My dad is a convert to Catholicism, and someone who is usually quiet about their faith. But, there is something he taught me years ago that’s always stuck with me. I don’t remember how old I was, but I imagine I was getting to the age where going to Sunday Mass was “lame.” It was a hot summer day in Nebraska and I asked my dad if I could wear shorts to Mass. I will never forget his response: “No. We wear pants to Mass.”
It wasn’t until I was much older that I fully realized and appreciated what my dad had told me years ago. “We wear pants to Mass” sounds like such a simple, even silly thing. But my dad was trying, maybe unknowingly, to teach me an important lesson. That lesson may sound like a no brainer, but here it is: Mass is a sacred thing that needs to be seen as such. To him, that meant that you wear pants to Mass. You dress up. You set the act of going to Mass apart from your everyday life. Let’s do a thought experiment; you’re going to meet a celebrity or some famous person. How do you dress? If it’s a pop star, I’m guessing you would dress like them. A politician, you would probably wear a button-up and tie. Royalty, you would wear your best. In these situations, you present yourself in what is appropriate in respect to the person. Now, what do you wear to Mass? What do you wear to see your Creator? What do you wear to see the One who knew you before time itself came into being? How do you dress when witnessing the greatest act of love EVER in all of history? Is it appropriate in respect to what is being witnessed? If the answer is no, then I suggest a moment of reflection is needed.
“We wear pants to Mass.” Mass is something sacred, something incredibly amazing and life-giving. Do you treat it as such? G.K. Chesterton once said, “The Mass is very long and tiresome unless one loves God.” Is that the Mass for you? Is the Mass some random lector reading from an ancient text, or is it the Lord Himself telling you a love story of His devotion to you? Is the silence deafening, or a chance for you to invite the Lord into communion with you? Is the Consecration the priest praying over a wafer, or is it the moment when Heaven and Earth embrace in the greatest act of love ever witnessed?
What is the Mass? We are in a moment of great change in our world. In this time of uncertainty, we need to embrace the Mass for what it is. Not just an hour of sitting in a pew, but an act of devotion to a mystery beyond human comprehension. A moment to witness the unending love between a perfect Creator and His imperfect creation. A chance for us to truly appreciate and stand in awe of what the Mass is and the sacred act of love on display. If nothing else, dear reader, think about your relationship with the Mass. Reflect on what Sunday worship means to you. Hopefully, you’ll join me with the wisdom of my father, and, before our loving Father, be able to say, “Yes. We wear pants to Mass.”
- Jared Nigrin