Michael and I just had a conversation about this last Sunday: the fact that, over the years, people have begun to dress much, much more casually for church than they used to.
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As a little girl, we always “dressed up” for mass, especially on holidays. My grandmother and mother made sure that we all had new Christmas and Easter dresses to wear to masses on those days. Those dresses made those special days of the year just a little more special and memorable. (One creamy yellow Easter dress with white lace and a “poufy” skirt still stands out in my mind!)
Michael always wears dress pants, dress shoes, and a polo or dress shirt to mass, and we both try to steer clear of jeans. I try to throw on some jewelry, makeup and maybe a spray of perfume. We are somewhat in the minority at our parish, especially at the 5:30pm Lifeteen mass we usually attend.
Most people, especially teens and children, wear jeans and t-shirts, flip flops, and generally pretty casual attire to mass. I definitely don’t think that dressing casually for church is necessarily a bad thing; it’s that I think “dressing up” for church is a wonderful thing.
I feel like “dressing up” for mass is a part of keeping Sunday the holy day that God intended it to be. It makes mass–or church if you are not Catholic–a more formally-recognized and special event of the day and week.
After all, does a priest celebrate any mass in jeans and a t-shirt? Heaven and earth come together during every single mass in the Eucharist, and perhaps dressing a little too casually shows that we don’t always remember that we’re participating in something that is a privilege and a special gift from God.
I wasn’t a child all that long ago–I remember the chaos of getting ready a family ready for church on Sunday morning. And I do agree that, sometimes, being at mass at all could be considered an accomplishment in itself for a family with children! In the end, however, Michael and I both agree that we want to always try our best to dress ourselves and our family nicely for mass as a special way to honor God, teach our children to love and respect their faith and their religion, and “to keep holy the Sabbath day.”