Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 15, 1872 when the first baptism was recorded at St. Peter's Church, New Britain. The child's name was, Joseph Graff.
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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.


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?


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.