We’re At Mass – Put Some Clothes On!


We’re in the heat of summer and despite the long days, it seems that more and more people are rushing to Mass each Sunday and forgetting something very important: their clothes.

I’ve seen more bronzed thighs, upper backs and chests on display at Mass the last few weeks than I’ve seen walking around the Minnesota lakes all summer.

While some believe it’s acceptable to trade in dress pants and crisp shirts for jean shorts on a summer Sunday, others appear to be taking this sentiment to a whole new level. Short shorts. Neon flip flops. Sagging cargo shorts. Revealing halter tops.

I’m not a stickler for ultra-dressy Mass attire, but I also recognize the importance of the time spent in a pew on Sunday and try to dress accordingly.

One Minnesota priest recently wrote in a guest column for the Minneapolis-St. Paul archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Spirit, that it’s time for us to dress up and not down for Sunday Mass.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that when it comes to the celebration of the Eucharist, ‘Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity and joy of this mo­ment when Christ becomes our guest’ (No. 1387). Clothing ought to reflect re­spect and solemnity,” he said.

We can reach a new level of respect and solemnity during the summer months by merely adding a cardigan to a tank top, switching out a pair of shorts for capris or opting for a polo versus a worn t-shirt before heading to Mass.

“We’re not called to be vain or seek false or negative attention, and I’m not advocating for an obsession of the exterior over the interior. But I am saying that what you wear and how you carry yourself says something about who you are,” fellow CatholicMatch blogger Meg McDonnell wrote in a “Faith, Hope & Love” post earlier this year.

No matter where you sit on the appropriate Mass apparel spectrum, think twice this summer before donning your beach apparel to church. It’s not about what you’re wearing – it’s about who you’re meeting.



  1. Ernest B. July 4, 2013 Reply

    I am an altar server part-time and not even scheduled to serve during the week mon- fri. I wear walking shorts with a draw string that generally come down to the top of my knee. I carry warm-up pants by puma that are black with a sub-dued black strip down the middle of the leg. If the altar servers do not show, I put on my sub-duewd black warm-up pants and assist the priest in preparing for mass and handling the alter server duties and then finish mass and remove all fixtures ete. If I do not serve mass, I will continue to take a seat at mass and if early enough will seat with-in the 2 nd pew, in my WALKING SHORTS. I wear a golf/polo shirt with 3 buttons and white athletic socks and white NATURAL BALANCE CROSS- TRAINERS. This morning I was informed that the priest stated on Sunday that no one was allowed to wear shorts in the warmer summer months, which I did not hear and did not read in the church bulliten. On Sundays, the elementary school students sing at the 11:oo mass, and at least 3 young girls are wearing dresses or skirts almost half way up the thighs in front of the whole church. No one except me has said a word to the nun in charge as we know it. When the temps are above say 70 degrees and it is warm outside, I wear shorts and even in church with the ac on, I still wear shorts.

  2. Paula-943738 June 10, 2013 Reply

    I do agree. Dress for the occasion and respect yourself and others. It does matter! But here is another thought: did you ever notice how no one wants to sit in the front pew(s) at Mass? Well, I do! I find it a great distraction-eliminator to sit right up there where there are no other sights to command your attention than the altar and what is going on there. I have often wondered why more folks have not caught on to this. I just don’t find it conducive to a prayerful attitude to sit in the midst of or behind people who are “not behaving” — silently texting or reading the local parish bulletin or whispering to their neighbors during Mass. So I sit right up there in the first pew and miss the circus behind me. Try it sometime!

  3. Dirk-631502 July 23, 2012 Reply

    I also agree with Jessica. Even here in Canada, all too often I see youth (and sometimes adults too) wearing questionable clothing. I’ve seen beach-wear, dirty torn jeans, shirts with what looked like some distored skull (yikes!), long droopy t-shirts, shirts hanging over the jeans, baggy cargo pants, …the list goes on. Are we so poor that we cannot at the very least purchase some decent clothing and good footwear that conveys the respect, solemnity and joy of the Mass? Or do we just don’t care?

  4. Pearl-95477 October 1, 2011 Reply

    Modesty at Mass Is a Must

    “…More than just making a request, the Vatican has insisted that tourists visiting St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome adhere to a strict dress code. Pictorial signs explaining the dress code are on display at entrances; men and women in shorts or with bare shoulders (e.g. wearing tank tops) are routinely turned away by the Swiss Guards….”

  5. NOREEN-104377 September 5, 2011 Reply

    I do have to agree with your posting Jessica. This is one of my pet peeves- not just at church but also at work. Perhaps I have become too much of a prude but I do believe that there is an appropriate dress style for every occasion. Wearing an inappropriate outfit for any occasion sends a strong signal that you are naive and don’t give a hoot about others, or respect their environment. This applies to the female gender more than males.Today’s women have a lot more styles to choose from and freedom to wear a variety of clothing. Lets not abuse our priveledges and be respectful of the environment we are in. It is distracting and disrespectful to those around you when you dress for attention! It certainly doesn’t do anything for the level of respect you are commanding in life. How we dress and how we behave says so much about who we really are!

  6. Luna-708527 August 27, 2011 Reply

    Thanks for the post once again. I remember watching on EWTN about the topic of modesty and how we dress here is the link if interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZHECJJbzPM&feature=player_embedded

    Lets pray for our priests to be granted wisdom to speak up and teach us to be proper and real catholics we are called to be.

    God bless you!

  7. Pearl-95477 August 7, 2011 Reply

    i’ve been wondering when we are going to make this the universal dress code for entering any Catholic churches at least in the U.S. You cannot show your bear shoulders in any churches in the Holy See. We have been abandoning many of our traditions because “people” think our Catholic teachings and rules are too restrict. those people would never protest against some other religions’ restricted rules and more…

    • Pearl-95477 August 7, 2011 Reply

      correction: i meant ‘You cannot show your “bare” shoulders in any churches in the Holy See.” apologies.

  8. Lisa-727959 August 5, 2011 Reply

    Thank you, thank you for this blog post! I agree and you said it well: “I’m not advocating for an obsession of the exterior over the interior” but really, when one approaches the Holy Eucharist, one should be clothed and humble. My children are not allowed to wear flip flops to mass and if my girls are wearing sun dresses they must bring a sweater to cover their shoulders, just as I do.

    There is a two-fold reason for dressing modestly at mass, and certainly the primary one is respect for God and the sacrament, but also, respect for the clergy and community. There is enough temptation out there for our priests and husbands. We, as women, do not need to make it worse by bringing that temptation into mass just because we want to be attractive and cool (not feeling uncomfortably warm). I hope many read this post and take it to heart.

  9. Barb Tess
    Barb Tess August 5, 2011 Reply

    I recently read an article which called for us to dress up for Mass in the same manner that we would for a wedding. After all, we’re dressing to meet our creator. I have to agree with that sentiment. Let’s change the way we look at things, and make more of an effort to please the big guy upstairs. I do believe that we’ll eventually have to answer to Him.

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