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Readers and cassocks?


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#1 Andrew James

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 03:31 AM

Greetings in the Lord!

I was just wondering if men are ever blessed to wear cassocks who read in church, but have not yet been tonsured a reader?

In Christ,
Andrew

#2 Paul Cowan

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 04:14 AM

Hi Andrew:
This is better answered by others, but in my church, we had a tonsured reader who did wear the cassock and we have a current reader who is not tonsured that does not.

Seems to fit your question, but I do not know for sure.

regards,
Paul

#3 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 04:06 PM

Greetings in the Lord!

I was just wondering if men are ever blessed to wear cassocks who read in church, but have not yet been tonsured a reader?

In Christ,
Andrew


Paul is right in the context he refers to in his post.

But I'm thinking of how seminarians all wear cassocks. They may very well wear these (and be required to wear them) while visiting their parishes.

So let's say they are asked to read when visiting their parish even though they aren't yet tonsured readers. They would be wearing their cassock; they would be reading in the church. But they wouldn't be tonsured readers yet.

A difference the parishioners may not catch is that the untonsured seminarian may be reading on the kliros of his parish but not yet permitted to read the Epistle.

I've seen this before though again it could vary by jurisdiction or parish.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#4 Andrew James

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 10:50 PM

Greetings in the Lord!

Bless, Father!

Thank you for both of your replies in this thread. Any other comments on the issue would be appreciated.

In Christ,
Andrew

#5 Paul Fowler

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 08:47 PM

Greetings in the Lord!

Bless, Father!

Thank you for both of your replies in this thread. Any other comments on the issue would be appreciated.

In Christ,
Andrew



Dunno if its relevant, but a recent discussion on the Yahoo Group for Orthodox Readers made it clear that in the US, at least, Readers wear cassocks, which is interesting cos I know of no Tonsured Reader in the UK who wears one, unless I confusing cassock with sticha, which I wear during services.

Paul

#6 Father David Moser

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 12:43 AM

I know of no Tonsured Reader in the UK who wears one, unless I confusing cassock with sticha, which I wear during services.


Our esteemed listowner, Dr Matthew Steenberg (who resides in the UK) is, I believe, tonsured a reader and he wears a cassock in Church at least. The cassock is the (usually) black under-robe of the clergy, worn by all ranks of clergy alike (as well as monastics). The stichar is the proper vestment of the reader and is worn over the cassock when the reader is receiving the sacraments or serving in the liturgy.

Fr David Moser

#7 Paul Fowler

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 08:19 PM

That is interesting, certainly in all the parishes in the East Midlands-a mixture of Sourozh, Antiochian, Greek and Amphipolis, none of the Readers wear cassocks-only stichas. Neither have I seen Readers in Greece wearing cassocks-only stichas, hence my question about whether it was a practice only in American Parishes. My priest did once suggest that all Readers should wear cassocks but nothing came of it. It seems then that it is purely local practice, Readers wearing cassocks.


Paul

#8 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 12:46 AM

That is interesting, certainly in all the parishes in the East Midlands-a mixture of Sourozh, Antiochian, Greek and Amphipolis, none of the Readers wear cassocks-only stichas. Neither have I seen Readers in Greece wearing cassocks-only stichas, hence my question about whether it was a practice only in American Parishes. My priest did once suggest that all Readers should wear cassocks but nothing came of it. It seems then that it is purely local practice, Readers wearing cassocks.


Paul


Our parish in Canada is just like Fr David describes. Our reader most always wears his black cassock. But he only wears his stichar when he is going to read the Epistle. I have another 'blessed' hypodiakon who always wears his stichar only when he is going to receive the Eucharist.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#9 Olga

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 05:13 AM

My observation in Greek and Russian churches here in Australia is that tonsured readers wear a cassock, without sticharion, in both. What may vary is the colour of the cassock - black is used by the Greeks, and grey by the Russians.

#10 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 12:12 PM

The normal custom vis-a-vis cassocks varies between the Byzantine and Russian traditions.

In general terms, and largely common to both traditions, the inner cassock (in Russian the подрясник) is to be worn by all persons in tonsure - that is, by all those of the higher orders of the clergy (bishops, priests, deacons), all those of the lesser orders (subdeacons and readers), as well as by monastics, and often (though not always) by seminarians. It is fundamentally a sign both of the obedience of the tonsure (in the cases of all but seminarians), and of self-effacement. In proper terms, no person in any of these categories should be in the church without being attired properly in the подрясник.

Practices regarding the outer cassock, the ряса, vary by tradition:

  • In the Russian tradition, it is the more formal outer garment of bishops, priests, deacons and monastics (of the rank of ryassophor, named specifically for the wearing of this garment, which is in origin monastic), worn over (not instead of) the cassock. The ряса is not normally worn by subdeacons or readers, and never by seminarians. In normal Russian practice, one receives a blessing to wear the ряса either on ordination to the diaconate, or when advancing in the monastic life.
  • In the Byzantine tradition, the same general practice often applies; however, it is common for readers to wear this outer garment when reading in church (usually without the cassock beneath, unique to Byzantine practice) - and in some cases others also will wear the ryassa in the same manner (choir directors, etc).

The formal practice vis-a-vis the stikhar in relation to the cassock, for readers and subdeacons alike, is that the cassock is always to be worn in church, while the stikhar is to be worn only when serving (i.e. when reading the Apostle, when serving at the altar, or performing some other liturgical function), after having it blessed by the priest (i.e. one must have a blessing to put on the stikhar, each time, where the cassock is a 'usual garment'). In some locales it is also the tradition that the reader vests in the stickhar when receiving the holy communion; but this is less frequently used these days.

The stikhar, when worn by reader, subdeacon or deacon, is worn over the top of the cassock. The ряса is never worn under a vestment (the only exception being the epitrachilion of a priest, or the epitrachilion and and phelonion together, as in the 'half-vesture' at vespers); so if one wears the ryassa (i.e. if one is a deacon or monastic) it is removed, and the stikhar worn over the cassock alone.

Variations.

The above is the traditional practice of the two broad traditions, but the actual usage of the cassock, as also the stikhar, for readers and subdeacons varies widely from place to place. Often the variations have more to do with local social traditions than with variations in foundational liturgical practice (e.g. the wearing of the cassock by readers and subdeacons is usual in most Antiochian, OCA and ROCOR parishes in the USA, as is the wearing of the ryassa by readers in the Greek Archdiocese in the USA; while in the Russian MP churches in England it has long been much rarer - but this likely has far more to do with an inherent anti-clerical background to the English mindset than it does a specific liturgical interpretation).

In actual practice, most parishes of the Russian tradition do clothe their readers in cassocks when in church, though in many places this is not seen as a strict rule, and as such it would not be inappropriate if a tonsured reader were to appear in church without one (though parishes of a more strict background would view it as quite inappropriate for a reader not to be dressed properly in the church). In my experience, fewer parishes observe the practice of vesting the reader in the stikhar when reading the Apostle in normal Liturgies, and this has become instead a practice used mostly for great feasts and other ceremonial services -- though I have been to parishes when readers always wore the stikhar when reading. It is extremely rare, in my experience, for readers to vest in the stikhar solely for the reception of communion.

All that being said, there are still many variations, and there are some parishes where readers and subdeacons never wear a cassock at any time, even when vested in the stikhar for service in the altar. But in liturgical terms, a reader not wearing a cassock in church is an aberration, in many places stemming from deeper social issues (e.g. a fear of clericalism), or from a misinterpretation of the relationship of the garment to clerical status (e.g. thinking that only 'real clergy' and not lay persons are to wear the cassock; an oddity in itself, given that the deacon is still a lay person by many liturgical definitions, yet is required to wear the cassock! But in any case, this is not the background to the garment).

Given all the variations, one must observe local practice as set out by one's bishop. Given that the cassock is fundamentally a garment of obedience, it would be deeply hypocritical to wear it in defiance of the local practice as blessed by one's ruling hierarch.

INXC, Matthew

#11 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 12:51 PM

For those interesting in seeing the distinctions, some photographs are attached. The first is of two cassocks: one in the Russian style (left) and one in the Greek (right). The second photo is of a ryasson. The third is of a reader vested in cassock and stikhar, reading the Apostle. The fourth is of the stikhar with crossed orarion, as worn by a subdeacon.

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