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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Now hear this: Men, bust out your suits.

SAM has a worthwhile rant about men's fashion at Mass--read the whole thing.

I get tired of watching T-shirted men sandal-flopping up to the altar like they were in line for beer and brats. I don’t understand why polo shirts and blue jeans are acceptable attire for an audience with the King of Kings. I don’t see why a man can’t take fifteen minutes to shave (or trim his beard) before going to Mass. These guys wouldn’t dress that way to bury their mothers, but they dress like that to see the God-Man die for their sins? Only adolescents and fools would treat the occasion so, and men who dress like that should never complain about the scant attention the Church pays to their masculinity -- they should expect instead to remain marginalized adolescents and doofuses. Take a moment to consider the clothing of powerful men, men who are doing significant public things. They don’t wear T-Shirts, cargo shorts or sneakers. When and if they ever do it’s only because they want to reassure you that it doesn’t matter if you’re average and they’re not. When it’s important, when their reputations and positions are on the line, they wear jackets, ties, and dress shoes. Because that, my brothers, is the clothing a man wears when his reputation and position is on the line, the clothing that says that he’s a man, he’s serious, and he’s doing something significant. The difference is that in the Mass none of us are average and all of us are doing something important, significant, and public. Chosen generation? Royal priesthood? Holy nation? Any of that ring a bell, doofus?

Let me chime in with my two cents--I think the problem of attire at Church a symptom of the crisis in faith. I've been an offender myself, especially early on at Mass. Shorts? Yep--at a child's baptism, no less (I'm still cringing at that one). Jeans? Oh, definitely--and not the fresh of the shelf variety, either. My only mitigating factor? I wasn't Catholic for most of these episodes (the baptism being one). Did I have a clue of what was going on? No, not really. The girlfriend (now lovingly addressed with such terms as "Yes, honey" and "What?") wanted to go to a couple of masses, so I obliged. But I didn't go all out to dress up.

The reason? I didn't know I was in the presence of the King of Kings, for starters. It was only after I started converting that I realized that the bread and wine were a little more significant than I had understood them to be.

Uh oh.

Not that I am all the way there, yet. But the suit leaf is being turned over.

Try it this way: years of being told that the Mass is simply a meal have had their effect. Jesus' presence in any way shape or form (word, sacrament, even wherever two or three are gathered in His Name) is rarely emphasized. The Mass is too often a communitarian exercise that has all the meaning of a family barbeque, only with a lot more relatives you don't know well (or happen to like even less).

It is no longer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it's a singalong folk concert with a short refreshment list. People are going to dress accordingly. If you truly believe that the cosmic veil has been torn--that you are in the presence of the Lamb of God in the re-presentation of Calvary--you will not dress like you are going to mow the lawn or to retrieve the paper from the curb. Or like Michael Moore on one of those days when he just doesn't have the gumption to spiff himself up to his usual high standards.

People who don't, will. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

To close, I'll only add that it apparently matters to the Lord, too, for those He invites into His presence:

8 Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.' 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.11 "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

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