The Dignity of Gentleman’s Haberdashery
by Mike Church
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” ― Mark Twain
The Dignity of Gentleman’s Haberdashery. On today’s Mike Church Show I created a firestorm among the men listening by linking dignity in dress to dignity in society; heresy! you are “judging” they screamed. I remain an unrepentant defender of dignified haberdashery for gentlemen especially when it comes to what you wear at the Holy Sacrifice of The Mass! First let’s define what haberdashery is.
controlled, serious, and calm, and therefore deserving respect.
haberdashery noun (MEN’S CLOTHES)
clothing for men, or a shop or department in a large store that sells this i.e. The Dignity of Gentleman’s Haberdashery
Give Thanks To God Not Dickies
Before we address the question of the necessity of The Dignity of Gentleman’s Haberdashery and gentleman’s dignified dress at Mass it is necessary to remind readers of exactly what is going on during the Mass and most importantly, what is so profoundly its end result. Dom Prosper Gueranger reminds his late 19th century, slovenly parishioners this about Mass and Holy Communion.
There is another homage which I owe thee, O my God!—it is gratitude. Thou often invitest me to partake of the divine gift, wherewith thou, before leaving this earth, didst enrich us. But, woe to me, if, because I can easily and often have it, I value so much the less its greatness! Wretched familiarity, which blunts the sentiment of gratitude, and deadens faith, and takes all ardor from love; may thy grace, O Lord, preserve me from its vile influence. [emphasis mine-MC]
We are invited to the divine gift, the Eucharist and will lose respect for it by treating it with familiarity, like morning coffee. It is worth asking here of the 70% of “catholics” who no longer believe there is anything Divine in the Eucharist, if there is anything gained by dressing up for Mass to “take the wafer” as one CINO told me? I wager they will tell me “no, Mike, its just a ‘cracker'”; as one priest puts it “what we do in here, matters out there” i.e. irreverence toward God in our dress at Mass leads to irreverence to those who aren’t God out there.
If we want our culture to get its act together, one of the first things we need to start doing is change our dress.” Fr. Chad Ripperger
Why Is Judge Schmaels More Important Than Jesus Christ?
In the film Caddyshack, the character of Judge Schmaels (Ted Knight) is the chairman of the board of the Bushwood Country Club, a members only golf and tennis club that has a ballroom hall, bar and kitchen. In the film’s ‘hilarious ballroom scene the irreverent Al Cverlik (Rodney Dangerfield) is told by Schmaels he cannot attend the club’s gala that night unless he “can find something decent to wear”; cut to the gala and Dangerfield is in a coat and tie while everyone else is in tuxedos. Cverlik is thus required to and does acknowledge the august status of a “crummy snobatorium” and its dignified dress. In the same vein, check out the sign below, still in effect at Brennan’s Restaurant in Houston.
Signs like this with codes for ladies AND men’s dress are in every state in the union and yet there’s been no “chef loves me for my money, not what I wear to spend it” protests that I am aware of so why does Mr. Brennan command more respect than the King of Kings? A steak at Brennan’s is totally optional but attendance of Sunday Mass and the Sacraments is divinely ordered – in what insane world is a dignified dress code compulsory at the former and optional, nay contemptible at the latter!? ibet the famous hobo, BoxCar Willie would suit up for holy Mass!
God Sees Me As I Am Not By What I Wear!
This is the most common objection to The Dignity of Gentleman’s Haberdashery and men’s dignified dress at Mass and in public and I heard it just today, from 3 different men. “Mitter Chur please! Jesus sees my soul and love for Him not my dress!” they told me, followed by “show me in ‘scripture’ where dress code matters”? OK, I will be happy to.
“And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment.  And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? But he was silent.  Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 22: 11-13
What is this “wedding” in the Gospel? It is a representation of the Kingdom of Heaven and the wedding garment is the cloak of obedience to divine law viz salvation! What is the Holy sacrifice of the Mass if not the earthly representation of the Kingdom of Christ including his real presence in the Eucharist!? If the Bible was illustrated the man in question would have been dressed like this.
Want some more scripture?
“And they besought him that they might touch but the hem of his garment. And as many as touched, were made whole.” – Matthew 14:36
Again, Christ elevates even His “garment” as capable of delivering miracles which is not to say that clothing is holy per se but that in the spiritual life it can be an instrument of holiness and if it is, and you are holy while adoring God in The Mass, should it not be as dignified and beautiful as the spotless Lamb on our altars!?
Let’s look at the same principle in reverse, clothing or lack of it used in the commission of evil.
“They said then one to another: Let us not cut it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled, saying: They have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lots. And the soldiers indeed did these things.” John 19:24
The proposed abuse of Christ’s garments by cutting them is eschewed because that which had covered the man-god during his earthly reign was worth much more than torn rags. Note that Our Lord’s “vesture” was gambled for, denoting that at the Holy Thursday dinner before His arrest, He had “dressed for the occasion”, the first Mass (and afterward his “trial”), as a vesture would have been a wrap or cloak of contrasting color worn over His tunic! Do you really think the Apostles showed up for that first Mass in cargo shorts, Nike t-shirts and Crocs!?
Real Men Go Above And Beyond For God & Their Families
Matthew James Christoff lists then demolishes 5 excuses that he has heard for why men shouldn’t have to dress dignified for Mass. Here they are with my parenthetical commentary.
The Personal Convenience Excuse (It’s a Sunday and if I go to Mass it interrupts the Steelers game so I’m not giving up everything on my only day off! Besides, I gotta stop and work the deli girls at Kroger on the way home, pick up my wings-n-beer…in a stuffy suit!? No way. Father’s got a Steel Curtain t-shirt on under his priest gown, too)
The “I never dress up” Excuse (Also known as the “My Other Body is The Big Lebowski’s” defense.)
The “God doesn’t care” Excuse (Really!? What else might you be doing that you’re sure ‘He doesn’t care about?!”)
The Money Excuse (This one is a classic and tugs at the ‘Murican patriot in all of us: “If you knew how much it costs to maintain 14 semi-automatic weapons in practice ammo; fly fresh ‘Murican flags every two weeks and keep my season passes at Talladega you wouldn’t make such stupid requests of men!”)
The “Parish Culture” Excuse (I LOVE this one “If I start gussying up for Mass, Susan from the parish council will corner me after bringing the “gifts” up one Sunday and make me sit in the ‘quiet room’ with all three them babies cryin’ and I won’t get to sing responsorial songs or do interlocked orans during the singing of Abba Father!”)
CONCLUSION: St Francis Dressed Down, You’re NOT St. Francis So Take Every opportunity You Can To Make God Happy
You can fabricate all the lame-o, soy-latte excuses for why men shouldn’t have to dress with dignity for Mass and in the rest of life but they are just that, excuses REAL men don’t make, so stop making them, gentlemen and let’s start undoing the damage this heinous lack of dignity has done in hearth and home and a the Communion rail.