Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jeans & Shorts at Mass?

The teenagers did all the music, ushering and so forth at the late evening Mass.

By the time Mass was over, I realized I had been gripped by a familiar debate that rises within me from time to time . . .

Is it okay to wear shorts and jeans to Mass? What about when you are serving on the altar? Is it okay during the week but not on Sundays? Should we just be happy people attend? Is it being judgmental to be concerned about what people wear?

The song I was singing—a familiar one—had this line: “Give me the mind of Jesus.”

I immediately recognized the irony. Would Jesus care? Probably not, but still, there I sat in my humanity, frustrated by the river of jeans and shorts on teens and adults alike, ministers of the Eucharist and attendees.

We have lots of excuses for not dressing up for Mass. We’re running behind. It’s a weekday. We want to be prepared for our after-Mass activities. We want to be comfortable. We don’t want to argue with the kids. It’s not important. The list goes on and on. I know. I’ve used some of these excuses myself.

But still, isn’t it disrespectful? Mass isn’t like anything else we do, shouldn’t our clothes reflect that? Shouldn’t we bother just a little more?

We teach our children to dress appropriately for other events, why do we negotiate when it comes to Mass? Is it that we are just glad they are going and don’t want to fight about it? If we have to bribe them by allowing them to wear jeans and/or shorts, what does that say about their understanding? How well have we taught our children about the Mass if the only reason they are agreeing to go is because they don’t have to make any effort? Is that good enough? Is it acceptable?

Where else do your children get away with that kind of attitude?

If your children are young, teach them to dress for Mass. You won’t have an argument about it when they get older because the habit will be formed. Of course, you have to believe in the relevance of it yourself.

If they are older, why not explain to them your “new” understanding about the importance of dressing up for church and, as a family, make that change together?

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