Remember, when you made your first Holy Communion? Girls were dressed up in a nice dress, often white, and boys wore a suit or something very formal and neat. Why do you suppose that was? Was it because our parents wanted to take good photographs of the First Communion Mass? No, not entirely. Primarily, we dressed up because we wanted, on that special day, to show Jesus that we cared and that we loved Him, as we still do today.
Once I attended a wedding. The bride and groom were dressed up because weddings are formal occasions. We get dressed up out of respect for all in attendance, but most of all for God who sees all and is everywhere.
As a choir member who sings at Masses of Christian Burial frequently, I have yet to see people of the family of the deceased who come to church dressed inappropriately or irreverently.
So what happens in between? Why is it that Catholics come to Sunday Mass dressed as if they were going to the beach? In fact, one of our fraternity members mentioned that she visited a parish where there was a sign in the vestibule: "Do not wear bathing suits to church." That request implies that someone did! Or maybe more than one person. Same for wearing shorts. Some churches forbid shorts, others don't or they don't say. It is very bad to be dressed in short shorts, because you'll become a bad distraction to everyone else, and it shows carelessness of respect. It is irreverent and extremely distracting to see people enter our local parish, dressed in very short shorts, mini-dresses, very tight garments, shorts with holes, T-shirts or halter-tops, and the like. Does a loving God who gave us life and love deserve that amount of disrespect? No way!
Some people have the audacity to state, when confronted, that they and God have it all figured out... and He doesn't care. And, it is obvious that you do not care either. Just think about it a little, and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Nobody has God "all figured out." It is great that we believe we know Him, but humans tend to underestimate God and even place God in a box which they believe they control. That's very unhealthy thinking.
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (often referred to as Eucharistic Ministers, a misnomer, because only priests and deacons are Eucharistic Ministers), when they are engaged in this wonderful ministry, should have deep reverence for Jesus who comes to us under the simple form of the Sacred Bread and Wine, by wearing skirts (women) and suits (men) or whatever the appropriate dress code is for your home parish. Obviously, if you live in a country where sarong-like garments are used than those would be appropriate. If you're not sure, ask your parish priest.
Unfortunately, the rapid changes in culture (or maybe, lack thereof) have caused certain practices to develop where people (and this is from my senior citizen's viewpoint, perhaps) go to church wearing what they wear on the street. But if you worked for a large corporation where you came into contact with people, and in particular with customers, you would wear clothes appropriate for the work you are doing! If you don't, I'm sure your boss would have a thing or two to tell you, like shape up or ship out!
Have you ever gone to attend a young Mass - that is, a Mass given specifically for young people, aged 20 and younger. I have. I was in a monastery at the time, and there was a "Youth 2000" gathering about an hour and a half away, so we went to attend. I know that over the years I have given much criticism to youth in general. Maybe it was undeserved. Young people will be young people, and they act accordingly. I've not had the best of experiences with young people, perhaps because I wasn't interested, you see. I am being blunt to indicate that this closed attitude was my own fault, and I know deep down that I should try again. So we went to this gathering, and there were perhaps 800 young people there. A Monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament, had been placed on a platform high up in a large tent and the teens were sitting, many kneeling, on the floor (earth), and one could have heard a pin drop. They were ALL respectful and uncharacteristically quiet. I was amazed, and in awe! Talk about respectful! They knew and understood what had to be done!
Nobody was texting, talking on a celphone, and everyone was in rapt attention to the Blessed Sacrament. It was awesome! Even young kids were relatively still. Talking about cell phones, and all these other new gadgets, as an adult I still look on these with a certain amount of distrust, and for good reason. Some people yakkety-yakkity-yak on a continual basis while trying to steer a car which is running at 65 mph - give me a break, you are giving me a nervous breakdown just thinking about it. I've seen some very wide turns by people on the phone who almost lost control of the car. And, don't you love those people who fishtail on I-95? They go at breakneck speeds from one open spot to another, and thank God, many of them are ticketed by the police as they should be. But many get away with it. I just want to remind you speeders and reckless drivers that I do not wish you on my tail and even in front of me. Maybe you enjoy living dangerously, but I do not. So, please have a little bit more respect for other people.
God bless you, today and always!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
February 19, 2011