What should I wear to visit churches?


#1

I'm going to be studying abroad in Italy next semester and plan to travel and see many different churches. I'm just wondering what I should wear. If I'm in flip flops and shorts and stumble upon a church I want to go into, I'd feel like I shouldn't go in God's church simply cause I'm in flip flops and shorts.

What do you all think?


#2

[quote="aball1035, post:1, topic:217328"]
I'm going to be studying abroad in Italy next semester and plan to travel and see many different churches. I'm just wondering what I should wear. If I'm in flip flops and shorts and stumble upon a church I want to go into, I'd feel like I shouldn't go in God's church simply cause I'm in flip flops and shorts.

What do you all think?

[/quote]

I'm thinking you probably won't be doing much sightseeing or hiking along cobblestone walkways wearing flip-flops........your feet will declare anarchy!

If you are going out sightseeing, make sure you have on a polo/golf shirt and decent khakis. While there are a few on here who would insist you go out sight seeing and hiking in a 3 piece suit if there's a chance you might happen upon a Church, business casual should suffice. Enjoy your time abroad!


#3

I toured many of the Gothic Cathedrals of France for a month this last spring and the only actual restrictions I ran into were reminders at an SSPX church in Paris for women to wear a head covering and "to dress appropriately," but pants were not specifically prohibited. I haven't been to Italy and can't speak to what may be the conventions there, although out of respect I'd caution no shorts, halter tops or flip flops near the Vatican -- maybe someone else has experience from visiting there.

I think the "no shorts or halter tops" would be a good idea in any European church. The native French women, particularly in Paris, generally dress up more than Americans, but I don't know about Italy.

I didn't see many women, except Americans (or those who looked American) under 20 wearing flip flops -- if you're going to be walking 6-8 hours a day, you may want to consider something more feet friendly.

Have a great time!


#4

Here's what I found:

adoremus.org/11-00-vasa.html

Several years ago, the Holy Father reinstituted a dress code for the churches of Rome, his diocese. No one in shorts or sleeveless shirts was to be admitted into the church building.

stylelist.com/2010/07/30/vatican-city-new-dress-code/

The Vatican's Swiss Guards are now cracking down on tourists sporting shorts, [short] skirts, and exposed shoulders throughout the entire Vatican City State, the Telegraph reports.

Though previously the Pope's guards had only insisted on conservative dress for those entering St. Peter's Basilica -- even First Lady Michelle Obama donned a black veil while visiting last summer -- the new code reportedly also applies to the Vatican's pharmacy, post office, and grocery store.

Inappropriately dressed visitors have been denied entry or been forced to buy shawls and long pants, according to the paper.

huffingtonpost.com/2010/0..._n_665158.html

The Vatican has imposed a dress-code for the Holy City aimed at scantily-clad tourists, according to the Daily Mail.

Visitors to St. Peter's Basilica have long been told to cover-up, but the dress-code is now extended to St. Peter's Square (the border between Rome and Vatican City), and prohibits bare shoulders, skirts above the knee and shorts.

This week, guards have started pulling aside men in shorts and women with bare shoulders and told they were not dressed appropriately. Some women are being told to buy shawls and scarves... ...and men were told to buy pants nearby.

snarkerati.com/celebrity-gossip/rihanna-banned-from-catholic-church-for-dress-code/

...in Venice... ...at Saint Mark’s Basilica in the Piazza San Marco.

...The church has rules that state that the patrons must wear clothing that covers their shoulders and legs.

In the above quote, I believe it's a mistake where it says that one's legs should be covered. It's usually pants and dresses/skirts that cover the knees, what they expect. Shorts, and dresses/skirts above the knees are not acceptable. Also, sleeveless or shoulder-baring shirts are not acceptable.


#5

Regarding proper behavior in churches - talking loudly and chatting away in a church is considered extremely rude and improper. So, if you want to take pictures, or discuss the architecture with another friend while inside the church, please make sure to do it quietly, only talk in a quiet or whispering voice, and limit the conversation and keep it as short as possible. The church is a place for prayer, and silence is expected. Also, if you happen to arrive before the Holy Mass starts, or stay inside the church after the end of Mass, it is not appropriate to casually chat with friends and acquaintances inside the church building. You can exchange greetings, and you can discuss briefly if something needs to be discussed (e.g., "let's meet in front of the church after Mass, and go to have lunch"), but for longer conversations or chats, please exit the church building. The church building is reserved for prayer, and any distractions should be kept at a minimum.

Aball1035, please excuse me for using your thread to post this. I'm thinking, some people may not know the etiquette inside a Catholic church, and it may help them to convey this information. It's really more than etiquette. Our Lady, who regularly appeared to Fatima (Portugal) seer Jacinta during her illness in the last year of her life, told Jacinta that people shouldn't talk inside the church. Thus, Jacinta sent the message to the Cardinal in Lisbon, Portugal, letting him know that Our Lady doesn't want people to talk in church, because the church is God's house, and it is reserved for prayer.


#6

[quote="aball1035, post:1, topic:217328"]
. I'm just wondering what I should wear. If

[/quote]

Churches in Europe have a dress code. Well, really this is the norm for ALL churches but in the US most places don't enforce it, unfortunately.

Shorts should go down to the knee. But, not all churches in Italy will let you in even if they do go to the knee. So pants are a wise choice.

A good tip is to get those windbreaker type pants that zip off at the knee. Carry the bottom part in a backpack and then zip up into pants when going into a church.

And, for both men and women, you must have your shoulders covered. No tank tops.

I just wore jeans and a t-shirt everywhere. One of my friends wore shorts but took a wrap skirt in her backpack and put it on when going into churches. It was very long and she could put it on in a flash.


#7

I would suggest carrying a scarf or 3 with you. Head covering if needed, make-shift skirts if needed, shoulder covering if needed. Scarves of shawls are light to carry and you won't feel you have to miss out if you are wearing shorts that day. Footwear, wear what's comfortable. JMO.


#8

You might think about getting a pair of scrubs. They can be easily folded and stuffed in a bag or pocket of cargo shorts and pulled out when needed to tour a church. That is what our pastor and his priest friend did when we went on a Holy Land Tour about five years ago.


#9

[quote="aball1035, post:1, topic:217328"]
I'm going to be studying abroad in Italy next semester and plan to travel and see many different churches. I'm just wondering what I should wear. If I'm in flip flops and shorts and stumble upon a church I want to go into, I'd feel like I shouldn't go in God's church simply cause I'm in flip flops and shorts.

What do you all think?

[/quote]

When we were in Italy all the churches had dress codes, and someone at the door. We weren't near anyone who wasn't dressed appropriately, so I don't know if the door watchers won't let you in or not. But, all of the signs say to have knees and shoulders covered. I'm a skirt wearer anyway, so this was easy for me, but I suggest getting a few comfy cotton skirts. I like peasant skirts because they look good on anyone. You can wear them with any tops. If you aren't a skirt person, maybe instead of shorts you could get some capris? Also, I DID walk around in flip-flops because my sandals broke, and it took a while to find some replacement shoes that weren't ridiculously over priced. I don't recommend it; the roads are different and it's dangerous and horribly uncomfortable.


#10

This illustrated dress code is at the entrance to the Vatican. Please click on the attached thumbnail for full size picture.

The illustration tells us the following.

It is inappropriate for ladies to wear:
-low neckline
-sleeveless
-exposed back
-skirt above knees
-exposed midriff
-tight fitting
-shorts
-see through

It is inappropriate for gentlemen to wear:
-sleeveless
-shorts
-offensive print


#11

This illustrated dress code (see attached thumbnail) is at the entrance of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It's basically the same dress code that's posted at the entrance to the Vatican.

As 1ke said, the dress code is applicable to all Catholic churches, including the USA. Whether the Catholic church we are visiting is in the Vatican, in Italy, elsewhere in Europe (Asia, etc), or in the USA, we should comply with minimal standards of modesty in dressing. That means, when we enter Catholic churches, either to attend Holy Mass or outside of Mass time, as a general rule we should have our shoulders and knees covered, and all areas in between the shoulders and the knees should also be covered. In other words, shorts, skirts above the knees, and sleeveless, shoulder-baring, back- and midriff-baring shirts or tops are not appropriate. This is the minimum. But certain Eastern Catholic churches also prescribe (and vigorously enforce!) mandatory head covering for ladies, and mandatory bare heads for gentlemen.


#12

[quote="Joseph_L_Varga, post:10, topic:217328"]
This illustrated dress code is at the entrance to the Vatican. Please click on the attached thumbnail for full size picture.

The illustration tells us the following.

It is inappropriate for ladies to wear:
-low neckline
-sleeveless
-exposed back
-skirt above knees
-exposed midriff
-tight fitting
-shorts
-see through

It is inappropriate for gentlemen to wear:
-sleeveless
-shorts
-offensive print

[/quote]

This is accurate. Also, since everyone has to pass by one of the security guards before approaching the xray machines, if anyone is inappropriately dressed, they will not be permitted to proceed any further. They will be turned away and can only return if appropriately dressed.

At other basilicas the security is nowhere are stringent as at St. Peter's, but the dress code is required.

A note - Italians do not walk around their cities dressed in shorts and flip-flops. Anyone seen dressed like this is definitely a tourist. As someone else commented - good luck with walking the streets in Rome with flip flops!! You will probably end up with very tired and sore feet, if not a sprained ankle!! Many, many streets are paved in cobble stones, which are quite difficult to walk on.


#13

Here's a link to The Bishop's Office for U.S. Visitors to the Vatican.

There's good info on the dress code, but also on other things including where to stay when visiting Rome, at their website:

portal.pnac.org/general/visiting_vatican.htm

To access the clickable links in the quote below, please go to their website, referenced above.

Is there a dress code?

Dress in good taste is requested. Shoulders must be covered. Shorts are not permitted, and skirts should fall in length below the knee. A head covering is not necessary, however, in the summer sun it may be helpful.

At what time are Masses at the major Basilicas of Rome?

Click here for a list of Masses at the major basilicas in Rome.

................

Where can I stay in Rome?

Below are some lists of Religious Guest Houses that you may find helpful:
Pensioni [word][acrobat]
Religious Houses [word][acrobat]
More Religious Houses [word][acrobat]

Our street address in Rome is Via dell'Umilta, 30. We are conveniently located in the historic center of Rome, between the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Venezia. We hope to assist all visitors to enjoy a spiritually rewarding visit to Rome!

Monsignor Roger C. Roensch - Director

Welcome to Rome!

Bishops' Office for United States Visitors to the Vatican
North American College - Casa Santa Maria
Via dell'Umilta, 30 -- 00187 Rome, Italy

Click here for a map of the Visitor's Office location.

TEL 06/6900.1821
FAX 06/679.1448

Email: [email]visitorsoffice@pnac.org[/email]


#14

ansa.it/web/notizie/rubriche/english/2010/07/27/visualizza_new.html_1876075942.html

Vatican City bars scantily clad
Swiss Guards turn away visitors in revealing clothing
27 July, 18:46 [2010]

(ANSA) - Vatican City, July 27 - Tourists and Romans clad in scanty summer clothing were being told to cover up before entering the Vatican City on Tuesday. Long-standing rules on modest dress, previously applicable only to those visiting St Peter's Basilica, appear to have been extended throughout the tiny walled state. Swiss Guard officers manning the official customs point between Rome and the Vatican City began pulling aside members of the public dressed in 'inappropriate' clothing early in the morning. **Men in shorts and women with exposed knees or uncovered shoulders were all stopped **by the officers, who asked them if they knew "how things worked here". Bewildered locals, accustomed to treating the Vatican much like any other part of Rome, initially assumed a new bureaucratic procedure was in force. Prescriptions, letters and shopping permits were hastily produced as evidence of plans to use the Vatican's pharmacy, post office and shop.

Only to be told the real reason was their clothing.** "This is the Vatican City and for reasons of respect, you are not allowed in with uncovered shoulders or wearing shorts," was the standard explanation.** Some retreated without protest, while a number of the women made impromptu purchases from one of the many stands selling shawls and scarves near the Vatican gates. A cheap, quick solution to cover the bare legs of men in shorts was harder to come by, although some duly trudged off to the nearby shopping district of Cola di Rienzo to buy a pair of trousers. However, a number of visitors, especially the more elderly, refused to budge.

The Vatican pharmacy tends to draw older Romans from across the city, as it is slightly cheaper and offers a different range of medication than its Italian counterparts.

Maria, in her late 70s, was one visitor to the Vatican who refused to be cowed by the Swiss Guards. After travelling from the Centocelle neighbourhood on the other side of Rome in 30-degree heat, she was advised that her calf-length flowered dress was "inappropriate" because it showed her shoulders. "I've come all the way here from Centocelle and you want to send me back?" she complained.

The Swiss Guards eventually relented and allowed her through, quietly advising her to dress more appropriately next time. But Maria was unimpressed. "Given all the scandals the Church has been involved in, what possible right can it have to be preaching about the morality of sleeveless dresses?" she declared loudly, marching past indignantly.

Modest clothing for visitors to St Peter's has been the rule for decades. While most tourists are aware of this beforehand and dress appropriately, the sheer number of pilgrims visiting the basilica in the Jubilee year of 2000 prompted street vendors to expand their long running trade in cheap shawls to include long, lightweight cloaks as well. These later vanished from stalls once demand dropped but are likely to reappear for some months to come, at least until word of the new rules gets around.


#15

Here's what others had to say about the dress code in Catholic churches generally in Europe, outside of Italy.

The following is about Valencia, Spain:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187529-i499-k2678656-Dress_Code-Valencia_Valencia_Province_Valencian_Country.html

I have spent a total of 7 weeks [5 +2] in Valencia and ...

I would NEVER go into any religious building [that was not a ruin] in shorts. In a Catholic church, women should wear a light scarf over their hair. Men remove headwear. You will [probably] not be asked to leave if wearing shorts [though it is not unheard of and some churches have a notice at the entrance asking you not to come in if wearing shorts] and you will certainly not be asked to leave if not wearing hat or scarf [woman] or are wearing headgear [man] but you will be flying in the face of decorum and custom. It's as easy to get it right and be accepted and comfortable.

And below, some observations about Southern Europe:

markdroberts.com/htmfiles/resources/europeanreflections.htm

*No Shorts Allowed! *
Part 12 in the series “European Reflections”
Posted at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 19, 2004

As my wife and I visited many churches throughout southern Europe, I noticed a consistent dress code. Visitors to the churches were not allowed to wear shorts (above the knees) or tank tops. Even more casual apparel (like bathing suits) was completely forbidden. Many churches had other prohibitions as well, like no flash photography, no eating, or no pets. Even though most of the visitors in these churches had come, not to worship, but simply to gaze at beautiful art, they were expected, nevertheless to act with a measure of reverence and respect for tradition.

.........................

This sign was posted on the front door of a church in Monaco. Does the bottom right image mean "no food" or "no ice cream" or "no ice cream that's dripping"?

http://www.markdroberts.com/images/No-shorts-sign-t.jpg


#16

I found a way to post a nice big picture of the illustrated dress code at the entrance of St. Peter's Basilica, in the Vatican. It's from Colleen Hammond's website, see below.

colleenhammond.com/catholics/vatican-city-bans-scantily-clad-tourists/

colleenhammond.com/catholics/please-help-me-find-this-modesty-sign-for-churches/

http://www.employees.org/~kory/wedding/Honeymoon/rome/Large/71_StPetersSign.JPG

The next picture, which some websites said was also displayed at the Vatican's entrance, might actually be not one from the Vatican, but rather a nice adaptation prepared by someone in the USA, for use in America. It makes sense, with the instructions in English and Spanish languages. I post it again below. I love the detailed instructions on this illustrated dress code. According to the post on Colleen Hammond's website, some people are trying to make this poster below commercially available, for people who want to buy it and have it displayed at the entrance of their parish churches.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_S21ezYgaLw4/S_xYl5SQxkI/AAAAAAAAAbs/VcpawkRcVF4/s1600/CIMG0054-751456.jpg


#17

I will start posting what I found about our Catholic Priests, and Bishops teaching us how to dress at Holy Mass, and for visiting Catholic churches. I will post whatever I found, regardless of whether the Catholic Bishop/Priest issuing the guidance is located in Europe, the American continent, or elsewhere (Asia, etc).

Here's one article, by Msgr. Charles Pope, from the Archdiocese of Washington (USA). See links to websites where the article is posted.

blog.adw.org/2010/05/adore-the-lord-in-holy-attire-on-proper-dress-for-mass/

colleenhammond.com/catholics/adore-the-lord-in-holy-attire-%e2%80%93-on-proper-dress-for-mass/

Adore the Lord in Holy Attire – On Proper Dress for Mass

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

Last week we had a discussion on the women wearing veils in Church. One of the themes that emerged in the comments was that the discussions about what to wear in Church should be broader than just a veil. More specifically BOTH men and women should consider how they dress when going into God’s house. Hence I would like to explore some background issues and enunciate some principles. You of course will be able to add to them.

*1. Scripture *– There is very little in Scripture that seems to spell out the proper way to dress for sacred worship. There is the general directive to *Adore the Lord in holy attire *(Psalm 96:9; Ps 29:2) But this seems more an allusion to holiness (God’s and ours) more than to clothing per se. There are directives for the Passover meal that one should have staff in hand, with loins girt and sandals on their feet (Ex 12:11). But this seems a specific rule for the Passover meal only and hardly something that would done in the synagogue or temple. To gird one’s loins meant to pull up the lower part of one’s outer garment and tighten the belt. This exposed the lower legs and allowed greater mobility for them. It was a sign of being flight or of being at work. It is the ancient equivalent of “roll up your sleeves.” (more HERE). As a general rule Jewish people would not show their legs unless circumstances strongly required it. They would surely not come to the synagogue or the Temple in this manner. Scripture also speaks of Phylacteries and Prayer Shawls. But these sorts of clothing and accessories seem to have come under some critique in the New Testament (Matt 23:5) and their use was not continued in the New Testament Church worship.

*2. Church norms and rules *– There are no official and specific Church norms or requirement for lay persons who attend Mass mentioned in Canon Law or the Sacramentary. Surely for priests and other clergy there are many rules and norms but I am unaware of any currently binding norms for the laity. Although the veils were once required for women, the 1917 Code of Canon Law was abrogated and the current code is silent on any requirement.

3. Hence it seems that Culture supplies most of the norms regarding what is considered appropriate attire for Church. And, alas our culture is currently quite unhelpful to us in this regard. Here in America we have become extremely casual about the way we dress for just about everything. It seems we almost never dress up anymore. This has changed somewhat dramatically in my own life time of just less than 50 years. “Sneakers” or “tennis shoes” as we called them were for sports or running around and playing in the neighborhood. But we would never even think of wearing them to school and certainly not to Church. I remember having a special set of shoes just for church. In the 1960s, it was also expected that I would go to Church in formal, pressed trousers, a button down shirt, and, except in the hottest months, a tie and even a suit jacket in winter. My sister and mother always wore a dress. Pants would not even have been considered for them. For the younger girls a skirt and a blouse might be OK but preferably a dress with a hat or veil.

But things changed dramatically around 1970. The photo above right was taken in 1969 at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton, Massachusetts. It was the end of an era. Within five years neckties were lost and jeans and a t-shirts came to be the norm. Most of the women as we discussed lost the veil, and dresses gave way to more casual pants suits and then also to other more casual things like jeans etc. Shorts for men and women, unthinkable in previous years also began to appear in church as did tank tops and other beach attire. Within ten years the culture of dressing up for Church was almost wholly abandoned. Now wearing a tie to Church would seem stuffy and formal.

But this is where our culture has gone. It is not just Church. Years ago when my family went out to eat we almost always dressed up. Maybe it wasn’t a full neck tie but at least trousers and a button down shirt. Maybe not a formal dress for mom and sis, but at least a skirt and blouse. A restaurant was considered a semi-formal outing. School was also considered a place where things like jeans and informal t-shirts were out of place. Going down town to shop meant we changed out of shorts and put on something appropriate. Shorts were basically for running around the house, playing in the yard and such. But you just didn’t go out to more public settings wearing shorts and flip flops or even sneakers.

Pardon me for sounding like and old fud but I am not really that old. My point is that culture has changed, and changed rather quickly. This has affected the Church as well. What were fighting is a strong cultural swing to the extremely informal. Most people don’t even think of dressing up for most things any more let alone Church.

continued...


#18

...continued (article by Msgr. Charles Pope)

4. Hence at the cost of seeming old and stuffy I might like to suggest a few norms and I hope you’ll supply your own as well:

  1. Men should wear formal shoes to Church. We used to call these hard shoes (because they were) but today many formal shoes are actually quite comfortable.

  2. Men should wear trousers (not jeans).

  3. Men should never wear shorts to Church.

  4. Men should wear a decent shirt, preferably a button down shirt. If it is a pullover shirt it should include a collar. Wearing a plain t-shirt without a collar is too informal.

  5. Men should consider wearing a tie to Church and in cooler weather, a suit coat. Some may consider this a bit too stuffy and formal but who knows, you might be a trend setter!

6. Now as I talk about women I know I’ll get in some trouble!

  1. Women should wear decent shoes to Church. Flip flops, beach sandals etc. seem inappropriate.

  2. Women should not wear shorts to Church.

  3. Women, if they wear pants, should never wear jeans to Church. Some nice slacks that are not too tight can be fine.

  4. Women should consider wearing a dress or at least a skirt in preference to pants. It just looks a bit more formal than pants.

  5. Women should wear a nice blouse (if they are not wearing a full dress). The blouse or shirt they wear should not be too tight.

  6. Sleeveless garments are pushing it a bit but can be acceptable.

  7. Women should never wear tank tops, tube tops, spaghetti straps, or bare midriffs to Church.

  8. Well, you may have at this list. Add or subtract as you will.

A final thought: Clothes say something about what we think, what we value. They also influence how we behave and feel. That our culture has become so casual about everything says something about us. I cannot exactly articulate it but it seems to say, “nothing is really all that important.” But that is not true. Going to God’s house IS important. Being ministered to by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is astounding. Casual attire in these circumstances is simply inappropriate if we really think about what we are doing, where we are going and who it is we will meet. It does not necessarily follow that we must wear tuxedos and formal gowns. But decent semi-formal attire seems wholly appropriate. Sunday is special, God’s House is special. Somethings really ARE important and our clothing and demeanor ought to reflect this truth.


#19

Here's an excerpt from the article by Bishop Robert Vasa, from the Diocese of Baker, Oregon (USA). Please go to the website below for full article.

Quoted from:

adoremus.org/11-00-vasa.html

ADOREMUS BULLETIN
Online Edition - Vol. VI, No. 8: November 2000

Dress, Demeanor, Discipline
Show how We Value Holy Mass

by Bishop Robert Vasa

Several years ago I had the opportunity, while visiting Washington, DC, to observe the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

I was so struck by the simple, deliberate elegance of the ceremony that I stayed for extra minutes simply to watch the young man march to and fro with that same simple, deliberate elegance. The uniforms were absolutely impeccable, the shoes shined to pure gloss, the faces of the guards set like granite, the measured steps precise, the entire person focused on the job at hand. It was clear from all of the above that the young men knew that what they were about was serious and important.

I have reflected repeatedly on the Arlington experience as it relates to what we do in our Catholic Churches. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most significant event in the world. As the priest and ministers enter the church and proceed down the aisle, there is not the expectation that they imitate the guards at Arlington, but it would be most appropriate to do so. The guard at Arlington processes solemnly in front of a tomb of national significance, and he is rightfully dignified. Every altar in every Catholic Church has eternal significance and deserves a regard greater than that demanded by the national tomb.

I am not advocating a religious solemnity devoid of joy or humanity, but it appears that Arlington may have something which the Catholic Church needs. The dignity manifested by the guard points towards and accentuates the dignity of the place. Silence is observed at the National Tomb. Silence is a sign of respect for the place and the meaning of the place. Silence is appropriate and enforced vigorously there. Order is enforced there.

As I stood watching the guard making his seemingly routine and non-variable march, he suddenly broke out of line two steps at an angle to his right. He removed the rifle from his shoulder, held it in his hands, and said very forcefully, "Stay behind the barrier!" A couple of seconds later, he repeated the command, at which a woman who had crossed into forbidden territory to get a better picture retreated to the area reserved for visitors. He then returned to his line and resumed his march. No apology, no explanation; the sign said "No Trespassing"; what part of "No" was not understood?

The trespass onto sacred secular soil was deemed unacceptable. The dignity of the place demanded order and an observance of that order. Once again, I do not advocate this kind of rigid, cold enforcement, but the dignity of our churches needs to be fostered and preserved. The dignity of this sacred place will be lost as the sacredness of the area around the tomb would quickly be lost, if there is not a decided effort to preserve it.

...

...time and again, we try to introduce people and behaviors into our churches which are deemed "cute" and therefore somehow mandatory. I suggest that "cute" has its place, but Arlington National Cemetery is not one of them, and neither are our churches which house Jesus Himself, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Several years ago, the Holy Father reinstituted a dress code for the churches of Rome, his diocese. No one in shorts or sleeveless shirts was to be admitted into the church building.

An American sense of rights and freedom rebels against such rules, calling them absurdities. Yet it was done and it was enforced. Tourists who had traveled across an ocean to see a church were turned back at the door unless they were properly attired. This was only to visit a church while no other liturgical action was going on. The Holy Father saw a need to institute a policy aimed at restoring, in a very concrete way, a proper sense of reverence for the house of God.

I have often heard the argument that the administrators of churches should be pleased to see that people come, regardless of how they are dressed. The other side of that is that people need to demonstrate in word and deed the proper disposition and attitude. I am certain the American people would be rightfully chagrined if the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were to show up in plaid shorts, a tank top and half-laced tennis shoes. It is hard to imagine that he could have a proper interior attitude to the job at hand were he to come to "work" dressed like that.

Our liturgy is a sacred "work". How we come to that work is probably as important as the fact that we come. We must recognize that we come to church for sacred work, sacred worship. This demands a decorum commensurate with the dignity of the work to be done. Even if that "work" is to utter a private prayer, it still demands an appropriate decorum.

The soldiers at Arlington know the sacredness of the work which they do...

...

For these values people live, and for these values people give their lives. The dress and demeanor of these troops says that they truly honor and respect the life and death of those represented at the Tomb of the Unknown.

Catholics likewise need to know the sacredness of the liturgical "work" which they do. Their dress, their demeanor, their discipline, ought all to speak of their recognition of that sacredness.

Seeing the dress and demeanor of Catholics in Church ought to be a source of pride. They ought to manifest a genuine respect for Jesus present, as well as for the values of the Catholic Church. For these values, saints, declared and not declared, gave their lives; for these values each Catholic must be willing to dress in a fashion which shows recognition and respect.


#20

Here's a pastoral letter issued by Bishop John W. Yanta, from the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas (USA), in 2006. See also websites below:

cuf.org/Laywitness/Online_view.asp?lwID=1449

A Little RESPECT
The year’s biggest heat waves may have subsided, but concerns about modesty in dress are just as legitimate in the classroom as in the summertime sanctuary.

In a pastoral letter issued on June 18th, Bishop John Yanta of Amarillo, Texas, appealed to the Ninth Commandment and Jesus’ teaching on lustful thoughts when he wrote an open letter to his flock calling for increased attention to modest dress during the Liturgy. He exhorted those with leadership roles in their parishes to strive to "model modesty of dress for the parish as parents do in the family, the domestic church."

"Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person," he wrote, quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And, as Bishop Yanta pointed out, the key to all modesty is rooted in the parents. Yanta noted that different occasions call for different modes of dress-what is appropriate with one’s family in the privacy of home may not suit mixed company at our grocery store or at Sunday Mass.

Whether going forward to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist or walking down the hallway at the local school, purity of heart and a desire to respect one’s own dignity as well as that of others should be reflected in what we wear.


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