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  • Writer's pictureMichaela A de Guire

Why should Catholics dress up for Mass?

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Much like anything else you prepare for, the preparation of Mass begins before you even step foot into the church. It begins in your home, in your closet, (well, it most likely begins as you are opening your eyes, but for the sake of today let’s start in the closet). The preparation for the celebration of Mass begins in your home. Catholics dress up or don dressy attire because it is a part of preparing for the celebration of Mass.

Notice how I said celebration? As in to celebrate. That is to acknowledge a significant event with a social gathering. Huh, sounds like Mass… don’t you think? The Catholic Mass is a place of participation and celebration. We are coming together to celebrate what Jesus has instituted through the Holy Eucharist. When we celebrate Mass it is as if we are with Him at the Last Supper, the night He established the Mass.

There is a time and place for your attire. When you are getting dressed for a wedding you dress in evening wear, or if it is an afternoon event perhaps a tea length dress in satin or silk, most men wear a suit. When you dress for a funeral you dress to mourn, usually in darker colored clothes, such as black or gray. When you dress for the gym you don your gym clothes. You do not put on your gym clothes to go to a funeral, and you would not dare show up for a wedding in your jeans and a tee. Thus, when you prepare for the celebration of Mass you put on your Sunday best. You dress in a way that expresses you are ready to celebrate and be in communion with all the Saints and Angels who are also present at Mass.

If you are a mother you will notice that when you put in the effort and make it a priority that you and your children dress up for Mass, put on their Sunday best, they understand they need to be on their best behavior and thus, when you walk into the church they are (usually) more respectful and quiet, and for some even curious and want to know why the priest does what he is doing. My siblings had a lot of questions while they were growing up. My siblings also preferred sitting in such a place that allowed them to see everything that was going on, thus, we more often than not sat near the front. And so if you are having trouble with your little ones, perhaps bring them to the front and offer them a chance to see.

There seems to be an overwhelming casual dress when attending Mass and with this comes a diminishing of respect for the Mass and how people act when in the presence of Christ. There is talking within the body of the church, before the priest even exits the building (at times) and more often than not immediately after the closing hymn is sung. Few take a moment to kneel and bow their head in thanksgiving and praise directly following Mass.

Thus, by dressing in your very best for Mass you are expressing to God that you put Him first above all else, that you praise and honor Him and Him alone. You are placing God in His place within your heart.

Now do you dress in a way that attracts men or distracts others? No, because this leads others into sin and by doing so you also are in sin. As with anything and anywhere else you go, when you dress for Mass you are dressing modestly, in such a way that expresses to God your love for Him. You dress with respect for Him, yourself, and all those around you. You take time to style your hair, wash your face, don your best clothes, and polish your shoes. You dress as if you are going to see a King, because darling, you are doing just that.

Another question I receive is, “is it okay to wear jewelry to Mass?” My answer to that is, Yes! Yes. And many would touch on the bible verse from 1 Timothy 2:9-10

likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” -1 Timothy 2:9-10

Even though I grew up as a Roman Catholic I have always loved all things fashion, style, and what I would call “feminine”. I was never that ordinary looking girl when attending Mass. I would always find ways to dress up and look put together and ready for anything because I knew and believed (and still do to this very day) in my heart that I am dressing for my Lord, my God, my King.

When we look at this verse and read it, taking it for what it says word for word we could say women are not allowed to wear their pearls, jewels or any costly attire. But I would challenge you to look at it through new eyes, say you can wear your jewelry but also dress respectfully, all private parts covered (shoulders to knees) and not display all our wealth through our attire to others (self control). We are not attending a fashion show darlings, we are attending Mass.

I encourage you to look deeper within this passage. Read between the lines if you will. It does not say we cannot adorn ourselves in beautiful things, but rather that we should not put those things first. We are to use our feminine genius for the good of others (good works), to glorify God. God should be our first and foremost focus, assisting others when they need us is glorifying God, and finally dressing beautifully follows these things.

We are to first act and then be godly. We are to embrace our natural beauty and dress attractively, not to attract. We can wear out jewelry to Mass, but we should consider tithing and giving what we can, not purchase and adorn ourselves in all that we could have offered back to God. After all He is our source or sole provider. He provides for our every need. Dress in a way that covers your temple (modestly), add a touch of glimmer (to enhance your natural beauty), and cherish the moments of Mass. Dress in a way that shows respect and honor to your King.

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