Q. What is the proper attire for Mass?
A. Excellent question. Thank you for asking it. I think this question, at one time or another, has been discussed in almost all families.
The short answer, in my opinion, should be nothing less than “dress casual.”
Consider the celebration of the Mass: nothing greater calls for us to offer our best—not only in our spiritual preparation but our physical appearance and comportment.
Fifty or 60 years ago, families usually wore their “Sunday best” to Mass. That included a suit and tie for men and a dress or nice pantsuit for women.
Sadly, that is not the case anymore. I do not know why that is. What is inappropriate for Mass—clothes like tank tops, t-shirts with crude words on them, cut-off blue jeans, or anything similar—is not in keeping with the dignity of the Mass. Our Lord deserves better than such clothing.
In raising this issue with people, I sometimes get the response, “Father, just be glad people are at Mass.” I sure am glad that people are at Mass, but should we accept the dumbing-down of dress or the casualness with which people approach Mass?
The celebration of the Eucharist is a supernatural miracle and an act of worship that has no counterpart in our lives. If we truly believe Jesus’ very Body and Blood become present on the altar, then we should dress for the occasion. If one accepts this as a starting point, then one could argue we dress for Mass according to the degree that we believe in the Eucharist.
We certainly would not wear grubby clothes to a wedding or a banquet. In fact, many invitations to such events dictate the manner of dress, that is, formal.
If you have a set of old, grubby clothes and a set of dress clothes hanging in your closet, it takes the same time to put either set on. Choose wisely.
This question was answered by a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln. Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd., Suite 10, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.