Archbishop: need for a liturgy "dress code"
In a move that I think many American priests and bishops should imitate, the Archbishop of Mumbai, Ivan Dias, has reportedly decided to implement a "dress code" for church attendance. What many people are wearing to church, around the world, is utterly disrespectful and inappropriate attire for the worship of our Lord. As this recent article from DaijiWorld says,
Our Indian culture is that women wear saris for formal and social gatherings, including religious ceremonies. Over the years even chudidars have been largely accepted. But what we see in most of the urban and metropolis churches is not saris and chudidars but a fraction of this. The tight-fit jeans and T-shirts, transparent, sleeveless blouses (or in some cases 'blouseless sleeves', as someone graphically put it?), skirts with deep V-cut (actually 'the most unkindest cut' on one's morality) etc never do any good either to Church or to the individuals. There is a kind of competition between mothers and daughters too wherein at times mother easily outshines and outwits the daughter with her dress. A worred housewife said that the way some mothers dress is even likely to give a complex to their daughters.
Some parents take pride in sending their teenaged and adolescent daughters to church in mini-skirts. Then why blame the eve-teasing or attempts of being stalled or molested? Precaution and prevention are better than punishment and repentance, it would be realized the hard way...
Before someone calls us male chauvinist pigs, we should say the men are not far behind. Youth who come to the Mass in bermudas or in T-shirts without collar, T-shirts with rash, obscene and awkward slogans and statements or graphics do not add anything to any culture or to religion. A recent trend is that even the boys come to the church with sleeveless T-shirts which are mostly worn during sports meets. The three-fourths, which are slightly longer than the bermudas and shorter than the full trousers, makeanother incurable disease. Even some men wearing full shirts leave their buttons open exposing part of the hair on their chests, maybe to prove their 'macho' image.
Going to the parties and cultural events is one thing. But attending religious ceremonies is a totally different plank. We don't go to offices or attend interviews for jobs in T-shirts or sports shoes or mini-skirts or in shirts with buttons open. We respect the person sitting at the other side of the table or the office ambience and dress modestly. Because, at the interviews we are worried about being judged and losing the job prospects. But the Almighty whom we go to meet does not hold out such threats and there are no hazards. That's why this lax and promiscuous attitude, some people said.
And of course the impetus for all this scandal in India is... the West:
Blame it on the western world or media revolution, we are simply aping something that does not fit into our system and social structure. The dress worn while going to the church by men, women and children at times poses a serious question not on the trend of the society but on one's own morality and values. It is often said our inner qualities and virtues are manifested in our words and deeds. It is not only words and deeds, but rather our dress, our hairstyle and the like speak in volumes about our family background and the values with which we are brought up. The lack of sense that we show in dressing is not the Achilles heal of the society rather it is loop hole in one's personality for not all members of a society wear indecent dress; there are a good number of people who dress in neat and decent way.
It is understandable when places like India blame Western culture for some of this downright dangerous casual attitude towards the Omnipotent and Almighty God of the Universe... I blame it too. But the problem is that this is not Western culture. It is secular culture. Once you believe that God doesn't exist, and that freedom is doing whatever the hell you want to do whenever you want to do it (oh yeah, "so long as it doesn't hurt anyone else", whatever that means), then why not "dress for success" (so to speak)?
In any case, we're praying for you Archbishop Dias, good luck in your quest to restore a sense of decorum and dignity to the churches of Mumbai. May his work inspire others.
Read the whole article at: Dress Code for Church Service - A Long-Needed Measure, Feel Many