ivan lobay 3742 web Ivan Lobay, 103, and his daughter Maria, 70, relax at home in Orange. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

ORANGE – As a teenager in Ukraine, Ivan Lobay saw the words “keep smiling” in an English magazine. It became his motto for the rest of his life.

20150218cm01806 webPope Francis gives ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME (CNS) -- Lent is a journey of purification and penance, a movement that should bring one tearfully back to the loving arms of the merciful Father, Pope Francis said at an Ash Wednesday Mass that began with a procession on Rome's Aventine Hill.

ShipDay3 webSt. James School student Nicholas Guenther, who acted as a minister during the school’s fifth-grade ship day, receives his sailing papers (classwork) from captain Peyton Carpenter.

MANCHESTER – To immerse students in an important aspect of early American history, St. James School fifth-grade teachers Denise Wojtyna and Diane DiBenedetto transformed a classroom into an emigrant ship for a day.

20150217cm01766 webCoptic Christian women attend a Feb. 17 service in Cairo for the Egyptians said to have been beheaded in Libya. (CNS photo/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis called for prayers for the Egyptian Christians beheaded by Islamic State militants in Libya and asked that God recognize these men killed for their faith.

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HARTFORD – As Connecticut lawmakers began to consider proposed legislation that would make doctor-assisted suicide legal in the state, the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference launched a media campaign to help “people get all the facts before making a rash decision on physician-assisted suicide.”

20150213cnsto0043 web This architectural rendering shows how the Museum of the Bible planned for Washington will look. (CNS photo/courtesy Smith Group JJR)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- On a gray and overcast morning in Washington, just a short walk from Capitol Hill, construction work began on a museum intended to promote engagement, education and discussion of the Bible.

20150203cnsto0001 webPeople carry a banner of Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador, El Salvador, March 22, 2014. (CNS photo/Roberto Escobar, EPA)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – After decades of debate within the church, Pope Francis formally recognized that Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was killed "in hatred of the faith" and not for purely political reasons.

stmary csw web

Anya Joseph, a second grader at St. Mary School in Milford, models the clothing and accessories she sported for the school’s Mismatch Day, one of a number of activities at the school in celebration of Catholic Schools Week Jan. 25-31.

20150127cnsbr8170 webDan Nelson shows how Shockbox helmet sensors are attached to the inside of the crown of a football helmet with a piece of Velcro Dec. 8. (CNS photo/Joanne Fox, Catholic Globe)

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) – Micah Herbst of Sioux City does not have a son on the football team at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School.

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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.

 

Events Calendar

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01:30 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, United States
Caritas Christi Center's ongoing centering prayer program will continue from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the center. Sister Carolyn Severino, ASCJ, [...]
04:00 PM
Our Lady of the Angels Convent, Enfield, Enfield, United States
The Felician Adult Day Center will have its annual Snowflake Raffle from noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 28 at Our Lady of the Angels Convent, 1315 Enfield St., Enfield. Baskets will be available for viewing from [...]
06:45 PM
Lauralton Hall, Milford CT, Milford, United States
MILFORD – Lauralton Hall will celebrate its ethnic heritage while raising funds on Feb. 28 at its annual Irish Night. The school was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, a congregation founded by [...]
Date :  February 28, 2015

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