Year of Youth 2018

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Conversion

in topic "Sacraments"
A Xt3 Member asked at 7:18am on January 25th 2018
My daughter was baptised Romanian Orthodox and in doing so also recieved the Eucharist and confirmation at the same time. We have since had her changed to become a Catholic (Reception into full Communion with the Catholic Church). She has been de-registered with the Orthodox church. Can she now recieve the sacraments of First Eucharist and Confirmation in the Catholic church?

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Hi Caroline, thanks for your question. Since the Catholic Church fully recognizes the sacraments administered by the Romanian Orthodox Church as valid, your daughter is already baptized and confirmed. And because that Eucharist she received along with her baptism, was the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, she can of course receive the Eucharist with other children who are making their First Holy Communion, but it wouldn't be her First Holy Communion - except that of course it would be her First Holy Communion in the Catholic Church.

As with her baptism, she has already been validly confirmed, so if you're wondering could she take part in a confirmation ceremony in the Catholic Church, why not ask if it might be possible to have the sacrament renewed (as wedding couples sometimes renew their vows years later) by the celebrant, along with the other children being confirmed. And of course she should take part in preparation for the sacrament, since she probably doesn't remember too much about receiving it! Hope that's a help, keeping you and your family in my prayers, and thanks for bringing all the gifts as baptized and practicing believers you're bringing with you from the Romanian Orthodox Church into the Catholic Church, Fr Brendan
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Prayers of deliverance

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 1:27pm on February 1st 2018
Hi Fr Brenden,

I have recently moved back into our old family home that has been abandoned for 3 years. The reason I left was for safety and I felt God warned me in a dream - so we packed up that morning and took off before night fall. I mentioned this in confession and the priest believed it to be a true warning. After 3 years the move proved beneficial. I had new crosses to carry but was given rest from the old ones. At the end of last year I knew in my heart that I had to return as a duty/practicality. To tidy up etc.

I grew up in this house and my siblings and I experienced many awful spiritual disturbances. We had the house blessed with little crucifixes above every doorway and apart from the occasional disturbance it was genuinely a lot more peaceful. One sibling took the advice of the priest to not talk about it anymore but the other sibling enjoyed the topic of conversation. The first one is practicing his faith, the second not so. He needs lots of prayers and a few years ago he removed the crucifixes. Moving back in here I feel the house needs to be blessed again as my children are complaining of similar experiences to those of my siblings and myself and the town talk is always revolved around the rumoured hauntings. The last time I had visited here was only for a few days and I felt an urgency to leave/fight the oppressing vibe of being trapped here. Upon actually moving in within a few days I had a sudden/acute sense of doom. I recognised it straight away and it left with prayer (very unusual emotion as I don't have anxiety/depression). It used to be an old maternity hospital and before fencing was up when we bought it, locals used the abandoned property as a short cut. Back door neighbours years ago dabbled in very serious occult stuff as well. I would like deliverance prayers for myself and my children. Sometimes I feel the love of Saint Michael here and that is a comfort. We have a beautiful Catholic church only half a block away. I have blessed sacramentals and images everywhere. Your recent response to my "Rod and Staff" question has been of great comfort.

I have approached my new diocese (royal) regarding a house blessing but the priest is very busy with 3 parishes. He said he will but he cannot do a mass here due to his responsibilites. I don't want to add to his load. I guess what I am asking for is some advice on how to go about it and also some prayers for my local priest - he is very good and very kind but understandably very busy. I just feel it is time to officially 'tidy up' properly out here. Such a beautiful old home needs a peaceful and lovely vibe. We do our bit by saying the family Rosary most nights.

Thank you again.

Camilla.

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Hi Camilla, I agree that it would great if one of your local priests could find the time to come and bless your house. And saying the family Rosary in the evening is surely also a great idea. I'm sure you've obtained plenty holy water and sprinkled it all over the house, but if not, even without a priest, that will surely be another element in the sanctifying of your house.

When I grew up, we always had a large statue of Our Lady on a kind of altar in our living room, with a certificate of the family's dedication to the Sacred Heart (including a picture of the Sacred Heart) on the wall over our family fireplace. And you could also put back a crucifix or some holy picture in each room. If your non-practicing sibling is living in the same house, you may need to persuade him about this! We know from St John's Apocalypse, chapter 12, about the 'war in heaven,' and the devil's hatred of Mary still carrying her Son in the womb (presuming that interpretation), so there's no doubt the devil hates the name of Mary. That means frequently invoking her name and asking her aid is something else to do. I'll keep you all in my prayers, and please God these terrible infestations will pass. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Killing the “infidel”

A Xt3 Member asked at 3:36pm on January 30th 2018
Someone at work made a point about accusations of muslims killing infidels, then he mentioned that in the bible God says the same thing. I also read that during american colonizations, priests were told to kill whomever refused to convert to christianism!



Made me feel like crap. Read the article.



[url=http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2015/01/22/yes-the-bible-does-say-to-kill-infidels/]http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2015/01/22/yes-the-bible-does-say-to-kill-infidels/



Regards



Dan

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Hi Dan, the passages referred to in that Patheos piece are from the books of Deuteronomy and Numbers, where devout Israelites are told to stone to death those among them who have turned to worshipping false gods. Putting people to death for religious differences isn't limited to Deuteronomy: A very distant relative of mine, Blessed Dermot Hurley, Archbishop of Cashel, was tortured and executed in 1584 for refusing to convert to the Church of Ireland, with the last martyrdom of a Catholic in Ireland being that of St Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh, hanged, drawn and quartered in 1681. Under Queen Mary, Thomas Cranmer, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, was executed in 1556 for refusing to accept Catholic teaching.

Let's get back to Deuteronomy, whose final version may be in the 7th century BC. It's got plenty of wonderful stuff, like the basic shema Israel, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one...' (6:4 - 5) quoted by Jesus in Mark 12:28 - 34 as part of the great commandment. Or the laws stating that hired workers are to be paid fairly (24:14 - 15), that justice is to be shown towards strangers, widows, and orphans. (24:17 - 18) and that portions of crops are to be given to the poor (24:19 - 22). But if you want to see the difference between the Old and the New Testament attitude towards stoning, take a look at how Jesus completely goes against the Deuteronomic law when he refuses to agree to stoning to death a woman caught committing adultery (Jn 8:1 - 11). Again and again, the first Christian theologian, St Paul, points out how the Old Law has been superseded by the Gospel. So Christians putting one another to death because of their different beliefs is a scandal and anti-Christian: there's no way lethal intolerance can find any justification in the New Testament.

I've never heard of priests in America being told to put to death whoever refused to convert, so I can only ask you to check your source to see if it's reliable - the so-called Black Legend against the Spanish Empire in Latin America has long been exposed as anti-Catholic false history. Of course the various European countries who colonized the Americas have variously terrible records of mistreatment and killing of the local peoples, but, like much of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation executions of those dissenting from the ruling faith, most of it was due to political and economic rather than religious considerations. The challenge for us all is to put Jesus' teaching into practice: to be ready to lay down our lives for one another as he did for us, and to love our enemies.

At a conference held in Rome, 'Tackling Violence Committed in the Name of Religion,' Pope Frances said on February 2, 2018 that 'Violence promoted and carried out in the name of religion can only discredit religion itself. Such violence must be condemned by all, especially by genuinely religious persons, who know that God is always goodness, love and compassion, and that in him there is no room for hatred, resentment or vengeance... We need to show, with unremitting effort, that every human life is sacred, that it deserves respect, esteem, compassion and solidarity, without regard for ethnicity, religion, culture, or ideological and political convictions.' Political and religious leaders, teachers and communicators must 'warn all those tempted by perverse forms of misguided religiosity that these have nothing to do with the profession of a religion worthy of this name.' Very best, Fr Brendan
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Gays feel unwelcome in the Catholic Church

A Xt3 Member asked at 5:20pm on January 29th 2018
Hello Father. How can we encourage our gay brothers and sisters to approach Jesus through the Catholic church when so many of them feel unwelcome in the church? If Jesus truly came for the sinners, it seems that many homosexuals are distanced from Him because of what they perceive to be an unwelcome climate toward gays in the church. I'm wondering how we can encourage these folks to approach the church so that they can receive the Eucharist and all of the blessings that go with it. Thank you.

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Hi James, I'd like to begin an attempt at answering your question by quoting from an earlier answer of mine on this web-page which I hope will be helpful:

"A few years ago, in Ireland, I was on a radio programme with Quentin Fottrell, a gay journalist, and was asked what about the Church's teaching that homosexual activity is an objective moral disorder. I said that that was the clear teaching of the Church going back to the New Testament, and even to Jesus' only statement about sexual sin, that 'anyone looking at a woman lustfully commits adultery in their heart.' In other words, that any using of another human being for sexual enjoyment is committing a form of adultery.

But I went on to say that when the Church says something is objectively disordered, it's not making a pronouncement about the person's subjective state. For example, if someone is involved in a gay relationship but doesn't understand or realize that it's sinful from a Christian perspective, we can't make a judgment about that person's subjective moral state. So I said to that journalist, Quentin, that you may be nearer to God than I am - which wouldn't be hard - since I can't comment on your personal moral status with God. And it's a big mistake for me, as a sinner, to ever think I'm better than anyone else."

Fr John Harvey, OSFS, founded a group called Courage, aimed at Catholics who had a gay orientation, to help them to live chastity. I'd strongly recommend his Homosexuality and the Catholic Church: Clear Answers to Difficult Questions, and the much longer The Truth About Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful - you'll easily find details about them on the net.

Without going into detail here, the Church in its various statements about homosexuality has always spoken of the need to treat gay people with the love Christians are bound to show everyone. If they're trying to live a life of chastity, of course they can receive the Eucharist the same as any person who's not homosexual, who, after a fall, confess their sin, makes a firm commitment to do all in their power not to sin in that area again, and receives absolution.

Since it's not possible for the Church to change the clear teaching of the New Testament on homosexual activity, a person who has a gay orientation and acts on it without repenting, can't be admitted to the Eucharist. Andy Warhol, one of my favourite US painters, was gay, regularly attended St Vincent Ferrer's church on Lexington Ave, E65th St New York, but didn't receive the Eucharist as he knew that was incompatible with his gay behaviour. He also volunteered his services to the church's outreach to the poor. In fact, Fr Harvey strongly advises those gays who had been active and are now striving to live purity, to turn to charitable works as a way of breaking away from the selfishness we all suffer from. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Are these mortal sins?

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 12:08am on January 9th 2018
Hi Father,

Scenario 1: Let's say there's a guy and you keep glancing at him in inappropriate areas not because you want to, it just kind of happens and you look away without feeling any arousal or anything. Or you're a straight woman but you look at women's bodies, not because you are thinking sexual thoughts, your eyes just kind of go there. It may just be a comparison thing or curiosity I honestly don't even know why it happens. Sometimes certain clothing causes attention, making it harder to not notice. Would this be sinful and to what degree? It kind of worries me because sometimes my eyes just go there without me trying to look.

Scenario 2: So the other night I was watching YouTube and I saw a video that was recommended that I had watched a while ago in which a woman talked about her sinful past and how she turned her life around. Before I clicked on it, I thought to myself "wow I would like to hear her crazy story again" almost as if to be intrigued by the sinful things that she had done, but then the second i thought that I was like wait why am I even thinking that, and then watched the video anyway, as she does have a moving story about her faith. After this all happened, I was thinking about it and still am, and I'm not even 100% sure that is the way that it happened, or if I talked myself into it. I recently started taking my faith seriously again and have found that I can be a bit scrupulous/worried and hyper sensitive to what I do. Anyway, I am concerned that this is a mortal sin and that I won't be able to receive communion. Please help! Thanks

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Hi Christina, it's not because mortal sins aren't committed that I generally don't like to answer directly whether something is a mortal sin or not. It generally seems better to work from the other direction, of virtue, of our Christian ideal to live like Mary, the one who followed Jesus most closely.

For your Scenario 1, let's remember what Jesus said on this topic: 'Anyone looking at a woman lustfully commits adultery with her in his heart' (Mt 5:28). What 'lustfully' means here is, to love another not for themselves but for what I can get from them. And 'adultery' means to betray their humanity, because by looking at them only in terms of my sexual gratification, I don't see them, but just their body. Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr Rosewater, has fisherman Harry satirizing the soft-porn magazines in the local supermarket:

He nudged Harry, man-to-man. 'Like that, Harry?' he asked. 'Like what?' 'The girl there.' 'That's not a girl. That's a piece of paper.' 'Looks like a girl to me,' Fred Rosewater leered. 'Then you're easily fooled,' said Harry. 'It's done with ink on a piece of paper. That girl isn't lying there on the counter. She's thousands of miles away, doesn't even know we're alive. If this was a real girl, all I'd have to do for a living would be to stay home and cut out pictures of big fish.'

While what Jesus says seems like a negative prohibition, St John Paul II brought out its positive meaning. In his Theology of the Body he asks us to focus on the word 'heart'- which refers to the person as God sees them. God loves us in our 'heart,' that is, he loves us for our own sake and not for anything he gets out of us. At the marriage ceremony, the couple say, 'for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health...' where each of the spouses are saying 'I love you for you, no matter what changes you go through.' They're promising to love each other the way God loves them: heart for heart. And training for that pure love is what we're doing whenever we try to love the other heart for heart.

What I do, if I notice something that could tempt me to lose my freedom to love, is not to take a second look, even if I'd like to keep looking in that direction. Since Jesus asks us to love one another as he has loved us, I have to try to love each one as God loves them. You might remember from Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince, that 'it's only with your heart that you can see clearly; what's essential is invisible to the eye.'

On your Scenario 2, it's good that you question your motivation for doing things, so in light of what I've been saying, maybe it'd be enough in this kind of situation to ask why you're doing this or that. I often get to see a film with my cousin here in Sydney about once a week, and sometimes there may be a scene in the film I'm not happy with. But I didn't choose to go to the cinema to see that scene (yes, sometimes I close my eyes if there's something obscene going on!) but for the overall story. So I think if you just keep trying to love the way Jesus wants to love, embracing the hard cross of self-restraint in order to remain free to love, you'll quickly be able to see what to do in these scenarios. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Finding a spiritual director

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 6:05am on December 27th 2017
Hi Father,

I really need a spiritual director. All of the priests I know and trust are unable to do it. Is there a way to arrange being linked with a priest with the Archdiocese?

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Hi Ryan, I'm sorry, I don't know which Archdiocese you're referring to, but if it's Sydney, I think the problem is that those who normally provided spiritual direction were consecrated religious men, and often there aren't enough them around to take on the task of regular spiritual direction. Here's a few suggestions: why don't you approach the various centres of religious in the city - Dominicans, Jesuits, Carmelites and so on - if you haven't already done so - to see if there's anyone who'd have the time to meet with you even once a month. Another approach would be to get involved in one of the lay ecclesial movements in the diocese, where their approach is more to form people in living the Gospel according to the charism of their movement. Sometimes the movements will provide one-on-one spiritual advice from time to time as well. Hope that's a help.

Very best, Fr Brendan
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Praying

in topic "Other"
A Xt3 Member asked at 6:19pm on December 26th 2017
Hi father,

I've been praying the rosary for some time now, but ever since last week, a voice in my head popped up saying "Mary is a ___" a word I dont want to type out, but its very bad. I'm not sure how to get this voice out of my head. I've been asking God to help me but the voice still persist. I don't think its the devil but also I don't think its coming from me either. I love God and Mary a lot so it makes no sense to me why I would say a thing like that. Sometimes I get scared to pray because I don't it to happen. What do you think I should do?

Thank you.

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Hi Ryan, the first thing to remember is that our imagination isn't under our control the way our mind and our free will is. So that we can bothered by all sorts of thoughts, in your case of bad words directed at Our Lady, but as with any bad thoughts we don't what used to be called 'entertain' them. I often explain that entertaining bad thoughts is a bit like saying to them, come on in and have a cup of coffee'! As long as you don't consciously will this word, it's not a word you choose to use - in fact, the exact opposite, you don't want it. So there's no fault involved. And I think that the less you're bothered by it, the more it'll go away. So of course, keep up your praying. Jesus never prayed more deeply than when, on the Cross, his prayer was interrupted by the horrible insults and curses aimed at him by his enemies. Just like that, the very fact you keep on praying despite this nuisance, the more your prayer is reaching into the Heart of Mary, itself pierced by the sword of all the hatred directed at her.

Very best, Fr Brendan
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Thoughts

in topic "Sacraments"
A Xt3 Member asked at 10:03pm on December 25th 2017
Hi, Fr. Brendan! First of all, Merry Christmas!

I need some advice. This year, due to a childhood trauma from many years ago, I'm facing some psychological problems. I'm under therapy, and I show some symptoms related to PTSD, depression and anxiety, among scrupulosity. In fact, there are chances that I'll have to treat these symptoms with medication. Due to these high levels of anxiety, unfortunately I sometimes have those intrusive thoughts which make me question my faith, my beliefs. Sometimes even makes me wonder about the reality of things, of life, if things and people are real, like an existential crisis and so on. The problem is: I don't want to believe in these thoughts, they bother me and make me feel sad and lonely. I feel like sinning because of them and they scare me because I'm afraid I believe in them, even though deep down I like to think that I don't. I just want to be one of those people with an unshaken faith. Don't want to have doubts or question the nature of things, I just want to be a happy and faithful catholic person as I guess I was before all of this started. Am I sinning? Will I be held accountable for that? Some days are easier than others, should I stay calm in the tough days and wait for the brighter ones? I really don't want to offend God or sin but I'm still in the beginning to learn how to manage those thoughts so I can't avoid them. Thanks in advance!

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Hi Maria, many thanks for your Christmas good wishes! Could you have a look at what I said in answer to the previous question, which while quite different, has something in common with yours. I used to wonder just why did Jesus allow himself to be tempted by Satan in person for all of forty days. But I think one of the reasons was that people tempted severely would know for sure that Jesus was never closer to them than at those moments, encouraging them to do as he did, and decisively reject the devil and his temptations. Later, Jesus is struggling in the Garden of Gethsemane, again under such ferocious pressure, yet prays, 'Father, if you are willing, remove this chalice from me; nevertheless, not my will but yours be done' (Lk 22:42). And on the Cross, you remember he cried out, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' (Mt 27:46). Again, he wanted you to know that the moment you feel you've been abandoned by God is the moment when you're closest to Jess as the moment of his greatest act of love, when, despite feeling that abandonment, he still can say 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit' (Lk 23:46).

You're certainly not sinning, any more than Jesus wasn't sinning during those toughest moments of darkness. Just ask Jesus to help you rise from that darkness as he did. Even before Christianity, the most mature expressions of Greek and other cultures included an awareness that real human maturity included crossing the darkness of that inner desert you're crossing in the company of the loving Heart of Jesus - the word that sums up Greek tragedy is the phrase 'wisdom through suffering' but for Christians, we're never suffering heroically alone, but always supported by Jesus Crucified, and by Mary, standing by your Cross just as she stood beside her Son's. Very best, Fr Brendan
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Singleness

A Xt3 Member asked at 1:36am on December 24th 2017
Hello Father,

I am a women in her 30s who has never been married. Year after year I have prayed to God to help me find a husband. I feel like I am disappointed in relationships over and over and now I am watching everyone have the life I desired, marriage and children. I am at the point I am suicidal and considering ending my life because I feel like I am going to be alone and never have my own children. I have prayed through the years and feel I have not been helped. Does God want me to be sad and alone? Why is he helping others and not me?

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Hi Abby, many thanks for your questions, I hope by sharing what some others have said about the single state, at least a little light can be thrown on what you ask.

Claire Lesegretain is a journalist for Catholic French newspaper La Croix, who's calling on the Church to do more to minister to the large number of single people: 'This is the Church's blind spot. It's there, very present, but nobody talks about it. We don't see them,' Her interest in this issue comes from her personal experience, since she also struggled with her faith and her own celibacy in her mid-30s. 'I did not see the meaning of celibacy as a Christian. What does the Lord want from me?' she wondered then. She felt both social and personal pressures. For many, she said, these pressures become sufferings.

'There is the question of fertility: who am I serving, who am I useful for? As a Christian, we were raised in the idea of giving ourselves, of loving one's life. And to whom am I giving my life?'

Up to the Second Vatican Council, the Church put forward two vocations - religious life and marriage. But even before that, figures like Chiara Lubich, who founded the Focolare Movement, rediscovered that there's a deeper vocation than priesthood and religious life or marriage - the vocation to choose God-Love as the source of and reason for, our lives. I could choose either priesthood or marriage and not choose God first.

Lesegretain says Mary Magdalene, who poured perfume on the feet of Jesus, can even become an inspiring example for singles: 'For a single person who suffers from not being able to love, the most precious perfume is his heart and his capacity to love. Rather than moping into sadness, what the Lord is proposing is to come and lay down that capacity to love on his body, in the intimacy of the relationship with Christ, she added. 'To be single is to have a very pure, very expensive perfume, which has a lot of value. And the Church needs this perfume, this treasure.'

There's also a book by ethics professor, Jana Bennett, book Singleness and the Church: A New Theology of the Single Life, which she explains like this:

My direction comes from St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 7, where he famously advises Christians to be as he is - that is, as a single person unattached to wives and husbands.

Yet when we look more closely at that scripture, we can see that Paul addresses quite a diverse crowd of people. He speaks about being never married, divorced, widowed, engaged, and so on, too. And he writes that these ways of being single are also ways Christians are part of the church.

So, following Paul, I decided to explore what gifts single people, in all their variety, might offer to the church. In each chapter, I focus on a different single "state of life". Each chapter also draws on the life and writings of a Christian who lived that state of life and who took seriously that all of us are called to a life of discipleship in Jesus' name. So, for example, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the widow whose writings provide some of the discussion in my chapter on widowhood.

Jana goes on to say that 'the incredible importance of vowed religious life doesn't negate the fact that many people simply experience the impermanent states of singleness as a fact of life. Spouses do die, often unexpectedly; never marrieds do fall in love and consider whether to marry someone; single parents exist in all kinds of ways.'

I'd add that Our Lady, who is traditionally associated both with the vocation of religious virginity and of the married state, also lived, since the death of her spouse, St Joseph, lived as a single woman, probably for most of her later life. Yes, she was the Mother of God, but the longest part of her life was lived without Joseph and without her Son. Yet, no one was more at the heart of the Church, preventing it from becoming just an organization, and helping it grow as a family, than her.

God surely has a plan of love for you - in my own limited experience I've known quite a few women who are single who have found their place in an ecclesial movement like Focolare - and there are many of those groups. Even if you prefer to remain on your own, maybe wake up some contacts with Church groups - if they're not in your parish, maybe in larger and more active parishes near you. Very best, and assuring you of my prayers, Fr Brendan (I've used two interviews from the Crux website for this answer, Philippe Vaillancourt, 'Forgotten Catholics: French author speaks on single people, celibacy,' 10/11/17 and Charles C. Camosy, 'Finding grace in singleness: How being single is still part of the Church,' 14/8/17.)
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Why do priests wear a gown and not trousers?

in topic "Theology"
A Xt3 Member asked at 3:17am on December 20th 2017
Is it for comfort or just tradition?

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Hi Benedetto, it can be both! When I was a student in Rome many years ago, we always wore what are called cassocks or soutanes, which in warm weather, were quite cool, and in cooler weather, warm enough. But they're just remnants of what were traditional male clothing for everyone hundreds of years ago. In some countries, like Mexico until recently, and Ireland up to the early 20th century it was illegal to wear a cassock in public.

Then, at least in the 1950s and 1960s, public wearing of cassocks (as distinct from in church) went out of fashion among many clergy, at least in the English speaking world. As a recently ordained priest studying in Leuven, Belgium, I was surprised in the early 1970s to see priests there still wearing them. But it's a free choice, and some, often younger, clergy, choose to wear cassocks in public, while members of various religious orders, like the Capuchins, generally wear their religious habit in public too.

Still, let's not forget the kind of clothes we should all wear, priests and laypeople, when he writes: 'Put on the Lord Jesus Christ' (Rm 13:14), and 'Put on then, as God's chosen ones... compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience... and over all these put on love' (Col 3:12-14). Very best, Fr Brendan
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