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Much Ado About… A Dress Code? July 16, 2007

Posted by Maddog in Religion and Social Issues.

temple-driving.jpgWhy in the world did some people make such a big fuss about the guidelines issued by the Archdiocese of Manila for proper attire at Mass? Non-Catholic ecclesial communities and many secular organizations have dress codes too. Why can’t there be one for something as holy and important as the Mass?

The Mass is not a trivial or casual activity like shopping at the mall or hanging out at a coffee shop. It is supposed to be the highest formal worship event of the Catholic Church. It is where we re-enter into the sacrifice that Christ made on Calvary, and where we partake of his real Body and Blood.

Doesn’t that deserve a little more respect and solemnity from believers?

We wear special clothes to show respect for our hosts and peers on other occasions such as weddings, board meetings, and civic club inductions, don’t we? Most professionals also wear proper office attire when they go to work or meet clients. Judges, lawyers, and even the general public have to wear decent clothes in court too. Even politicians (many of whom may not even deserve to be in their respective positions) have to be properly dressed in Congress and at the Senate.

Why is the Mass — and its real host: God Himself — not to be given as much respect?

We can, of course, show our respect in various ways, the most important of which is our inner attitude of love and obedience to God. But since the Mass is a public gathering, we must give some attention to how we present ourselves to others who are there. This is because we are actually part of the environment in the Church during the Mass, and we can enhance or detract from the worship experience of others. Just think: how exactly do we contribute to the solemnity of the activity if our outward appearance is distracting or even downright salacious?

It’s simply a matter of being considerate to others, and the new guidelines help us to do just that.

Now I have heard some objections to the effect that the guidelines will make it difficult for the poor since they don’t have nice clothes. That, however, betrays the fact those who make such objections probably haven’t seen the guidelines at all, which is available as a poster (which you can download) to be displayed in public.

Take a look at the guidelines. It allow t-shirts, slacks, and jeans. There aren’t even any specifications on proper footwear! The poor can easily comply. And I seriously doubt if most of the parishes will turn away a man who is so poor that he doesn’t have a shirt on his back. Some might even give him a shirt!

Besides, I have noticed that many of those who wear improper attire are often the rich and well-to-do. I often see them attending mass wearing expensive, racy, expose-what-you-can outfits (which are probably better classified as lingerie). Should we expect the Church to just ignore this?

Something tells me that those who are trying to stir up some controversy over the issue are just looking for another excuse — no matter how flimsy — to attack the Catholic Church. And they would probably love to see the Holy Mass profaned in any way possible.

The malicious prejudice of these Church-haters knows no bounds, and they will stoop to the lowest means just to lash out at Christ’s Church. Fortunately, some people can see through their thinly-veiled hypocrisy and will point it out.

Poster of Proper Attire for Mass

(Click on the image above to view a larger version)



1. Manny - July 24, 2007

Another blogger, Kay Vardeleon, has some excellent comments on this issue. Her blog is at:


Here’s a quote from that blog:

For one, advocating modesty and ministering to souls are not mutually exclusive. And second, while it is true that we can pray to God in whatever attire we wear, the way we dispose ourselves before God speaks volumes of the reverence that we put in being in His presence.

. . .

More so, if our attire cause others to be distracted, or worse to sin, then it is our responsibility to adjust accordingly. As Saint Paul reminded us, we need to be careful that the exercise of our freedom does not become a stumbling block to those whose disposition is weaker. While we ourselves may be strong in our faith to the point that a little immodesty may not cause us to get distracted, our fellow Christians may not be as strong and need our guidance.


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