October 05, 2008

East of Eden

Sunday has lost its sense of being a special day, and I think the clothes went with it. People dress a lot more casually than they used to, but I'm just happy they're in church. --Father Joseph McLoone, of Chester, PA

Some of you probably saw that quote in the Philadelphia Inquirer in early September. You may have also seen it reprinted in the Pioneer Press this last week. It was part of a larger article about casual attire in churches on Sunday.

The quote saddened me on many levels.

It's sad that a priest sees the casualness towards Sunday in dress and, yes, even the way he refers to Sunday as "special" is sad.

Do we have to be happy that people just "show up"? How happy are you, say, if Uncle shows up for your kids big football game and sits there in non-participatory silence nursing his hang-over from the night before? Hey, at least he showed! Why is it acceptable for people to show up and be less than they can be?

Is "special" the same as "holy" or "hallowed". My birthday is "special" but is it hallowed? Thanksgiving dinner with the family is "special" but is it holy?

I know a lot of people who call themselves Catholic don't bother to read what the Catechism says about Sunday as a Holy Day of Obligation. No one should be surprised that Catholics must not be reading the Bible either. God not only rested on the Seventh Day, he also blessed it and hallowed it (Genesis 2:2-3).

I shouldn't pick on only Catholics since it seems that Protestants (who claim to read the Bible FAR more than Catholics do) have the same problem.

If you can even get the "faithful" to condescend to appear in a House of Worship at ALL on Sunday they frequently look like they stopped by on their way to ______ (beach, football game, baseball game, picnic, work, bed, gardening, party, roller derby)

I know I rant about attire at Mass a lot and here I go again.

A frequent excuse of the slovenliness or near-nakedness of many believers attire before the Lord is: I'm on my way to or from _______ and I did not have time to change clothes. I have no problem with the occasional inability to dress appropriately before Mass because you are coming from work or an emergency occurred. But, honestly, how often does that happen? Does Sunday just creep up on everyone in complete astonishment? Are there millions of people who fail to realize that Sunday follows Saturday? Day follows night? December 25th is Christmas (Christ Mass)? December 8th is the Immaculate Conception?

There is NO excuse for near-naked and immodest attire at any time. Midriff-baring, spaghetti strap, short-shortin' mammas I'm talking to you. Mesh wife-beater t-shirt, holey cut-off, flip-floppin' man I'm talkin' to you.

Maybe so. Do the same folks also forget who's playing football on Any Given Sunday? Do they forget to wear their Vikings jerseys on days they play the Pack? I bet they don't. Do they forget to wear their wedding dress at a wedding? What if Father forgot to put his vestments on before Mass (the whole thing having snuck up on him unawares doncha know) and celebrated in his robe and 'jammies?

Do people dress poorly for job interviews like they do for Mass? Maybe that's the reason unemployment is so high? Who wants to hire people who look like they don't care enough about getting the job not to give the interview the best personal presentation they can? Does Christ want people in heaven who look like they don't care enough to wear their best in spite of the fact the only thing stopping them from doing so is their laziness and the age-old excuse "Everyone else is doing it"

Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden until they ate of the Tree. Adam being the first follower to cave into societal pressure who ever lived. "Eve is eating that fruit and she handed it to me so I ate it". Yeah, thanks Dad.

After our first Mother and Father ate of the Tree, they were ashamed of their nakedness and clothed themselves. We are the fruits of the knowledge of good and evil, yet we are not ashamed of our nakedness before God and each other. What happened?


Blogger ignorant redneck said...

I like your comments.

I would like to add that your comment on imodest dress being inappropriate at any time is important.

When we buy into the sexualization of our culture, by dressing to provoke attention, (whether we are male or female), we cannot be centering on the Lord. It's the two masters thing.

October 05, 2008 6:46 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Redneck: Excellent comment about how we cannot be centering on the Lord if we are trying to get human attention by our provocative attire.

October 05, 2008 7:02 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Oh but CATHY...
You left out the "God doesn't care what I wear why can't the Catholic church be more welcoming you are so superficial" argument! :D Why not just "come as you are"?

To which I reply: doesn't the Maker of heaven and earth and the body that you are dressing deserve your absolute best? What excuse can we offer for giving Him any less?

It is all tied in with the casual-izing of EVERYTHING in America, including worship. It has become too commonplace and Mass is no longer something out of the ordinary, something- as you said- holy. It's just an hour a week, after all.

October 05, 2008 8:05 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Oh please - don't even get me started on this subject. Last Sat. evening we were behind a family whose daughter (about14 or 15) had on shorts - not quite short-shorts but darn close.

She looked like she may have come from a soccer game but I wouldn't bet the farm on that. So Mom couldn't bring along some pants for her to put on over her shorts before church?

These same people would never go to a party or New Year's Eve shindig looking like they do when they come to church.

And if the kids don't think Sunday is special you can blame Mom and Dad for not making them dress up - not to mention having a special Sunday dinner - and on and on and on.

October 05, 2008 8:35 PM  
Blogger Amanda #1 said...

Chris, that's the argument Ryan (DH, for everyone else) always gives me. "God's just glad I'm here."

To which I say: your uncle probably wouldn't mind if you showed up to his wedding in jeans, but you wouldn't, would you? And why not? Out of respect. And don't you owe at least that much respect to the man who died for your sins?

Of course, as you said, there are exceptions. For instance, last weekend, my husband and I were in Mpls and went to church at St. Agnes. I honestly, truly forgot to pack nice clothes. We were up to see the Twins play....and I went to mass in jeans, a fleece pullover jacket, and tennis shoes (and a veil....I'm sure THAT was a sight! and how did I remember my veil, but not a dress!?). I did feel out of place and a bit uncomfortable, particularly in a Latin mass, but I still believe that, under the circumstances, God would rather I go to mass in jeans than not at all.

So certainly, there are exceptions, but you can't tell me that Mrs. Average Joe wearing jeans at church on Sunday is on vacation.

October 05, 2008 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You betcha! - now this is a new focus for your blog. Dogoneit!


October 05, 2008 10:34 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Chris, Adrienne and Amanda: Good points. I could rant at length about the casualness of society. Chris: I really like your tie-in to the casualness of worship. I agree.

Tina: Hi Terry!

October 06, 2008 7:06 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


I'm thrilled to see that you haven't forgotten how to rant. And I agree, totally with this rant. I wore shorts once. Never again. Shame-facedly, I admit that I occasionally wear clean jeans. But that's not good.

My Dad always wore a suit when I was growing up. And even a hat in the real olden days. Many pews still have those hat hanger clips.

My link to RDC almost expired for non-used. Glad to have it refreshed!

Don't leave us like that any more!

October 06, 2008 7:17 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ray: Life happens! My Dad and Grandpa's always wore suits and hats too and used those pew clips!

October 06, 2008 10:09 AM  
Blogger Bobby said...


It indeed is sad. I do not attend a ballgame without a tie - although I've worn in the past at winter ECHL road games my team's jacket over my dress shirt and tie. For home hockey games and other events, I'll wear a jacket and tie, and it's mandatory at church, at the game, at the opera, at the ballet, even at my voice teacher's recital. I even wore a light jacket and tie at Sprint All-Star Race XVI (DEJR won).

Heather Payne said she was concerned for me the one time I wore a garnet jacket and it was hot at a ballgame.

A friend told me her son wears tee-shirts and shorts to church -- this is standardfare for kids in church when they know the leaders dress in jeans and tee-shirts performing rock songs, and when church music is teenage girls dancing to pop tunes. There's no respect for proper dress anymore because their belief is anything goes. In one case I was the only one in our group to even wear a tie. Adults were wearing tee-shirts or their favourite team shirts (one team Van Earl Wright (The New American Gladiators) has disliked to the point he has made snide comments) are prevalent and they think it's perfectly legal. Their shirts are such dominant after my alma mater was demolished I collapsed like Magda Sorel, wanting to take my own life. (Of course, Magda was my voice teacher the time I saw it!)

I'll never forget at one church (this was after my former church folded, and I was searching) members (and leaders) wore Viagra tee-shirts -- not your glass of orange juice when you're suited up.

When I am at church the day after I run a marathon, I'm always in a suit and tie at church. In South Carolina, major running events are prohibited on Sundays in South Carolina by Blue Laws. Complaints by churches on course at the inaugural Cooper River Bridge Run in 1978 (10 AM on the first Sunday in April; Charleston has a Blue Law exemption because of the Jewish community but must close on Saturdays if they open on Sunday) led to the permanent move to Saturdays the next year (currently 8 AM on first Saturday in April; if said date is Holy Saturday, event moved up one week).

What does it say whe people think church should be dress any trashy way you can? Come on!

October 10, 2008 8:46 PM  
Blogger .The Cellarer said...

This is closely tied to the people leaving after communion issue. Our priest brings this up at regular intervals, asking us not to, outlining why and pointing out that if those reasons don't do it for you, at least think about the poor example you are setting our young people.

When this issue comes up I often hear (not from people in my parish, before I get into trouble!) Oh, priests shouldn't be telling people off for leaving early... at least they are there.


October 12, 2008 2:18 PM  

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