Sometimes I wonder if this is payback or something for when I was irreverent during Mass once 35 years ago…
anyway, at the vigil Saturday evening Mass tonight a teen girl was wearing short-shorts, her father was dressed in shorts and served as a Eucharistic minister, and this family - the mother was wearing a camp-shirt and capris - whispered between each other in the 2 pews in front of me, and I couldn’t help but hear the conversation because they were right in front of me…
and anyway, I was so ashamed for them that in the communion line I sort of held it up momentarily because I didn’t want to receive communion from this minister who was wearing shorts. I felt like if he had that little respect for the Mass that I sure didn’t need to be around him… I’m trying to be a better person, myself… and someone sort of just stomped by me…
then during the announcements just before the Mass was over the song-leader interrupted the priest, which I thought was very rude and arrogant. I’ve been angry and sad about this all evening.
I’m ashamed for them and for me and for the parish I’m in. Is there any hope?
Do you mind if I ask why the announcements were interrupted? Was it pertinent and necessary to the announcement?
As far as the dress, that is an issue I too find distressing. I do not want to act as the dress code police, but when one is serving in any capacity during the Mass, I would think one should dress accordingly. I can see an occasional situation where one might have to attend Mass in shorts. I can not see exercising any sort of function in shorts. I would think that a degree of basic respect for the Mass would preclude such behaviour.
In all fairness to the EXTRAORDINARY minister (:)), I have witnessed our pastor asking someone to fill in for a missing minister who was wearing shorts at the time. The individual was a bit embarrassed about serving in that manner of dress, but complied. Now, for wearing shorts to mass in the first place…well that is another topic entirely.
I agree with this. Always take the charitable view.
A few weeks ago, my husband was asked by the most conservative, traditional-leaning priest in our parish to fill in as a lector. (The priest knows my husband as one of the helpers for RCIA.)
My husband had been on call all weekend, and was wearing jeans and a shirt, and wearing a headset JIC he was called out during Mass. He felt extremely awkward, but he didn’t want to say “No” to Father. Thankfully the lector showed up at the very last minute and my husband didn’t have to make a public display of himself.
Last night I played piano for a few Masses in our parish. At the second Mass, Father and the congregation prayed the Confiteor, then Father prayed for absolution.
I waited for the deacon to say the Kyrie. He didn’t say anything. I waited for Father to say the Kyrie, and he didn’t say it, either. He looked down at me and caught my eye, and I blasted into the Gloria (we use the Creation Gloria).
But the whole time I was playing it, I was aware that maybe I should have waited just a few seconds longer for the deacon to say the Kyrie. But then poor Father would have possibly assumed that I didn’t have music for the Gloria, or that I wasn’t planning on playing it for some reason, and he would have started reciting the Gloria, and that’s not his personal preference.
I also know that the rubrics allow for different ways of the Penitential Rite, and perhaps Father was not using the Kyrie that evening for some reason. (I certainly don’t know all the variations, but I know that the priests do know them.)
So it was kind of uncomfortable. Afterwards, I apologized to Father and the deacon for jumping the gun and starting the Gloria. But the deacon, bless his heart, said, “It was my mistake. I was having a Senior moment and forgot all about the Kyrie.”
And Father said, “That’s OK. I couldn’t catch the deacon’s attention, and so I was hoping that you would start playing the Gloria.”
So you see, no harm done. I’m sure there were some parishioners who went home upset that the Kyrie had been missed, and perhaps even now they are framing their letters to the bishop about “abuses.” I hope that they read this and realize that priests, deacons, and especially pianists are just human (seniors) and make mistakes during even the Mass.
Interestingly, Father’s homily was about True Presence (John 6 was the Gospel) and the three parts (narrative, anamnesis, and epiclesis) necessary for the Transubstantiation to occur. Fascinating, and there wasn’t a sound in the nave as the congregation listened closely. So this priest is very conscious of the rubrics and the integrity of the liturgy. But even he was willing to admit a mistake in the Liturgy and not get upset about it.
Great post, Cat. It’s so true. Liturgical abuse is bad. So is laity not being reverent enough. But those who are quick to point fingers, write letters to the bishop when a small mistake is made, etc, are worse, IMHO. Priests, religious, laymen and women are ALL human. Now some issues definitely need to be addressed, but one should always first think 1 Was this done out of lack of respect and carelessness or a simple lapse of memory (a senior moment, if you will)? 2 Is this really affecting the way people worship, or am I letting a small thing get to me? and 3 Will my raising this issue help solve the problem?
Now I am naturally very quick to get upset when a priest forgets a prayer, or someone is talking/inappropriately dressed/carrying a loud cell phone at mass. After a while I realized that, yes, these were often irreverent and disrespectful things being done, but I also saw that these things will always occur and that it is our duty as Christians to handle them maturely, with forgiveness and mercy. Think of that ringing cell phone or inappropriately dressed person as something you have to deal with, a small Cross to carry with Christ.
Father Mitch Pacwa just addressed this issue this past week. He said he would have no qualms about getting up and moving to the other side of the church. Would the offenders maybe be embarrassed? He didn’t care – in fact, he hoped they would be. Maybe, then, they would be embarrassed right into some reverence. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.
There is no excuse for wearing shorts, male nor female, to Mass at all. It is inappropriate and disrespectful to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, as well as those there to celebrate the liturgy in a reverant and holy manner.
I don’t think this happened as punishment. I am always amazed how little respect people have these days, for the Church, for Priests, for others in general. I am very lucky to have the Priest I do as my Pastor. He won’t even let altar servers serve in shorts even though they will be wearing albs. He feels it is inappropriate and he tells them so (pastorally but sternly). Eucharistic Ministers and Lectors MUST dress appropriately.
Every other weekend, I have to work and don’t get off work on Saturdays until after 4:00 and rush home to be at Mass by 5:00 since I can’t be at Mass on Sunday morning because of my work schedule. Even then, if I am to be a Lector or a EM, I change completely to be appropriately dressed. It isn’t that tough. Of course there are extraordinary circumstances where someone may not be able to change and make it to Mass on time but people can plan better when they have obligations at Mass that they need to dress for.
I am afraid that much of it is the wrong attitude about going to Mass. Too many look at it as a “have to” and not a “want to”. Until that changes there are many things that will become less and less important that should becoming more important.
Maybe not for you, but it could be for some. I too have had to do as you say, but I do not always have time to change on the way to Church and have to go straight from work. I guess what I am saying is that we should have a little more understanding if we do not know everyone’s circumstance.
Of course when we can, we should always honor our Lord in the way we dress.
Of course I know what is appropriate to wear to Mass and how to behave. What I’m asking now is pure curiosity: would you approach someone, a stranger, about their inappropriate dress or behavior in church, and what would it take for you to do such a thing? I noticed the way a teenage-ish looking girl was acting during Mass today and couldn’t help but wonder if anybody approached her or her mother afterward. I am much to shy to do such a thing, but I’m not too shy to raise an eyebrow and wonder.
I’m much too shy to approach anyone concerning things like that, as well. I simply just don’t have the guts.
Quick story: a few years ago I was at daily Mass and I was wearing a blouse. One of the buttons at the top had come undone (the hole was just a little too big for the button to stay in securely) and a girl, who was about 17 or 18 at the time, came up to me and said, “Oh, your button came undone.” Now, she didn’t know that the hole was a little too big, it’s possible that she thought I was intentionally trying to show some cleavage. I loved how she approached me with it. She wasn’t judgmental in any way.
Actually it has nothing to do with not being understanding. It has to do with planning ahead. On those weekends I work, I plan the Friday night and even wear a dress to work if I’m not going to have time to change (we usually wear jeans) I can speak for circumstances here where I live and the issue is not wanting to take time out from play, not out of necessity. I’m not saying there aren’t times that I get home and really don’t have times to put a dress on and have to go to Mass in jeans, I’m saying that on those occasions, and it isn’t every weekend, when someone is acting as EM, they should take the extra time necessary to dress appropriately and short shorts and halter tops on young women at Mass is never appropriate no matter what excuses are made.
Talking during Mass is also never appropriate and there are no good excuses unless maybe you are attending with a non-Catholic who has questions about the liturgy.
Throughout all these discussions, I always wonder how the people dressed when they heard Christ speak? How did they dress when they met in homes for mass after Christ died ? Why do we, in this society, care so much? How superficial we have become!!
I don’t think it’s superficial to dress respectfully when we come to Mass, the center of our worship.
First, the early apostles and church-goers definitely dressed differently, it was 2,000 years ago. However, from the way the early Church valued chastity and modesty, they certainly would not have approved of some of the revealing tops and short skirts and shorts (as well as sleeveless muscle shirts, I’m not trying to single out women.) The idea is not that we are more focused on clothing than worship, but that it is proper to show respect so that all can worship in a truly Christian way.
Second, let’s not act like the early Church can be compared to us in terms of material things. Yes, I’m sure many who attended Masses in the early Church were dressed in rags, in clothes that would not be acceptable in a Church today. But those people HAD NOTHING! They were either so poor that this was literally the only clothing they owned, or like many early dedicated Christians, sold what they had to more closely follow the Lord. So, if a person sold everything they had to follow Christ, or were dirt poor, I doubt that their only outfit would be unchaste, skimpy summer apparel.
I don’t mean to be rude, but let’s not call the reverence and respect that Our Lord deserves superficial. God certainly cares more about the state of your heart and soul than your clothing, but I also believe He appreciates that people wish to be modest, undistracting and respectful when coming to Him.