Saturday, July 20, 2013

Monsignor Pope on reverence in Church.

 
Don't blame lay people - you guys started it.


Always a big topic in the summer months.

Why?  Often because of immodest dress of course: tight tank tops under a flimsy gauze over-shirt, really short cropped pants and flip-flops, and that is just the religious sister in charge of RCIA at the parish.

As usual, Monsignor Pope makes excellent points.  One statement stood out for me however:
I will not even argue that ALL the old traditions should return, (even though I would like that). But at least we ought to recover SOME way of signifying that we are on holy ground and before the presence of the Holy One of Israel, the Lord of glory. - Mons. Pope
Say cheesy.



"The lack of formality, or decorum, must over time take its toll on us collectively"

I'm not convinced the lack of reverence is all about clothes however.  I think it is more a lack of faith.  I think it is - in part - about sloppy liturgy and sloppy catechesis.  I think it's about sloppy, all too casual, all too willing to be your BFF priests and religious.  Even Sr. Judy DRE/RCIA of the Servants of Social Justice, though she can pull off the decorum act in conversation with critics of the LCWR, she nevertheless walks around the sanctuary without any outward sign of reverence for anything save a slight bow to the 'Table' - yet no sense of reverence for the tabernacle.  Likewise, the church as community center and concert hall engenders the sense of a more casual atmosphere.

A couple of days ago I was at my parish for adoration.  Towards the end, the pastor came in to lock up the church, tended the $candles$, and left.  Seconds later, a layman did his own form of benediction before reposing the Blessed Sacrament.  Afterwards Father came back in to speak to him about next week's adoration day.  Father never concludes adoration with benediction - despite the fact he is usually available and free to do so.  Walking around towards the closing of adoration were musicians and choir members, preparing for practice, totally oblivious of the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance, on the portable altar, surrounded by candles.  I'm not sure if another concert was scheduled or it was simply choir practice. 

At my parish, I rarely see anyone, except the few who come to adoration, show any external reverence for the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass - when at Mass, I try not to look.  It is worthy of note that many of the lay men and women - HCMCs - distribute Holy Communion dressed in all sorts of casual, and sometimes revealing summer clothing.  Although, to be fair, in summer months many of the women are more covered up than usual because the air conditioning is so cold.  Usually a shirt or sweater draped over the shoulders seems to suffice.


Yes you did.  You guys started it.


For all of you who think I should mind my own business, please know I do not watch what people do in church, I do not look for missteps.  I'm awake however, and I cannot avoid noticing what goes on.  Personally, I don't care what people wear to church.  I never have.  What I care about is the lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament - by priests and deacons and secular nuns and catechists and music ministers and EMHCs.  It strikes me there is a serious lack of faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist - body, blood, soul, and divinity.  Despite what they say, and no matter if they promote adoration or not, it is the conduct of the 'ministers' which leads me to believe that.

So yeah.  I'm throwing it back on the priests.  Lead by example - be holy.  There is an old saying in the Catholic Church:
If the parish priest is a Saint, his people will be holy;
If the priest is holy, but not yet a Saint, his people will be good;
If he is good, his people will be lukewarm,
and if he is lukewarm, his parishioners will be bad.
And if the priest himself is bad, his people will go to Hell.


So maybe it's not about what you wear or don't wear...


 What?

44 comments:

  1. Great post. It began with the clergy and it has to be ultimately fixed by the clergy--though we should always be a good example. I would caution other lay people (as Rorate Caeli recently posted) to leave it to Father. I thought I could nudge a parish friend--a real Catholic man and pillar of the parish--with a big smile and a friendly remark, but he was angry that I suggested his teenager shouldn't wear shorts. Our relationship was never the same after that because americans hate to be told what to do even if it is gentle correction. So don't say anything. It's not a hill worth dying on and your "social IQ" is not high enough to pull it off in our current culture.

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    1. Thanks for the thoughts. Maybe I was slipping into despair, thinking "If this guy--this pillar of the parish--reacts that way, then it's hopeless." I have also wondered if our relationship went south because he was more upset at his reaction to me (and so was ashamed of his anger) rather than my suggestion. In any event, he continued to dress for the beach.

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  3. I would appreciate it if someone would have the courage to speak up on scantily clad people. There are some of us who battle and often lose, and there are no parades of pride for us nor politicians in our pocket. We hide in shame and fight, often alone. I know the world owes me nothing. But it would be nice to go to Mass without having the devil stabbing me where it hurts the most.

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    1. In my parish, we have the bulletin reminder of where we are and not to dress for a day at the beach but because it's the mothership, there are a lot of beachgoers present, she writes as though the parish is near a beach.

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    2. Yes Nan, but the rest of us attend Mass on earth, not lost in space.

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    3. I wrote that because you mentioned the mothership and wear tinfoil hats.

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  4. I believe that the lack of modesty, reverence and respect are directly related to the lack of belief in the real presence of Jesus in the most holy sacrament of the altar. So therefore not only is it poor catechesis but perhaps no catechesis. At one time (and still among some) there was what was called one's "Sunday Best" for men that mean't a suit or jacket and tie and for women it was a "Sunday dress". It was common decency to wear one's best to holy Mass, to funerals, to weddings out of respect and reverence for God , His house and one another. I'm sure I am going to draw the ire of some for saying this but my experience has been that the reverence, decorum and modesty is NOTICEABLY different (ie present) in traditional Mass apostolate parishes. Even the smallest child double genuflects when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. Everyone comes properly dressed. Everyone knows where they are and why. We might need to examine why this is the case?

    "It is true that the official teaching of the Church (and the reality)
    is that the Mass is the Unbloody Sacrifice of Jesus. But if as Marshall McLuhan once claimed, "The medium is the message," we have succeeded by virtue of the liturgical reforms ... in transforming the appearance of the Mass (the medium) from a serious act of objective worship of an actual, transcendent God to a 45-minute occasion at which "we gather, we listen, we
    respond." We have gone psychologically, intellectually, and ritually from a Mass that externally indicated that something important may actually have been taking place, beyond the priest, beyond the people --and almost beyond their control --to an occasion whose definition is measured solely in terms
    of the wordy effervescence of the ever-babbling priest's personality and the snappy participation of the congregation. --Fr. Anthony Brankin, St. Thomas
    More Church, Chicago

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  5. It is entirely possible to dress modestly and comfortably for Mass during the summer months, and I say this as one who now attends a church that has no air conditioning and just a few fans. I just add my small sacrifice to Christ's immolation of Himself and offer it for a good intention, like the Holy Souls in Purgatory. What drives me especially nuts at this time of year, in addition to the beachwear worn to Mass in some places, are the people who bring iced coffee and other drinks with them to church. First off, if they are drinking this stuff as they walk in the door, they aren't keeping an hour's fast before Holy Communion. Second, I don't understand why people can't wait until AFTER Mass to buy their drinks. Last week at the Novus Ordo I now attend after work, a man whipped out a water bottle and downed the entire thing while the priest was giving the final blessing. We continue to try to drag God down to our level and too many of us are incapable of making even the smallest sacrifice for Him, even in church.

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    1. I can't imagine someone drinking in church! Talk about a loss of sense of the sacred.

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    2. I have Sjogren's Disease and sometimes after singing or saying the responses, my mouth is incredibly dry so I have to take a sip of water. I try to be discreet and I certainly wouldn't chug down a whole bottle!

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    3. That's true - many people have need to hydrate at different intervals during the day - some people actually need to suck on candy or something to do so - which goes to show we never know what is going on with someone else.

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    4. Necessitas non habet legem. Necessity has no law, of course. But most people, virtually everyone, can go an hour without needing to take a drink.

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    5. Needing to hydrate with water for legitimate medical reasons is one thing. Bringing a super-sized iced coffee or smoothie is quite another, and that's what I'm talking about. And even if one does need to drink for medical reasons, as Jane said, at least try and be discreet. The man to which I referred was sitting in the front pew and was hard to miss. Like you Terry, I don't look around for trouble and distraction. Sometimes, it's just there and impossible not to notice.

      Last year our former pastor was cleaning up the church after a First Holy Communion and found a half-empty can of beer left on a pew. I'm pretty sure there is no medical need for someone to drink a beer during Mass. It all points to the loss of the sacred and the dismissal of God as unimportant in the lives of some.

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    6. That certainly is a no-no. LOL! Your church is in downtown or a busy area I'm sure - maybe not. When I used to go to a downtown parish I saw tons of weird things going on.

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    7. I was also just being nice. :)

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    8. You're always nice :)

      Yes, that church is in a downtown area and also one where First Holy Communions, Baptisms, Weddings etc have more cultural than religious significance to some people. It makes me so sad sometimes because the pastor and the CCD teacher put so much effort into making things beautiful for the children and you just had the sense that their parents were never going to bring them to church until it was time for the next "rite of passage".

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  6. I forgot to mention the 'casual' Mass with the priest vested only in the alb and the stole, sans chasuble. It happens even on Sundays. Then the Halloween costume Masses come to mind, balloon Masses, and so on.

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    1. I used to get really worked-up at ugly new churches, music and the de-sacralization of the faith, but then God gave me the grace to understand that He allows these ugly things so that we might see our true selves. They function as a mirror of our souls--a grace so that we might see our wretched spiritual condition. Some avail themselves of this grace but most don't. It kind of puts the "Taj Mahoney" of LA in a terrible new light. On a hopeful note, the great monasteries and cathedrals of Europe are a testament to a faith that was beautiful despite poverty and endless feudal wars.

      On a humorous note, I came to like your blog by reading about how your neighbors surreptitiously poison your hedge. See, God turns all things to good: you lost a hedge but I gained in spiritual wisdom.

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    2. haha! Thanks Scott.

      I actually like the LA Cathedral. I like modern architecture - but I would like to see traditional appointments - say a baroque altar and elaborate reredos amidst such simple architectural space. Likewise, beautiful devotional interspersed.

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    3. I wonder no consideration was given to incorporate pieces from St Vibiana Cathedral?

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  7. I just recently started wearing a veil to Mass. That might help! Why did they stop all of those traditions?! Just when everything in the modern culture was going nuts, they stop all the traditions that could stem the tide, at least when you're at Mass. It's the devil and that's all there is to it.

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    1. Good for you Rebecca! God bless you for having the courage to do so.

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  8. God made beautiful bodies and sexuality..so yes you should dress appropriately for any occasion..but not everything is a struggle for your soul people! Look at a beautiful sexy person appreciate it..say Thank You God..and go back to your prayers!Noticing an attractive person is not necessarily perving on them!And using the "the Holy Spirit" as an excuse when you just might be a nagging old lady scold...

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    1. Mark, I think you are at least partially correct. I do say "Thank You God" if I do see someone attractive anywhere and ask God to draw them nearer to His Sacred Heart and to help them to grow in holiness. That's a very good practice. However, people should precisely because of the sacredness of the temple of the Holy Spirit and out of respect for God's house and their neighber veil it appropriately.

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    2. The church should consider providing trench coats at the door like the Vatican used to do.

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    3. http://home.catholicweb.com/stmarymanchester/index.cfm/NewsItem?ID=291444&From=Home


      Please… Out of Respect for the Blessed Sacrament:
      The following attire is not appropriate to be worn during the Mass
      or anytime in the church:

      Tank tops & sleeveless shirts or blouses.
      Beach attire
      Shorts
      Short skirts.
      Flip-flops
      Clothing that exposes the midsection or any private parts of the body
      Thank you for helping to keep our church a place of dignity worthy of the House of the Lord.

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  9. I would have to disagree and say that everything is a struggle for your soul. That's the whole point of life. Pray unceasingly.

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  10. Whilst I completely accept that people should dress modestly in church, I have to strongly disagree with Mari Kate's comment that women who dress inappropriately can be "occasions of sin" for men - even priests giving Communion. Does Mari really believe that the majority of men are so base? Besides, there is such a thing as "custody of the eyes". Recently, a friend had occasion to warn others in his building of the need for evacuation due to the smell of gas. When one neighbour, a Muslim lady, answered her door, my friend saw her head was not covered; knowing that it was 'inappropriate' for him to see this, he lowered his eyes. She noticed and later expressed her thanks.

    I also can never comprehend why some people fail to reverence (either genuflecting or giving a thoughtful bow) when passing the tabernacle (or the altar). However, I also fail to understand why some feel the exposed Sacrament should be accorded greater reverence than when passing the tabernacle e.g. double genuflection; it is the same Presence. I guess my Eastern Rite leanings (where genuflections are alien) are dominating on this one.

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    1. I think devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle needs to be stressed and revived.

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  11. We once found a half-eaten box of KFC chicken on one of the chairs in our perpetual adoration chapel. Doubt angels left it.

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    1. Maybe someone takes the Eucharistic banquet teaching literally? ;)

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  12. Once again I am late to the party....honestly: people (read:women) often have No Clue that they are 'provocative': thanks to tv, ads, magazines, internet et al: clothing, stance, makeup, exposure of the body....all have taken on a wildly casual meaning ... in some odd way, Not Sexual, but..stylish. I always smile and am friendly to the young girls & women who look Very Scantily Dressed: as I can see the curled lips and frowns from others, directed at them, during Mass. How many people are hurt and never return ?
    When I was young & lovely, long, long ago, I lived in Madison, Wisconsin: once while waiting for the bus on University Avenue, (near Bagels Forever, for those who know that town), in the summer, I saw a car careen across the four lanes of University, do a u-turn, and head toward me....the man stopped, got out, and proceeded to Really Chew Me Out. It was all about my stage of 'undress' and how sexy I looked and how could I do this ?! I was stunned and shocked. Only 23 or so. Unconscious, as only one can be at that age. I was a child in a woman's body. I had No Clue. Even at 'that age', of 23, in the '70's. I did feel for him, finally - he was full of lust, even I could see this, and I was one of the tempting ones, causing him torment. I was never quite the same after this. Honestly: I Had No Clue.
    When I shop today (not often, my clothes are old, like me) for tops, I end up wearing All Of Them backwards: the fronts all plunge. It is Hard to find clothing that is not like this. Honest. I do not have cable tv anymore, so expensive: and I am glad, as one is thus spared the worst of it all. Just my own old events and experience and thoughts.
    what a sad world we live in, I think, sometimes.

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    1. Consolata - thanks so much for sharing this. I think I need to say too that this isn't simply about only women wearing immodest clothing. Men are just as guilty and sometimes more. It is perfectly acceptable for men to go shirtless on the street and that is a double standard. These men too can and are a source/occasion of sin to others. This is why it is all the more important to teach young people how important modesty and holy purity are. I grew up in the 1970s. I remember a woman actually wearing a HALTER TOP to church! No kidding. We were scandalized as kids. Catholics are called to be in the world but not of the world. How much of the world's "styles and fashions" do we buy into? I can't help but always think about Our Lady of Fatima's admontion, "Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.". I've said this before but my 76 year old mother brought up in another time always talked about "Mary-like modesty" in dress for women AND men. http://www.fatima.org/essentials/requests/mid.pdf

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  13. Yeah all of my clothes are like that! Dresses and everything. You can't find anything that isn't.

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  14. Going to Mass should never be an occasion of sin

    http://fatheracervo.com/2011/08/23/going-to-mass-should-never-be-an-occasion-of-sin/

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  15. It seems to me that there are no hard and fast rules about this. It is culturally conditioned. For instance. While you might have a hissy over flip flops, Syro-Malankara priests say Mass without any shoes at all.

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    1. Though the woman in the photo with soon to be saint JPII is all dressed up and has her head appropriately covered with a pretty hat - she is barefoot! In this case at the very least, flip-flops could have been worn.

      What?

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    2. I know you are laughing Thom.

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    3. I actually am. :)

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  16. Wow. Forty-one comments. Maybe I can be the caboose on this train.

    I live in a tourist town, with visitors from all over the world. Americans are easily the worse dressed. It is due to our current culture, which emphasizes being casual. One can see it not only in our dress, but our homes and manners. Clothing that was designed for athletic wear or work clothes become everyday clothes. It is all about being comfortable.The Japanese are the best dressed, very stylish, with Europeans a close second. Some people just bring their best when they travel. So it isn't about a lack of reverence, but the culture of our times.
    How about a change of focus? Instead of obsessing about the choices you don't approve of, instead notice the ones you do. Give thanks for the good that you find. If you want, compliment the person on their wardrobe. However, there is one very important caveat. Men should only compliment men, and women, women. Men should only be noticing the physical appearance of their date, wife, or daughter. For all other women, men should only notice and compliment accomplishments or abilities. For most women, for a strange man to come up and comment about her physical appearance, even if he had good intentions, well, that's just creepy. And for an older man to start commenting on the physical appearance of a teenager, well, that just sends the needle on the creep-o-meter into the red danger zone.

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    1. E - One of the secrets to lots of comments is for the blog owner to reply to each one. Haha! Or let another couple duke it out in the combox.

      No wonder the beautiful carry out girl at the grocery store avoids me now - I once told her she was beautiful! She thinks I'm a perv!

      Anyway - it is about the culture of our times - to be sure. Another situation is designer-trendy clothes - that cost a lot. Some people equate expensive and fashionable with wearing one's best. This is an exaggeration, but 'some girls' probably think Beyoncé's stage outfits are suitable for church - because she's all dressed up, you know.

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  17. I'll be ecumenical with this comment:

    "First, it is necessary to come to a temple decently dressed. This does not mean putting on your finest or most fashionable clothes. Clothes should be neat and tidy. It is not permissible to wear clothing meant for sports, working or the beach. Clothing should also be modest. A good rule of thumb is that we should be attired such that we can make a full prostration without embarrassment. For men a suit is not required. Shirts should be long sleeve (without any blatant slogans, figures or depictions of pop culture), trousers should be decent (not jeans), and footwear should be ordinary, not athletic style shoes. Shorts are only to be worn by boys less than seven years of age. For women dresses and blouse should not be sleeveless or too revealing in the front or back. Skirts should be of an appropriate length (not above the knees) and without slits. Footwear should be suitable....."

    Holy Virgin Protection - Behavior in church
    www.english.holyvirginprotection.org
    Holy Virgin Protection of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia located in Des Plaines, IL

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