Immodest dress in church

Matt Abbott’s recent column at Renew America starts like this:

‘This post consists of excerpts from a letter I wrote to the pastor of a Catholic parish about a certain incident that occurred at his church. I have omitted all references as to the church’s location. The church is semi-circular in design, and we were sitting in the last pew near the center isle, which afforded us a clear view of almost the entire congregation. I started my letter with a compliment as to how nice the newly-remodeled church looked. I then ask the pastor to please consider the following hypothetical situation.

‘A priest enters the confessional for the usual Saturday morning or afternoon confession time. During this time a young man enters the confessional. ‘Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.’ From the sound of the voice on the other side of the screen, the priest surmises that the person is a teenager or young adult. The confession continues: ‘It was a week since my last confession. I’m guilty of many lustful thoughts, and I looked at some very immodestly dressed women more times than I should have.’

‘The priest asks, ‘Were these impure thoughts related to these women you looked at’?

”Yes,’ replies the young man.

‘The priest: ‘Why did you continue to look at them? Why didn’t you go someplace else, away from them?’

”I couldn’t,’ said the young man. ‘They were in front of me and I was kind of hemmed in by the crowd.’

‘The priest: ‘Why were you in such a place to begin with? Do you remember that we are to avoid places that may be an occasion of sin?’

‘The young man answers, “Yes, Father, I know that, but I had to be there.’

‘The priest, somewhat puzzled, then asks: ‘Why did you have to be there, and where were you: at the beach; at a sporting event?’

”No, Father,’ said the young man, ‘I was at your noon Mass last Sunday, and two scantily-dressed girls were sitting in the pew right in front of me, along with their parents. I couldn’t move because my parents were on either side of me.’

‘While I said that the above story was hypothetical, in reality it is not. The Mass in question took place this past July at a prominent Catholic parish in a town my wife and I were visiting. It was the main Mass of the day and the church was quite full.

[...]

Read the rest there.

Lack of decorum is a serious problem.  Between corrosive informality and the more and more prevalent immodesty, it is getting more difficult to want to go to any public place…. even coffee shops… which is why it is a great idea to order

[CUE MUSIC]

Mystic Monk Coffee!

You know what?  The traditional Carmelite monks are very modest in their dress.  But they are lavish in giving honor to God!  That is why they are building a beautiful new monastery.  And You can help them build it.  All you have to do is order some Mystic Monk Coffee, their Tea or some other great MM swag.

Have you seen their great swag?  Frankly, I like WDTPRS coffee mugs better.

But they do have a niffty press, and groovy grinder.

Mystic Monk!

It’s swell!

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45 Responses to Immodest dress in church

  1. Carolina Geo says:

    Contrast this with a notice from a while back in the bulletin of a parish run by the FSSP:

    “Now that summer is here and the temperature rises, we will turn on the air conditioning in the church. Modesty, however, should always be on our minds, but more so in the house of God. Sleeveless shirts, shorts, t-shirts, short skirts or low cut blouses are not appropriate dress before the Most Blessed Sacrament. A reminder that our choice of clothing becomes an expression of our worship towards God.”

    This is just another reason why I am such a fan of the FSSP.

  2. servusmariaen says:

    Father,
    I appreciate you addressing this subject. As you know the situation has become deplorable. I remember as a boy in Montana in the early 1970s when a woman came to Mass with a halter top on. I was 8 and was scandalised. I looked at some of the photos from the WYD this week and was shocked at the level of immodesty of some participants shirtless males, tube tops, underwear (!). ..What is even more shocking is how this sort of thing is simply ignored. It should not be an occasion of sin to be at Holy Mass or a Catholic Youth venue because of the dress (or lack thereof) of those in attendance. I’ve asked the guardian angels of those youth who participated to intercede on their behalf that they be given an abiding Catholic faith and a deep reverence for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and love for his mother. I pray they develop a deep sense of Christian modesty and holy purity. It’s standard in most Churches (except for the Traditional Mass) for men to wear shorts, flip flops, t shirts. Just yesterday at Mass there were many women who wore sleeveless, backless, spaghetti strap dresses. This has to stop. My time at Holy Mass is spent practicing custody of the eyes and it is often quite heroic and but for the grace of GOD, the intercession of His holy mother and the aid of my guardian angel I would be in a miserable state.

  3. JohnMa says:

    Last year I was at a Mass in NoVA (with a regular contributor to this blog serving as MC) and there was one young lady dressed inappropriately for Mass. As I was leaving Mass the pastor was having a very stern looking conversation with her outside of the church. He had not been the celebrant of the Mass nor had he chanted the Epistle; however, he saw her walking out of his church and chose to do something about it. I haven’t seen her dressed inappropriately since that day.

  4. APX says:

    Ugh, yes. This is a problem. It happened every Sunday for me because our priest distributes communion literally right next to the choir. The women who wear skirts and dresses wear them above the knee. I kneel for communion and when I slightly turn my body to stand up again, I get a view that I’d rather not see.

    IMHO I think the biggest mistake my Catholic high school ever made was remove the school’s dress code for graduation dresses. It completely defeated the importance of modesty.

    I’ll admit, being a young woman, trying to find modest clothes that don’t make you look like Laura and Mary Ingalls can be a challenge, but with enough patience, perseverance and creativity, it is doable.

  5. Elizabeth D says:

    GREAT essay. It is incredible to me how difficult it is to make an impression about this in my parish. I am the weekday sacristan during the summer and therefore in a position to choose only modesty dressed people to lead the Angelus and do readings. I am also in some position to have an influence on others to be aware of this. But much as I have tried to persuade the priests to get specific publically about what constitutes modest dress (just telling people “dress modestly” proves ineffective since they actually THINK they’re modest), instead they express great fear about offending people, even who are readers or EMHCs, by raising the issue. In regards to bringing it up with individuals, the priest’s concern is that they get offended and then they never come back.

    Everyone, to make a difference about this we absolutely have to state a specific standard, just saying “dress modestly” is ineffectual today. If the standard is, skirts minimum to the knee, it should be emphasized that 2″ above the kneecap IS NOT to the knee, they should be thinking to the middle of the kneecap, and that this is a bare minimum, and many would feel the skirt should at least cover the front of the knee when seated. Shoulders covered, no low cut tops (a traditional standard is no lower than 2″ below the pit of the neck), nothing too tight or see through, no bare backs. Friends particularly should speak to their own friends who could do better about modesty. But there has to be some willingness, in cooperation with the pastor, to gently, privately correct people who are presenting themselves for liturgical service dressed immodestly. It also should be borne in mind that modesty is of greater value than dressing “nicely”, although both are fitting at Mass, sometimes I have seen it argued that it is better to wear a nice but not really modest dress, than to wear something shabby or informal but modest; well I disagree with that, I’d rather be poor and looked down upon and perhaps even failing a little in conforming my clothing to the solemnity of the occasion, but chaste. But we should try to develop a wardrobe that lets us dress both “nicely” and modestly.

    Modesty is protective of chastity and it’s for all the time, but above all at the “source and summit” of the life and activity of the Church, Holy Mass.

  6. salve95 says:

    My church is mostly free of issues relating to bad dress, at least from the view of the pew I’m in. I have seen some people dress somewhat questionably but it may just be because I moved over to this parish this summer. I’ve been to parishes that had much more serious problems related to the clothing people wear.

  7. MarylandBill says:

    To a certain extent certain aspects of dress are cultural. Whether shorts or t-shirts, or sleeveless tops are appropriate can be a matter of time and place. What is certain however, is that our culture has convinced women and girls that dressing in a sexually provocative manner is normal and as a result, many see nothing wrong with wearing such clothes to church.

    All that being said, I respect the right of my pastor and bishop to set the standards for my parish/diocese. I would certainly except more formal dress for Mass (I tend to be fairly casual, wearing a button down shirt and trousers for church) if it helped reduce the problem with immodest dress.

  8. priests wife says:

    I live in a place with a relatively high population of Orthodox Jewish people. On Sunday afternoon, if we go to the zoo, we’ll see lots of women with elbows and knees covered with 3/4 sleeved knit shirts and pretty A-line skirts and nice comfortable shoes that are still dress shoes (no athletic shoes for them- but sanita clogs or ballet type shoes) — I could be one of them except for the fact that my shirt showed my elbows (scandal!)—in any case, their mandated style is very do-able in the modern world for a busy mom- modest but not dowdy at all.

  9. Phil_NL says:

    My 2c:

    Yes, it happens, and excesses need to be adressed. That is the good part of this essay. The part that’s less successful, in my book, is the implicit assumption that other people getting lustful thoughts should determine the standard of modesty. That would be well over the top, as I daresay that most men can remember the day pretty much any female of nubile age would lead to such thoughts, regardless of her dress.

    It migth be a good idea to simply copy the practice at St. Peter’s in Rome, they seem to strike a pretty decent balance.

  10. Centristian says:

    I often find myself surprised by what people will wear to church, even at a wedding. As a part-time gig, I rehearse and coordinate weddings at my parish, and when I see wedding guests arriving in shorts and flip-flops I’m just floored. Catholics need to start reading Miss Manners or something. You’d never see that at an Episcopal church.

    One of the readers above mentioned the lack of modesty seen everywhere at World Youth Day. I happened to catch the Pope’s Mass on TV and yes, quite. Not that I expected anything different, mind you; that’s the way it always is. Now, considering that the participants had to spend all day in the hot, baking sun, I wouldn’t expect them to dress in anything but light, casual clothes. But shirtless? Tight jeans? I spotted at least one girl in a swimsuit. Would, say, khakis and polo shirts be too much to ask? How about removing your sun hats at solemn moments? How about not wearing baseball caps, at all?

    At any rate, I fault the kids with no sense of modesty less than I do the very concept of these big, outdoor, Papal WYD liturgies. The whole thing needs to be reimagined, in my opinion. You have, on the one hand, a setting and environment akin to a Pearl Jam concert. Then, up where you’d expect to find a stage and the band, you have instead an altar set up, the King and Queen of Spain in attendance, and the Pope celebrating solemn Mass.

    Interestingly enough, the traditional solemnity that Pope Benedict brings to his celebration of Mass only makes the event seem even stranger than it seemed during Pope John Paul II’s time. Whereas Pope John Paul’s WYD Masses were much more like great big pep rallies, Pope Benedict’s WYD Masses are actually like…Papal Masses…and so there is just a great big disconnect between what’s going on at the altar and what’s going on out in the congregation. And just what is going on out in the congregation? Nothing that seems worth perpetuating this event, to be honest.

    As I watched the Mass on TV, therefore, I sat there thinking, “this is just weird”. And it is. I really think they need to reconsider WYD and figure out what they mean to accomplish with it while trying to consider the best way to do that. As far as I can see, plopping a solemn Papal Mass into the middle of Woodstock isn’t at all useful.

  11. danphunter1 says:

    All of us Catholics should wear our Sunday best at Mass, for obvious reasons.
    T shirts, jeans and sweats is not Sunday best, for anyone.
    Some t shirts are more expensive than a used sportcoat or dress from Salvation Army.

  12. Kerry says:

    Aiee!!! My eyes, my eyes!!

  13. RichR says:

    Americans have lost all sense of decorum because nothing is important enough to dress up for anymore. Prof. John Rao of Keep The Faith fame attributes this, in part, to the cultural Calvinistic tendencies of the USA. He elaborates in detail in this talk on the KTF website:

    The Barren Harvest of Protestantism:
    http://www.keepthefaith.org/detail.aspx?ID=490

  14. MissOH says:

    “What is certain however, is that our culture has convinced women and girls that dressing in a sexually provocative manner is normal. ” MarylandBill is correct. In this area there was a march about a week ago, based on the idea that women have a right to be as immodest as possible and no one should say or think anything about it. I am simplifying this so as to not give them any publicity. One of the opinion writers in the local paper wrote an article which just showed how clueless he was about the real issues, as he also “championed” how great it was when women feel they can dress immodestly.

    Elizabeth D.
    “Everyone, to make a difference about this we absolutely have to state a specific standard, just saying “dress modestly” is ineffectual today. If the standard is, skirts minimum to the knee, it should be emphasized that 2? above the kneecap IS NOT to the knee, they should be thinking to the middle of the kneecap, and that this is a bare minimum, and many would feel the skirt should at least cover the front of the knee when seated.”

    Would that we could instititue this as Catholic grade schools. The school that is closest to us, and that has alot of good things happening, officially has a dress code stating skirts should be to the knee. This is still too short, in my opinion, since a skirt to the knee will be well above your you when you sit down. In practice, many of the older girls either roll up the waistbands or their parents have their skirts shortened (usually when they are in the 6th or start 7th grade). The girls grow and the parents don’t want to buy more skirts for their 8th grade year. I saw many skirts that were at least 2-3 inches above the knee when the child was standing. I did speak with the principal after seeing a child who’s skirt was so short it did not cover the shorts she was wearing under.
    I recall hearing some complaints about children being cold during recess during the winter. I am guessing those parents forgot that if one is wearing a skirt of decent length with bloomers, leggings or tights under, you can be quite toasty warm.
    The only schools I have seen that have skirts of a decent length are run by Traditional Catholics. Leaving out the one that is run by parents affiliated with a schimatic group, the other is, unfortunately, a prohibitive distance from where we live.

  15. introibo says:

    Centristian, right on re WYD!
    Elizabeth D, right on re dressing like a Christian! It is not particularly a pleasure to have to confront fellow Catholics about their not donning acceptable apparel. And you see it everywhere, even at TLM’s. We need to encourage our priests to mention this as the FSSP priest has at his parish. At a minimum, women should be respectfully and charitably told that they should be wearing blouses that fully cover their cleavage and do not overly hug their bosoms and skirts that hang below their knees. Lord, grant a sense of Christian modesty and common sense too!

  16. Augustin57 says:

    I think what we’ve witnessed in the last several decades is a very steady, albeit gradual, shift from people dressing properly at Mass to dressing as if they were going to the beach. How did this happen? I think it is a reflection on the fact that our country, in general, is really Protestant. Protestant theology says that man is depraved and we cannot change. They view salvation, not as we do, as the changing of a person, but as a covering over the sins of a person. Therefore, they have a very dark view of mankind. Catholic theology, though, says we are created anew through Confession and the Sacramental life of the Church!

  17. servusmariaen says:

    Centristian you are right on about WYD. I couldn’t agree with you more. What I find wierd is that this should even be a subject up for discussion among Catholics. There’s just something terribly wrong with where we (as Catholics) are today regarding Modesty. If you haven’t heard/watched it yet please watch Father Dominic’s sermon on EWTN regarding modesty. I mean this should have been on a BIG SCREEN TV at WYD! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZHECJJbzPM

  18. St. Rafael says:

    I am a huge critic of WYD, and it neeeds major reforms or to be abolished altogether. The rampant immodesty of the WYD pilgrims is just one major aspect of the problem with this rock fest. WYD authorities must come out with a dress code that is widely published and known to all.

    Just look at the pictures of the anti-Catholic demonstrators taunting the WYD pilgrims. The WYD Catholic girls were dressed just as immodest and identical to the anti-Catholic girl demonstrators. There was no difference for the most part. What does it say about our Catholic youth when they dress just like the pagans and you can’t tell them apart? Modesty, purity, and the Catholic worldview make no impact on Catholic youth who take their cue in thought, fashion, and dress from pop culture.

  19. Mrs. O says:

    As a mother, I am sad to say I am not always aware of things that may tempt my teenage son, and now younger son. I made a deal with them. They can tap me on the shoulder and just say “can we move” any time before or during Mass and it’s done.
    I’m sad to say of the things we have had to endure. Parents just don’t get it. I had one father trying to pull his teenage daughter dress (if she sneezed she would have been exposed!) mini dress down. Why didn’t they notice before hand?
    God help our youth.

  20. Gail F says:

    I think people should wear modest clothing to mass. I grew up in a neighborhood where the dominant church was Presbyterian (come to think of it, I live in another one now), and the men all wore suits to church, women wore modest dresses or suits, and boys wore dress shirts and dress pants. No one dresses in their “Sunday best” for mass.

    I don’t agree about World Youth Day at all. I find the pictures very beautiful and joyous. It was 102 there yesterday! I don’t care what the kids there wear. I’m just glad they’re there.

  21. Austin says:

    I had an English Baptist grandmother and she made us wear “Sunday Best” to church. For her, that included a suit or frock with matching hat, gloves, handbag, court shoes, and jewellery. For boys and men, it meant suit and tie. When we complained, she would say “How would you dress if you were going to visit the Queen?”

  22. akp1 says:

    Whilst I agree with the comments about dress/modesty and the general lack of modesty – I have to speak up for those at WYD. I watched the whole of the prayer vigil and much of various other events – as my county gets Spanish tv. The witness by the pilgrims was fantastic. 1.4 million young people in total silence for adoration. Beautiful. I had the privilege of meeting quite a lot of the youngsters when they came to my home city for a pre-WYD event. I was so impressed with their prayfulness, their willingness to speak about their faith, and their joy. They will go back to their countries taking this amazing experience with them. Thank God for Pope Benedict – yes they got Papal Masses, just as they should do, they will grow from this experience and who can say what the fruits will be….

  23. Theodore says:

    Proving that even a broken clock can be right sometimes, I can state as a former member of the LDS church that dress standards at the average Mormon ward house were (and probably still are) much more modest than those I see exhibited by my co-parishioners.

  24. introibo says:

    I wonder what some of these immodest dressers would wear if they knew Our Lord was going to be there in the flesh…wait..He IS there in the flesh….

  25. St. Rafael says:

    It was 102 there yesterday! I don’t care what the kids there wear. I’m just glad they’re there.

    You don’t care that they are dressed immodest? Modesty is not important? What kind of Catholic witness is it to be an occasion of sin to others? To tempt others to sin against the sixth commandment. The male and female pilgrims were grossly immodest.

    Most of the Catholic girls were wearing shorts so short, that they resemble underwear. The WYD pictures were sad when it came to the clothes. The WYD Catholic girls and the anti-Catholic girl demonstrators were wearing the exact same immodest short shorts. The same length! What kind of example and witness of the faith is that to the anti-Catholic girls? Why should they admire Catholicism and be converted, when the Catholic girls are just as immodest and superficial as them? Catholicism looks worse because it reeks of hypocrisy.

    So what if it is 100 degrees? That doesn’t excuse immodesty. It gets to 100 degrees here in the States, yet Catholics are able to go outside and go to Mass on Sunday modestly. It was 100 degrees here where I live, and I was outside and went to Mass in pants and buttoned down long sleeve collared shirt. I’ve seen FSSP priests in full cassock during the African summer! The weather is a total cop out. Longer modest clothing is even better outside in hot weather, because it protects the skin from the sun.

  26. chonak says:

    Sure, immodest dress and slovenly dress at Mass are failings.

    On the other hand, I have a hard time believing any essay that consists of talking about how other people are tempted. How does he know: do young men tell him? Let the author write about his own temptations, or else get an actual young man to write about it, anonymously if need be. That will be more convincing.

  27. Mouse says:

    I really, really, really long for the day when pastors, or whomever they may delegate, will find a way to remedy this situation. I have recently seem such scanty dress at baptisms where people are standing up in front of the whole church that I was greatly angered and upset. And so miffed that I wondered if I should even take communion. When I say scanty, I mean SCANTY.

    I’m female…and it makes me feel like yelling at these women! What they don’t realize is that they will be held more accountable for causing sin than (in my opinion) the men will be – the men can’t help but see them. And meanwhile, I struggle to remain charitable (they don’t know any better, at least they come to church when most people don’t even come, you never know what they might become later in life, I was such a wretch I can’t judge them, they’re surely better people than I was at that age, etc)…

  28. Bender says:

    Good points, chonak. But better yet would be a piece about taking personal responsibility for one’s own morality, rather than shifting blame and accusing others of forcing them to sin. “The devil made me do it” is always an extremely poor excuse, given that we all are possessed of free will. Instead of the immature faith of being constantly concerned with the failings of others, a better approach would be to worry about controlling yourself.

  29. Elizabeth D says:

    chonak asks for young men’s testimony about how immodesty affects them with temptations. I agree that is valuable, though I think women should be willing to take it on good authority that in fact men are tempted by women’s immodest dress. I saw on Youtube recently a very well done hour long program that has young men doing just that, it is powerful. “The Naked Truth About Modesty”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWKipaNH83E

  30. Grateful Catholic says:

    And, in fact, some women are tempted by men’s immodest dress. A man’s bare legs can be simply disgusting, mildly distracting, or even alluring. Those that fall in the last category are particularly difficult to ignore when found on a man standing/kneeling in the pew directly in front of one or serving daily Mass in his street shorts.

  31. Banjo pickin girl says:

    We are all hothouse flowers, used to being comfortable all the time. God forbid we should perspire or be uncomfortable even for a second. Think of the Amishmen laboring in the fields in an Indiana summer in their wool broadcloth pants. Their only concession to the season is to change to a straw hat.

  32. Stvsmith2009 says:

    When I was going through RCIA a few years ago, two young women in their 20′s were also attending the RCIA classes. Our priest was conducting the classes, and during the second month, he was gone to Rome for two or three weeks. During his absence, the two young women showed up for the weekly class dressed immodestly. They apparently were not aware of his return (or didn’t care for that matter), and once again, came to the RCIA class with bare midriffs. Father came in, and started the class. We took our customary break after an hour or so, and he took the two young women aside, spoke quietly with them, and they left. We never saw them at RCIA again, and one of the young women told some others in the class that she was “offended” that anyone would presume they could tell her how to dress.

  33. Several years ago I showed up for mass at a tridentine parish (RC) in plain khaki shorts that stopped just above the knee; was informed that I was out of dress code and should not go in.

    While I was discussing this with an usher, here came a pretty girl in an ankle length skirt, slit to the waist, and it flapped open all the way up with every step she took; but she was within code, and went right in.

    Odd, no?

  34. irishgirl says:

    Wow, that Fr. Dominic from EWTN is a hard-hitter! Don’t hear too many priests talk that way when it comes to modesty in dress! More power to him!
    I watched WYD and noticed the scanty dress on a lot of of the kids. But I also saw nuns wearing traditional habits which were BLACK and BROWN, standing there in the hot sun of Spain!
    So if the nuns can take the heat wearing all-covering habits, so young kids should wear clothing for Mass that covers the body and not reveals it.
    At a local library where I often go, many times I see young local Mennonite girls in their long dresses of pretty pastels. I make it a point to tell them how much I like what they wear.

  35. tmjost says:

    Recently I was getting my hair cut and the hairdresser asked me, “Why do Catholics get all dressed up for Mass? I like going to my Church where I can wear flip flops and shorts!” I asked, “Do you REALLY want to know?” I said what I had either read or heard somewhere before, “If the president of the United States was at your Church every week, wouldn’t you want to look your best? Our Lord is actually present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He really is there in body, soul and divinity!” I know that if we really thought about this more we would not only dress more modestly, but would also not be as offended so easily by what others are wearing. Our eyes would only be on Our Lord.

  36. Mike says:

    I always wear a sports jacket to Mass on Sundays, and a collared shirt, long sleeves, during the week. Never shorts.

    Let’s man up on this one, and do as we encourage others to do.

  37. lux_perpetua says:

    i think that it’s important to remember that a lot of these women have absolutely no intention to be immodest. i absolutely shudder in horror when i look back at the things that i used to wear but, at the time, at least the majority of the time, my intention was never to be immodest. i was just, simply, dressing. buying what was on the racks, wearing what was in. i think it is important to remember, before we ever speak to a woman about her clothing, how many girls have been infected with the lie that their body is a mere object, of no value, to be used and abused and thrown away at will. there are two consequences of this lie when it combines itself with relativism: 1. it doesn’t matter who i sleep with or how he treats me, etc, etc, sex is just sex, no strings attached. but also, the second, that it doesn’t matter what clothing i do or do not place on this lump of flesh, an arm is just an arm, a stomach is merely a stomach. how many girl have heartd the relativistic lie “but in Africa women go around bare-breasted all the time!!! it’s not the breasts that instill lust, it’s a social construct!!!” we are never going to change anything until we realize that the majority of young folks are not intentionally dressing sloppily or immodestly, for Mass or otherwise. they simply have absolutely no idea what the consequences of their actions are. and no, i don’t think that’s a cop out, because i think that with current generations, we have been so inundated with moral relativisim, femininism, and the gay rights agenda that we literally need to be taught much about morality in babysteps, treated like children.

  38. Xmenno says:

    I have to insert a word of encouragement to all out there who endure such questionable dress at mass. (Some of the young ladies of our Cathedral parish are pretty blatant offenders). Several weeks ago, my husband and I attended Mass in a parish near a large army base in Texas. The “gathering space” outside of the Church was full of talk, laughter and raffle tickets, but inside was total silence, as the people nearly filled the pews. I noticed most of the women wearing dresses, men in slacks and dressy shirts. I did not see any shorts, or denim, or athletic wear, or halter tops or strapless shoulders. Even children and teens were dressed for the event. This warmed my heart. It is possible to catechize Catholics to dress appropriately, and even in an military town where not everyone is affluent, everyone in this parish managed to look modest and respectful.

  39. albinus1 says:

    This is just another reason why I am such a fan of the FSSP.

    My wife and I were married this past May at her FSSP parish. She ordered her wedding dress online, and she had to order a style that was actually advertised as a bridesmaid’s dress, because all of the styles advertised for brides featured bare shoulders.

    ***
    I can state as a former member of the LDS church that dress standards at the average Mormon ward house were (and probably still are) much more modest than those I see exhibited by my co-parishioners

    Ah, but that’s one advantage of the Temple Garment, isn’t it? It pretty much forces the wearer to dress modestly.

  40. pm125 says:

    Last Thurs. 8/18, the Gospel from Matthew Ch. 22:1-14 was about the king giving a wedding feast for his son, which was abandoned by those invited, so the king sent servants to invite others from the main roads because the feast was ready.
    A guest who arrived not wearing proper wedding garment was asked why by the king, who was met with silence. That guest had his hands tied, and was then thrown out into the darkness where there was no feast.
    (It’s not easy to be a people watcher and be at Mass or even watch TV at home.) The Gospel ended with a HINT for us. Wailing and grinding of teeth in the dark because many are called, but few are chosen.

  41. Phillip says:

    St. Rafael…I mean this with all due respect, but…you call what the Catholic girls in the WYD protest photos were wearing “short shorts”?

    You haven’t been to an American high school recently, have you? They were dressed far more modestly than most of my female peers, and I’m about the same age as the girls in the photo. I’m all for modesty, but let’s not be completely unrealistic about where we draw the line. I’d settle for more girls not wearing shorts that aren’t cut an inch below crotch-level.

  42. Ellen says:

    The parishioners at our church used to dress pretty sloppily, but slowly are coming round to dressing better. We still have the occasional person come in with sloppy shorts (and they are usually men), but not as much as they did a few years ago. There’s still a lot of jeans though.

    I live in a rural area, and it was not unusual for some of the old men to wear overalls all the time. They had overalls that they wore to do chores in, but they had a special pair for church that they’d wear with a long sleeved white shirt. You don’t see that as much anymore, but it was a fixture of my childhood.

  43. mysticalrose says:

    I, for one, am absolutely horrified but what people think is appropriate to wear to my large suburban parish: spaghetti straps to show giant tattoos, super-short shorts, pajama pants (no lie) and slippers, rolled over sweatpants with messages printed on the backside. The other moms in my bible study and I have been trying to come up with a way to help our pastor, because the problem is, in our current climate if he says anything at all concerning immodest dress, particularly of YOUNG, he’s going to be labelled a pervert and possibly removed. That’s terrible, but my diocese is on a total witch-hunt right now. A group of us women are going to propose that we act as an advisory council on modesty at the parish — that way if anything is printed in the bulletin it would be coming from women and not from the priest. We’re hoping this would make him less vulnerable to accusations.

  44. mysticalrose says:

    @lux_perpetua

    “how many girl have heartd the relativistic lie “but in Africa women go around bare-breasted all the time!!! it’s not the breasts that instill lust, it’s a social construct!!!”

    Which is ironic, considering that women in African parishes dress beyond modest for mass, usually in traditional dress that covers the body from head to toe.

  45. seeker says:

    Before I became a more orthodox Catholic, I didn’t always dress up for Mass. Then I heard a young African- American Baptist woman explain (joyfully) “I’m the kind of girl who gets more dressed up for Sunday morning than I do for Saturday night.” Boy, did that set me back on my heels. Makes so much sense to look your best for the most important thing you do all week.