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Cheers to Jesus

What to wear to Mass

This post was written by a guest blogger and Council of Man member, Rich Lamm. You can find his work at his blog.

Years ago when I was a bachelor, I used to think that jeans and a T-shirt were appropriate for wearing to Mass. After all, I would find my best pair of jeans and my cleanest shirt; there was no digging through the dirties on Sundays. I didn’t know any better and thought, “At least I’m not wearing shorts and flip-flops”. Years later I got married and I began to notice how other men dressed for Mass. I saw a mix of things, like jeans, khakis, suits, and even shorts. I figured only the old guys wore the suits or khakis, and the younger guys could get away with dressing less formal. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I learned to take my appearance at Mass more seriously.

 

I learned that if I am dressing better for work than I am for going to worship the Lord, I have a serious issue with my priorities. Just because Mass falls on a weekend doesn’t mean you should treat it as some leisurely activity. What are you saying to God when you show up to His house in a pair of basketball shorts and a muscle shirt? I’m sorry, “Sun’s Out Gun’s Out” doesn’t register with the Lord. Come to Mass and present your best self, even better than the polo and designer jeans you wear out on dates.

 

Now when I sit at Mass, I notice the same thing every week: Many families are not reverent in their actions and appearance. There are families who show up in jeans, hoodies, basketball shorts—some look like they just rolled out of bed! Now, I’ll admit that my family and I are lax with our church attire when we are camping, but we try to arrive clean and presentable. In some family’s defense, they may be new to the faith or just don’t know any better. Maybe even getting the family to church is a miracle in itself, so Mom or Dad will take what they can get. However, eventually you need to make a change.

 

Women are not off the hook here, either. Yoga pants, flip flops, and hoodies are not cool in Mass, OK? You can dress modestly and still look beautiful. Attention should be drawn to Christ, not the parts of you that are exposed by your clothing choices.

 

Some have argued that God does not care how you look in church, but rather He only cares that you are there. I disagree. He wants you there, yes, but why not show Him that you understand the importance of you being there? Why do we show up to job interviews in a suit and tie? Why do we wear slacks and a nice buttoned-down shirt when we take our wives out to a nice dinner that doesn’t involve ordering from the kid’s menu? Because we want to act the part! We desire to show others that we care about what’s going on in that moment and we take pride in who we are. Think about this: If you were to attend a black-tie ceremony in which a loved one was going to accept a huge award and present a speech, how would you dress? I doubt you would show up in just jeans and a nice flannel. If you did, you’d quickly realize you were severely under dressed. Personally, I would be offended if you showed up to this type of occasion in support of me dressed like you were a lumber jack or a gym rat. Why? Because you are telling me that you this event isn’t important to you, that I am not important to you.

 

Jesus Christ presents Himself in the most beautiful way during Mass, so why shouldn’t we do the same? As men, we are charged with leading as an example for our families, our Domestic Church. Teach your children to take pride in themselves and pride in the beauty in what is truly happening in Mass. If you don’t understand it yourself, that’s OK! Just go and learn!

 

So. What should men wear to Mass? Here is a rule of thumb I try to follow: no jeans, sneakers, or T-shirts. If it’s something too informal for a job interview, then it’s definitely too informal for Church. If you really want to go all out, sport the three-piece suit and fedora (Right, Adam M.?). If the Cary Grant style is not you, then at least go with a pair of nice slacks, a collared shirt, and dress shoes. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong there. Another tip: look at the old guys in your church. They come from the old school where wearing your “Sunday best” was the norm.

 

I will leave you with this quote from G. K. Chesterton: “unless we live as we believe, we’ll end up believing as we live.” The next time you are getting ready for Mass, what are you telling the world, your family, your church, and God, about what you believe?

About the author, Rich

I'm a stay at home dad who enjoys family, close friends, and my faith. My mission is to lead my family to Heaven and reach out to all the grumpy dads out there!

14 Comments

  1. Peter Ketelaars on 12/08/2017 at 1:20 PM

    This could be written by me (if I were better at writing)! I went through all of those phases – especially while attending LifeTeen where even the altar servers skip their robes. It wasn’t until after my son was born that I realized that I needed to step up my game. Now it’s a minimum of shirt and tie (and fedora), and it’s amazing how when I’m putting my tie on my 5 year old son is typically asking if he can wear his tie as well!

  2. HRoss on 12/12/2017 at 9:11 PM

    I like that quote! I can relate with you in regards to the attire before marriage; jeans, button up shirt, and snickers were my Sunday wear. Now with Kids I have a renewed sense of my presentation. I do dress for the Lord, but also I dress so that my kids know that their father takes the faith and Sunday worship seriously.

  3. Matt W. on 01/12/2018 at 2:56 PM

    I enjoyed reading through this blog post. Although I understand and agree with the sentiment of this article, I have to disagree with the argument that by not dressing in a suit, or something similar, for Church you are not reverent in your appearance or actions. Preparing yourself to celebrate the Mass, which includes dressing your best, shows a deep respect for the Lord and what the Mass represents. Showing up without putting any effort into your appearance because you don’t care or don’t take the Mass seriously, such as just rolling out of bed, is disrespectful.

    Respect and reverence are different, however, and I have seen many people dressed to the nines for Church who do not act with reverence during the Mass. I have also seen men, women, and families who are in jeans or yoga pants, or other casual clothes exhibit strong reverent behaviors during the Mass.

    We should always strive to ensure we and our own families are showing God our respect and reverence. That said, we should be careful to assume that people we see in church not dressed up are just new, don’t understand the importance of Mass, are disrespectful, or just don’t care enough. Maybe they are on break between their two jobs and barely made it to Mass, maybe the family came straight from the hospital visiting a very sick family member, or maybe they’ve fallen on hard times for some reason.

    Thanks for a thought provoking article.

  4. Mark G on 09/24/2018 at 2:56 AM

    I agree that Catholic men should wear a jacket and tie to Mass. Most of us would dress up for a job interview or a invitation to meet the President. Therefore, you are spot on when saying that Our Lord presents himself to us in the most beautiful way at Mass and, therefore, we should do the same. I always dressed neatly casual for church up until I became a teacher in my early twenties. When I realized I dressed better for school than for church I did some serious soul searching. The biggest challenge, at first, came from my reluctance to stand out in the crowd. Only a small percentage of men at my parish regularly wore a suit/ jacket and tie to church on Sunday ( mostly the ushers and lectors ). After some reflection I decided it was time to be a leader and do what I felt was correct. The following Sunday I wore a suit and tie and have continued to do so for the last three decades. One pastor, disillusioned by the way many were coming dressed to Mass, asked me to speak to the congregation at all of the Masses one weekend several years ago. I felt uncomfortable with this idea at first, but after careful reflection conceded to do it and, to my surprise, received more support than I anticipated. A number of parishioners are dresssing somewhat better than they did previously. Nevertheless, I feel that all parishioners, regardless of how they dress, should feel welcome in church. Thanks for providing this forum of discussion.

  5. Grant Barnes on 10/03/2018 at 11:42 PM

    I wear a suit to mass. But what is recommended for mass and dinner at a priest’s house, and does this change if everyone (including me) is a college student?

    • Mark G on 10/28/2018 at 12:43 PM

      I feel that if a priest is wearing his Roman collar to an event all Men should at least wear a collared shirt and tie. I find suit coats/blazers practical ( plenty of pockets) and sharp. I would say any man who has been confirmed or is 14 or older should go by this standard.

  6. Fr. Ben Hadrich on 03/23/2019 at 5:50 PM

    Great article! Thank you, sir and proud of you as a Husband, as a Dad, and a brother in our faith! God Bless!

  7. Ryan on 04/26/2019 at 3:40 PM

    We should obviously wear formal attire when attending a mass. The church is a sacred place, we should show respect by wearing formal attire.

  8. Trevor Woods on 07/03/2019 at 2:38 PM

    It’s gotta be said:

    If you’re going to wear a fedora, wear a FEDORA and not a TRILBY. There’s a difference. Trilbies are dumb.

  9. tradj on 07/04/2019 at 6:07 AM

    I wear to the Mass what I wore to meet the President, including jeans. For me, that includes blue jeans. This was an easy article to write, but you largely neglected modest dress and the ones who show up for Mass totally dressed for sex. This is becoming a bigger issue with men, as the shorts become shorter.

    • Adam M. on 11/18/2019 at 7:20 PM

      I don’t disagree with you. I think modesty is extremely important. The virtue of decorum plays a huge role here.

  10. Tyler on 11/16/2019 at 9:38 PM

    What if you can’t afford a suit? Should I be worried that people like you are judging my piety for it? Thanks

    • Tyler Flaherty on 11/16/2019 at 9:43 PM

      I apologize for my bitey and ungracious comment. However, the tone of your post is upsetting to me. I hope we both grow in the grace of God.

      • Adam M. on 11/18/2019 at 7:19 PM

        Hey Tyler,
        The purpose of this post was not to shame anyone or judging anyone’s piety. The purpose was to remind people to “come to Mass and present your best self”. In a casual culture, I think it is a good reminder. Cheers, my friend,

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