Sunday, October 12, 2014


When you look at this picture which must have been taken in a Catholic Church after a Sunday Mass for some parish publication, what runs through your mind.

Let me take one thing off the table. This is a parish in a large city and the parish comprises 10 square blocks in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood in the 1940's. So there is a homogenous look to this parish. From appearances it isn't multi-cultural.

Apart from this, what strikes you about this photo compared to what we might see today if a similar photo was taken after a principle Sunday Mass?


Joseph Johnson said...

What runs through my mind?:

They all look very focused, attentive and reverent.

Even in the 2010's, we still have mens' suits (with ties) and womens' dresses (and hats) as a part of modern fashion--it's just that few still bother to wear (much less own, in many cases) this level of dress to Sunday Mass.

The church is jam-packed full.

People have their hands folded in a prayerful manner--they are not holding hands.

Pictures like this one are the reason that I often find myself thinking that some aspects of the past are better than the present.

John Nolan said...

The women are all wearing hats. Not a mantilla in sight. In the 1960s hat-wearing for both men and women became unfashionable, so women (my mother for instance) would have a mantilla folded in her handbag when she went to Mass.

Joseph Johnson said...

An additional observation:

The church must not have been very well heated as it appears that most everyone has on their outerwear (the man in front is wearing his topcoat and you can see the fur trim and large buttons on some of the ladies' outer coats).

Anonymous said...

"The church must not have been very well heated as it appears that most everyone has on their outerwear "

Well, maybe it's winter. My parish church is heated but in the winter I don't remove my coat during Mass and neither does anyone else that can see.

The first thing that strikes me is that the Church is full. Everyone is dressed nicely, but everyone dressed nicely at all times up until the cultural revolution hit big around 1966.

Anonymous said...

Where are the children???

Padre Ignotus said...

No, the style of dress has I think, nothing to do with "reference for holy mass."

It has everything to do with "proper" public attire in that day and time. My mother and three sisters, when shopping on Broughton Street in the 40's and 50's would be wearing hats, dresses, and gloves. It was not "reverence" that influenced their attire.

Look around for pix of people at baseball games from this time. You will see men and women "well dressed" with, again, suits, hats, dresses,etc.

Anonymous said...

Ditto, the church is packed all look very very reverant and no childish "hand holding" in sight. Funny it reminds me of the time when I was attending Holy Mass in the form of the TLM in the local diocesan mauseleum in San Diego, since we did not have a church of our own we were reuglated to this. No heat in winter and no a/c in summer so this photo is understandable. At one time Bishop Robert Brom of San Diego offered the TLM for us, he was not thrilled but he did it. At one point I heard his aide say to Bishop Brom, these "people" seem to be living in the 15th century right there and then I knew how much the Novus Ordonarians hated the TLM and us as well, which struck me as odd because at the time they had been brought up on the TLM including Bishop Brom. I myself was no "old fogey" I only knew of the Novus Ordo at the time, before God opened my eyes to the TRUE MASS OF ALL TIMES, I have never looked back!!!

Anonymous said...

The congregation looks to be about 90% women.

I guess your point is that they are all dressed in their Sunday best....?

Robert Kumpel said...

I too lived in San Diego at that time (that anonymous speaks of) and heard the rumor about Bishop Brom getting annoyed, but I heard it was at a Traditional CONFIRMATION and, afterward, he refused to permit them to do Traditional Confirmations at the mausoleum ever again.

I was not a "regular" at the Mausoleum, but would go occasionally and I couldn't get over two things: 1) How PACKED it was--Holy Cross Mausoleum is a BIG building and there were people standing in the various transepts at every Mass and many of those people would make two and three hour drives from as far away as northern Los Angeles.
2) How YOUNG the congregation was. This was no nostalgia act. The mausoleum was always full of young families and it was especially surprising to see a lot of college and post-college age young adults who would attend.

The people definitely dressed more nicely at these Masses, although it wasn't all suits and ties. Hats were seen, but mantillas were more often than not the preferred headwear for women.

To be fair, to Bishop Brom's credit, he FINALLY gave the community their own parish, a ghetto parish that was the poorest in San Diego, St. Anne's in Barrio Logan. It is now staffed by FSSP priests and is a vibrant, successful parish showing every sign of renewal.

It would be great to see a parish like that in the south. Obviously, with a smaller Catholic population, it would be harder and slower to draw people to this Mass, but in a moderate-sized city with lots of smaller towns within driving distance it might just work. Of course it also won't work unless it is treated as a fully embraced part of the Catholic Church and not some sort of appeasement for retro-minded weirdos. Ads in the Southern Cross would be a great help--but first we'd have to actually have such a regular Mass in place.

Anonymous said...

I too attended the TLM in San Diego in the local cemetary. We always were very hurt that of all the churches in the San Diego Diocese, not ONE would take us in to attend the TLM. I have since left the area but the good news is the F.S.S.P. has a wonderful and thriving parish of their own in San Diego called Saint Anne all Masses are in Latin according to the Missal of 1962 with a great music program of chant. Please visit this great church and pray for their young and holy priests from the F.S.S.P. Father Gismondi, Father Masutti and Father Eichman. As Father Z. always says this can be done, stop complaining about the Novus Ordo and get a TLM started in your parish, encourage your priest, you may be very suprised that he is willing to learn the TLM!!! Start by buying him a lovely Fiddleback chasuble and an altar missal.

rcg said...

Robert K., our parish in Dayton was literally a non-entity, no legal address in a drug infested neighborhood, when the FSSP was given the keys. We may not be elbow to elbow, as this photo shows, but this morning the priest and I were inspecting the new furnace and parking lot and he remarked that we were running out of space and we discussed the best steet parking for the parishioners.

Joseph Johnson said...

It is not reverence that causes me to wear a coat and tie when appearing as counsel in court--it is because court rules require it. These rules may have had their origins in what once was considered proper public dress but they still serve the purpose of re-enforcing an attitude of proper decorum and respect for authority in a courtroom setting.

I don't purposely put on coat and tie to go to Walmart, etc. (I may just happen to be wearing it because it is a working day or because I just got out of Sunday Mass.

However, I do believe (in my "internal forum") that I should show no less respect in my manner of dress to God at Mass than what I show to a human secular judge in a courtroom. In my childhood, I was raised to dress up for Sunday Mass. I know God may not care but I still believe that this is what I should do (for the aforestated reason). Along the same line of thinking: give me the option to kneel for Communion and I'll take that option every time.

Anonymous said...

"Where are the children???"

In a parish this size, all the school children were likely required to attend the designated "school Mass" on Sunday morning, seated by classes, etc. And younger pre-school children were not normally taken to Mass then. During the initial years of our marriage, my wife and I normally attended different Masses every Sunday and holy day, one always remaining at home with the babies. Mass attendance dominated by large families with young children is, in my experience, strictly a modern TLM phenomenon.

Anonymous said...

Father, perhaps just as appalling is how some "ministers of the cloth" (Protestant) dress when in the pulpit. The other night, flipping the channel up here in Atlanta (Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasting, or AIB), there was a minister giving a sermon with his t-shirt openly exposed under his collared shirt---like right down to his belt. And last year, the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Atlanta's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, wore a "hoodie" in the pulpit to protest the shooting of a black teenager in Missouri. PTL, at least the liturgical churches (Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican) keep customs when it comes to clerical dress at a worship service---even in a "low church" Episcopal parish, the officiant at Morning Prayer wears a cassock, surplice and stole.