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Dress Codes

Someone who wanted to visit St. George parish once asked me, "does St. George have a dress code?" No, not officially (if, however, you go to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, there is a strict dress code posted at the door!). With that said, I also need to say that the Catholic Church throughout the world does have an unofficial dress code. The Church's general rule of a dress code is called "modesty"; which is what the Scriptures and Catechism require of us. How does that look, you may ask? Let me lay down a few easy and straightforward principles to consider.

First, modesty must begin in the heart or it will never be practiced rightly in what one wears. Although modesty is shown in what we wear, it is primarily an attitude that must come from a person's desire for holiness.

Second, to say that something is "expected", does not mean that you are going to get kicked out if you do different. It does, however, mean that something drastically different is like sticking out your tongue at the whole church, and in that case I would have to ask the offender to leave (regardless of what the distraction is--clothing or behavior--it is wrong to bring an intentional distraction into the Mass).

Third, someone can wear something technically modest, and yet do it in an immodest manner because of personal pride. Remember, modesty begins in the heart and proper modesty will show itself in what you wear. Are you concerned with whether you help people or hinder people in their worship of God? Then, show it by the choices you make.

Fourth, we do not all have the same definitions of terms. What one person considers casual may not be the same for someone else. Generally, however, casual attire is not really appropriate in the Mass (we are not having a party, we are entering into the presence of the God of all Creation!). Seeking to dress well for Mass shows that you are respectful of the place where you are. God does not judge the outward, but your inward attitude will show outwardly! Never forget, it is easy to be too irreverent with how you dress, but you can never be too reverent! (And reverence has nothing to do with how expensive the clothing is.)

Therefore, I am going to include this simple comment on the Church website:

Q. How should I dress at Saint George?

A. At Saint George we do not have a strict dress code. Some enjoy putting on their “Sunday best,” while others (for various reasons) do not. Your attire does not necessarily need to be formal, but overly casual attire is not truly respectful towards the Lord when we are in the Mass. It’s important to maintain a non-judgmental atmosphere when it comes to clothing. We only ask that, in all things, personal modesty is kept as a top priority. This applies to both men and women. We ask that worshipers cover their full torso, including shoulders and avoid deep necklines that expose too much of the chest or back. We also ask that legs be covered at least down to the knee. We ask that regular shoes or proper sandals be worn: please no flip-flops. We ask that worshipers please try to wear clothing that is clean, modest and suitable for worship of Almighty God.


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