well-suited for church

God doesn’t care what you wear to church, as long as you’re there. Discuss!

When I was growing up, wearing your Sunday best to church was taken for granted. Today, in my part of the world, we are becoming more and more casual in our dress. There is little change between what we wear to work, a social evening out, or sitting on the couch watching TV. I’ve attended weddings where the only suits in sight are worn by the groom, his grooms-men, and perhaps the fathers of the couple.

Sunday morning is no exception to the ‘casual every-day’ mentality. Is it an issue worth worrying over? On the one hand, I say no. When the pews are half empty, nagging those present about their choice of garments is absurd. I’ve been to Sunday masses in a resort town where a stern announcement is made before mass stating that beach-wear is not allowed in church. A quick, uncomfortable glance around shows a few young people wearing cargo shorts and flip-flops. Please don’t make them feel uncomfortable. The fact that they are present on a warm and sunny Sunday morning is a reason to rejoice.

On the other hand, the externals of dress reflect the internals of feeling and thought. A special effort in the way we present ourselves reflects our acknowledgment of the specialness of the occasion. It is a simple sign of respect. There is no need for over-the-top dress codes. But, we’ve sunk so low on the formality scale that it wouldn’t take much to move up a wee notch. We shouldn’t be fashion snobs, but we don’t need to be slobs.

One last thought…visit any of our local restaurants for a post-church Sunday brunch and you will see many of our Protestant friends in their Sunday finest.

5 thoughts on “well-suited for church

  1. A rule of thumb that I use for how to dress for church is: how would I dress if I was invited to someone’s house for dinner? This is the criterion I use for Sunday Mass. I have to admit I rarely do the shirt, tie, and sport coat. Suites are only for weddings and funerals. However, my wife does not agree with this dress code!
    A spiritual director told me when I was a young man: “clothes don’t make the man, but try to get anywhere without them”.

  2. His wife here! I agree that what really matters is the desire to go no matter what the attire. However I also believe that what you wear does say something about how you feel about where you are. Dress clothes as we used to call them, clothes worn only for Sunday mass or special occasions aren’t necessary its true but I do think that when I wear something different than my normal jeans or hanging around sweat suit, it subconsciously says this time is different and worthy of acting differently. This is especially true when we are Eucharistic ministers and I feel like we need to set an example….. a bit of a point of disagreement between husband and wife. Does God really care what I have on, probably not but when I put on something more than everyday clothes, I feel like I am saying I care to honor God

  3. In terms of dress and appearance, what you see is not always what you get.

    “The children were having a fun day at the beach: riding the waves, building sandcastles, playing Frisbee with McDermott, the family canine. In the distance an old woman appeared. Her tangle of gray hair fluttered in the wind; her clothes hung on her like a bundle of tattered rags; her constant, indecipherable muttering buzzed above the sound of the surf as she bent down every now and then to pick up God-knows-what from the sand and then stuff whatever-it-is into her shopping bag. As the old woman approached, the parents instinctively moved toward their children, quietly instructing them to stay away from the strange woman on the beach. As she passed by, the old woman smiled at the family — but the smile was not returned.
    After they left the beach, the father asked some of the local folks about the “spooky” old lady who had intruded on their day.
    “Oh, that’s Gracie,” he was told. “She’s a kind old soul who spent her entire life as a nursery school teacher. She retired here at the beach a few years ago and her appearance isn’t what it used to be. Gracie’s concern has always been for the little children. Every morning and afternoon she walks the beach picking up bits of glass and sharp stones and shells so the little ones won’t cut their feet.” (Story told by Fr. Terry Weik, SM at the Marianist Family Retreat Center in Cape May Point, NJ.)

  4. Ray and Joanne, your discussion on the topic so echoes one that my husband and I had with some friends. The husband, like Ray, was adamant that clothes did not matter. Period! While I agree with this philosophy (and Ray`s story reflects this truth so well), I also agree with Joanne that your choice of dress can show respect – or a lack of. In fact, the issue of Eucharistic ministers came up in our conversation, also. As always, it`s all about finding a balance. Is this a safe enough response? 😉

    P.S. For us Prairie Canadians, what you wear to church is only an issue for about four months of the year. The rest of the year we are all bundled in parkas…the great fashion equalizer! 🙂

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