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Re: Pomp and Ceremony

Landon77

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  My family was pentecostal, if this I can understand.  Consider this, preachers spend just as much on all their suits as a parish does on the vestments (and they are possibly used longer).  Elaborate worship spaces are also built to last.  While some look at Catholics (old school) and the Orthodox and critisise us for how much we spend on our buildings, they are built to last and aren't discarded for the next fad or when we just want to expand.  eg. St. Peter's Basilica.

  But I don't know your background.  You may know nothing of protestants.  But consider that these spaces aren't created for us; like our worship, it is for God.  From reading the OT where God is giving instructions on building the temple, I get the impression that he didn't want us to be simple in how we decorated/built his house.
 

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The 'pomp and ceremony' was something that drew to me Orthodox in the first place. I don't see a plain black suit as being worthy to serve in God's house.

Our priest just wears a white button down shirt and some khakis when he's not in church. Only time I ever see him in the traditional priest clothing is when he's just gotten back from blessing a home or coming down to coffee hour after liturgy.
 
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Our priest just wears a white button down shirt and some khakis when he's not in church.
Wow, really? Are all EO priests generally allowed to wear casual clothing when they're not doing "priestly things"?
 

Simayan

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I think so. But even in Bible Study he doesn't wear it. So...*shrug* I dunno. Maybe Fr. Chris or a seminarian could enlighten us.

By the way, nice avatar! You were very lucky to meet him, even if you don't remember it. :)

 

Anastasios

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EkhristosAnesti said:
Wow, really? Are all EO priests generally allowed to wear casual clothing when they're not doing "priestly things"?
Well it depends on what you mean by "allow."

Are they allowed to wear anything but a rasso? No.  Do they? Yes.  Do some furthermore claim that a rasso is really "just some thing that the Turks invented"? Yes.  Do some say wearing a rasso is "trying to recreate 19th century Russia"? Yes.  But beyond these sometimes absurd claims are the facts, which are that robes as a distinct clergy outfit have been part of Orthodox tradition from time immemorial, and the only thing that changed when the Turks took over was the married clergy switched from white to black, and the sleeves became slightly more wide.  An excellent book on the subject is "The Blessed Rasso."

At any rate, what I am trying to say is that no, EO priests are not "allowed" to not wear a rasso by Holy Tradition but unfortunately in this country, almost all of them do not wear it, and some bishops even legislate against it (because it makes priests look oh so weird they say)! That does not make it right though. (now I will dodge the tomatoes thrown by the people who say that rassos are a small-t tradition and that we rasso-insisters are just really trying to recreate some 19th century Russia ;))

Anastasios
 
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I think so. But even in Bible Study he doesn't wear it. So...*shrug* I dunno. Maybe Fr. Chris or a seminarian could enlighten us.
You lucky ducks. Our priests have to wear their black priestly garb all the time. I think they even have to wear black PJ's to sleep! But don't quote me on that one...This is one issue that makes me uncomfortable with the idea of being a priest (not that I am planning to, nor that I could even if I wanted to), which is probably a good sign that I shouldn't be one!

By the way, nice avatar! You were very lucky to meet him, even if you don't remember it.  :)
Thanks!
 
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Anastasios,

Thanks for the thorough answer. I can't believe there's a whole book written about it. I personally cannot think of any substantial reason as to why clergy should not be allowed to wear casual clothing in their own personal time at least--out with the family, doing shopping etc. All I know is that if I ever saw my FOC in jeans and a T-Shirt, it just wouldn't feel right at all; it would mentally disturb me.
 

Anastasios

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Because you never stop being a priest.  You have no "free time" in that regard. There is a story of an EO priest that did go out in civilian clothes.  A demon possessed woman spit on him and said, "you priest!"  The point being, you don't stop being a priest.

I would suggest you check out that book on the subject as it is interesting but you may not find it interesting since it is focused mostly on post 451 Byzantine practice.

I do understand why a priest may wish to have time off from a cassock though. it must be hard.  At the same time, cassocks "keep you honest."
 
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Because you never stop being a priest.
Well, yeah, but no moreso than a doctor stops being a doctor when they take off their white coat. I think your statement works more im favour of the argument that there is nothing substantially wrong with the idea of a priest not always wearing his priestly garb--"it's not like he's going to cease being a priest once he takes if off, so what's the big deal?" I'm just trying to play devil's advocate here.

At the same time, cassocks "keep you honest."
Good point.
 

Anastasios

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EkhristosAnesti said:
Well, yeah, but no moreso than a doctor stops being a doctor when they take off their white coat. I think your statement works more im favour of the argument that there is nothing substantially wrong with the idea of a priest not always wearing his priestly garb--"it's not like he's going to cease being a priest once he takes if off, so what's the big deal?" I'm just trying to play devil's advocate here.

Good point.
Yes, I see what you are saying.  I think though that the grace of priesthood is a bit of a different status change than becoming a doctor.
 

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Well actually being a priest is not a job it’s a way of life that only a few are called for.  Being a doctor is a job, and as soon as one takes off the white coat he/she has no obligations to help a single individual.  A doctor might subconsciously feel the duty to help wherever and whenever they are needed but if they choose not too help then they will not be held accountable.  – at least not that I am aware of.

Which is why if I saw my priest in jeans and a t-shirt like EA, I too would be mentally disturbed because I see a priest as “on duty” 24/7 and if he is not then he will be held responsible on judgment day.  I think I would lose respect for my priest if I did happen to see him in anything other then their black robe and the beard, but that’s just me.     
 
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The point of my analogy was simply to point out the obvious principle that one's identity is not essentially contingent upon their external uniform, that's all.
 

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Your analogy is very well noted and it is accurate to an extent, but unfortunately we do tend to associate ones identity based on their outward appearance and external uniform. 
 

greekischristian

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I guess someone needs to inform the clergy of Constantinople about this wearing black robes requirement...last I checked most just wore a suit and tie. ;D
 

Fr. George

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joyisgod said:
Well actually being a priest is not a job it’s a way of life that only a few are called for.  Being a doctor is a job, and as soon as one takes off the white coat he/she has no obligations to help a single individual.  A doctor might subconsciously feel the duty to help wherever and whenever they are needed but if they choose not too help then they will not be held accountable.  – at least not that I am aware of. 
Well, actually.... The idea of Christian Vocation in each job implies that if you're a doctor then you're always obligated to be a doctor, even if the worldly standard is that you're not obligated once you're out of the office and hospital.  The priesthood is a calling, being a doctor is a calling, being a teacher is a calling.  One may be highly valued for its spiritual purpose, but the others should be highly valued for their own purposes.  Putting the priesthood on a pedastal way above the others goes against the spirit of humility and whatnot that should be present - yes, it is a high calling that requires one to officiate the Liturgy and touch with one's hands the sacred Body and Blood of Christ, but we all are called to touch Him (with our lips, tongue, body) and be ministers of His Holiness to the world.

Yes, he'll be responsible on judgment day if he isn't living the priestly life 24/7.  But we'll be just as accountable for passing his judgment in this world through our thoughts.  I'd submit that all of us (myself included) who look disdainfully upon the clergy who don't wear "clergy garb" all the time, or on those who wear the "western" collar instead of the Rasso, should probably spend a lot more energy working on our own hangups that lead us to be so judgmental.

I've seen priests wearing the Rasso doing things reprehensible in them.  I've seen priests wearing the collar who were saintly.  Clothes don't make the man (yes, I know that's not what most are claiming here).  Of course, what makes us think we have more discretion than the bishops?

Where does the condemnation end?  Should the priest wear the rasso around his house?  Must he wear it to bed?  The way that the argument that the priest must wear the Rasso everywhere outside is used, if applied evenly it implies these other two conclusions.  Of course, not even the monks follow this standard 100% - they, like the priests, are to wear the anderi (cassok) and Rasso (floppy sleves) all the time - but they created a new vestment (the vest, some call it the geleko in greek) because it was impractical to wear the rasso while working.  So they don't even wear their garb of office all the time, but instead have come up with a substitution.  This is why I see no problem with the collared clergy shirt (which I actually don't like, personally).

I've been around tons of priests in my lifetime - my dad, his godfather, my godfather, my girlfriend's dad, my friends, coworkers, visiting almost 100 parishes, etc. - and seen the whole gamut (Anderi all the time, some of the time, none of the time; collared shirt all the time, some of the time, none of the time; "casual" clothing some of the time, none of the time) and, honestly, have come to this conclusion - people nowadays can tell that something is different or special about you by the way you conduct yourself.  I've seen priests with no garb be identified as priests by strangers because of how they carried themselves in public.

greekischristian said:
I guess someone needs to inform the clergy of Constantinople about this wearing black robes requirement...last I checked most just wore a suit and tie. ;D
So how about that?  I guess those clergy are damned for not making martyrs of themselves?  I'm sure no one is going that far in this discussion, but we're teetering awfully close for my tastes.
 

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greekischristian said:
I guess someone needs to inform the clergy of Constantinople about this wearing black robes requirement...last I checked most just wore a suit and tie. ;D
Yeah, that's because they get thrown in jail if they wear a cassock on the street.
 

Anastasios

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falafel333 said:
I think the general rule should be modesty with respect to clothing rather than a specific type of clothing...I think it prevents assimilation and integration as well since such clothing stands out and people tend to shy away from such appearances...To all people I became all things...
But very early on clergy began to wear different clothing.  The rasso is like vestments, a development guided by the Holy Spirit.  I don't know of many people who are "put off" by a rasso enough not to become Orthodox, and in fact, I know of people who have in fact become Orthodox after meeting a priest in a rasso and being interested enough to ask questions.  We should assimilate American or Western culture to Orthodox culture, not assimilate ourselves to a non-Orthodox culture.

I think the pompous vestments used within the church really bother me...I wish the church would rather use a much more simplified form of worship reflective of the simplicity lived by Christ and the apostles themselves...and neither Christ nor any of the apostles were ever crowned with any kind of earthly crown...
But in heaven they are crowned, with the crown of martyrdom, which is what that crown represents among other things.  The Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit to develop its worship to where it is now; what we see is not a result of random chance but of divine providence.  Such ornate worship is the only worship fitting the King of Kings.  If we simplified our liturgy, perhaps the same nonsense that has befallen Roman Catholicism will befall us.  Simplified liturgies are really boring to me and leave me feeling cold.

Also, how did the Catholic vestments become so different from the Orthodox church? Is this evidence of Islamic influence on the clothing of Orthodox clergyman? 
Why is your automatic assumption that it is the Orthodox who have changed? Maybe the Roman Catholic vestments are because of German influence? ;)  In all seriousness, though, nothing in times before things were recorded or photographed stayed the same (the jury seems to be out now that we can write down and photograph everything, although it may be that things still develop slowly), so what actually happened was that Orthodox and Roman Catholic vestments both developed from the same set of core vestments but in different ways.

I hope I am not coming on too strong; for me this is a "pet issue." I only like seeing priests in cassocks, and I do not believe that our liturgy has become what it has for any reason other than the Holy Spirit. For me, all Tradition is important and should be maintained as much as possible.

Anastasios
 

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Anastasios said:
But very early on clergy began to wear different clothing.  The rasso is like vestments, a development guided by the Holy Spirit.
I know that the monastic garb, according to tradition, had a certain angelic influence not sure about the clerical one though...Even so great, but how much of all of this is man-made and how much is guided by the Holy Spirit...

Anastasios said:
I don't know of many people who are "put off" by a rasso enough not to become Orthodox, and in fact, I know of people who have in fact become Orthodox after meeting a priest in a rasso and being interested enough to ask questions.
I know of even more people who were put off by meeting a priest in a rasso and felt that they even had to keep a distance as though they might catch something...

Anastasios said:
We should assimilate American or Western culture to Orthodox culture, not assimilate ourselves to a non-Orthodox culture.
You mean we should assimilate Western culture to Orthodox faith which encompasses all cultures, this is both Biblical and Patristic...Furthermore, are you really assimilating Western culture to Orthodox culture or to an ancient Roman culture???

Anastasios said:
But in heaven they are crowned, with the crown of martyrdom, which is what that crown represents among other things.
An earthly and spiritual crown are two very different things...And while such vestments may be justified through a plethora of such arguments I think the stronger case would be against them...

Anastasios said:
The Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit to develop its worship to where it is now; what we see is not a result of random chance but of divine providence.  Such ornate worship is the only worship fitting the King of Kings.
Some things have been guided by the Holy Spirit and others haven't...The church developed in its worship over many centuries and there were things that came and have gone and things that were changed and modified...And yet the church felt in no way that it was abrogating some form of divinely ordained worship simply because it was ancient in nature but rather it felt it had every right to do so....

Anastasios said:
If we simplified our liturgy, perhaps the same nonsense that has befallen Roman Catholicism will befall us.
I really dislike this argument as though the Catholic church represents all that is evil...Plus I'm not really sure what you're referring to here...

Anastasios said:
Simplified liturgies are really boring to me and leave me feeling cold.
This is the precise type of worship that was prescribed in monastic circles...

Anastasios said:
Why is your automatic assumption that it is the Orthodox who have changed? Maybe the Roman Catholic vestments are because of German influence? ;)
 

I was simply posing a question...Also I suppose it would make sense for the Orthodox to change rather than the Catholic since there were times when Islam imposed itself upon them whereas Catholicism never experienced such a time in its history but always remained free and independant...

Anastasios said:
I do not believe that our liturgy has become what it has for any reason other than the Holy Spirit. For me, all Tradition is important and should be maintained as much as possible.
Ahhh yes and we should distinguish between Tradition and traditions...

Does anyone have any good references with regards to how ecclesiastical dress developed over history and the possible Roman and Islamic influences?
 

Anastasios

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Dear falafel,

Thank you for your reply.  I find this an interested topic of discussion.

falafel333 said:
I know that the monastic garb, according to tradition, had a certain angelic influence not sure about the clerical one though...Even so great, but how much of all of this is man-made and how much is guided by the Holy Spirit...
It is all guided by the Holy Spirit.

I know of even more people who were put off by meeting a priest in a rasso and felt that they even had to keep a distance as though they might catch something...
That is unfortunate, but I feel that it is important that when we see a priest we should immediately realize he is a priest and is not like us.

You mean we should assimilate Western culture to Orthodox faith which encompasses all cultures, this is both Biblical and Patristic...Furthermore, are you really assimilating Western culture to Orthodox culture or to an ancient Roman culture???
Orthodox culture is Roman culture Christianized and refined from 335 to the present day. Romaiosyni is the Christian culture of the Greek speaking Romans developed under the Roman empire until it ended in 1453 and then continued by the Greek, Romanian, and Arab speaking Romans to the present day.  American and other cultures can be fused with this Roman culture to create a new Christian Roman culture in America.  But that happens by way of fusion and mixing, not trying to figure out what is incidental, and dropping it, and replacing it with created and artificial American replacements.


An earthly and spiritual crown are two very different things...And while such vestments may be justified through a plethora of such arguments I think the stronger case would be against them...
I'd be interested to hear what those arguments are, actually.


Some things have been guided by the Holy Spirit and others haven't...The church developed in its worship over many centuries and there were things that came and have gone and things that were changed and modified...And yet the church felt in no way that it was abrogating some form of divinely ordained worship simply because it was ancient in nature but rather it felt it had every right to do so....
The Church did not dispense of some things and instate other things as if it was aware it had some power over things to do so.  This is a thoroughly modern idea.  Some things in the time before things were recorded well changed slowly but were always consistent and in the same vein as previous development.  So while the particular style of a cassock or liturgy developed, there was distinct clergy garb from early on and there was an ornate liturgy from time immemorial.  To try and go back to the past would be a human interference in divine providence.  Not all that is ancient is good, but all that is good is ancient and can be shown to be consistent with the past.

I really dislike this argument as though the Catholic church represents all that is evil...Plus I'm not really sure what you're referring to here...
I make no such argument.  That is a big assumption you make.  What I said I mean very narrowly: the Vatican II disaster has ruined Roman Catholicism in many ways.  Let's not destroy our beautiful Church in the same way.

This is the precise type of worship that was prescribed in monastic circles...
And which has developed since then.  The current typikon is a wonderful fusion (again, an organic growth over time) of the monastic and cathedral rites which has reached a very splendid sythesis.
 
I was simply posing a question...Also I suppose it would make sense for the Orthodox to change rather than the Catholic since there were times when Islam imposed itself upon them whereas Catholicism never experienced such a time in its history but always remained free and independant...
Which could mean it changed more; people under oppression might be thought to bunker down and refuse to change more, like the Old Believers or even the Copts, while those far away from the Middle Eastern roots of Christianity change more and more...but all of this is moot as everyone changed gradually in pre-modern times, just in different ways.
Ahhh yes and we should distinguish between Tradition and traditions...
I disagree, since no Orthodox father ever made such a distinction. There is Tradition, and then there are bad practices that come and go; but Tradition is consistent for all time.  Look at Basil's on the Holy Spirit, the text often quoted to support unwritten Tradition.  All the traditions he mentions are liturgical customs that you would call "traditions." But we call them Tradition with a big T.

Does anyone have any good references with regards to how ecclesiastical dress developed over history and the possible Roman and Islamic influences?
Yes, I already cited a good book called the Blessed Rasso, and there is another one called "Orthodox Liturgical Dress".

Again, thank you for an opportunity to discuss one of my favorite issues.

Anastasios
 

minasoliman

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You lucky ducks. Our priests have to wear their black priestly garb all the time. I think they even have to wear black PJ's to sleep!
I don't know if anyone answered since I skimmed the thread, but for Coptic priests, when it comes to PJ's, there's a lot more flexibility.  This I know from personal experience.

Might I add a funny story.  The priestly garb isn't just any garb.  They're thick, long-sleeved, big garbs that they have to wear even on hot days.  One time we asked Abouna, "Aren't hot in this?  Don't you have something short-sleeved."  Abouna answered, "Ya habibi, we priests are not punks." ;D

Carry on.

God bless.

Mina
 

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joyisgod said:
Which is why if I saw my priest in jeans and a t-shirt like EA, I too would be mentally disturbed. . .
Well then, it's a good thing you didn't see the off duty priest of my former parish coming out of a microbrewery in black hot pants & a black t-shirt, carrying a jug of beer.  Yes. . . a scary sight indeed!
 

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Psalti Boy said:
Well then, it's a good thing you didn't see the off duty priest of my former parish coming out of a microbrewery in black hot pants & a black t-shirt, carrying a jug of beer.  Yes. . . a scary sight indeed!
Well, I've been keeping an eye on this thread, and all I will say is...some of these accounts would be disturbing to any parishioner, and I humbly pray that I never am in such a circumstance as to disturb anyone I may encounter by my clothing or actions.

I have never gone to the beach or swimming since I've been a priest, and part of it is because I never want any of my parishioners to feel 'out of place' or otherwise bothered by seeing one of their priests partially undressed. But, that's just me, and I'm probably wound a bit too tight.
 
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I have never gone to the beach...since I've been a priest
Mind you, our priests, seeking to maintain an intimate personal relationship with the youth, do frequently attend and engage in the various youth outings and activities arranged by the Church (which include outings to parks and beaches). Nevertheless, they always remain in their priestly garb (they certainly don't swim, that's a certainty!). Take the following photo taken at the annual Coptic Orthodox Youth Association camp of 2003 as an example: http://img260.imageshack.us/my.php?image=coya03wy0.jpg

The one in the sand in the back there playing volleyball with the youth is our Bishop, His Grace Anba Daniel! Images like that certainly don't disturb me; they bring joy to my heart and remind me that our clergy are real people, full of love and warmth for their flock whom they serve.
 

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I've never seen our priest in civilian clothes, but I'd imagine that he must wear them sometimes as he also has a secular job - he's an engineer. Nonetheless, I get the impression that he is unusually traditional for a Romanian priest (we had one visit once who was shaven and did wear civilian clothes, and I've seen similar in Romania from time to time). I have to say that I would prefer not to see him in civilian clothes, but I don't think I'm that fussed either way - just so long as he doesn't start wearing a 'dog collar'. That would really do me in.

James
 

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ROCOR - WRITE
We have the vestments and other clothing from the Temple in Israel, and the sacred clothing of the Israelites. That their form is of Roman rather than Semitic in our majority tradition is besides the point. God directed the pomp and ceremony as proper to His worship - the Church is the continuation of Israel, so we continue what is pleasing to God.

I agree with Landon (having formerly been an AoG youth minister)  - simple clothing and a cassock is far less expensive than a few silk or wool suits every few years. Iconography and other ornamentation in our churches less expensive than new sound systems, projectors, drum sets, amps, pianos, keyboards, MIDI lighting systems with a light/sound board, etc. Technology of that sort wears out faster. Nothing really quite as simple as the cassock (simpler than dockers, polo shirts and birkenstocks even.)
 

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Anastasios said:
I disagree, since no Orthodox father ever made such a distinction. There is Tradition, and then there are bad practices that come and go; but Tradition is consistent for all time.  Look at Basil's on the Holy Spirit, the text often quoted to support unwritten Tradition.  All the traditions he mentions are liturgical customs that you would call "traditions." But we call them Tradition with a big T.
Anastasios,

I've noticed your refusal to acknowledge this distinction and it should come as no surprise to you that I could not disagree more.  Perhaps I am misunderstanding you on this issue, and we are closer to agreement than I think.  If so, I would appreciate some enlightenment.  Meanwhile, I shall try to outline my position with the small amount of time I have available in this post.

Saint Paul himself says in one letter that we should uphold all the traditions passed down to us.  In another epistle he says that we should reject the traditions of men.  That's good enough for me in this regard.  

Clearly the Church has a problem with regards to people confusing Tradition with the customs of men.  Many follow the custom of receiving Holy Communion once or twice a year as though this was a precept of Tradition, but this is clearly not so.  Most priests in the Church today follow the custom of reading the priest's "private" prayers silently as if this were a Tradition of the Church; again, this is manifestly not the case.   Baroque-style icons are the norm in the majority of Orthodox churches throughout the world, this does not make this custom right.  The Holy Spirit can only inspire people to do things when they are listening to Him.  The Church is both a divine and a human organism.  By God's great mercy, it is inerrant in its essence, but this does not mean that human beings in their sinfulness cannot try to hide the glory of  the Church by fixing on Her all manner of encrustations that do not belong on Her.  

I am not saying that any of us should take it upon his/herself to make changes that might be necessary, least of all a miserable sinner like myself.  These are for the Church as a whole to decide, led by Her bishops.  But I also don't think that we should simply check our brains at the door every time we enter a church.  The Church as a whole is the guardian of the Faith.  It is the particular duty of the laity to act in this way, and they are being remiss in their duties as Christians if they do not.

If part of your concern deals with semantics, than I am happy to use the word "custom" in place of "small t tradition."

JB
 

Pravoslavbob

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Aristibule said:
We have the vestments and other clothing from the Temple in Israel, and the sacred clothing of the Israelites. That their form is of Roman rather than Semitic in our majority tradition is besides the point. God directed the pomp and ceremony as proper to His worship - the Church is the continuation of Israel, so we continue what is pleasing to God.
IMHO, you are in error in a few ways.  The fact that the Church is now the true Israel should hold no sway in this discussion, or if it does, whatever claims made in this regard should be worded very carefully, lest a judaising tendency be given legitimacy.   The situation we find ourselves in now is very different from the one that was in place during the time of the old covenant.

You contradict yourself here: you are right in saying that vestments do have a relation to Romano-Byzantine attire.   However, they have nothing whatsoever to do with the attire that levitical priests wore in the Jerusalem temple. 

For the record, I am not against vestments, and I strongly believe that the practice of clerical vesture should be upheld.  However, cassocks are clearly derived from Byzantine street clothes.  Personally, I like to see priests and deacons wearing them.  I think it's good that we can distinguish them from laypeople in this way.  But really, I think that whatever a priest wears at home is his own business.
 

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I should add the caveat that even our priests (Old Calendarist) are not required to wear a cassock in the house.  Our concern is mostly with the priest being in public not in cassock.
 

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FrChris said:
Well, I've been keeping an eye on this thread, and all I will say is...some of these accounts would be disturbing to any parishioner, and I humbly pray that I never am in such a circumstance as to disturb anyone I may encounter by my clothing or actions.

I have never gone to the beach or swimming since I've been a priest, and part of it is because I never want any of my parishioners to feel 'out of place' or otherwise bothered by seeing one of their priests partially undressed. But, that's just me, and I'm probably wound a bit too tight.
Fr. Chris,

I don't think you should be wound too tight.  I understand about having your parishioners seeing you in beach wear, but if you are out of the 'neighborhood' on vacation, I'd say loosen up and enjoy yourself.  But not too much.  ;D

PB
 

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EkhristosAnesti said:
Mind you, our priests, seeking to maintain an intimate personal relationship with the youth, do frequently attend and engage in the various youth outings and activities arranged by the Church (which include outings to parks and beaches). Nevertheless, they always remain in their priestly garb (they certainly don't swim, that's a certainty!). Take the following photo taken at the annual Coptic Orthodox Youth Association camp of 2003 as an example: http://img260.imageshack.us/my.php?image=coya03wy0.jpg

The one in the sand in the back there playing volleyball with the youth is our Bishop, His Grace Anba Daniel! Images like that certainly don't disturb me; they bring joy to my heart and remind me that our clergy are real people, full of love and warmth for their flock whom they serve.
After seeing that photo, I would love to see them try to work the souvlaki grill at a festival without going up in flames dressed like that.  :D  All kidding aside, I don't think there's anything wrong with getting out of the cassock and putting on a t-shirt & jeans in situations like that.  It's not like they are in public like that all the time. 

PB
 

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Have you guys seen the swimsuits for Muslim women who want to stay covered.  I think it is called a burkini.
 

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My priest told me once that our Archbishop Isiah of Denver told him to wear darker clothing and a pectoral cross most of the time. Maybe its a Greek thing I dont know.
 

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Is the cassock itself the issue, or the public identity of the priest? Perhaps a "contextualized" application for out culture would be in order?
The cassock distinguished the priest in one culture. Doesn't the clerical collar with black shirt and trousers do the same thing? It clearly identifies the person as a priest. In a cassock he could also be mistaken for a character from The Matrix! (just kidding) :p

This is just me, but I would say: cassock at church. Clerical collar while out in public. Regular clothes at home.

PS  And if I were to go to my priest's house and he was in jeans out back working in his garden or cutting the grass, this would in no way disturb me.
 

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I believe that cassocks should be the norm most of the time but if a priest is at home, its his business...on the street, again I think the cassock is best-suited but if its an odd time of emergency or out of practicality, it shouldnt be a big deal.

In Greece, priests must wear their riassa and their hats (skoufo).

In my grandpaarents day in North America, most western RC priests wore their cassocks and even their travelling black fedora hats. I remember seeing some old movies with them riding bikes-briefcase in hand.
 

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Pravoslavbob said:
IMHO, you are in error in a few ways.  The fact that the Church is now the true Israel should hold no sway in this discussion, or if it does, whatever claims made in this regard should be worded very carefully, lest a judaising tendency be given legitimacy. 
IMHO you are having a knee-jerk reaction. It has nothing to do with a 'judaising tendency' (where did such an evil suspicion come from?) It isn't a contradiction either for the Orthodox use of clericals to derive both from the Tradition and from the Empire. Canonical law in relation to vestments, both East and West, has recourse to Leviticus and other parts of the Scripture (such as use of linen). That has *everything* to do with the Jerusalem temple, of which our worship is a continuity. That the Church is the true Israel does have sway in this dicussion, as our theology means something concrete (and, notice - I did word it very carefully - no 'judaising' thank you very much.)

The idea of clerical vesture also stems from the ethos of Israel as to how the 'People of God' dress. The Law of Israel directed how their priests and clergy dressed, and the Church also directs how its priests and clergy dress. The clericals (Byzantine or Western) derive from that Semitic ethos brought into the Roman Empire. Roman pagans dressed far less modestly than Roman Christians (so-called 'Byzantine') - the difference was made by Christian praxis and its influence on the Empire. Note - Western clericals are not 'Byzantine street dress', but the same process at work of the dress of Roman or Gaulish pagans being changed due to Christian praxis and theology.
 

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Aristibule said:
IMHO you are having a knee-jerk reaction. It has nothing to do with a 'judaising tendency' (where did such an evil suspicion come from?) It isn't a contradiction either for the Orthodox use of clericals to derive both from the Tradition and from the Empire. Canonical law in relation to vestments, both East and West, has recourse to Leviticus and other parts of the Scripture (such as use of linen). That has *everything* to do with the Jerusalem temple, of which our worship is a continuity. That the Church is the true Israel does have sway in this dicussion, as our theology means something concrete (and, notice - I did word it very carefully - no 'judaising' thank you very much.)

The idea of clerical vesture also stems from the ethos of Israel as to how the 'People of God' dress. The Law of Israel directed how their priests and clergy dressed, and the Church also directs how its priests and clergy dress. The clericals (Byzantine or Western) derive from that Semitic ethos brought into the Roman Empire. Roman pagans dressed far less modestly than Roman Christians (so-called 'Byzantine') - the difference was made by Christian praxis and its influence on the Empire. Note - Western clericals are not 'Byzantine street dress', but the same process at work of the dress of Roman or Gaulish pagans being changed due to Christian praxis and theology.
I don't know whether I should apologise to you for having offended you or not.  I certainly didn't mean "judaising" to be taken as anything evil.  The reason why I hesitate to apologise is because the vehemence evident in your reply gives me pause for thought, and I find myself wondering if you are anti-Semitic.  If you are not, than please forgive me for having given offence. 

I don't think that our worship is really a continuation of the worship in the temple at Jerusalem.  We have inherited things from this worship like some styles of prayer and of course, scripture.  The fact is that things have been turned entirely on their head since the time of the temple.  The levitical priesthood has no link whatsoever (or at best a rather tenuous one) to the Christian priesthood, lay or ordained.  There is no such thing as one place only where true worship is accepted now (the Jersalem temple.)  Orthodox Churches, despite what I would argue could be seen as a judaising tendency to call them such, are not temples.  Bodies of Christian people are temples in today's world of the new covenant.  (I believe a ROCOR priest recently wrote an article that despairs of the fact that people call churches temples, which I found interesting.) 

I believe that there is a dangerous tendency for the Orthodox to make too much of a link with worship of the Jerusalem temple and our worship.  (Please, I am definitely not saying that this is what you are doing!)  For instance, in your opinion, would  it really a good thing if people took to extremes the idea that the sanctuary is cut off from the rest of the Church in order to represent the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple?  This is one interpretation that is offered, and things like this have been bandied about, particularly since the 12th century.  If things were the same now as they were in old covenant times, then our priests would be burned to a crisp if they even so much as dared to begin to offer the Lord's body and blood at the Holy table.  We live in the time of the new covenant, when the Kingdom has been revealed (and yet, paradoxically, also has not been revealed.)  Although we are the new Israel, and there is continuity there, things have been turned upside down by Christ.  The curtain in the temple was torn in two when Christ was crucified to show the inauguration of a new age. 

The arguments that you make about linen and  canon law are interesting, but in the main the evolution of the style of Christian clerical vesture had nothing to do with temple garments, but grew entirely out of Roman and East Roman imperial clothing of the ruling, senatorial, and common classes.  Your points about linen are probably not to be disputed, but I think that this was not important in terms of the development of clerical vesture in the early goings.  Of course you are right to say that a Semitic ethos did enter the Christian Church, but I don't think that is important when it comes to this point.
 

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BrotherAidan said:
Is the cassock itself the issue, or the public identity of the priest? Perhaps a "contextualized" application for out culture would be in order?
The cassock distinguished the priest in one culture. Doesn't the clerical collar with black shirt and trousers do the same thing? It clearly identifies the person as a priest. In a cassock he could also be mistaken for a character from The Matrix! (just kidding) :p

This is just me, but I would say: cassock at church. Clerical collar while out in public. Regular clothes at home.

PS  And if I were to go to my priest's house and he was in jeans out back working in his garden or cutting the grass, this would in no way disturb me.
After the RCC debacle, I would not want to see my priest in a collar. I think that would be counter-productive.
 

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Pravoslavbob said:
The reason why I hesitate to apologise is because the vehemence evident in your reply gives me pause for thought, and I find myself wondering if you are anti-Semitic. 
Nothing vehement in my reply (or any of my replies), and no - not anti-Semitic, that would be self-hating.

I don't think that our worship is really a continuation of the worship in the temple at Jerusalem. 
Then do you have a negative review of Benjamin Willians "Orthodox Worship: A Living Continuity With the Temple, the Synagogue"?

  (I believe a ROCOR priest recently wrote an article that despairs of the fact that people call churches temples, which I found interesting.) 
Yes - it was Fr. John R. Shaw, and it was published on our blog last year per the Superior's request.  We agree entirely with his article. I would point out, that the English language presents the difficulty. Ekklesia (Greek term) is the same as the Kahal (Hebrew term) - the congregation set apart by God, gathered at the altar. The English term that translates those terms is Eccles, but is now archaic and ceased to be used colloquially - it survives only in place names (such as Eccleston). The English Church (or Scots Kirk), however, comes from the Greek 'kyriakon' - the closest one could get to that in Hebrew would be 'malchuto' - the Kingdom. So, Church came to be used colloquially instead of Eccles as well.

  For instance, in your opinion, would  it really a good thing if people took to extremes the idea that the sanctuary is cut off from the rest of the Church in order to represent the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple?  This is one interpretation that is offered, and things like this have been bandied about, particularly since the 12th century.
Judaizing has been a historical problem in Russia, but not with regards to understanding a continuity with the Old Testament, but in borrowing from Rabbinic Judaism - the religion that rejected the Messiah (ie, trying to keep kosher, Jewish fashions, the seder, Masoretic text - all of which the Church rejected because their practice was anti-Christological.) To claim judaizing for anything that is a continuity, then we would have to give up a long list of items - the Phos Hilarion, the Psalms, the Old Testament readings, indeed that we have an altar, Eastward facing prayer, the veil/iconostasis, public reading of Scripture, prostration, kneeling, praying standing, beards, fasting, the list could continue quite a ways ...

As for views on vestments: The traditional Eastern Orthodox view has been that there is Divine sanction and continuity of vestments from the Temple. The modern view is that of vestments being mere adoption of Roman street dress. For one overview (and an interesting thesis that neither position adequately explains the complex process) see: http://unibuc.ro/eBooks/istorie/ideologie/8.htm My one caveat, I disagree with some of his assessment of Western vestments - some have far older precedents than he admits in the essay. I'd like to see what you might think of that article.

The curtain in the temple was torn in two when Christ was crucified to show the inauguration of a new age. 
The meaning of the veil was that the veil showed the presence of God there - the Holy Spirit. The rending of the veil meant 'Ichabod' - that grace had been removed. The Church now has the veil (as St. Ignatius says, the whole church is present in each local community gathered around its bishop) - wherever the Divine Liturgy is offered. Our veils aren't torn (to have no veil means to be deconsecrated, desacralized.)

  Of course you are right to say that a Semitic ethos did enter the Christian Church, but I don't think that is important when it comes to this point.
Or rather - the Semitic ethos (really Helleno-Semitic) was the ethos of the Church from the beginning, and entered and transformed Roman society. And, I maintain it does have importance for the matter - but it is a point that can be returned later. A third essay that might help for the discussion is this: http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/reading/jewish_1.html "THE JEWISH QUESTION IN THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH" by Gregory Benevitch. Its main question is related to the presence of anti-Semitism in modern Russia, but also speaks from the ecclesiological claims of the Church to being what it is. See esp. Section 3 and the conclusion (note, there are some grammatical issues as the work is a translation.)
 

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A Transylvanian priest I knew, who died in 2001 or 2002 at almost 100 years.
 
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