Counter the annual idiocy with reverence

There is a good and thoughtful post over at The Recovering Dissident Catholic about attire in church. 

Some background.  There is an especially irksome group called the Rainbow Sash Movement who put on sashes to protest the Church’s teaching on acting on homosexual inclinations and thus committing homosexual actions.  Since they are in turn commiting a scandalous act in public, they may not receive Holy Communion and priests ought not give it to them.  This has even been the subject of a letter from the Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.  Certain dioceses are targeted by this group every year on Pentecost when they show up at the cathedral in their garb of protest.   For a while they claimed they were acting in good faith.  However, even this year on their website they are saying  (my emphases):

We need to be present in the Cathedral … to remind both bishops that our glbt sexuality is a gift from God, which we proudly celebrate on Pentecost.  … Organizers will provide the Rainbow Sash to everyone who agrees to wear it throughout the Mass, and not remove it if so requested by the presider during the Mass.   If denied communion, as we were last Pentecost, we will peacefully and prayerfully return to our pews and remain standing while the rest of the congregation kneels.  All who share our belief in a loving God who celebrates with us the diversity of Her creation are welcome.

You see their attitude.  They must be denied Holy Communion as a result of their publicly proclaimed intention to disrupt Mass from a motivation of dissent from the teachings of the Church and the obvious conclusions from natural law.  It is hard sometimes to understand how people can get so confused.

So, the entry from Recovering Dissident is applicable everywhere but especially timely for Americans.  (My emphases.)

Gang Colors at Holy Mass

It used to be that the only person in the Church during Holy Mass who gave serious thought to what color they had on was the Priest. The Priest still does but now he is joined in color by some of his parishioners.

Pentecost is next Sunday and you will be hardpressed to find a similar day in the Liturgical Year where gang colors will be on parade.

You will more then likely have the rainbow group representing those misguided Catholics who think GLBT individuals are oppressed in the Church because they can’t practice their sexuality the way THEY want to without the "big bad" Church objecting. This gang uses Pentecost as a day to be really disruptive and wear rainbow colored sashes and pins and stand around like a group of pouting children when they are told they can’t receive Communion dressed like that because they just made a public statement by their attire that they are not in Communion with the Church.

You will have the purple sash or headscarf group. Folks who think women are wronged by the Church because they can’t be ordained. Rather then just wear a ladylike mantilla or go someplace else, they will show up and sit right up front. They growl and stamp their feet when they are told they can’t receive Communion because they are so obviously making a statement that they disagree with the Church’s teachings as handed down by Jesus Christ.

Back in my clubbing days, people with certain colors on that signified alliance with a gang and the potential for possible disruption or violence were not allowed in to the club.

Do we need bouncers at the doors of our Churches? Why do folks think that the Mass is about them?

We can barely get people to dress respectfully for Mass, but tell them they can look ridiculous to make a political statement and change the focus of Holy Mass to their selfish selves they are all for it.

This year in the United States, Pentecost Sunday is in the middle of, what is for many, a 3-day holiday weekend for Memorial Day on Monday. This means, a lot of people will be traveling. It usually means that people tend to show up for Mass this Sunday dressed in their summer worst.

Here’s my modest proposal: Please make an effort to dress up this Sunday if you normally don’t. Ties, suits, dresses, skirts, blouses. Dress modestly and appropriately. Let’s try and counter what has become the annual ritual of idiocy with reverence and taste.




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    Who would have thought that this blog would give a good reason to be thankful for the post-conciliar liturgical changes?

    Imagine if the Rainbow Sash movement had the earlier calendar to play with. They could try to wear their sashes for the entire Octave of Pentecost.

  2. Jordan Potter says:

    Back in the olden days, it was the job of the deacons to bar the doors to prevent those unable to receive Communion from entering during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Is it time to revive that ancient discipline?

  3. afanco says:

    Boy, do these folks need prayer. I think only the Holy Spirit can break into those hearts of stone and free them from their dissent and disorder.

  4. Henry Edwards says:

    They could try to wear their sashes for the entire Octave of Pentecost.

    ROFL. And the implicit suggerstion that these folks would be assisting devotedly at daily Mass throughout the Octave heightens the humor. (Or am I in my ignorance of these types making an unwarranted assumption that they would not be back throughout the week following their big Pentecost offensive.)

  5. Deacon John says:

    Yesterday at Sunday Mass I noticed three people in different parts of the congregation standing for the Consecration. I thought I should tell them the proper position is kneeling, but I didn’t. I never saw these people before at this Mass. I wonder if they were practicing for Pentecost?
    Jordan: I’m six feet, one inch at 240 lbs., I’m sure the bishop could use me as a bouncer!!! Many times I’ve had to chase people who put the Host in their pocket and made them consume It! Priests and deacons need to be aware of the sacrileges taking place at our Masses!
    Deacon John

  6. danphunter1 says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf,
    Any positions for a big, strong porter who dresses in a suit and tie, open in Rome?
    God bless you

  7. Karen Russell says:

    Deacon John: Possibly the strangers who were standing were from a parish where standing is the usual practice during the Consecration (Sadly, there are some) and were merely following their usual habit.
    After all, when I have found myself in such a parish for Mass, I kneel anyway, as always, regardless of what the people around me are doing.

  8. afanco says:

    True Karen, some parishes aren’t blessed to ahve kneelers, and just do not have the proper discipline during mass. They hear “GIRM” but think “germ” and they avoid it at all costs.

    Dolorous indeed. God Bless the bishops and pastors who are taking care of this problem. I know in particular that Bp. Carlson in Saginaw is certainly doing a great job on this.

  9. This is RAPIDLY going down the rabbit hole into irrelevant tangents. Don’t chase the rabbit.

  10. Patty G. says:

    Yesterday my family had the unfortunate but eye-opening experience of visiting a nearby parish in southeastern Minnesota (we are St. Agnes parishioners) The list of liturgical abuses was a mile long. Referring to Penecost Sunday, the priest announced that “for the feast of the outpouring of the Spirit” he would like everyone to wear red and white clothing “for the environment”. I’m not quite sure what ‘environment’ he meant…

  11. Patty G.: That is not irrelevant to something I actually edited out of the former dissident’s text. You can check that in the original. Some people choose to wear red for some less than obvious reason.

  12. Muscovite says:

    For about a year after our conversion, our family was regularly accosted by people in shorts and ratty t-shirts and accused of making them look bad by dressing up for mass. Dressing nicely and modestly definitely makes a statement that some people will find offensive.

  13. Christopher Manderino says:

    I got a problem and the only solution is more porters.

  14. Jacobus non sanctus says:

    I really wish people would stop making a big deal about how others are positioned/participating at mass. Kneeling, sitting, standing on one leg, singing loudly, mumbling, dressed in a tang top or three piece suit, WHO CARES?! The important stuff is going on at the altar, not in the pews.

  15. Julie says:

    Jacobus….I understand what you’re saying, but let’s move into the real world now. Lex orandi, lex credendi.

    Sure, there are people with bad singing voices, and God bless them for trying. There are those who mumble the prayers…at least they’re praying. Yes, this is good.

    But we must practice what we believe and if God is present in the Mass, then why aren’t we dressing up for HIM!?

    We dress up more to visit a relative than we do for our Lord!

    And speaking as an ex-dissident myself, what we do DOES make a difference, and I’ll tell you why whether anyone here (or you) wants to hear it or not.

    When I was trying to find my way back to God, I attended a local dissident parish….of course, I didn’t know it was dissident, I only knew it was in a location convenient to me. I was raised Catholic, and had been away for awhile, but I knew that we were supposed to kneel at a certain point. I felt VERY UNCOMFORTABLE when no one knelt during the consecration. I actually had no idea when the Consecration happened, but I had been raised to understand that respect was due to this moment, even if we didn’t “get it”.

    But I returned to that parish, which didn’t have many attendees. It was a mixture of the elderly and some baby boomers. There were not many there of my age (I was in my mid 20’s).

    It was not crowded. (As an aside…no wonder the dissident crowd things people are leaving the Church….)

    One thing I learned as a child…watch your elders, and do what they do. I didn’t like what my “immediate” baby-boomer elders were doing, so I looked to those who reminded me of my grandparents…and when they knelt, I knelt.

    The ONLY people kneeling at the appropriate times were the elderly, likely people who had been in that parish for years and had nowhere else to go because they couldn’t get around. So in spite of the female “homilist” who gave a lesson in social statistics every time she spoke, or in spite of the refusal of the majority to kneel during the consecration, they remained, and I am one soul living in eternal gratitude for their witness.

    I watched them…and that’s when I knelt. Some of the baby boomers around me stared at me, but I, as a confused, lost sheep myself, ignored them.

    I kept special attention on a lady who really had a hard time kneeling, and every Sunday, she wore a light pink gauzy headcovering that was almost white…and I began to notice that other visitors to the parish were watching me. I’m a creature of habit so I always sat in the same place (still do), so I recognized the faces around me. It came to be that when I saw that lady kneel, I knelt, I stood when she stood, and I gestured when she gestured. She knew what was going on and even though I didn’t understand, I knew that everything she did, she did for a purpose.

    There was no purpose and no understanding in those who were standing, for they stood with vacuous visages and and empty gestures that resembled…nothing.

    Then I realized that people near me who were there before I had ever come to that parish were watching me, and when I knelt, they knelt. When I folded my hands, they folded their hands.

    We MUST practice as we believe. If we are wearing tank tops and mini skirts to Mass, we are giving permission for someone else to wear tank tops and mini skirts to Mass.

    The smallest things make a difference. I am here today because of the understanding of one woman I will never meet, and may actually have already gone to her reward. I hope she is there to greet me if I ever make it, by God’s grace, to the Gates of Heaven, so I can thank her properly for her witness.

    And there you have it. It DOES matter and don’t let your own attitude tell you different.

  16. Julie says:

    To everyone…the best thing we can do is live our faith by our actions.

    We need to pray for the “dignity” crowd (ironic…they have anything BUT), but we need to remember that everything we do matters.

    I began teaching RCIA this year and a couple people gave us written thank you’s.

    It wasn’t what we said or how we presented it, believe you me, I flubbed quite a few presentations!

    Their biggest thanks? Letting God shine through us. It was our public witness, how we carried ourselves and how we somehow, in spite of our flaws, managed to let God’s love take over.

    (I’m still not sure how that happened)

    They came into the Church not because of our words, but because of our ability to bring Jesus to them in a real way.

    Again…I’m still not sure how that happened, but apparently it did.

    I’ll be flummoxed by that forever, but if it works for God, it works for me! :-)

    And please continue to pray for our Archd. here in Minneapolis…we have a thriving Rainbow Sash community, and they really need help. I’m personally not sure how to show them love considering every time I see them all I see is red and I just want to tell them off.

    That’s the most common reaction among the faithful…

  17. Jacobus non sanctus says:

    You’re right, Julie, what we do does matter. I am not suggesting that those of us who are trying to be good Catholics stop being reverent at the liturgy. But, our regard should be towards Jesus Christ in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar and not on Billy Bob standing next to us wearing blue jeans. And so, let us do things as reverently as possible. Let us be good examples for people who don’t know any better, but we’re all better off not having heart-attacks when other people bow instead of genuflect in front of a tabernacle. We’re also much better off not falling into the sin of pride when we wear a suit in a church full of those wearing shorts or when we kneel when every one around is standing for the consecration. For my part, I get tired of being told to sing louder at the liberal parishes, and I don’t appreciate getting dirty looks when I don’t kneel the entire time at the TLM.

  18. Carl H. Horst says:

    Be careful of too much reverence in Orange County. If you try to receive Holy Communion while kneeling you’re likely to be excommunicated by Bp. Brown

  19. John says:

    In fairness, in certain dioceses standing is the proscribed posture throughout most of the Eucharistic prayer. When the bishop specifically mandates standing in his diocese, it is perfectly in accordance with the guidelines published by the Vatican. Kneeling is the default posture, but the bishop can change it. And, in fact, if the bishop does change it, shouldn’t a good Catholic stand as an issue of obedience even if said Catholic believes kneeling is better and/or more reverent? To disobey a licit instruction from a bishop seems an uncatholic thing to do. You can’t just cut out the bishop and say “It’s just me and God” — that’s Protestantism. Even cutting out the bishop and saying “It’s just me and the Pope and God” goes against traditional Catholic principles. Offer up standing as a sacrifice to God in obedience to the authority he established in your diocese.

  20. RosieC says:

    Huh. I don’t think we get many rainbow sashes in our diocese, but I wonder what they would do during Communion here, where several parishes make everyone stand after receiving.

    I wonder if they would kneel?

  21. Red Queen here.

    The point of my blog post, which Father was kind enough to highlight, was
    to lament a specific situation that occurs every Pentecost in several
    Archdioceses, including mine.

    This, spectacle, unfortunately, consists of groups of Catholics who DELIBERATELY use their clothing to make a statement of noncompliance with Our Faith. They do this and
    they still think they are Catholics properly disposed and worthy of Communion.
    They continue to act in this way, despite being told by the local Ordinary and/or
    their parish priest to desist.

    I did not intend to get into an extended discussion on proper attire and gestures at every
    Mass. I was recommending that we all make a special effort this Sunday by
    dressing appropriately to counter those who won’t be due to their protest garb.
    My recommendation is aimed especially at those Archdioceses that are targeted
    by these groups every Pentecost. If your Archdiocese isn’t, rejoice! and know
    that I envy you.

    However, I can rant at length about appropriate attire, in general, and I may do so on my
    blog later today.

  22. danphunter1 says:

    We are commanded by the Vatican to kneel during the Canon of the mass.To kneel, obviously during the Consecration.To kneel right after the Agnus Dei until after everyone has recieved the Blessed Sacrament and the tabernacle doors have been closed again.
    This is obedience to the Church.
    God bless you.

  23. Ken says:

    If I am not mistaken, the rubrics of the Universal Church mandate kneeling during the actual Dominical Words of Institution, unless a good cause prevents kneeling (crowded conditions, perhaps, or medical limitations). The bishops in the U.S. mandate kneeling from the end of the Sanctus/Benedictus through the Great Amen. I am not aware of what exceptions local bishops can make to those general rules,although I have seen the rules violated, as we all have.

    Reading the original post, I meant to make a light-hearted comment about the practice of one parish I know in which folks wear red on Pentecost Sunday, in remembrance of the Tongues of Fire. However, I find myself scandalized by the inordinate- and irreverant attention being paid to the dress and actions of others. That is, I think, an affront to the dignity of the Holy Mass as much as the Rainbow Sash folks would make. We grieve the heart of the Lord when we dissent from the Faith, but also when we indulge a critical spirit. Is there no end to the ability of so-called Traditional Catholics to pick at their neighbors? Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

    This is the first time I have read comments on this site. Is this what it is about? Complaining and harping on the defects of the Church as it is actually lived out? That’s hardly a reverence that will counter the lunacy of the Dignity/Rainbow Sash people.

  24. swmichigancatholic says:

    I live in the country and have seen no sash-people here because they probably either a) wouldn’t be understood as sash people, or b) would have to confront the same exact people on Monday and there’d be a lot of ‘splainin’ to do. But I was in a Washington DC just last week and saw one of these people, grandstanding at the exit of a cathedral. I think the sashes we see on the internet ought to be photo-shopped to say “I need a shrink,” and we’d ought to chase them down in real life with a grease pencil to make the real ones say the same thing. JMHO, tongue-in-cheek.

    In the other matters mentioned here, I have no problem with casual clothing in mass, as long as it covers body territory. For most of catholic history, people wore what they had to mass because many have had only one change of clothing! The whole dress-up, Easter-bonnet thing smacks of protestantism to me, a convert. I do have a problem when people come uncovered, such that other people give them attention on that count–ie low bodices, too-short pants, droopy hiphugger pants, bare midriffs, sheer or revealing dressy clothes(!). Those people belong at the beach or the bar, not at church, and ought to be covered up with something ugly and rented if they are to stay in the building. Roman style–sell them an expensive body scarf at about 3X department store price and insist they can’t get beyond the doorman without it.

  25. swmichigancatholic says:

    Ken, we do NOT grieve the Lord when we pay attention to details. We grieve the Lord when we cave in to relativism, the worst offense of the 21st century, so far.

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