Isn’t it Shocking, How People Dress for Mass?

Isn’t it Shocking, How People Dress for Mass? June 22, 2015

The Spanish fan. Signed HaynesWilliams/Public Domain
The Spanish fan. Signed HaynesWilliams/Public Domain

It’s a subject we can’t get enough of. Deacon Greg’s piece on the issue, from several years ago, always gets resurrected in summer, like a case of hay-fever.

As that’s true, it’s not surprising that I’m still getting email and social media reaction to last week’s response to Bishop Tobin’s self-admitted ‘rant’ about the “hirsute flabmeisters” who populate Mass along with their children.

Amid the commentary, someone put a blogpiece before my eyes that I thought really was the definitive discussion on the matter of clothes and comportment and Holy Mass:

So, here are five things I’ve thought of that you could say to “those people.” “Those people” being the ones who wear things you find inappropriate for mass:

“Good morning!”
Also acceptable would be “Good evening” or “Good afternoon.” Pro-tip! You can switch out the greeting depending on the time of day.
“Thanks for joining us for worship today.”
Because sometimes we read that one verse in the Bible about how we’re all one body. And, I happen to feel it’s a good thing when we get together to worship. A necessary thing, even. Community is essential to our faith experience. Gathering together is something excellent that we get to experience. All of us, broken and stupid and weak, gathering to pray.

I know what some people might be thinking.
“But it’s so disrespectful!”

I know. I know it is. It’s stupid-disrespectful.

Do you want to know what else is disrespsectful? Me. I show up late for mass more days than I show up on time. I bound into my pew, do a fast-paced Sign of the Cross, close my eyes and positively beg God for His grace, day after day.

Do you want to know what else is disrespectful? Me. I love going to mass. I really do. I try to go every day. And yet, my mind wanders. I daydream through the Eucharistic Prayer sometimes. I hear the first snatch of the Gospel and my mind goes, “Oh, I’ve heard this already, why don’t I think about all of the other things I need to do today?” My Catholic-game is so far from being desirable.

I can’t do it justice, here; it’s too good for excerpting, (and the gifs are too valuable a part of it to ignore!). Just go read it, and remember it the next time you want to grouse about these issues of dress-and-comportment, which do annoy all of us at one time or another.

On a related note, I’m once again thinking about veiling and wondering if we didn’t make a mistake when we stopped requiring head-coverings. I have a love-hate relationship with covering, as I have documented here and here, but I think I’m about to take it up again, and try. When you put on a veil, it’s forces you to see how incongruous the rest of your clothing can be. A veil just doesn’t go with knee-knockers and tee shirt, you know? Perhaps if we took up covering again, the rest would follow!

Merchant source
Merchant source
For people like me, who think they might like to cover but are uncomfortable with being so conspicuous, I’ve found a wonderful head-cover, from a Jewish supply house, that includes a comb, and fits the head very nicely. Check it out, #DOL9

Recall, my priests were like, why are you doing that?.

I admit,I am conflicted:
On one level, I honestly really DON’T much care what people wear to Mass — I have enough trouble with my own sense of what I’m wearing each week, and my flipflipping between headcovering, not cover, skirts, long pants. Gah. I think a lot of ppl are conflicted; they don’t want to judge and are just happy that people are showing up at Mass at all (like me), but on the other hand they long for all of us to do a little better (like me).

I remember having the opportunity to attend services with an African American church community and people still wore their “Sunday best”. Whether that meant a polo shirt or a suit, whether it meant a skirt or dress (with a natty hat!), or just clean, modest clothing, everyone looked great. It was part of the whole package: the thought was, you dress for God, and for your neighbors, too, because when you do, you tell them you value what’s going on, and what you’re all doing together. We don’t seem to understand that. So yes, I’m conflicted.

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