Thursday, 27 October 2016

Basic Q and A for the Latin Mass Part V: Decorum and Dress for the Latin Mass ... Something that Should be for the Whole Church!

Basic Q and A Part V: Decorum and Dress for the Latin Mass ... Something that Should be for the Whole Church!

Hello everyone,

This post is dealing with a bit of a weighty issue regarding the Latin Mass: dress and decorum. I realize that some of you, might become upset at this post, whether you are a "trad" already or a first timer. Some of you will hurl insults st me, either because I will likely say something displeasing, or on the trad side look like I am enforcing stereotypes that hurt the Latin Mass

Know this, and this is a "trigger warning" for you sensitive folks: what I am discussing if for your benefit, so that for first timers, they will not be caught off guard, so that their experience is a spiritual one, and for those already in the know, to give advice to first timers, while at the same time fraternally correcting those who ruin the Latin Mass through giving credence to those stereotypes you deplore so much. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem so butt out and leave if you want to gripe. 

This post is for the benefit of bringing people in to Traditional Catholicism without the hypocrisy and works of the Devil others who truly do not Love Christ have brought onto others. 

And so here it goes. Time to describe the decorum and dress with regards to the Latin Mass, while bearing down some controversy and unruly a behavior all at once. 


If I had to make a summarize statement about the overall attitude of those who attend the Latin Mass, it's this: We take our Lord and His Sacred and Holy Mass seriously

If you have any friends from work or elsewhere, say Evangelical or Baptist Christians for example, and you have been with them for Sunday dinner, or perhaps gone with them to their "services", or seen people as such walking down the street, they are at the very least in more "fancy" casual wear like died jeans and a crisp shirt, but more likely in suit and tie for men, dressed/skirts and stockings for women, with maybe a fancy or large hat. 

The sights I've described, reflects that for those Christians, they have the right approach to Sunday! It is the Lords day, and may He be worshiped and revered and respected for all He has done! In Particular for our Lord, Jesus, our Saviour! 

At one time, most of those Catholics who attended Mass, before the 60's/70's of Vatican II, dressed up to properly respect the Lord in the Sacrifice of the Mass, as in Sundays, this awesome event of the Lord giving us the totality of his love was happening! This was the highlight of our week! The Most Sacred of all banquets! 

Unfortunately, not just solely attributed to Vatican II (a disgusting mistake made by Radicals who Misrepresent Traditonalists,)   cultural and liturgical priorities began to shift, along with an attitude that "Jesus loves me no matter what!" "You don't need to show off in fancy clothes for him, we all die together anyways so screw fancy things for him in Mass!" 

Sadly, that has gone, along with the dispersion of doctrine, decorum, respect, etc. that once surrounded the Catholic Church culture and beliefs of the faithful. 

As for decorum, that has also been lost from the Church. Generally, most people think that anywhere, including the main worship space of the Church, is a great time to chat with your friends, play with your phone or read that last e-mail before the Mass starts, and even to do running commentary during the Mass. What ever happened to respecting our Lord in the tabernacle, and preparing ourselves in prayer for the ultimate unbloody sacrifice to take present on the altar? What ever happened to thanking our Lord for the greatest gift he can give us on earth from the Mass, His Flesh and Blood, the TOTALITY OF ALL HIS DIVINE LOVE, in the form of the Eucharist confected on the altar? 

And so that brings me to my points about decorum and dress with the Latin Mass, as one will find, it's quite different an atmosphere than one is used to. 


Why Do it? 

First and foremost, it is a sign and show of respect for our Saviour, who gave himself Body and Blood for our eternal salvation. Here at Mass every Sunday, we become re-presented with the most pivotal acts of our Lord, in his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. This is the highest form of prayer that we have in this world, and a taste of the heavenly banquet. 

This is a central part of dressing up for Mass. an analogy might help here, that I have used before. Let's say Prime Minister Trudeau invited you to a private dinner at 24 Sussex Drive, the house of the Prime Minister. His private chefs, trained at the Cordon Bleu in France are making the most exquisite meal for you with the finest ingredients and skill. Would you show up in T-shirt and jeans? NO! This would be disrespectful to everyone involved and insult Mr Trudeau, unless as the poorest of the poor, that is all you have and Mr Trudeau was aware at the time. Drawing the analogy closer to Christ, you would not do the same either to Queen Elizabeth, or Prince Charles in England would you? 

So why should the King of Kings, Christ, be treated any differently from Earthly Kings? Should we, if we were to dress up for earthly kings/queens and dignitaries of countries, deal differently with our Lord? Most would agree by that logic that the answer is no. 

Alright, now that you hopefully understand why better dress is preferred in the Latin Mass, here is where I'm giving you an honest opinion how to respect the environment of the Latin Mass in what you wear. While no Abracious Abners (to use a character from LifeTeen Inc who could be coined a "radical Traditionalist,") or cranky Cordelia's (old batty ladies ... and sadly some young ones too,) have no right to commit sins of pride, slander, and bullying on you, it would be best to understand the decorum/dress so you can truly partake in the Latin Mass more easily. 

What Constitutes Appropriate Dress?

Please be advised that if one is so financially strapped they cannot afford clothing/shoes of a specific kind, then obviously you wear what you have to the Latin Mass. I am cognoscente that the Latin Mass is NOT to be for elite and trendy people and that it's for everyone. I am just giving the best suggestions overall for proper decorum and dress. Basically, its all about minding the respect of each other's minds and souls around you. 


For guys, while revealing "skin" isn't the norm, wearing muscle shirts/tight tees, even a skin hugging couture button down would be somewhat scandalous to women. Mass is not a marketplace whereby one "shops" for ladies in an aggressive manner via the showing of their fit bodies. Also, wearing most casual clothing, those with slogans of a sexual nature or graphics of the sort wouldn't be a good idea. Personally, I include those tight hipster pants/jeans. They come dangerously close to being like women's leggings. Seriously, leave the hipster couture at home. Guys, let the women focus on Christ, not your abs and biceps of Vanity. 

For men, of course the "gold standard" would be a full suit and tie for western dress, and dress shoes that match the suit in modest styles and tones. However for those not willing to dip in so far yet, I would recommend a golf shirt in the summer, a crisp regular button down shirt in the winter for men's top, and chinos/slacks for bottoms, with black socks. 

In a desperate pinch, a young man could rely on their school uniform for clothes. As for shoes ... sneakers and running shoes wouldn't be appreciated, but rather a more dressier shoe. Obviously if you have problems of the feet, and you must wear such shoes, or are a handicapped person, then that is a valid and worthy exception. Dress shoes are always best, but perhaps for the summer, a slip on dress shoe/loafer can do (not the kind for boating and sailing!). Obviously it's best to dress children as best as possible, but if naughty and rambunctious Ronald is having a horrible day, and if it's the difference between Velcro shoes and his fancy booties that gets you on time for Mass, go with the Velcro.


As for women, I'm going on what I have seen worn at these Masses, as well as by women of
excellent modesty, taste and self-esteem. While there is not exactly an obvious "gold standard," those who are super serious or more extreme in the trad movement, tend to wear shin/ankle length dresses with hosiery, dress shoes, full length tops, and the mantilla of which I'll cover separately a little later. 

Personally, and this is my opinion as sole author of this blog and firmly anti-radical Traditionalism, I get put off by this style of dress due to the fact that the SSPX, who are not in union with the Church, make their women dress this way. It conveys a creepy Christian cult vibe, although the main message is modesty. As for you, dear reader who isn't an SSPX adherent ... if you choose to dress this way, go ahead. That's your call and likely you do it honestly. 

What about the opposite extreme? Obviously, most modern fashions are not appropriate. Many are tight fitting, and shirts are low cleavage or reveal the stomach. As youth ministries tend to say, your stomach, like Mary's, is a tabernacle that bears life, as Mary bore our Lord. It is a sacred and vital part of a woman's body that should be treated with respect. Leggings would be a bit of a fine line. Say if a women wore a skirt down or close to the knees with leggings or a dress, and say a good pair of boots, OK. Done right it is quite modest and modern in fashion. Unfortunately many young girls wear them as pants. Following the saying "Leggings are not pants" would go a long way. 

You might think I'm sexist in what I've said, but let's face it ... the midriff shirt for guys died in the 80's and they don't wear leggings ... though some pants come close in the hipster world. In summary, you want your attention, and guys attention on the Lord, and not in a way you wouldn't want. 

However, what would be more appropriate from a modern or vintage type of perspective? I will let this poster that is present in the narthex of a Church I've been at and mentioned a number of times, St. Lawrence the Martyr: 


It's actually a good summary sheet for both sexes. And if you just aren't the type for skirts, modern office pants, an office suit, and modest tops would be an excellent choice. And regardless of what you hear, pants, as long as they are not tight, ARE acceptable. The Cranky Cordelia's and Abracious Abners are wrong to judge you and insult you for doing it. 


If you have ever been to a Latin Mass, or sometimes becoming increasingly more common, you will see fancy/laced kerchifs that cover the back and sides of a women's head on some ladies. This item is called a mantilla.  It looks like this:

There is a scriptural basis for wearing the Mantilla ( ) as in 1 Cor. 11:2-16: 

"2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you. 3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband[a] is the head of his wife,[b] and God is the head of Christ. 4 Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, 5 but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. 7 For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection[c] of God; but woman is the reflection[d] of man. 8 Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. 10 For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of[e] authority on her head,[f] because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. 12 For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone is disposed to be contentious—we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. "

In Church history, which is stated well here (,) a mantilla, or some form of head covering (e.g. Wealthy ladies wearing elegant, large sized hats,) was mandatory by Church/Code in Canon (CIC) Law for females in Mass. After the 1983 CIC edition was released, this law was abolished. 

Now, if you do go to a Latin Mass, most serious Trad ladies will wear this, and some grouchy angry seniors may chastise you for not wearing one as a woman. So is it mandatory?

The short answer is NO. No one has the right to insult you and hurt you for not wearing one to the Latin Mass. Again if you are being harassed, get to the nearest spot away from the person acting in prideful sin, or bring it to the attention of an usher, security guard or priest. If the people in responsibility do nothing, then don't bother supporting that community, and if necessary, report the incident in detail to the bishop. A Latin Mass community and/or priest steeped in the Devil's
machinations in spite of the Holy Mass and tabernacle, deserves to be shut down and/or the priest reprimanded for such cruelty. 

However, women wearing the mantilla is part of the Latin Mass culture and practices that have carried into today's carrying out of the EF Mass. 

So why should one wear a mantilla to the Latin Mass, even outside in the Novus Ordo/everyday vernacular mass?

This website, which was the source of the picture above, is a well thought out dialogue of a vibrant, young Catholic woman's debate as to why or why not to wear the mantilla. She explains the pro's very well, including supporting scripture. 

In summary as to why to wear it:
- It's part of the Latin Mass cultural practices at the time, allowed under Summorum Pontificum, alongside only males on the altar.
- Wearing the mantilla will aid in keeping us males' attention on our Lord and the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass on the altar. 
- Scripture supports it above in 1 Corinthians 11: 2-16. 
- It is one of the many beautiful and holy traditions that passes along our Catholic Faith. Our traditions are not pointless and are often based in conveying virtue, teachings of our Faith, and gives us a Catholic "identity" different from the rest of the world. 
- It's quite "Marian." Mary is depicted as being veiled. You imitate the Blessed Virgin Mother of Christ! You also reflect the "bride" of Christ in the Church.
- They are quite beautiful to behold to the eyes ... aren't they?
But what about NOT wearing he mantilla?

Apologist Michelle Arnold, who attend the Latin Mass, works for North America's largest Catholic apostolate devoted to apologetics (education about, and defense of the Catholic Faith,) Catholic Answers, provides interesting arguments and what turns people off to such a practice here: 

Besides it not being enforced by Church law, there are some other reasons for not wearing it, from
my perspective. 

First as a new person to the Latin Mass, it might be best to just concentrate on getting familiar with the flow of the Mass, using the Missal, etc. without getting flustered over one's appearance or other details, like you must get all the "boxes checked off on a list" to experience the solemnity of the Latin Mass. This is the wrong approach, one sadly adhered to in word and deed by Radical Traditionalists, clergy or laity.  

The Mass itself is the source of God's saving grace and the foretaste of Heaven in the Eucharist and the Sacred Blood, not in being the perfect physical specimen. Not wearing a mantilla will in no way make you unable to receive the Eucharist (rather, that is due to mortal sin and not refraining from food 1hr before communion does.) If you become easily nervous in that way, or are a more compulsive type, adding an extra like the mantilla may not be wholesome to you and personally distract you from being fully attending to the Mass. 

Another reason is vanity. A mantilla itself does not make one vain, nor does it automatically make you holier than others. In that same stroke, just wearing one, but wearing immodest clothes, doesn't make you better than one without it ... you are still immodest. If you are prone to the sins of vanity and imprudent judgement of others, a mantilla may then become a source of sin. You should add this element then, once you address your spiritual weakness. 

A final reason, may be simply that you do not feel drawn to wearing one, and are comfortable as you are in worshiping the Lord in the Latin Mass. At that I say, good! You are fine not to wear the mantilla and are not bound under Church law or sin to wear one for the Latin Mass. 

In short, there are many good reasons to wear a mantilla, but one should not feel ashamed to show up at a Latin Mass if its not their calling. Rightfully so other frequent attendees should respect those not wearing the mantilla, and perhaps in Christian friendship, or during the post-mass social, if one is interested, explain why they wear the mantilla. 


Along the same lines of dress, the decorum of the Latin Mass, one which should also be administered to the everyday Mass/Novus Ordo, is also to reflect the seriousness of the Holy Mass. 

Another sad facet of today's attendance at Catholic Mass, is the lack of seriousness before and after, even during the Mass. Generally speaking, Mass is treated as a giant social gathering where anytime is acceptable to fraternize with one's neighbours. 

Mass, however, despite the banquet analogy used earlier, is not a party. In light of knowing this is the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord to happen, we should be drawing our attention to Him in his Holy Sacrifice. When you arrive before a Latin Mass, the moment you enter the body of the Church, vs the narthex which is the Church's "back lobby" so to speak, you will find people kneeling or sitting in prayerful reflection before the Lord at which is to come. 

To put it on perspective, think of an athlete, a performer, or someone about to give a talk. They mentally prepare themselves before the actual performance or sport by a number of means .... of which in fact, prayer is common. They stand in front of their dressing mirror room in silence, going about their parts or lines or how they will execute whatever they are doing. Some commentators call this, the "pre-game" ritual in sports. Those who are Christian/Catholic athletes, even consider this their prayer before their "prayer" in the glorification of God via their athletic performance, of which is how they express to themselves and the world His presence in this plane of existence. 

Do you see now why such a "serious" tone is taken before Mass? Because what is happening here, is the highest form of prayer on earth, and those who do this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, know this and want to give it their mental and spiritual "best" as it were for Him who sacrificed himself on the Cross. They want to put the all into this for Him! 

As for during the Mass, IT is happening on the altar. It is not the time for socialization unless absolutely necessary (e.g. A child who is fussy or needs to go to the bathroom.) You will also notice this among the ministers and acolytes/servers up on the altar. They are not bored, fidgeting, or spacing out (we hope,) they are firm in posture with eyes drawn toward the Holy Sacrifice happening on the Altar. When not holding objects their hands are in prayer position or on their knees to indicate full cooperation. This is not only for themselves .... this is part of their duty, to assist you, the faithful in paying full attention and prayer to the action on the altar. It's as if they are saying "hey something BIG is happening here!Pray and be alert"

As for when Mass is said and done, most people stay for a time in silence and prayer, to thank the Lord, Son of God, for the Mass and for his Sacrifice on the Cross and receiving his Holy Gift of the Eucharist, the foretaste of Heavenly Bliss in Heaven. Sadly, most of us don't do this, and just walk out like "the play is over," or rush over to our friends/family on other pews to talk. 

Thing is, the Lord didn't just go away after Mass was done. You know that golden or wooden box the priests put the remaining Hosts in? He's there in the Tabernacle, Truly And Really present! So when people go and chat IN THE NAVE, unfortunately it is ignoring the most important important person in the room: the King and Host of the Holy Banquet.

Hence, when you do come to a Latin Mass, don't be offended by the quiet before and during Mass. it is people showing their love and respect in prayer, and reflecting before and after on His Ultimate Sacrifice and Love He gave us in the Act and in His Holy Eucharist, the totality of his Love. Now, of course once you arrive and are in the narthex or the basement, before and after Mass, feel free to fraternize and develop that showing of community! Don't be a stranger and leave after the Mass (save necessary, lengthy travel,) stay a while and prove those naysayers wrong that we Catholics aren't warm and social! 

I said enough above earlier that you get the general idea how Latin Mass attendees act, but you should be applying both a respectable sense of dress and decorum to all Masses in the Church. 

Decorum, Rules of thumb:

•Save socialization for before/after Mass, and socials

•If necessary to talk in the body, it should be something in a low tone/whisper, say an usher helping a lay person for pews, giving out Mass booklets, etc. 

•Mass commentary should be dropped as well as snark and crude comments about other Mass attendees or the priest during the Mass. This is the most sacred event in life and to abuse it for sin is crucifying Christ again on the Cross. 

•Are you a fan already of the Latin Mass? Unless the priest is giving gross negligence to the Mass, it's not your authority or experience to criticize how Father says the Mass. Not every priest did the Latin Mass the same pre-Vatican II and you shouldn't expect it even more now that it's being regenerated. 

•The same goes for laity who don't do everything you do for the Latin Mass (e.g dress, gestures.) If you don't have a badge that shows you have a job as an archdiocesan policeman or an attorney with the power to sue, keep your comments to yourself, do an examination of conscience and ask why you are hateful of those "lesser" than you. Newsflash: it isn't the other person. If you truly give a care about spreading this tool of the New Evangelization, one evil word or deed may turn a person off forever to Catholic Tradition. 

•Be as respectful as possible during Mass. If you need help, ask more experienced people at the right time, and look to regulars (who aren't acting crazy or over doing actions) for proper cues. Don't forget to make use of the red Missalettes and printed Mass books of the whole Mass for guidance. 

•If anyone starts barking on about hating the Pope or Vatican II or Church politics in a bad way, leave them politely to their own corner. It's no sense to engage with those who have fallen to darkness. If they continue to make you uncomfortable, they are harassing you. Get an usher or a priest immediately to remedy the situation. If the priest is not helping you but aiding the harasser, then that is a community to avoid in future and a priest worth reporting to the diocesan office. 

•Finally, be positive cheerful, and happy. Show that in the Latin Mass the Joy of the Gospel is found, and that most people who do this aren't "pickled-face peppers" who go about acting as if it were "Lent without Easter" as pope Francis has said. 


I hope that in this post, I've covered the bases as to how and what is best for attending the Latin Mass in terms of decorum (behavior) and dress. 

Realize that my intentions were in no way to anger you as some sort of Mass or Church police. If you truly think so, then perhaps you should look elsewhere or simply stay at the Novus Ordo Mass if this all is an occasion of the sin of anger. 

If anything, it is mainly twofold why I made this weighty post:

1.To aid you in honouring and glorifying the Lord in the Mass, not just the Latin Mass, but also in any rite's Mass in the Church. Does the Lord love us as we are, broken, weak, and needy? Yes. But conserving the ultimate Sacrifice He made Freely on the Cross for our salvation, under vile and inhuman treatment at the hands of the Roman Empire, and THE most glorious food there is in this world in the Eucharist, the totality of his love, can we not just do a small part, even to our discomfort, to adore him and say, "thank you?" Yes we can! And we do that in dress and behavior at the Mass, which is a part of the whole in living a full Life in Christ, and having a deep and personal relationship with Him. 

2.To address many of these issues, including the "hot topic" ones of the Latin Mass, but also in a way that calls out those extremists who are judgemental elitists that ruin the whole Mass and movement by being policemen. At the least I've covered more "why" to do this and where this goes wrong. That way, you as a lay member understand properly why these actions are part of the Latin Mass culture, and where things go wrong. 

Regardless I hope you found this post informative, and will allow to prepare not only how to arrive at the Latin Mass and act, but as a whole how to approach our Lord and Saviour in the great Banquet, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, at any Catholic Church in any form of a rite, or another rite. 

Pax Tibi Christi, Julian.

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