I firmly believe that occasions require decorum: the effect or result that we desire conditions the choices we make in outward expression. We adapt and are “apt” for the situation. Language and gestures can and should be adjusted according to the circumstances. So should outward appearance, which generally involves clothing. We dress for the occasion.
For example, as an invited wedding guest (the Lord has a parable about this), you dress your best… unless you want to offend. If someone important, honored and beloved is coming to your home, you tidy up and put out the best according to your means. If you are invited to, say, an Ascot Garden Party, you probably wouldn’t choose to wear mustard yellow corduroys.
Moreover, there is a connected between “habit” (clothing) and “habit” (interior disposition, inclination). Clothes make the man and vice versa, but so do occasions. Alas, decorum is a little regarded category. There seems to be little concern today for the apt, the good, the beautiful.
Today at the dicey and slippery CRUX there is a piece about the differences of style and dress of the last few popes. You might want to check it out.
One of the premises in this piece we cannot accept. For example, when talking about Pope Francis’ “simpler” style, to use a word, the tailor remarks:
Mancinelli [A tailor in the Borgo Pio… I’ve never really liked his stuff] admits that having grown up in a different time, he has a preference for things that are well-fitted and precise, but he also recognizes that “if the pope decided to take this position, it means that there is a reason.
“Maybe now we can concentrate more on the will of God instead of men,” he added. [I imagine that he is not trying to be sophisticated here, because that’s simply ridiculous. There is no reason why a person cannot dress well and appropriately, even elegantly, and not also “concentrate on the will of God”. He admits that SAINT John Paul II had a more sophisticated style than Francis. So, was JPII focused more on the will of men?]
The two main things to keep in mind when working for the pope, he said, are discretion and adaptability.
“The first day can be a bit shocking,” Mancinelli said, [Indeed.] since you have to get used to a different taste and aesthetic, but after a few days he says, “you learn the differences.”
Mancinelli had a good relationship with Pope Benedict XVI. He “used vestments that were a bit more beautiful, let’s say, in the sense that they were more beautiful to look at,” he said. [More beautiful to look at … well.. yes… that would be the way in which they were more beautiful, I suppose.]
Now, clergy from around the world ask Mancinelli for Pope Francis-inspired cassocks, ready for the daily wear and tear. [Silly. There have always been cassocks ready for daily wear and tear.] But this new style has its advantages when it comes to time consumption.
“Once we only used silk, today the fabrics are simpler. [HUH? No. Clearly not “only used silk”.] I am making clothes for some cardinals,” Mancinelli added pointing to the scarlet scraps that littered the floor. “The fabric is very simple, made of wool and light [material].” [And that’s how it has been for decades now.]
Silk takes much more time to sow, and the simpler fabrics mean less time to make the clothes, he said.
Pope Francis “is more focused on being a good father, a good shepherd, rather than having a beautiful cassock or pants, or even shoes,” Mancinelli said. “I wish I could live many more years, so I can see what happens next!” [Again, the suggestion that, for example, wearing a beautiful chasuble for Mass or putting on all the papal gear for a meeting with a head of state somehow is in contrast to being “a good father, a good shepherd” is absurd. As a matter of fact, one might say that not using those things marginalizes a large portion of one’s spiritual charges.]
This same line of argument, if it can be called such, is used also be liberals and iconoclasts who are trying to break down Catholic identity. This is notable especially in our liturgical worship. “Noble” simplicity, is rarely so and, indeed, even when it is, it runs contrary to the occasion. When we are in the realm of worship, less isn’t always more. And isn’t it true that libs criticize grand liturgy along the lines of Judas criticism of the woman with the alabaster jar? Moreover, because they think themselves morally superior, they launch their dopey barbs at beautiful vestments. Again, because they are so superior, they demand that language of worship be dumbed down, music be reduced to the lowest common denominator… because they, in effect, think people are stupid. I could go on.
No, don’t accept these bad premises when you encounter them.