MANILA, Philippines—The rising temperatures should not be an excuse to go to church wearing skimpy, stringy clothes.
A Catholic bishop advised churchgoers, especially the youth, not to attend Holy Mass wearing flimsy summer outfits at the onset of the hot weather.
“I think the Lord deserves more than simply shorts and sneakers,” Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon, chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Youth, told reporters in a recent interview.
Baylon said that if one could dress to impress a boss or a VIP, he or she could also do so for God. “It’s just a matter of propriety,” he said.
The prelate noted that Filipinos seemed to have picked up the habit of wearing “comfortable clothes” to church from western culture.
“Some people in the United States are like that … I personally experienced that because I studied there during the 1980s,” said Baylon. “They wear comfortable clothes because after the Holy Mass they would go on a picnic. It seems that we’ve also been influenced here.”
He said today’s fashions had blurred the meaning of formality, making people become “so practical and pragmatic” in the way they dress.
“Some people think that certain clothes are formal, which in the eyes of some are not,” he said.
Because more churchgoers are attending Mass in too revealing clothes, some churches, at least in the capital, have strictly imposed dress codes, prohibiting sandos, jersey shorts, skimpy skirts and shorts, sleeveless blouses and tops with plunging necklines.
While God doesn’t impose on the faithful what to wear in church “because He knows it’s what’s inside our hearts that counts,” Baylon said one must still be aware of what they wear.
“There are clothes appropriate for certain occasions,” the prelate pointed out.
Baylon said the Lord was so simple that he manifested Himself to the people in the form of “very simple things”—like bread and wine. “But we take for granted this bread and wine … but that is the Lord. He is the author and source of everything and everything that we are,” he said.
Dressing appropriately for Mass is also an indication of how one takes seriously his or her encounter with God, he said.
“My advice, especially to the youth, is to be worthy to stand before God’s presence not only internally but externally as well,” he said.