For whatever reason, this topic has been on my mind this week. I suppose it's because it is now the heart of the summer, and the annual reappearance of shorts and tank tops has infiltrated my local parish.
And the thing is, I'm happy and thankful for everybody that makes it to Mass. I really am. I'd rather that they come to church, no matter what. But I always wonder: why do people wear really casual clothing to Mass? This seems to be prevalent much more in Catholic circles than in other Christian churches (at least, that's how it seems to me).
So, these are my own personal thoughts on the matter (for what they're worth) and then we can analyze. My current standard for dress at Mass is:
Would I wear this to a wedding?
If I wouldn't, I shouldn't wear it to Mass either. Weddings are (usually) formal events in which we feel we should dress up and look our best. Why would worshiping God merit less of a standard?
I used to wear jeans to Mass. I no longer do that, simply because I feel it's not dressy enough. I'm not trying to be judgey, just relaying my opinion and experience. :) I will wear skirts and dresses (length at least to the knee) or dress slacks (which is what I wear 75% of the time). In the summer, I will sometimes wear dressy capri length pants. Meaning no denim, but black "dress" fabric. I will not wear a top that does not cover my shoulders to church. And no sneakers. I usually also wear a convertible headcovering in either the headband form or the longer scarf length.
When I see other people dressed "up" for Mass, it makes me happy. Gives the atmosphere more of a "special" feeling. When casual clothes and lots of skin abound, I just think it gives the wrong impression. I don't give anybody the facey face or anything like that. What they wear is their business. I'm glad that they're there. But I always hope that they see others dressed differently and maybe consider dressing likewise in the future.
This has come up a number of times between Henry and I. I do not allow him to wear shorts to church, although I gave in to letting him wear jeans for the time being, simply because he was giving me such a hard time about not wanting to go to church at all for a spell I figured I had to give a little. But I'm not happy about it. At any rate, when he sees people wearing shorts he asks me why he can't wear shorts if other people are wearing them. I always tell him (quietly, of course) that we have to do what we feel is right and not worry about other people.
In the past, when I've been at a parish in which the priest will say something during his homily or print something in the bulletin about proper dress in the summer it causes a lot of resentment and unrest amongst the congregation. I don't want anybody to feel alienated. But on the other hand, shouldn't we set the bar high?