25 June 2012

Is a tennis match more important than the Eucharistic King?

As we drove back to Springfield from Vandalia last evening, Bishop Paprocki mentioned to me that Wimbledon has now included a dress code for spectators in a mailing sent the club's member, saying, according to some, "No riff-raff please, we're Wimbledon."
They are considered to be wearing 'acceptable dress' in just one picture, which appears alongside the words: 'The dress standard for gentlemen is lounge suit or tailored jacket, shirt, tie, trousers and dress shoes. 
'Ladies are expected to dress to a similar standard.' 
The other photographs illustrate 'unacceptable dress'. The various sartorial sins committed include 'T-shirts, distressed jeans and trainers, bare midriffs, jeans and flip flops'. 
Strapless tops and shorts are banned, as are 'zipper jackets, casual or scuffed shoes, hoodies, pumps and short skirts'. 
Members are warned: 'The Club's dress standards in the Members' Enclosure will be strictly enforced [more].
Though one blog I found referred to the dress code as "archaic," the news agencies I read strangely made no editorial comment about the dress code.

Let me say that I am neither surprised at this dress code nor disappointed in it, and it brings me ponder a rather obvious question: Why not have dress codes for the celebration of the Mass and the Sacraments?

This is a question I've raised before, time and time again.  And then yet again.

In many parts of Europe there are dress codes for entrance into sacred buildings, memorably shown in this sign outside Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome:

In this country, country clubs have dress codes, as do many restaurants.  Why should we not also ask people to dress decently when entering the presence of the King of heaven and earth?

One's Sunday best is simply that: the best that you have, without being showy or ostentatious.  If your best is honestly a pair of jeans and a polo, wear them.  If you your best is a suit and tie, wear it.  As I'm rather fond of saying, we should wear to church what we might also wear to bed or the beach.

The topic of appropriate attire for Mass is one that Bishop Paprocki took up in his column in this week's issue of the Catholic Times.  He said, in part,
In contrast to the casual dress now commonly seen, people were much more formally attired at the Solemn Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form that I celebrated at the Shrine of St. Rose of Lima in Quincy last Sunday. During this celebration, I consecrated new altars, administered the sacrament of confirmation, offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and carried the Blessed Sacrament in procession in honor of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. The ceremony took fours hours, which is usually how long it takes me to run a 26.2 mile marathon, so one could say that this was certainly a marathon liturgy!

St. Rose of Lima Church just marked its 100th anniversary, and it looked splendid for this grand occasion. I commend Father Arnauld Devillers, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, and all the faithful who made this such a dignified event by which we gave glory and praise to God.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI wrote an Apostolic Letter called Summorum Pontificum, in which he said that it was “permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church.” Last year, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, said that the pope hopes for the eventual development of a newly reformed liturgy, combining elements of both the traditional Latin Mass and the ordinary form of the liturgy that has commonly been used since the Second Vatican Council ended in 1965. Cardinal Koch said that Summorum Pontificum, with its call for expanded use of the traditional liturgy, is “only the beginning” of the pope’s overall scheme for liturgical reform [more].
Do people today view a tennis match at Wimbledon as more important than a meeting with their Lord and God?  I certainly hope not.


  1. Anonymous6:04 AM

    Are we really going to turn people away from a church because of dress? Jesus had more urgent concerns, matters of the heart. The church doesn't need a dress code it needs the Gospel. Are we really more focused on outward appearance than inward holiness? This attitude reminds me of that of the Pharisees.

    1. You might consider reading my previous posts on the subject and consider the Scriptural references I use, rather than simply dismissing me as a Pharisee. What you have just done is precisely what Jesus did not do.