Over time, it is easy to forget or become complacent about things in our lives that once were of great importance and how we think about or are part of the parish community of faith is no exception. Our busyness, distractions and mood can all impact this. We will share some articles over the next few weeks to answer some questions and raise awareness about how we all can share in a very intentional way in our celebration of Mass and faith together. The first question is:
Sunday Best – “Does it Matter What You Wear to Mass?”
So, how does our own personal dress matter on Sundays? I would argue that it communicates in an external way our internal priorities.
The term “Sunday Best” used to be used often to describe the very best outfit you owned. Perhaps we have lost sight of the meaning of Sunday? Perhaps our priorities just need to be re-examined? We invite you to join us on taking a look at what our Sunday best can be when it comes to what we wear when we attend Mass.
Priorities on Display
Recently someone shared his experience of a mission trip returning from Haiti. Saying; “I was in a rural area of the country on a mission trip a few years ago. Many of the people that we met lived in very small dwellings. They were dwellings pieced together from refuse concrete and sheet metal. Most of the clothing that was worn every day was not of good quality.
There were two exceptions to the quality of clothing. First, for the children fortunate enough to go to grade school, the boys and girls dressed very well in school uniforms. It was clear that this was something worthwhile to the people we encountered. School was valued and this priority was as apparent to me as daylight.
The second thing that I noticed was the way that the people dressed for Sunday Mass. In the humid, Caribbean weather, where some people walked for miles to get to church, the people were dressed in their Sunday best. The men wore pants and nice shoes. The women were dressed up wearing dresses. I was shocked by the powerful non-verbal testimony of these beautiful people.
Perhaps because of their seemingly-abject material poverty, the spiritual wealth of these faithful Catholics shined out all the more.”
Sacrifice and Supper
What we wear to Sunday Mass matters. When we go to the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are entering into a sacred and transcendent reality. On Sunday, this occasion takes on a significantly special dimension.
First and most importantly, the Mass presents the one Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary in an unbloodied manner. Through the priesthood of Christ and the words of the ordained priest, we become present at the Last Supper and we are at the foot of the Cross. How you hold yourself, what you choose to wear, and how you participate all speak to whether you are acknowledging this reality or not.
Second, the Mass is a taste of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. The Mass has a nuptial character. Even when receiving our Blessed Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist, we use wedding language. We say, “Amen,” which means, “yes,” “so be it,” and “I believe,” but it also means, “I do.” The Bridegroom comes to His Bride, the Church. Every Mass is a wedding feast.
How would you dress for a wedding? How do you dress for Sunday Mass?
Heaven Kissing Earth
Taking part in the action of the Mystical Body of Christ, we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the meeting of Heaven and Earth. Now, think about how you dress for Sunday Mass. Have you dressed appropriately for kneeling at the foot of the Cross where our redemption was won and His saving Blood is offered for us? Have you dressed appropriately for the Lamb’s Supper, the great Wedding Feast where Heaven and Earth kiss?
Chances are you, or someone you know, could dress for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass more appropriately. We need to make a statement without opening our mouths. This is not to impress anyone, but to really put our priorities in the correct order.
Is Mass important or not? Is the Eucharist the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ… or not?
Stepping Up Our Sunday Wardrobe
When it comes to proper attire at Mass, the controversies never cease. We offer this writing as a guidepost of some Catholics’ opinion. Though, I think if you had to err on the side of caution, it is better to be more dressed up for the most amazing and incredible event on the planet, rather than too casual.
Think about this and pray about it. If our parish has a fairly casual feel on Sunday, perhaps you can be a trend-setter. Bringing more solemnity, joy, and decorum to the Sunday Mass is never a bad thing to do.
While the 21st century and our society is all about comfort and being casual, how we present ourselves at the most important place of worship in our week does deserve some consideration.
-Parish Leadership Team-