Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dear Abbey

No shoes, no shirts, no Communion.
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I don't know why I didn't think of this before - but when blogging becomes a problem I think I'll do a Dear Abbey column. Send me questions - as you always do - and this time I may answer some of them. The following is a variation on a frequently asked question concerning appropriate attire for Mass:
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Dear Terry - err Abbey,
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My friend and I go running every Sunday morning and stop at the Cathedral for the earliest Mass on our run by. During the summer my friend insists we wear t-shirts if we are stopping in - we have on running shorts of course - nevertheless people stare at us even though we sit off to the side and in the back. This is the best time for us to attend Mass - is our attire inappropriate? Should we skip Mass rather than attend in our running clothes? The Romans who converted to Christianity must have worn togas to Mass - that's kind of a joke - but I've seen photos of mountaineers in their gear assisting at Mass - isn't our condition similar?
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Signed,
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Don Sichspaque.
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Dear Don,
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I'm no authority so my comments are simply my POV - always ask your priest for direction and questions regarding the faith. Until you do however, let me say right off I think it is wonderful that you and your friend consider it so important to attend Mass on Sunday - in a time when so many people do not. Although to some it may seem you are squeezing it in, I suspect you attend Mass more out of devotion than a sense of obligation, which is also to be commended.
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That said, if you assist at Mass attentively and devoutly I personally see nothing wrong with how you are dressed, as long as you are covered, and the running clothes were an exception - not your regular habit. Of course many people will disagree with me on that one, and they really do have a point.
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I gotta say, I like your toga excuse though - I used it myself when I'd go to Mass wearing shorts - but it doesn't fly in our culture - even though everyone seems to wear shorts - they just don't cut it for formal occasions. Formal dress is not required at Mass of course, but being suitably covered is - for the sake of modesty and respect for the presence of God. In fact, even if one is just making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament or dropping in to light a candle, a runner or biker should always have a shirt on over his shorts - church is not clothing optional.
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In warmer climates and throughout the summer women and men do attend Mass wearing shorts in the US, and if they are modest, it doesn't bother me. But it is not up to me either - it is up to the priest to enforce dress code, albeit difficult to do with vacationing visitors. As many people know, raincoats are handed out to immodestly dressed tourists at St. Peter's in Rome, but Americans resent authority far too much to put up with that practice here.
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So anyway, to answer your main question while ignoring all the other issues it raises, it would be better for you and your friend to at least wear long pants and a shirt to Mass, and maybe postpone your run. Readjust your schedule - perhaps you could even attend Mass the evening before or later in the day on Sunday.
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Incidentally, I think I saw the two of you that one really hot Sunday when you weren't wearing shirts, outside doing your stretches on the Dayton side of the church - I'm glad you didn't go in undressed like that.
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Keep the faith buddy!


7 comments:

  1. LMAO

    "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service"

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  2. It's hard with 6 teenagers!

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  3. Thank you for this valuable advice. I'll have to come up with a question for you.

    Oh, and I'm back from vacation now.

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  4. Larry - I can't wait - make it a difficult one.

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  5. Lil Red12:32 PM

    My requirements for clothing at Mass: Is it clean? Is it modest? Is it respectful? If the item of clothing fails one of those, it goes back into the closet and I find something else to wear.

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  6. I remember softball players from GW University would come to Mass after their game. On one hand I was happy to see them. On the other, they stank to an extraordinary degree and were sweaty. I insisted on moving to the other side of the church. Everybody else just held their noses.

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  7. I like this too.

    Dymphna: LOL!

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