From time to time, it is appropriate to remind our parishioners about a few concerns that fall into the category of "church decorum." These are offered with the sincere hope that they will contribute to a respectful worship and care for the House of God.
Attire...Does it matter how I look?
In a word? Yes! Our clothing choices reflect the importance we place on an event. Yet Americans have a penchant for comfort that translates into casual clothing, especially outside the workplace. This attitude shows in the way we dress for church. While it is edifying to see a number of people wearing their "Sunday best," more and more people are opting to attend Mass in attire more appropriate for a workout at the gym or a visit to the beach.
While it is certainly true that the Lord knows our hearts and that all are welcome in His House, the choices we make regarding our appearance are a way of providing a witness to our brothers and sisters that worship is important, and that the Church is no ordinary place.
Cell phones...How sweet the sound?
Cell phones are now commonplace and so before each weekend Mass, we remind parishioners to turn off or mute their cell phones. This is done so that all might worship the Lord without distraction and participate fully in the sacred mysteries.
How impressive it is to witness the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. There, strict silence is demanded and observed as part of the honor we render to the fallen heroes entombed there. Our church, the dwelling of the Lord, deserves no less respect. Happily, our parishioners heed our weekly reminder and so it is rare that our prayer is disturbed by interesting ringtones!
However, texting during Mass is observed more and more. Cell phones have many helpful functions, but their use at Mass is inappropriate and a distraction to prayer.
Books and bulletins...Helpful but...
All parishioners should take an interest in the appearance of our parish church. The books we use should be stored neatly in the holders provided. The holders should not be used to stuff tissues, bulletins, or candy wrappers etc.
Our weekly bulletin contains important news that should be widely known, but should be taken on the way out of church and kept at home for reference. Time prior to Mass is best used as a time of prayerful preparation for Mass.
The shelves or tables at the entrances should not be used as collection sites for our broken religious articles, old greeting cards, or magazines, etc.
I offer a word of thanks to all who contribute so positively to our worship and who so often "pitch in" to maintain the beauty of both our churches. I am also grateful to all those who participate at Mass with attention and devotion.