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The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
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Our readers asked:

What is the symbolism behind the priest’s stole and is there any difference in a deacon’s stole?

Richard G. Malloy, SJ Answers:

The priest’s stole is worn around the neck, like a yoke. The deacon’s stole is slung across one shoulder and the opposite hip. The stole is a “sign” or “badge” of office. The liturgical vestments (alb, stoles, chasubles) indicate the positions of service to the community provided by bishops, priests and deacons.

Many cultural realities have something analogous to this. Various indicators of captains on sports teams are ubiquitous (e.g. the arm cuff worn by one player on each side during the World Cup).

Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University writes: “In the light of the Second Vatican Council’s call for an overall simplification of the rites and rubrics, this distinction in the way of donning the stole [between bishop and priest] was abolished. The present indication is that all bishops and priests wear it hanging down in front” There’s more at this link.

 
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The Author : Richard G. Malloy, SJ
Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D., is Vice President for University Ministries, the University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, and author of A Faith That Frees (Orbis Books).
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