Do Stoles Suffice if Chasubles Are Available?

Author: ZENIT



ROME, 7 OCT. 2003 (ZENIT).

Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

Q: I've seen concelebrants at a Mass using only stoles over their albs. Is that OK, even if chasubles are available? — J.D., El Cajon, California

A: The new General Instruction on the Roman Missal refers to this question in No. 209: "In the vesting room or other suitable place, the concelebrants put on the sacred vestments they customarily wear when celebrating Mass individually. Should, however, a good reason arise, (e.g., a large number of concelebrants or a lack of vestments), concelebrants other than the principal celebrant may omit the chasuble and simply wear the stole over the alb."

Few comments are needed as the text is very clear. While simply wearing the stole over the alb is a possibility when there is a good reason, in normal circumstances if chasubles are available they should be used. Preferably the chasubles should be of uniform design and color.

The use of proper vestments enhances the dignity and beauty of the celebration and helps the priest overcome the danger of falling into a certain sloppiness and carelessness in his liturgical gestures, a problem which is particularly acute in large or frequent concelebrations.

There may be other good reasons, apart from lack of chasubles, which would allow for the omission of the chasuble by concelebrants such as an outdoor Mass or excess humidity which might cause damage to the vestments.

Sometimes a partial solution may be adopted in which only those priests closest to the main celebrant wear full vestments. Although the Holy See has granted one or two specific indults allowing priests to either omit wearing the chasuble or use a combined alb-with-chasuble (not in the English-speaking world, however) it is clear that the principal celebrant may not leave aside the chasuble.... ZE03100721

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Follow-up:Stoles and Chasubles [from 21 Oct 2003]

In my reply on the use of chasubles in concelebrations …I mentioned that one reason they could be omitted would be excess humidity which might damage the vestments.

An Irish priest correspondent asks: "What about excessive humidity which might cause damage to the priest? Surely he is more important than the chasuble!"

I must admit that I have never thought of the chasuble as a health hazard, except the time I tripped while wearing one a couple of sizes too big for me, but I agree that avoiding excess perspiration in humid conditions would justify leaving it aside for concelebrants.

Of course neither the principal celebrant nor the lone celebrant may do so. As one who has often had to celebrate during the clammy, muggy, Roman summer, I can attest that the problem is somewhat alleviated by using lightweight chasubles.

Several readers asked if the rules regarding chasubles applied equally to the deacon's dalmatic (an outer vestment usually made of the same color and design as the chasuble, but different in form, in having sleeves).

It is true that this beautiful diaconal vestment has all but disappeared from many of our churches, stemming in part from the fact that, unlike the chasuble, it is not strictly obligatory and, while functioning at Mass, the deacon may always use the second option of wearing only alb and stole, worn like a sash from the left shoulder.

Another factor is probably economic, as it requires parishes to purchase at least one complete set of vestments for each liturgical color. This would probably be rather steep for those parishes that only sporadically benefit from the services of a deacon. However, those parishes regularly served by a deacon from the seminary or by an established permanent deacon would do well to restore the use of the dalmatic, especially for the most important celebrations, as it notably enhances the dignity of the celebration.

Like the chasuble the dalmatic is usually used only for Mass and not for other sacramental rites.

As both chasuble and dalmatic are the proper vestments of each minister, they are not interchangeable. The deacon may never wear the chasuble nor may the priest wear the dalmatic, not even on those occasions when he carries out some of the diaconal functions (see the Ceremonial of Bishops, No. 22).

On some very solemn occasions, such as ordinations, the bishop may wear a (usually lightweight) dalmatic underneath the chasuble. ZE03102120

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