Modesty and Sunday Best
Crystalina Evert wrote a tweet. It was challenging women to not dress as if they’re going out to a club when they are going to mass. Modesty always makes people defensive for some reason. I was quite surprised by the comments and the replies. Most of them were geared towards “at least they are there”, or that we shouldn’t judge a person’s dress. They totally missed the point.
Do we actually believe in the Eucharist? If we did, would it not take us hours to prepare in order to be ready to enter the presence of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords? Why is it ok for us to come not at our best, but to give the Lord the dregs? Have you seen priests vest for the mass? If not ask to do so one day and see how each article of clothing has significance and importance. We too must vest when we come to mass, physically in our dress and spiritually as we prepare for worship.
If I can plan for a date, plan how to dress to impress and even if I will be rushing from work I can plan to look good, why can I not do that for mass? If I have sport before mass why not carry in my kit bag pair of slacks, a dress, something I can quickly change into before going to mass? Why do we give the excuse that well I was doing this and I was doing that so I did not have time to be ready for mass? It means that whatever else we were doing is way more important than mass by far. Because if the mass was important I would prepare for mass and align everything else around it not the other way around.
The excuse that it doesn’t matter what we are wearing at least we are there… has mass attendance become a Numbers Game? Does it not matter to be in the right right mood, to have the right preparation? Is attendance ‘no matter how badly done’ all that matters? Mass is communal prayer, not individual prayer, so it’s not about me but about the Body of Christ.
Modesty in dress and wearing our Sunday Best, it all still has a place. The Western and westernized world for some reason thinks that Come As You Are means Come as Badly as You Possibly Can. Not so! It is about realising our failings but still putting our best foot forward. If we dress up for work, for school, for the governor, for the queen, to impress, to fit the occasion, then why is mass an afterthought when it comes to this? Parents instruct their kids, “hey it’s cold outside wear a jersey, swimming in jeans won’t work, that suit is better for an interview”, and yet feel for some reason ill-equipped to do the same for mass. We need to do the right thing, not do what is popular. I can tell you now at an African mass if you cam in wearing butty riders one of the mhamhas will give you a wrapper to cover up. If when we visit Rome we make sure to cover up when entering the Cathedrals, then we can do the same for our home parish.
Dress well for mass to show that you have put thought into the event, the celebration the Eucharist, that you are going to be attending. Dress meaningfully in order to teach those around you how important the mass is. Suit the occasion, you are after all going to be meeting your Redeemer, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This should be the most important hour of your week. We can sacrifice our comfort clothes surely for an hour or two? It should not be how badly can I do something and it still be acceptable, it should be how well can I do it. The widow with two coins brought her best, we are called to do the same. It’s not about being archaic, it’s about showing our faith outwardly to the world, and about preparing ourselves inwardly for the Lord who saves us.