Saturday, 22 October 2011

What to wear at Mass or, rather, what not to wear

This is always a fine topic for lively debate and a full combox although, I am not airing it for that reason.

This dishes it out but, perhaps
the Vatican dress code policy
might be better.
Where did "ugly" come from?

The dress code for church is a matter that has gone by the board in most parishes today and, literally, anything goes.  I am not just talking about mantillas here, I am sure that good Catholic women have had enough of Catholic men telling them what to place on their heads, I am aiming this post at men in T shirts, women in skimpy dresses and children looking as if they have just strolled in after a romp in the garden.

Ashley E McGuire on Altcatholicah has a well balanced piece on the issue, let's face it, it should be no great deal, we should all by instinct look our best when we appear before Almighty God.
But, somehow, dress is such a sensitive issue. There is a certain priest of a certain order in London who bangs on about it ad nauseum. He is right to mention it but not so that by constant repetition, he drives people away from the Mass.

So please read Ashley McGuire's post (and take that hat off your head in church. Unless, of course, you are a woman).

APOLOGIES - I cannot give credit for the photo, lost the reference, but thanks to whichever blog it came from.


  1. Actually it's more than dress code, which has relaxed in tandem with the Mass morphing from sacrifice into banquet. It's really about catechesis.
    Without loading it entirely on to the priests, it should have been made clear as attire became more casual that there were boundaries to what is worn (or barely worn) in church.
    I've seen men walking unchallenged around Westminster Cathedral wearing their baseball caps and it's now de rigueur for brides to marry in their nighties.
    It seems to me that the casualisation of dress began at schools as far back as the 1960s with trendy I'm-your-mate teachers and which then passed through to kids. Now in any town or city on a warm day you see office workers dressed as though for the beach.
    Formal dress has largely gone out the window giving rise to a host of sartorial horrors. The thing is people genuinely believe they look good. See the posts on the Altcatholicah blog, frothing with high dudgeon.
    The dear nuns told we girls that we did not go to Mass to draw attention to ourselves and that has informed my own dress ever since.
    At my father's Requiem Mass the middle-aged male lay reader took to the lectern in tracksuit bottoms and trainers. It caused more than a little eye-popping among my family and friends, (mostly non-Catholic), at the insult to my father. How much more insulting to Christ.

  2. That's exactly right, and that's the only "rule" you need. If you dress like a Mennonite in a drab floor-length skirt, shapeless-on-purpose jacket and ostentatious mantilla, in most congregations you'll be drawing attention to yourself every bit as much as if you'd pitched up in leggings and a skimpy top.

  3. I've been thinking of this topic lately. I hate the trend of strapless wedding gowns too.

  4. I always ask people when they come to mass dressed

    "Would you wear this-and-that for an all-important meeting at the White House?"


    "Well then, don't you think the Son of God deserves the same, if not a greater respect."