Sharp Dressed Man (What I Wore Sunday)

My favorite response to the What I Wore Sunday linkup was from a Priest:

He said he wore Purple over White over Black: Same as last Sunday.


What I Wore Sunday: Clergy Edition

Although my Sunday wardrobe is not quite as predictable as that of the clergy, it’s not much more interesting.

What I Wore Sunday doesn’t make a lot of sense for guys. Guys usually wear very similar things each week: Coat and tie, polo shirt and khakis, Or at the more casual parishes, jeans and a t-shirt.

What I Wore Sunday is all about celebrating the feminine genius by posting pictures of all the many different ways that women attire themselves for attending mass.

So why am I posting?

The reason why I am posting is that there have been a couple of things that have made me rethink what I wear to Church on Sunday.

The first was in adult Sunday School, when our instructor mentioned that she felt it was important to dress well. It was a part of worship to bring her best before God. At mass, we take part in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and should dress accordingly.

The second was Jennifer Fulwiler’s post about chapel veils. Basically, Jennifer feels called to veil, but doesn’t want to stick out as THE WOMAN IN THE CHAPEL VEIL. To her relief, she didn’t feel like she stuck out when she veiled, so she is going to keep on doing it.

So, what does this have to do with me?

I go to Sunday morning mass at a “polo shirt and khaki” parish. A couple of women veil, but they are very much the exception. A few men wear coats and ties, but they are more unusual. A few men wear jeans.

I usually dress up when I lector. I have the clothes and they don’t get much use now that I have gone from a job requiring business clothes to a more casual office. But this week, I wasn’t lectoring, but I did wear a coat and tie.


What I wore this Sunday

I have to admit that I liked dressing up. I did take mass more seriously. But I can’t say I did it out of humility. In fact, the spirit is somewhat contrary to humility: I am dressing my best out of respect for the Body and Blood of Christ. Which, for me, makes it difficult not to reason that others are not.

Should I keep wearing a coat and tie as a sign of respect, or go back to the polo shirt and khaki’s to be less noticeable and more humble?

To complicate matters, the Sunday night student mass is come-as-you-are-casual. The Saturday night vigil mass is almost as casual. Should I ever attend these masses dressed in coat and tie I would stick out. So, I may not do the same for these masses.

This isn’t a fashion question as much as it is a spiritual one. How do you determine what is and is not appropriate attire for mass. Or am I overthinking the whole thing?

Note: This is strictly about my spiritual attitudes about what I wear to Church on Sunday. If you feel called to wear a coat and tie or shorts and flip-flops or anything in-between, that is between you and God.


8 thoughts on “Sharp Dressed Man (What I Wore Sunday)

  1. I’d like to get my husband in on this combox, as well, but I can’t guarantee he’ll follow my orders.

    I’ve been posting a little on veiling the last couple weeks, conveniently at the same time as Jennifer. Her post hit home for me as far as judging people for judging. However, I’ve never been uncomfortable making myself an example at Mass. When I was in college, our campus Newman Center (and the only Catholic church for counties) didn’t have kneelers. I was one of two people in the entire building who kneeled. It hurt my heart that people were wearing jeans and standing in His presence. If Jesus could suffer on the cross, I sure has heck could kneel on a hard floor for a few minutes. You could argue that this kneeling problem was more of a spiritual issue than Mass attire, but I would disagree. Mass isn’t about blending in for me. It’s about doing what glories God. And if your heart is telling you that dressing respectfully when the Eucharist is exposed in your presence is akin to glorying God, then I think you know what you need to do.

    • My current Parish is a college parish that doesn’t have kneelers either.

      We have a new priest and he notices that 3/4 of the parish was standing and 1/4 kneeling. So he asked the Bishop about it. The Bishop told him that although the normal posture is kneeling, standing is an acceptable alternative posture when kneeling is not possible/advisable. Since not everyone can get down on the ground without kneelers, the Bishop directed everyone to stand. Disunity in custom is worse than not kneeling.

      So, that’s one more thing that complicates matters. I always kneeled before, but will obey the priest and bishop on the matter.

      The priest also said that the new building that is being proposed WILL have kneelers.

      • Eek. There will always be people whose health bars them from kneeling, even when kneelers are available. No priest or bishop could ever convince my husband and me to not kneel when in His presence, just as one could certainly not direct me to wear jeans to Mass. And, full disclosure, our current parish has some who stand and some who kneel. Directions from our old bishop were to stand during distribution of the Eucharist, so the entire archdioceses was in unity, since some parishes didn’t have kneelers. But our current bishop directed all parishes to purchase kneelers immediately. They all have them now, but a new directive has not gone out as to how and when to use them. It’s a pretty divisive issue in our archdiocese.

        But, as for your dress, maybe dressing in a tie and suit coat can be your way to show respect to His presence since your’e not kneeling.

        BTW, my husband says I’ve covered it.

      • I do want to clarify a few things about standing vs. kneeling:

        Kneeling is the norm. Standing is the alternative. Standing is a respectful position. Eastern Rites stand during the Eucharist. There is nothing wrong with a bishop giving parishes permission to have parishes ask that parishoners stand instead of kneel if the circumstances call for it. This is part of the rubrics and is at the discretion of the bishop.

        Saying “no priest or bishop could ever convince my husband and me…” is a dangerous spiritual road to go down. Perhaps some dioceses have too easily gone to the alternative, but liturgical directives are not your or your husband’s call. Be careful not to be so Catholic you become Protestant. 🙂

  2. Hmm. I don’t want you to think I was ignoring your oooold response on this. I noticed a click-through to my blog from this post this week, so I just now saw your response, which I hadn’t previously read. Here are a few items to chew on:

    I’m not a huge Fr. Z fan, but I think he lays it out nicely there. And then there’s this:

    So long as my family isn’t purposely drawing attention to ourselves, it seems we are permitted to kneel after receipt of communion. No dangerous spiritual road here.

    • Perhaps I misread your response, but the spiritual danger I was referring to is that of disobedience to a lawful direction of a rightful ecclesiastical authority.

      Due to the unusual circumstances at our parish, the priest asked the bishop about what to do and the bishop responded that the entire congregation was to stand during the consecration. The bishop’s decision was announced publicly to the congregation at Sunday mass.

      The virtue of ecclesiastical obedience is one that has been forgotten, but is important for lay Catholics to remember.

      “It is worth noting here that obedience to what seems less perfect is far better spiritually than a contrary voluntary pursuit of what seems more perfect.”

      The post from that you cited addresses posture during the consecration and that yes, Catholics are obliged to obey their bishop in these matters. However, the bishop does not have the authority to order posture of a communicant after receiving the sacrament. So feel free to kneel after communion.

    • I just want to add this.

      Often we think of disobedience as a matter of rebellion or a matter of pride.

      Sometimes we can see disobedience as a good thing—a resistance to an authority who has abused their power and is acting unlawfully. (Think the American Revolution.)

      But often, obedience is hardest when the authority is failing to rightfully exercise their power. Weak authority is the most difficult to obey. The challenge, therefore, is to how to work in the bounds of the authority to do the right thing. The lives of the saints are full of examples of this, such as St. Catherine of Siena encouraging the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon or the founding of the Franciscan Order by St. Francis.

      So yes, I do believe you are acting on the right impulse, and I understand your frustration with certain priests and bishops. The key is to seek the best way of following this.

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