal liturgies, and building ugly churches. With all respect, there is no one in this world more patronizing than someone who professes to love the poor but has never been poor themselves. The poor, by and large, don't want ugliness and banality. Their lives are hard and they want a glimpse of heaven. Think about it: the most beautiful churches in the United States were built with the money and hard work of poor or working class immigrants. Our great-grandfathers worshipped in ornate cathedrals and gorgeous parish churches with reredos and high altars adorned with exquisite wood working, stone altars, and lovely statuary. It was their comfortable, easy going, middle class descendants who tore it all down and replaced them with felt banners and picnic table altars. "Why was this expensive oil not sold and given to the poor?"

I've known priests and bishops who were uncomfortable with lay people wanting to kiss their hands or their episcopal ring. Gentlemen, I would submit that you feel uncomftable because you think they are doing this for you, personally. On the contrary: St. Francis of Assissi knelt and kissed the hands of priests who were well known for keeping concubines and other notorious public sins. He didn't do it for them but because they represented Christ. They bring Christ to the people through the sacraments. You may believe you're being humble by always wearing polo shirts and slacks, but it seems to this dumb ass layman that the more humble thing for you to do would be to put aside your personal preference for dressing down and always looking the part of what you are: alter Christus.

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