I don’t know how it is where you live, but in Texas skimpy outfits seem to be the official uniform of young women, fit and not so fit, from March to October, even at church.
It’s worse at daily Mass, which is more of a “come as you are” affair. Believe me, I see some scandalous get-ups on my daily pilgrimage to the cathedral. The priests, good shepherds that they are, do their best to inspire respectful dress. They put notices in the weekly bulletin and sometimes get specific regarding “do’s and don’ts” from the pulpit. Some churches even post signs by the front door. But all of this effort is wasted on the dedicated hoochie girl.
Whenever I see someone dressed inappropriately, I remember a time when I did the same thing. The day I learned that my dear friend, Dodie, would not survive her breast cancer, I happened to be driving around, doing errands. A heavy weight fell on me, as I strongly suspected I’d be called to serve as her hospice nurse. Gulping back tears, I begged for divine assistance, knowing that it would take the absolute anointing of the Holy Spirit to see me through such a monumental task.
Then I looked up and found myself driving past the cathedral. Without giving it half a thought, I pulled into the parking lot and sprinted to the safest harbor I know. Once inside, I discovered that I’d landed at a Confirmation Mass. Fresh-faced teenagers, dressed beautifully, eagerly awaited the Sacrament from the Bishop himself. I couldn’t believe it! I’d been praying to the Holy Spirit, and found myself in the direct path of spiritual fire from heaven. Sitting there in that pew, I felt so loved, and wrapped in peace.
The lady sitting next to me made a point of staring at me with disapproval. That’s when I noticed that I was wearing shorts. At a Confirmation Mass!!! That woman looked at me like I had a cow patty on my head, and I couldn’t explain. Even though my dress was inappropriate, I was there by the invitation of the Lord and the inspiration of the Spirit. I just had to chalk up the woman’s disapproval as an opportunity to grow in humility.
When I see a young woman dressed inappropriately at Mass, that moment often comes to mind. I thank God that he has gathered us all in, hoochie girls included. And I remind myself that she is a work in progress, just like me.
This summer I have a new spiritual project for myself. With the help of heaven, I will lay off the judgements. Instead of visually inspecting the scandalously clad, I will practice custody of the eyes and tend to my own rat killing. (Which happens to be soaking up all the grace I can, and cooperating with it toward the correction of my own bad behavior and the conversion of my own heart.)
5/22/2012 – Feast of St. Rita