Each and every Sunday morning is a zoo around my house. Trying to get 12 people ready and out the door to Mass is quite the adventure. We normally try to have all clothes and shoes set out Saturday evening before bedtime but there are many days that we fail at getting everything ready. On those Sundays, when we have neglected to prepare the night before, we end up rushing around the house searching for missing shoes, ironing wrinkled dresses or shirts, and in general getting ourselves riled up over other silly trivial things. As we are getting in the car I am yelling, “Who has the diaper bag?” “Why aren’t you buckled up yet?” and sometimes “Will everyone just stop it!”
I always feel badly these Sunday mornings because I know that by the time we are in the car and headed to Mass I am no longer in the right frame of mind to sit quietly with our Lord. I have to do some serious praying on the way to Mass and then even more while in the church before I feel ready to participate in the greatest banquet this side of heaven. Still, even with the chaos, I feel it is so important that we always wear our “Sunday best” to Mass that I am willing to endure the insanity that comes with getting so many people ready.
You might be asking yourself why I go to the trouble of getting everyone in their best clothes if it takes so much effort. You might be wondering why we just don’t go in jeans or whatever clothes we have on hand. The reason is simple. We dress our best for Mass because we know that we are going to be in Christ’s presence, we are going to witness the moment that heaven meets earth, and we are going to the greatest feast we can ever go to! How can we not dress our best to meet Christ in the Holy Eucharist?
I have often been told that it is better that someone is there at Mass wearing whatever they have dressed in than to not be there at all. I agree… somewhat. If you have no other choice in what you arrive at Mass wearing then this is one thing. Money may prevent you from buying something other than the clothes you have on hand, you might be coming from work and can’t change, you might have been out at the ball field with your child and came straight to Mass. The situations can be as varied as the people who are sitting in the pews. However, if you have a choice of what to wear and you decide that you just don’t need to dress for Christ, well, I have to disagree with your decision. It is well known that God doesn’t judge us by our outward appearances but by what is in our hearts, but doesn’t He still deserve your very best?
I suppose I think of it this way: let’s say I was going to meet someone of importance (the Pope, the Queen of England, our President, a perspective boss, etc.) I would make sure I was dressed appropriately, wearing my very best clothes. I might even go out and buy a new outfit just for the occasion if I was able. I truly believe that most people would feel this way too. We wouldn’t show up in jeans and a t-shirt, a skirt that is so short it borders on indecency, a spaghetti strapped tank top that showed cleavage, or clothes that are just plain dirty. No, we would take the time to prepare ourselves so that those we are meeting understand we know that our encounter is important. Why don’t we do this for Christ?
We are so rushed that many times we just think “as long as I’m there, that’s good enough.” I see so many people take this attitude with Mass and yet are able to take the time to dress up for a wedding, their child’s kindergarten graduation, or a night out with their spouse or friends. Why the difference? Is it that the source and summit of our faith is not worth the extra effort or is it that we’ve forgotten just what we are celebrating when we participate in Mass? Is it that we know that God will love us regardless or are we just lazy? Some may not have anything else to wear and that is acceptable because God truly does want us to be there regardless of our clothes, however, when we are going to meet the King of Kings, shouldn’t we be dressed to do so? Is good enough, enough?
I have read that as we grow towards virtue and holiness that our outward appearances should reflect this growth as well. While God sees our hearts we should also show Him that we want our outside to reflect the great changes that are occurring inside. We should want to honor Him not only in what we say and do but also in what we wear and how we present ourselves. We are encouraged to set aside time to read the bible, to pray, to reflect, to give to others… likewise, shouldn’t we be encouraged to set aside enough time to prepare ourselves both outwardly and spiritually to receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist?
If you currently don’t dress in your “Sunday best” to meet the Lord at the Mass I challenge you to dress up for a month of Sundays. Instead of just grabbing whatever you can put thought into what you would wear if you were to meet the Pope, a job interviewer, the Queen and then think about what you are planning to wear when you meet the King of Kings. Is it the same? Why or why not?
*the author recognizes that one’s “Sunday best” may be vastly different from another’s idea of “Sunday best”. The importance here is the idea what we are consciously choosing to dress appropriately and modestly in what we deem is our best for Mass.
© 2013. Michelle Fritz. All Rights Reserved.
Photography: See our Photographers page.