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Does It Matter What You Wear To Mass?

This isn't a post about whether or not you should dress up for Mass.

This is a post about evangelizing.

Today after the Corpus Christi procession we stopped by Albertsons' for some lunch supplies since it was already two and the kids were wilting. While I was inside looking at the cracker selection – have you noticed that it takes about forty ingredients you have never heard of to make an oyster cracker? – a man came up to me and asked if I went to church.

This was kind of a strange question and one I hadn't fielded in the snack isle of the grocery store before. I said yes and he said he was pretty sure I did because I was the only person in the store wearing a tie. Then he asked what church was safe to go to. Another odd question.

He explained that he was just a workman and didn't have any nice clothes and was worried that he wouldn't be welcome in a church if he wasn't dressed up. He said that he had always wanted to go to a church but wasn't sure what to expect. He said he had been abandoned by his stripper mother when he was a kid and hadn't ever been religious.

I told him that Holy Ghost, our church downtown was a very welcoming church to the point that you could always find various homeless people in the pews during and after Mass. He said he knew where that church was and lived close.

I suggested  he go there during the week or on a Sunday and ask the priest any questions he may have. He thanked me and walked away.

I have often said that a priest in clerics or a religious in a habit was a witness just by what they wore and have heard many stories about people who have learned more about the Faith or gone to confession for the first time in years because they happened to recognize a priest as a priest at an airport or some other unlikely location.

I had never considered dressing up for Mass to be anything more than a response to being in God's presence but I guess in our casual world dressing up on Sunday can be a witness to the world that THIS day is different. It was the first time in my life that something like that has ever happened and it may never happen again. However, if I continue to wear a tie to Mass for the rest of my life and never have someone come up to me again I will still think that this one time made it worthwhile.


  1. thanks for that wonderful reflection…..and for the witness………just what Corpus Christi is about……
    sadly, over the years, my experience has been that SOME (my emphasis) of those who wear the ties have been a little less kind to those who do smell, who don’t wear “appropriate attire.”
    The only thing I might have done extra: I would have invited him to meet me and sit with me at Mass!

  2. Yes, a wonderful reflection. In reading frjimt’s comment, I was reminded that the ones chosen to be the first people to see Jesus following his birth were the poor shepherds from the fields. He also hung out with a bunch of fishermen. It would behoove those who look down on others who don’t wear “appropriate attire” to remember that.

  3. Yes, dressing up for church has become another outward witness of our faith. Last Sunday at the grocery store people noticed me dressed in a skirt with my 2 year old wearing a dress. Many women shopping in dresses smiled at me as if to say “Ah, you’re shopping after church too.” Other faces seemed to look away in shame. And one voice I overheard was amazed that I take my daughter to church. All had assumed by our clothing that we had just come from church and it became another way to silently share our faith.

  4. A priest at our church once mentioned why he ALWAYS wore a cassock – not just because cross dressing is fashionable (his words, not mine LOL).

    He said that very often people would recognize his attire and beg him for a confession. He said he didn’t want to have to answer to God for anyone that didn’t make a confession at the moment God’s grace inspired them, because they simply didn’t recognize he was a priest.

    I think nowadays just showing up with your body COVERED, never mind the tie, is a witness to modesty at least!

  5. Being a middle school teacher and a new Catholic, I see teaching respect as a very important part of everyday life. Your faith is shown in how you present yourself to the world. As parents and role models we have an obligation to dress respectfully which ultimately leads to behaving reverently when approaching God’s altar. Our children see that in us during Mass as well as those around us in the public arena. It is always our hope to light the way for others.

  6. If you Put a Suit on for a wedding you also put it on to go to church. not put on shorts

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