<< This article is the sequel to Does It Matter What You Wear To Mass >>
Serving on Sunday
If you are involved in a liturgical ministry of any kind on Sunday, thank you for your service to Christ and His Church! Your efforts are appreciated. There are many ways to be involved in the service of the Church as a layperson.
Sunday is the big day. Every Sunday is a mini-Easter. Every Sunday is a solemnity. Every Sunday is when practicing Catholics, who are not homebound or employed as a first responder or medical professional, are present at the parish. It is the day when the Eucharistic assembly gathers to worship Christ the King to the glory of the Father in the Spirit.
You could be engaged in hospitality, greeting people as they enter the church and being the smiling face passing out bulletins or worship aids. You could be an usher, keeping a watchful eye to help those in need in the congregation and maintaining order. You could be a reader and proclaim the word of God during the liturgy. You might be in the choir or serving as a cantor. There are many ways to serve on a regular, ordinary basis. Or perhaps you have been asked by the priest to assist in the distribution of Holy Communion in a large parish, in an extraordinary capacity.
Setting the Tone
Those who are involved in liturgical ministry on Sunday set the tone for the parish in large measure. If those opening the door are friendly and welcoming, then the parish is welcoming and friendly. If the ushers are courteous and vigilant, then the people feel cared for. If the readers have prepared for their readings and proclaim well, then the importance of the word of God is more readily manifest.
Those involved in liturgical ministry set the tone first and foremost by what they are wearing. There are many reasons for all lay people to dress appropriately for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There are a few more reasons those involved in ministry to do so. What we wear matters.
To Be Seen or Not Be Seen
In many parishes, altar servers dress in cassock and surplice or wear albs. This is not to set them apart. Rather, it is to cover their individuality and allow them to blend in and minimize distraction. A good altar server has crisp, deliberate, and respectful movements and is barely noticed. A good master of ceremonies can even move around in the sanctuary without being seen.
Outside of the liturgy itself, the hospitality ministers and ushers are meant to be seen. They ought to be visible. They need to be a quick point of reference for those requesting assistance or needing information. However, what they wear communicates something immediately to parishioners and especially to visitors. Does this parish take the Mass seriously? Do they take me seriously? Is Sunday a big deal or is it just one of the days of the week?
People who are dressed casually tend to act casually. For example, if an usher was wearing a suit and tie in the winter months or a short-sleeved shirt and a tie in the summer months, then it sets the tone that this is an important occasion. If an usher is wearing shorts, a breezy shirt with palm trees on it, and flip flops, then a very different tone is being set.
Ambassadors of Catholicism
Certainly, there is nothing more important than Holy Mass. With Mass attendance in sharp decline and disbelief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist at an all-time low, it is important to be an ambassador for faithful Catholicism.
If the Mass is truly Heaven meeting Earth, if it is the eternal Wedding Feast of the Lamb, if it is the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary, and if it is the action of Jesus Christ offering Himself eternally to the Father in the Spirit, then we need to communicate this in our posture, language, kindness, passion, attire, love, gratitude, and generosity.
When people look upon us at Holy Mass, do they see a committed, faithful, and joyful follower of Jesus Christ who takes Sunday seriously?
As the great mystic St. Teresa of Avila reminds us, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”