|The military knows how to do uniforms. Sigh...that used to be us.|
|In the 60's, even the future pope didn't wear clerics on duty. Until he became a cardinal and told priests to wear clerics on duty.|
I went through seminary wearing jeans and a ZZ Top t-shirt. When I was serving as a seminarian-in-residence in Canton's Sacred Heart parish, I was advised by my seminary, Mundelein, to wear "distinctive clothing". I decided to wear a white button down and black pants. Distinct like a waiter in a Chinese restaurant.
As a priest, I wear my black clerical shirt ("clerics") every day. Well, not the same one every day. The same one almost every day but not THAT one. Anyway. I wear my black clerical shirt, black pants and shoes every day for several reasons.
1. The Bishop told me to. When I worked at the Chancery as Youth and Vocation Director(s), I showed up in the 90's clerical garb of polo shirt, jeans and sneakers. The Administrative Director told me that men in the Chancery were to wear ties and dress slacks (haha, slacks) but that doesn't fit my clerical state. A month later a communication came to all priests from the Vicar General explaining in DETAIL what priests must wear and when. I went ahead and followed instructions.
|Priestly casual wear. Seriously. They sell this.|
3. It establishes pastoral identity. In Oxford, rarely am I seen in anything other than clerical garb. I felt that at this time in Oxford's Catholic history, a solid identification with a pastor and a church was important. To build a Church, you need evidence of a Catholic community. A pastor is a strong symbol. It is counter-intuitive, perhaps, as our Diocese is diminishing the role of pastor and elevating lay leadership. However, I am confident that the priest as pastor is important. It was and is for Oxford. So everywhere I go in Oxford, I go as the pastor of The Catholic Church of Oxford.
|The late Heath Ledger in "The Order". Hollywood priests dress cooler than real priests.|
Celibacy, the non-married state, is made present in the dark, somber color that means that I am willing to die..alone...for the good of the Faith. Like a super-hero costume, it means that I won't bring another person into my crusade against EVIL lest they be harmed. I won't say much more because it will totally spoil the Spider-man movie.
Prayer is evidenced because I am seen as walking wishing well. And that's cool. People stop me from time to time and ask for my prayers when they see that distinctive black shirt and white plastic tab (I do have a collar too but I wear that for FANCY days). I am also slow to rant or act uncharitably, say when someone is texting and driving, when I am in the blacks. I don't want someone to say, "That priest just flipped me off!" Or at least not in Oxford because I am the only priest. In Jackson, I can blame the priests there. Who will flip you off for driving poorly. Or having a Republican sticker on your bumper.
|John Paul II dressed so natty, he became a paper doll.|
Eternal like the wearing of a black clerical shirt. To quote Fr. Scott Thomas, "All you do is Febreze it and you're good for another day."
*I believe I was ill advised on this one. I'll keep the article as is but after some searching, there isn't a thing about the COLOR of the seminarians' clothing at Notre Dame. Good advertisement for Dockers, though.