In the Catholic Church, the clerical collar is worn by all ranks of clergy, thus: bishops, priests, and deacons, and often by seminarians who have been admitted to candidacy for the priesthood. Of what significance is the Clerical Collar to Roman Catholic Clergy?
WHAT IS A CLERICAL COLLAR?
The “Clerical collar,” a white band that goes around the neck of a Bishop, Priest, Deacon (and in some circumstances Seminarians) and it remains one of the most distinctive elements of clerical vesture. It speaks more loudly than any words and clearly identifies clergy members in a crowd of any size.
BRIEF ORIGIN OF THE CLERICAL COLLAR
It wasn’t until the 12th and 13th centuries that priests adopted the Roman cassock as a distinctive piece of clothing that visually separated them from the laity. A few centuries later the cassock was regulated to be the color black and it was during this time period that the white collar came into existence.
However, Pope Urban VIII in 1624 further regulated the use of the collar and proclaimed that any ornamentation or lace was forbidden, this was because different variations of the Collar were springing up.
As the years progressed different variations of the Roman collar were developed, and Protestants developed their own traditions to distance themselves from the Church.
WHY DO CATHOLIC CLERGY WEAR THE CLERICAL COLLAR?
Spiritually it has become representative of a Clergy's consecration to God and his role as someone set apart for service to God. It is also a symbol of their “slavery” to God, showing the world who is their true Master.
The Clerical collar is a sign of priestly consecration to the Lord. As a wedding ring distinguishes husband and wife and symbolizes the union they enjoy, so the Roman collar identifies bishops and priests (and often deacons and seminarians) and manifests their proximity to the Divine Master by virtue of their free consent to the ordained ministry to which they have been (or may be) called.
Furthermore, A Clergy in a Clerical collar is a walking vocation message. The sight of a cheerful, happy priest confidently walking down the street can be a magnet drawing young men to consider the possibility that God is calling them to the priesthood. God does the calling; the priest is simply a visible sign God will use to draw men unto himself.
The collar remains a distinctive sign of the Catholic Clergy's availability and the permanent nature of Holy Orders. The Ordained Clergy “is not his own” and is a visible sign of Jesus Christ, present in the midst of everyday life, ready to reconcile sinners and bring souls back to God.
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