In the Gospel of Matthew, (22:2,9-14) Jesus tells His disciples:
The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. […] Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen,” Mat 22:2, 9-14).
This parable has always concerned me because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been understood for centuries to be likened to a wedding feast. I wonder why this man being ill-dressed warranted his being booted from the festivities. Doesn’t God love us the way we are?
More personally, I worry:
“Am I wrong when I wear my workout clothes to Mass since I am going directly to the gym afterward?”
It’s More Than Just Our Attire
In much prayer and pondering, I see that it includes, but goes much deeper than what type of attire is appropriate for Mass participation. It has to do with this understanding of the Mass as a wedding feast . . . . more importantly our wedding feast!
Our Catholic faith professes that when a man and a woman marry, they become one flesh. This is the same as what happens when we participate at Mass and receive the Eucharist. At the Celebration of Mass, Jesus gives us His Life as Bridegroom. We (the Church) receive His Life as Bride. At Communion, Jesus joins His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity with our body, heart, mind, and soul. We become one flesh.
This awesome reality does not mean we have to dress up in a tuxedo or gown for Mass, nor does it mean that exercise clothes and work uniforms are always inappropriate. What it does mean is that we need to properly dress our bodies, souls, hearts, and minds for the celebration. This is a big deal. It is not okay to just show up unprepared. Jesus tells us it warrants being spiritually cast out of His Divine Life.
Connecting The Dots
The Book of Revelation (19:7-8) images how we are to come to Mass:
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready. She was allowed to wear a bright, clean linen garment.
How do we make ourselves ready for Mass?
- We dress our body in clothes that show respect and reverence for God’s Son, given to us.
- We come in a soul made clean and in a state of grace, free from mortal sin.
- We open our heart to receive the Word of God.
- We focus our mind in attentiveness.
- We wear an attitude of prayer and gratitude
As we journey to the celebration of Christmas Mass commemorating our Lord’s incarnation, let us make Advent the time of preparation it is supposed to be. Do not rush to the feast without properly preparing yourself for the banquet.
Here are some suggestions:
- Prepare your heart in daily Scripture reading and prayer. If you don’t know where to begin, start with the daily Mass readings easily accessed on-line or in printed devotionals.
- Prepare your minds through spiritual formation. Many great teachings can be found on what actually is happening at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Once you understand this awesome reality, it is easy to pay attention and participate.
- Prepare your soul through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Allow God to clean you from the stain of sin and dress you in the white, bright garment of His Divine Mercy.
- Wear clothes to Mass (and always) that show respect for a God who chose to become flesh.
- Live in an attitude of gratitude and joy for soon . . . the bridegroom comes . . . our King is born!
If you need help preparing this Advent, or any time, please contact us at Pilgrim Center of Hope. Let us journey with you!
Even in this time of COVID-19 protocols, many Catholic Churches make Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament available for her faithful. Contact your local parish for days/times. At Pilgrim Center of Hope, you are welcome to visit our Gethsemane Chapel and spend time with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The chapel is open as the Center is open, usually Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:30pm. Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org or contact us at 210-521-3377.
Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, motherhood and as a writer, speaker and events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.