God’s Law of Love: A Spirituality of the Ten Commandments (Part 2)

The first three commandments combine to spell out how to love God with “all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

(Image: Josh Applegate/Unsplash.com)

The First Tablet of the Law 

The first three commandments, the focus of our reflections in this installment, combine to spell out how to love God with “all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The first “calls man to believe in God, to hope in Him, and to love Him above all else” (CCC 2134). Faith is the virtue which undergirds this commandment, demanding that we “reject whatever is opposed” to faith. Thus, obstinate doubting or even unbelief, heresy (denial of one or more doctrines of the Catholic Faith), apostasy (total rejection of the Christian Faith) and schism (refusal to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff) are all sins against the theological virtue of faith.

Sins against hope are despair (by which “man ceases to hope in God as His personal salvation) and presumption, which may be of two kinds: man trusting in his own powers to save himself or one’s expectation of obtaining “pardon without conversion and glory without merit” (2092). Charity is violated by indifference, ingratitude, lukewarmness, spiritual laziness or hatred for God.

In effect, the First Commandment protects the virtue of religion, the first act of which must always be adoration; in this regard, we see Mary as the most perfect adorer as she recognizes her own nothingness and God’s graciousness to her at one and the same time, praising Him for being who He is and for doing what He has done in her life (see Lk 1:46-49). Following adoration come prayer, sacrifice and promises or vows, which seek to give flesh and bones to the obligation to adore God.

An extensive discussion ensues on ways in which human beings worship false gods today: superstition, idolatry (included here are both polytheism and satanism but also the worship of “power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the State, money, etc.”) (2113), divination (including astrology and recourse to mediums), and magic. Also condemned by the First Commandment are sins of irreligion: testing God in words or deeds, sacrilege (especially against the Blessed Sacrament), and simony. The phenomena of atheism and agnosticism are well presented, too.

On the matter of “graven images,” the Catechism notes that they are not forbidden by the First Commandment since no worship is given to them but is directed beyond the images to the reality being signified, as taught by the Second Council of Nicaea and Aquinas alike. A worthwhile observation is also made: Even the Old Testament itself did not have an absolute prohibition against such things, for we find God commanding the fashioning of the bronze serpent and the Ark of the Covenant with the cherubim (2130). Finally, the topic is referred to the mystery of the Incarnation, whereby God did indeed take on a human form, so that attempts to “image” Him are not blasphemous (2141).

Whatever the precise content of the original sin, it is safe to say that it was a violation of the First Commandment – a desire to be autonomous, to go it alone without God. How could our first parents break the First Commandment before it was given to Moses? In reality, this commandment was written on the human heart before it was ever committed to tablets of stone. That is what St. Augustine meant when he prayed: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” Every human being needs to serve someone or something outside himself; otherwise, a self-centered, stunted development occurs. To serve oneself is to serve the unkindest, harshest master of all.

Believers today are often charged with backwardness for holding to their faith, especially in light of the horrors allegedly committed in the name of religion throughout the centuries. While confrontation is neither useful nor desirable, we should ask such inquirers where the atheism in movements like the “Enlightenment,” the French Revolution, the Mexican Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, Nazism or Communism led us, and how people are happier today because of the secularization of the West. On the contrary, the clear evidence demonstrates – and it is no accident – that as we become a less Godly people, we become less human. How right were the Fathers of Vatican II when they asserted: “Without the Creator, the creature vanishes” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 36).

Those who have the gift of faith must give joyful witness to the continuing and salvific power of God. The modern world is filled with the wreckage of human hearts, with our failed recipes for happiness here and now. In God alone is found true happiness because God alone fills the emptiness in our souls. That is the liberating truth behind the words of the First Commandment, which can sound so austere at first hearing. And that is why we wisely echo the words of St. Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68).

The holiness of God’s Name

Moving on to the Second Commandment, we are made aware of the need to respect the holiness of God’s Name, which we must always “bless, praise and glorify.” Sins against this injunction consist in breaking “promises made to another in the name of God, (which) engage the divine honor, fidelity, truthfulness and authority” (2147). Also forbidden is blasphemy, which “use(s) the name of God, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and the saints in an abusive manner” (2162), as well as either casual or magical uses of the divine name. The Second Commandment also takes within its purview false oaths or perjury.

An excellent passage on the sacredness of human names is likewise offered. Interestingly, perhaps in an effort to go beyond both the Rite of Baptism and the Code of Canon Law, it calls for the giving of a distinctly Christian name at Baptism (2165); the former documents merely indicate that a name conferred cannot be contrary to Christian virtue. A fine meditation on the sign of the cross is given and the wonderful reminder that “God calls each person by his own name” (2167), again highlighting the individual’s relation with Almighty God.

How can believers help reverse society’s cavalier attitude toward God’s Name? By developing for themselves, first of all, what we might call “a spirituality of the holy Name.” That spirituality can begin with a careful examination of the biblical message.

From the call of Abraham to the call of Moses, the Chosen People did not know the name of the God they worshiped. Knowing a person’s name was an indication of great intimacy; there was also the suggestion that one gained power over another person by discovering his or her name. No wonder, then, that the God of the Hebrews kept His people in the dark for so long in this regard. Whatever the reason for the delay (perhaps to prepare the Hebrews better), the Scriptures inform us that Moses pressed for the name, claiming to need it to accomplish his mission (see Ex 3:13). And God complied with the request. Or did He?

Moses is told that “I Am Who Am” (Yahweh) is God’s name. Biblicists have debated for centuries its cryptic meaning, with various interpretations. The most popular explanation sees in the name the notion of God as the source of all life and being. A more cynical view would hold that God’s answer was, in fact, a non-answer, essentially telling Moses to mind his own business! If that was the divine intention, it was lost on Moses, who immediately took it for an unequivocal reply.

Having received the name of their God at last, the Hebrews were warned about using that name irreverently or casually. Why? Because a name, like a face, is so intimate a part of a person’s identity. And we surely would never dream of bruising the face of one we respect or love. Traditions gradually grew up in Judaism such that the Sacred Name would never be uttered, even in prayer, so that a variety of synonyms came into use to avoid misusing the “tetragrammaton” (a reference to the “four letters” of “Yahweh” in Hebrew script).

As we move into the Christian Dispensation, we hear St. Paul teach the Philippians that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (2:10). While bowing or bending the knee may not always be possible, whatever happened to that beautiful Catholic practice of bowing one’s head at the Sacred Name? The reason for such a devotion can be found in the lovely hymn which urges:

Christians, sound the Name that saved us,
Proudly let our voices swell:
Jesus Christ, the Name all-holy,
Name whose splendor none can tell;
Jesus Christ, the Name almighty,
Name that crushed the gates of Hell.

A spirituality of the holy name will be demonstrated by what we say and do, as well as by what we do not say. Negatively, it will involve a personal commitment never to misuse the name of God. Positively, it will mean the development of an attitude of praise and gratitude upon hearing the name of the Lord. Further, it will cause us to begin a personal campaign to encourage others to respect the Sacred Name, whether among family, friends, co-workers, or in the media. Finally, such a spirituality will have a very practical effect on the way we live our lives, so that others will know by our actions that we are people who worship a God who is the source of all life and whose Son saved mankind from sin.

Keeping the Sabbath holy

The Third Commandment enjoins one to “keep holy the Sabbath.” The Hebrews of old observed this law for three reasons: to remember God’s creative activity and rest; to commemorate their liberation from slavery in Egypt; as a sign of the unbreakable covenant between God and the Chosen People. Christians accept all that, change the day to the first of the week and celebrate God’s re-creation of humanity in and through the resurrection of Christ. For this reason, Christians are required to worship the Lord through the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice each Sunday, which is “the principal holy day of obligation” (2177); also mentioned are the other holy days of obligation. “Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin,” we are instructed (2181). As part of the rationale given for worshiping with the entire assembly of believers, the assertion of St. John Chrysostom is cited: “You cannot pray in your own house as you can in church, where there is a great number, where the cry is sent up to God with one heart. Also there is something more – the union of spirits, the harmony of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests” (2179). It is fondly to be hoped that the truth of Chrysostom’s assertion has been learned in a most visceral way with church lock-downs.

Last of all, we come upon the Sabbath rest, which calls for “the faithful to abstain from tasks or activities which hinder the worship due to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the practice of the works of mercy and the relaxation appropriate for spirit and body” (2185). A special plea is sent up to use the Lord’s Day “to cultivate family, cultural, social and religious life” and not to engage in activities which will force others to forego the joy of the Sabbath by making them work (2194-5). While Catholics in the United States are generally better at Mass attendance than most others in the secularized West, our observance of the Sabbath rest may well be the worst and, therefore, in need of the correction given in the Catechism.

If Sunday worship is so important, our attire ought to reflect the seriousness of the occasion. No one would dream of going anywhere significant dressed in jeans and a T-shirt (at least, I would hope not, but in this era of the “cult of the slob,” who knows?). Yet millions of Catholics go to church dressed just that way, week after week. What we wear is a sign of what we think of the action we are performing. Whenever I mention this topic from the pulpit, invariably someone comes up to me after Mass and claims that “God doesn’t care what we wear, as long as we’re there.” To which, I reply only half-facetiously, “When did He tell you?” I go on to remind the individual of the biblical injunction: “Worship the Lord in holy attire” (Ps 96:9).

Sometimes the person goes on to argue that priests ought to be glad that people are there in any condition at all; but I, for one, am not – especially since such an attitude shows a complete lack of understanding of why we do worship God. At the risk of being too literal, let’s remember that Our Lord Himself indicated that only those wearing the appropriate garments would be admitted to the banquet (see Mt 22:12). On the matter of dress, Catholics could learn a great deal from our Jewish and Black Baptist friends who dress as though they have a personal appointment with the King of Kings – which they do, as do we (and even more so). Would that our attire reflected it!

A question that invariably comes up in discussions of Sunday Mass is how to handle children who do not want to go to church. The most effective approach is to use reason and personal example: Explain that attending Mass is both an obligation and a privilege; that doing things we don’t necessarily want to do is a sign of maturity and also a sign of love; that millions of our brothers and sisters in the Faith around the world participate in the Sunday Eucharist at great risk, due to governmental oppression; and that claiming a Catholic identity without performing this very basic and all-important Catholic action is dishonest. After all, you can’t belong to the club if you don’t go to the meetings.

So much for logical persuasion. What if a teen-age or adult-child (still living at home) refuses? It’s then time to exercise parental authority, calling the young person to accountability. If a child is enough of a child to be financially dependent on his parents, then that child should likewise abide by parental policies – including Mass attendance. Frequently, we hear that such an approach “turns off” young people to the Church. My many years of teaching high schoolers and collegians have demonstrated the exact opposite; countless youngsters have shared with me their surprise at their parents’ lack of conviction and, yes, guts in this regard.

Eastern Christians hold very strongly to the belief that the Sacred Liturgy is a foretaste on earth of God’s heavenly kingdom., which gives us a reasoned Christian hope that what we celebrate in sign will spill over into the reality of our daily lives. St. John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter of 1998, Dies Domini, began thus:

The Lord’s Day – as Sunday was called from Apostolic times – has always been accorded special attention in the history of the Church because of its close connection with the very core of the Christian mystery. In fact, in the weekly reckoning of time Sunday recalls the day of Christ’s Resurrection. It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ’s victory over sin and death, the fulfilment in him of the first creation and the dawn of “the new creation” (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). It is the day which recalls in grateful adoration the world’s first day and looks forward in active hope to “the last day,” when Christ will come in glory (cf. Acts 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-17) and all things will be made new (cf. Rev 21:5).

He ended that excellent teaching document with this hope:

Therefore, dear Brother Bishops and Priests, I urge you to work tirelessly with the faithful to ensure that the value of this sacred day is understood and lived ever more deeply. This will bear rich fruit in Christian communities, and will not fail to have a positive influence on civil society as a whole.

In coming to know the Church, which every Sunday joyfully celebrates the mystery from which she draws her life, may the men and women of the Third Millennium come to know the Risen Christ. And constantly renewed by the weekly commemoration of Easter, may Christ’s disciples be ever more credible in proclaiming the Gospel of salvation and ever more effective in building the civilization of love.

Having learned our duties toward God, we are now prepared to hear of what we owe our neighbor, presented in the installments that follow.

In brief

2134 The first commandment summons man to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him above all else.

2135 “You shall worship the Lord your God” (⇒ Mt 4:10). Adoring God, praying to him, offering him the worship that belongs to him, fulfilling the promises and vows made to him are acts of the virtue of religion which fall under obedience to the First Commandment.

2136 The duty to offer God authentic worship concerns man both as an individual and as a social being.

2137 “Men of the present day want to profess their religion freely in private and in public” (DH 15).

2138 Superstition is a departure from the worship that we give to the true God. It is manifested in idolatry, as well as in various forms of divination and magic.

2139 Tempting God in words or deeds, sacrilege, and simony are sins of irreligion forbidden by the First Commandment.

2140 Since it rejects or denies the existence of God, atheism is a sin against the First Commandment.

2141 The veneration of sacred images is based on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God. It is not contrary to the First Commandment.

2160 “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth” (⇒ Ps 8:1)!

2161 The Second Commandment enjoins respect for the Lord’s name. the name of the Lord is holy.

2162 The Second Commandment forbids every improper use of God’s name. Blasphemy is the use of the name of God, of Jesus Christ, of the Virgin Mary, and of the saints in an offensive way.

2163 False oaths call on God to be witness to a lie. Perjury is a grave offence against the Lord who is always faithful to his promises.

2164 “Do not swear whether by the Creator, or any creature, except truthfully, of necessity, and with reverence” (St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 38).

2165 In Baptism, the Christian receives his name in the Church. Parents, godparents, and the pastor are to see that he be given a Christian name. The patron saint provides a model of charity and the assurance of his prayer.

2166 The Christian begins his prayers and activities with the Sign of the Cross: “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

2167 God calls each one by name (cf ⇒ Isa 43:1).

2189 “Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (⇒ Deut 5:12). “The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord” (⇒ Ex 31:15).

2190 The sabbath, which represented the completion of the first creation, has been replaced by Sunday which recalls the new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.

2191 The Church celebrates the day of Christ’s Resurrection on the “eighth day,” Sunday, which is rightly called the Lord’s Day (cf SC 106).

2192 “Sunday . . . is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church” (⇒ CIC, can. 1246 # 1). “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass” (⇒ CIC, can. 1247).

2193 “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound . . . to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord’s Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body” (⇒ CIC, can. 1247).

2194 The institution of Sunday helps all “to be allowed sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives” (GS 67 # 3).

2195 Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day.


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About Peter M.J. Stravinskas 192 Articles
Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas is the editor of the The Catholic Response, and the author of over 500 articles for numerous Catholic publications, as well as several books, including The Catholic Church and the Bible and Understanding the Sacraments.

26 Comments

  1. I believe that Trust in the singularity of the First Commandment has been broken (see the link below) “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ Conclusion: “You shall have ‘no other God (Idol) before me.”

    https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/01/17/united-states-of-america-in-2021/#comment-238298

    ‘An idol is anything or anyone who takes the place of God in our lives. It is anything — an object, idea, philosophy, habit, occupation, sport, or person (Saint) — that is your primary concern, or that to any degree decreases your faith trust and loyalty to God’

    A recent quote by Pope Francis
    “We are not orphans, we have a Mother in Heaven.” Sure, of this, we can never fall into the sin of despair, a sin which has a powerful pull today.

    Which could be described as a direct attack (Undermining) of this given teaching by Jesus Christ.

    “I will not leave you behind as orphans, I will come to you” as “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”

    Many Catholic theologians have rightly pointed out in recent decades that Mary often takes the place of the Holy Spirit, for example as “Advocate” and “Comforter”

    While we can reflect on these Words “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, (Holy Spirit) living in me, who is doing his work”

    So, if we trust in His teachings our promise is that the Holy Spirit (God Himself) will dwell within us also. Which is true for/of all His Saints including His exulted Mother. As His earthly creatures we are always the container never the contents. Yes, we are taught that we can pray (request) that the saints intercede on our behalf but ultimately that intercession must glorify God alone and we do this when we ‘trust’ in Him alone

    “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live”

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

      • In the early fifties as a child going to church, I was aware that all women wore a form of head covering, from a scarf, shawl, hat or veil. The poor wore scarfs, the better off hats, some of which had veils attached, while overs wore embroidered veils/mantles some of which were ostentatious, this situation contributed to Victorian class structure which was still very prevalent at that time, and many were more than happy to concur with it, especially the privileged.

        While the Churches were normally full usually with the lower classes, ‘Sunday Best’ was a common term used in relation to one’s mode of dress. But for many, not all, a clean shirt or collar was the best most could accomplish whereas others from less affluent circumstances came as they normally dressed. No one should ever be made to feel ashamed or uncomfortable when entering God’s house on earth because of their ‘worldly’ attire as we are taught that

        the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them”

        Modesty of dress for both men and women, is the key, as inconspicuously in humble simplicity we bend our knee. Matthew 6:5-6

        kevin your brother
        In Christ

        • As a seminarian, I taught in an inner-city parish school, with one-third the school population being Black Baptists — poor as church mice. However, on the Lord’s Day, they were dressed to kill (as much as their means permitted). They would never dream of going to church in jeans or warm-ups, etc. Nobody “shamed” them into that attitude. They had the reverence for God and the self-dignity that they would be “ashamed” for doing otherwise.

          • @ father peter stravinskas MARCH 4, 2021 AT 7:52 AM

            Thank you for your Comment
            You are missing the point as you are still thinking on the worldly plane (Worldly standards’) as in condoning “They ‘would never dream of going to church in jeans or warm-ups,’ etc”

            Rather one’s personal attire should never be seen as an obstacle to deter someone from attending Mass. God looks at the heart.

            “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

            kevin Your brother
            In Christ

  2. How does the continued closure of Church’s, denial of sacraments, and blasphemy against our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Eucharist, by the Bishops reflect that these commandments are important?

    How about the enforcement of masks in mass? Is that an affront to God more than shorts?

    Our spiritual fathers have committed grave sin and error against all of these commandments. The time has come to turn from error and turn back to God before it is too late.

    No supernatural faith that God would protect His shepherds and sheep by closing Churches down (even when they did not need to or were not asked too!).
    No defense of the sacredness of God or Jesus Christ, particularly in the Eucharist.
    Making Mass “virtual” and equating it to being the same. If they had a problem with shorts then telling everyone they could watch mass in bed and in their pajamas is really something else…

    Is it a wonder so many “Catholics” don’t believe when our spiritual fathers do not? Is it a wonder so many are led away by the devil when our spiritual fathers do not protect them.

    If this type of parental abuse was going on in their parish, you could bet they would be for calling CPS to make sure the child is safe. Well where is there conscience for protecting their spiritual children?

    The commandments need to be lived and modeled in our spiritual fathers. Hopefully you are reminding them of this.

  3. Again, let me just say that every good chef wears a hairnet. When I started reading that article above, I thought to myself: another great meal. But lo and behold,…look what I find. You are a very good chef, but you’ve got to invest in a good hairnet. It’s attitudinal primarily.

  4. Reply to Kevin. Yes, I agree with you 100%. It just does not follow that because someone comes to Mass dressed in jeans, they lack a proper regard for the Mass. I want to be comfortable at Mass, and I look forward to spending time before the Blessed Sacrament. I don’t really think about how I am dressed, as long as I am dressed in a way that does not cause others to be distracted. Immodest dress does distract, of course. But I don’t want to wear a shirt and a tie; it is uncomfortable to do so. I don’t want to be looking forward to getting home so I can get out of these clothes and dress more comfortably. I want to spend more time in Church, resting in the presence of God, and if I am dressed comfortably, I won’t be distracted by the discomfort of a jacket on a hot day, or a tie, or a shirt and dress pants. If it’s a funeral, fine. If it’s a wedding, fine. Moreover, to have a priest actually make a comment from the pulpit about people wearing their Sunday best would just remind me that we still have so many in the priesthood that just don’t get it. You’ve got to be really out of touch with the reality of people’s lives if, out of all that you can possibly focus on to inspire people to really think about the gospel and to inspire them to love the Lord more completely, you choose to focus on the way people are dressed, that they are wearing jeans and a t-shirt, etc. Who knows, that might be their Sunday best. But even if it isn’t, why shame them? Why not inspire them in such a way that eventually, as they grow more deeply in a love of the Mass, they will just naturally choose to wear what is appropriate and fitting for the occasion? As long as they are dressed decently. Jeans and a t-shirt can be decent. It can also be indecent, but it seems that today, a priest, bishop, leader, etc., should really know how to pick their battles. If you, Fr. S, see this as a significant issue to go to battle over, I’d say there’s something seriously amiss.

    • Thank you, Thomas, for your supportive comment for which I am most grateful. Please consider reading my posts below (Assuming that they have been accepted)

      kevin your brother
      In Christ

  5. @ Carl E. Olson MARCH 4, 2021 AT 8:56 AM
    Thank you for your comment “You are being condescending and misrepresenting the point Fr. Stravinskas is making

    I agree that my comment could be described as condescending which I apologize for. I am happy for others to judge if I am misrepresenting his comment in which he had total bypassed my comment on MARCH 4, 2021 AT 6:12 AM.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  6. From the above article
    “At the risk of being too literal, let’s remember that Our Lord Himself indicated that only those wearing the appropriate garments would be admitted to the banquet (see Mt 22:12)”

    Quote from previous article on another site in Ireland

    “First Communion has become a charade, a fashion show, a circus.
    A glass coach was brought down from the North to carry the young person to church for Confirmation”

    It could be argued that imitation is the best form of flattery. This is one of the dangers of pomp and ceremony, as it has more in keeping with the values of the World than with the Spirit.

    In many articles’ women appear to have no part to play with the revival of the Church, within Western culture. It appears that Women are to continue to play a secondary role.

    To bring about change can be difficult, as direct confrontation will not change any bias found within human hearts. I believe that change can be brought about through the help of visual action and time. I have a previous post on this site that deals with the Wedding (Bonding) Garment; please consider reading it via the link, before continuing….
    https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2020/10/09/the-wedding-feast-the-lamb-and-the-kingdom/#comment-216097

    The Wedding Garment I have read was a simple white over garment/robe provided free of charge by the father of the groom and would have had the effect of creating mutual respect amongst all of the guests, as all would be seen to be of equal worth.

    To-day the ‘Holy Communion’ garment has become a form of social competition, and this competition often appears to be more intense in poor countries, where large families are often struggling to make ends meet; in not forgetting the wonder of the occasion, simplicity of dress would send out the message to all, that we are all loved equally by God.
    This white overgarment would be a start, as the divide of gender, would be seen to have been eliminated, as it is on the spiritual plane

    “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven”

    The sacrificial image of Christ is genderless as it is reflected in both male and female, this truth gives Christianity the authority over all other religions to heal the divide between the sexes. As those who dwell on the Tree of Life (true vine), are sustained by the sap of Love/Truth (Holy Spirit) and bear fruit, in Unity of Purpose, the Will of God is singular and gender conveys no privilege. The branches, flowers (those who worship in Spirit and Truth) send forth their scent (Holy Spirit) from their essence, the sacrificial image of Christ and bear fruit.

    This new custom (If accepted) could be carried forward to Confirmation, while priests could wear a white vestment/Robe to say Mass, this could eventually extend to all the faithful wearing one on special occasions and feast days, as in, Easter Sunday, Baptisms etc; creating a culture of equal worth and inclusivity.

    Jesus puts mode of dress into context with these words….

    “Not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one these” (Lilies of the field)….

    The seat of our faith is simple trust in God, and is comparable to the beauty of the single lily Jesus speaks of, that relies on God to grow, blossom and send forth its perfume and multiply, we are asked to do the same. I am sure that the reflection of the simplicity of our hearts, reflected in simplicity of rite, would be pleasing in God’s sight.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

    • Kevin Walters,
      Would you really attend your best friend’s wedding Mass in jeans and a tee shirt?
      Would you really attend an audience/dinner with the King or Queen in jeans and tee shirt?
      Would you really sit at a meeting with the President or Governor in jeans and tee shirt?
      Would you go to a job interview wearing jeans and tee shirt?
      Just wondering and would also really like to know. Friend, R

  7. Dear Peter M.J. Stravinskas,

    Thank you for this instruction and encouraging article. We laity need to hear words like these over and over again. We so need to hear from our priests.

    “In coming to know the Church, which every Sunday joyfully celebrates the mystery from which she draws her life, may the men and women of the Third Millennium come to know the Risen Christ.”

    May “men and women of the Third Millennium” be grateful that their priests dedicate their lives to Christ for the salvation of souls and that these men and women will do their part in helping to build “the civilization of love.”

    Prayers, R

    PS. Yes, dressing our best for the King of Kings is most important.

  8. Thank you for your comment Rosemarie “Would you really attend your best friend’s wedding Mass in jeans and a tee shirt?

    Convention expects us to attend in suitable attire which I would conform with but if he was my best friend, he would accept me dressed in whatever attire my circumstances permitted me to wear, at that moment in time. The Mass does not belong to any privileged group and no Christian can be barred from attending a Mass in God’s house on earth, no matter how poorly/shabbily that they are dressed, thank God! As God says “that His house is a house of prayer for all nations”. I remember my own wedding when some unknown members of the laity dressed in working clothes took the opportunity to attend the ‘Mass’ while our ‘Wedding Ceremony’ was taking place I was delighted.

    “Would you go to a job interview wearing jeans and tee shirt? If the interviewer wanted a manual worker probably Yes as this would be ‘conventionally’ acceptable.

    “Would I attend an audience with an Official dignitary, dressed in jeans etc? We all do our best to comply with conventional (worldly respectability) customs. Different cultures have different (Their own Conventual) modes of dress whereas the Catholic Church is universal where all nationalities are normally welcomed, if modestly dressed. So as previously stated above, I believe that “modesty of dress for both men and women, is the key, as inconspicuously in humble simplicity we bend our knee”

    Jesus teaches ‘my kingdom is not of this world and that the true worshiper worships in spirit and truth’. If we worship in spirit and truth it will induce humility, God looks at our ‘spiritual (Holy) attire’ which is a humble and contrite heart before Him. We are not here to judge others or create stumbling blocks for anyone.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  9. Rosemarie a continuation of my post above. I am not arguing per se against encouraging the laity to wear their Sunday best, so to say, but rather look to the poor widow in the temple who gave all, who was most probably very shabbily dressed which demonstrates the need for our Shepherds and all of us, to look beyond personal conventual/worldly appearances, as His kingdom is not of this world.

    I believe the church for this new millennium will need to be a manifestly humble/vulnerable church where the serving of the Truth (The essence of love) is served before mankind by the faithful in all situations.

    Please consider continuing this theme in my post given via the link
    https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2019/08/10/why-have-catholics-in-the-uk-and-us-been-leaving-the-church-since-vatican-ii/#comment-148204

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  10. How we dress for worship says indicates nothing about what God thinks about us. How we dress for worship only indicates what we think about God.

  11. Reading several of these posts I am struck by the reluctance of some writers to make the least effort regarding dress, offering a rather weak answer about cultural difference, “authenticity”, acceptance and apparent poverty as reasons why one need not bother dressing well for Mass. But that is not the issue at hand.We are not talking about those who CANNOT afford better clothing. We are talking about those who can WELL afford to dress properly and refuse to do so. That does not have to mean a suit and tie, although that would be nice. A knit shirt and khakis would do for most men. The vast majority of Americans are NOT poor in the global sense of the word. This is really about people not wanting to bother, and coming to church with the attitude of ” I’m here, what more do you want?” One could in fact go to a job interview dressed like a slob, but my bet would be they would fail to get the job. Because their mode of dress would convey they did not care enough about the job or the interviewer to show sufficient respect to bother. Most of us value comfort (and who said nice clothing has to be uncomfortable????) but are willing to forego extreme comfort for appropriateness.When going to pray to God to offer thanks for all he has done, petition for his help or ask pardon, it is sad to think many believe it is too big a price to pay to dress with respect.It would be an admission that God is more important than we are, I suppose, and some people cannot accept that concept evidently. This, after all, is the generation who goes out to store shopping in pajama bottoms.This is part of the culture of selfishness.Many people have stopped coming to church in part because they dont want to hear that it is NOT all about them.To learn there are standards of behavior on many levels to meet..standards of behavior toward God and also to our fellow man. .They can’t absorb the concept that they are not the most important person in the room.I wonder how you would feel if your doctor came to examine you in torn jeans and a dirty shirt? How would you feel if the PRIEST were not in vestments to celebrate Mass but instead in dirty sneakers and cut off shorts? Would he be projecting an image of respect or seriousness to God? I lector at my church. When I do, I dress the part.I am not wearing a tiara. My object is not to draw attention to myself, but to match the seriousness of the occasion. We convey an attitude of respect by how we dress, but also how we speak in quiet tones, and body language( kneeling). Part of this issue can be traced to the fact that far too many Catholics neither understand or believe in the Real Presence.Priests need to do more educating in this area. For if you truly believed that Jesus is here with us in Church during Mass , it is inconceivable to me that one would imagine that dressing respectfully is just too much trouble. Fortunately for us, Jesus does not think it is too much trouble to comfort us in a loss, answer our many prayers, love us and forgive us when necessary. How different life would be for us if he DID think we were just not worth the trouble. He took the trouble to be nailed to the cross for us. When someone loves you that much we can take the trouble to put on a decent pair of pants.

  12. Surely is it not all a matter of putting dress in the right perspective while not placing our own worldly standards on others. 2195 “Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day”

    When I attended an early morning Sunday Mass last week the outside temperate was about 4 Celsius with a very cold breezy blowing. In the congregation of about sixty all of whom wore masks, most of woman wore quilted jackets/coats while many of the men wore overcoats all of different style and age some in good condition over less so, one man close by wore a very large heavy oversized wool jumper which I am sure kept him warm. Under my overcoat which is almost twenty years old but in good condition for its age I wore clean underwear, freshly washed and ironed slacks, shirt and jumper which only God could see while I assume overs did the same, so while the church door was left wide open for the first half hour of mass sending a cold breezy chill throughout the church, we all remained comfortable enough to focus our attention on the Mass.

    I do not live in the USA the term Sunday best still lingers in the in the conciseness of many in England. Speaking for myself I cannot recall ever been offended by anyone’s mode of dress or the personal hygiene of some poor suffering soul sat close by me possibly because especially in His house I am constantly aware of my know feelings of unworthiness before Him.

    Care needs to be taken as in not to become over scrupulous and judgemental like the Pharisees who judged overs while cleaning the outside of the cup (For worldly appearance) they honoured God with their lips/dress/attire but their hearts were far from Him.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

    • I have not read anyplace here that looking neat at church is more important than what is in your heart. No one intends to say that. And I think most of us can tell the difference between a genuinely poor person and one who simply cannot be bothered to show respect in church. If you have taken the remarks here to attack the genuinely poor, you are mistaken. In the US, too much affluence has often resulted in an attitude of “no standards need be kept” except what one takes a mood to observe. When you have the OPTION of dressing appropriately and instead look as though you have just finished washing your car, THAT smacks of an inappropriate attitude.I was once on vacation and attended Sunday Mass in an unfamiliar parish. It turned out to be a heavily immigrant Spanish speaking Parish. Looking around I assumed they were all migrants. HOWEVER, it was clear that ALL were in their BEST pair of jeans, with a clean neat dress shirt ( no tie) and hair carefully combed. They were not wearing designer clothing but their careful mode of dress conveyed they knew EXACTLY where they were and to whom they were about to pray. It was a more meaningful Mass than many I have otherwise attended. An attitude of respect cannot , as such, be purchased. It can come out however in how we look, speak, and offer our prayers.

      • Thank you JL for your comment An attitude of respect cannot as such, be purchased. It can come out however in how we look, speak, and offer our prayers”

        Which to my understanding this comment from my ‘first post’ reflects
        “Modesty of dress for both men and women, is the key, as inconspicuously in humble simplicity we bend our knee”

        kevin your brother
        In Christ

  13. Some comments here almost accuse people that want to dress their best to celebrate mass. They want to be comfortable in their jeans and Tshirts. It’s lent and we are contemplating the suffering passion of Christ our Lord. Nabeel Qureshi in med school was challenged to read the gospel and to research Jesus Christ and he came to believe in Jesus. He was baptized and back home he was in frightful agony on how to tell his very devout Muslim parents. He said: God why don’t you just kill me, then I go to heaven and they do not have to know! Then he heard the voice of Jesus: “it’s not about you!” And it changed everything for him. Let everybody just try to please the Lord Jesus the best way they can. “Who will teach me what is most pleasing to God, so that I will do it.” (Saint Kateri)edith

  14. My “Sunday best” may differ greatly than someone else’s. It is dependent upon the culture, time period, and one’s social and economic status. The point is, we are to wear our “Sunday best” according to our state in life. We must consciously remember that going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist calls for whatever is our best, out of respect for God. Oh, sure He loves us even when we don’t care about how we look, even when we’re slobby and smelly, but a proper interior disposition should motivate us to “clean up,” according to our means and situation.

    • All this brings to mind the lovely, Christ-loving priest who donned old clothes and boots, and unshaven, went and sat at the back of the church in his newly allocated parish. He was shunned by the parishioners and people shifted their seats to separate themselves from him. No one spoke to him or asked him if he had any needs.

      HOW embarrassed they were the next Sunday when he was introduced as their new pastor!

      May God have mercy on us all.

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