Deacon Greg comments here about flip flops and tank tops at Mass. A local priest here in Greenville recently preached about this and made some interesting points–one of them being that the clergy dress up for Mass so why shouldn’t the people? This led me to wonder what would happen if we rang the bell and the organ started in on the processional hymn and the clergy came sauntering up the aisle in shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, flip flops and shades. Happily, at Our Lady of the Rosary parish most people dress nicely for Mass.
It’s a commonplace to blame the people for coming to Mass dressed for a cook out, but is it really all their fault? After all, the way Mass is celebrated is often so casual that it does seem more appropriate to wear fun summertime gear. If the priest has what I call a ‘game show host’ approach to celebrating the liturgy, no wonder the people come dressed down. If Father Johnny Carson says, “The Lord be With You, say how’re y’all doing this morning? Have you heard the one about the fellow who hadn’t been to confession for fifty years…” You get the idea. If the priest celebrates the Mass with dignity and beauty and a sense of solemnity the people will soon respond in the way they come to Mass.
If the music at Mass is a some sort of secular style of music with ‘spiritual’ words, no wonder the people dress as if they’re at a pop concert. Music that is of the style of a Broadway musical, or a country western jamboree or a rock concert or a folk song singalong will produce the behavior and dress that is appropriate. Sacred music, on the other hand, might just start to produce modest and sensible apparel and reverent behavior
This is not meant to be a rant against AmChurch churches with all their attendant, sweet and comfortable heresies. Instead it is a plea to all our people. We deserve better than this don’t we? Can’t we improve on what we’re doing at Mass? Even just a little?