Modern culture has done a lot to erode away many of our traditions as well as decency and reverence.
Although the Catholic Church has no real dress code for proper attire when attending Mass, there IS an unwritten dress code that demands we are properly dressed out of respect, honour and reverence for the Real Presence of Our Lord.
Unfortunately, today a lot of people seem to forget they are attending church for the Sacred and Solemn Celebration of the Mass, and they seem to think that they are going a fashion show, with the church aisle as their own personal catwalk.
When you dress for Mass, you are not dressing to impress others, you are dressing for God.
In addition, just the very act of dressing up nicely and modestly for Mass makes children more inclined to behave better during Mass.
I believe that there are TWO main reasons one should dress modestly and decently for Mass:
- Out of respect and reverence for God
- In order not to be a distraction or stumbling block to our fellow parishioners
Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about dressing properly for Mass:
To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church. Bodily demeanour (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest – CCC 1387
Clement of Alexandria c. 195 AD says: Let a woman wear a plain and becoming dress, but softer than what is suitable for a man. Yet, it should not be immodest or entirely steeped in luxury. And let the garments be suited to age, person, figure, nature, and pursuits.”
Ministers including, cantors, instrumentalists, choristers, lectors and extraordinary ministers should be particularly mindful of how they dress for Mass. They should be setting an example for the parishioners. It is highly disrespectful to administer Holy Communion to the faithful while dressed, say, in shorts and spaghetti strap tops.
According to Catholic Christian tradition (found in 1st Corinthians 11) the head covering requirement falls equally upon both men and women. According to the custom, men are to take their hats off during religious ceremonies, while women are to put a covering on. This is for two reasons. The first is just like the manner of dress described above — which is to excuse one’s self. Saint Paul points out to us that a woman’s glory is the beauty of mankind, and that is manifested in her hair. Women go to great lengths to make their hair beautiful, regardless of the style or trend, and that’s a good thing. But during the mass, the focus is to always be on the Eucharist, and as a sign of modesty and respect, the woman excuses her beautiful hair (by covering it) to call more attention to the greater beauty of God’s presence in the Eucharist. – SOURCE
Generally, we should be guided by a combination of virtue, common sense and piety when deciding what to wear to Mass.
Below are some guidelines to follow when deciding how to dress for Mass.
Do Not Wear The Following:
- Any dress or skirt that does not completely cover the knees when sitting or standing
- Skimpy shorts, in fact, shorts of any kind
- Dresses and tops that are tight-fitting, provocative, low-cut, bare midriff or sleeveless
- Dresses or tops with spaghetti straps, with plunging necklines, that expose the bare shoulders or bare back, or that are see-through
- Dresses or skirts with high slits
- Flashy clothing
- T shirts
- Any outfits with large logos or distracting messages
- Flip flops, sneakers or beach sandals
- Modest tops, dresses or skirts
- Any pants should be avoided for traditional Catholic ladies; and if YOU MUST, wear dress pants, NOT jeans.
- Chapel veils – covering of the hair for women in the presence of the Eucharist is done out of respect for Our Lord
ad Jesum per Mariam