The cassocked one and the cassockedaphobia one:
Just yesterday I was having a conversation with two newly ordained priests. We were speaking about wearing clerics and that my parochial vicar, Polish Father Dawid Kwiatkowski wears his cassock on and off church property. It is his street clothes.
I mentioned to the newbees that many priests my age and old are "cassockaphobic" (the female counterpart rampant in female orders is "habitaphobia") because the cassock (habit) conjures up those God horrible pre-Vatican II days that the Church in her infinite wisdom erased from the face of the earth with Vatican II that created a new and improved Church ruptured from its despicable past.
Folks, I'm using hyperbole here, but there is a great deal of truth in what I am writing for I know that in the immediate aftermath of the Post Vatican II Church that the greatest insult that was thrown towards traditionalists or those who loved the way the Church was in pre-Vatican II times (and they are legion) was to be called "you are so-pre-Vatican II!)
But the following is Father Dawid's letter in our parish bulletin for this Sunday, August 11/12. It is simply beautiful, but don't tell him I wrote that as he has a big head anyway.
"One of the events in my life that I will never forget took place in 2004 when I was still at the seminary in Poland. Every year, by the end of the second year of formation, we would celebrate the Mass of Investiture. During that Mass, the seminarians of the second year would solemnly receive their cassocks, just like monks receive their habits. After the homily, the Rector of the seminary would be seated in the middle of the church, our families and friends would be in the congregation, and we, who were to receive cassocks, would come up one after another wearing suits and ties for the last time. We would kneel before the rector. And as I was kneeling there, two older seminarians would come from behind, me, pull my hands back, take my suit jacket and my tie off, then they would put a cassock that had been blessed, on me. the rector would say to everyone of us the holy prayer which entered my heart with a great force and decided to lock itself deep down there.
He said, "May the Lord strip off of you the old man, with all his deeds, and clothe you with a new man made in the image and likeness of god, in justice, and holiness of truth."
While all of this was happening, the choir would be chanting. I remember thinking about all of my friends and family, all of the people who came to this Mass, what a powerful sight it was for them to see their brothers, sons, and friends publicly admitting willingness change, and what a powerful call to conversion for them.
This celebration was meant to be a sign. After we got up from kneeling, we would all go behind the high altar, put surplices on and proceed out to the middle of the church to present our new "selves" to family and friends who came to pray for us. That was the first time I wore my cassock. We were commanded to wear our cassock everywhere, to get used to them and to show people that there will be future priests. Still today, my cassock reminds me that I have chosen to belong to Christ and His Church and that I am a sign of God's presence among His people."
Fr. Dawid Kwiatkowski