A conversation:

Bob: Father, did you wear your black clerical gear to that family wedding on the weekend.

Fr. Dwight: No

Bob: What! Why not?

Fr. Dwight: I didn’t want to scare the horses.

Bob: V. funny. Okay, so most of the family are Protestants of various stripes. You were worried about offending them?

Fr. Dwight: Sort of. The other thing is that many of the people there were either Baptists or not Christian at all. Here in the South, wearing the black draws attention to you. I mean, it wasn’t my day, it was the bride and groom’s day. There’s the bride all dressed in her beautiful white gown and yours truly sweeps in an black robes. It’s kind of a killer. It’s too much like showing off.

Bob: I think you’re vain.

Fr. Dwight: Explain.

Bob: It’s a kind of backwards vanity. You don’t wear your black because you’re worried that you will make too much of an impact, and you’re worried what people will think. That’s vain. You’re like the teenage girl who says to grandpa, “But Gramps, I couldn’t possibly wear that dress…what will people think.” Gramps replies, “Darling, if you knew what little time other people spend thinking about you, you wouldn’t be so worried.” I don’t think those people would have taken as much notice of you as you think.

Fr. Dwight: Ouch.

Bob: Sorry.

Fr.Dwight: It’s okay. Tough criticism is the best. Who learns anything from flattery?

Bob: There’s more.

Fr.Dwight: Why am I not surprised?

Bob: If you had worn your black, you might have made some impact with the people who did notice. They would have respected you for your commitment and your guts for wearing your uniform with courage. What if you were a soldier. Would you wear your dress uniform to the wedding and do so with pride?

Fr. Dwight: Funny you should say that. In fact there was a young Marine there who did wear his dress uniform. It was pretty impressive.

Bob: Bingo! And how do you feel when you see a monk or friar or sister out and about in their habit? You feel great right? You feel proud to be Catholic right? You are glad they are doing their job. They’re not showing off or being proud. In fact, they are just doing their duty, and flying the flag. You should wear your clerical gear like that. Just do it. It helps people. It helps me. I like seeing you wear the clericals, in fact, the more the better.

Fr. Dwight: I wear my clerical shirt and black trousers every day. Do you think I should wear my cassock and Benedictine scapular too?

Bob: Go for it, and carry that big stick like in your photograph on the blog too.

Fr. Dwight: That’s a special stick. Do you know where I got that stick?

Bob: Tell me.

Fr.Dwight: It’s another story. Another time.