I was taken off-guard the moment they entered one by one. I knew I was not supposed to stare at people while inside. I should have my full focus on the purpose of my coming here. But by their looks, inside the place of worship, seemed not to coincide at all.
They were a group of young people, four to be exact, probably eighteen years old and above. They wore shorts and shirts appropriate only for the beach. Slowly they entered the church while the choir sang the Gloria. They settled at the pew in the front row right behind the choir.
By their looks one could say they are not local Parishioners. I was just a kind of shock why they have to make such a dramatic entrance with how they look. My friend who sat in front of me whispered to his wife asking who they were. His wife just shrugged her shoulders and signaled at him to be quiet.
Okay. We were inside of the church attending the holy mass. We were not supposed to judge nor criticize anyone. But here is my take:
The church is a place of worship, therefore, a place of respect too. The church does not stand for its Parishioners. It stands for God. We could talk to God or pray to God anywhere, anytime. But when we CHOOSE to WORSHIP God inside the church attending a HOLY MASS, we must be aware of our every act and make ourselves presentable before God. It is our responsibility to not make the little ones stumble because of our actions. We could not simply say, “It’s the problem of the people why they judge or criticize me, when in fact I just go there to attend the mass. I have clear intentions.” If you have clear intentions, why not make yourself ‘presentable‘? If you have clear intentions, you could have chosen to sit at the rear end pews where people hardly notices you. There, you could pray and worship without being conscious of how oddly you look inside this place.
Other churches have signage at their entrance directing people to attend mass or enter the church in proper attire. This signage specifically states as to what attire are acceptable and what are not. Our local church does not have it. I suppose, it is only on the prerogative of the Parish priest.
After the mass, I waited for my husband outside. He is a choir member, and it is their job to keep the instruments in their proper place after being used. When he joined me, he said those young people were the students of the choir’s music teacher. This teacher came from the other island adjacent to ours. He said they were there because they visited one local beach the day before.
For me, it was still not an excuse why they have to show up with their beach attire. They could have covered themselves with scarf or whatever that would not show any disrespect for the holy mass and the people in there.
Whoever we are, wherever we go, we carry our faith with us. In these days of restless travels, we must always be aware if we have imprinted a pleasant impression on the place we are about to leave. We must not leave it to people to understand us, we must also understand the people in the places we visit. And it is much, much better to leave a GOOD example to strangers who would soon forget our face, but would never forget how we made them feel.
My plea to the Millennials out there: Please do NOT stretch the rules of the church to fit in with your lifestyle.