Can We Take A Look At Modesty?

Are We Insulting the Father by Not Dressing Properly?

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Addresses Church Attire: Full article here.

Note to email subscribers:  There is an attached video, to watch it please go here.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

Summer is upon us, bringing vacations, picnics and beach parties. Actually we have been blessed with summer-like weather for several weeks. The warm weather has also brought out summer apparel earlier than usual. Unfortunately, skimpy garb more suitable for vacations, picnics and beach parties has also made its way into church as the clothing of choice for many people. In visiting many of our parishes this spring for confirmation as well as attending some commencement ceremonies, I have noticed more and more people wearing short shorts, tank-tops and flip-flops. Even the more formal wear with slit-leg dresses, bare midriffs and strapless tops looks more suited to a House of Blues than the House of God.

Now I’m sure some people will immediately object to my making these observations, rationalizing that it is better that these people come to church even if they’re not properly dressed rather than not have them there at all. They argue that we should just be happy that they’re in church, regardless of what they wear. I disagree.

St. Paul said “to dress modestly, with decency and propriety,” adorned “not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds” (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Similarly, St. Peter wrote, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

In the parable of the wedding banquet, Jesus said that “when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:11-14).

Of course, Jesus did not tell this parable to give a literal instruction on how to dress at a wedding, but to illustrate God’s righteousness as “garments of salvation” and “robes of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10), where the acquisition of these qualities is likened to clothing given us at a wedding. But Jesus could tell this parable because his listeners were familiar with the custom that refusal to wear a proper wedding garment was an insult to the father of the groom and could get a guest ejected from the festivities.

The church is the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27) and the faithful, clothed in their wedding garments, are called to the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:8-9). Our revised translation of the Roman Missal now brings out that imagery more clearly when the priest presents the Body and Blood of Christ to us at Mass saying, “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” As we go up to receive Jesus in holy Communion, we should not insult the Father by not dressing properly for this foretaste of the heavenly banquet.

For now, one very practical area that we could work on would be for everyone to dress with proper dignity for Mass, whether it is celebrated in the ordinary or the extraordinary form.

May God give us this grace. Amen.

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki


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14 comments to Can We Take A Look At Modesty?

  • Barbara Chervenak

    If the Priest of a parish is not being the “Father” of his congegattion,anything goes. The same is true when fathers in families are either missing or don’t give guidance. The message is, I can do what I want.I find it very sad.

  • Every body knows what to put on when one goes to swimming pool or dinner party or ball dance or Cricket match,but nowadays many adults and teenagers do not know how to dress modestly to meet the King of Kings Jesus Christ,to receive His body and Blood in the Eucharist.Therefore it is the duty of the parents,the priests and Bishops to speak up about dress code for church services and liturgy.The King of Kings Himself will ask them,”My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”(Mt 22 :12-14)

  • Teresa

    Thank you Bishop Paprocki, for so beautifully speaking the truth with love. Many people do not realize that they are coming to the MOST IMPORTANT CELEBRATION each time they attend Holy Mass…there is no greater or more important celebration than the Sacrifice of the Mass. Many seem to come out of habit or obligation and don’t even realize that Jesus is actually PRESENT as God and Man right before them. May every soul be awakened to the truth and come to respect our Lord Jesus and dress appropriately each time they attend Mass. God, please give every soul the grace to know, understand and accept the TRUTH.

  • […] Note to email subscribers:  There is an attached video, to watch it please go here. […]

  • clarita davidson

    it is about time someone spoke up about short shorts and

    low cut dresses bravo == keep it up!!!!!

  • Br. Christopher Sale

    Hi Lisag,
    Samething at my home parish. A Eucharistic minister had bagging shorts on with a tank top and filthy hands. I realize the priest don’t want to offend anyone, but sometimes they need to have a dress code. I personally wish they would stop using these ministers. I try to get in the priests line most of the time. This wman dressed like this and it was a huge event with the Bishop. And ironically someone stole a chalice that samday.
    Br. Christopher B.P.P.

  • lisag

    I was at a mass where the cantor was in a strapless sun dress. When she stood behind the ambo it looked like she was naked. Now if I am thinking this as a middle aged women what are all of the men and boys thinking. Short skirts on Eucharistic ministers become extra short when bowing down in front of the altar. Way too much leg. Speaking of Eucharistic and liturgical ministers they really should never wear t shirts, jeans, short skirts,tight pants or skirts, or low cut tops. Sometimes women’s chest area is too pronounced when tops are tight, if you know what I mean. The altar lights emphasize every bump. Women need to be aware that when they wear pants that don’t fit right or if they don’t have correct underclothes the pant seam or skirt will get stuck in an embarrassing way. Men need to spruce up also. They should not be wearing collarless T shirts, shorts, or old sneakers. I guess I look around too much, but sometimes it just cannot be avoided.

  • Laura

    I was at a wedding this past weekend and was SHOCKED that any woman would let their teenage daughters come into a sanctuary dressed like call girls. Do we simply NOT know that we are approaching the King of Kings? It would have been better to bring a change of clothes for the dinner & dance but at least respect the Lord. Some of these dresses leave NOTHING to the imagination. I was so very sad for our Lord. “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” We need to be educating people.

  • TG

    Great article and totally agree. I tried to get our bishop to address this issue but he said to let the pastor do it. It’s a diocese wide problem but I wasn’t surprised with the answer. Two women have worn short shorts and flip flops to Mass. One was in her 30’s and should have known better. (Brother Christopher, your comment made me laugh. I wanted to tell those women off.) I wish more bishops had the courage like those on this website.

  • Br. Christopher Sale

    Last summer at my parish 2 young girls sat in front of me. They had short shorts on and were texting through the whole mass. I finally told them to go outside if they want to party. Needless to say they parent of these girl told me off.
    I feel I had a right to speak up.Because the parents should know better.
    Br. Christopher Sale B.P.P.

  • Br. Christopher Sale

    I’m so glad to see this subject posted. As a Brother of Padre
    Pio I follow in his footsteps in regards to modesty. I believe
    that people can spend an hour a week dressing modestly for
    the Lord. I recently brought this subject up with my Pastor and
    he told me not to bring it up again as it violates civil rights.
    Sadly this priest is more concerned about the weekly collection
    then he is about pleasing the Lord. I’m one who believes we must
    respect our priest, but that fact is they are sometimes wrong.
    God bless,
    Br. Christopher Sale B.P.P.

  • Bill

    I actually agree with this guy.

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