Does Dress Express Our Attitude?
By Br. Leo Geiger
In the psalm 96, "Worship the Lord in holy attire, (Ps 96:9), is the Lord telling us to be dressed in suitable clothes when we go to church?
As a children, my parents made us dress up in our best clothes for Sunday Mass. When we returned home, we changed into our regular daily clothes. We were taught that only the very best was good enough for the Lord.
Today especially during warmer weather, it is not infrequent to see people attending holy mass in blue jeans, shorts, T-shirts or any dress that may be appropriate for a family picnic.
"What's wrong with that?" The impression is given that we are just casually stopping by to be at mass while in-route to some casual Sunday outing.
"Well?" Do we really believe that the real celebrant of the mass is Jesus Christ, that the host we receive at communion is really the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ? The same Jesus Christ that was born at Bethlehem, spoke to the Jewish theologians in the Temple as a twelve year old boy, remained as a simple unknown carpenter in Nazareth, spent three years preaching and healing people until the leaders crucified Him on Calvary? Do I really believe that the small white host placed on my tongue our in my hand is the Son of God, equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit? If we truly believed, would we dress as we sometime do? Does our exterior appearance betray our internal indifference?
Would we not dress very carefully and formally if our boss or some celebrity were coming as our dinner guest?
This God of ours loves us so much that He sent His only son to become one of us, to suffer, to die, and to rise from the dead so we might be able to share all eternity with Him!
"Oh, don't be a fanatic! God knows we love Him or we wouldn't even bother to go to mass."
Do we "go to mass" out of love or fear, fear that we might go to hell if we intentionally miss or fail to go to mass?
Do we usually expect someone to whom we sent an expensive gift to at least send a "thank you" note to show our appreciation? What greater gift can anyone give us than the one Jesus gives us, His very body and blood? The word Eucharist, in Greek means gratitude or thanks. How can we better express our thanks for so great a gift.
I recall hearing of a priest who was very ecumenical. One day he invited a young minister, who was new in town to take a tour of the facilities of the parish. When they walked into the church and entered the sanctuary, the priest genuflected as he passed in front of the tabernacle on the altar. The young minister asked him, "Why did you do that?" "Do what?' asked the priest. "Bend you right knee the floor in front of the altar." "We believe." The priest replied, "that Jesus Christ is actually present in the tabernacle on the altar." The young minister's face turned white. He said "If I could believe that, I would kneel here the rest of my life."
Is our faith strong enough to truly believe that Jesus is just as present in our tabernacles, today and every day, as He was on the streets of Jerusalem?
True, times have changed and people's values have changed but the Epistle of the Hebrews tells us that, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, the same forever (Heb. 13:8)
We and our values may change but those that Jesus taught will be used to judge us today, tomorrow, and forever. We cannot change the rules just to suit ourself or because everyone we know agrees with us. A value is not necessarily right just because I think it's right.
Many years ago Bishop Fulton Sheen made a statement that struck me quite forcefully. "Right is right even if no one is right, and wrong is wrong even if everyone is wrong." The statement may require some serious thought, but God does not determine r ight and wrong by means of the democratic process.
(This article was written by Br. Leo Geiger, who has been a faithful brother of the Holy Cross, celebrating his Jubliee (50 year anniversary) this year. Br. Leo has faithfully served the charismatic renewal in the Cleveland diocese for 30 years.)