web analytics

the end of the dalmatic?

Should priests dress up as deacons?

"subdeacon" in tunicle, priest in chasuble, "deacon" in dalmatic
"subdeacon" in tunicle, priest in chasuble, "deacon" in dalmatic

This post is the sequel to the discussion whether we should ordain per saltum.

Many communities have a tradition (or are developing, or seeking to develop a tradition) of a Eucharist with a presiding priest, a deacon, and a subdeacon (see photo on the left by Gordon Plumb).

Leaving to one side the often-not-insignificant emotional issues of neglecting to use a wardrobe full of glorious (expensive) matching vestments, and possibly not over-stressing the value of colour(fulness) in liturgy, one question I would like to explore here is: is it appropriate for a priest to dress (and function) as a deacon in the liturgy?

Options I can think of for “Should priests dress up as deacons?” are:

1) Symbolism should express and enhance reality. A priest is not a deacon, even if once ordained a deacon – when they are ordained priest they cease to be a deacon. One does not collect orders like a set of postage stamps or Russsian dolls. Only deacons should dress and function as deacons.

2) Symbolism should express and enhance reality. Priests are still deacons. They can dress and function as deacons.

3) The role of the deacon is a good model for shared leadership at the Eucharist without detracting and distracting from the presiding of the priest. Dalmatics should not be left in the wardrobe. Their colourful presence enriches worship and need no longer be connected to their historical origin or theological positions about ordination expressed in 1 & 2 above.

If you/your community has lay people dressed in a dalmatic – would they have lay people dressed in alb and diagonal stole? Why or why not?

There may be other variants and options that can be added to the comments.

Should lay people dress up as deacons?

Slightly simpler options I think:

1) No. Symbolism should express and enhance reality. They are not deacons. Vesting them as deacons confuses both the ministry of the laity and the ministry of deacons.

2) Yes. Until the diaconate is seriously renewed, with each community with one or more deacons, the important role of the deacon in liturgy will need to be exercised by lay persons. The role of the deacon is a good model for shared leadership at the Eucharist without detracting and distracting from the presiding of the priest. Dalmatics should not be left in the wardrobe. Their colourful presence enriches worship and need no longer be connected to their historical origin or theological positions about ordination.

The subdeacon was an ecclesiastical institution created by the church, rather than regarded as an order of ministry. It ceased in the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in 1973. The subdeacon’s vesture is the tunicle. There, hence, appears no theological or liturgical reason against having lay persons vested in a tunicle.

ps. I was sorely tempted to call this post One Hundred and One Dalmatics, or to weave 101 Dalmatics into the text. I’m still not sure whether resisting that temptation was the right thing to do.

Similar Posts:

42 thoughts on “the end of the dalmatic?”

  1. It bothers me when a priest vests and serves as a deacon during the liturgy. Yes, s/he was ordained as a deacon at one time. Yes, s/he remains a deacon even after being ordained as a priest. But is his/her IDENTITY that of deacon or priest? If s/he identifies primarily as a deacon, dress and serve as deacon. If the identity is primarily as priest, dress and serve as priest. To me, it seems to dilute the significant role and ministry of the deacon both in the world and in the liturgy. The deacon is a particular ordained ministry. It is precisely for this reason I don’t really care for “per saltum” ordinations. When the diaconate serves merely as a stepping stone to the priesthood I feel it is diminished. Do all priests have a deaconal ministry? Yes. But a deacon is a deacon, not a lesser priest or necessarily in transition to priesthood. The diaconate needs to be lifted up as the unique order that it is.

    1. Thanks Bruce for your comments. The understanding that “s/he remains a deacon even after being ordained as a priest” is one option. Another is that the orders are distinct; ie. one is either a lay person, or a deacon, or a priest – not collecting these orders. So that once one is ordained priest, one ceases to be a deacon.

      You say “I don’t really care for “per saltum” ordinations” – but I think you mean the opposite. You appear to be arguing for per saltum – being ordained priest directly, rather than via the diaconate. Thanks again for your points.

  2. I don’t have a problem with the use of the dalmatic as a liturgical vestment: it marks the wearer as carrying out a specific role in the liturgy. Same for subdeacon wearing a tunicle, MC wearing a lace-bordered cotta, verger in a vergerly getup, or any number of other people in liturgical roles wearing some sort of marker of what his/her role is.

  3. Hi, just to say, it had been my impression that although the Council of Trent had made preparations for the return of the permanent diaconate, it hadn’t been returned until the early 70s in the Roman Catholic Church – but am prepared and happy to be corrected.

  4. First, a priest does not cease to be a deacon when ordained a priest; orders are indelible, no? Orders are cumulative not alternative; one ordination does not “replace” the other.

    Second, the vestments of the Mass are indicative of the function of the wearer in the context of the Mass. Although the wearer may be a priest, at the particular Mass, s/he is functioning as the “deacon of the Mass” and it is perfectly acceptable that s/he be vested appropriately for that role/function.

    Obviously, I see no reason for a priest in the role of “Deacon of the Mass” not be to be so vested. Less obviously, I am not in favor of “per saltum” ordination, but that would require a lot more space and time for a discussion not actually suited to blogging-and-responding.

  5. Christianne McKee

    I’ll start by saying that, as a priest, I have worn a dalmatic on many occasions, and I have always felt mildly conflicted about it. On the other hand, many laypersons do not know the difference between the chasuble, dalmatic and tunicle.

    I think we need to ponder the question: do vestments designate the office of the person or the liturgical function s/he is performing? I think tradition generally, but perhaps not always, leans toward the former. A deacon can’t wear a stole over both shoulders and a priest can’t/shouldn’t wear a miter. But it is fairly common for a priest to don the deacon’s dalmatic.

    So if the “lower” order can’t dress up like the “higher” order, why can the “higher” order dress like the “lower” order? Note, I totally disagree with ranking deacon, priest and deacon from lower to higher, but that appears to be exactly what we are doing liturgically.

    The dalmatic and the tunicle are exactly the same vestment, except for the bars denoting the person’s rank – oh, excuse me, ministry. And the bars are later additions, when the different orders were treated as ascending ranks.

    Chasuble, dalmatic, tunicle and cope are all descended from the same vestment. So why not return to that earlier practice? I served in a parish where during Holy Week celebrant, assisting priest (or deacon) and subdeacon all wear identical chasubles, which are a deep Passiontide red and have no ornamentation. The priests and deacon wear their stoles on the outside of the chasubles, and there is no confusion about who is ordained or not, or who is a priest or a deacon.

    If chasubles are too daring, the assisting ministers (of whatever order) could wear copes.

    But new vestments are expensive, and those beautiful vestments hanging in the sacristy really ought to be worn.

  6. Thanks all for this helpful, positive discussion.

    Thanks Eric for reminding us of the tradition that “orders are indelible”.

    I am very interested in your comment, Christianne, (and I am emailing her in the hope that she will respond further). I am interested in exploring further your suggestion of a renewal that would have chasubles for all (lay, deacon, priest, bishop), and stoles overlayed. I mostly wear a plain chasuble with a plain or simple large stole over the top. But the chasuble does not have a cross or designs on it, which overlaying with a stole often looks silly (some Hollywood movies do this & it just looks like being badly advised about historical vestment wearing). I wonder how crossing a stole deacon-wise over a chasuble actually functions/looks?

  7. Rev'd Mthr Sharon Dyson

    One important point is that a priest should not take the place of the deacon in the liturgy whilst a deacon is present, despite the fact that one reamins in deacon’s orders after priesting. This can often happen when, for example, a bishop is present at a parish church The priest robes as a deacon and the deacon as as sub deacon, everyone “moving down” a notch. This indicates ignorance about the distinctive orders of ministry to which the individual has been called.

  8. All this discussion about dalmatics brings me out in a Protestant rash … which is good, ’cause when you have that rash it is just too uncomfortable to wear a dalmatic, tunicle, or chasuble 🙂

  9. Christianne McKee

    Bosco, you are right. A deacon’s stole over a chasuble is a little tricky. The chasubles I mentioned are unlined and therefore less bulky than some. A deacon’s stole that has to be tied would not work with a chasuble. It really needs to be a longer deacon’s stole with the ends fastened together much lower than the waist. Even then, it pulls the chasuble in somewhat. And that makes it easy to understand how the sleeved dalmatic developed!

    I agree strongly with Mother Sharon that the priest should never take the place of a deacon when there is a deacon present, no matter which vestments are worn!

    1. I guess one of the results of Protestantism in the roles and symbolism within worship is the abandonment of the fifteen centuries of differing vocations expressed in worship (and back further into our Jewish roots) and the tendency towards anyone and everyone can do anything and everything. God’s multiple, varied colours are mixed together into a dull, uniform grey. David, I am interested in your history of the clerical collar and wonder if you have references for your history – I understood the Rosminians are central in its development and have never really made sense of it much – I am intrigued by your pointing to the Jesuit mission in China (a fascinating, often little-known, piece of history). Christianne, I wonder if your suggestion of the chasuble for deacons could be combined with the (more Eastern) tradition of hanging the stole loose over the left shoulder for deacons.

  10. David |dah•veed|

    But I notice in your photos Mr. Carroll that in spite of the rash you manage to retain the dog collar, for which one could make the argument that it is the more silly custom having come about from two things; it is the remnant of the lace collar of an undershirt, which was more visible after the Jesuits in China adopted the mandarin collar for their cassocks.

    Christianne, I think that the orders of ministry are ranked and I subscribe to the idea that there were originally but two orders of ministry; deacon and bishop. When the bishop’s cure grew to be so large that it was impossible for one person to minister pastorally to everyone adequately, priests were later added by the bishop as his pastoral representative, probably first to the more outlaying areas of the diocese.

    I think that if we are going to use vestments, why not use them correctly. So if we practiced per saltum ordination there could be priests who never were deacons, and not having been deacons would be misrepresenting themselves to be vested as a deacon.

  11. Could you help clarify those terms: tunicle, chasuble, dalmatic. I could tell who wore which because of the stoles (or lack of) underneath, but otherwise couldn’t quite tell the difference.

    I would find it helpful to have a follow-up glossary post, not being familiar with those terms/articles of clothing.

    Still, good discussion about liturgical dress. Thanks!

  12. David Allen |dah•veed|

    Bosco, much of my liturgical education was gained at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. I have my class notes of a lecture from Summer Term 1985. The undergarments we wear today developed from the simple undergarments of Greece and Rome, the tunica intima, which was worn under the outer tunic worn beneath the toga in public. For clergy the tunic developed into the cassock and the tunica intima into an undershirt as long as the knees or even the ankles, with sleeves and usually tied at the neck with a drawstring. Cassocks were collarless until the Jesuits in China adopted the Mandarin collar. The collar extended up the neck and was fastened either at the front or to the side over the shoulder. Russian Orthodox cassocks adopted a Mandarin collar and still fasten at the side. Greek Orthodox cassocks do not have much of a collar and usually fasten in the front, some having a bit of a V notch.

    There are drawings and paintings from the Reformation era of clergy wearing cassocks with Mandarin collars without an opening in the front and the slightest hint of the undershirt’s collar showing above. One assumes the mandarin collar was extended to the undershirt to guard against chaffing the neck. There is also pictorial evidence of this hint of undershirt becoming a stylish lace. It seems that this was also influenced by the development of neckwear fashions, as well as the use of bands among lawyers and clergy. A square notch would certainly have facilitated their use.

    The collarette appears to have been developed in the late 1800s to replace the undershirt’s collar that disappeared as more modern under garments were developed as well as more comfortable fabrics for outerwear. In more modern times this has also led to the development of clergy shirts/blouses with plastic inserts, such as you wear in the photo at the top of your blog, and the Revd Peters wears in the photo that often appears with his posts on many blogs.

    An interesting side note is the development of LDS temple undergarments from the introduction of their temple rites in the 1840s until today as underwear styles developed in the USA.

  13. Well, and really, when we are talking about the chasuble, we are really signifying the PRESIDING priest. At our church, where we have a priest-in-charge and a priest associate, and they concelebrate, the presider has the chasuble and non-presider just wears a stole.

    1. Thanks Kirkepiscatoid. Restricting the chasuble to the presiding priest I understand is the tradition in some/many places. “Concelebration”, of course, leads into a whole other discussion. Just briefly: I hope that all of us at the Eucharist, ordained or not, understand ourselves as celebrating the Eucharist together.

  14. Richard Catterall

    Fascinating and all as the vestments are, as Neil suggested above… are they now fancy dress for those few who know what the historical symbolisms are; or do they contribute to wor(th)ship? There was a time, not so long ago, when no man would go to Eucharist without wearing a tie and even a Sunday suit, and women all wore hats.

  15. I must say I disagree most strongly with my brother deacon, Greg Kandra. I’m pretty sure I understand his reasoning, but I believe that reasoning arises from an incorrect ecclesiology.

    He says that vesture is proper to the liturgical role, not to the sacramental Order. I would ask if it would be proper for a priest ever to wear a rochet-and-chimere, or a miter, or to carry a crozier – just in case one is functioning liturgically as a bishop?

    (Say, there were a procession of bishops representing various dioceses, and a diocese had an episcopal vacancy, and the priest-in-rochet were the Chair of the Ecclesiastical Authority of that diocese (in TEC, that would be the Standing Committee)? Or, say, if a Canon to the Ordinary, or an Archdeacon, were making a visitation on behalf of a diocesan who had suddenly fallen ill?)

    Of course not!

    (That said, when Cardinal Bernardin was ill, I had seen an assisting bishop in archepiscopal vesture – scarlet, not purple – when representing him in an ecumenical setting. But that instance was of a bishop vesting a bishop.)

    Or how about a deacon functioning liturgically as a priest? Because it is a deacon’s ministry to assist but a priest’s to preside, it could be said that a deacon leading an Office is functioning as a priest: so should that deacon wear his stole around his neck? Obviously not! (Well, how about a tippet, which is a kind of stole?)

    Or, for that matter, under what circumstances would it be appropriate for a lay person (not a seminarian) to wear a clerical collar? With or without a cassock, in or out of a liturgical setting? None!

    So why should one who isn’t a deacon ever vest in a dalmatic?

  16. Not surprisingly, I disagree rather strongly with Fr Funston, also, and for similar reasons. But his post begins with a question which needs answering, one which had been embedded in the previous discussion (of per saltum ordination): that of the indelibility of orders.

    Now, I don’t mean to question the indelibility of Orders or of any other sacrament – but I do mean to ask about the Orders which are sacramentally indelible.

    The question is this: there are three Orders of ordained ministry, or one? Three, of course. So how how many sacraments of ordination are there? Is there one sacrament of ordination, or are there three sacraments?

    The traditional teaching, of which Fr Funston reminds us, that ‘orders are cumulative,’ makes ontological sense only if there are three sacraments of ordination, not one.

    That is, if one may be a candidate for the sacrament of episcopal ordination only if one had already received the separate and distinct sacrament of ordination to the presbyterate; and one may be a candidate for the sacrament of priestly ordination only if one had previously received the separate and distinct sacrament of diaconal ordination.

    This is not out of the question, and is quite comparable to the cumulative sacraments of initiation: one may be a suitable candidate for Confirmation only if one had already been Baptized. (And there is a custom, in the Anglican tradition at least, not to admit one to the sacrament of Communion until one had already received Confirmation).

    But Baptism and Confirmation, though they are both sacraments of initiation, are two sacraments, not one! (Whether they ought to be is a good question, but a different one, for another day.) And the sacraments of initiation and the sacrament of Communion are separate sacraments, not one!

    But the sacrament of ordination is ONE sacrament, not three. The other title for the sacremant, which I used earlier, is apt and correct: it is the Sacrament of “OrderS,” not of “Order, or other Order, or yet-another Order.”

    So, while it is true that for the last several centuries, Ordination has has been practiced as though the orders were cumulative, it (not they) is not intrinsically so.

    And so one ought to vest as is proper to one’s order, regardless of any order one may later come to hold, or any order one may once have held.

    (And, clearly, there is no reason why the Church could not return to the pre-Constantinian practice of direct ordination.)

  17. David Allen |dah•veed|

    Deacon Scott might need to realize that perhaps not all Anglican churches seem settled on the number of sacraments. As far as TEC and her daughter, the Anglican Church of Mexico, our catechisms teach that there are two great sacraments, baptism and holy communion. Anything more are sacramental rites, but are of lesser importance in the life of a Christian, than the two sacraments. So there is a sacramental rite of ordination and it can occur in the life of a Christian in our churches as many as three times following our current manner of sequential ordination.

    However, as I stated earlier, I agree with Scott on the use of vestments. Having said that, I know that folks I respect are of another opinion. For example, I know from his posts on his blog that the Very Revd Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, Scotland, vests as a deacon when he is serving as a deacon in services at St Mary’s. I have seen photos to that effect. Kelvin is of the opinion that the faculties obtained through the rite of ordination are cumulative, and that he serves as a deacon because he is a deacon, as well as a priest.

    Kelvin is a very proper fellow and feels that the only proper shoes for service are black, and I would assume also only dress shoes.

  18. Dah-veed –

    Thank you for your helpful comment. I know how many sacraments there are, and I know that in every church in the Anglican tradition the distinction is made, between Baptism and Eucharist on the one hand and the other five on the other. The two are “generally necessary to salvation” (BCP, p 299) – that is, incumbent upon every Christian – the others are ones to which a particular Christian may be called and another not. There’s a catch-phrase about Reconciliation which applies fairly well to all five: “All may, none must, some should.”

    But let me ask you if you really do intend to make the point you seem to be trying to make: that the “sacramental rites” of Orders and Confirmation and so on are *not* sacraments. That is, that the distinction made in that expression is not between sacraments of Our Lord mentioned in the Gospels and other sacraments which the church has come to recognize since ancient times (orders, for example, is mentioned in Acts), but between Sacraments and things which aren’t sacraments but are, in some sense, sacrament-like.

    So here’s the question: Are these “sacramental rites” “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace … a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof” (ibid.)? Are they indelible? Do they confer grace, which brings about an ontological change on the recipient, and leave a mark which cannot be removed?

    There are churches which hold the belief that they are not and do not, but none catholic and none Anglican that I know of.

    But even if you are saying that, and even if one were to grant you that point – that Unction, and Marriage, and Orders, and the others are *not* sacraments – that does not affect my point, that Orders is ONE “sacramental rite” (in three forms, as you correctly point out), not THREE sacramental rites.

    And therefore the ontological distinction (if any) is between those who have not been subjected to this “rite” and those who have, not between those who have been subjected to it in this form, and those who have in that form, and those who have in other form – with whatever frequency and in whatever order.

  19. BTW Dah-veed –

    I don’t think you and I have ever interacted before, but I have run across you at other blogs from time to time. For some reason I associate you especially with Tobias’s. And I have generally found your posts insightful, helpful, and thought-provoking. I say this because it’s true, and because my response of a few minutes ago seemed rather snarky in retrospect.


  20. David Allen |dah•veed|

    And therefore the ontological distinction (if any) is between those who have not been subjected to this “rite” and those who have, not between those who have been subjected to it in this form, and those who have in that form, and those who have in other form – with whatever frequency and in whatever order.

    Scott I am not sure that I buy that concept. I think that there is a distinction, not just between those who received and those who did not, but between those who received it once as opposed to those who received it twice and three times. I think that there is an inward and spiritual grace available to the bishop apart from that available to the priest, and the deacon. And I am carefully trying to word this so as not to make one better than the other, but pointing to the difference of one from the other.

    And I am not opposed to per saltum ordination, especially in regard to deacons and priests. However, I have to wonder how one is bishop without ever having the experience of being priest?

  21. Dah-veed –

    Oh no, I agree completely1 That’s exactly (part of) the point: the grace of diaconal ordination *is* different from the grace of priestly or episcopal ordination – but they are all forms of the *one* Sacrament of Ordination, not different Sacraments of Diaconal / Presbyteral / Episcopal ordination.

    That is why “once a deacon, always a deacon” is FALSE (although “once a cleric, always a cleric” is true, as is “once gifted with the charisms of the diaconate, always gifted with those charisms, even when no longer a member of that particular Order.”) And, of course, there is no parallel, because there are no charisms of the presbyterate which are not the proper and prior possession of the episcopate.

    And you raise a good question at the end, but it has to do with job preparation, not sacramental “eligibility.”


  22. This discussion makes it sound like ordination is primarily to determine who will take what role at mass. I don’t think so.

    Said another way, while a presbyter may preside at mass, and that may be an important part of a presbyter’s ministry, ordination is not only about getting permission to bless the bread and wine. Being a Deacon is not only about being able to read the Gospel and set the table.

    At ordination, the Church shows its recognition of the gifts believed given to the ordinand by God. Do we believe those gifts for the deaconate disappear and replaced by other gifts when a deacon is ordained a presbyter?

    Let me answer my own question.

    I’ve known two deacons that believed they were ordained to the vocational deaconate. They lived this vocation for over 10 years, and recognized their ministry separate from that of a presbyter. Their ministries were not only about reading the Gospel at mass before ordination as a presbyter, but working within the parish and community on servant roles in leadership positions.

    Eventually, both felt a new call and re-approached the Bishop and Commission on Ministry of the diocese to test a vocation as a presbyter. Both were ordained again as presbyters. Both saw that as a growth in their ministry. I did not see the gifts each exercising as a deacon disappear when ordained a presbyter. I did see that the added maturity and experience of each brought forth new gifts to their ministry.

    So, why wouldn’t each vest as a deacon when serving in that role?

    On another point, direct ordination as a presbyter would have one interesting side effect–unless the ordination services would be changed for a presbyter. The vow to obey your bishop only takes place in the ordination to the deaconate, not presbyter.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Bob, I think this discussion has to be read in the context of my starting point that it’s the sequel to one that certainly highlights that ordination is more than who does what and wears what at Mass. You make good points about not losing gifts. Certainly the ordinal would need changing for per saltum – NZ’s ordinal does not have TEC’s quirk – deacons make the same promise at their ordination to the priesthood as they did when being ordained deacon. A change needed here would be to the ordination to the priesthood where a lay person says: “We give thanks for N’s ministry as a deacon. We believe that s/he will serve Christ well as a priest.”

  23. It seems to me that the manner off wearing the stole designates the order, while the wearing of a chasuble / dalmatic / tunicle designates the role. After all, when there is a plethora of priests, it is normally only the one presiding who wears the chasuble.

    Thus a priest (or a layperson) standing in the role of the deacon should wear a dalmatic. However, a layperson should wear no stole and a priest should not wear the stole deaconwise.

    And if there is a deacon present, no priest or layperson should be displacing the said deacon.

  24. Can we be clear – ordination is for life, to whichever order. A deacon remains a deacon forever, even if he or she becomes a priest or bishop. Hence you find the rather mad old pictures of bishops fully robed in cope, chasuble and dalmatic one on top of the other.

    The deacon’s pastoral role of catechesis and tending the flock does not cease when the additional priestly role is taken on. The deacon’s role in the Mass, reading the Gospel and preparing the table, is the liturgical expression of this diaconal service. It is therefore healthy and humbling for priests to serve as deacons in the Mass from time to time, wearing the stole and dalmatic appropriate to that order, in which they remain ordained. At pontifical high Masses, you will even see bishops serving as deacons, wearing the dalmatic and stole as such.

    So yes, priests should not only dress as deacons, but act as such, proclaiming the Gospel and serving humbly at the altar – because they are deacons not only in name, but in the service of the Gospel and the Christian Church.

    1. Tom, your position is a venerable one. I’m not sure about your mention of “the rather mad old pictures of bishops fully robed in cope, chasuble and dalmatic one on top of the other” – this is the way the current pope dresses. I think it is worth discussing whether one belongs to a certain order until one is ordained to another order… Blessings.

  25. Having been referred here from your other post on deacons, I will say that in high church parishes in the Anglican diocese of Johannesburg it was often the practice for priests to dress up as deacons for High Mass, because there simply weren’t enough deacons available, and they rationalised it by saying that the higher order includes the lower, and so by becoming a priest one did not cease to be a deacon. Sub-deacons were a bit more plentiful, but on occasion a priest would also wear a tunicle and take the part of the sub-deacon.

    In the Orthodox Church, however, a priest never dresses as a deacon. He may say some of the parts of the service assigned to the deacon if there isn’t one, and usually says them from the altar instead of out in front of the congregation, but he always does so dressed as a priest.

  26. Deacon Keith Fournier

    The theology of orders is clear. The fullness of orders is the Bishop. You do NOT lose an order. I’m fact, some Bishops still follow the older custom of wearing a dalmatic under their chasuble. So, a Deacon is a Deacon, ordained not to priesthood but to service. A priest is a priest but retains his order as a deacon and may function as one liturgically where appropriate. A Bishop holds all three orders and is the fullness of orders.

    BTW. I am a Roman Catholic Deacon. Have been for 17 years

  27. Frances McCormick

    I don’t think that Jesus would spend so much time and so many words fussing about clothing. I would like to see very simple dress — an alb and stole (straight or slanted) for priest and deacon and forget about “what we are to wear.” Most of us in the pew could not care less.
    Just a parishioner

    1. I can’t speak for Jesus so easily, sorry, Frances. Your “solution” solves not of the things discussed in the post. Would a priest wear the stole slanted – dressing up as a deacon? Would a lay person wear a stole slanted – dressing up as a deacon? That is what the post is about. It is sad that in your experience people in the pews have ceased to care. In my experience, that is far from the case. Blessings.

  28. Julio C. Martin

    Very enterteining discussion! And for so long a period of time!

    Ok. Let me stir up the pot a bit more. I am about to become a bishop (Anglican) and I have decided to go the Orthodox or Eastern Orthodox way: I will be wearing only a dalmatic whenever presiding the Holy Eucharist (a parallelism to the use of the sakkos by orthodox bishops at the Holy Eucharist). Why have I decided to do this? Because I see the dalmatic mostly as the vestment of a servant (the deacon) and I want to emphasize that as bishop I am servum servorum Dei. By the way, for the same reason I will not be wearing a mitre but a purple solideo/skullcap/zucchetto during mass as episcopal insignia. What do you think about this idea? Crazy? Ridiculous? Absurd? Non-sense? Superfluous? All I can say in my defense is that my intention is all well meaning. Blessings!

  29. I’m afraid I must take issue with one of the authors assertions. “[W]hen they are ordained priest they cease to be a deacon.” At best this is a half truth, one that may underpin misconceptions that can be damaging.

    Yes, the orders of deacon, priest and bishop are the primary ordained roles of most western Christian denominations. They, in their unique functions, provide vital sacramental and leadership roles. I believe that it first must be stressed that all baptized Christians are called to ministry. Living the gospel, encouraging others to explore their own callings and recognizing ourselves as vital members of Christ’s body on earth are roles to which all are called.

    It is thus of importance that we understand that ordination does not lessen the burden of discipleship. Upon ordination, a deacon doesn’t exchange one set of duties for another. Rather, a deacon is to fulfill those tasks while also having a special care for the poor, proclaim the gospel, bring the churches attention to the needs of the world, etc. Further, upon ordination to the priesthood one adds the onus of teaching and administering the sacraments to God’s people. In turn the consecration of a bishop adds even more depth and complexity.

    I point this out because I feel it is far too easy to say “that’s the deacons job” or more simply “that’s not my responsibility.” I concur that, stylistically it’s improper for an ordained priest to vest as a deacon, that’s merely a component of the liturgy. While the liturgy has its place, there is a danger in stressing its importance. Taken to its extreme end, that line of thinking can enable people to think and act as though their faith is simply an hourly observance once a week rather than what it is: that which sits central to our lives, how we live and the ways in which we encounter and interact with creation.

    1. Thanks, Nick. I don’t think you are taking issue with the post – you are disagreeing with one perspective that some people have, ie. that within the community of the baptised there are four distinct orders: lay, deacon, priest, bishop – and, in this perspective, you don’t collect orders. Of course all the baptised are called to ministry – this post was simply examining who might wear a dalmatic and why. Blessings.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.