Deacon Greg Kandra has a great article over at Patheos about trying to get his parishioners to dress decently at Mass. It think this is a frustrating universal problem in the United States (especially in my casual Southern state.) In reading the comments to the article you can see why it is such a problem…people just don’t think it is a big deal. I commented too and I reproduce it here for you. Be sure to go read his article too (but come back!)
“I think Deacon, that you can see from the comments here why we have this exact problem at Mass. First, let me say that I’m glad people come to Mass and I’m happy to have them, even if they are not dressed well or are 15 minutes late. However, in general we have a laxity of dress in this society today. Many times I think, “What should I wear to an event?” and then dress down and it is usually right.
I have given up trying to make my 16 year old wear dress pants and dark shoes because no matter what Mass we go to (LifeTeen or not) all the teens will be in flip flops, T-shirts and jeans. I don’t want to discourage him from going so I pick my battles. People just don’t think it is important to look nice or modest anymore. So I just bite my tongue when the 14 year old girl comes in with a tube top or spaghetti straps, or the 17 year old guy comes in with the T-shirt with satanic symbols on it.
People also don’t get why we should not be bringing in food, water bottles, or soda to Mass. I am well aware of how hard it is to keep small children quiet and distracted at Mass. But, you know… Cheerios or Goldfish? How about a nice quiet, long lasting Tootsie Roll Pop. No mess, no bugging Mom for more. I did that until they were 3 and then no more. After that it was paper and pencil to draw or a small quiet toy to play with, etc. And believe me my boys were not easy in Church. The cry room is a wonderful place for the 2 year old if needed.
I think the problems are:
1) Few think it is necessary to dress up anywhere. Comfort is all essential.
2) I don’t know about your church but mine is not exactly a beautiful and reverent place.
3) There are few people who really are reverent about the Eucharist, which is why we do everything the way we do at Mass. If they were aware of how important the Eucharist is they would be very reverent. This is why catechesis is so important.
4) Many people are not there to truly worship God, they are there to do their duty and “get it over with” while making themselves feel better that they went to Church, or that they are good people for taking their kids to Mass.
5) Essentially, it is all about “Me” and not about “God.” That is why so many hymns are “I” “We” “Us” and not really about praising Him.
It will hopefully help when we get a more reverent translation and maybe better music. I think it would also help to make the lights in the church very low and have the altar more lit. Perhaps having the lights low will encourage people from chatting – the old people are the worst in our church and they should know better. It also would encourage silent prayer. Bring back the tabernacle and perhaps maybe turn the priest back around so you can say – “Hey, we are really here to worship God.” Let’s make it a special event and perhaps people will dress like it is special.”
This year’s Portiuncula Indulgence occurs on August 2nd. I wrote about it last year and it is just a lovely blessing to our lives as Catholics. Learn how to gain this indulgence and learn about indulgences in general right here.
If you love books like I do but are watching your pennies, then Interlibrary Loan is a great option for you. I like to buy some books, but others I just want to borrow – or maybe even look over a book before I decide to buy it. When it comes to Catholic books you might be lucky to find it in your library, but unless it is a Scott Hahn book, (maybe) or written by the Pope or Mother Teresa, you are pretty much out of luck. There do seem to be plenty of anti-Catholic books though. Nevertheless, some Catholic books are hard to find and a good Catholic book store even harder to find. Your local Barnes & Noble is unlikely to have any but the most popular Catholic books, but then you will be paying full price.
So, if you want to borrow a book, especially one that may be out of print, Interlibrary Loan is a great option. How this usually works is you can go to your local branch library, look up the book at the WorldCat database on their computers, and request it right there. The old way, which might be how your library does it, is to ask the librarian to look it up and request if for you. We are lucky here that we have a great library system, and we now have the ability to look at the database at home online and request it right there. WorldCat also has apps for your iPhone which is really cool. The ability to order a book from one of thousands of libraries, while sitting on my couch, is truly dangerous when in my hands…but I digress.
You will have to wait, sometimes for a few weeks, while the request goes through and a library from another system in the United States mails it to your main library, where it is processed and then sent to your branch for you to pick up. If you want the book tomorrow you will be disappointed. You are trading time instead of money. This though, has been a fantastic way for me to get great Catholic books that I would not have otherwise been able to acquire. Many of the books I have gotten have been from seminaries or Catholic college libraries. I picked up the other day Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina, and I’m really impressed with it, so I may buy it from Amazon, but in the meantime getting it this way allowed me to see if I really wanted to buy it.
In a podcast I was listening to today, Fr. Ryan Humphries, was discussing faith and reason. One of the things I found interesting that I thought I would share with you was a simple concept. You need both faith and reason to have a relationship with God. Some argue that you only need faith, but ours is an informed faith, it is not “blind,” but is an educated faith – or at least it should be. One cannot, of course, just reason their way to God. An analogy I thought of (which is not new I’m sure – but that I thought was clever) was that reason gets you up to the boat, but it is the leap of faith that actually gets you into the boat. So if you want to further your love for God, you need to educate yourself. Read the Bible. Read the Catechism. Go to some great websites, listen to some great podcasts, and most of all pray for the strength, wisdom and light to proceed.