Dress for [Liturgical] Success


To visit the White House, you wear
a dark blue suit, white shirt, and red tie.

To visit Jesus in the Eucharist, you wear
cut-offs, a t-shirt and sandals.

To go for a job interview, you wear
Your best outfit, hair neatly styled.

To go to Sunday Mass, you wear
a Bud-Light t-shirt, jeans with a small hole in the knee,
and a comfy pair of Reeboks.

To meet your son’s math teacher, you wear
A tailored pair of slacks and a sweater.

To meet the Creator of the Universe
up close and personal, you wear
spaghetti straps and flip flops.


As warm weather approaches, the old “how to dress for church” debate rears its [dare I say: “ugly”?] head.

God loves us just as we are!

First, I realize that Jesus is glad to see you—however you come.

And I realize that some people may come directly from work, or head out directly to work, with no time to change from work clothes into “Sunday best.”

And it’s hot outside, and who feels like dressing up?

And sometimes the baby spits up on your shoulder just as you’re getting into the car; and you haven’t done the laundry; and you’ve gained five pounds and can’t fit into your blue sweater….

To all of God’s people who need to “come as you are” to Mass this weekend, I say: Come on in!

But couldn’t you try a little harder?

But to those of us who really could find the time to clean up a bit, I say: Couldn’t you pick it up a notch?

I mean, I know we live in a casual society, and you’re used to living in jeans. It may have become the norm at your parish to dress more casually. Criminy, shouldn’t we all just be happy you’re there and get over it?!

Well, sorta.

Jesus loves you. I love you.

So I’m pretty sure God isn’t going to throw you out because you look like you’re ready for the beach. And I—sitting behind you and distracted, as I am, by your skimpy sundress—won’t publicly belittle you for your wardrobe choices.

But could you at least think about just how special an event this is?

In maybe 45 minutes, up at that altar, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity is going to come down Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, and is going to unite Himself with all of us, with YOU personally.

If we really believed that, if we really acted as though we understood this, we’d be in ballgowns and tuxedos on our knees.

Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence.

–Matthew 22:8-12

"I'll follow you over Kathy. I was probably in more sympathy with your point of ..."

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow…. My ..."
"If you're at all interested in knowing . . . the Catholic Dogma . . ..."

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow…. My ..."
"Thank you, Mrs. Harris! Christmas blessings to you. I hope to see you over at ..."

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow…. My ..."

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • CatherineA

    I hear you, Mike, but I think immodesty and sloppiness are two sides of the same coin. They are both disrespectful at worst, and ignorant at best. I don’t think men (who are supposed to be the leaders of their households) should get less criticism because they are not exposing skin.

  • CatherineA

    I didn’t get that from it at all. The problem is that we used to have standards for church, and we don’t anymore. We have standards for so many other things, but not for this.

  • CatherineA

    You are correct, Joyce, but I don’t think the disrespect shown by men in wrinkled cargo shorts, Tommy Bahama t-shirts, and flip-flops is any less egregious than immodesty. Men are supposed to be the heads of their households, so at least in that respect I think they may be held more accountable, not less.

  • CatherineA

    Actually, I think if we knew Jesus would be present in His full, touch-able, visible, end-of-the-world glory, we WOULD wear ballgowns and tuxedos. We already do that for formal occasions honoring human beings like the Queen and the President.

  • CatherineA

    When people are introduced to the Queen or even the President at a formal occasion, they do indeed wear ballgowns and tuxedos. But who said anything about making Mass a fashion show? I didn’t get that from it at all. It’s just about having standards, and showing the same respect for Jesus that we show for a potential employer or a first date, etc.

  • CatherineA

    I think the story about the wedding garment can (and should) be taken on more than one level.

  • CatherineA

    You may be right about the self-esteem part, but I’m inclined to think that our problem is more too much self-esteem rather than too little. Most of the negative reaction to posts like this are, at their foundation, “It should be all about me and what I want.” And lack of humility, as in “How DARE you tell me how to dress!”