Dressing Up for God
Do you think the way we dress for Church matters? Does God really care about how much effort you put into picking out your outfit for Sunday? Is it best to just fit in and follow the crowd to determine what is Church appropriate? I struggled with these questions, and many more, when I first started attending Church, and perhaps some of you also have these questions in mind. Here is how I decided what I should wear to Sunday Mass.
When I first started to attend Church, I leaned towards wearing very casual clothing. I would wear jeans paired with a blouse or sweater. My weekday outfit did not differentiate from my Sunday outfit at all. I mainly took my cues from the parishioners of the Church I was attending, and they all leaned towards casual wear. If they were wearing jeans, then I certainly could as well. However, the more I started to attend Church, the more I felt uncomfortable attending Mass in such casual clothing. It didn’t seem appropriate to me to commemorate the sacrifice of our Lord in an outfit I would wear to attend my classes. So I decided to experiment with trying to wear more formal outfits, to see if this would bring me closer to God. Now, it’s important to mention that I am not, and never was, fashion savvy. I always preferred to wear pants. It was difficult to embrace wearing something so ladylike such as skirts and dresses. But I purchased some formal pants, blouses and skirts; it felt very awkward to attend Mass wearing a semi-formal outfit when everyone else seemed to embrace casual comfort. But I continued to wear formal clothing, offering up my discomfort and embarrassment to God.
Surprisingly, I actually started to enjoy dressing up for Mass. I realized that if the norm for occasions such as funerals, birthday parties, or a graduation requires us to make an effort to dress nicer than we normally would, then attending Mass was the ultimate reason to dress up! My one struggle in the midst of my desire to dress up was the realization that I was drawing attention to myself in Church. Although I was still dealing with awkward embarrassment of standing out from the crowd with my outfits, another part of me was succumbing to vanity. Instead of dressing up to glorify God, I was dressing to appease my ego. I also compared myself to the parishioners attending Mass, and felt like I was somehow superior for dressing up. It didn’t take long for this act that was meant to bring me closer to God to draw me away from Him. I had to reevaluate my actions.
Ultimately, I realized that the way we choose to dress for Mass is a personal decision, but it should be a prayerful and prudent one. We have to evaluate if the outfit we choose to wear on Sunday is actually appropriate to meet the Lord in the Eucharist. And I know that it is difficult to determine what is our “Sunday best” when we have so many different choices present in front of us at Church. I had to realize that when I made the decision to dress formally, it did not automatically make me more holy in God’s eyes. It was the desire and need to glorify Him that would have made Him more proud of my decision. I had to prepare myself spiritually as much as I was preparing myself physically for each Sunday. I have continued to dress formally for Mass, and I am very happy that I have continued to do so. When I overcame my struggle with vanity, I realized that in choosing to dress my best I was reaffirming my dignity as a daughter of God. Each Sunday, as I pick out an outfit, it serves as a reminder that I am on my way to encountering God once again.