Saturday, May 22, 2010

DO WE NEED A STRICT DRESS CODE AT MASS?


The picture above is from this morning's Macon Telegraph concerning public school graduations. This is the caption under the photo:
Campus police officer Warren Bruce stops McKenzie Brown from entering the Macon Coliseum on Friday evening for the Rutland High School graduation ceremonies. Bruce said his attire — shorts, sweatshirt with writing on it and sandals — were all against the rules clearly stated on the sign he just passed. Brown was with Tonya Pipkin, the mother of the friend he was hoping to see get a diploma. Pipkin, left, was disappointed. “Another young man had shorts, so his mother wrapped a blanket around him and they let him in,” she said. “This is ridiculous.


Last night I attended Mt. De Sales graduation. It was beautifully done. While many who attended did so in formal dress, suit, tie, etc, many others were quite casually dressed. Why have we lost a sense of decorum for public events that in the past everyone knew what was expected? For example I am quite shocked at the manner in which people dress now for funerals. The attire of the young man in the photo above captures it too.

In fact, the attire of the young man in the photo above is formal dress compared to what I have seen in Catholic Churches, including Macon. Dare you say anything, you'll get the comment posted on the Macon Telegraph's story, "ridiculous!" What to do; oh, what to do?"

12 comments:

Pater Ignotus said...

My sister once had a pastor, a monsignor no less, who refused to give communion to any woman wearing 1) pants or 2) a dress that showed her knees.

When making "rules" about what constitutes proper dress in church, be careful not to impose unnecessary requirements. Be careful, also, not to try to impose some personal preferences, such as my sister encountered, that are disrespectful to the adults in the congregation.

Seeker said...

I agree Father. But if we say nothing, perpetrators take it as far as they can. So we must stand for the decency of the event and respect of the people attending. As with profanity in the media, it gets worst and worst because people just accept it as freedom of speech or progressive and new or "its a sign of the times" and "it's not that bad". How far can we go? Who can be the most outrageous? These are the questions progressives take to heart. They don't care about the event. Just the statement "they" can make. The continuation of the "philosophy of me". If nothing is said, it desensitizes people who might not think only of themself. So I commend you when you talk of proper dress when we come to praise and worship our Lord or go to a Graduation, Recital, etc.. It is "ridiculous" and the person in the picture looks it. Keep professing what is right.

pinanv525 said...

I commented on this story on this morning's Macon News site as follows: "The way we dress is an outer reflection of an inner condition. It is an indication of how we view ourselves, other people, and the community. Today's dress indicates low self-esteem, poor self-image, a total disregard of social contexts, and a completely cynical view toward community. Men look like bums and women look like sluts. Most people consider formal dress to be a clean T-shirt and a new pair of Nikes. We have become a value-less, socially alienated, totally cynical culture." Or something to that effect...
I would add that it is part and parcel of an egalitarian, post-modern, morally rudder-less society. I think we find ourselves in a similar position to Hosea...remember him? Hosea hated the Monarchy. He believed that the cultural syncretism and, if you will, "moral equivalence" resulting from a settled and domesticated Israel was destroying her relationship to God. He longed for Israel to be back in the Wilderness, her only guide JHWH, her only moral compass His Word. I would venture to say, recalling Hosea that, if America and the Holy Catholic Church have a future, it is "in the past," that is, in a return to some of the values and structures that we have "de-constructed" and "socialized" beyond recognition. That is why the Reform of the Reform and the new emphasis on the EF and the re-writing of the OF are so crucial, in my opinion. It is more than a matter of aesthetics and utility (Pater Ignotus). It is an outer reflection of an inner hope, an eschatological statement,if I may, that has far deeper repercussions than mere quaintness or a penchant for antiquity.

Templar said...

This is an issue I always wrestle with. In part these issues exist because the society norms have changed so much. At one time it wsa unheard of for people to where anything but a suit and tie to work. Now what I call "golf attire" is the norm for all but the highest level executives in multi-billion dollar companies. Likewise in school environments, students used to be expected to dress and now the code is pretty much anything goes as long as a few key areas of the body are covered and your T-Shirt doesn't have any profane words on it.

Given these lowered standards it is well neigh impossible to get even faithful Catholics to dress respectfully at Mass. I try not to be judgmental. There are plenty of folks who I am sure look at me or my family and make judgements based on how they're dressed. I always tell me kids to wear the best they have available. I suspect at some rural Church a migrant may come to Mass in dirty overalls and it be closer to the "best he has" than someone from Macon in a pair of Dockers and a Golf Shirt.

At the end of teh day I think the deeds and words of teh Faithful are more inportant than their packaging, but at all times the fiathful do need to bear in mine they are in the presence of God and do the best they possibly can. A better understanding of the Mass is the key to getting people to change how they dress. I hate to say it, but go to an SSPX Chapel and you'll see appropriate dress and conduct. Not because they are traditional, but because the SSPX for all it's faults, imparts a better Catechism on their parishes, and they have a better understanding of their Faith than your run of the mill Diocesean Parish.

St. Joseph is a VERY Orthodox, and VERY reverant Parish, with a fine Catechism Program. However, there is probably a laundry list of changes Father would make were he free to do so that would improve further on the orthodoxy of the Parish. Chapels in the SSPX do not labor under such restrictions because they are top to bottoom in lock step on what they believe (sometimes to tehir betterment, and sometimes to their detriment).

Mackja said...

How we present ourselves is important. How we dress and groom sends a message, if we have respect for ourselves, and those we are going to be with, (this does not mean high fashion, or expensive suits). If I am going to dinner with the Pope, I would dress properly. Why is it that we have lost a sense of respect and dignity not only for ourselves,but others around us. When ever this topic comes up some folks say it is what is in my heart that is important, not how I dress. I believe that it shows how you truly see things. When you go out on that first date, we make sure we are groomed well, our cloths are pressed and look nice. We would not go to a 5 star restaurant in short and a t-shirt. If I am going to be in the presence of the Lord, should I not accord him the same if not better honor? What is in the heart should be reflected outwordly as well. When we go to Mass we should dress as well as possible according to what we can afford. To me when I see shorts, t-shirt and flip flops, I see someone who just did not want to make the effort, who thinks just showing up is good enough, while I am glad they show up, I just want them to show up like their on that first date!

Anonymous said...

This is so true..This past Christmas I attended The Messiah Symphony at Carnegie Hall in NY...I was shocked to see people in as casual dress could be for winter in NY. Upon removal of jackets (coats) I even saw t-shirts. What was once white tie, then black tie, has gone to an anything goes mentality. No one takes pride in how they dress anymore. This is quite evident here in the States when you visit overseas. Young people in Europe still have a sense of what to wear. Even modern dress, jeans and sporty shoes go with a blazer or even suit jacket amongst the youth. I think the end of the 70's was the end of proper, formal evening wear here in the States. No one gets dressed "to the 9's" anymore. No wonder it has filtered down to Mass. For too many, it is far too much trouble to wear anything different than they wear everyday or to a movie. If not Mass, and evening events to dress a little more formal, then when?

Henry said...

Let me try out, for sake of discussion, a contrarian viewpoint. Dress at Mass is heterogeneous because faith is. People dress as they believe. The decorum of their attire correlates with the reverence with which they worship. Thus, for instance, it is quite natural to see different dress at an EF Mass than at an OF Mass.

So, why should people be encouraged to dress in a manner that portrays them as they are not? Or for the particular occasion; for instance, I always wear coat and tie to an EF Mass, not always to an OF Mass, though admittedly I'm always too reverent to wear shorts to either form of Mass.

pinanv525 said...

Henry, Because Mass and worship are supposed to draw us beyond what and who we are now. Dressing better and behaving better at Mass are expressions of hope in that reality.

Henry said...

Re-reading my post above, I see it should be clarified with the proviso that I was talking about "Sunday best" dress for Sunday Mass.

Naturally, at the 6:30 am EF low Mass of Monday in the Octave of Pentecost at my local parish church this morning, I wore exactly the same shirt and trousers I would have worn if attending instead the 8 am OF Mass of Monday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time (ugh!). [The "ugh" refers to OT, not to OF.]

Marc said...

I wasn't there, but I think the Apostles wore sandals and tattered robes to the first Mass...

I'm not sure how this correlates to our modern day, but I think interior posture is more important than dress. I agree, however, that interior posture will largely determine what one chooses to wear to Mass.

I get frustrated when I see people in shorts and t-shirts at Sunday Mass, but, then again, I don't always wear a tie, so who am I to judge!

Anonymous said...

Rules are good and necessary, however I think the dress code problem can be solved at a deeper level, with a change of heart of people. If they REALLY understood why they go to Mass, and REALLY understood Who is present in the Eucharist, they would care more for the way they dress, out of reverence and respect, and bring out their "Sunday best". If the liturgy is surrounded by beauty (beautiful vestments, altar flowers, music) and a very reverent priest, then people will realize that something *greater* is going on, even if unconsciously. And then they will have a change of heart, and then they will want to dress for the occasion.

Henry said...

Marc: "I'm not sure how this correlates to our modern day, but I think interior posture is more important than dress."

I would not say that how the apostles acted or dressed is relevant to how we should. We are not apostles, and although it's ok to speak devotionally of the Last Supper as "the first Mass", the Mass is a re-presentation of the Sacrifice of the Cross rather than a reenactment of the Last Supper, at which Our Lord established the sacrament that perpetuates that Sacrifice.

But what several popes have condemned as "antiquarianism" -- saying we should do as the first Christians did -- denies the work of the Holy Spirit with us in the development of liturgy and theology over the centuries.