Sunday, July 29, 2012

On the Lighter Side: Attire at Mass

An informant email correspondent tells me that a certain parish in our diocese, which shall remain nameless at the moment, seems to have a less-than-orthodox view of proper dress for the faithful at Mass.

I’ve edited her comments just a bit, but here’s what she told me in response to my post on “Liturgical Embarrassment”:  

We have men in shorts and flip-flops presenting the Eucharist at all of our "too many to count Masses". God doesn't care what we wear, or that we're eating and drinking and texting during Mass; He just wants us to be happy…Oh, really? They must think He wears a red suit with a black belt and boots when He comes down from heaven on Christmas morning. Now you've done it, Jay, are you happy? My blood pressure in now up.
I grew up in Boston and we spent every summer on Cape Cod (my family still has four cottages there). Even though we spent every day in shorts and sandals, we always dressed for Church, or we weren't allowed in. If my mom can dress 7 kids with dresses gloves and hats with patent leather shoes (white for summer), the adults at [our parish] should be able to dress for the Altar. It's disgraceful.

When we ask individuals to show the same respect to God that they would show their bosses at work, we are told God doesn't care what we wear as long as we show up.
As far as dressing for Mass goes, we should hold a fund raiser for the worst, most inappropriate dress, Diocese-wide; [my parish] would win hands down and if everyone had to pay a dollar to enter the contest, we could pay off our note [on the new church].

The other day, I tapped the shoulder of the father of a teenage girl and asked him what he was thinking about the length[or lack thereof!] of his daughter’s skirt. He told me to ask her mother, bu I said, “No, I am asking you. You’re her father, and you are supposed to watch out for her where her mother fails.” Then I asked him to give the girl his jacket and cover her up, and he did. 

Once we had a lector bring her 10-12-year old daughter up to the Ambo to read (a task too great for this poor child; what do they teach in public school instead of reading?)…where was I…oh, she had on flip-flops and a sarong over a wet bathing suit. So please, Jay, don't tell me about your short shorts [I had mentioned the dress of a teenage girl at our Mass recently]; those were our good old days. Once, I was at Mass in [a neighboring parish] when the priest stopped the Communion procession and told the women to please wear underwear, that he was also a man. How awful.


My informa correspondent also had a few comments about the two churches in the parish. The old church is lovely, but was too small, I guess, for the growing congregation, so a new one was built at a hefty expense. She notes

We call the Downtown Church, the Traditional Church; it’s officially known as the Historic Church. We call the "new" church the Armadillo, because from the top it looks like one. [Hint: I've called it an Aztec handball court.]

The contingent that likes the traditional church has come forward with funds to restore some of the “renovated” aspects. My correspondent says:

Father has received some donations to fix up the traditional church, and it's looking pretty good. I love that church. We are looking for a Communion rail. The original one was cut up and neighbors to the church have placed the pieces they acquired on their front porches many years ago.

That makes me weep!

But the conclusion of our email conversation on the subject brought tears to my eyes for a different reason. I had responded to one message by simply writing, “ROFL!” Her quick response asked, “What does that mean?” and I explained, “Rolling On the Floor Laughing." I added, "And LOL means Laughing Out Loud.” Later, this note arrived in my inbox:

Thanks. I was told by my daughter that LOL means lots of love, so all this time I was wondering if you and I were having a moment. I can't tell you how glad I am that you cleared things up.


  1. Once I attended Holy Mass ..where the woman who was our cantor was dressed in a "little" Black dress and high heels .
    I was offended and upset and could not even believe that the our Priest did not say anything .
    I said something to the music director via voice mail and told him that if she ever cantored again and dressed like that I was going to address her personally !
    People need to put there BEST attire on for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
    Stop offending the good God , please

  2. Yes, I think we need to speak up! Sometimes people just don't know, I guess. So we can try to be gentle at first and see if the person is willing to hear the concern and see the point. It is best if the priest takes care of it, I think; he has the authority, after all.


Please be courteous and concise.