I saw this story at Amy Welborn’s site earlier this week.
In an effort to rid his church of the sight of young women’s bare midriffs, a Catholic priest in Cinisello Balsamo, Italy posted a sign at the entrance of his church that reads: "God knew what your navel looked like even before you were born, so there is no need to expose it in church.” Although guards at major churches in Italy routinely keep out people wearing skimpy attire, the priest says he resorted to the signs because his parish cannot “afford guards to keep out the low-cut jeans and high-cut tops.”
And it reminds me of one of my favorite stories about St. John Vianney. In Ars at the time a form of dance was introduced that the saint considered quite immoral and though probably quite tame by today’s standards he was certainly right. He took action by both preaching against it and by hanging a sign on the neck of the statue of St. John the Baptist in the church. The sign read "He lost his head over a dance." He would also at times pay the fiddler engaged for dance as much or more than he normally earned to stay away from the dance.
My own parish has a poster as you enter the door that says something to the extent of "Out of respect for Our Lord…" and then describes what forms of clothing are not appropriate. Not that it has had much effect. It never ceases to amaze me what people choose to wear to Mass. Clothes so immodest that only a floor length chapel veil would be of any help. Though of course immodest clothing is not restricted to just women. The clothes people wear in Florida are quite casual as it is and so you can’t say dress up as you would for going out for dinner since they in effect already do that. Though it always seems that it is the poorer members of our parish that dress up the most. I have heard Fr. Groeschel make the same observation that the more materially rich the parish is the more casual the clothing.
I Just Ran Into this on Pentacost Sunday Mass,A Woman Was at Mass At Went Up to Recieve Our Lord In Her ‘Daisy Dukes’ yup ! I mentioned it to her.I brought it up on a ‘Catholic Message Board’ and Got Flamed For”Offending Her” by Mentioning it at all! Seems My Comcern was “Judgemental” and not “Nice” How Dare I Mention it at all!
I’m thinking of printing a t-shirt to wear when the next summer fashions come in (it’s winter here in Australia so it’s not such a problem right now):
“Pretty young ladies, please put on more clothes. I’m tired of holding a bible over my lap.”
“Just because Jesus was kind to prostitutes, doesn’t mean you have to dress like one!”
With on the back an example image of inappropriate wear with a cross through it, subtitled, “no ho zone.”
Oh, and of course. “Jonah says no to whale-tails”
(whale-tail being the term for when the top of a g-string is visible above the pants, if you didn’t know.)
St. Padre Pio was also a legendary fashion critic, driving away immodestly dressed penitents from his confessional.
“There are, moreover, three virtues which perfect the devout person with regard to control of his own senses. These are: modesty, continence and chastity. By the virtue of modesty the devout person governs all his exterior acts. With good reason, then, does St. Paul recommend this virtue to all and declare how necessary it is and as if this were not enough he considers that this virtue should be obvious to all. “
A few weeks ago, Gerald at the Closed Cafeteria had a set of photos of a Confirmation in such clothing. How inappropriate. I would like to see everyone wearing their Sunday Best, as they used to; that means proper trousers and shirts, full length dresses, etc.
Interetingly, the thought of the poorest people dressing up the most goes back a long ways. Anecdotally at least, it seems to be true. Irving Berlin wrote “Puttin’ on the Ritz” not about Park Avenue Gary Cooper types, but about poor Harlem blacks getting all dressed up:
Have you seen the well-to-do
up on Lenox Avenue?
On that famous thoroughfare,
with their noses in the air?
High hats and colored collars,
white spats and fifteen dollars;
spending every dime
for a wonderful time.
If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to,
Why don’t you go where Harlem sits
Puttin’ on the Ritz.
upon the bevy
of high browns
from down the levee,
all misfits –
Puttin’ on the Ritz!
That’s where each and every Lulu Belle goes,
ev’ry Thursday evening with her swell beaux –
Come with me and we’ll attend their jubilee
and see them spend their last two bits
Puttin’ on the Ritz!
Homily by Fr. Hathaway FSSP
“Religion pure and undefiled before God the Father is this… to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
…Anyone who dresses like this ( tank tops, shorts, flip flops… )at Sunday Mass does not know where they are; they have become spotted by the world.”
Fr. Groeschel has said that working class people dress properly for Mass, middle class people dress like they’re going to the beach, and upper class people dress like they’re coming home from the beach.
Some people need an actual definition of “dressing up” for church.
The richer the people in the parish, the barer the parish looks. I guess it also relates to the dress of the parishoners too.
If you want marble altars, gold candlesticks and vessels, and folks dressed in their finest, go to a neighborhood filled with cops and dockworkers.
If you want an assembly hall with a wooden table and people dressed like slobs, ask your doctor where his parish is.
I think there’s an almost-innocent “TV effect” going, too. People are so used to looking at someone else on the tube they think they themselves are the invisible viewer.
People don’t dress up for the theater anymore, either, or concerts, or any formal event. They’re the “invisible viewer.”
Should you have to teach modesty?
Good point, Robert. I think most of us learned it from our parents….and it was enforced (“You’re not going out dressed like THAT!”
When I lived in California, I was criticized by a Lutheran minister for wearing a suit and heels to church. Referring to me after the service, he said, “SHE spends all her money on clothes! Heh, heh, heh!”
I had purchased the very simple suit at a clearance sale for about $40, and I can guarantee you that some of the others paid more than that for their jeans and T-shirts which the minister did not criticize.
When did it become inappropriate to be appropriate?