Can you comment on how people should dress for Church?
This topic is best approached by considering our call to love God and the necessity of humility in approaching Him. For the Mass is not something we do for Him; it is the sacrifice of Christ by which our salvation is accomplished, and through which God offers us a share in His life (as a foretaste of the life of Heaven). Accordingly, the manner in which we approach Him, including in the way we dress truly does matter.
Hence, we might ask a different question: How should one dress when invited into God’s presence as Jesus gives us His own life – the greatest gift ever given? Would we come in gym clothes or immodest dress (that is, in clothes that lead to distract others, and potentially cause them to sin)? Seeing this time of year contains many secular award presentations and banquets, I would guess such distracting or immodest clothing is not even given a thought for any of those events. Likewise, no one would dare to wear gym clothes to a wedding or funeral. Surely people will argue that they should be able to be comfortable, especially on hot days. Yet, I would challenge all to recognize the love of Christ for us, and how He willingly gave up everything for us – including His own comfort (as the crucifixion was anything but pleasant). “But Father, God doesn’t care…He only cares that you show up.” Ask yourself: Is it true love to presume what God thinks for the sake of justifying our wants, rather than to humble ourselves and in this case, to put on our “Sunday Best?”
Having laid this foundation let me give some particular thoughts on “Sunday Best.” Aware that all of us come from different standards of living and perhaps our means are limited, it is important to dress in a manner that is not distracting. One should not overly expose themselves by their clothing (or lack of such), nor ought any wear clothes that draw attention to themselves simply because of what they are
wearing. In addition, if one dresses semi-formally all week for work, it seems fitting that they can do the same for Mass. If one is a blue-collar worker, hopefully they can afford at least one set of clothes that they might also use for other special occasions. Hopefully no one would ever have to come wearing dirty, unkempt, or even worn out clothing – but I must acknowledge that such may be the “best” some have to offer…
Always remember: you are encountering Jesus Christ, your Savior and King. He desires to give you His own divine life. Thus, the way you dress is part of your faithful response of love for Him who loves you and gives everything He has for you...
On a related tangent – seeing how the subject matter of this column is much more of an issue during the summer months – remember that there is no summer vacation in a relationship with God. That many take advantage of summer to be at the lake, or elsewhere, does not excuse Mass attendance on Sunday (or Saturday
evening). Take the time to find out the Mass schedule at the local parishes near your summer destinations and remember to keep the first and third commandments that God may offer you His life and you may live in communion with Him.