Doesn’t matter how we dress for Mass, says archbishop

Doesn’t matter how we dress for Mass, says archbishop

It’s hard enough being a parent trying to inculcate in your children both modesty and a sense of respect for the Mass without having your archbishop undermine you. In his weekly column in the Atlanta archdiocese newspaper, Archbishop Wilton Gregory invites kids to wear whatever they want to Mass:

As the pastor of this local Church, I must confess that I have never been offended or scandalized by any attire that I have seen our kids wear to Church. I am so happy to see them at Mass that I generally don’t even notice what they are wearing. When I see those bright faces, I am grateful that these young people are found within the warm embrace of the Church. Braces and flip-flops are welcome wherever I am celebrant.

So kids, I guess it’s okay to wear short shorts and minis and ripped jeans and t-shirts with offensive sayings and midriff-baring tops and jeans so loose they show off your boxers. Hey, the archbishop says it’s okay. (Incidentally, was anyone complaining that wearing braces is not appropriate?)

The point some parents want to teach their kids is that how you dress reflects how you act and how much you respect the occasion. You wouldn’t show up to a court hearing wearing those clothes (I hope!) or at your own wedding like that. Shouldn’t you dress modestly and appropriately to be in the presence of the Holy Trinity, to receive the Second Person of the Trinity in the Eucharist, and offer your worship to the Father?

Gregory then offers a sop to the parents, telling teens that their parents want them to dress a certain way to “speak to the entire community of the Church.” Umm, no, it’s not about impressing the neighbors (or shouldn’t be); it’s about respecting Jesus Christ.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • The archbishop’s remarks are “shocking” and show that he certainly is not imbude with the “scaredness of the Holy Liturgy” and that at all times reverence and respect is given and shown by a respectfull and decent dress code. Modesty is a virtue that the arcbishop should meditate upon and instruct those under his spiritual leadership to observe as Christians who are followers of Our Lord.

  • Isn’t it ironic that Catholic school children wear uniforms to attend school because we know that how they dress impacts how they think—and I presume this is the case in Archbishop Gregory’s diocese as well.  But the Archbishop encourages those same children to show up at church in whatever catches their fancy on Sunday morning.

    One could parlay this into an argument that the archbishop thinks school is more important than Mass.  Perhaps someone should ask him if he is willing to extend his dress code to the classroom as well.

  • I love this analogy. Great response. Does the archbishop have an email address?  This would be just the response to send him.

  • You can probably reach im at this email address.  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    I found it on the Archdiocesan website.

  • CCC 1387:

    To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church. Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.

    Oh, but who really cares?  The Archbishop just said something popular!  Let’s all crowd around him and canonize him.

  • Yes, I read his remarks as a commentary on “formal wear” and not modesty.

    I’ll confess that I usually do not dress up for Mass, and I do not feel I am being disrespectful. I don’t consider my every day clothes disrespectful. I think “dressing up” has its place on feasts, but for an average Sunday, people just come to be with Jesus. It’s not about showcasing ourselves (of course, we shouldn’t show up looking like slobs either).

    But we must always remain modest. I have had to move more than once in Church to keep my wind from wandering to a scantily clad female nearby.

  • Jason,

    I suppose it depends on what your everyday clothes are like. Some people’s “everyday” is not appropriate for mass. This holds especially true for teenagers, at least around here they seem to dress much too skimpily and casually for even some of their dress up clothes to be appropriate. At our parish’s cofirmation ceremony last year some of the girls wore very, very short skirts and strappy tops. I don’t think they own any other kind of “dressy” clothes.

    Personally, I tend to wear jeans and a t-shirt on most days so I try to make an extra effort on Sundays to wear a skirt or a dress. But if I dressed nicely during the week I wouldn’t necessarily feel a need to do something different for Sunday.

  • We could revolt have our kids wear shirts and ties and dresses below the pantyline.

  • He is my Archbishop.  I have to live with this stuff.  I guess, the more that one realizes that he was a crony of Bernardine…..what would one expect.  At least most you were spared the write up on him in the Atlanta Jornal Constitution last Sat.  It was about as “touchy feely” as one could expect from a liberal “rag” about a liberal bishop.

  • Formal wear here is a clean football jersey.

    I have seen a Bronco’s Jersey on a man in a baptismal party at the altar during a Sunday Mass. I couldn’t tell if it was the father or Godfather.


  • Familiarity breeds contempt.  Or indifference. 

    Calling priests “Fr. Bob”, communion in the hand, removing the communion rail (allowing anyone and their dog into the Sanctuary), priests wearing “civies”, cracking jokes during the Liturgy, Oprah Winfrey catechesis….on and on.

    Churches used to be pieces of heaven on earth.  Now they are convenience stores.  “NOW OPEN ON SATURDAYS!”

    Why dress up?

  • Isabelle, that’s just what my “kids” do.  They’re college students, so I suppose I should consider them adults now, but they’re still my babies.  Ds wears a suit & tie, although his short dark hair may have blue or red tips, and dd wears a below-the-knee dress and stockings.  They remember a dear priest in FL who impressed upon them, when they were very young, the importance of respectful behavior and attire at Mass. (Thank you, Msgr. H. for backing up Mama’s instructions.)  They’ve never even considered attending Mass in the faded jeans and t-shirts that they wear the rest of the week.  It’s probably not surprising that they also don’t appreciate being talked down to and subjected to dumbed-down liturgies for teens or having to endure dreadful pop tunes that have replaced beautiful hymns.  Unfortunately, that’s all the campus ministry offers in its two Masses per semester.

  • Isabelle-I did revolt, for our Confirmation Mass, anyway.  I told all the boys no jeans, dress pants, nice shirt, strongly consider a tie.  Girls could not be sleeveless or strappy and dresses had to come to the knee.  I stressed that they were going through a holy event (i know, I wish they knew that EVERY Mass is a holy event) and they should dress as such. Thankfully it was one of the few things the pastor agreed with me on.

    They rose to the occasion, I’m delighted to report.

    However, one sponsor clearly missed the boat-long skirt, but a slit way up her thigh.  We (teachers and I) all thought “aaaannnd, she’s a sponsor, why?”

  • Thanks Bishop Gregory for under-cutting every parent in the Diocese.

    Typical apostate liberal that he is , he is engaging in something that the 60s denizens love … encouraging the conflict between parents and youth … I’ve seen this up close and personal by a “Catholic” psychologist invited to a Men’s Group meeting after Mass. he set up some sort of talk circle with parents and children alternately entering the circle and critiquing the other.

    I sat out.  The whole thing gave me the creeps. Between this crap, the winks toward homo marriage and charismatic kooks .. I left that parish, moved and found the same crap in the next parish ….

    The Traditional Latin Mass is the only refuge.

  • I am proud of you revolutionaries!  You are a great example to all of us! Thank you so very much.  And… thank your kids too.  I am so grateful and I believe our Lady is so very happy to see her children respecting her Son (The KING) in their actions.

    May each of you be greatly blessed.

  • Oh, and don’t be too hard on parents who have good and loving intentions. It is truly difficult to find appropriate clothing for girls especially.  Many are trying.  Give them the benefit of the doubt and pray to St. Anthony that they may find fashonable but modest clothing for their teens.

  • My men’s group met this morning and every time we meet we form a resolution to do in support of the Church. This week’s resolution is to wear suits to Mass every Sunday until Christmas and to have our wives and children do the same.

    Most in my parish go “business casual” and inappropriate attire is not see too often at the 9 AM Sunday Mass that I attend, but that is what we are doing.

    Setting the bar high.

    If you would not wear it at a formal, arranged in advance meeting with the president or pope,you should not wear it at a formal, arranged in advance meeting with the Onewho put them in their positions.

    Economic realities may mean that some can not afford suits. Fine. There is still the “Sunday Best” mentality that one can possess even if it is not expressed in a suit.

    You can still be modest, presentable, free from tears, pressed, clean shaven, shoes shined, hair combed…The concept is “The Best”.

    Suits every Sunday until Christmas. That is what I am doing.

    I mean by my post NO OFFENSE to my Archbishop to whom I am very, very loyal. It is high time that the bar be re-set high and re-set in my little pew it will be. The Archbishop may be satisfied that my children are in church at all but since I possess the unique graces to form my children, I will form them in this way.

    With the bar high.

    U.S. Marines are sharp dressers and sharp fighters and I can say that the two are intimately related.

  • Daniel,

    I agree with you completely, but why stop at Christmas?  Keep it going!