Friday, August 04, 2006

Dress for Mass, Part 2

For part one, click here.

Casualness and Immodesty. While they seem like separated topics, in many ways they are actually connected. They even often go hand in hand.

A large factor of our modern society has been the rise of “casualism”. It is considered quite acceptable to show up for church, work, or dressy social events in clothing that is loungewear by nature, if not downright sloppy. And while perhaps some may be fond of the attached comfort they consider to go along with casual-wear, there is a downside. Have you ever noticed that, overall, the simple things in life have less meaning for us (as a whole) than they did 50 or 80 years ago? How much more it takes to satisfy us, to make us happy? Part of this is the attitude that “casualness” has helped to foster. These ideals are not isolated to a small compartment, but stretch to affect our whole personhood.

A far too “casual” attitude has been taken toward the Sacred – the sacredness of marriage, the sacredness of worship, the sacredness of life. We live in a culture of instant gratification, of focus on self, and of little respect. For example, many devout Catholics notice and grieve at the sad lack of respect and reverence for our Lord’s true presence in the Blessed Sacrament. If your Churches are as ours are here, then you’ve witnessed many Catholics completely fail to acknowledge the presence of their God (no genuflection, loud talking in Church, etc.).

A young lady in an email pointed out to me that she thinks of Mass as a place where she meets God as a Father, a Brother, and a Friend…and therefore she believes casual (yet modest) attire is appropriate. Yes, Mass is a place where we are meeting our God as Father, Brother, and Friend – but also as Lord. As king. As the infinite Creator of the Universe. And while we are quite free and appropriate walking into a room with our Dad or Brother and putting our feet up on the couch while visiting with him, I’m sure you would agree with me that this would be unacceptable in Church. The point I am making here is that while “casual” does not automatically mean “evil”, the attitude it fosters can be unhealthy in certain times and places. It can easily lead us to take supernatural gifts for granted. The preparation we make before going somewhere or doing something typically sets the level of awe or excitement or respect we have for that occasion – either consciously or subconsciously.

So yes, I believe we should always be dressed – interiorly and exteriorly – with neatness, care, and respect for Mass. This doesn’t mean that you have to be in a formal with nylons and an up-do, but that enough time and care should be taken to reflect in your dress and demeanor (as mentioned in Part 1) the sacredness of the sacrifice you are participating in. The Mass is not just an “ordinary” activity. It is the eternal sacrifice of Calvary continually offered to the Father – and we are privileged to be a part of it! We can ever have too much reverence for this amazing gift.

1 comment:

Malori said...

Yes, I long for the days when people dressed up to go out, to go "to town," and dressed even nicer for church! Our society is much too casual, in dress and other ways as well. Everyone knows that it is standard etiquette to dress up for a wedding, or an audience with royalty. Our dress is honoring the ones that are supposed to be honored. We should be even more careful, then, to dress appropriately when we approach the Highest King of them all, Jesus in the Holy Eucharist!