“Controversy about this subject goes all the way back to 428 AD when Pope Celestine I took issue with the clergy of present-day France, who distinguished themselves in their attire. He argued that learning, purity, and good conduct should mark the clergy rather than vesture. That’s not a bad lesson to remember these days as some priests have returned to wearing the cassock, the traditional black robe of diocesan priests. Is it service they have in mind, or simply the need for attention?
Despite the warning of Celestine, the habit of clerical dress caught on and developed in two parallel tracks, one being the garb worn for everyday use and one reserved for liturgical and sacramental celebrations. The source for both, however, is the daily attire of bygone eras. As Germanic influences became more common in southern Europe, more and more Roman men adopted the legged garments of the northern tribes. Long tunics were shortened and turned into something we might call a coat or jacket. Though styles changed, some clergy retained older ways of dress for their daily use, such as the chasuble (a large cloak originally worn by men and women in ancient Greece and Rome) and the stole or pallium (a Roman symbol of civic authority).
These garments were eventually reserved for liturgical actions. In the Roman Catholic tradition, the stole and chasuble continue to appear in their varied liturgical colors. A more ornate stole, called a pallium and made of white lamb’s wool, is worn only by metropolitans, bishops overseeing large cities. Among these bishops, the pope, as bishop of Rome, holds greatest honor, and it is he who gives the pallium to the others.
Today’s “Roman collar” probably received its start as a shirt worn under a high-collared tunic or perhaps even as a scarf intended to prevent the tunic’s stiff collar from aggravating the neck. It’s an odd turn of history that something so usefully soft has become a rigid and sometimes irritating symbol adorning its wearer! It can be found as a simple plastic insert on a shirt. It is also a prominent part of the cassock.
Whatever the origin of today’s clerical garb, we could justifiably adapt the insight of Celestine to our own time: With or without the Roman collar or distinctive dress, clergy should be known primarily by the manner in which they welcome and serve others, rather than by what they wear.”
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP