From the Rector, Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 7/25/2021
Does it matter what you wear to Mass?
(Adapted from an article by Cecilia Pigg at Aleteia)
When you wake up in the morning, how do you decide what to wear? Most of us take into account what’s happening that day, who will be there, and what the goal of the day is. Whether it’s for work at the office, a date, a wedding, a hike, or staying at home, we dress accordingly. So, when it comes to Sunday Mass, we should dress accordingly. If Mass matters, then what we wear matters. But what does that look like? If you haven’t thought about it in a while, here are a few guidelines to help you choose what to wear to Mass.
1) Dress for the occasion
Before deciding what to wear at Mass, think about the event. What’s happening? Mass is about worshiping God. It’s important enough that Catholics are required to go every week. A miracle happens at every Mass wherein our God comes to us in the Eucharist. So, it makes sense to dress up for Mass more than you would for say, a sporting event or a day of errands.
As far as practicalities go, it can be helpful to look at the rules for entering churches in Rome. In Rome, you can’t enter a Catholic church if you are wearing shorts or tank tops. The basic rule is that your knees and shoulders must be covered, and you must wear shoes rather than flip-flops. Following those rules is a decent way to respect the church space where ever Mass is held.
2) Take cultural norms into account
If you are tempted to wear an evening gown or tuxedo to Sunday Mass (I mean, you are meeting the king of kings after all), remember to consider the norms of the current time and place where you live. Your “Sunday Best” usually doesn’t mean cocktail attire. And if you are struggling to decide what is appropriate, that’s probably a good thing — that means that Mass is important enough for you to think about dressing appropriately.
3) Be respectful
On the one hand, it doesn’t matter if you look terrible or amazing — Mass will go on. But on the other hand, be wary of investing too much effort into how you look at Mass. Don’t wear something to purposefully draw attention to yourself. We are not there to be noticed by others, but to draw near to the Lord. Be respectful of the other people attending Mass, and dress for what you’re doing: praising God.