Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and sacramental theology and director of the Sacerdos Institute at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: I am a priest ordained before the post-conciliar liturgical reforms. At that time, we crossed the stole and secured it in place with the cincture under the chasuble. Also, in those days I don’t recall ever wearing a stole over an alb to preach or to officiate in any other circumstances. Rather, we wore the stole over a surplice. No cincture. We no longer cross the stole under the chasuble, and it is more often the case that we wear a stole with an alb rather than with a cassock and surplice for preaching and other functions. I see priests using a cincture and tying it over the uncrossed stole under the chasuble and also when wearing a stole and alb. In the latter case, in my opinion, it does not look good and it seems unnecessary. Is there a norm governing this? — J.L., Notre Dame, Indiana
A: The cincture is an article of liturgical attire for which evidence exists at least since the ninth century. Its use is primarily practical confining the loose, flowing alb, and preventing it from impeding the movements of the wearer. However, over time it acquired other liturgical meanings and was associated with the purity of the sacred minister.