Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Though snubbed by Women's March, pro-life groups still participate
Mary Solitario, 21, center, a Catholic from Virginia, joins a pro-life demonstration outside the U.S. Supreme Court prior to the Women's March on Washington Jan. 21. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) WASHINGTON...

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'We will be protected by God,' Trump declares in inaugural address
U.S. President Donald Trump places his hand on the Bible as he takes the oath of office administered by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts Jan. 20. (CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters) WASHINGTON (CNS) -...

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Knights' annual Mass celebrates all human life
Written by Mary Chalupsky
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair stands with the Hunter family of Wallingford following the annual Pro-life Mass on Jan. 15 at St. Mary Church in New Haven.  Shown are dad Jacob, holding Jude; mom Sar...

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Archbishop Blair among faith leaders honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Written by Mary Chalupsky
Faith leaders, including Archbishop Leonard P. Blair and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza gather with Rabbi Herbert Brockman before an interfaith service at Congregation Mishkan Israel in Ha...

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McDonald's near Vatican to give free meals to the poor
A worker crosses the street with her bike outside the newly opened McDonald's near the Vatican Jan. 12. The McDonald's will collaborate with Italian aid organization, "Medicinia Solidale," and the pap...

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Magi's journey reflects our longing for God, pope says on Epiphany
Reenactors dressed as soldiers participate in the annual parade marking the feast of the Epiphany in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Jan. 6. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Magi h...

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 Though snubbed by Women's March, pro-life groups still participate
Though snubbed by Women's March, pro-life groups still participate
'We will be protected by God,' Trump declares in inaugural address
'We will be protected by God,' Trump declares in inaugural address
Knights' annual Mass celebrates all human life
Knights' annual Mass celebrates all human life
Archbishop Blair among faith leaders honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Archbishop Blair among faith leaders honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
McDonald's near Vatican to give free meals to the poor
McDonald's near Vatican to give free meals to the poor
Magi's journey reflects our longing for God, pope says on Epiphany
Magi's journey reflects our longing for God, pope says on Epiphany

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cram_halfImagine arriving at the big game of the season. Your granddaughter is a midfielder for the high school soccer team, and she’s being scouted to play in college.

You breathlessly anticipate her entry onto the field. But wait. Instead of wearing the team uniform, your granddaughter runs onto the field wearing . . . a prom dress.

Huh?

Everyone in the bleachers would find this strange, and with good reason. Clothing counts.

Imagine enjoying a leisurely day at the beach when you spot surfers wearing high heeled shoes.

What about gym shorts at a funeral, or pajamas at a graduation ceremony? Would you show up for your big job interview wearing pink sweatpants emblazoned with "HOT GIRL" across the backside?

Clothing that is perfectly appropriate in one setting may be grossly inappropriate in another.

Why do I care?

Mass.

I can already hear the objections: "God doesn’t care what I wear." "God loves me just the way I am." "I should be able to wear whatever I want to Mass. What’s important is that I am here." "You sound like my mother."

Each of these statements is true. In a real way, our clothing does not matter. God accepts us just the way we are, in the same way that a parent loves his or her child no matter what the child does. Still, clothing does convey a certain respect or lack of it.

If you were invited to join your grandmother and her friends at a nice dinner, wouldn’t you dress up? Your grandmother will love you no matter what you wear, but that is not the point. By wearing a jacket and tie or a dress, you honor your grandmother. By wearing jeans and a tank top, you dishonor your grandmother, especially considering the generation in which she was raised. It’s all part of our society’s conventions.

The other reason for appropriate clothing at Mass is to avoid distracting other worshippers. Believe me, if a woman is wearing tight clothing to church, men will notice, and it will not in any way enhance their worship.

Thus, when I saw two women in skin-tight jeans and low-cut tops at a recent wake, I cringed. The death had been tragic, so it seemed incredibly insensitive for them to wear sexy clothes that drew attention to their bodies.

Likewise, when I see jeans, sneakers and even shorts at funerals, I wince. Will God love you, anyway? Absolutely, yes. But should we not be respectful to the deceased and the family? After all, that’s why we call it "paying our respects."

What we wear communicates a message, whether we intend for it to do so or not, whether we like the fact that it does or not, whether we agree that it communicates a message or not. And, in our culture, the wearing of nice clothes conveys respect.

A swimsuit has its place at the beach. A prom dress is suited for the prom, cleats for the soccer field, jeans for everyday life. And dressy clothing is appropriate for Mass.

Are there reasonable exceptions? Certainly, yes. In many places in the world, people have to walk for miles to attend Mass. Wearing finery, if they own it, must take second place to practicality.

A construction worker who attends Mass on the way to work would be completely proper wearing his work clothes. Fortunately, most of us have choices as to what we wear to Sunday Mass. When choices exist, I encourage reverence in both attitude and appearance.

 

Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer.