What difference does it make if a priest goes out in public wearing the outfit that proclaims his vocation? As it turns out, quite a lot, especially if you opt for the full Monty.
In a recent Esquire article, a writer experimented with walking around Chicago in the uniforms of various professions, including the full-length cassock favored by some Catholic and Orthodox priests (but no other visible religious symbols).
The results are touching … and telling. Here are some excerpts:
The salesclerk was a former Dominican priest. There is fashion among the priests, he said. It’s rare for an American priest to wear a cassock outside the church. But, he said, it’s becoming more common: “It used to be considered a little vain. But you go to the seminary now and young priests insist on the cassock. They’re more conservative and they want to be seen as committed.”
Generally, when you wear a uniform, no one will touch you. Except the priest. People will touch a priest. On the wrist mostly. It happened to me twelve times, just a tap in the middle of a conversation. An assertion of connection, an acknowledgment of some commonality I could not fathom.
I’m telling you: People lingered in their gaze, without lust. I was a fascination, looked at fondly so many times that fondness itself seemed the currency of the world to me. It made me like the world better.
No one asked my name. No one called me Father Tom. But that’s what the uniform made me. People want to believe.
There’s so much more. Click here to read the rest.
My takeaway? Priests — along with lay brothers, friars and religious sisters — go for it. The world is starving for your witness, starving to see you, starving to believe.
Image: Wikimedia Commons