Why do Ministers and Priests wear Black?
What do I Brother Michael wear?
I wear black out of respect, but I do not always wear a white collar, I seldom do in public because it irritates my neck. From a little boy on up I never could stand closing that top button on my shirts. In 4th grade my Mom gave up and started buying zip up shirts. The only thing is zip shirts do not hold the white collar all too well. If I am doing a service I wear a black shirt with a white collar or a tie and a black suit.
Around the rectory or around town, I wear black zipper shirts without a collar and the ULC insignia on my shirt pocket as I have these specially made. For slacks I always wear black - Russell or some other brand, polyester black jogging pants. Very, very seldom do I wear anything that is not black.
I remember something Edward Cardinal Egan said to me as a young man and it has stuck with me ever since, his personal thoughts on the subject were that black describes death. It always made him think of Christ dying on the cross, than the white collar signifying his resurrection three days later.
Canon Law States: Clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical garb according to the norms issued by the conference of bishops and according to legitimate local customs - Canon 284.
Complimentary Legislation thereto as stated by the USCCB: In liturgical rites, clerics shall wear the vesture prescribed in the proper liturgical books. Outside liturgical functions, a black suit and Roman collar are the usual attire for ministers or priests. The use of the cassock is at the discretion of the cleric. In the case of religious clerics, the determinations of their proper institutes or societies are to be observed with regard to wearing the religious habit.
The color black symbolizes first of all death, a dying to the world, which is part of what a minister or priest takes on himself when he is ordained. Furthermore, black symbolizes the authority a minister or priest has by virtue of his ordination and incardination.
The black represents a minister or priest dying to self as well as simplicity/poverty. Every time he puts on his clerics, he should remember that he does not belong to himself, but his bride, the Church. It also symbolizes simplicity and giving up the comforts, honors, and privileges of the world.
The white Roman collar you see ministers or priests wearing symbolizes obedience to God and the Church. This comes from the tradition of a slave having a ring put around their necks and priests choose to give their lives to Christ as his "slaves". It also represents the marriage "ring" of being we to the Church. The white also symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.
The Universal Life Church World Headquarters is "Clothing Optional." ministers and priests with the Universal Life Church World Headquarters are free to wear whatever they want, if anything. It is their discretion.