Much Ado About… A Dress Code?

Manny Amador

Why in the world did some people make such a big fuss about the guidelines issued by the Archdiocese of Manila for proper attire at Mass? Other churches and many secular organizations have dress codes too. Why can’t there be one for something as holy and important as the Mass?The Mass is not a trivial or casual activity like shopping at the mall or hanging out at a coffee shop. It is supposed to be the highest formal worship event of the Catholic Church. It is where we re-enter into the sacrifice that Christ made on Calvary, and where we partake of his real Body and Blood.temple-driving.jpg

Doesn’t that deserve a little more respect and solemnity from believers?

We wear special clothes to show respect for our hosts and peers on other occasions such as weddings, board meetings, and civic club inductions, don’t we? Most professionals also wear proper office attire when they go to work or meet clients. Judges, lawyers, and even the general public have to wear decent clothes in court too. Even politicians (many of whom may not even deserve to be in their respective positions) have to be properly dressed in Congress and at the Senate.

Why is the Mass — and its real host: God Himself — not to be given as much respect?

We can, of course, show our respect in various ways, the most important of which is our inner attitude of love and obedience to God. But since the Mass is a public gathering, we must give some attention to how we present ourselves to others who are there. This is because we are actually part of the environment in the Church during the Mass, and we can enhance or detract from the worship experience of others. Just think: how exactly do we contribute to the solemnity of the activity if our outward appearance is distracting or even downright salacious?

It’s simply a matter of being considerate to others, and the new guidelines help us to do just that.

Now I have heard some objections to the effect that the guidelines will make it difficult for the poor since they don’t have nice clothes. That, however, betrays the fact those who make such objections probably haven’t seen the guidelines at all, which is available as a poster (which you can download) to be displayed in public.

Take a look at the guidelines. It allow t-shirts, slacks, and jeans. There aren’t even any specifications on proper footwear! The poor can easily comply. And I seriously doubt if most of the parishes will turn away a man who is so poor that he doesn’t have a shirt on his back. Some might even give him a shirt!

Besides, I have noticed that many of those who wear improper attire are often the rich and well-to-do. I often see them attending mass wearing expensive, racy, expose-what-you-can outfits (which are probably better classified as lingerie). Should we expect the Church to just ignore this?

Something tells me that those who are trying to stir up some controversy over the issue are just looking for another excuse — no matter how flimsy — to attack the Catholic Church. And they would probably love to see the Holy Mass profaned in any way possible.

The malicious prejudice of these Church-haters knows no bounds, and they will stoop to the lowest means just to lash out at Christ’s Church. Fortunately, some people can see through their thinly-veiled hypocrisy and will point it out.

Poster of Proper Attire for Mass

(Click on the image above to view a larger version)

Note: This article was originally posted on my personal advocacy blog:

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