FAQ – Attire

What’s up with the dress code? It seems that people are more dressed up than usual. How should people dress for a traditional Latin Mass? Must men wear suits? Must women wear chapel veils (i.e. mantillas)?

You may notice that people tend to dress more formally at traditional Latin Masses than at ordinary form Masses in the United States. Most frequently, women wear dresses or skirts that cover the knees and blouses that cover the shoulders; men typically wear either shirt and tie or at least a collared shirt with pants.  We dress more formally not because we are any holier than anyone else, but because this form of the liturgy so inspires us to wear our very best for the King of Kings.

Coming to church modestly and decently dressed is a concrete way to honor the dignity of God’s house, where Our Lord dwells in the tabernacle.  Revealing or tight-fitting clothing does not meet the norms for Christian modesty.

Gentlemen and boys are encouraged to wear slacks (no shorts, please) and at least a collared polo shirt in warm weather and a button-down or dress shirt is always appropriate any time of year. Sport coats and suits are also welcome.

Ladies’ and girls’ dresses and skirts should fall below the knee (no exposed backs or shoulders); the apostolic tradition of covering the head in church is encouraged, but not required.

Thank you for expressing your love for God’s house and edifying your neighbor by your respectful demeanor and attire in church.

Proper Attire for Holy Mass

At most traditional Latin Masses, you may notice that many women wear hats or veils. These head coverings are an ancient custom from the time of Paul to today (see 1 Cor 11:1-17). There are several devotional reasons for this tradition. For example, wearing a head covering is an expression of modesty and chastity in imitation of our Lady, who is rarely depicted without her veil. Furthermore, wearing a head covering also can indicate humility and submission before the Blessed Sacrament. Finally, head coverings promote respect for women and their distinct gifts. Like the chalice and the ciboria that are veiled, women are veiled because they are all vessels of life, supernatural and natural.

While it is a laudable and pious practice, it is also not a sin to refrain from this devotion.  If you would like to wear one, a box of spare veils are available in the Communications Center located in the left rear of the church by the statue of the Pietá. Here is a short video on the tradition of veiling that may be helpful:

FAQ about Veiling (Courtesy of Veils by Lily)

Young Children

Q: I have an infant or young children who are sometimes noisy at Mass.  What is the best way to handle this?
A:  Use the “7-seconds rule”.
It is good that children learn the Mass and be formed by it. Young ones don’t always grasp the character of Mass and the proper way to behave.  Children get fussy and that is natural. Just as we needed at that age, we need to be instructed, by degrees, the best way to be present at Mass.
Parents know their children best, but a good rule of thumb, is that if you think your children will be audibly unruly for about 7 seconds or more, that is a good standard to judge whether or not they should be taken to the vestibule or outside (weather permitting).
A parent should not think that they are sinning by departing for parts of Mass, even if absent for an extended period.  For toddlers or older, though, leaving Mass should not be seen as a reward for misbehavior, otherwise they will learn the wrong lesson.  St. Joseph’s was built before cry rooms came into fashion, but people managed.  Fathers are also expected to help their wives with older children who are misbehaving.
To those around you without young children, patience and charity are also expected.