A priest can most certainly impose a dress code
I am writing regarding the letter, Correct To Impose Dress Code? (CN, Jan 30).

As a parishioner of the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea, I felt that this comment should be addressed because it asserts the opinion that a priest cannot impose a “dress code” for the Eucharistic celebration.

However, it has been the opinion of Holy Mother Church that “bodily demeanour (gestures and dress)” are part of the elements for worthy reception of the Eucharist and that such acts “ought to convey respect, solemnity, and joy of the moment when Christ becomes our guest” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1387).

The posters in the church are guidelines of what should not be worn to Mass and are there in order to keep the Mass a reverent environment that honours Christ.

This can even be deduced from reading the passage cited in the posters, Ecclesia Eucharista no. 49, which explains: “With this heightened sense of mystery, we understand how the faith of the Church in the mystery of the Eucharist has found historical expression not only in the demand for an interior disposition of devotion, but also in outward forms meant to evoke and emphasize the grandeur of the event being celebrated.”

Our outward disposition being an important part of the reverence during the Eucharistic celebration, we should pay attention to the Code of Canon Law, no. 898, which states that the faithful “should reverence [the Eucharist] with the greatest adoration”.

It also goes on to mention that “pastors of souls are assiduously to instruct the faithful about their obligation in this regard,” that regard being reverence for the Eucharist.

Therefore, a priest of a church can guide his flock, or impose dress codes in order to maintain reverence for the Eucharistic celebration and to guide the flock to adore Christ with the proper disposition.

It must never be forgotten that our priests are the guardians not only of our spiritual development, but also of the Most Holy Eucharist and are to ensure that it is treated with the proper devotion and respect.

If anyone still has any doubts with regard to the imposition of a dress code at a church, I would invite you to visit St Peter’s Basilica, either in person or online, and you will see that they have a dress code and it is strictly enforced.

Louis Felix Figueroa
Singapore


See it as a gentle reminder, not warning from ‘policeman’

I refer to the letter, Correct To Impose Dress Code? (CN, Jan 30).

The discussion on dress codes for church attendees have been a frequent discussion in this forum.

If we call to mind the term “Sunday best”, this term came about because traditionally, all who attend church on Sunday are dressed in their best.

If you are called to meet an important person, like the president, would you not dress appropriately to meet the head of state as a sign of respect? What more of God!

Mr Aloysius Goh refers to individual churches imposing what he calls “their own rules” on dressing.

I am quite sure that these are not their own rules, as he calls it. Let us look at it this way. If you are a parent, and your child does something wrong. Do you not stop the child from doing it?

The same principle lies in the “rules” that the churches make. If you are not dressed for God in a respectful way, the parish priest can tell you gently, once, or twice. What happens when your gentle reminder does not work?

I do not see these as rules. We ourselves have become relaxed over the decades.

Maybe because we attend the Eucharistic celebration every Sunday, we have taken this weekly event for granted, and over time, we forget that at every single celebration, we are called to be a witness of God’s miracle, love and mercy.
Where did our Sunday best go? Surely not to the flip-flops and bermudas!

I see the “rules” simply as the dedication of the parish priests trying to remind us of the importance of a Eucharistic celebration and the reverence that we are supposed to show.

Let us look at it this way. Next time a warden tells you that you should observe appropriate dressing in church, see it as a friend’s gentle reminder on reverence for God, not as a policeman giving you a warning.

Antonia Ho
Singapore


Vatican has dress code for visitors

The ignorance underlining Mr Aloysius Goh’s criticism of the churches of St Anthony and Our Lady Star of the Sea needs to be addressed (CN, Jan 30).

Firstly, there is a clear sign outside the Vatican that forbids entry to women in short skirts and men and women in shorts and sporting bare shoulders.

As our parish priest Fr J J Fenelon pointed out a year ago (before our parish came up with the posters on inappropriate clothing), Singapore Prisons have rules about appropriate attire for relatives visiting inmates; mosques and temples will also not allow scantily clad visitors.

As I once told a fellow parishioner who said she dresses to go to the market after church, “Go to the market dressed for church instead.”

Our hospitality ministers are not “morality ministers”, they are there to point out to men and women who are clearly headed for the beach or the golf course after Mass that they are inappropriately attired to participate in the celebration of the Eucharist.

What is so difficult about understanding the need to show respect for God and modesty to fellow participants at Mass?

All churches should do a poll: It will then become clear that people who think like Mr Goh are a tiny majority. Yes, we at OLSS want our hospitality ministers to remind people who come dressed disrespecting the church that they should comply with our dress code.

If Mr Goh needs a parable, look at Matthew 22: 1-14. The man who attended the wedding but refused to wear the appropriate garments was thrown out.

Parish priests like Fr Terence and Fr JJ are setting difficult but necessary standards for their parish. They need our support, not criticism.

Mary Lee
Singapore


Kudos to parish for coming up with guidelines
I read with gladness that finally a parish has boldly come forward to institute a dress code for its parishioners (CN, Jan 16).

I do believe many other parishes do put up small A4-size flyers on their church’s notice boards or in their elevators but, honestly, how many really read them?

I applaud the Church of St Anthony for making it an official stand of the parish on appropriate attire when attending Mass, particularly the weekend Eucharist by publishing it in the bulletin and highlighting it at the end of Mass.

On whether such rules will be followed will be dependent very much on how the parish leadership effectively implements it.

As many of our parishes are located within the heartlands, some parishioners, out of convenience and laziness, simply put on a round-neck tee and bermudas, slip on a pair of flip-flops or track shoes (some look like they had never been washed), and then walk to church to attend either the Sunset or Sunday Mass.

In the newest parish, which I attend, sadly, I see this habit developing very quickly (we are only one year old). Sometimes, I see the whole family dressing inappropriately. It just goes to show the negativity the family has towards the Eucharistic celebration.

Occasionally, I see that fathers are the ones in bermudas or shorts, sneakers and a crumpled round-neck tee-shirt, and of course their children follow suit.

It’s strange that we would dress up well when attending a birthday, wedding dinner or any important secular event, but for the Lord’s banquet where Christ, our Lord is the main host, we do not give him the due respect and honour.

I am in total agreement with Mr Joseph Lim’s views (CN, Jan 16) that there should be a church etiquette guide for the archdiocese, and this should be respectfully adhered to.

We do not want to go back to pre-Vatican II days where the dress code was rather strict (ask your grandparents and they will tell you of their experiences if they are not properly attired for Mass).

We are in modern times but the least we can do is dress respectfully for Mass. We need not be attired like we are going to meet the president.

Simple and casual long pants, and shirts or collared polo tees for the gentlemen. And please put on shoes, not flip-flops or sandals.

For the ladies, a simple decent blouse, dress or pants but not those skin-tight or revealing materials or low-cut/bareback, tank-tops or spaghetti-stripe types.

If the ladies would like to put on such an attire because they need to attend another function after Mass, please wear a shawl.

Francis Ang
Singapore



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