I overheard a conversation about churches, religion, and it’s relation to dress code today. At first, I almost had a “no way” moment but upon analyzing the situation; I’ve found myself thinking about it all day. To be clear – I wasn’t a part of the conversation but in such a small office space, anything that anyone talks about is open to all ears so of course mine were peaked.
The two women were talking about the churches they attend or have attended in town here and elsewhere. They were discussing the strictness and leniency of the dress codes. On Wednesday nights – it appears – is no big deal. I don’t know if they actually have mass on Wednesdays or if it’s the same as when I was in school and we just had Wednesday night religious ed. Regardless, come as you are on Wednesdays I guess. However, on Sunday; it sounds like your ‘Sunday Best’ is a requirement.
Now, I don’t know if it’s literally a rule per the church, God, or society but I just about had to pick my mouth up off of the floor. Really? A requirement? I pondered this the rest of the day waiting until I could give my mom a call this evening. The women talking were discussing the practices of their Lutheran faith, respectively.
I was born and raised Catholic and per the confirmation of my mom – strictness and Lutheranism don’t really coincide so I was than even more perplexed with that conversation. Growing up Catholic, we were taught many things. Even though I went to Sacred Heart every Sunday, we were the minority in the little ol’ Lutheran town of Roseau. So I’ve been used to the un-christian-like slander my whole life. That’s another story, we’ll save that for later. But I just had to ask my mom: “Did we dress up to go to church?” Turns out we didn’t. If we wanted to wear a sweatshirt and jeans, God didn’t care. We were there, that’s what mattered. We practiced good faith and possessed good morals. Growing up, what we wore on Sunday was never a topic. I think that is the reason that this minuscule overheard conversation rattled my brain a little.
Looking back, I remember certain families that always dressed up. I guess I might have noticed back then but I really only figured that they dressed up to keep up with their image in town. In case you aren’t aware of the quite obvious fact, your status in Roseau, MN is a very important thing and to this day; I think that people put on an invisible mask in order to maintain that said status.
I also figured that the women in dresses, fathers in suits, and little kids with fancy new clothes were just rich. We’d go to church with sopping wet hair making water marks on our backs, shoes untied, and a crying snotty nosed brother in tow. God loved us just the same I figured.
It’s actually pretty crazy that this little conversation I eavesdropped on today would cause me to analyze so many people and years of my life in the church I grew up in. I feel very fortunate that I grew up the way I did. We had a great priest. I retained some of the best life lessons in that little community of a church. All teasing from school during the week disappeared. The music in my head all week was sang and the communion and forgiveness of sins made me feel whole.
Once we left Roseau, I began to slip away from the Catholic faith. Although, I still credit many Catholic beliefs to my upbringing; I don’t necessarily agree with certain areas of the faith now. Between the combination of the modern church and it’s scandals to my individual growth; I have my own opinions and beliefs. I’ll always acknowledge being born and raised Catholic but when I think of the church, I think of Roseau. It was very welcoming and accepting. There was no “wrong way” to dress. And if there were stares, I was young enough to be oblivious to that but nothing will ever take away from the great memories I had there.
In conclusion, what is your stance? Have you ever felt that you needed to pull out your Sunday best on the day God rested? Why? Does it matter? Do people only choose to dress up for a social standing? Are you embarrassed of yourself or your family if you don’t? Let’s start the conversation.