"Would you dress like that to meet the Queen of England?"

“We have reached the point that just about anything goes. We keep making appeals to our people, but it doesn’t seem that anyone is paying much attention. … Some of the ladies, well, you just have to wonder if they looked in a mirror before coming to church.  I often ask people this question: ‘Would you dress like that if you were going to meet the queen of England?’ Of course, they always say, ‘No, of course not.’ Then I remind them that they are coming to Mass in order to meet someone more special than the queen. They are coming to meet their King.”

– Msgr. Joseph Funaro (who happens to be my pastor), on church attire, quoted here.

Read the original column.


  1. Perhaps they went to WYD. WYD Photos at

  2. The decline in decorum on the way people dress for church can’t be separated from the overall decline in the general culture. The 60’s gave birth to the hippie movement, the sexual revolution and the so called “youth rebellion”. There was a tremendous shift in the way people dressed and acted in public.

    Today we are seeing the logical conclusion of the Cultural Revolution, most of all in the glorification of sex and the widespread “pornificacion” of culture, where behavior and dress that was seen as disgraceful in the past is now celebrated. We saw that in the so called “Slut Walks” http://www.esarcasm.com/21870/slutwalk-2011-organizer-plans-one-million-slut-march/.

    Worse, we have parents encouraging their children to dress in such manners, especially girls and buying them or giving them the money to acquire clothing that would make prostitutes of a bygone era blush. And every year this poisoning of decorum targets younger children. Look at the type of dolls little girls play with now such as the “Bratz” dolls and the type of make-up sold to girls as young as five or six years old. Parents should put boundaries on this behavior, but unfortunately it is parents who are sometimes the worst offenders.

  3. Ah, yes, the Summer Conundrum! Do you appreciate the fact that people get to church and try to make them feel welcome? Or do you point out that their immodest attire is inappropriate for the house of God?

    In Rome, where there is a no-exceptions policy, women in sleeveless blouses are turned away at the door of the church. So are men (or women) in shorts or capris. A fine business has grown up, with vendors selling paper dresses to help uninformed tourists to cover up in order to see the beautiful basilicas.

    I got a big response to my column earlier this summer on the topic: http://kathyschiffer.com/dressing-for-liturgical-success.

  4. Richard Johnson says:

    I’m curious, Rudy. You mention the “slutwalks”, many of which are over the top in my opinion. However, the story that you linked to has this listed as the reason for them to have started.

    “It all started last January, when a Toronto police officer declared that, to avoid being raped, women should stop “dressing like sluts.””

    What I’d like to know, Rudy, is if you agree with the officer. When women dress like this are they sending a signal that they want to be raped? Are they to be considered in legal terms an “attractive nuisance” because of how they dress?

    Does the Bible and the Church have as much to say to women who dress this way as to the men who view these women as “sluts” and “easy”?

  5. My church looks like a school auditorium, actually, it was originally a gym at the Catholic school and they turned it into a church in order to save money. I’m sure you can just imagine how casual it looks. So can you blame parishioners for looking like they are going to watch a 6th grade basketball game on Sunday???

    I’m tired of the relentless criticism of how people dress for mass. Some people get it, some people don’t. Most parents won’t let their teens out of the house dressing like street walkers. But some do. There are also a lot of senior citizens that have totally given up all hope for looking nice and wear ill fitting khakis, sneakers and tee shirts to mass. But they get a free pass, not the teenage girls.

    But here’s the thing. The place does matter. The architecture matters. The music matters. The reverence matters. All this goes together. You can “save” money and build a church from a gym, but the gym thing is always there.

  6. Our parish recently set up a committee on areas of the liturgy in preparation for the coming changes in wording. We are looking at every area of worship including the music, the decorations/flowers, the eucharistic ministers, and just about everything else concerned with building a holy worship place for the mass. One group of young people from our youth group is taking on the issue of dress and they are publishing a booklet on how to dress and why. I think this is going to be very successful in changing the way the few (thank God) come to mass. It is interesting that they want to make sure at the same time it is proper, that it does not turn into a horse race on who has the best clothes. As part of the project, they have been doing a study on those now attending mass and presented this to the committee. It was surpising that about 50% of the women attending wear dresses and about 15% are now wearing head covering at mass. The men had about 40% who wear suits or sport coats. It was also interesting that those who dress the most appropriate, often recieved the Eucharist on the tongue. I agree with this article that those who appear to have the greatest belief in Christ in the Eucharist approach and handle themselves as if they were meeting Christ.

    Just a side note on the slut walk. The youth group has also started a program to try to make the women of the parish starting in our grade schools learn they have a responsibility to themselves to dress the right way. This also includes lessons in how boys should handle themselves as well in regard to girls/women. It came out of the program the school ran for the last three years on the virtues where each month they focused on and practiced a certain virtue. It is interesting to see the changes in the kids when they learn of the virtues and the 7 deadly sins. The kids loved it. It was often the parents who had some issues which is surprising. the pastor shut these down pretty quick reminding them that this was a private school and if they did not like the virtues being taught to live by, this catholic school might not be the best place to send their kids. since this program started a few years back, enrollment has increased each year and we have waiting lists for every grade.

  7. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    When my parish was built in the 1930s, they decided that the first priority should be a parish school. As a result, for the first 10 years of its existence, the school auditorium doubled as the parish church. There was no organ, just a piano. No stained glass windows, no pretty statues, no pews. Daily mass was celebrated there. Weddings and funerals were held there in what was plainly just an auditorium. Yet, pictures from the period plainly show men in jackets and ties and women in skirts and hats. To those who were there, it was a house of God, and they treated it as such.

    Architecture matters less than attitude.

    Dcn. G.

  8. Nice try Richard. No dice. God bless.

  9. Richard Johnson says:

    Thanks, Rudy. None needed. He does daily.

  10. Richard Johnson says:

    Greta, I think your parish’s idea sounds great, especially the part about encouraging both boys and girls to consider their actions. I completely agree with the notion that some young people (and some not-so-young people) dress in ways that are way too provocative, and I wonder exactly what their parents are thinking. But I also appreciate that your church is challenging boys and young men on their attitudes regarding women, and I wish nothing but success for you folks in your efforts to help the kids of your parish.

  11. When I go to church, I’m going to visit my Father. I’m not there to impress people with my wardrobe, I’m not there to see the newest styles, I’m not there to look at what others are wearing. I’m there to spend time with my Father. Sometimes I wear my “Sunday best”, other times I wear jeans or shorts. I know that, regardless of how I’m dressed, my Father is glad to see me again.

  12. “In like manner, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment;” Timothy 2:9

    “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

    “Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.” CCC 2521

  13. Richard Johnson says:

    Forgive me, Rudy, but I am not familiar with the third passage you quote. Is it by any chance from the Koran?

  14. I am a little concerned with the confusion of two separate topics, namely modesty and appropriateness. If the Queen of England were throwing a dress ball, I certainly might meet her in an off-the-shoulder ball gown showing plenty of cleavage. Obviously much less modest than jeans and a t-shirt. And if I were going to the Queen’s barn to muck out her horse stalls, I’d add wellies to those t-shirt & jeans.

    Some of what is going on here is that Catholics don’t just go to Mass on Sundays, and we still go to Mass even when it’s not particularly convenient. When I take my Girl Scout troop camping, we leave directly after Saturday 4:30 mass, drive the 1.5 hours to the Council camp, and immediately light a fire and start cooking supper, knowing that it’s going to get complicated as soon as the sun goes down. So, yes, we are dressed modestly, our clothes are clean, and we are wearing sensible shoes, but, no, we are not dressed particularly formally.

  15. You are being disingenuous as you were before. But if you did not already know, it is from Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official doctrinal compendium of Catholic beliefs promulgated by John Paul II in 1992 and whose editorial director was then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. (Mirabili fictione!).

  16. Rudy:
    For the record, Cardinal Ratzinger was the Chairman of the Commission of the Catechism. The editorial director of the CCC was Cardinal Schönborn, now Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna. In other words, it was Cardinal Schönborn who did all the work.

    I remember seeing an interview with him in which he said that the Trinity runs like a thread throughout the Catechism. Had he not pointed that out to me, I would never have seen it. But, as I read the different parts of the Catechism, I see how the Trinity is found in every part and ties the whole document together elegantly.

    Paragraph 234 states it best:
    “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the ‘hierarchy of the truths of faith’.”

  17. Dcn Greg,

    You do have a valid point. Back in the 30s people dressed better than they do now. Maybe it helped if you had less clothing options, or less cotton cheaply manufactured oversees, or if sneakers weren’t invented and the girdle was replaced with spanx. Comfort does come with a price.

    But perhaps we are all missing the point, maybe the believers are the ones that are still at mass. Maybe the poorly dressed senior citizens, the over weight moms and dads and the slutty teenage girls and the boys in basketball shorts are the ones who get it. Maybe the rest of the world doesn’t, dressed for a king or not.

  18. This rather reminds me of a comment of Father Edouard Jeauneau, Canon of Chartes and Professor at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies at the University of Toronto. “Why is it,” he asked, “that people upon hearing the first notes of ‘God Save the Queen’ jump to their feet but keep their rears firmly on there chair for the ‘Salve Regina’? If they can stand for that lady in London, surely they can stand for the Queen of Heaven!”

  19. thank you for blogging about this. i am of another christian faith and when i attend mass with my mother, i am saddened at the fact congregants are so disrespectful in their manner of dress. i think you so eloquently put it in how would you dress for the queen. this is the lords house and if you cannot give of a small amount of your time to him, in respect of him, then you’re probably missing the entire message. thank you again!

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