I found myself in a conversation several months ago about the proper way to dress for Sunday Mass. The other person took the position that it shouldn’t matter how you dress for church, whereas I held the position that one should dress up.
What I found interesting is that I used to have the same opinion that they did. I convinced myself that God paid no attention to my clothes, that He only looked into my heart. I told myself that I didn’t need to go to a church, because I could just as easily pray to God on my own, whenever and wherever I wanted.
In reality I was just lazy in my faith. It was an inconvenience and a bother. I used logic to find reasons to avoid those things that I didn’t find important. My logic and reason made it easy for me to lose focus on God and gradually grow away from my faith. Somewhere along the way I was lucky enough to figure out what I was missing. I found my way back to the Church, and I realized the fallacy of my ways.
People used to talk about wearing their “Sunday Best” clothes. These were typically a special set of clothes that were worn to church on Sunday and on a few special occasions. In many cases, these were the only nice clothes that someone had, and they were very careful to take care of them. They wore their best clothes to church because they knew how important it was to present the best they had to offer to God on His day and in His house. Church on Sunday wasn’t just another day and party like any other, it was something special that needed special focus.
I mentioned before how my logic convinced me to stop going to Church. I didn’t need to be in a certain place at a certain time. I was wrong, of course (I was wrong about many things when I was younger). Prayer for many people is a lot like college. No one will make you go to class. You may tell yourself that you’ll make up for skipping class by studying, but really you’ll just fall behind. Then you’ll skip another class, and then another, and before you know it you stopped going altogether and failed the class. Without the structure of attending Mass, it was all to easy to neglect my faith and forget about God. Attending Mass is a lot like wearing those Sunday Best clothes; it brings our focus to God. It reminds us that we’re doing something important and momentous when we worship Him in His house. Sure, you can say a prayer here and there during the day, but to focus all your attention on Him during Mass is really a special feeling.
I’m sure many people will read this and feel like this is an indictment of how they choose to practice their faith. Please keep in mind that it is not my intention to disparage others, but to share some of my experiences and failings. I wish I had not wasted all those years, and if someone reads this and sees a little of this in themselves, maybe I’ll have done a little of God’s work.