When someone asks you, “Think about what Jesus would do,” remember that a valid option is to freak out and turn over tables. (cf Matthew 21:12)
Granted, money changers and merchants in the temple are more disruptive than a pair of flip flops, but it should give us pause to reflect that the only time our Lord is recorded displaying His impressive anger in full force was in preserving the sanctity and sacredness of His Father’s House.
Those whom He had abruptly turned out probably felt outraged and humiliated; His shocking, even violent, actions may seem over the top.
However, once we consider that our Creator is ever present in the tabernacle just for us and during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and we are literally present at Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1366), we should begin to appreciate how carefully and reverently we must comport ourselves in the presence of this great mystery.
St Pio, one of the few bearers of the stigmata, was a sartorial enforcer – women who came to him for confession had to wear skirts at least eight inches below the knee. In confession, we are also at the foot of the cross, and should bear ourselves accordingly, though we may allow for cultural differences with Padre Pio’s land and time.
There may be more gentle and effective ways to handle the issue of dressing than simply barring entry. Perhaps those who are less-than-desirably dressed could be given a pamphlet explaining just how tremendous Holy Mass is, and suggestions on how to dress better.
Furthermore, people may not be dressed up to standard for good reasons. For instance, my mother wears slippers because her toes are malformed by years of wearing heels to work; only flat slippers keep her toes aligned.
In another case a decade ago, my brother had to wear tinted glasses after a severe head injury, and one man scolded him for wearing sunglasses in church.
Fraternal correction should be done with love and understanding, with the ultimate good of the other in mind. It should also be accepted humbly, with appreciation, not defensiveness. As members of Christ’s Body, we should be considerate of each other’s feelings.
Regarding Latin, it is the official language of Holy Mother Church and Vatican II provided that it should be preserved in the Latin rites (Sacrosanctum Concilium).
Pope Benedict urged Catholics worldwide to learn common prayers in Latin, so that we can pray and worship together as one united Universal Church, instead of segregating ourselves into various ethnic groups.
I am studying in Australia, and it is so lovely to pray and sing in Latin with Catholics from all continents, sharing one tongue with the saints down the ages.
Maybe we can practise together, like we do with unfamiliar hymns.
Jean Elizabeth Seah