July 28, 2011

More on Stoles Under/Over Chasubles

According to the synchronicities of the secret economies of encouragement and bemusement, the other day I had another conversation on the issue of whether the stole goes under or over the chasuble.

Against my assertion that in the Roman rite the stole is worn under the chasuble, my gentle interlocutor informed me that I was quite wrong; the stole was certainly to be worn over the chasuble. As evidence for this position, he adduced "all the pictures" he had ever seen "of priests in the Maryknoll or America magazines."

So I guess it matters what one considers the sources of liturgical catechesis.

All of this begged for me a twofold question. First, in those rare cases in which it seems to me the better part of discretion and/or charity to consent to wear the stole over the chasuble, against the Church which has asked that such things be "eradicated" (Redemptionis Sacramentum 123), ought I also to wear another stole in its proper place under the chasuble? Second, if I were to do that, i.e., wear two stoles, may I take two stipends?


Mark Mossa, SJ said...

According to our venerable professor, the norm is to wear the stole under the chasuble. But in cases when the chasuble is a solid color, lacking any design, the stole may be worn over the chasuble. You're right that many publications are not reliable guides for proper vesting! Nor is the practice of a great scripture scholar we know, who always wears his stole on the outside! I suppose some would adopt a more pragmatic line: "Why pay so much #@%*$ money for a nice stole, only to cover it up all the time!" This does make a certain amount of sense, even if it's not the norm. :)

Brother Charles said...

A very gracious comment from a Jesuit, given the post!

By the way,go ahead and buy his book.

Jeffrey Pinyan said...

Here's a series of comments between me and someone on PrayTell from a year ago about this matter:

Me: "I don’t see the pastoral value [...] of a priest wearing his stole outside his chasuble. (Given the sign value of the stole and chasuble, the former being a symbol of authority and the latter of charity, it seems fitting that the chasuble covers the stole.)"

RPB: "What’s the value of a sign that you can’t see, like a stole worn underneath other vestments?"

Me: "The sign of the stole is known by the priest, and it wouldn’t hurt for him to make it known to the people. Also, most chasubles I’ve seen do not completely obscure the stole. Not every sign must be seen by everyone, just like not every prayer said at Mass must be heard by everyone[.] [...] There is value in hidden signs, they just need to be explained, not laid bare."

If I may be so bold, I think part of the stole-over-chasuble trend began when chasubles became less and less decorated and stoles became more and more so (perhaps because it's cheaper to decorate a thin stole than a large chasuble?).

I also have this hypothesis that chasubles became less decorated when the priest began standing on the other side of the altar facing the people, so we mainly see the chasuble only from the front and from the waist up, so they only get decorated (if at all!) over the chest.


Father Cory Sticha said...

I was thinking along the lines of Jeffrey's parenthetical comment about the stole being the sign of priestly authority and the chasuble being the sign of charity. By wearing the stole on the outside, aren't these priests saying their authority is more important than charity, instead of the traditional meaning that authority is to be "covered" or tempered by charity? I doubt any of the priests who wear the stoles on the outside would agree with this idea, but it'd sure be fun to see their expressions when asked.

Brother Charles said...

Indeed, Fr. C. I would hazard the hypothesis that the sort of priest who habitually wears the stole over the chasuble is correlated with the sort of priest who doesn't think much about the theology of sacred vesture. I bet he doesn't say the vesting prayers either. :)

Jeffrey Pinyan said...

Fr. Cory - I wonder how priests who routinely say "Happy are we [those] who are called to this [His] supper" would respond to my argument that their changes make that prayer of the Mass more exclusive, not inclusive! ;)

Saying "we" and "this" is exclusive: it emphasizes the local congregation and celebration, neglecting the universal character of Holy Communion, whereby all those who receive Holy Communion are partaking of the same "marriage supper of the Lamb". It's not just this supper, it's his supper, the Lamb's supper. Instead of being focused on the local present moment, our attention should be drawn to the heavenly eternal moment.

Father Cory Sticha said...

Brother Charles, you're right on. Of course, it would still be interesting to accuse them of placing their authority over their charity just to see their reaction.

Jeffrey, I've never thought of that. Good point!

Brother Charles said...

I shall save that question for just the right moment.

James said...

A double stole might just have liturgical precedent. I think I once read that two stoles - one over and one under the chasuble - is used in wedding Masses in Germany.

carl said...

Actually lol'ed at the last paragraph of your post. :)

dk pintar said...

How about wearing a *nice* stole over an alb?

Anonymous said...

The compromise solution: wear a fiddleback with the stole underneath but hanging crossed in front.

Another abuse is the not wearing the cincture, the symbol of chastity.

"He who is faithful in small matters, will be faithful in great ones."
Bruce Tereski

Anonymous said...

I have thought about this too and have learned much from your post.First, I had thought about asking a priest, but now know it is prudent to ask a few. Second, I probably will not expect to hear the same answer twice. Third, I noticed vestment manufacturers sell over-stoles, but under-stoles are not listed:is this because it is liturgically correct or financially beneficial?Fourth: don't they teach this in priest school?

Brother Charles said...

@most recent anonymous

1. Wise indeed.

2. Certainly. Which is all the more reason why Catholics need to read for themselves and be empowered by knowing our teaching.

3. Perhaps it's financial, but vestment manufacturers often sell to other ecclesial communities as well.

4. It depends on the school.