An American bishop has launched a broadside against the way some people turn up at Mass wearing very casual dress. Writing in his diocesan newspaper, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island complained of “an habitual lack of reverence . . .”.
Bishop Tobin wrote that he had seen and received complaints about “the sloppy and even offensive way people dress while attending Mass”.
“You know what I’m talking about; you’ve seen it too,” he wrote.
“Hirsute flabmeisters spreading out in the pew, wearing wrinkled, very-short shorts and garish, unbuttoned shirts; mature women with skimpy clothes that reveal way too much, slogging up the aisle accompanied by the flap-flap-flap of their flip-flops; hyperactive gum-chewing kids with messy hair and dirty hands, checking their iPhones and annoying everyone within earshot or eyesight.
“These displays reveal a gross misunderstanding of the sacred space we’ve entered in the church and the truly sacred drama taking place in our midst.
“C’mon – even in the summer, a church is a church, not a beach or a pool deck.”
Bishop Tobin said every member of the worship community should dress appropriately for Mass, especially those who perform public liturgical ministries.
The bishop admitted he was venting, and went on to complain about people coming to Mass carrying their water bottles and coffee mugs.
“Do they really need to be hydrated or caffeinated during that hour they’re in church? Is it a sacred space or an airport terminal?”
He went on to state he still finds it “inappropriate and disrespectful to have a church full of people talking and creating a boisterous atmosphere before Mass, completely ignorant of the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and the spiritual needs of their fellow parishioners who wish to spend a few moments of quiet prayer with the Lord”.
The bishop also said he is “frequently amazed . . . over how many of the faithful, young and old, simply don’t know how to receive Holy Communion properly”.