Friday, June 27, 2008

It's Stupid and Petty, I Know... But...

...I LOVE my jeans. One of the things I loved most about the job I held for 12 years before going to seminary was the freedom to work in a professional context where bluejeans were acceptable. And crocs. And - OH MY GOSH - can you believe it? Even the occasional untucked shirt.

Today, we received an email from the new administration at St. Meinrad outlawing jeans. ARGH!!! What? You mean its possible to look professional, be taken seriously, be considered by others to be 'dressed appropriately' in bluejeans and an untucked shirt? Uh - YEAH! Welcome to the year 2008 (about ten years late...)!

But, you are being formed for the priesthood...the standards are different. Yes, I agree 100%. The standards ARE different. But WHICH standards. Could it be we spend so much time focusing on the externals that the internals are slipping? Could is POSSIBLY be that a life steeped in prayer, genuine love for the people of God, prayerful preparation for liturgy, a genuine availability to the flock he tends - could it possibly be that these things are more important to a man's ministry as a priest than whether or not he is DRESSED APPROPRIATELY?!?!?!!

Not to mention that from personal experience, the most effective ministry I've received from the priests in my life has most often come when they WEREN'T in 'chapel dress'. Eye to eye, person to person, priest (who is a 'real person' called to the vocation of priesthood, but a real person who - GASP - wears bluejeans) to parishoner...

Case in point: Fr. Wil (my supervising pastor for the summer assignment here in Pikeville) wears a clerical shirt for masses. Period. The rest of the time he dresses casual - and the people appreciate it. And so do I.

OK - I'm done ranting. Truth is, I love St. Meinrad - and I hate change. I'm intensely insecure about the complete transformation of the administration there. Not only is there a new Rector - but almost all of the administration and formation staff have changed in one broad reaching swoop. And that makes me nervous, because I wonder if the St. Meinrad I've come to love will be there when I return from the summer. And (did I mention it??) I hate change.

So...even something 'simple' like "No more jeans" freaks me out a little.


...THIS must be why I need five more years (at least) of formation before I could even consider seeking ordination. ARG!! Pray for me folks.


jsignal said...

Hey Alan,

I'm a seminarian at Kenrick in Saint Louis. We have to wear clerical clothes all the time. I don't mind that so much. What annoys me is that cassocks and surplices are mandatory for all liturgies. And with MP, EP, Mass, and whatever else going on, one might as well just wear the cassock all day.

Very uncomfortable and cumbersome. And, in my opinion, they look completely ridiculous outside of liturgy. (I like them for all of the celebrants/servers in liturgies, but why the congregation?)

I, too, miss my blue jeans. That said, I think a priest is always a priest and should be identifiable in some way to his people. So I think a clerical collar is a good idea.


Alan Carter said...


Thanks for the comment and the perspective. (I read your blog also often... it was one of the first ones I found before starting mine...even before entering seminary.)

You know, I agree 100% that a priest is always a priest. I just wonder how important it is that a priest (or seminarian) have to rely on clothing to communicate that. "Preach the Gospel - use words when you must." Be a priest - rely on the clothing to communicate that when you must. I guess that's my thinking in some ways.

But - the reality is this post is more about my insecurity about the transitions at Meinrad, and my own 'pettiness', than anything else. And as I say, in case I forget, it helps me remember WHY I NEED formation if I'm to serve God and the Church as a priest.

BTW - in case anyone is wondering - my insecurity about Meinrad has much more to do with my dislike of change than anything. The priests who are rotating into positions of leadership and administration are all man I respect - all men I'd be lucky to be formed to be like. Honest. But...its different - LOL - and that's my struggle.


Anyway - thanks again for the perspective.

Nicole Genevieve said...

If it makes you two feel any better, we layfolk have the same struggles. My current job requires business formal (business formal!) every day. I get tetchy sometimes on the subway when I'm sweating in my suit and heels and and the lady next to me looks cool and collected in capri pants and a tank top.

My employer thinks a suit best represents the qualities of our firm, and I can understand that, but it *is* a struggle not to gripe!

Alan Carter said...

It DOES help, Nicole - thanks!

You know, a big part of my challenge is just stubbornness and (again) that resistance to change. In my formal evaluations this year, one of the formation staff hit the proverbial nail on the head when he said (something like) 'its obvious how much joy you're finding in discerning God's will for your life... especially when God's will and your own coincide'.

*blush* Yep - stubborn as an ole mule sometimes. My task is to remain docile to formation - to actually try to BE formable clay in the process rather than a backbiting naysayer (who, in the process, doesn't transform at all).

I'm trying. :-) Gritting my teeth some, but trying - and trying to be honest about the struggle.

Anyway - yep - it helps a TON. Thanks for the added perspective.