Thursday, March 02, 2006

What Are You Wearing?

Archbishop Wilton Gregory offers a refreshing and sane response to concerns expressed by his flock over what people wear to Church. I am struck by the fact, though, that he seems to presume that the offenders are mainly young people. My experience is that this is not restricted to any one age group. Nevertheless, I like what he has to say about and to young people:

The Church is a public institution and subject to social mores and customs. This means that people who live in the society at-large typically take public customs into the Church. When all is said and done, the issue of what constitutes proper attire in Church has changed over the years. This is especially challenging for parents of young people who must persuade their youngsters to attend Church, but who may themselves have real qualms about the appropriateness of the dress of their children. The styles of young people change with even greater rapidity than clothing styles for the general population. Parents want their children to be properly dressed for Church, but how do they also allow their children to feel comfortable, to feel connected to their peers, and not to develop an aversion to going to Church simply because it always involves a painful encounter over apparel.

As the pastor of this local Church, I must confess that I have never been offended or scandalized by any attire that I have seen our kids wear to Church. I am so happy to see them at Mass that I generally don’t even notice what they are wearing. When I see those bright faces, I am grateful that these young people are found within the warm embrace of the Church. Braces and flip-flops are welcome wherever I am celebrant.

Read the rest. Hat tip to Jim Cork.


Blogger Ma Beck said...

I have to disagree with the Abp.
I know he meant well by what he said, but I think he said it wrong.
This is going to sound a bit prudish, but let me begin by saying I wear jeans and shorts, I cuss like a sailor, I occasionally drink too much, and have a sordid past. I am far from perfect (much closer to the other end of the scale, I'm afraid.) and I am no prude.
However ----
The Church should not be subject to cultural norms, because the Church exists outside of time.
I don't want my kids to 'feel comfortable' at Mass, and I don't want to have to persuade my kids to attend Mass.
Children, and indeed adults, can be 'comfortable' for 24 hours a day 6 days a week, and for 23 hours a day on Sunday. By the way, I dress up every Sunday and I'm perfectly 'comfortable'. (I don't wear high lacey collars and corsets, so maybe that's why.) But I guarantee you my body, which is reserved for viewing by my husband, is covered.
Growing up, my mother didn't 'persuade' me to attend Mass. It was well-known that if you lived under her roof, you went to Mass. Period.
We attended Mass because it is there that we would receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Savior of the World.
I get irritated at people who constantly lower the bar in order to conform to society.
Braces are not quite the same as jeans that show your crotch, and shirts from which your chest appears to be trying to escape.
If we cannot be modest for Christ, for whom should we be modest?
If we cannot respect fellow parishioners enough to not show them our junk, who will respect us?
If we had an audience with the Pope, or the President, or the Ladies' Guild luncheon, I'm quite sure we'd dress up in our finest garb.
But every single day, we can have an 'audience' with Jesus Christ, and we have a problem with putting on a skirt and a collared shirt?
I agree with you, it's not the little kids I'm most offended by. It's my own peer group that needs instruction by Miss Manners.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Barb, sfo said...

I disagree also.
He obviously didn't attend Mass at my former parish where on the same day, two boys between the ages of 11 and 15 were wearing the following T-shirts:
1. "Hottie" (Yes, a BOY was wearing it)
2. "Wanna hear my special effects?"
The greater tragedy is that both of these boys are the sons of teachers in Catholic schools.
I am NOT making this story up.
It won't kill any child (or adult) to dress reasonably nicely and neatly for the period of time it takes to attend Mass. Not all clothing is appropriate for all occasions.

9:36 PM  

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