Jennifer Graham writes at National Reviw Online about her experience at the Catholic parish in the suburbs of Boston that she and her family just moved into. While some parts of it seem much more worse than anything I’ve seen, other aspects track along with what I’ve seen in my own parish.
For one thing, everyone seems dressed for the mall. Now I know we live in a less formal society than we once did and I wouldn’t want to have to wear a suit and tie every week, but how about dress pants and a golf shirt even? (I won’t claim to be perfect. Until I was married, I often wore jeans and sneakers, but let’s just say I was on a learning curve.)
Once it was just the kids who came dressed for the playground. T-shirts with all kinds of slogans, ripped jeans, shorts. They look like they rolled out bed and mom and dad couldn’t be bothered to have another fight over dressing up. But what about the parents? They’re wearing jeans and t-shirts too. Now even the grandparents are starting to dress that way.
As for altar servers, I don’t see dress shoes at the bottom of those robes anymore. Now I see sneakers if we’re lucky and more usually work boots (often untied), flip-flops, sandals and the like. I’m afraid that if we asked altar girls to wear dress shoes we’d start seeing stilettos.
And it’s not just informality of dress. It’s informality of attitude. People don’t seem to know what to do in church anymore. They shuffle up to Communion like they’re getting an immunization.
Nobody sings, but who can blame them when so often what we’re given is either banal or just unsingable?
Why do we still go?