Growing up, my family always dressed up for Mass. Though I recognize how expensive it must've been for my parents to dress three growing kids in nice clothes for Church, my brother and I always had on slacks and occasionally a blazer while my sister wore nice dresses. These days, Sunday is just about the only day during the week when I dress up. As my small business has me mostly doing web design for clients during the week, I'm typically wearing a graphic t-shirt and some plaid shorts. There's something really nice about Sunday morning putting on a suit, tie, and some nice shoes.
There's always been talk about the appropriateness of attire at Mass. Standards vary in all regions of the country and everyone certainly has an opinion. While I don't necessarily think that a suit is a must, I do think that at the very least a button down shirt and slacks are required. If you'd dress up for a date, to go to court, to attend a funeral, to go to a nice dinner, or to meet the President, you should dress up for Mass.
Mass is a challenging thing for a human to experience and process. The supernatural experiences aren’t generally perceived by the eye, so to most of us, Mass looks like a guy we know up front delivering a speech and sharing a very meager snack. If we could see the reality of what actually happens, we'd change a lot of our attitudes. We'd watch measly bread turn into human tissue, body and soul of our Savior, we'd watch an entire compliment of saints and angels surrounding the altar, adoring. If we could actually see, we'd watch people light up as they received Communion, we'd watch venial sins be forgiven, we'd see Jesus Himself giving the homily. If we were able to see all that, every week, we'd sell everything that we had to afford a nice suit.
Going to Mass is going to someone's house. We've been invited to share and eat together. So when we dress up for Mass, we not only show respect to the host, no pun intended, but we show respect to God's house. What we wear communicates our attitude, which is why we don't chew gum, bring McDonald's, text our friends, or sip our morning coffee during the liturgy. We dress up because we want to be respectful. On a more basic level, our clothes get us in the right mindset. School uniforms prepare students for learning. Gym clothes get us ready to workout. Pajamas help us prepare for bed while comfy sweatpants help us unwind at the end of the day. In the same way, our Sunday best get us ready to worship and praise the Creator of the universe. Clothes direct our thoughts and actions and so we should dress in a manner that befits Mass.
Wear nice clothes to Mass and make sure your kids do, too.