July 21, 2011

Usus Contrarius

In religious life and the priesthood, to call someone 'rigid' is one of the gravest accusations. One can be called rigid when his idea of his privilege to be faithful to what the Church asks and expects is interpreted by someone else as not real faithfulness at all, but rather legalism, pharisaism, obsessive compulsion, mania for control, or the symptom of some other mental pathology.

This post is an example of how I am not rigid, just in case anybody ever thought or said so.

Believe it or not, for Mass at the Poor Clares today, despite the fact that it's not what we do in the Roman rite, messes up the logic of the vesting prayers, and does not make sense in what seems to me to be the theology of sacred vesture, I...wait for it...wore the stole over the chasuble.

As we read in Redemptionis sacramentum 123:

"The vestment proper to the Priest celebrant at Mass, and in other sacred actions directly connected with Mass unless otherwise indicated, is the chasuble, worn over the alb and stole.” (GIRM 337) Likewise the Priest, in putting on the chasuble according to the rubrics, is not to omit the stole. All Ordinaries should be vigilant in order that all usage to the contrary be eradicated.

So why would I do such a thing? Because Sister Sacristan asked me nice, is very much my senior in religion, and because I new she had made the stole herself, complete with a lovely Franciscan coat of arms. So, because I'm not rigid, for the feast of St. Lawrence today, I wore Sister's Franciscan stole over the chasuble.

No doubt this post will be annoying to many readers. Some will be annoyed that I did such a thing, others that I'm bragging about it, and still others that I care about such things at all. But as one of my oldest friends in the Catholic journey used to say, "The devil is in the details, and I suspect God is to be found there too."

15 comments:

sam said...

As one of my priest mentors often said: "The Lord can cope."

James said...

My pastor (who usually follows the rubrics closely) has done this a few times, and always with the parish's red chasuble and stole set. I think it may have been because the chasuble was plain red, and the stole was likely marketed as an "overlay." Ever since they got a more standard chasuble/stole set, he's worn them in the correct order.

Cloister said...

Here, here that Friar! Excellent work. And here I was thinking of chastising you for calling ironing 'undignified' (a very masculine way of thinking). My nana would have called anyone who did not iron EVERY SINGLE item of clothing (yes, that does include your pants) undignified. I am sure she would have ironed the tabernacle ALL THE TIME, wax or no wax. ANyhow, good call on the stole. :-) xx

Cloister said...
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Brother Charles said...

I once lived with a priest who would get up early to manically iron his knickers each morning. He left the priesthood.

Cloister said...

Oops! Pants (Ireland) = underwear? knickers? boxers? shorts? Lord knows what you call it, but you get the gist! :) xx

Cloister said...

@ Brother Charles. LOL. That explains a lot. Never ever become the sort of person who irons their knickers. Or jeans for that matter. Jeans were not out in the Rep of Ireland in my Nana's day. Well, not for her generation anyway. She told me off for wearing trousers in 1995.

carl said...

So your conscience holds that it is right to appease a senior sister in her request not to follow RS 123 and all the attending vesting prayers, etc?

Thom, SFO said...

Very gracious and sweet of you. Kudos.

-From Thom, who normally abhors stoles (and pectoral crosses) over chasubles.

Brother Charles said...

@carl Indeed, my conscience was conflicted!

caedmon said...

Reading this simple story has been the highlight of my day.

Sister Order is good, but so are Sisters Charity and Hospitality. All are to be loved. This has been my contemplation today, thanks to your post.

carl said...

Fr,

Thanks for posting about this. Your honesty is admirable. It's difficult to like what you did, but I do respect you and your judgement. Hope your enjoyed your feast day :)

Barb, sfo said...

"privilege to be faithful to the Church"--LOVE it! It's not something I ever thought of in those terms before, but it truly IS a privilege.

pennyante said...

Thank you for bringing joy to that Sister's day... Your thoughtfulness was more important than rigidly following the rules...

Anonymous said...

In the future, could you not presume that had the good sister known the Church's legitimate practice, she would have wanted you to follow Mother Church's will rather than her own?