Dressing like a Man for Mass

April 28, 2015

Many are beginning to recognize the severe Catholic “man-crisis” and the necessary imperative to aggressively “emangelize” Casual Catholic Men. While new ardor, methods and expressions are needed from the Pope to the parish priest, laymen need to step up to their personal responsibility and respond to Christ’s commandment to make disciples (Matt 28:19-20).

But the average Catholic man who is beginning to take Christ seriously about His call for all men to bring Him disciples, might be at a loss: “How can I evangelize other Catholic men? I haven’t been taught.”

For those men (and all men), here is a simple but powerful way to immediately begin to make a difference: Dress like a man for Mass.

Why Men’s Clothing at Mass Matters

The Catholic “man-crisis” is widespread and is having a devastating effect on men, women, children and the Church. 1 in 3 men who were baptized Catholic have left the faith. Of those who remain, 50-60% are Casual Catholic Men, not knowing the faith and not practicing the faith, men who in essence have left the faith. Sadly, large numbers of young people are following their lukewarm fathers out of the Church.

One obvious marker of the loss of faith among Catholic men is revealed in how men approach the Mass. Only about 1/3 of Catholic men attend Mass weekly and many of those have not grasped the miraculous nature and absolute necessity of the Mass. Research gives insight as to the root of the problem: men don’t understand the Mass – 49% of Catholic men are bored in the Mass and 55% of Catholic men don’t believe they “get anything out of the Mass”.

Boredom has its roots in a lack of catechesis. Men’s attitude of being “bored” in the Mass reveals the catechetical failure of the Church. Clearly, men who are properly catechized could not be bored in the Mass, for they would understand that the Mass is the “source and summit” of the faith in which men have a direct encounter with the Eternal King Jesus Christ. A man can’t be bored in the Mass if he has been taught and understands the Mass.

Boredom also results from the desacralized way some priests and parishes participate in the Mass. The desacralized Mass has many insults to Christ, including the lack of reverence of some priests, syrupy pop music that no one would listen to unless forced, a focus on community rather than Christ and a parish culture of casual attire. A desacralized Mass appears common and casual, leading to Casual Catholic Men, men who are casual about the faith.

Men who are bored by the Mass, dress like they are bored. On any given weekend in many parishes, the majority of men show up for Mass dressed, at best, like it is “Casual Friday” at work or, at worse, like they are going to a tailgate party. Men don’t wear suits or ties, choosing instead to wear khakis and polo shirts, jeans and sports jerseys, flannel shirts and cargo pants or even worse.

Casual clothing at Mass contributes to a sense of commonness about the Mass. When the people at the Mass look like they are going to the multiplex to see a movie, there is a loss of awe. Helping restore a sense of awe in the Mass is essential for over 8 out of 10 men never or rarely participate in a parish activity other than the Mass. If men are not being reached in the Mass, they are not being reached. Wearing clothing that reflects the awe that a man should feel as he approaches the King of the Creation sends a signal to other men that Someone awesome is present.

Unmanly Excuses for Casual Clothing at Mass

Men have all kinds of excuses for why they wear casual clothing to the Mass. Each of these excuses exposes both a lack of reverence for Jesus Christ and an unmanly lack of virtue.

The Personal Convenience Excuse – Some men don’t dress reverently for Mass because they want the convenience of wearing casual clothing, perhaps because it is relaxing or to avoid going home to change before the next Sabbath activity. These excuse-makers might say something like “I don’t feel like dressing up for Mass” or “I just want to relax on Sunday.”  This is simply an excuse for sloth, revealing an unmanly lack of discipline and willingness to sacrifice.

The “I never dress up” Excuse – Some men have a personal ethic of wearing casual clothing, perhaps out of a non-conformist rebellion against authority or orthodoxy. For most, this excuse doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, for many of these same men do in fact dress up in various outfits, conforming to their chosen “posse”. Examples include men who wear expensive jerseys for their chosen sports teams, wear expensive “leathers” to ride motorcycles, dress in tuxes for big social events, buy expensive fishing or hunting clothing, buy all kinds of expensive athletic wear or dress up themselves up with permanent (and expensive) tattoos. This excuse is often two-faced, an unmanly trait.

The “God doesn’t care” Excuse – Many men use the excuse that “God doesn’t care about clothes” to justify why they choose to wear casual clothing. This opinion is conjecture and incorrect, for God actually does care about clothing (see below). It is unmanly to blame God for one’s own laziness.

The Money Excuse – Some men use the excuse that they can’t, or others can’t, afford appropriate clothing. Most American men across economic classes have plenty of money to buy all kinds of expensive clothing and other things. For those who truly have limited financial resources, discount/thrift stores sell very inexpensive clothing. It is unmanly to falsely use a lack of money as an excuse for disrespectful attire.

The “Parish Culture” Excuse – Many parishes celebrate a deliberate culture of a casual dress for Mass. The rationale is that somehow dressing down encourages parishioners to be more comfortable and friendly, as if community building were the point of the Mass, rather than the worship and communion with Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is unmanly to be a cowardly conformist or to be ignorant about something as important as the Mass. Catholic men need to be countercultural, even in their own parishes.

Dressing like a Man for Mass

In contrast to unmanly excuses, here are some manly reasons why dressing like a man for Mass is important:

The Mass is infinitely more important than any worldly event – A man should wear his very best clothing for every Mass is of infinite value. While cultures around the world vary, a reasonable standard in the U.S. for men’s dress for Mass is a dark suit, collared shirt, a tie and dress shoes (for examples of how men dress for important occasions in the U.S., see presidential portraits, presidential medal awards, Heisman Trophy finalists, wedding attire or even what young men wear to prom, etc.). Every single Mass is infinitely more important than even the most important worldly event, for Jesus Christ Himself is present.

Justice demands that men give their best to Christ – Post-modern men need to become re-acquainted with virtue, especially the cardinal virtue of Justice. The word “virtue” comes from the Latin virtutem, meaning “moral strength, high character, manliness and excellence.” The root word of “virtue” is the Latin, vir, which literally means “man.” Men have always been called to virtue and to be virtuous is considered “manly.”

The cardinal virtue of Justice is giving God and one’s fellowman his proper due. Man, in his sinful nature, can never fully give God his due, for Man owes everything to God and has little to give Him except thanksgiving and praise. One concrete way to show thanksgiving to God is to meticulously dress to approach Christ in the Mass (e.g. mirror-shined shoes, a crisply pressed suit, a starched shirt and a carefully knotted tie, etc.). The least that a just man can do when attending Mass is to dress like he is meeting a King.

Christ explicitly demands respectful attire – In Christ’s parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matt 22:1-14), Christ says this:

“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The broader principle of proper spiritual preparation to approach Christ does not negate Christ’s most basic teaching about respectful dress. Clothing is one aspect of a man’s inner preparation and is also a signal to other men about his reverence of his Lord and King. Paul also warns men to not approach the Eucharist in an unworthy manner to avoid bringing down wrath and judgment of God upon themselves (1 Cor 11:27).

Each man’s life hangs in the balance – The eternal lives of every man and woman and their children hang in the balance when they face Judgment at the time of death: each and every soul will end up in Heaven (with first perhaps some necessary time in Purgatory) or Hell.  Each man will face Jesus Christ alone in the Final Judgment. Men on trial in the temporal world, pleading their case before a worldly judge, almost always wear respectful clothes. The respect that a man should give the eternal Judge is infinitely more than any worldly judge, for He will decide each man’s eternal destiny.

Every man desperately needs the help of our King – Given the array of forces that Satan is continually assembling against men, each man desperately needs the supernatural graces of our Lord and King Jesus Christ. A man approaching Christ in the Mass should dress like he is beholding to Christ.

Being in Mass is a man’s greatest honor – Jesus Christ the Eternal King, in His full Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is really and truly present in the tabernacle. When a man enters the parish, he is coming into the presence of Almighty God, the Greatest Man. The fact that sinful and puny men can actually come into the presence of the Greatest Man is an honor above every honor. Consider: if the President of the United States invited you to the Oval Office, it would be a great honor and you would certainly wear your best. Meeting the president is nothing compared to the divine honor of being in the presence of our King Jesus Christ.

Each man owes God everything – Each man is born and kept alive exclusively by God’s Grace. The fact that a man’s lungs breathe and his heart beats and his body converts food into flesh and blood is a gift from God. Every person in a man’s life, be his wife/girlfriend, children, family and friends, are all living breathing miracles given to a man by God. Christ recognized man’s need to give God thanks by establishing the Eucharist (literally means “thanksgiving”). If a man truly understands his dependence on God and wishes to give God thanksgiving, each man should at least dress like he means it.

Each man should instill the awe of Christ in his family and others – A man’s greatest responsibility is to lead his family to Christ so that they may receive the life-changing, miraculous Body and Blood of Christ. Children observe and pattern their father’s behaviors and a man should do his best to communicate an awe of the Eucharist to his children. Men who take the trouble to dress well, and to help their children dress well for Mass, send a clear sign that awe and reverence is required when approaching the King. Each man also has an obligation to his brothers to help lead them to Christ; dressing in one’s Sunday best will make an impact on other men.

Dress for the King

Stopping the hemorrhaging of Catholic men from the Church will require a broad and sustained effort enlivened by the Holy Spirit. But each man, in every parish, can do his part this Sunday by dressing like a man who knows he is coming into the Presence of the King.

Dress like a man who is awed by the Mass. Other men will notice, including Christ the King.

Matthew James Christoff is a Catholic convert. He is the founder of The New Emangelization Project which is committed to confront the Catholic “man-crisis” and to develop new ardor, methods and expressions for the re-evangelization of Catholic men. Matthew is also a co-founder of CatholicManNight, a parish-based men’s evangelization effort that has drawn thousands of Catholic men into Eucharistic Adoration, Confession, fellowship and lively discussion. Matthew lives in Minnesota with his beautiful bride (and childhood sweetheart); they have 4 adult children, 3 “in-law” children and two grandchildren. 

Matthew James Christoff


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Reader Interactions


  1. Zac Peirce says

    You nailed it on the head!! I find all of your points to be right on the mark and is something men really need to make an effort in.

  2. ardentshepherd says

    This is generational. Looking back through the years (when the same amount of men were leaving the church), men dressed in this manner more often. It was what they went to work in, how they went out to parties, how they relaxed on their day off. The quality of worship has very little to do with the clothes that one is wearing. Being adorned in dress clothes does not make men pay more attention. At least not to the mass. To draw a distinction between what is “nice enough” seems to be awfully judgmental and unnecessary. I’d rather see the church filled to the rafters with khakis and polos then see the church empty with suits and ties.

    • paxdomine says

      No, that is just simply how we justify the sin of sloth in our Modern era of narcissistic individualism and self-centered quest for importance in the pubic square where it down;t belong in God’s House to tell yourself that “everything is ok” when it is not. Save filling the church to the rafters with khakis’s and Polos for the mega church protestants who will all die off in hundred or more years when their splintering sends God finally into oblivion. The (Mother) Church, and The Holy See has lasted for over 2000 years with the high standards and uncompromising theology and dogma even with some vile corruption at times and the Devil’s sincere attempts to destroy Her. This superior than thou Modernist POV allows for all sorts of compromises to our accountability to The Lord and casual dress in God’s house is only one of them. Not dressing in your personal best is akin to destroying sacred music in a parish setting with candy pop settings of the Ordinaries & Propers of The Mass with tunes that are found on the radio in the lowest common denominator or dumbed down because “it’s easier for people to relate to and easier to sing along” (even though Mass is not sitting around a campfire but gathering around THE EUCHARIST). Casual dress is also akin to trading in your tithing to God for your maxing out your 401k contribution. Improper attire is once again comparable to receiving The Eucharist without examining your soul or going to Confession as you tell yourself “at least I am here sitting in the pew.” Check out “Seven Deadly Sins; Seven Lively Virtues” with Fr. Robert Barron. It will have you considering your suit or that nice dress the next time you go to mass.

      • AthenaC says

        “tunes that are found on the radio”

        Really? Where? Frankly, that would be an improvement over some of the stuff that is deemed to be music at my church.

        In any case, Mass is an athletic event for me, because I spend it wrangling a 2-year-old boy. So I dress appropriately – athletic shoes and jeans. Anything else would be unsafe.

        • Mr. Brown says

          “Unsafe”??? Yeah, so many of us were killed in church by our fathers’ suits and ties. sheesh, why not sweats?

    • Warren Postma says

      I wish I believed you. I’m starting to think that it does matter. That if we allow our brains to become any more Relaxed and Casual we may actually stop breathing. (Well, not that bad, but you get my drift.)

    • tbrec63387 says

      How we have so lowered the bar. Many, if not most churches allow casual attire and in some cases grubbies and it sure hasn’t attracted anyone to mass, has it?

      Yeah, I’d lobe to see every mass packed to the rafters but what I see happening are that some of the faithful, who go to mass on a regular basis are becoming annoyed with what they see.

      Will we ever see suites and ties by all the men? I highly doubt it but it sure would be nice to see dress slacks, button down shirts and dress shoes.

      I just completed a full your of CRHP and one of the days that we met, we discussed how we dress for church. Most of the guys are business professionals so I asked them how they would dress for an interview, or a fist meeting with clients. Obviously they said suite and tie. Then I asked them who was more important, God or a client, God or an employer? It was a rhetorical question but it got them thinking.

    • heymracosta says

      I have to respectfully disagree with you, ardentshepherd. Dressing in my “Sunday best” helps me shift into a different mental, emotional, and spiritual mode. Mass is the experience of heaven on earth. There is a reason the priest wears liturgical vestments in which to say Mass. We men should pick up the clue and dress in a manner that helps us focus on Mass.

    • frlacombeguild says

      Unfortunately, society has made the distinction on what is “nice enough.” Culturally speaking in North America, people are inclined to wear “their best” clothing to weddings, nights out, special events and so on. What more important event could there possibly be than witnessing the sacrifice of Christ on the alter, and then accepting this sacrifice in the form of the Eucharist? By dressing up, we are stating that this is important, and deserving of our best attention.

    • Jenn Erich says

      “Generational” is just another excuse. I am appalled at Mass by men (and women) dressed like toddlers ready for a picnic. I will never forget one Sunday standing behind a grown man in a thin white T-shirt that said “Jack Daniels” emblazoned on the back. It went swell with his ripped sloppy blue jeans. The writer is making an excellent point. If you can’t wear your “Sunday best” to spend an hour with the King of Kings, why are you going? It’s disrespectful to God and to others to dress like a slob at Mass. My husband and I enjoy wearing our very best clothing to Mass. Your last sentence implies a false choice. Men are now allowed to wear khakis and polos but they still do not attend Holy Mass. It’s not the clothing keeping them away, but it could very well be the clothing that keeps the next generation in the church. Dressing properly is a simple way to show God how important He is in your life.

  3. Alberto says

    As a Catholic man I feel insulted by this article and find it pathetic. Are we all really worried about what garments we’re wearing to worship Christ?? You think people in Christ’s time on earth really worried about what clothes they wear to seek forgiveness and salvation? Did Jesus Christ not spend time with the poorest of the poor, as well as the worst kind of people imaginable? This article oozes with elitist thoughts. I’m so glad we have Pope Francis to reiterate this and help us guide our efforts to serve the poor and marginalized.

    Oh and I’ll leave this here for you too: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Matthew 6:25 NIV

    • Joseph says

      I agree Alberto. On FB, when this article appeared, I gave my two cents worth on this issue. I’m from Texas. Guess what most of us wear? Jeans, western shirts, boots and cowboy hat. One person replied that I could do better. Really? Did I just get called out on this? When I was raised by my grandparents since almost birth, they took me to church every sunday. I’d see people wearing some nice clothes. All it did was make me feel ashamed because I only had what I had. So I go dressed as a regular person. The Lord sees my heart and knows my thoughts. He never stops speaking to me or gracing me with His presence on Sunday any more than any other day. He loves me. How many would tell their children, “I don’t want to see you until you dress better?”. Yeah..I thought so. This subject is very touchy with us men. Because it attacks our individual image. This article is more likely to turn someone away, than to change someone’s mind.

      • Hermílio Carvalho Jr. says

        Hello, my brother in Christ. Although I’m replying to you 8 years after your commentary, it’s still a relevant issue today.

        God will never turn away his children, no matter what they dress or what they do. It is not shameful to wear rags to His presence… Because to the One who has everything, all we wear might as well be rags.

        However, imagine a young man attending his own wedding. He gives no importance to his dress, and decides instead to wear an old jacket and sodden pants. This is not correct, because it disrespects the entire meaning of marriage.

        The point is not to wear fine clothing to Mass. The point is wearing your best, with the full consciousness that you’re responsible for setting the example for the other men attending.

        It is good to be reconciled in Christ and present at the Eucharist. It is even better to do those things and set an example of conscientiousness to your brothers.

        Best wishes from Brazil.

    • Mr. Brown says

      Alberto, don’t take it so personally. The scripture you quote from in Matthew says “do not worry” – Worry is far different from choosing. To dress in your best clothes to visit and worship our Lord and Savior is not to worry about what you will wear, it’s choosing to wear appropriate attire.

  4. Peter says

    As a life-long Catholic who had approached the Mass with regularity but casualness for most of it, I can tell you my attitude and the attitudes of men around me started to change when started I dressing up for Mass. I had to take the time to prepare my appearance, and so later I started realizing the importance of preparing my heart and mind as well. I wear a suit to a wedding, a funeral, and formal social situations. I think our Lord deserves as much. Any less is self delusion. And it’s only a matter of time before other men’s wives start to ask their husbands, “How come you don’t look that nice at Mass?” It’s a sign of respect. True, God doesn’t care how we look, but we should.

  5. Bobby says

    Peter, well said. I too looked long and hard at the way I was dressing for Mass. No, my clothes weren’t dirty just…undignified, to be in the presence of my King. I began to dress in a suit coat and tie and before long other men began to dress up a bit more. Not all wore suit coats and ties, but they put on more appropriate clothes like dress shirts and slacks and nice leather shoes. I look at it this way. If we dress up for weddings, funerals, proms, audience with Queen Elizabeth etc…then we can also dress up for Mass. Another way of looking at it is this; God gave us His best, His own son’s life for ours. The least we can do is give Him our best in terms of attire. Yes, our best may not be as good as another person’s best, but it will still be our best.

  6. James Petrovich says

    Here in the U.S., we have the luxury, and I highly emphasize this term, of arguing for how to properly dress up for mass. Let’s recall that two-thirds of the 1.2 billion Catholics in the world today live outside the West, many in some fairly rough neighborhoods. They don’t have the luxury of elegant vestments. If you read books of St. Francis of Assisi, this saintly man wore torn up garments to praise and glorify the King of Kings. My point is that although we should make every effort to dress up for mass, it’s not the end of the world and it’s certainly does not equate to a crisis.

    • MDelfino says

      I agree with you James. Why are we discussing what color to paint the guest room when the kitchen is on fire?! While marginally important, this is hardly the crisis we face. If the Power and Real Presence of the Holy Mass was understood and believed by more catholics, we wouldn’t be so focused on what anyone is wearing. And we would readily forgive that poor person who comes in just trying to make it to Mass/ get to Jesus. I pray that those who obsess over this issue just pray with more diligence and reverence and maybe someone will notice their actions and the result of their dedicated prayer life. Otherwise, why stop at a jacket and tie? Why not a tuxedo?

      • NicolasD says

        MDelfino, I’d like to point out that I absolutely agree with you about the need for more Catholics to understand the Eucharist. It surprises me that you disagree with the article! The example set by other Catholics goes a long way to showing the gravity of the Mass and the Eucharist to those who are lukewarm. Since we have such luxury in our country, we cannot excuse ourself from making at least a decent effort to take Mass seriously, and dress accordingly.
        I’d like to point out that I do think that a full-blown suit might be a bit much for every Mass, though. While perhaps another commenter has a point in saying that we shouldn’t go for empty numbers of Catholics, I think that if dressing nicely was really that huge a divider among people who were considering the Faith, then a polo is perfectly acceptable.
        What many people seem to be assuming is that this article is trying to say that appearance matters more than internal Faith. I don’t believe that is the point at all. The point is that there is a definite psychological link between dressing well and acting well. The average hoodlum doesn’t wear a suit; I’ve never seen a saint with his pants slung low on his thighs. The example and impression that we give to people is crucial. If dressing nicely doesn’t matter, why do you dress up for job interviews? If we’d dress up for an audience with the Pope, I think at least decent clothing is within reason for a Sunday Mass.

    • joelynch14 says

      I agree with James. I believe one should make every effort to dress up for Mass, but we should avoid legalistic views that everyone has to wear a certain thing. Personally, a dress shirt, dress pants and nice shoes are enough to help me approach the sacrament reverently, but for others it may be different. Dressing up helps us get in the right frame of mind, but of course it really comes down to how we prepare our souls.

  7. Tim says

    Seems to me it is a matter of dressing up. Even with suits and ties, if it is simply ‘just another day at the office’ wear, then how is this different? It would, I think, make women and children step up. It is so clear that if a father leads in this way, his family follows. But how about a special suit you only wear on Sundays, or maybe a special shirt and tie that are more dressy than the normal everyday ones? Liturgy, and the Lord’s Day, is set apart for God.

  8. David L. Gray (יוסף דוד)‎ says

    Well written article, but altogether you’re talking about the outside of vase right? The veneer. The pretense. You seem to presuppose that by virtue of a person having the pretense of reverence, that will somehow transfer or affect their interior disposition towards sacred space and holy things and persons.

    I’m not buying it. I’ve seen too many devils in suits and robes at Mass. Nor, am I under the impression that I can go put on a football uniform and become a great football player. Nor, am I buying that true manhood has anything to do with dressing European.

    I usually wear very nice and clean jeans to Mass because I’m coming from my job. In the winter I actually like wearing jeans always because I don’t use kneelers and don’t have to worry about getting my dress plants dirty on the knees. I also avoid dressing very nice for Mass, because I have a personal feeling that if I put on my best clothes, then I’m making the Mass about me, and I might be drawing attention away from the Cross if people are, as you say, “noticing” me.

    You might be right about some of us, but don’t cast a blanket judgement on all of us. Some of us are just simple men who are being true to our conscience and call.

    • Woody says

      Oh, David, I expected better of you. Your comment has disappointed me. And just to remind you, the diabolical wears all sorts of clothing.

        • Woody says

          I read your blog often. Your comment on what one wears to Mass doesn’t fit your articles you post on your blog. That was the disappointment. Wearing a coat and tie to Sunday Mass doesn’t seem like a big deal. I am surprised by many comments here on why guys don’t take the time to wear a coat and tie.

        • joelynch14 says

          David, I believe in the importance in dressing up, but I do agree that dressing up to the point of sticking out like a sore thumb can be a cause of distraction for people. I think we should dress up as much as we can without causing people to stare at us and take focus away from the altar. In the ideal world, everyone would be dressed up so this would be irrelevant, but that of course is not the case. There may be some that disagree with this, but this is just my opinion based on what I have experienced at Mass.

          • David L. Gray (יוסף דוד)‎ says

            Think is a very great point Joelyn, and I think the author is suggesting something similar – that all men should be dressing in jacket and tie – a type of uniformity. Mind you, my current parish is socially conservative and the liturgy is as about as traditional as you can get in a Diocesan Novus Ordo parish, but what I just learned about this parish is that most mean are wearing shorts and polo shirts to Mass this time of the year. So I’m sticking out wearing pants and a collar shirt, but I don’t think I’m distracting yet. Sad and funny . . . .

  9. john spizziri says

    anyone who does not dress when he meets The King, will seem to lack respect for Him. We all say, “I don’t because…” and follow it with a selfish reason. The way you present yourselves to others is a reflection on how much you respect them. By the way, I have two daughters with 7 grandchildren, all under the age of nine- and they ALL dress to the nines for The King.

  10. Jeri-Lynn Woods says

    I totally agree with Mr. Christoff that clothes at Mass are important. Yes, it’s true that what really counts is what is in our hearts… but what we bother to put on our outsides not only is a reflection of what we are inside, but it actually has a concrete effect on how we feel and behave.
    I recently wrote a home-business blog post called “Dress Like You Mean It”, discussing this very subject as it applies to someone who has an at-home, online business: “I found that the simple act of wearing “serious” clothes for my own business was a big help in overcoming a problem I’ve been faced with for a while: taking my own business seriously. Even if I don’t happen to have a face-to-face meeting with a client on a given day, dressing for business helps me to keep my mindset focused on business.”
    The same principle applies even more at Mass. (By the way, as a woman I am a definite supporter of women dressing like LADIES for Mass – which applies also to those women who, like myself, wear slacks to Mass. It’s still possible to take care and look appropriate and, yes, ladylike.)

  11. CB says

    This article is spot on!!! Its a sign of respect. If you would dress well and appropriately to go meet the Queen of England or for a hot date, then surely you can dress well to go to Mass and worship our Creator! And despite all the modern excuses, it DOES matter because how you present yourself is a direct reflection on who you are and what is important to you. This is especially true for the most important thing on earth–the Mass.
    A little tip..I often have a change of casual clothes in the car if I have other things planned later…its not hard people. As a young woman, dressing like a lady for Mass is important. The same applies for men. All too often, I have been so put off by guys rocking up to Mass in shorts and a tshirt. Have a little more respect for God and you will find that you will have more respect for yourself.

  12. Joe Rodriguez says

    I understand the underlying point and I agree, but in Matthew 22:11-14 I believe that the parable was speaking in reference to being clothed in the garment of righteousness not actual clothing.

  13. Jim Davis says

    Here is an easy proof to summarize this article:

    1. Would you wear a suit and tie to an important interview? Yes
    2. Is God more important than any interview? Yes
    3. Therefore, wear a suit to church where you are in the presence of God.

  14. Stephen Joseph Hill says

    What do you suggest one wears to daily Mass? For Sundays, I always wear a suit with tie (unless I am serving at the altar, in which case I walk in with said suit and tie and then change into a cassock and surplice). For daily Mass, however, I typically wear khakis or blue pants with a button up shirt. Do you think we should wear a shirt and tie to daily Mass as well?

  15. johnzee says

    So many of these commenters are trying to make an analogy of meeting the President, or the Queen or some big event where you meet someone important. These are all good-hearted analogies, but they miss the point. We aren’t just meeting our King. We’re meeting our Creator. He’s not just the authority over us, He’s someone we’re called to have a deep personal relationship with. If I had a deep relationship with the President, I would feel 100% ok wearing jeans and a tee shirt to meet him.

  16. Jon says

    Thanks for the article Matthew. The theme and spirit of the argument are clear I think, but there are details that can be expanded.

    My wife is in the choir loft during Mass. Having my 4-year-old son with me is important. If there were such a thing as a male kindergarten teacher he would not wear a business suit to work. Jesus said, “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for to such belongeth the kingdom of heaven.” Some kids are lethargic during Mass, others are not. For some of us gentlemen-fathers, part of this suffering is dressing appropriately to tend to a very physically engaged toddler during Mass. In this context wearing khakis and a button-down shirt, sans-tie, is perfectly fine and shows a great respect for Jesus and our roles as fathers.

    It just seems simplistic to pronounce a specific uniform for all men to wear in the presence of God during Mass. When the man in the pew in front of me is wearing his leather Harley-riding gear, or his Mossy Oak hunting camo (I’ve seen both phenomena in my parish), I admit, he looks like an ignoramus to me. But he has come before God, despite perhaps being an ignoramus. Prescribing new clothes will not make the man cease from being an ignoramus. Going riding or hunting with him may be a better approach to his catechesis–if in fact he actually is an ignoramus. Then again, he’s probably not reading a blog called “The Catholic Gentleman”. Are all men called to be gentlemen?

    Another thought, albeit it pedantic: here in the South, where I live, in the warmer times of the year a poplin, white, or even seersucker suit are considered more appropriate than a dark suit as your “Sunday finest”; and our priests are permitted to wear the white cassock–although I’ve only seen it happen once.

    There are many other facets to this. Go visit a Parish in the US where there is a large community of Nigerians or Montagnards. They will be dressed much nicer than you in the business suit you may wear the next day to work; it’s almost like the people in these cultures treat their Sunday best as vestments because, as far as I can tell, they only wear them for Mass.

  17. jon says

    Stupid. stupid , stupid , and so stupid , well dress , have nothing do to with practicing of want’s faith. Look at we Asian , dressing is never a problem with us, wear what you like but clean and decent . If you Love God , treat Him like Good Friend , going for Sunday Mass is like visiting a Good Friend, Why make if so difficult , must put on the Best cloths ?

  18. Nancy Sarowski says

    With whom would you rather worship? The smelly, shabbily dressed but humble publican or the self righteous, beautifully dressed scribe? The clothes say NOTHING about the person’s demeanor before God. We absolutely are wrong to even discuss this seriously. I don’t judge anyone who is attending Mass. We are all at different stages in our relationship with God. If you demand that a man put on a suit and tie to be accepted when he is uncomfortable in that suit and tie and doesn’t feel that it honestly portrays who he really is, what have we accomplished? We have put a mask on him. We’ve covered up who he really is. If the teenager, dressed in a hoodie, who has low self esteem and comes to Mass out of sheer obedience to his parents, I am grateful to worship next to this young person. Who in the world am I to judge a person by their clothes? The disciples asked Jesus to get rid of those pesky, dirty, loud children who were bothering them. You know what He said: “Let them come to me.” He wants us to come to Him as we honestly are. If getting “dressed up in special clothes” helps you worship more honestly, then by all means get dressed up. If dressing down helps you worship God more sincerely, then by all means dress down. The operative words are “worship honestly” .

  19. Matt says

    What’s ironic here is that your seems to fit the mindset of the Pharisee you wrote about in you March 31 article. You may want to re-visit it in light of your commentary here.

  20. louis aliperta says

    Very interesting discussion. The church has lost a lot of it’s credibility when they were hiding their clergy’s crimes. This also does not help with respecting mass.

  21. San Po Ho says

    The rationalizations for not dressing up for Mass are all very clever and persuasive. One can easily feel justified wearing anything at all to Mass if one settles for any of these arguments. There seems to be a lot of, “Hey, God should be happy I’m at Mass no matter what… don’t burden me with this noise about suits and ties.”

    But it all comes down to this: those who wear a suit, want to, and those who don’t, don’t want to. It’s a question of your individual will. For some people, wearing a suit predisposes the intellect toward a more serious, intimate, and humble attitude toward the Mass. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Pharisaical scrupulousness; it is done *for the person wearing the suit*, to better orient his mind to comprehend the miracle he is about to witness. It has the added benefit of setting an example mostly for young men between the influential ages of 13 – 17 (most of whose fathers have already decided in favor of polos and Dockers.)

    Yes, if jeans and sneakers is all you can muster for Mass, God will take it, but if you went a little further to show your appreciation, love and fidelity to Him, how can He be anything but pleased?

    “Comfort alone should not be the guiding principle of our dress.”

    It is interesting to note that virtually every priest would disagree with this article… but that, sadly, is an indictment of the loss of almost all common sense among most of our priests.

    • Anne McC says

      This is the exact conversation I had with a teenager when I stopped a bunch of our pupils from going into the Basilica of Montmartre in Paris on a school trip in June. They were dressed in shorts (The current style is to show a lot more from behind than is decent.) even though we had asked parents to ensure they had clothing that is suitable for going to Mass. This was what parents thought was suitable to send their children abroad in and we did actually have one girl suffer a sexual assault carried out by a homeless man the next day (not serious enough for police involvement). The teenager I mentioned at the top of this paragraph said:”You’d think they’d be grateful to have anyone in the church at all, no matter how they are dressed.” I replied that God did not need her; she was the one who needed God and also that Adam and Eve put on proper clothes in the garden of Eden, after they had committed the first sin. You see diagrams at the doors of churches in mainland Europe asking people to cover the essentials. We were turned away by the security guard at a church in Barcelona as the pupils had very little on because of the heat. I think he was quite right but I was not in charge of either trip. A friend received an invitation to a wedding in Italy that laid down strict rules for attire at the Mass. Here, in Ireland, most people are respectably dressed and you would not want it to be a case of showing off but I think the author of the article is making an interesting point – shouldn’t we take care to ensure our outward dress conveys our inner demeanour? I remember the time my father put in polishing the shoes of all 12 of us in the house on a Saturday night and he always wore his best, humble as it was, to Mass. Fashions come and go but he always went to Mass dressed like a gentleman. The point about preparing in advance by doing things like this is very good. It mirrors the spiritual preparation we should be making. Yes, if priests and nuns continued to wear clerical dress in places where they feel safe (How safe are they now in the south of Ireland?) that would make religion more of a daily and natural reality in our lives as it used to be and less of an extremely private matter. This correlates with the lack of statues and holy pictures in our immaculate homes, does it not?

  22. Pat_h says

    This is a surprisingly common topic on blogs and forums of this type. It’s hotly debated in a thread over at Catholic Answer’s forum, and it appears in various other locations as well. Generally, the debate is pretty typical in how it plays out.

    On there’s a couple of things to keep in mind. One thing is that we’re in the midst of a very long and slow evolution in dress, which makes some of the frames of references plain to others and completely baffling to some. As a result, arguments break out.

    There is no doubt that the standards of dress have changed, indeed declined, over the past several decades. I’ve blogged about that here, including the topic of dress at church: http://lexanteinternet.blogspot.com/2011/07/standards-of-dress.html

    At the same time, there’s actually a bit of a regional component to this, and a cultural one. In the region in which I live, Catholics haven’t dressed up for Mass at any point in my lifetime. Indeed, during the winter months, we’ve always worn our coats all through Mass, much like the photo posted on my blog entry. In summer, people have always dressed fairly casually. The reason likely is that in this heavily rural area, that’s the typical dress most people have. Indeed, oddly, one way to distinguish Catholics from Protestants is by their dress, with Catholics generally not dressed up.

    A person can interpret that more than one way, but one way to do it is to perhaps assume that Catholics, who if they are observant recognize a duty to attend on Sundays and Holy Days, are so comfortable with frequent attendance that they don’t feel that they have to set themselves apart on that day. If so, and I think there’s something to that, that’s a good thing. On the bad side, over the years, casual dress in general has become much more casual, and right now, a person could argue that Americans have an exceedingly low standard of dress in general.

  23. Johnny Vo says

    I go to mass most weekday mornings after surfing, at a church by the beach. I sluice off and change out of my wetsuit next to my truck. Very casually dressed, needless to say. It’s mostly old ladies there. They like seeing me. Often they bring me food. I don’t go to Sunday mass. Too crowded. No food.

  24. Nick says

    The article and some of the comments slamming those who come to mass in casual attire are extremely judgmental. Reminds me of a few parables. If I was someone looking for religion, considering the catholic faith, I think I would have been turned off by the materialism and beat down conveyed in the comments. Jesus was nothing like that.

  25. Bruce "Kilt" of Scotland says

    Two eternal destinies, three eternal destinies, numbers shnumbers, who cares? Just as long as we dress appropriately.

  26. Sean says

    The numbers you quoted are very sobering and sad. Unfortunately, I doubt the tone of your article and fussing about apparel will bring anyone back to the faith. I try to take the attitude of welcoming and inviting anyone to mass and meeting them just as they are. I fear I will be one of the few left in my parish in 20 to 30 years as people seem to keep giving the young reason after reason to leave. I keep praying Pope Francis changes the hearts and minds of those on the far left and far right and all those muddling around in the middle don’t abandon ship.

  27. Patrick says

    There are only two reasons for this and the “man-crisis” generally: 1. The liturgy was mauled by the JPII generation and today is at best struggling along on scarred-over, amputated limbs, truly pathetic and unappealing; 2. The destruction of the father as the actual head of the family, also completed by JPII in his works on women and the family. Articles like this are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and hoping that will somehow stop the ship from going down. Only patching the hole will stop the ship from foundering. Today, in my view, that means correcting JPII’s perverting of the role of the husband/father to make it conform to feminist ideas of equality. If that is accomplished, the liturgy will be healed by the men who produced it to begin with.

      • Patrick says

        No, I’m saying it’s irrelevant, which isn’t the same as saying it’s OK. It’s like trying to bandage a finger when there’s an arrow in your chest. Who cares?

    • Pat_h says

      The comments on St. John Paul II are very misplaced in my view. Having a likely longer view of the Mass in recent times, it seems to me that experimentation with the Mass (and many other things) came mostly in the 1970s) and there’s been quite a recovery since then. And the period of decline cannot be viewed on any occupant of the Papacy.

      • Patrick says

        The recovery is the liturgy struggling along on healed-over amputated limbs. It’s healed but still amputated. That’s secondary to the destruction of the husband/father as the head of the family effected by JPII, though. Destroying the authority of the husband/father is exactly the same thing as destroying the authority of the bishops and pope would be. And not just undermining the authority, so that it still exists but isn’t respected or something…JPII deliberately annihilated the authority of the father as head of the family, saying that doctrinally, the husband and wife are equal and need to strive to be submissive to each other. It’s like saying the bishop is literally subject to the priest and the priest has no obligation to obey.

  28. Jim Martin says

    Sam i have been reading your articles off and on now for about a year and i would like to congratulate you for your wonderful insights and contributions to propagating our beloved faith. So thank you so much for this excellent blog.

    But……unfortunately my first entry and reply to your site will be a concerned one. I just think that while the subject matter is worthy of a discussion, your tone and some of your Biblical references are inappropriate to flat out wrong. This subject really needs a very long reply discussing the pros and cons but alas time does not allow so i will just have to stick to a few quick main points.

    1. You seem to be attempting to stigmatise and judge those that do not wear a suit to Mass. But you seem to be overstepping your authority and duties here. The idea that men should wear a suit to Mass is entirely of your own making and invention. The suit is a fashion. Apparently to YOUR tastes and something YOU deem appropriate for Mass. But never the less a subjective matter of taste.
    The only duty (i would opine) for dress and attire at Mass for Catholic men is that we are dressed in MODEST clothing. Clean clothes, and if possible fresh and fairly new would be even better if possible. The rest is just a matter of taste. The upshot of your opinion would be that much like the picture on your blog. Men would effectively be forced to wear a uniform to Mass (the suit and tie) which meets of YOUR subjective taste and requirement.

    2. From the perspective of point No1 i make, your printing of a sin list of excuses people make for not meeting your subjective uniform requirements then looks really inappropriate. Again, this seems like nothing more than an attempt to coercion and stigmatisation of those that do not agree with you on a subjective matter. It reminds me very much of Michael Voris, as this is a technique he often deploys in his work.

    3. Your Biblical quotes while perhaps literally relevant are clearly not meant literally as they are parables. This gives the impression you are manipulating the Bible here just to make your subjective point. This is probably the most offensive thing i could say to you as i know you are a good man, but i do feel obliged to point out how some might perceive it.

    In summary, for example, if a cowboy in the midwest wants to wear his best jeans, boots and shirt to Sunday Mass good luck to him. In his heart, if this is to him, the best he has and he wants to present that to Our Lord, then he should not be judged or stigmatised for that love in his heart.

    Finally let me apologize to you Sam, for my reply, if i have fired it off too quickly and without suitable revision but alas time does not allow. I do thank you again for your excellent blog and many many insightful artilcles

    • Pat_h says

      As a minor note, this article wasn’t authored, but rather published, by Jim, based upon the byline.

      “In summary, for example, if a cowboy in the midwest wants to wear his best jeans, boots and shirt to Sunday Mass good luck to him. In his heart, if this is to him, the best he has and he wants to present that to Our Lord, then he should not be judged or stigmatised for that love in his heart.”

      Indeed very common here, and to include cowboys of Mexican origin, and at one time sheepherders of Irish origin, in this locality.

  29. eddie too says

    I do not believe there is much of a correlation between the nature of a person’s heart and their choice in clothing except in the realm of modesty.

  30. Luis Herrera says

    It’s my first time I read your blog. I think it is a very good point our dressing attending the Holy Mass. I don’t know if it help your view but there’s a very unfortunate attitude in our priest, they discarded their clerical identification. We respect the people that we don’t know by their uniform, e.g. the medical doctors and nurses, the military personnel, the air plane pilots so why our catholic priest discarded their cassocks. It is a way of foster apostolate and public testimony of their faith.

    • Pat_h says

      Most places Priests do wear “cleric’s”, i.e., the Roman collar etc.

      I don’t know if they do everywhere, but historically in a few places where they have not, it was actually prohibited by the governments in those locations, or it was done as the Church feared persecution of Priests. Not that I know the situation everywhere, of course.

      With nuns it seems to be a different matter. At least in the US some orders of nuns, and I believe some orders of monks as well, dispensed with their traditional clothing in the 1970s. Not being very familiar with all of that, I’ll leave that there.

  31. J says

    Ok I would love to always wear a suit. Execuse- I have 10 kids, at Mass dealing with diapers, potty breaks, crawling on floor for bottle and sippy cups, holding two figgity lil boys at once, should I continue…..

  32. Ambrose Little says

    “But the LORD said to Samuel: Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The LORD looks into the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)

    ‘And [Jesus] said to them, “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.”‘ (Lk 16:15)

    St. Ambrose says (De Offic. i, 19): “The body should be bedecked naturally and without affectation, with simplicity, with negligence rather than nicety, not with costly and dazzling apparel, but with ordinary clothes, so that nothing be lacking to honesty and necessity, yet nothing be added to increase its beauty.”

    Let us observe also the habit of the saints and of religious. They do not dress pretentiously. Quite the opposite. Religious habits are intentionally humble. Dressing with humility and simpleness is far more praiseworthy–especially in the presence of God–when we should do all that we can to eliminate human distractions and bare our souls and hearts honestly before God.

    This article is so wrong-headed, even if the heart is in the right place. Obsession with outward appearance is an obvious inclination towards pride, envy, and luxury. It encourages exactly what this article is doing–judging the spiritual state of others based on outward appearances. Spiritual pride is extremely insidious and dangerous. We must root it out at every turn.

    ‘“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.”‘ (Matt 23:27)

  33. Adam says

    I’m surprised there’s so much argument about this. God deserves our best, inwardly and outwardly. Does that mean we all need to wear a suit and tie uniform? Probably not. But I think that most can handle putting in a little extra effort to look nice for mass. That means different things for different people, depending on circumstances and such, but the premise is the same. I think God appreciates the sacrifice and extra effort required to attend mass in attire a little bit nicer than what you’re used to. Offer it up.

  34. Susan Sisson says

    When I was a child, I remember my father saying that we should always dress the best we could : if all we had were patches, they must be clean patches. This came from a man who’s parents had immigrated to America and had known true poverty. It’s completely different now….. the patches cost more than decent looking clothing . I can tolerate the kakis & polo shirt, but the torn jeans & rumpled shirt sadden me! They come to be with my King and look like that! I know he preached & healed among the poor and needy, but you see they didn’t know who He was! We know who He is !
    Actually I believe the wives /mothers are greatly responsible. My husband usually wants some feedback when we’re going somewhere special about what he should wear . You see, we women need to consider Mass something special first…. then the family follows.

  35. Mike hassett says

    I am one of the men who left the catholic church and it has NOTHING to do with proper attire it has everything to do with it being an EMPTY SUIT when it comes to defending the UNBORN. Real men don’t follow a religion that won’t discipline politicians who are NOT real “Catholic” men or woman!

  36. Alonzo Del Villar says

    Interesting the socioeconomic excuse that some folks commenting have used. Being poor has nothing to do with dressing your best to worship you Creator, Savior, King. It does require preparation and effort to dress your best. You know I work in Emergency medical services and I have been in the homes of poor immigrant workers. They may not have much but they take pride in their homes by keeping them clean and orderly, they take pride in themselves by wearing clean and pressed clothing. It. just seems like many men seem to have adopted this false idea that looking like you care means you’re up-tight. You wouldn’t want to look like one of those up-tight conservative traditionalist Catholics. How about respecting yourself enough to be the MAN that God created you to be and maybe start acting like it. A man who respects himself and the God/King that he says he loves and believes in.

  37. Reclaiming the Sacred says

    I once knew a man who changed my life. He often dressed in a suit and a tie, and was a gentleman in so many respects that one could perhaps ever possibly find. Yet what impressed me most about him was that the suit and the tie was not just a reflection that disappeared with the well-worn hanger that held it in his private life – it was a reflection of who he was, of his soul: a reflection of a kind person, both within and without.

    That person was my father, and because of him no man since can ever compare. Yet give me a man in rags with a heart of gold, and I will take it over suit any day.

    Presumption is ugly – my father was never such. He grew up in the depression, and survived by riding the rails and jumping from cars laden with maufia men. A suit is only a veneer in a tie – it is the heart that matters.

    Give me men with hearts that are royally robed – and I will give you a church that no longer needs to debate what we wear. For that church will already know what to do, and will always know where to look for the best of its kind.

    God bless you.

  38. Clark Musser says

    I am a 47 year old guy. This is a great article. I wear a jacket to just about every mass I attend, if I’m lecturing I wear a tie.

  39. Jerome Quigley says

    In addition to going to mass I particularly enjoy visiting Churches during the week, both for public Eucharistic adoration and also for visits to the Blessed Sacrament. I especially love being alone in a church in front of a tabernacle and alone in a church and saying the stations of the cross. For me it is a time when you are not there to be seen by anyone except God. I would not even think or feel any need whatsoever to dress up in those times. It seems to me that dressing up is for one reason only, for other people, period. If a construction worker not particularly clean wants to visit the Church on a break, should he feel bad, no way. What is he supposed to do, go home get cleaned up, wear a suit, get real. God does not care, He would rather get the visit. I have known people who became Catholic partly because they saw the phoniness of the Protestant dress up game.

  40. Zack says

    A suit and tie is not everyone’s definition of dressing their best, different cultures have different standards of being best dressed. To assume all men should wear what is considered best for one culture, namely western society, appears to me as being discriminatory, something I don’t see God wanting us to be.

    While this is a great article, I must say that we cannot hold ourselves to society’s standards when visiting the King.

    I personally wear a plaid cowboy shirt and my best jeans to church even though I have a shirt and tie in my closet. Why? I do not consider my shirt and tie to be my best and I would rather attend mass with my entire attention devoted to God than the awful clothes I’m being force fed.

    I’ll tell you a quick story… A few years back I had just gotten off work (farming) and had a set of dirt and grease covered blue mechanic shirt and pants on. Being incredibly short on time and not wanting to be in the Lord’s presence as such, I tried to find cleaner clothes to wear, but I was only able to get a replacement for the shirt. It ended up being a green, fairly cluttered looking John Deere t-shirt.

    I felt humiliated the entire mass.

    Being incredibly embarrassed and ashamed of myself at the close of mass, I went to apologize to the priest on my appearance. When I did so, he told me not to worry and “the Lord loves a working man.”

    That stuck with me.

    God does not judge a person *strictly* on their clothing, he judges based on your heart and actions. This article reminds me of the “Catholic elite,” a group I have been known to nickname the “holier than the rosary” folks.

    I know and believe there is very little wiggle room when it comes to obeying God’s will, but I personally believe my nice cowboy shirt falls into that wiggle room as I do consider it my best clothing. If that ever changes, so will my church going attire.

    I’m not making excuses for anyone not wearing what is considered their best, I am saying that we should be wearing what we would want to be in when our time of judgement comes, and I’d be perfectly fine with being in my cowboy shirt in front of the Lord as it shows my heart much better than a stiff suit.

    • Chuck says

      Well said Zack… Great conversation and a needed topic – It’s important when raising concerns about “what others should do”, to minimize judgement and recognize that not everyone feels the same way about a newly established dress code, or when to stand, kneel, or what posture to hold during the Our Father, etc…
      Perhaps a good place to start is to recognize ourselves for who we are… we are all the beloved sons and daughters of God… (ref: Henri Nouwen “Life of the Beloved”)
      Once we begin to recognize our own dignity, and see a little in ourselves what God sees, perhaps this will stimulate dressing the part. Not because we are pressured into a renewed sense of conformity, but out of love for God and respect for his house… Pax.

  41. Nick Santoro says

    If you feel it necessary to wear a suit and tie, if that is what makes you feel closer to Christ and more involved and engaged in the Holy mass, then please by all means do it, however, if someone else should choose not to, why should they be scorned and sneered at? This silent scorn which is only derived from a kind of elitist superficiality is what drives members from the church, especially young members, which is what we need most in order to build community, which (contrary to the article) is an essential element for the function and success for the mission of the church, to build Christ’s family of love and mercy.
    Please, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not calling any here an elitist or superficial, I am simply warning against these modern devils. This is an ever-changing world with ever-changing styles, and though the mass remains the same, we must respect and accept it. Although your father or grandfather may have always worn a suit to mass, that was a different time, and so we must put these absurd topics aside and realize together that clothing is not the highest priority, love, charity, humility, and mercy are the priorities we should be concerned with.

    • Susan says

      Nick and some of the others who defend not dressing up for Mass remind me of Joe Pesci’s character in “Goodfellas” after he shot Spider in the foot. After being ribbed by the others, he said, “don’t make me want to feel like I just did something here.” (Or words to that effect.) Does hearing that some of us feel it is important to dress in our best and seeing us at Mass make you feel like you did something? If you think those who wear suits (and women who wear dresses) to Mass are somehow “elitist” or trying in some way to make you feel bad, that’s on you. If you want to dress like you are going to a toddler’s picnic when you are going to worship the Lord of the universe, the One Who created all, to participate in the unbloody representation of His sacrifice on the Cross, then good for you! The justifications for NOT dressing in your best and the inferences that you are being judged by people who do dress up would be funny if not so sad. Wonder why some feel the need to defend some imagined scorn… When my husband in his suit and I in my dress attend Mass, we have no “silent scorn” for the many others in casual clothes. It is our way to show respect. People dress up for job interviews still, right? You’re going to receive the Lord! Just do your best, wear what you would wear to visit the King, because that’s what we are doing. The phrase “Sunday best” actually means something, that’s why it’s a thing.

  42. Nick Santoro says

    Susan, I believe there may have some kind of miscommunication, I may not have worded something correctly, I’m not worried about MY appearance in church, or how others see or think of me, I know the reason I’m there, I do have friends and family members however who either didn’t have “suitable” clothing to begin with, or didn’t feel it necessary, who caught enough sideways glances and stares to take their attention off of the Eucharist, and they didn’t return. If I offended anyone, that was most certainly NOT my intention, I was only trying to convey the question of; Is this really a topic that should be pushed to the front of our spiritual priorities? I personally enjoyed the predominance of the article, save the parts where it’s implied that a persons dress is a reflection of his/her soul. That, to me, is a little ridiculous.

  43. Don M says

    Doesn’t the church have actual theological debates, i.e. abortion, euthanasia, homosexual perspective s etc. where serious differences of opinion have eternal consequences?

    Why would anyone argue about clothing? I agree that respect is necessary and civilized people should display such honor at Mass.

    But don’t we have other fish to fry?

  44. Bear Mac Mhathún says

    Perhaps we should be offended by St Francis of Assisi if he and his brothers came into church. According to the argument presented here – certainly. The good bourgeois townsfolk of his day were certainly offended by the poverty of the mendicant friars. In fact, this argument is reminescent of the weaker arguments against the friars at the University of Paris in the 13th century – of which St Thomas Aquinas was a target.

    What about men who wear suits and accoutrements that cost a working man’s annual salary to purchase, indicating that they did not come into money honestly? Surely that is a greater source of scandal. Or the humiliating of people struggling by making snide moral judgements about the poor state of their clothing.

    Are we to exclude working people from Mass during the week because they need to come in their work clothes? Or do only bourgeois office workers come to daily Mass? And if we condescend to allow working men to come to Mass in their dirty work duds, how can we maintain the arguments above?

    The Pharisees looked at the external appearances, Our Lord looks into the heart. Virtue lies within, not in one’s clothing.

  45. Daniel Payne Hager says

    Cardinal Sarah’s most recent exhortation regarding renewal of the Liturgy in using the hermeneutic of continuity stressed three elements: Silence, Adoration, and Formation. Silence emphasizes that our encounter with God is essentially receptive. Adoration emphasizes that our Communion has the purpose of uniting us to the Most High. Formation underscores the fact that Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross is our Passover meal, that makes us a holy people, so we can love and serve God, and truly be neighbors even to our enemies. I do not think it is out of line to take these concepts as the norm for our sacred liturgy. But we can only do our best as far as dress and deportment is concerned. We need to approach the holy mountain, not focus on scaling molehills.

  46. Lisa in SC says

    How did Jesus dress for Mass? And did he admonish others for not “dressing”properly? There’s your answer.

  47. Larry says

    This article is linked from the Facebook page of a frequent EWTN priest. I’m disappointed to see that it’s yet another “Matthew James Christoff” rant. Mr. Christoff is a recent convert to Catholicism but for unknown reasons picked up that toxic “everything pre-1962 is superior” attitude. He has no credibility with me. He really seems to hate his fellow Catholic men. I wish I knew why.

    Arguements on “externals” never ever go anywhere, be it style of dress or women wearing veils or manner of receiving Communion. I won’t contribute to that. Except to say that if someone chose to approach me at Mass and comment on my clothing, I’d be torn between a) being resentful that anyone would care about a stranger’s attire, and b) gleeful that someone – anyone – chose to speak to me at all, since for my entire adult life I’ve shuffled in and out of Mass every Sunday without any notice at all, excepting the occasional obligatory welcome by the volunteers whose job is to nod and perhaps say hello… unless they see an actual friend, in which case I’ll get no acknowledgment at all…

  48. Felipe Araújo says

    It’s very interesting article, but I’ve a question:

    Is it ok to go to mass with a dress shirt?

    I don’t know how it is in USA, but in Brazil a dress shirt is a formal clothing.

    Another thing: In weely mass I must have the same “up standard” for clothing that I have in Sunday mass? In the weekly mass is allowed, for example, the using of polo shirt?

  49. mir321 says

    The inside or the outside ? Are the men in suits on fire for God ? Would they die for Him ? What they wear is of little or perhaps no consequence, what is in their hearts a great deal more. Do they love God , do tehy know Him personally, enough to trust their lives to Him ? Can you teach that … when you know how, you’ve cracked it !


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