GOING TO MASS
Theology of the Bawdy

November 2007By Richard & Elizabeth Gerbracht

Richard and Elizabeth Gerbracht, who have retired after operating their own research and consulting firm, write from Hudson, Ohio.

Ten minutes before she must leave to avoid being late, Cherrie grabs her jeans from the hot dryer and tugs them on in a twisting, gyrating wriggle. She turns her back to the bathroom mirror and peers over her shoulder to check derrière -- yes, the heat of the clothes dryer did it again: the jeans are fantastically tight. Now, a layered top, skin-tight and cut low in front, big hoop earrings and a long chain necklace, a matching bracelet, a check of the mascara and eye shadow applied an hour ago, and she's almost ready. She slips into heelless, toeless spikes and, flipping back her long straight hair, steps into the hall and calls to her daughter, "Molly, it's time; we can't be late again!"

Molly comes out of her bedroom dressed just like Cherrie, but with more mascara and eye shadow. The two look like hookers, bawdy types, about to take their regular positions on a street corner across town. Except that it's Saturday afternoon and Cherrie and Molly are headed for Mass at the Catholic church just two miles away.

Before they climb into the van, Cherrie calls to her son shooting baskets in the driveway, "Let's go, Sean, no time left; Dad will meet us at Mass." Dad has been gone since early morning, as always on a warm and sunny Saturday, cruising with his motorcycle friends. Occasionally he manages to meet up with the family in the church parking lot; he's there today. And so this somewhat typical American Catholic family walks up to the church looking like two hookers in the company of a couple of playboys of the Peter Pan variety, men who refuse to grow up and boys who don't know how.

Inside the church, Cherrie's family is indistinguishable from most of the others. More than 60 percent of those under age 50 arrive in jeans, with most of the women and girls in low-cut, skin-tight tops. The men and boys not wearing jeans look just as messy in outsize cargo pants or shorts with equally baggy T-shirts or mock athletic jerseys. Most of the older folks are dressed decrepitly casual too; no more than 15 people of the total gathered are dressed to attend an important event.


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Back to November 2007 Issue

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Not for nothing, but I've noticed, at least in ou church of St Joe's in Mongaup Valley, NY, that those people moderately dressed, in jeans, yes, are of the more pious variety, while those dressed as if going to a grand event, the older crones, are usually the bawdier in terms of their loud mouths constantly yapping and laughing in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

So, what does that tell ya?
Posted by: gespin3549
November 08, 2007 05:53 AM EST
Gespin3549: I am sympathetic to your post and have experienced the same thing. The older generation tend to dress very flashy and treat the Church like a cocktail party in my parish as well.

However, I agree with the writer of the article. Relatively recently I dropped the practice of ever wearing jeans to Church. Yes, Jesus wants us to come as we are, but Jesus is also our King! How many of us would go to a meeting with our King (or our even our President) dressed in shorts and sandals!

I think dressing up has helped me in my spiritual walk, especially in the time before Mass while I am trying to get myself ready while helping my wife get our kids ready. If I am thinking "I have to find something special, a good shirt and tie, because I am going to meet my King" it puts me in a different place than where I would be if I was just trying to round up the kids and get out the door.

In a way, forcing myself to dress up for Mass has increased my faith in the Eucharist. That may sound over the top, but I think it is true. I see several of my protestant friends going to church dressed to the nines, and I see Catholics showing up like it is a beach party. Yet our protestant friends are NOT going to meet their King. They are essentially going to a lecture and a meeting. How can we NOT dress accordingly for Jesus in the Eucharist?

One final point. It is really heartening to see a positive article about the young generation of Catholics in NOR. Chris West is definitely AWESOME! His book "Good News About Sex and Marriage" helped change my life!
Posted by: eakter
November 08, 2007 04:57 PM EST
Why do our poor priests allow anyone into the house of God who is not dressed respectfully? It really is a sign of the "New Springtime"; We wouldn't dare teach little Janice that hell is a real place and sin can lead her there...but we'll teach her to dress like a hooker? It's not the Catholic values we wish to teach our children...It's the hedonism of our actions that we hand on. "Our Lord is already too much offended" Our Lady of Ransom pray for us! Posted by: CBBM
November 16, 2007 03:09 PM EST
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