Monday, January 12, 2009

Church in Sri Lanka calls for modesty in lay dress


In Ireland, I have not even heard the issue of modest dress in church raised for many many years. No one seems to care. Surely the way we dress signifies something of our interior disposition.
While not having a great hang-up about the way people dress in church - one can be dressed modestly and still unready for entering church etc. Dressing modestly is usually a sign of reverence and ensures less of a distraction to others. A priest in Colombo, Sri Lanka makes the case for more modest dress in church.

SRI LANKA Calls For Women To Cover Up At Cathedral

The clothing some young women wear to Mass at Colombo's main Catholic Church is attracting attention, judging by the messages on the notice board asking them to dress more modestly.

Father Tony Martyn, appointed parish priest of St. Lucia's Cathedral in 2006, says Sunday Mass there has become something of a women's fashion parade. This may have silent admirers, but it definitely has others frowning.

"Modesty is a virtue not limited to conduct, gestures, language, reading and thought, but also to clothing," Father Martyn told UCA News at the end of December.

"Here they (people) meet God," the priest said.

Three priests at the cathedral and some parishioners complain that some young women come to church in revealing short skirts, halter tops and low-cut blouses. This creates an unpleasant atmosphere, sets a bad example for youngsters and distracts many people, especially young men, they maintain. They also say little was done about the situation in the past.

Since November, however, some parishioners have distributed head veils free of charge to women, especially the young, to be worn during church services. Women traditionally wore a head covering to church, but the practice has slipped.

Meanwhile, the cathedral notice board shows pictures of modest dress as well as signs parishioners have put up calling on women to dress modestly and all parishioners not to dress extravagantly. Some signs appeal to parents to educate children about this. "Begin early," one said.

Father Joseph cited Saint Paul's admonition against extravagant dress in his First Letter to Timothy......

COLOMBO
January 12, 2009

Though I don't agree with a lot of what he writes in other matters, an American Catholic apologist here does a very good article on the wearing of the veil at Mass. The useful part is the collection of quotations from the Fathers on the issue - page 4 onwards.
Can you just imagine the furore if an Irish bishop said we were to return to the biblical admonition of women wearing the veil again in church. Editorials in The Irish Times or what?

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