Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dressing For Mass

This morning one of the home-schooled children made his First Holy Communion today.  He occupied the front pew and some of his relatives were present.  I sat about half-way back.  I could hear a man behind me commenting and expressing amazement at "all the coats and ties" he saw.  Of course, he had on one of those polo shirts with button undone.  I was struck with the irony of it all.  45 years ago, "all the coats and ties" would have been the norm and that man's manner of dress would have been the anomaly.

How far have we been dumbed down?  Quite a bit.  Let me preempt some "dont' judge by appearances" objections by pointing out this little factoid.  Dress is not appearance.  Dress is behavior.  One chooses their wardrobe based upon their beliefs, attitudes, and core character.  As such, it is fair game for comment and even criticism.  If one truly believes that they are attending Holy Mass, the Unbloody Sacrifice of Our Lord and that they will receive Him in the Eucharist, why does their dress belie their beliefs (apart from poor catechesis received)?  May I suggest some improvements?
  1. For both men and women  No jeans (including denim dresses), shorts, sneakers, sandals, bare shoulders, bare midriffs, tee shirts.  Clothing in good repair, nothing torn.  Nothing too tight or baggy.
  2. Gentlemen (of all ages)  Jacket and tie at all times - and keep them on.  That presupposes, of course, dress shirts, dress slacks and dress shoes.
  3. Ladies  No slacks.  Skirt and dress hems no higher than the knee.  Nothing sleeveless.  Nothing "see-thru" (unless there is at least one more layer).  No bare legs in summer; wear hose (NOT fishnets).  Close-toed shoes.
Again, 45 years ago, in a more civilized age, this would have been considered the norm.  Why not now?  There are times when "casual" is simply inappropriate; the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is one such time.  Of course there will be exceptions for illness, injury, inclement weather or other extenuating circumstance, but these will be precisely that - exceptions, not the norm.

Parents, that means that you should not allow your daughters to go to Mass dressed like hookers - nor should you allow your sons to go dressed like they just broke out of jail.  You might find that if you insist on proper dress, that their attitudes will change - provided, of course that you yourselves follow suit.

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