Scout Stole

The traditionalists among us might frown*, but I like this image from a Mass at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, courtesy of fellow KC-blogger Joe.

From my boyhood scouting days, I had but one friend who went to Philmont for two weeks of high adventure. He loved his experience.

I would’ve liked to go, but Scouting had somewhat faded in my late adolescent consciousness. I certainly enjoyed the local camping experiences and the hikes into bogs and swamps my friend Paul Brach would organize for the “science and nature” clique in our troop.

* Two reasons: the stole’s patches and the fact it’s worn on the outside


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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24 Responses to Scout Stole

  1. Gavin says:

    I’m pretty certain wearing a stole on the outside isn’t allowed or something. And the priest isn’t wearing a chausible either. Perhaps if he were to wear a chausible with the badges on it, that would be a bit better. I’ve actually seen some scoutmasters wearing a cloth resembling a chausible with badges on it. Not a bad suggestion, then (fair minded Catholics and not JUST trads) would have only the badges to complain about.

    And here’s the “big deal” (besides the fact Rome says not to) : this guy is not worthy to celebrate Mass. This is a basic Christian doctrine, no man is worthy to carry out the holy vocation of ministry. God gives them grace through the office to carry out the task, and the wearing of vestments to “hide” the sinner underneath symbolizes that. This man has the wrong vestments hiding his flaws, but they’re still doing the job. However, he’s added something ON TOP of the vestment to show off his own work. As if he’s capable of offering sacrifice to Almighty God just because he’s a Boy Scout! (And, in fairness, I’d say the same of priests who parade around in fiddleback chausibles and maniples as if that’s what makes the Mass valid)

    This is what bugs me so about (insert whatever adjective means they don’t just follow the rubrics: liberal, progressive, whatever) priests: he’s made himself into “Fr. Celebrity Troop Chaplain”, rather than a servant of God no better than the boys he serves. Heck, I don’t even mind a thologically liberal priest too much if he’s not going to parade around like the Mass is about him! Congrats to the priest for being a Scout, but that has nothing to do with the Mass and it wouldn’t kill him to keep it under a chausible for a half hour.

  2. Eric says:

    I am far from a traditionalist. But I have a problem with the badges. They are secular symbols. If one can wear scout badges on a stole, then what is to prevent Father from affixing American flags or some other such nonsense to it?

  3. Todd says:

    Gavin. I think he does have a chasuble on. If these images were from Sunday, the white vestment is appropriate.

    “This is what bugs me so about (insert whatever adjective means they don’t just follow the rubrics: liberal, progressive, whatever) priests …”

    You can insert other adjectives: conservative, orthodox, pragmatic, ugly, etc.; I don’t see the point.

  4. Gavin says:

    I don’t know the exact definition of a chausible, but I know the stole normally goes under it. I see sleeves and a hood on this garment, so I’m guessing it’s not a chausible. Rather, it looks like what my boss wears under his chausible. I don’t know the precise liturgical terms, but I think this would qualify as an “alb and stole”.

    Todd, when I grew up I was taught that priests as people are no better than anyone in the pews. This is in contrast to the preconcilliar notion that priests are “untouchable” and ought to behave in a snooty manner. I recall one trad I overhead saying about a priest, “he treated me like I wasn’t even there, it was so HOLY of him!” So the purpose of vestments isn’t to clothe the priest as a show-off, but to hide the simple sinful man with the office the Church bestowed upon him, that of priest. It covers up the priest’s imperfections, his personality, his works, and allows the office to function through him.

    By wearing something with such identifiers as the scout badges, this priest puts something he’s done above the office. I don’t think this priest is a bad guy or an egomaniac, I just think he’s not aware of the ramifications of wearing the badges. But still, the effect negates the purpose of the vestments.

    The same thing applys outside of clothing: priests who make the Mass about them. Again I remember being at a progressive (or whatever adjective you prefer) parish where the priest was always adjusting the rubrics to his whims. People holding hands around the altar; replacing the Sanctus with “Into the Fire” after 9/11; not to mention his continued drive to have the altar relocated to the middle of the procession aisle so that he could be “closer to the people”. When he visits a parish, he does the same nonsense; often he’ll embarass the whole parish during the introductory rites by making people all move closer together. It’s clear by how this particular priest handles himself that he’s not there to say Mass, he’s there to be the “man of the hour” and to let everyone know how friendly/feminist/”accepting” he is. I would never comapre the priest in the picture to this infidel (as in unfaithful individual), but it is a subtler manifestation of the ego-driven drive to make the Mass about the priest, not about the Action.

  5. dominicanmusings says:

    Seeing as how I took the photos I can tell you definitively that he was not wearing a chasuble. Only an alb and a stole.

  6. dominicanmusings says:

    And it was taken at a weekday Mass

  7. Anne says:

    Hey at least the stole is green (weekday ordinary time)! I personally don’t see a problem with this at a special event mass. It seems to be outdoors as well and not in a church…gotta problem with that anyone? I’m sure God was pleased that these scouts took the time out of their day of fun to praise and worship. I wouldn’t care, in this kind of atmosphere, if the priest wore camping clothes. It doesn’t make anything less of the prayer or the Eucharist.

  8. aplman says:

    Take a minute to follow the link for other pictures of this liturgy: a beautiful crucifix and evidence that the Rosary is promoted in this scout environment – not too mention servers in beautiful albs and cinctures – at camp! All around, I’d say this looks like a very careful and reverent celebration of the Eucharist – and this on a weekday. The badges on the stole? Not my cup of tea generally but my guess is it’s a way of showing that different troops and associations are one in Christ. I certainly don’t see this as rendering the priest unworthy of celebrating the Eucharist! Who knows how warm it was where this Mass was celebrated? I’ve been in situations when I’ve gone the alb-and-stole route because of the heat. I also wear many over-the chasuble-stoles with plain chasubles. Have never understood why this becomes such an issue.

  9. sacerdos says:

    Nobody has mentioned the fact that he is also wearing an emblem (probably somehow tied to Philmont – as Mic O Say is tied to the camps at Geiger and H. Roe Bartle) as part of his vesture for Mass. I do have a problem with the stole, and it is not a personal problem, but one of disregard for what is expected of priests when offering the Sacrifice of the Mass – first, Sunday or not, the chasuble is ordinarily required vesture for the celebration of Mass, therefore, he is not fully vested (one could argue that it is hot out there, so maybe he should have brought his lightest weight “fiddleback”) and 2: the patches have no place. Military chaplains DO NOT wear service ribbons and medals on their vestments at Mass – they wear them on their military uniform. If Father was wearing the badges in the context of his scout uniform, I would not begrudge him that – but the badges do not belong on the stole!

    I have never met this priest, and so I would not presume to comment upon his character or the state of his soul, but I think I can reasonably ask that he observe the expectations laid out for us by the Church.

    To those who say that I am nitpicking, I would only remind you that nits are lice eggs – and most parents would rather pick the nits from their children’s hair than allow them to hatch and deal with live lice!

    God bless the boy scouts for reminding their scouts of the imprtance of the Mass!

  10. telcontar says:

    My traditional side is outraged at the lack of chausble and the badges, my former scout side is outraged at the Girl Scout green and badge sash. (don’t believe me? try this:

    Boy scout uniforms have a proper place for their badges (oh yeah, two council patches and troop numbers???). An adult wearing an Eagle badge??

    sorry, it had to be said.


  11. Eric says:

    Regarding symbols on vestments, from the GIRM:

    “344. It is fitting that the beauty and nobility of each vestment derive not from abundance of overly lavish ornamentation, but rather from the material that is used and from the design. Ornamentation on vestments should, moreover, consist of figures, that is, of images or symbols, that evoke sacred use, avoiding thereby anything unbecoming.”

    Not trying to beat this thing to death, but just thought this would be helpful to the discussion. Hey, if you can put Boy Scout badges on the stole, could you put football team logos on it if you’re having a tailgate Mass?

    Regarding omitting the chasuble, I seem to reacll having read somewhere (apparently not in the GIRM), that it could be omitted in certain extreme cases, such as humidity outdoors. I have frequently seen priests use only an alb and stole in situations such as outdoors, on retreat or on pilgrimage. As an example, when we went to celebrate Eucharist in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, we packed albs and stoles, bread, wine, water, cup and plate, candles and even a table, as the room is just an empty space. We already felt like pack animals without also bringing a chasuble!

    So while I would say the chasuble is required in normal circumstances, an outdoor camping Mass would seem a legitimate circumstance to omit it.

  12. Anne says:

    The stole is often worn over the chasuble as an embelishment. It’s not “required” to wear it underneath.
    Also, I have seen priests wear stoles with many different designs. A priest I know has a couple designed by the poor in Bolivia which were given to him when he left his assignment there. The designs symbolize their lives in their town.
    I believe that the only requirement is to have a small cross embroidered in the center. Other tasteful designs are optional. I don’t have a problem with badges on this stole to promote scouting. In this case it’s tasteful and reverent.

  13. Liam says:

    Actually, section 337 of the GIRM requires that the chasuble be worn over the stole unless otherwise indicated, which is a reference to provisions like section 209 whereby concelebrants are permitted to vest without chasuble (but with stole over alb) in certain circumstances. So, the stole may not be licitly used as an embellishment over the chasuble. If it’s not important enough to follow, it’s at least not as important to disregard this provision; it cuts both ways…

  14. Anne:

    The rubrics I know about call for the stole to be under the chasuble. What source do you refer to that says otherwise?


    I think the priest should have shown the stole around to everyone outside of Mass — perhaps worn it for some other prayer — but not worn it in celebrating Mass.

    I agree with several others; it’s not about the merits of the scouts (a great organization, and I am delighted the priest was able to be with them), but simply, where do you draw the line?

  15. Anne says:

    GIRM#337 does not say it’s “required”.

  16. Liam says:


    “The vestment proper to the priest celebrant at Mass and other sacred actions directly connected with Mass is, unless otherwise indicated, the chasuble, worn over the alb and stole.”

    That leaves no permission for the stole to be worn over the chasuble, nor is there any licit custom to override this provision. The “otherwise indicated” clause is intended to cover provisions such as section 209, as I explained before.

    I would love to know what canonical opinion you have that indicates the stole may be licitly worn over the chasuble in liturgy.

    If a provision of law is considered too small to be worried about following, it’s too small to confect excuses for ignoring it. The more one tries to confect those excuses, the more one elevates the importance of following the stated norm. That’s a rather Roman way of looking at it.

  17. dominicanmusings says:

    i’ll let the experts discuss the components of the rubrics, but i can also shed more light into what you see in the photos:

    the two altar servers wearing beautiful albs and cinctures happen to be seminarians stationed as chaplains here at Philmont

    the use of Fr. Gerard’s cross is not tied to Philmont like the claws of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say…i believe that is his own personal Jerusalem Cross that he’s wearing on the outside of his alb

    a number of the priests do wear stoles similar to that out here, but I can tell you that some of the priests wear an undecorated stole with chasuble

    while I’m not a fan of the decorated stole that he is wearing because of reasons that many others have discussed, i can tell you as a Scout that wearing all the different patches such as the council strips, unit numbers, and an Eagle Badge are perfectly acceptable to wear as “temporary badges” on any blanket, jacket, or backpack…i happen to wear them on my own Scout jacket as a way of showing the different councils that I have lived in as well as having earned my Eagle Scout rank

  18. Eric says:

    Anne said: “I don’t have a problem with badges on this stole to promote scouting.”

    Precisely why they are inappropriate. The function of liturgical vestments is not to “promote” anything. Nothing against the scouts — I also am annoyed by stoles with Knights of Columbus logos on them. Just because the KofC does some good things does not confer liturgical status upon their emblem.

  19. Liam says:

    Perhaps we can call them “flair” not stoles? Don’t get me started with “bling”….

  20. dominicanmusings says:

    Ohhhh….I like the idea of flair :)
    And Eric, I agree with you that the function of liturgical vestments is not to promote anything, regardless of how noble the cause. The only thing that should be promoted is the Divine Presence

  21. Anne says:

    I agree that the rules and rubrics should be followed most of the time. Sometimes I just want to say “Relax!!” Sometimes pastoral sensitivity and “Catholic Sensibility” (!) are more important. Donna Cole of RPI says “Though we are bound by law, the liturgy itself transends the law, for it is the active experience of love that by the art of ritual action unifies the human and divine by engaging the paschal mystery, exceeding the limits of time and human senses as it challenges the community of believers to encounter and embrace the holy.”

  22. Liam says:

    Donna Cole’s statement is a confected excuse and should be ignored; it has no weight whatsoever.

    “Relax”, by contrast, I can respect. I even agree.

    But that other statement or a statement that the GIRM doesn’t require the chasuble to be worn over the stole are statements unworthy of attention. It’s statements like those that invite legalism and make it more pervasive. This is the problem progressives who try to find legal loopholes or loose readings of rubrics create for themselves.

  23. Anne:

    I agree with Liam, he makes his points rather well.

    To them, I would add that the issue is not, aren’t there times when the rules can be adjusted or dispensed — because of course there are, almost everyone but the most rigid rubricist would agree — but rather, when and why and how?

    For example: if the priest was celebrating Mass in a desert, over 100 degree heat, then maybe that’s a time to leave off the chasuble; or if he get’s overheated during Mass, he takes it off. Last Christmas, I proclaimed the Gospel sitting in the chair because I was so weak from some stomach bug. A couple of years ago, my former pastor had an abbreviated Mass because of a power outage in the area about 10 minutes prior, and it was getting dark.

    So I think the argument that rules need to be flexible, while true, is a red herring; no one has asserted otherwise.

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