Saturday, April 26, 2014

Clothes for the Wedding!

As many of you know, I was blessed to get married back in August. And, as any bride preparing for her wedding, I went wedding dress shopping with my mom. A whole day of trying on gorgeous dresses, not afraid to spend money on something I’d only wear during one weekend of my life. Why? I was getting married. Could I have validly gotten married while wearing my purple gypsy skirt and black top? Sure! Could I have validly gotten married while wearing my brown hippie skirt? Again, yes. So why the wedding dress? Like I said, weddings are important, because at a wedding, a couple vows to each other and God to become one flesh, and sacrifice with and for each other for the rest of their lives. Clothes are external objects, which reflect an interior reality and mindset. My wedding dress reflected my internal understanding of the importance and solemnity of a marriage, and how a special occasion like that calls for special clothes.

Well, folks, while we may not all have friends getting married constantly-hence weddings to go to, and fancy dresses/suits to don-I have a shocking announcement: Weekly, and even daily, we are privileged to attend the wedding! The Wedding Banquet of Jesus Christ and His Beloved Bride, the Church.

Just let that sink in. A bride and groom get married. They experience conjugal love-sacrificial self-gift. And it’s epic. We go to Mass. Our Bridegroom comes physically. We physically receive our Lord. More than epic!

Don’t you think this event calls for great solemnity and celebration?

I can’t count how many times people will tell me, “Well, Jesus only cares what’s on the inside. He doesn’t care about what you wear.”

To those people, I ask:

“What about dressing for the occasion? Doesn’t Jesus like it if you dress up for Him?”

Think about going on a special date with your boyfriend or girlfriend. He/she has planned to spend an evening with you, going to a fancy dinner, and he/she shows up in shorts and a tank top. Hey, you only care about what’s on the inside, right?

I’m guessing that a lot of you wouldn’t be too happy about this happening. After all, for your significant other to take time dressing appropriately for the occasion shows a respect and desire to celebrate the occasion with grandeur.

Like I said before, clothes express an interior reality. When I’ve gone to job interviews before, I’ve made sure to “dress for success”—because my clean, tidy, tasteful clothes show that this is important, and I care about dressing for the occasion. Similarly, when a person goes to work, he or she is expected to dress a certain way. Imagine if a CEO would show up to his office in shorts and a t-shirt! What would people surmise from his body language and clothes? “Well, this may not be too important, so I’ll just do whatever…”

If you show up to a dance, and see women in long formals and guys in suits, you know that this is an important occasion. If people show up to Mass and see others dressed with care and attention to the Presence of the Lord, they will realize that it’s an important occasion. What if a person who has been away from the Church—or has never been to a Catholic Church—walks in, to see a bunch of people wearing shorts? Some even in their athletic uniforms! What kind of message does this convey about Mass?

 (Just so you all know, I'm trying to state this in the most loving way possible, and I don't just judge people who wear shorts. However, I do think it's a huge deal, which people need to seriously think about and not ignore.)

“Looks like it doesn’t matter what I wear…must not be anything too crazy going on here…must just be a chill atmosphere…I can just wear what I need to wear for the day, and fit Mass into my schedule, not worrying about changing clothes.”

While God cares more about our interior than exterior, the interior should flow to the externals. We need to interiorly realize and rejoice in the Paschal Feast of the Lamb! And we should celebrate this through our outward expressions! Like our clothes. Instead of fitting Mass into our schedules, and not worrying about our clothes, we should fit our schedules around Mass, and dress fitting to the solemnity of the Sacrifice.

Should shorts really be worn during Mass? Only if they are under a skirt or pants. Shorts are for Frisbee playing, beach parties, chilling outside in the summer, relaxing at the library, etc. Even if you have a cute pair of plaid shorts, they don’t scream “REVERENCE” like classy pants, a skirt or a dress.

It’s not difficult to dress up for the Lord. People do it when they go to the Vatican! (And FYI: the SAME JESUS is at the Vatican and your local parish. Why not dress appropriately for both places?)

I didn't take this picture (thanks Google Images!)
but I've seen it multiple times. Notice: Men pictures on the right side-
NO SHORTS. Women pictures on the left side: NO SHORTS
(dresses, skirts, and long capri pants allowed). 
It only takes a teensy bit of pre-planning: If you’re a woman, just wear a skirt (or looser pants) over your shorts. If you’re a man, just wear pants over your shorts. I still remember when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, and showed up at youth group. Our youth minister had just been to Mass, so once he showed up, he slipped off his pants because he had worn shorts underneath.

Keep a change of clothes in your backpack or car for after Mass. A quick change in the bathroom isn’t difficult, trust me. J

“But if I wear pants to Morning Mass, that means I have to keep wearing them until I have time to change at lunch!” It may seem inconvenient or uncomfortable, but remember that Jesus suffered intensely on the Cross—and for several hours beforehand—for you! I think you can wear your pants for a couple hours as a sacrifice for Him.

“But WHY? This doesn’t even make sense!!” Recently, I e-mailed a pastor at a church where there were signs posted in the doorways about ‘not wearing shorts, tank tops, tube tops, etc.’ in the Church. I asked him his thoughts on why shorts should not be worn. His response was short, sweet, and to the point, hitting to a practical side of the issue: no shorts makes sense because no one is left having to define just how short shorts can be. It just makes sense. I hadn’t thought about it, but it makes a TON of sense. I mean, I’ve seen the range of shorts out there. And some of them classify as “underwear shorts,” to quote a worker at the local Mission thrift store. We need to create a reverent atmosphere for the sacrifice of the Mass, and that makes sense, because the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Faith!!!

Several weeks back, a liturgically nerdy friend of mine dropped this quotation from St. Thomas Aquinas, which is pretty epic:

"External actions are signs of internal reverence." ~St. Thomas Aquinas

May we all continue to grow in deeper love and devotion of our Eucharistic Lord and His Sacrifice! God bless and have and epic day!!!!