Wear your Sunday best!
Mindy wrote, “Fr. Greg- a favor- at some point, is there something you could say to our kids (especially with the onset of "strappy" dress season) about appropriate clothing for church. I'm tired of arguing the same point and could use some back-up!!!” Mindy wrote this before school let out for summer, and I didn’t get a chance to talk to the kids about appropriate dress for church. Hopefully, I will have a chance to talk to them about this in the upcoming schoolyear. IN the meantime, Mindy and other parents can read this post with their kids.
You can begin by reviewing my post from July 25 of last year. I address the issue of appropriate dress in general but also include some specific guidelines about Church attire: “Regarding the question someone asked about dress codes for attending Mass, my answer is, 'wear your Sunday best!' In the least, men should wear dress pants (not shorts), a dress shirt, and dress shoes; in the least, women should wear a dress that covers the shoulders or a blouse with skirt (past the knees), and dress shoes.”
It’s good to give kids the general reasons why we should get dressed up for Sunday Mass, even in the summertime. I would stress two things: 1) they are going to God’s House, and 2) they will be in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. These are the two main reasons why I try to never wear shorts in Church, even if I’m just going to pray. If you (or anyone) give your kids a sense of the sacred, they will respond. One look at the clothing of a Catholic congregation on a typical Sunday Mass, especially during the summer, begs the question: Have we lost the sense of the sacred??
Also, it might be good to get kids thinking about other times when they dress up, even during the summer. I’ve used the analogy before of having dinner with the President at the White House. Would we go in shorts because it was hot? You might ask them why they would get dressed up. They would probably say because it’s the President of the United States! And, you would respond, “well, when we go to Mass, we are having a meal with Jesus who is far more important than the President!” An older kid might say, ‘yeah, but the White House is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Mass is every Sunday’. With this you would agree but also add what St. Paul writes: “You must never grow weary of doing what is right, brothers” (2 Thess 3:13). It is always right to dress up for Mass.
Finally, some words from a priest and author, Rev. Thomas Morrow (who I quoted in my 7/25/06 post). The following comes from his leaflet, “Worship the Lord in Holy Attire”. If anyone is interested in purchasing this leaflet, please go to cfalive.org.
Does God really care what I wear to Mass? Well, He said He did. In the Scriptures we read: “Worship the Lord in holy attire” (1 Chr. 16:29, Ps's 29:2, 96:9). And, the Catholic Catechism teaches that our gestures and our clothing “ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest” in Holy Communion (para. 1387)…
Parents are sometimes reluctant to mention proper dress to their children, for fear of “turning them off.” But, rather than tiptoe around the subject, why not teach children what the Mass is, and how holy it is, and what God says about “holy attire”? Many young people are willing to do great things for God, if we only invite them, and tell them why.