Fr. Longenecker argues in favor of pomp and ceremony here, and I have a story to go with.
My husband is a cantor at our parish. To improve his skill, he’s been training with the choir at a neighboring parish. My eldest daughter turns out and sings with them as well. Since they have a fantabulous music program, we’ll call the other parish St. Cecilia’s.
So St. C’s goes to make a parish directory. One of those books with the photographs of everyone you see at Mass but never know who they are. So the spouse and a smattering of children turn out to get their photo taken, because people will reasonably want to know who that tall guy in the choir is.
The other thing you need to know: My daughter is beautiful, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her mother.
So spouse and daughter get dressed up for the photo appointment, but put a phone call in to the music director: Is he going to be around? If they could, they’d like to get their photo done in their choir robes, since that’s the whole point of this exercise.
No problem, he’s one of those nice guys every parish ought to have twenty of — he turns out with the keys to the choir robe safe. Except, my daughter. See: Beautiful, and also not so bad in the fashion department. “Darling, it’s your photo, and if you insist on wearing that choir robe that’s your business, but why you’d want to do that I do not know.”
Why would she want to do that? Why would a lovely girl with a great sense of style want to be remembered as a face bobbing above a sea of white and purple polyester?
Because it’s not about her. It’s about the office. She’s in the choir, and this photo is about her being a member of the choir.
When you are confident of yourself, everything doesn’t have to be about you. It doesn’t have to be about, “What is most flattering to me? What is most impressive to others?” It can be about turning up and playing the role you’ve been given to play.
When everyone does that, it makes good liturgy.
Artwork: Master of the Bonn Diptych (Own work (BurgererSF)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons