As a Catholic priest in Britain I have to drag couples down the aisle

From: The Catholic Herald

Couples are reluctant to have their big day in this country

By 

Your wedding doe not have to be as grand as this (PA)

Your wedding doe not have to be as grand as this (PA)

The Pope’s book, written when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, is out next week, and I have seen an advance copy. The book is co-written with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, and is an exercise in inter-religious dialogue. It is entitled On Heaven and Earth.

One of the things, among many others, that the then Cardinal Bergoglio identifies as problematic is something that most pastors in all denominations will have come across – the desire of brides to have a big wedding. It is something he confesses that he does not quite know how to handle. He suggests that people go to Church to marry to show off, rather than for any truly religious motive.

Reading this, I smiled. Here are my observations on the subject.

People do come to me wanting to get married, but unlike in Argentina, these are in the minority. Usually it is the other way around: I go to couples and suggest to them that instead of just living together, they might like to get married. Britain is rather further down the road to secularisation than Argentina: here the problem is not showy weddings in church, it is rather the fact that people do not want to get married in the first place.

When they do want to get married, I am of course delighted, and recently I have been pleased by couples saying that they wanted a very low key wedding: no music, no flowers, no special dress, just the sacrament with a few witnesses. I enjoy these weddings very much.

At the same time I do traditional weddings as well, though I stress to people that the traditions that surround weddings are merely that – traditions: they are not an intrinsic part of the sacrament or its celebration. You do not need a white dress to get married in – that is not part of the sacrament. You can get married in a pair of jeans. But, and though it is not something I quite understand, brides do love Vera Wang and Armani, and if that is what they want, who am I to stop them? It is, after all, their big day. Nevertheless, it is surely worth pointing out that weddings are cheap, indeed free, in substances: it is the things that surround them that cost a fortune.

One thing I do mention is that the custom of “giving away the bride” and the bride entering on her father’s, or some other male relative’s, arm, is not part of the wedding ceremony per se, and can easily be substituted by something else. The couple can enter together, for example. There is silence in the liturgical books about this. But whenever I say this, brides look at me with barely disguised horror, and not a single one has ever taken up my proposal. They all have to enter on their father’s arm, it seems, and he has to give them away. Whatever happened to feminism?

Again, I would prefer it, if, as in Italy and Spain, women were not to change their names on marriage. But once again, I hardly know anyone in Britain who has done this. One day someone will take up my suggestion – but I am not holding my breath!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith

Alexander Lucie-Smith is a Catholic priest and a doctor of moral theology. On Twitter he is@ALucieSmith

Contact the author

This entry was posted in Living Catholic lives and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to As a Catholic priest in Britain I have to drag couples down the aisle

  1. Toad says:

    Well, since Father-Alexander-Lucie-Smith doesn’t – as yet – have to drag couples in drag* down the aisle, he need not repine unduly.
    Thinks Toad.

    *’Gays!!!’ (thanks, Roger!!!)

    Like

  2. johnhenrycn says:

    There’s no need for my pastor to “drag” couples down the nave, or even down the aisle, whatever an “aisle” is in terms of church architecture. Saturdays in the Spring, Summer and Fall are fully booked, as my heart, gladdened to hear the bells ringing joyfully one block away, can attest. He would never marry a bride wearing jeans, however, unless she was in extremis. And I’m thankful my daughter chose me to lead her to the altar, instead of her babysitter. But then, she’s not a feminist.
    ___
    I’m absolutely revolted by anyone, male or female, wearing jeans to church, unless it’s apparent those are the only clothes they possess. Same goes for trainers and T-shirts. What’s even worse are people who chew bubblegum until (or even while!) proceeding up the nave to receive Communion

    Like

  3. Toad says:

    The main fashion faux pas in Moratinos is the occasional wearing of carper slippers to Mass, by the over seventies.

    Like

  4. Frere Rabit says:

    “I’m absolutely revolted by anyone, male or female, wearing jeans to church, unless it’s apparent those are the only clothes they possess,” says JH.

    Revolted? High dudgeon indeed! On the contrary, I would say it is good to see people in church whatever they wear. I am always impressed when I see people finding time to attend Mass during their working day, whatever their normal working clothes may be. Pope Francis starts his day by saying Mass for the working people of the Vatican, some in overalls, as can be clearly seen in the published photographs. Clearly the Holy Father does not have the same high standards as JH.

    Like

  5. Frere Rabit says:

    “the occasional wearing of carper slippers to Mass, by the over seventies”

    I somehow suspected you wear slippers when you are carping on, Toad, but the Lord is used to carpers and I have no doubt Jonah wore carper slippers under his castor oil plant.

    Like

  6. johnhenrycn says:

    My disdain for jeans in church has nothing to do with snootiness, and I agree, it is better one attends poorly dressed than not at all. But no, wearing everyday street clothes, rather than one’s Sunday Best, evinces a lack of decorum and due respect owed the occasion. People should keep in mind they’re attending a House of Worship, not the House of Pancakes.

    My views are likely the result of my Protestant upbringing. Even today, when I drive by the Anglican church on a Sunday morning, virtually all I see is semi-formal attire, or ‘smart casual’ at least.

    Like

  7. Toad says:

    JH is right, I think, but then I am a slippered pantaloon. Literally.

    However, I do enjoy dressing up smartly, shaved, showered, and relatively sweet-smelling, (for a Toad) shoes highly shined, trousers pressed, once a week . It is a good discipline.

    Of course, it doesn’t really matter spiritually, and and Rabit is also right that showing up at all is the thing.
    However, what is amusing, (if that is the mot juste, as Golden would say)- is to tell pilgrims who pass the church door – dressed, as they must, in hiking gear and often shorts that (as happened today) “Mass is about to start, so come on in. “

    And hear them babble sorry, they would like to, but they haven’t got time, because they are on a pilgrimage.

    Like

  8. johnhenrycn says:

    Okay, I’ll stop rabbiting on about proper Sunday dress code, if you do likewise. Wear what you like. Don’t worry. Be happy.

    Like

  9. Frere Rabit says:

    “they haven’t got time, because they are on a pilgrimage”

    Indeed, I remember sitting in the dust with my broken foot in Moratinos in that August of 2009, watching the pilgrims hurrying past, with barely a glance at the bodegas, the church, the adobe houses or anything. Such is the mentality of the modern Camino: the race to the next albergue sets the agenda for the day.

    Like

  10. Old Shep says:

    “I’m absolutely revolted by anyone, male or female, wearing jeans to church, unless it’s apparent those are the only clothes they possess.” Sez JH.

    I well remember being told from the pulpit that whatever you wore you were welcome at Mass. I grew up in an industrial town where many workers had no choice but to attend in working clothes, smelling of oil and steel. I did.

    So JH’s revulsion is, well, revolting. Jeans are working clothes, and JH’s distaste perhaps reveals a sublimated distaste for Catholics who, fresh from creating wealth for ‘professionals’ to consume, also wish to attend Mass.

    It’s a funny old world!

    Like

  11. johnhenrycn says:

    Duh, what part of the qualification – “…unless it’s apparent those are the only clothes they possess…” don’t Rabit and Shep understand? And if they were the least bit charitable, they would have granted me the indulgence of assuming, when I spoke of “Sunday Best”, that I was referring to, well, Sundays, not workdays. When I go to weekday Mass, I naturally expect people to be dressed for work. Got it?

    Like

  12. johnhenrycn says:

    Say, Shep, are you a plumber? You should say know to “crack”, if you are.

    Like

  13. johnhenrycn says:

    …or “no to crack” 😉

    Like

  14. Old Shep says:

    Thanks JH. I am lost with the ‘crack’ reference, but I’m certain you meant it well or humorously, as you often do in your cheery way.. I didnt open the link – sorry.

    No, I am not a plumber – I was in another trade. Very rustbelt, now gone. And so I moved on, as you did from being Big Nurse to being a member of that profession which is ranked above politicians and journalists. And you know where they rank, I say cheerily.

    PS (The lack of ability to edit here also causes me pain.)

    Goodnight old chum, sleep well.

    Like

  15. Old Shep says:

    “when I spoke of “Sunday Best”, that I was referring to, well, Sundays, not workdays.” sez JH.

    Jh my friend, don’t you know even now that many workers HAD to work on Sunday just to make ends meet? I did. I didnt like it, but there you are.

    My poor old Dad did, (a convert like you,)to support a family of six kids. He was worn out and had no time to change clothes to suit those unhappy with his working garb. Joseph would have felt the same, way back then. Don’t you think?

    JH, being a working person isn’t easy, but it’s not made easier by those who pronounce on that life who really have NO idea.

    Be kind please.

    Like

  16. johnhenrycn says:

    Shep, I do know the difference between a working man and a slovenly goofball. Give me some credit, yeah? I’ve read The Road to Wigan Pier. I’ve watched How Green Was My Valley. I’m not a manual labourer, true; but one prayer I recite as often as I can is this:
    “St Joseph, St Isidore, Blessed John Henry Neman: Pray for me to the Lord our God that I, like you, might become, be and remain a good and faithful servant and labourer in the fields of the Lord.”

    Be charitable, please.

    Like

  17. kathleen says:

    Well, to me it was quite clear what JH was trying to say! And I agree with him.

    There is a big difference between slovenly slouching into Holy Mass, carelessly or provocatively dressed in a way one would pop into a bar or discotheque…….. to OTOH simply humbly getting to Mass in working clothes or poorly dressed because there is no alternative, the desire to just BE there in the presence of God and receive His Sacred Body being one’s prime concern. I believe anyone could distinguish between these two attitudes. Pilgrims on the ‘Camino’ can also be pardoned if they arrive dusty and dirty, having had no opportunity to spruce up a bit beforehand, but having put God before their own needs.

    However in most people’s case, we have the choice of whether we want to turn up at Mass messy and carelessly dressed, or clean and smart (like our Toad surprisingly admits he does!)
    With my active lifestyle I wear jeans a lot, but I will always try to change into a dress or skirt to attend Mass; I see it as fitting and a sign of respect for the Holy Sacrament.

    Like

  18. Toad says:

    Not surprising, Kathleen = and not admitting, more boasting. All part of the paradox.

    However, since we are ‘on line’ here, what do we each think is suitable punishment at law for girls who get pregnant, and then want to procure an abortion?
    JH seems ‘unclear’, to put it charitably.

    Like

  19. Toad says:

    Kathleen‘s observation, about wearing a dress or skirt, is a timely reminder to us all that clean underwear is also, as Gloden would say, the sine qua non for churchgoing – no dispute on that.

    Not necessarily just for God’s sake, but in case you get run over on the way there, or back.
    The prospect of my being run over while wearing less than spotless underpants haunted my saintly Mother for many years,

    It strikes Toad that if he says, “For God’s sake,” any more, JH will accuse him of plagiarising the Bible.

    Like

  20. Old Shep says:

    “There is a big difference between slovenly slouching into Holy Mass, carelessly or provocatively dressed in a way one would pop into a bar or discotheque” says K. And I totally agree about appropriateness of clothing for the Mass. K’s disapproval is entirely justified.

    But that’s quite another topic – JH didnt rail against that. He was upset at those who were in honest working clothes, JH not being aware enough to know that some have to work on Sundays for many reasons. These people prioritised the Mass over the raised eyebrows of the respectable and privileged. I wonder if K feels that those good people should have stayed away? I don’t believe she would, and so I hope she will give JH a ticking off.

    As she should do with Mr Toad, who is now off at another tangent raving on about underwear. That’s NOT what JH complained about! And how would Toad’s pointless concerns be enforced? Of course, he doesn’t say.

    All of this will lead to a nightclub regime where bouncers check you at the door and may deny you entry should you displease.

    Like

  21. johnhenrycn says:

    Read my lips, Shep: if you are able to attend Mass in something slightly more decorous than jeans, trainers and a T-shirt, I will applaud your good taste. If you choose not to do so because of a “Frankly, johnhenry, I don’t give a d***“, attitude, I will do my best to ignore you. There, sorted.

    Like

  22. johnhenrycn says:

    …but I should also add that my initial comment on this thread about being “absolutely revolted” by jeans, trainers and T-shirts in church was hyperbolic. I look askance at such attire, but that’s about it. What about young women who *reverently* attend Mass with their midriffs exposed?

    Like

  23. Frere Rabit says:

    “I’ve watched How Green Was My Valley.”

    Are you referring to the 1941 John Ford film, JH, or the 1970s BBC re-make of their classic 1950s live adaptation? My father Barry Thomas (died December 2012, R.I.P) was the first to adapt “How Green Was My Valley” for BBC television. There was no recording because this was in 1959 (I think) in the days when videotape was either unavailable or too expensive to use, so it went out on live TV.

    Such was the shoestring budget that my father acted in it too, as did various production staff. He came from the industrial working class in Newport, South Wales, and went from his first job as a fireman on Great Western Railway steam engines to navigating RAF Lancaster bombers.
    We should remember that generation with gratitude, for we have lived off the backs of their honest toil and frittered away the proceeds on easy living in a fake world of make believe, now shattered by financial crisis.

    Like

  24. Toad says:

    “…Mr Toad, who is now off at another tangent raving on about underwear. That’s NOT what JH complained about! And how would Toad’s pointless concerns be enforced? Of course, he doesn’t say.”

    Yes he does.
    Geiger counters.
    Kathleen will agree.

    Like

  25. johnhenrycn says:

    Excellent reminisce, Frere. The John Ford film with Maureen O’Hara and Walter Pidgeon (and the very young Roddy McDowall). What you say about the loss of older films is so sad. I recall a short-lived BBC, or Granada, series from the mid-70s about life on a sink estate in England, that made a very deep impression on me, but though I’ve searched high and low, I can’t find it on the Internet. Funny to think there are some things you can’t locate on the www.

    Like

  26. Toad says:

    ” How Green Were My Underpants.”

    “Two thumbs up! This one will run and run!!”
    D.Thompson, Daily Telegraph.

    Like

  27. johnhenrycn says:

    Semper ubi sub ubi, as we Latin *scholars* always say.

    Like

  28. Old Shep says:

    “Shep: if you are able to attend Mass in something slightly more decorous than jeans, trainers and a T-shirt, I will applaud your good taste.” Thanks JH, I do and you will.

    I have an extremely colurful Hawaian shirt which I thought was kinda neat, but I now find that other old blokes wear these, no doubt in a bleak memory of their youthful hippy days. But it would be too cheery. Mind you, we have all seen the last Pope’s red shoes…talk about pizaz!

    But I began to fear that there is a New Order coming, where at the church door, you would check for jeans and working clothes, K would check for provocatively dressed girls, and the slippery poltroon (as he calls himself) Toad, would inspect underwear. Wouldn’t be many admitted after this slash and burn policy, would there?

    An appalling vista.

    Like

  29. Old Shep says:

    ” You can get married in a pair of jeans. ” says Fr. Smith. And he should know.

    Like

  30. johnhenrycn says:

    “Pope’s red shoes…talk about pizaz!”

    Pizzazz, actually, and I’ll thank you in advance for not drawing attention to my next typo. His red shoes had nothing to do with making a fashion statement. He was making a statement, to be sure, but not a fashion statement.

    I would never be happy to be a clothing censor stationed at the narthex. I prefer to set a good example. For adult men that means, above all, wearing highly shined shoes, as the good Toad has already mentioned. All else follows from that.

    Like

  31. Frere Rabit says:

    Why not leave human souls out of the equation altogether and make it possible for two pairs of jeans to get married? It would be no emptier than current proposals.

    Like

  32. johnhenrycn says:

    “You can get married in a pair of jeans. ” says Fr. Smith. And he should know.

    Oh, right, Fr Smith has been granted infallibility status, has he? He can say what he likes, within reason, but I can disagree with him and still be a good Catholic, and also be more informed about what is acceptable dress in church and what is not.

    Like

  33. Old Shep says:

    You are right JH about expressing your view, and I want to hear it. Your ‘infallibility’ comment was a tad tetchy, but fine. I do not, have not and never will question your ‘good Catholic’ status. Nor anyone else’s, only mine.

    As Fr. Smith wrote the article , I thought his view was worth a mention. He sounds to me like a very agreeable sort of bloke. Frere wasn’t keen on his views though.

    Pizaz (sic)…. actually not a typo (generous to call it that) – I simply didn’t know how to spell it, and posted it with some unease… half expecting the smack of correction.

    On the narthex – there is a beauty at Vezelay, a place of light.

    Like

  34. Old Shep says:

    “What about young women who *reverently* attend Mass with their midriffs exposed?”

    Good point JH but it gets worse. I have been in Moslem and Hindu countries where some young Western women appear dressed as they would in Ibiza. I have noticed the half hidden looks of contempt from the locals at this. The girls refuse or more likely don’t even recognise that they are treading on dangerous ground. I don’t comment on the ‘morality’ but only on the sheer practicality of being sensitive to custom, and to safeguard their well being.

    In fact many people have been manipulated by fashion and profit and they haven’t a clue that it goes on. I won’t say more as this can be a soapbox theme for me – I detest the fashion culture.

    Like

  35. johnhenrycn says:

    God bless, Shep. Until our next tussle.

    Like

  36. johnhenrycn says:

    God bless, Toad. Until our next tussle.

    Or did I already say that?

    Like

  37. johnhenrycn says:

    Yes, I am going for the day (unless someone really twigs my fancy, and I shall be looking in); but all this talk about clothing and polished shoes makes me want to post this delightful song about how shining your shoes can make you a happier person. Dear Annie, from another blog thought it was great:

    Like

  38. Old Shep says:


    ← Three Prophetic Insights from Pope Leo XIII That Still speak powerfully 120 Years Later
    Biblical Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter. →
    As a Catholic priest in Britain I have to drag couples down the aisle
    Posted on May 4, 2013 by Catholicism Pure & Simple
    From: The Catholic Herald

    Couples are reluctant to have their big day in this country

    By FR ALEXANDER LUCIE-SMITH

    Your wedding doe not have to be as grand as this (PA)

    Your wedding doe not have to be as grand as this (PA)

    The Pope’s book, written when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, is out next week, and I have seen an advance copy. The book is co-written with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, and is an exercise in inter-religious dialogue. It is entitled On Heaven and Earth.

    One of the things, among many others, that the then Cardinal Bergoglio identifies as problematic is something that most pastors in all denominations will have come across – the desire of brides to have a big wedding. It is something he confesses that he does not quite know how to handle. He suggests that people go to Church to marry to show off, rather than for any truly religious motive.

    Reading this, I smiled. Here are my observations on the subject.

    People do come to me wanting to get married, but unlike in Argentina, these are in the minority. Usually it is the other way around: I go to couples and suggest to them that instead of just living together, they might like to get married. Britain is rather further down the road to secularisation than Argentina: here the problem is not showy weddings in church, it is rather the fact that people do not want to get married in the first place.

    When they do want to get married, I am of course delighted, and recently I have been pleased by couples saying that they wanted a very low key wedding: no music, no flowers, no special dress, just the sacrament with a few witnesses. I enjoy these weddings very much.

    At the same time I do traditional weddings as well, though I stress to people that the traditions that surround weddings are merely that – traditions: they are not an intrinsic part of the sacrament or its celebration. You do not need a white dress to get married in – that is not part of the sacrament. You can get married in a pair of jeans. But, and though it is not something I quite understand, brides do love Vera Wang and Armani, and if that is what they want, who am I to stop them? It is, after all, their big day. Nevertheless, it is surely worth pointing out that weddings are cheap, indeed free, in substances: it is the things that surround them that cost a fortune.

    One thing I do mention is that the custom of “giving away the bride” and the bride entering on her father’s, or some other male relative’s, arm, is not part of the wedding ceremony per se, and can easily be substituted by something else. The couple can enter together, for example. There is silence in the liturgical books about this. But whenever I say this, brides look at me with barely disguised horror, and not a single one has ever taken up my proposal. They all have to enter on their father’s arm, it seems, and he has to give them away. Whatever happened to feminism?

    Again, I would prefer it, if, as in Italy and Spain, women were not to change their names on marriage. But once again, I hardly know anyone in Britain who has done this. One day someone will take up my suggestion – but I am not holding my breath!
    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith
    Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith

    Alexander Lucie-Smith is a Catholic priest and a doctor of moral theology. On Twitter he is@ALucieSmith

    Contact the author
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    ← Three Prophetic Insights from Pope Leo XIII That Still speak powerfully 120 Years Later
    Biblical Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter. →
    37 Responses to As a Catholic priest in Britain I have to drag couples down the aisle

    Toad says:
    May 4, 2013 at 21:26

    Well, since Father-Alexander-Lucie-Smith doesn’t – as yet – have to drag couples in drag* down the aisle, he need not repine unduly.
    Thinks Toad.

    *’Gays!!!’ (thanks, Roger!!!)
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 4, 2013 at 23:19

    There’s no need for my pastor to “drag” couples down the nave, or even down the aisle, whatever an “aisle” is in terms of church architecture. Saturdays in the Spring, Summer and Fall are fully booked, as my heart, gladdened to hear the bells ringing joyfully one block away, can attest. He would never marry a bride wearing jeans, however, unless she was in extremis. And I’m thankful my daughter chose me to lead her to the altar, instead of her babysitter. But then, she’s not a feminist.
    ___
    I’m absolutely revolted by anyone, male or female, wearing jeans to church, unless it’s apparent those are the only clothes they possess. Same goes for trainers and T-shirts. What’s even worse are people who chew bubblegum until (or even while!) proceeding up the nave to receive Communion
    Toad says:
    May 5, 2013 at 05:56

    The main fashion faux pas in Moratinos is the occasional wearing of carper slippers to Mass, by the over seventies.
    Frere Rabit says:
    May 5, 2013 at 07:16

    “I’m absolutely revolted by anyone, male or female, wearing jeans to church, unless it’s apparent those are the only clothes they possess,” says JH.

    Revolted? High dudgeon indeed! On the contrary, I would say it is good to see people in church whatever they wear. I am always impressed when I see people finding time to attend Mass during their working day, whatever their normal working clothes may be. Pope Francis starts his day by saying Mass for the working people of the Vatican, some in overalls, as can be clearly seen in the published photographs. Clearly the Holy Father does not have the same high standards as JH.
    Frere Rabit says:
    May 5, 2013 at 07:20

    “the occasional wearing of carper slippers to Mass, by the over seventies”

    I somehow suspected you wear slippers when you are carping on, Toad, but the Lord is used to carpers and I have no doubt Jonah wore carper slippers under his castor oil plant.
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 5, 2013 at 14:17

    My disdain for jeans in church has nothing to do with snootiness, and I agree, it is better one attends poorly dressed than not at all. But no, wearing everyday street clothes, rather than one’s Sunday Best, evinces a lack of decorum and due respect owed the occasion. People should keep in mind they’re attending a House of Worship, not the House of Pancakes.

    My views are likely the result of my Protestant upbringing. Even today, when I drive by the Anglican church on a Sunday morning, virtually all I see is semi-formal attire, or ‘smart casual’ at least.
    Toad says:
    May 5, 2013 at 18:46

    JH is right, I think, but then I am a slippered pantaloon. Literally.

    However, I do enjoy dressing up smartly, shaved, showered, and relatively sweet-smelling, (for a Toad) shoes highly shined, trousers pressed, once a week . It is a good discipline.

    Of course, it doesn’t really matter spiritually, and and Rabit is also right that showing up at all is the thing.
    However, what is amusing, (if that is the mot juste, as Golden would say)- is to tell pilgrims who pass the church door – dressed, as they must, in hiking gear and often shorts that (as happened today) “Mass is about to start, so come on in. “

    And hear them babble sorry, they would like to, but they haven’t got time, because they are on a pilgrimage.
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 5, 2013 at 19:09

    Okay, I’ll stop rabbiting on about proper Sunday dress code, if you do likewise. Wear what you like. Don’t worry. Be happy.
    Frere Rabit says:
    May 5, 2013 at 19:29

    “they haven’t got time, because they are on a pilgrimage”

    Indeed, I remember sitting in the dust with my broken foot in Moratinos in that August of 2009, watching the pilgrims hurrying past, with barely a glance at the bodegas, the church, the adobe houses or anything. Such is the mentality of the modern Camino: the race to the next albergue sets the agenda for the day.
    Old Shep says:
    May 5, 2013 at 19:31

    “I’m absolutely revolted by anyone, male or female, wearing jeans to church, unless it’s apparent those are the only clothes they possess.” Sez JH.

    I well remember being told from the pulpit that whatever you wore you were welcome at Mass. I grew up in an industrial town where many workers had no choice but to attend in working clothes, smelling of oil and steel. I did.

    So JH’s revulsion is, well, revolting. Jeans are working clothes, and JH’s distaste perhaps reveals a sublimated distaste for Catholics who, fresh from creating wealth for ‘professionals’ to consume, also wish to attend Mass.

    It’s a funny old world!
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 5, 2013 at 19:54

    Duh, what part of the qualification – “…unless it’s apparent those are the only clothes they possess…” don’t Rabit and Shep understand? And if they were the least bit charitable, they would have granted me the indulgence of assuming, when I spoke of “Sunday Best”, that I was referring to, well, Sundays, not workdays. When I go to weekday Mass, I naturally expect people to be dressed for work. Got it?
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 5, 2013 at 20:23

    Say, Shep, are you a plumber? You should say know to “crack”, if you are.
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 5, 2013 at 20:24

    …or “no to crack” 😉
    Old Shep says:
    May 5, 2013 at 20:36

    Thanks JH. I am lost with the ‘crack’ reference, but I’m certain you meant it well or humorously, as you often do in your cheery way.. I didnt open the link – sorry.

    No, I am not a plumber – I was in another trade. Very rustbelt, now gone. And so I moved on, as you did from being Big Nurse to being a member of that profession which is ranked above politicians and journalists. And you know where they rank, I say cheerily.

    PS (The lack of ability to edit here also causes me pain.)

    Goodnight old chum, sleep well.
    Old Shep says:
    May 5, 2013 at 20:44

    “when I spoke of “Sunday Best”, that I was referring to, well, Sundays, not workdays.” sez JH.

    Jh my friend, don’t you know even now that many workers HAD to work on Sunday just to make ends meet? I did. I didnt like it, but there you are.

    My poor old Dad did, (a convert like you,)to support a family of six kids. He was worn out and had no time to change clothes to suit those unhappy with his working garb. Joseph would have felt the same, way back then. Don’t you think?

    JH, being a working person isn’t easy, but it’s not made easier by those who pronounce on that life who really have NO idea.

    Be kind please.
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 5, 2013 at 22:01

    Shep, I do know the difference between a working man and a slovenly goofball. Give me some credit, yeah? I’ve read The Road to Wigan Pier. I’ve watched How Green Was My Valley. I’m not a manual labourer, true; but one prayer I recite as often as I can is this:
    “St Joseph, St Isidore, Blessed John Henry Neman: Pray for me to the Lord our God that I, like you, might become, be and remain a good and faithful servant and labourer in the fields of the Lord.”

    Be charitable, please.
    kathleen says:
    May 6, 2013 at 07:50

    Well, to me it was quite clear what JH was trying to say! And I agree with him.

    There is a big difference between slovenly slouching into Holy Mass, carelessly or provocatively dressed in a way one would pop into a bar or discotheque…….. to OTOH simply humbly getting to Mass in working clothes or poorly dressed because there is no alternative, the desire to just BE there in the presence of God and receive His Sacred Body being one’s prime concern. I believe anyone could distinguish between these two attitudes. Pilgrims on the ‘Camino’ can also be pardoned if they arrive dusty and dirty, having had no opportunity to spruce up a bit beforehand, but having put God before their own needs.

    However in most people’s case, we have the choice of whether we want to turn up at Mass messy and carelessly dressed, or clean and smart (like our Toad surprisingly admits he does!)
    With my active lifestyle I wear jeans a lot, but I will always try to change into a dress or skirt to attend Mass; I see it as fitting and a sign of respect for the Holy Sacrament.
    Toad says:
    May 6, 2013 at 10:27

    Not surprising, Kathleen = and not admitting, more boasting. All part of the paradox.

    However, since we are ‘on line’ here, what do we each think is suitable punishment at law for girls who get pregnant, and then want to procure an abortion?
    JH seems ‘unclear’, to put it charitably.
    Toad says:
    May 6, 2013 at 12:04

    Kathleen‘s observation, about wearing a dress or skirt, is a timely reminder to us all that clean underwear is also, as Gloden would say, the sine qua non for churchgoing – no dispute on that.

    Not necessarily just for God’s sake, but in case you get run over on the way there, or back.
    The prospect of my being run over while wearing less than spotless underpants haunted my saintly Mother for many years,

    It strikes Toad that if he says, “For God’s sake,” any more, JH will accuse him of plagiarising the Bible.
    Old Shep says:
    May 6, 2013 at 12:27

    “There is a big difference between slovenly slouching into Holy Mass, carelessly or provocatively dressed in a way one would pop into a bar or discotheque” says K. And I totally agree about appropriateness of clothing for the Mass. K’s disapproval is entirely justified.

    But that’s quite another topic – JH didnt rail against that. He was upset at those who were in honest working clothes, JH not being aware enough to know that some have to work on Sundays for many reasons. These people prioritised the Mass over the raised eyebrows of the respectable and privileged. I wonder if K feels that those good people should have stayed away? I don’t believe she would, and so I hope she will give JH a ticking off.

    As she should do with Mr Toad, who is now off at another tangent raving on about underwear. That’s NOT what JH complained about! And how would Toad’s pointless concerns be enforced? Of course, he doesn’t say.

    All of this will lead to a nightclub regime where bouncers check you at the door and may deny you entry should you displease.
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 6, 2013 at 14:03

    Read my lips, Shep: if you are able to attend Mass in something slightly more decorous than jeans, trainers and a T-shirt, I will applaud your good taste. If you choose not to do so because of a “Frankly, johnhenry, I don’t give a d***“, attitude, I will do my best to ignore you. There, sorted.
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 6, 2013 at 14:11

    …but I should also add that my initial comment on this thread about being “absolutely revolted” by jeans, trainers and T-shirts in church was hyperbolic. I look askance at such attire, but that’s about it. What about young women who *reverently* attend Mass with their midriffs exposed?
    Frere Rabit says:
    May 6, 2013 at 17:05

    “I’ve watched How Green Was My Valley.”

    Are you referring to the 1941 John Ford film, JH, or the 1970s BBC re-make of their classic 1950s live adaptation? My father Barry Thomas (died December 2012, R.I.P) was the first to adapt “How Green Was My Valley” for BBC television. There was no recording because this was in 1959 (I think) in the days when videotape was either unavailable or too expensive to use, so it went out on live TV.

    Such was the shoestring budget that my father acted in it too, as did various production staff. He came from the industrial working class in Newport, South Wales, and went from his first job as a fireman on Great Western Railway steam engines to navigating RAF Lancaster bombers.
    We should remember that generation with gratitude, for we have lived off the backs of their honest toil and frittered away the proceeds on easy living in a fake world of make believe, now shattered by financial crisis.
    Toad says:
    May 6, 2013 at 17:47

    “…Mr Toad, who is now off at another tangent raving on about underwear. That’s NOT what JH complained about! And how would Toad’s pointless concerns be enforced? Of course, he doesn’t say.”

    Yes he does.
    Geiger counters.
    Kathleen will agree.
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 6, 2013 at 17:47

    Excellent reminisce, Frere. The John Ford film with Maureen O’Hara and Walter Pidgeon (and the very young Roddy McDowall). What you say about the loss of older films is so sad. I recall a short-lived BBC, or Granada, series from the mid-70s about life on a sink estate in England, that made a very deep impression on me, but though I’ve searched high and low, I can’t find it on the Internet. Funny to think there are some things you can’t locate on the www.
    Toad says:
    May 6, 2013 at 17:52

    ” How Green Were My Underpants.”

    “Two thumbs up! This one will run and run!!”
    D.Thompson, Daily Telegraph.
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 6, 2013 at 18:11

    Semper ubi sub ubi, as we Latin *scholars* always say.
    Old Shep says:
    May 6, 2013 at 18:23

    “Shep: if you are able to attend Mass in something slightly more decorous than jeans, trainers and a T-shirt, I will applaud your good taste.” Thanks JH, I do and you will.

    I have an extremely colurful Hawaian shirt which I thought was kinda neat, but I now find that other old blokes wear these, no doubt in a bleak memory of their youthful hippy days. But it would be too cheery. Mind you, we have all seen the last Pope’s red shoes…talk about pizaz!

    But I began to fear that there is a New Order coming, where at the church door, you would check for jeans and working clothes, K would check for provocatively dressed girls, and the slippery poltroon (as he calls himself) Toad, would inspect underwear. Wouldn’t be many admitted after this slash and burn policy, would there?

    An appalling vista.
    Old Shep says:
    May 6, 2013 at 18:35

    ” You can get married in a pair of jeans. ” says Fr. Smith. And he should know.
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 6, 2013 at 18:47

    “Pope’s red shoes…talk about pizaz!”

    Pizzazz, actually, and I’ll thank you in advance for not drawing attention to my next typo. His red shoes had nothing to do with making a fashion statement. He was making a statement, to be sure, but not a fashion statement.

    I would never be happy to be a clothing censor stationed at the narthex. I prefer to set a good example. For adult men that means, above all, wearing highly shined shoes, as the good Toad has already mentioned. All else follows from that.
    Frere Rabit says:
    May 6, 2013 at 18:48

    Why not leave human souls out of the equation altogether and make it possible for two pairs of jeans to get married? It would be no emptier than current proposals.
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 6, 2013 at 18:53

    ““You can get married in a pair of jeans. ” says Fr. Smith. And he should know.

    Oh, right, Fr Smith has been granted infallibility status, has he? He can say what he likes, within reason, but I can disagree with him and still be a good Catholic, and also be more informed about what is acceptable dress in church and what is not.
    Old Shep says:
    May 6, 2013 at 19:32

    You are right JH about expressing your view, and I want to hear it. Your ‘infallibility’ comment was a tad tetchy, but fine. I do not, have not and never will question your ‘good Catholic’ status. Nor anyone else’s, only mine.

    As Fr. Smith wrote the article , I thought his view was worth a mention. He sounds to me like a very agreeable sort of bloke. Frere wasn’t keen on his views though.

    Pizaz (sic)…. actually not a typo (generous to call it that) – I simply didn’t know how to spell it, and posted it with some unease… half expecting the smack of correction.

    On the narthex – there is a beauty at Vezelay, a place of light.
    Old Shep says:
    May 6, 2013 at 19:45

    “What about young women who *reverently* attend Mass with their midriffs exposed?”

    Good point JH but it gets worse. I have been in Moslem and Hindu countries where some young Western women appear dressed as they would in Ibiza. I have noticed the half hidden looks of contempt from the locals at this. The girls refuse or more likely don’t even recognise that they are treading on dangerous ground. I don’t comment on the ‘morality’ but only on the sheer practicality of being sensitive to custom, and to safeguard their well being.

    In fact many people have been manipulated by fashion and profit and they haven’t a clue that it goes on. I won’t say more as this can be a soapbox theme for me – I detest the fashion culture.
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 6, 2013 at 19:47

    God bless, Shep. Until our next tussle.
    johnhenrycn says:
    May 6, 2013 at 19:52

    God bless, Toad. Until our next tussle.

    Or did I already say that?

    Age shall not weary them……..

    Like

  39. Old Shep says:

    I seem to have made a dreadful hash of things…

    Like

  40. johnhenrycn says:

    Yes, Shep, your comment was sloppy. But your embarrassment at posting such a poor thing doesn’t match mine from last Sunday. I was second Lector. Going up to receive Communion, the priest whispered to me to serve Communion. I said, “Sorry?“. He again whispered, “Please serve Communion“. I again said, “Sorry?“? He said, “I want you to help serve Communion.” I said, “What do you mean?” My mind couldn’t grasp the idea of serving Communion, having never done so before. I ended up doing it, but have never been so ashamed at my poor performance. So, I know how you feel about yours.

    Like

  41. Frere Rabit says:

    What a disastrous comment, Old Shep. It is longer than the nave at Vezelay. If you were instructed to “serve” communion, JH, I hope you were provided with a suitable raquet. This blog is becoming a ragbag of pointless inanities, but some call it a “strict” Catholic blog. Bless.

    Like

  42. johnhenrycn says:

    “Serve” or administer or offer Communion. Don’t be such a pedagogue, Rabit. What do you call it? And yes, this is a “strict” Catholic blog. Name me the blog you prefer. That “Intrepid” guy seems a good alternative, but this one offers several contributors, which offers safety from heresy.

    Like

  43. Old Shep says:

    Yes Frere – I did say I made a boo-boo, by including stuff I didnt intend to. My nervous fingers hit the wrong key. What I wanted to say was ‘Age shall not weary them’ to old JH as he floundered around for a name.
    Talking of fish, this is like feeding time for pirhanas.

    Yes my post was ‘longer than the nave at Vezelay’ but almost as full of light, I suggest modestly.
    But I agree with you that everybody except me is offering “pointless inanities”, though some are quite cheery. But I don’t mind. I can forgive.

    Like

  44. Old Shep says:

    “That “Intrepid” guy seems a good alternative, ” What?! Including Hayek?!

    Like

  45. Frere Rabit says:

    “Don’t be such a pedagogue…”

    ROFL, zizzing the paws, leaping in the air and spinning 360 degrees (in the Garabandal mode), and falling flat on my rabit face in the carrot patch. Is this the Canadian sense of ironing or Mrs Malaprop on a bad night?

    Like

  46. johnhenrycn says:

    I could wiki “Malaprop”, but won’t. Rings a faint bell, but not sure what the reference is. You’re more of a Gradgrind kind of guy. Not exactly, but that’s who I’m thinking of. But soft! Is this reply directed at Rabit or Shep?

    Like

  47. johnhenrycn says:

    Spinning 360 degrees (in the Garabandal mode)…

    FR, are you confusing the seers at Garabandal with Whirling Dervishes?

    Like

  48. Frere Rabit says:

    Gradgrind? I won’t be defining a horse, thank you, but dancing with donkeys. If it is to be a ragbag of inanities, let’s go the whole pig.

    Like

  49. johnhenrycn says:

    Uhmm, okaaay? You’re so trenchant, Frere Rabit.

    Like

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