Choir dress for deacons

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I used your blog’s search function to try to find an answer to this question and failed, so I apologize if you have already answered it in an earlier post.

I know that deacons should normally be vested in alb and stole (and, optionally but often preferably, dalmatic) at Mass and should carry out at least some of their liturgical roles. Sometimes, however, deacons attend a particular Mass in choir dress for whatever reason. Unless I am grievously mistaken, to attend in choir dress, deacons may wear either a surplice (always over a cassock) or an alb (cassock optional) as choir dress. 

When priests attend Mass in choir dress, I see that that they normally put on and wear a stole at certain times: for receiving and distributing Communion, for preaching the homily, and (at a priestly ordination) for exchanging the sign of peace with the newly ordained priest(s). There may also be other times that I have not noticed or had a chance to witness. 

When (if ever) does a deacon wear his stole during Mass if he is attending in choir dress?


A: Thanks for checking the search function on my blog. I use it a lot too.

The Ceremonial of Bishops says that priests who do not concelebrate wear choir dress if they are prelates or canons, but cassock and surplice if they are not (66). It also says that deacons wear a dalmatic over the alb and stole, but the dalmatic may be omitted out of necessity or for less solemnity (67).

Like you, I have witnessed priests in cassock and surplice putting on and taking off stoles at certain points of certain ceremonies. I have never found any rubric in any liturgical book to justify this. I also see no reference to choir dress for deacons. The CB presumes that they are at least wearing alb and stole.

My conclusion from CB 66 and 67 is that non-concelebrating priests are not to wear a stole, and that vested deacons are always to wear at least an alb and stole.

But I welcome comments from others who follow the blog if they can shed more light on this question.